Helen Scales, author of Poseidon’s Steed: The Story of Seahorses from Myth to Reality, reveals the unusual anatomy and strange sex lives of seahorses. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that seahorses live mysterious lives, tucked away out of sight on the seafloor, and provides insights into their strange characteristics, including: kangaroo-like pouches for the males to bear the young, horse-like snouts used like straws to suck in tiny zooplankton, prehensile tails to grasp sea grasses, swiveling chameleon eyes and color-changing skin. Seahorses face many threats, including habitat loss and degradation and commercial trade. They’re used in traditional Asian medicine, and also sold as curios and as aquarium pets. Global consumption of seahorses is massive, with about 25 million seahorses sold each year. There’s so much we still don’t know about seahorses. For instance, we’re not even sure how many different species there are.
Dr. Helen Scales is a marine biologist, writer, and broadcaster who specializes in fisheries, habitat protection, and the international trade in endangered species. She has lived and worked in various countries and now lives in Cambridge, England where she works as a consultant for a number of conservation groups including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Natural England, and TRAFFIC International. For her PhD from the University of Cambridge she studied the loves and lives of one of the biggest coral reef fish, the Napoleon wrasse, and its imperiled status due to demand from Asian live seafood restaurants.She appears as a radio host on the BBC’s The Naked Scientists show and on BBC Radio 4’s Home Planet. She also produces and presents a new podcast series, Naked Oceans, a fun and informative exploration of the undersea realm. In her first book, Poseidon’s Steed: The Story of Seahorses from Myth to Reality, she explores humankind’s thousand-year fascination with seahorses. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 17, 2010. It was reposted on August 22, 2011.
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.
Craig Welch, Seattle Times environmental reporter and author of Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and The Hunt for Nature’s Bounty, talks about wildlife trafficking in Puget Sound and the massive illegal trade in geoducks (pronounced “gooey-duck”) clams. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how geoducks are more than fashionable seafood by providing an entrée into the dark underworld of illegal wildlife trade. Geoducks are a species of large saltwater clams native to the northern Pacific coasts of Washington State and the province of British Columbia.They’re the largest burrowing clam in the world, weighing on average 1 to 3 pounds, and also one of the world’s longest living organisms, with a life expectancy well over 100 years. Harvesting them is difficult, as these clams bury themselves deep into the muddy ocean bottoms and tidal flats, with only the small tips of their siphons evidence of their presence. To show just how difficult it can be, the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs television show even went to a geoduck farm in 2006. Geoducks are prized for their meat, and are considered a delicacy in China and elsewhere. They’ve been featured on a variety of cooking shows, including Top Chef, Dinner Impossible, and Extreme Cuisine with Jeff Corwin.
A journalist for two decades, Craig Welch’s work has appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, the Washington Post, and Newsweek, as well as the Seattle Times. He has won dozens of local, regional and national journalism awards, and has been named the national Society of Environmental Journalists’s Outstanding Beat Reporter of the Year. In 2007, he completed a fellowship at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Craig has hunted seals with tribal fishermen in Alaska, hitched helicopter rides with scientists in the melting Arctic, prowled the Oregon woods for endangered owls, and tracked the development of Wyoming’s oil fields. In researching his book Shell Games, Welch got an insider’s look at a group of dedicated state and federal wildlife agents who have devoted years to cracking down on the lucrative trade in geoducks in the Pacific Northwest. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on August 30, 2010 and was repeated on July 18, 2011.
