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Infrared Measurement Devices Used to Constantly Determine the Magnitude of the Greenhouse Effect
Solar radiation enters the Earth's atmosphere without any hindrance and should normally leave it as heat. Unfortunately, this is impeded by the thickening "greenhouse roof" consisting of carbon dioxide and other gases.
North of Greenland, Canada Disappearing? Climate Change Causes Melting of the “Last Ice Area”
The "Last Ice Area" north of Greenland and Canada is the last sanctuary of all-year sea ice in this time of rising temperatures caused by climate change. A new study now suggests that this may soon be over.
Climate Change Affects Farmers, Agriculture in Ghana Due To Changing Rainfall Schedule
Climate change affects all spheres of life, particularly those aspects that depend on the environment. Farming communities are a case in point.
US Weather Update: Severe Storms in the South Could Produce Large Hail Overnight
Parts of the Chicago area are under the threat of severe weather overnight and into early Thursday morning. Rain will develop across the city and suburbs Wednesday afternoon, but the heaviest rain and best chances for thunderstorms will build overnight
Invasive Burmese Python Impossible to Wipe Out of Florida, US Experts Say
Experts are now saying that it is impossible to wipe out the invasive Burmese python from Florida lands. Read more here.
Plastic Rocks Found on Remote Island: Human Plastic Waste Blamed
Scientists made the disturbing discovery on a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean. Click to read more.
Strong Cold Front Puts Alabama at Risk for Severe Weather with Tornadoes, Damaging Winds, Hail
Alabama is at risk of receiving severe weather with tornadoes, damaging winds, and hail because of an incoming strong cold front. Read more here.
Heavy Rain Causes Overspill in California Lake After 20 Years of Drought
After 20 years of drought, this California lake is bound to overspill as heavy rain passes. Read more here.
Baby Sharks ‘Charlie’ and ‘Kathryn’ Released in Indonesia Waters to Restore Zebra Shark Population
Zebra sharks are nearly extinct in the waters of Indonesia’s eastern province. Click to read more.
Jellyfish Consume Larger Prey Implying That They Will Occupy a Higher Position in the Food Chain as They Mature
Researchers found out that large jellyfish eat larger prey as they mature, and it influences their nutritional value.
US Fungus Outbreak: Deadly Candida Auris Fungi Spreads in 28 States [CDC Warns]
The Candida auris fungus is spreading in healthcare facilities, where it shows signs of antimicrobial resistance. Click to read more.
Increased Burnings in the Southwestern Amazon’s Arising Deforestation Horizon
According to a study, human induced deforestation in the Amazon rainforest increased in burnings between 2003-2019. Read more here
US Weather Update: Severe Thunderstorms, Flooding Rain to Spread Almost 20 States
One of the storms, moving eastward, was also responsible for the heavy precipitation in California in recent days. Click to read more.
Median Eyes in Trilobites Found After 150 Years of Multiple Researches
Scientists found single median eyes in trilobites 150 years after research started. Read more here.
2 Invasive Mudsnails from New Zealand Found in  Montana Creek
Officials found two invasive mudsnails from New Zealand dead in a Montana creek. Read more here.
4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Accepting a New Job
Whether you've recently started your job hunt or have just received an offer, before you jump head-first into a new role, it's a good idea to take a step back, give yourself a cooling-off period and ask a few pertinent questions.
75-Pound Endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle Carcass with Whole Ecosystem Beached in Oregon
A 75-pound endangered loggerhead sea turtle carcass was beached in Oregon. Experts found that it carried a whole ecosystem on its shell.
Severe Weather Hounds Ohio with Threats of Flooding Rain During This Stormy Spring
Ohio is under threat from flooding as the region is battered by severe weather during this stormy spring.
Poisoned Meatballs Kill Several Dogs at Canicross Race Event in France
The cross-country racing event is a competitive sport where a dog and its human companion run together. Click to read more.
UK Weather Forecast: Thunderstorms Expected Across UK as Flood Warnings Remain in Effect
Weather maps show a wall of snow could be about to hit Britain. Temperatures are set to plunge below zero in the far north of Scotland down to as far as -10C as the country exits winter and heads into spring.
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WWF Women share why they love science
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WWF’s 2022 Living Planet Report
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WWF 2022 Fuller Symposium: Exploring OECMs
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The Cuando River Basin Report Card
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What’s Up with Climate Action In America?
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The Guide
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Primates of the Greater Mekong
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Meet WWF’s 2021 Conservation Leadership Award Winner
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WWF is thankful for you
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The Green Room: Protecting wildlife in a warming world
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The Green Room: How food impacts the planet
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El Estado del Planeta
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The Green Room: State of the Planet
- Amanda Schmidt
Through a Zoological Park Designer’s Lens: Making Cultural Connections

Jennifer Dolland, Assistant Studio Manager & Senior Graphic Designer, Wildlife Conservation Society. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Dolland.

I’ve always had a passion for the arts and math. As a child, I loved to draw. As I got older, my “creative” expression expanded to working on home improvement projects with my parents: installing laminate woods floors and kitchen backsplash, decorative wall painting, and refurbishing furniture. With these projects, I got to utilize my math skills—measuring, cutting, and spatial visualization—and I discovered I enjoyed using my creativity to transform spaces.

My degrees in Psychology (UW-Madison) and Display & Exhibit Design (Fashion Institute of Technology) contributed to my work as a visual merchandiser in trade show and retail spaces. I observed how creating impactful displays motivated customers towards making a purchase. I learned the impact of creating and adapting a message or environment to successfully connect with an audience.

A major breakthrough in my career was landing a summer internship as a graphic designer in the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Exhibit and Graphic Arts Department (EGAD). Based at the Bronx Zoo, EGAD is responsible for the design and construction of exhibits as well as other design projects at the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and New York Aquarium.

