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Archive for the 'marine mammal' Category

Dr. Steven Amstrup has been studying polar bears and their habitat since 1980, and much of what we know about them, and even how scientists study them, comes from his work. For instance, he was the first person to apply radio telemetry to the study of polar bears, which allowed scientists to understand the immense distances that polar bears travel, and that knowledge of their movements is vital to understanding polar bear ecology. He also developed studies to quantitatively describe denning habitat and developed the ability to locate dens under the snow with Forward Looking Infrared Imagery (FLIR). That allowed him to uncovered – quite literally – information about polar bear maternal denning. He made the unexpected discovery that over half of historic polar bear maternity dens in Alaska were on the drifting pack ice, and then, subsequently, he led work that showed that polar bears increasingly opted to den on land because of sea ice deterioration due to global warming.

Over the three decades he’s been studying polar bears, Amstrup has observed a profound change in their Arctic habitats and the threats they face, and he often speaks out about the need to mitigate greenhouse gasses if polar bears are to survive as a species.

Dr. Amstrup is currently senior scientist at Polar Bears International. He led the international team of researchers that prepared nine reports that became the basis for the decision, by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 2008, to list polar bears as a threatened species. He is a past chairman of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group and has been an active member of the group throughout his career. Prior to joining Polar Bears International staff, he was the Polar Bear Project Leader with the United States Geological Survey at the Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK.

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Ari Daniel Shapiro, a wildlife biologist and radio contributor, shares his research on the vocalizations of killer whales. He reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme a number of interesting facts about the sounds of killer whales. Did you know they use both high and low frequencies in the same vocalization? He’ll also divulge what it’s really like to undertake this demanding kind of research in remote and frigid locales. While earning his PhD in biological oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Ari Daniel Shapiro studied the vocalizations of killer whales in Norway. Now he uses his own voice and knowledge to tell stories about science on radio and other media. He's a regular contributor to a variety of national public radio programs and the host of both the Podcast of Life and Ocean Gazing. You can find the video on Ari’s killer whale research discussed in this interview as well as other material on his website, www.aridanielshapiro.com. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on March 29, 2010.

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Robert Buchanan, President and CEO of Polar Bears International (PBI), shares the special adaptations of polar bears to a life on the ice. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how their huge paws, the size of dinner plates, act like snowshoes to distribute their weight and keep them from breaking through the ice. He also reveals that the thick, black pads on the soles of their feet are covered with “suction cups” to provide traction. These marine mammals depend on sea ice for most aspects of their life, including hunting, breeding, and in some cases, denning. That’s why the loss of sea ice due to climate change is so alarming. Summer ice in the Arctic has shrunk by almost 1 million square miles, an area roughly equal to the size of Alaska, Texas, and the state of Washington combined. Consequently, federal scientists believe two-thirds of all the world’s polar bears could vanish by 2050. That’s also why, in May 2008, the United States listed the polar bear as a threatened species under its Endangered Species Act.

Robert Buchanan made his first trip to the Far North and saw his first wild polar bear in the mid-1980s. He has returned every year since. After retiring from marketing for a leading global beverage company, Robert joined Polar Bears International’s board of directors in 2000 and became president and CEO of both PBI USA and Canada. Polar Bears International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear and its habitat through research, stewardship, and education. Its main focus is to provide scientific resources and information on polar bears and their habitat to institutions and the general public. Robert’s vision is to help the world understand the importance of the Arctic ecosystems and to inspire individuals to take action toward conserving the planet. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on February 14, 2010.

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Marcela Uhart shares her adventures as a wildlife field veterinarian in Patagonia, Argentina. She reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme the difficulties of handling and monitoring the health of diverse wildlife populations, from elephant seals and southern right whales to penguins and other seabirds. For instance, how do you immobilize a 1-2 ton animal? If you haven’t been to Patagonia, you’ll want to visit this rugged wilderness that stretches from the granite peaks of the Andes mountains to the desolate Atlantic coast. There, southern right whales gather to breed, a sizable southern elephant seal colony makes its home, and the world's largest Magellanic penguin colony lives.

