VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
By Diane Ragone, Director of the Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden
I’ve been interested in breadfruit since I began my graduate work in 1983. I was mainly interested in traditional fruit trees in the Pacific Islands. Then, I wrote a term paper on breadfruit, and I became really interested in its importance to plant diversity and food security.
We did not see the rare bowhead whale during our week-long cruise through Svalbard early in the summer of 2014, but our ship, National Geographic Explorer, had some dramatic encounters with humpbacks, and there were also excellent sightings of fin whales and belugas.
Artificial reefs, created by intentionally sinking ships, provide a home for marine life of all types. The sites attract fishermen and divers, who unintentionally leave trash behind, some of which is deadly to marine mammals. A team of conservation divers visits three reefs to carefully extract fishing line and anchor rope that have become entangled in ocean habitats and pose threats to turtles, dolphins, and other marine life. For more…
Seventeen Critically Endangered juvenile Siamese crocodiles have been released into into a protected wetland in Laos, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today. The Siamese crocodile is named Freshwater Species of the Week for its critical role in the fragile Xe Champhone and other wetlands in Southeast Asia. Saving the species from the brink of extinction in the wild and restoring its habitat will help ensure a healthy environment and create socio-economic opportunities for the people who depend on the wetlands.
Freshwater Species of the Week: Fishing Spider
When the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources posted on its Facebook page that giant fishing spiders had been spotted around the state the news was shared more than 10,000 times. More than 2,000 comments were received, including from people posting their own images of the arachnids. Many posters expressed concern and abhorrence. But these are amazing animals with super powers, able to walk or sail with the wind on water, and they can haul up aquatic animals five times their weight.
Perhaps the most endearing animal observed on our summer 2014 sojourn in the Arctic was the Svalbard reindeer, a subspecies of reindeer endemic to the archipelago midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. Depleted by hunting over more than six decades, the Svalbard reindeer has been recovering strongly under Norway’s conservation measures, and there may now be as many as 10,000 of them on the islands.
Meet the Dinagat-Caraga tarsier, a distinctive evolutionary lineage of primate that has just been discovered from the southeastern Philippines by an international team of biologists working with the Philippine government’s Biodiversity Management Bureau. The discovery of the new genetic type of primate was funded in part by the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration.
Ivory-seeking poachers have killed 100,000 African elephants in just three years, according to a new study that provides the first reliable continent-wide estimates of illegal kills. During 2011 alone, roughly one of every twelve African elephants was killed by a poacher.
The waters around the southern Line Islands in the Pacific Ocean are home to some of the healthiest coral reefs in the world. The government of Kiribati recently declared a 12-nautical-mile fishing exclusion zone around each of the five islands, thanks in part to the efforts of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas initiative and Explorer-in-Residence Enric…
Svalbard is one of the world’s great wild places to see birds. Millions of them trek to the archipelago in summer for the abundance of food, and to breed and raise their young in relative safety.
To get relatively close to a trio of walruses on a beach at Kapp Lee on Edgeøya, the third largest island in Svalbard, we had to skirt a killing field littered with bones of the corpulent marine mammals. Preserved as a cultural relic, along with a couple of huts once used by trappers and researchers, the skeletons are a…
It was almost at the exact moment of the northern solstice that we boarded the National Geographic Explorer for a week-long expedition to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard–the time of year when the sun reaches the highest point in the sky as seen from the North Pole. We were in the land of the midnight sun, and we would not see the darkness of night for the entire time we were there.
Meet the first five Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows.
Five young visionaries from Africa, India, Europe and the Middle East were announced today as winners of the 2014 Rolex Awards for Enterprise. The announcement was made by Rolex at the Royal Society in London. “After a record number of young applicants this year, we are proud to announce the winners and to support these individuals in developing…
Biologist Enriqueta Velarde, a researcher at the University of Veracruz’s Institute of Marine Sciences and Fisheries in Mexico, who has devoted 35 years to studying and conserving the seabirds of the Gulf of California’s Isla Rasa, is the 2014 winner of the National Geographic Society/Buffett Award for Leadership in Latin American Conservation. Scientist and biologist Benezeth Mutayoba, professor at Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture and vice chairman of the Tanzania Elephant Protection Society, who highlights the plight of African elephants and the bushmeat crisis in Africa, is this year’s recipient of the National Geographic Society/Buffett Award for Leadership in African Conservation.