VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
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In October 2016, mountaineer and Arctic explorer Lonnie Dupre led a climbing expedition on Langju Himal (20,885ft), deep in the heart of the Himalayas. The Nepalese government recently opened up the sacred region to climbing, so the team explored an area completely untouched by people. Vertical Nepal used this opportunity to gather freshwater samples for Adventure Scientists’ Global Microplastics Initiative. Astonishingly, a sample taken at the foot of the Langju Glacier (which no person had ever set foot on), contained one blue microplastic fiber.
Imagine a booming underwater powerhouse, overflowing with vibrant biodiversity; a vast, dynamic wonderland of adaptation in aquatic form. Primordial soup? Not quite–though coral reefs are themselves an irreplaceable vessel of life. From fish nurseries to coastline protection and pharmaceutical breakthroughs to diving meccas, coral reefs provide a multitude of ecological services and economic contributions. Awed by the endless infinity of life living upon life to degrees unimaginable to the naked eye, I count myself lucky to have spent time in these enchanting habitats in many parts of the world.
You know what there’s really plenty of in the sea? Algae. And I am in love with them. Most people envision algae as slimy, possibly toxic, green scum. But this diverse group of fast-growing aquatic plants is about to undergo an image makeover, and may soon seem flat-out glamorous. Algae got a lot of excited…
New analysis of previous studies shows that biomass of whole fish assemblages in marine reserves is, on average, 670 percent greater than in adjacent unprotected areas, and 343 percent greater than in 15 partially-protected marine protected areas (MPAs), according to an essay published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science. Marine reserves also help restore the complexity of ecosystems through a chain of ecological effects (trophic cascades) once the abundance of large animals recovers sufficiently, say the authors, Enric Sala, National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, and Sylvaine Giakoumi, Universite Cote d’Azur, in their opinion essay Food for Thought: No-take marine reserves are the most effective protected areas in the ocean.
There are significant additional benefits from a rigorous protection of portions of the ocean. “Marine reserves may not be immune to the effects of climate change, but to date, reserves with complex ecosystems are more resilient than unprotected areas. Although marine reserves were conceived to protect ecosystems within their boundaries, they have also been shown to enhance local fisheries and create jobs and new incomes through ecotourism,” Sala and Giakoumi say in their essay.
Invasive alien species are the major threat to islands by most metrics, and two open access papers published this week highlight this threat in different ways.
A few days ago we were greeted for the first time – most dramatically – by a 3.5 week old lion cub born to Gorongosa National Park’s “Sungue Pride.” Gorongosa’s wildlife is rebounding, lions too. National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative has been instrumental in this recovery. In 2016 we established Lion Anti-Poaching Patrols and a Rapid-Response Veterinary Unit and since September not a single lion we’ve been monitoring has been caught in a poacher’s snare; This compared to 1/3 lions killed or maimed by snares in prior years. A new record. Keep roaring, baby!
Science photographer Anand Varma works to tell the story behind the science of everything from primate behavior and hummingbird biomechanics to amphibian disease and forest ecology. For his groundbreaking photography to communicate complex science in compelling ways, he has been named one of 14 Class of 2017 National Geographic Emerging Explorers, a uniquely gifted group of inspiring scientists, conservationists, storytellers and innovators who are changing the world.
Dentist and conservationist Hotlin Ompusunggu combines conservation and healthcare through community-based projects, with a mission to break the cycle between poverty and illegal logging in Indonesia. Her innovative approach is having an impact, for the better, on both people and the natural world, which is why she has been recognized as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.
Hotlin is the Co-Founder of Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), a nongovernmental organization in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. ASRI improves conservation and health outcomes through healthcare and community-based projects.
Her passion lies at the intersection of human and environmental health. She believes that “not only can we have healthy people and a healthy environment, but the two are fundamentally interlinked. We cannot separate one from the other.” Hotlin is hopeful that the success of ASRI can serve as a model to other endangered communities and environments worldwide.
Barra de Potosí is a tiny fishing village located in Southwest Pacific Mexico. Tucked between a mangrove and salt flat-lined lagoon and a 12-mile golden sand beach, Barra used to be the fishiest place I knew. When I first arrived 18 years ago, tiny fish would thwack my legs in the surf, every fourth wave revealed the form of a big yellowfin or needlefish, and schools of bottlenose dolphins patrolled the coast daily.
The members of the Safina Center crew send out their World Oceans Day messages and discuss what they’re doing to help save the seas.
At 12:30 p.m. this afternoon, the crew of Hokulea sited the sacred mountain of Haleakala, signifying that the legendary canoe is officially back home, bringing back wisdom, lessons, and ideas as gifts to share with Hawaii’s children from this world wide voyage of rich learning.
Filming large schools of sharks at Darwin and Wolf islands, in the Galapagos. These islands were declared a sanctuary due to the large biomass of sharks. How do we know? The shark team at the Charles Darwin Foundation Research Station uses underwater video-monitoring surveys at this remote shark haven to understand and assess shark aggregations. This is the story of the team’s week-long sharky trip.
Post submitted by Matthias Fiechter of Snow Leopard Trust. A conservation catch 22: Increasing the number wild prey animals is key for healthy snow leopard populations. But it doesn’t solve the problem of livestock predation – on the contrary.
The Wild Bird Trust proudly presents the 91st edition of the “Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week”! Thank you to all photographers for contributing your beautiful work and sharing with us the wonders of the avian world. Please continue to submit photographs to the Facebook page where they will be considered for the…
Mateus Mutemba, the Warden of Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, has been selected as one of National Geographic’s Class of 2017 Emerging Explorers. A spectacular 4,000-square-kilometer (1,500-square-miles, slightly larger than Rhode Island) national park in southeast Africa, Gorongosa is located in central Mozambique’s Sofala Province. Historically, its unique bio-geographical features supported some of the densest wildlife populations in Africa. Leading conservationists, including Harvard Professor E.O. Wilson, scientific advisor to the park, consider Gorongosa to be the greatest restoration success in Africa — and now one of the most biodiversity-rich protected areas in the world.