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Gaining a better understanding of the seas through citizen science

Co-authored by Erica Cirino Twice a day, every day, Kera Mathes hops aboard a ship that sets off from Long Beach Harbor in California. As education specialist at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, she helps visitors aboard the ship identify the animals they see. Mathes also supervises the aquarium’s interns (college students and…

Uncharted Arctic waters: A new opportunity for exploitation, or conservation?

Co-authored by Erica Cirino When thick sheets of sea ice began melting in the Arctic waters around Svalbard, Norway, a few years ago, a new expanse of sparkling blue sea opened up. As climate change continues to drive ice melt here on the previously untouched waters of the North Barents Sea, what many ocean conservationists…

So you live near a coral reef: Why experts say that’s not good news for reef conservation

Co-authored by Erica Cirino My favorite beach on Long Island’s North Shore, where I live, is more than 700 miles away from the nearest coral reef (in Bermuda). This distance may be a good thing: Recent research suggests the further a coral reef is from human civilization, the better. (To get close from far away,…

A First Post-Cyclone Look at Coral Reefs in the Vatu-I-Ra Seascape

We knew the eye of Cyclone Winston passed over Ra, destroying up to 90 percent of people’s homes throughout the province while churning up the sea in its path. So we were expecting some damage to the reefs. Heading out to our first dive site, we saw in the distance Vatu-i-Ra – an island of cultural and historical importance to the village of Nasau and home to nine species of breeding seabirds. With more than 20,000 pairs of breeding Black Noddies (Anous tenuirostris), the island is recognized as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.

Best Job Ever: Filming a Wild Beluga Whale Party by Drone

Thousands of beluga whales congregate in Canada’s Cunningham Inlet each summer for what National Geographic Young Explorer and nature photographer Nansen Weber calls “a big beluga party.” Using a drone, Weber captures the breathtaking view from above.

Quick Take: The Ocean is a Global Climate Solution

By Maria Damanaki, Global Managing Director for Oceans at The Nature Conservancy As many people around the world know, the United Nations climate change conference (COP21) in Paris begins in just a few days. And as I wrote in this month’s Cornerstone Journal of Sustainable Finance and Banking, we are at a critical crossroads in…

Hear Hawaiian Songbirds Start the Day with a Dawn Chorus

Dr. Jacob Job works in the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division of the National Park Service and as a research associate at Colorado State University. At BioBlitz 2015, tucked away in the middle of a tropical rainforest, he recorded a dawn chorus in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The audio snapshots Job collects are a reminder that nature can be heard as well as seen.

A New Strategy for Wildlife Conservation

By Cristián Samper

At the Wildlife Conservation Society today we unveiled our WCS: 2020 strategy and, along with it, a new WCS.org website and brand identity. This announcement advances our 120-year mission to save wildlife and wild places. As the world rapidly changes, our approach to conservation must adapt and evolve. Our WCS: 2020 strategy represents our response to that change and a way to scale up our impact. Our choices today can give us a fighting chance to preserve the intricate balance of species and ecosystems that all lives depend upon.

The New Sustainable Development Goals: a Vision for Living in Harmony with Nature

There is now clearer recognition that sustainable development and biodiversity conservation are inextricably linked and that one cannot succeed without the other. The UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals address conservation of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The new agenda specifies that UN member states will “conserve and sustainably use oceans and seas, freshwater resources, as well as forests, mountains and drylands and to protect biodiversity, ecosystems and wildlife.” And SDG targets specifically refer to endangered species, calling for an end to wildlife poaching and trafficking.

Video Trap Catches Genet Hitching a Ride on Back of Rhinoceros

A genet, a small nocturnal animal that resembles a mix between a cat and a mongoose, was caught in a video trap hitching a ride on the back of a critically endangered black rhino in a South African park. It can be seen hunting insects that might have either been disturbed by the rhino, or attracted to it (like a cattle egret or fork-tailed drong would do during the day). A bat, (another potential source of prey for the genet), is also seen cashing in on the insect bounty. It is still unclear whether the genet is also interested in parasites like ticks on the rhino’s skin.

Offsetting Biodiversity: Greening or Greenwashing?

There’s a new conservation controversy brewing. While carbon offsetting continues to be debated as a response to continuing emissions growth, biodiversity offsetting is increasingly being seized upon as a solution to unabated biodiversity loss. The idea is that damage to biodiversity from development can be neutralized by creating an “ecologically-equivalent” benefit elsewhere – thus achieving “no net loss” of biodiversity. But inappropriate application of offsetting carries its own risk. What if misplaced confidence in offsets means more biodiversity losses are permitted? With many governments actively developing offset policies, strict standards are needed to ensure the approach really does mean better conservation outcomes, rather than simply drawing a thin green veil over habitat destruction.

Can Nature Make a Less Intense Hurricane Season a Less Risky One Too?

By Kathy Baughman McLeod, Director of Climate Risk & Resilience, The Nature Conservancy Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) predicted a below average hurricane season this year for the Atlantic. Hearing their projections, the immediate reaction is a sigh of relief. But we know that it’s not just the intensity of storms,…

“Disenchanted”: Easter Island – A Paradise Devastated by Plastic Pollution

Arrived on the legendary Easter Island (Chile) on May 20th, the R4WO scientific teams have proceeded onto the first scientific surveys in the South Pacific Garbage Patch on the coasts of the island devastated by plastic waste. At the same time, they have also continued with different sociological studies undertaken until now with local populations.   …

Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness #23

“Life in us is like the water in a river.” Henry David Thoreau The Okavango is the beating heart of Africa, home to an estimated 50% of the world’s elephants, most of the world’s hippo, and crucial populations of many other keystone species. There is no wilder place on earth: this is the Africa of…

Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness #22

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” Mahatma Gandhi Earlier this month many of us, delighting in the tradition of fresh starts, aligned the 1st of January with change in…