Kristian Teleki, SeaWeb’s Vice President for Science Initiatives and former Director of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), reveals some of the mysteries of corals. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the biology and uses of corals and how much we still don’t know. He also discusses the threats to coral reefs and what can be done to halt their decline. Kristian Teleki joined SeaWeb as Vice President for Science Initiatives in November 2009. For the decade before that, he served as the Director of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), a unique global partnership dedicated to addressing the serious decline in the health of the world's coral reefs. During his tenure there Kristian had oversight for more than 40 coral reef projects in 35 countries. Project activities ranged from livelihood diversification and resource management to the prevention and mitigation of ecological degradation of coral reefs through management, monitoring and public awareness actions. In addition to his ICRAN duties, Kristian established and led the One Ocean Programme at the United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre, designed to reflect the interconnected nature of the world's seas and its coastlines, the rich and varied biodiversity they support, and human reliance on its resources and services. Kristian Teleki has a diverse background in marine science and conservation, and his field experience extends from the polar to tropical environments. He is particularly interested in the relationship that humans have with the ocean and promoting the sustainable use of its resources. He has degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Cambridge University. He also is on the Editorial Board of Aquatic Conservation, is a member of the Resource Users Group for the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) and is a Steering Committee member of the Global Islands Partnership and the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 3, 2010 and was repeated on July 4, 2011.
Bestselling author Mark Kurlansky discusses his new book, WORLD WITHOUT FISH (Workman, 2011). He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how the health and future of fish and their habitats affect us all. He also provides tips on how anyone can make a difference. Mark’s 10-year-old daughter and fishing companion, Talia Kurlansky, vetted each chapter and helped her dad make sure that WORLD WITHOUT FISH contained no boring parts and would be equally enjoyable to children and adults. Toward the end of the episode, my 9-year old son, Jackson Neme, interviews Talia about her views on the book, marine life and what kids can do to stop overfishing.
Mark Kurlansky is a former commercial fisherman and New York Times bestselling author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, Salt: A World History, The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, and 16 other books. He’s won numerous awards, including the ALA Notable Book Award, The New York Public Library Best Books of the Year Award, Los Angeles Times Science Writing Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His articles have appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including the International Herald Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Times, TIME magazine, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Audubon, and Parade. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 9, 2011.
Carol Foster talks about wildlife filmmaking. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme, how she and her filmmaker husband, Richard Foster, have constructed a special studio in the jungle of Belize that allows them to film wild behavior that would not otherwise be possible. For instance, they’ve captured a baby cantil viper wriggling the green tip of its tail over its head to attract and capture frogs, and also filmed flower mites hitchhiking in the nostrils of a hummingbird.
Carol and Richard Foster are documentary filmmakers specializing in natural history and the environment. Working out of their jungle studio, they have made films for the major networks including National Geographic and BBC. Both Carol and Richard are highly experienced at bringing to the screen the intricate hidden stories of natural behavior. Both have worked all over the world winning multiple awards for their work. They are currently using their skills to highlight the threats to the environment and nature by humans and climate change--subjects to which they are passionately committed. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 18, 2011.
Rene Umberger, dive master and activist, discusses the marine aquarium trade in Hawaii and its impact. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that every year, over 30 million fish are plucked from their coral reef homes for use in the aquarium hobby, with over 1,500 species targeted. Nearly all, 98 percent, of these saltwater aquarium animals are wild caught because captive breeding is difficult, if not impossible. She also notes that the Hawaiian islands are a key source of reef fish for the aquarium trade because of its many endemic species. However, over the last 20 yrs, the state has seen declines of 14 to 97% of aquarium fish species outside of protected areas. Millions of Hawaii's reef animals are collected annually, although nobody knows exactly how many because collection reports are not always filed and none are verified against the actual catch. In fact, experts estimate the true catch may be 2 to 5 times higher than 500,000 to 1 million fish reported.
Rene Umberger has logged over 10,000 dives as a scuba instructor and dive guide on Maui since 1983. Her concern for Hawaii's coral reefs led her to develop projects to address impacts to these fragile ecosystems. These include partnering with marine tourism, conservationists and educators to create interpretive materials and environmental standards for marine tour operations (which have since been adopted statewide). She’s also developed and organized, in partnerships with local fishing supply stores and the NOAA Hawaii Marine Debris Action Plan, underwater clean ups that have removed and partially recycled over 4000 lbs. of Ulua fishing gear from entangled corals along heavily fished shoreline sites. In recent years her work has focused on educating Hawaii's communities and leaders on the impacts of the aquarium trade and advocating for strong protections for Hawaii's coral reef wildlife. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 4, 2010 and was re-podcast on March 7, 2011. (There was no broadcast due to snowstorm.)
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.
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.
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.