Born and raised on a ranch in the Argentine pampas, Marcela Uhart has been a veterinarian with the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Field Veterinary Program since 1996. She spends much of her time in the field and often collaborates with numerous non-governmental organizations and researchers in Argentina while providing veterinary expertise in wildlife handling and immobilizations, translocations and health monitoring of wildlife populations. She has worked on a variety of species, including sea lions, elephant seals, penguins, small carnivores, caiman and raptors, as well as "agricultural-conflictive" species such as rheas, large rodents and large ungulates, including guanaco and pampas deer. Marcela has helped to introduce new policy measures to benefit wildlife, such as the establishment of a program to control agricultural pesticide use, implemented with the support and endorsement of an Argentine government research agency known as INTA. Marcela also acts as a consultant to field researchers and local conservation groups and has traveled to Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and other Latin American countries to provide her services. In November 1998, she became one of the founding members of the first Association of Latin American Wildlife Veterinarians. She is also the IUCN’s Wildlife Health Specialist Group (WHSG) coordinator for South America. In this role she hopes to reinforce and revitalize the relationship between wildlife specialists from the developed and developing nations. In fact, since she started at WCS, Marcela has worked tirelessly to address the critical shortage of training opportunities for young veterinarians in Latin America. Professional outreach remains a major focus of her work, as does collaborating with local universities and leading workshops in several Latin American countries. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on February 7, 2010.

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Joe Roman, Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School for the Environment and Natural Resources and author of the book Whale, discusses whale dung and its importance to the ecosystem. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that, contrary to most other marine species, whales feed at the ocean depths but defecate near to the surface, and that these whale feces, which are loaded with nitrogen, supply vital nutrients that fertilize their ocean gardens. We also discuss what whale poop looks and smells like, how to find it, and his other whale-related research.

Joe Roman was born and raised in New York and counts King Kong as an early conservation influence. He is a conservation biologist, as well as a Fellow at the Gund Institute of Ecological Economics, Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School for the Environment and Natural Resources, and research associate at the New England Aquarium. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 2003 in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and a Master's degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. During a fellowship with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he helped start an interdisciplinary program on Biodiversity and Human Health at the US Environmental Protection Agency. His most recent book, Whale (Reaktion Books), provides an in-depth look at the cultural and natural history of these majestic aquatic mammals. His next book, titled Listed: Dispatches from America's Endangered Species Act, will be released by Harvard University Press in spring 2011. His most recent research paper, which has been featured on National Public Radio and elsewhere, focuses on what he calls “the whale pump” and how the dung of these marine mammals enhance primary productivity in a coastal basin.This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 24, 2010.

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Craig Pittman, St. Petersburg Times environmental reporter and author of Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species, discusses manatees and the struggle to protect this endangered marine mammal. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme why manatees are so beloved and why these homely creatures are a flashpoint for Florida’s environmental debates. Did you know early sailors mistook manatees for mermaids? Or that the closest relative of the manatee on the evolutionary scale is the elephant?

Craig Pittman is an environment reporter for Florida’s largest newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times. Born in Pensacola, Craig graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998 he has reported on environmental issues for the St. Petersburg Times, and in 2004 won the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism in Florida for revealing a secret plan by the state's business leaders to transfer water from sleepy North Florida to booming South Florida. The stories caused such an uproar that Gov. Jeb Bush scuttled the plan. In 2006, he won the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists and also the Proffitt award (with Matthew Waite) for the series "Vanishing Wetlands," which found that federal and state wetland protection programs were a sham that enabled development to wipe out swamps and marshes. He and Waite shared a second Proffitt Award and a second Carmody Award in 2007 for a series called "When Dry is Wet" that exposed the flaws in the wetland mitigation banking industry. That led to their book, Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss. Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species, published by the University Press of Florida, is Craig's second book. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on December 6, 2010.

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Christine Heinrichs exposes elephant seals’ captivating habits and bizarre lifestyle as she takes us to Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery on California’s central coast. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how elephant seals spend 8 to 10 months a year in the open ocean and that, to find food, they dive incredibly deep, up to a mile underwater.  Twice a year they migrate thousands of miles to their land-based rookeries to give birth, breed, molt and rest. Listen as we meet some of these fascinating creatures — such as bull elephant seals who battle rivals for months only to lose out when the females finally come ashore and a courtly male who escorts his lady friend through hoards of suitors so that she can safely reach the ocean — and find out just how much we still have yet to learn. Christine Heinrichs is a docent with Friends of the Elephant Seal (www.elephantseal.org) who works at Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery where she helps protect these large marine mammals and educate visitors about their unique characteristics.  She enjoys animals of all kinds, wild and domestic, and has written two books on domestic poultry, How to Raise Chickens and How to Raise Poultry, which focus on raising traditional breeds in small flocks. This episode of THE WILDLIFE aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont originally aired on December 7, 2009 and was rebroadcast on August 16, 2010.

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Ari Daniel Shapiro, a wildlife biologist and radio contributor, shares his research on the vocalizations of killer whales. He reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme a number of interesting facts about the sounds of killer whales. Did you know they use both high and low frequencies in the same vocalization? He’ll also divulge what it’s really like to undertake this demanding kind of research in remote and frigid locales. While earning his PhD in biological oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Ari Daniel Shapiro studied the vocalizations of killer whales in Norway. Now he uses his own voice and knowledge to tell stories about science on radio and other media. He's a regular contributor to a variety of national public radio programs and the host of both the Podcast of Life and Ocean Gazing. You can find the video on Ari’s killer whale research discussed in this interview as well as other material on his website, www.aridanielshapiro.com. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on March 29, 2010.

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Al Crane, former FWS Special Agent, remembers his 30+ years in wildlife law enforcement in Alaska’s most remote reaches. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the many challenges he faced protecting walruses, wolves, bears and other creatures. He also discusses working within the Native Alaskan culture and how his involvement with the 1,150 mile Iditarod dog sled race, both as an organizer and entrant, helped him connect with the people and ultimately do his job better. Mr. Crane was a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the first such officer stationed in northwestern Alaska. He worked with the state of Alaska’s Fish and Wildlife Protection Division until 1974, when he moved to FWS to implement the then-newly passed federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. For the next 20 plus years, he acted as supervisor, pilot and field operative for that federal wildlife law enforcement agency. He was also one of the early organizers of the Iditarod, and ran that grueling race in 1977. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 25, 2010.

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The WildLife’s first Creature Call Contest lets listeners identify animals based on their sounds. The episode includes a series of 10 creature calls. “The WildLife’s” host, Laurel Neme, plays each sound, provides hints and facts on each animal, and plays the call again. At the end of the show, she replays the calls a final time. Listeners of the radio show and podcast are invited to enter their guesses of the 10 different animals to win a free copy of ANIMAL INVESTIGATORS: HOW THE WORLD’S FIRST WILDLIFE FORENSIC LAB IS SOLVING CRIMES AND SAVING ENDANGERED SPECIES (Scribner, 2009). To enter, send an email to: laurel@laurelneme.com. Entries close Monday, February 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. Please put the words “Creature Call Contest” in the subject line. The text of the email should list your guesses in numerical order. The person who guesses the most creature calls correctly will win a copy of ANIMAL INVESTIGATORS. If several people have the same number of correct answers, the person who emailed their responses first will be the winner. If two or more emailed at the same time, the winner will be drawn randomly. Winner will be notified via email and announced on the February 22, 2010 episode of “The WildLife.” This episode also includes an update on the elephant seals at the Piedras Blancas rookery in California from Christine Heinrichs, a docent there. Ms. Heinrichs tells about the latest antics of newborn pups and also the elephant seal census that was recently released. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 18, 2010.

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