Wildlife Conservation Society worked with the Bronx River Alliance to design, locate, and install signs along the Bronx River. The signs help direct paddlers to the canoe portage location, warn paddlers about the waterfall, and provide information about the animals that live on the Bronx River. Photo courtesy of the WCS Exhibition & Graphic Arts Department (EGAD).

As a Minnesota native, I grew up seeing deer, wild turkey, and the occasional American marten in my neighborhood. You’d ski or sled during the winter and visit one of our 10,000+ lakes during the summer. So working at the Bronx Zoo and being immersed in nature has made my workplace feel like a home away from home.

Through the years, I’ve had the opportunity to design graphics for various needs: park events, retail, wayfinding, and exhibits. In my current role as the Assistant Studio Manager & Senior Graphic Designer, my responsibilities have expanded to assisting with project management and production.

I’ve benefitted from collaborating and learning from a group of smart and talented individuals including other graphic designers, writers, architects, landscape designers, fabricators, and production specialists.

Collectively, we’re committed to creating immersive experiences with the goal of connecting our visitors to nature and fostering a love of wildlife and wild places. Through design, we transport our visitors to different locales and habitats using soundscapes, wall murals, and landscape design.

The Central Park Zoo’s grizzly bear exhibit features a bear proof trash can. Photo courtesy of the WCS Exhibition & Graphic Arts Department (EGAD).

We blur the line between the animal and visitor space through exhibit elements, like a rocky outcrop or plantings, that span both spaces – making our visitors feel like they are a part of the animal’s space. Our strategic placement of signage, 3D objects, and interactives help us communicate important messages to our guests. Seeing our visitors connect and engage with our exhibits, and then share their learning with others is always rewarding.

A recent favorite project is the PlayQuarium exhibit at the New York Aquarium. It’s a bilingual, immersive playspace that introduces kids to different ocean habitats and sea life. Through different tactics, children are encouraged to take on the role of animal or explorer as they journey through the open ocean, coral reef, kelp forest, rocky shore, and salt marsh.

The design team reviewing full size illustrations for the PlayQuarium exhibit. To create an immersive, real-world conditions, it was important the animal illustrations were life size. Photo courtesy of the WCS Exhibition & Graphic Arts Department (EGAD).

During the early development of the exhibit, I reflected on my childhood. I vividly remember my second grade class making Santas. My teacher, Mrs. Hayes, offered me brown construction paper so I could make a brown Santa. Unable to articulate it at the time, I felt seen. Later, I felt deflated after a classmate said my brown Santa appeared like he just came down the chimney.

That early experience, coupled with others—like the “nude” Crayon not representing my skin color—made me aware at a young age that my racial identity was not considered the standard or norm. These childhood experiences influence the lens through which I design. It’s important to see inclusive representation reflected in our parks to connect with our global diverse audience.

One of the final illustrations used in the PlayQuarium exhibit. The illustrations encourage kids to take on the role of an animal or explorer as they visit different underwater habitats. Photo courtesy of the WCS Exhibition & Graphic Arts Department (EGAD).

As we celebrate Black History Month, I hope exhibits like PlayQuarium resonate with young brown and black kids—that they will see themselves as conservationists and feel empowered to be advocates for wildlife and wild places.

The post Through a Zoological Park Designer’s Lens: Making Cultural Connections appeared first on Nature.

- Amanda Schmidt
Charting a Course for Aspiring Black Conservationists

I recently started working with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) as a Water Quality Lab Technician at the New York Aquarium. This is my first job in the ecology/conservation field after graduating from college in May 2022. I work alongside three other amazing Water Quality Lab Technicians to analyze, report and address various water quality parameters (pH, salinity, ammonia, turbidity, etc.) for the vast multitude of aquatic animals living at the aquarium.

We work tirelessly with our veterinarians, animal keepers, and life support system technicians to ensure the animals are housed in optimal environments and the aquarium is running smoothly. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work with the New York Aquarium and make a meaningful impact on the care of marine life living here.

Jordan Cox. Photo courtesy of Cordan Cox.

Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, I always had a fascination with studying various types of wildlife and plant life. As far back as elementary school, I loved reading the Nature’s Children wildlife books that were offered at our school’s library and going on field trips to the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, and Fernbank Natural History Museum. I still enjoy these places when I visit home.

My desire to work in the field of ecology/conservation and my love for doing work in a lab started in high school with my AP Environmental Science class. Taking a trip to the Gwinnett County Wastewater Treatment plant and learning about the processes used to treat our wastewater to make it safe for animals in the river, along with the constant environmental assessments that were done by the technicians left me in awe.

Our other coursework—whether designing eco columns, testing lake water, or gathering data on the trees around us—cemented my interest in ecology.

Jordan with fellow volunteers with the Massachusetts Audubon Society on their Habitat Trails Day. Photo courtesy of Jordan Cox.

I joined my high school’s green team and was determined to become a scientist and make an impact. Moving forward into college and learning much more in-depth knowledge about our environment, climate change, and the field of conservation biology helped me realize this truly was the right career field for me.

As I progressed through school and into my first job, I have faced the challenge of recognizing that the field of ecology/conservation is a primarily Caucasian-American field. Coming from predominantly white educational institutions in high school and college, it had never shocked me to be the only African American in any setting.

However, I did notice in college while engaged in my ecology courses, that I was the only African American man in classes of 20-60 students. When in these kinds of spaces, which can be very daunting, I’m so thankful that my family is full of strong and successful African American men and women, whom I’m able to look up to. My family is a constant reminder to me that I can succeed in predominantly white spaces and to constantly strive for success in everything I do.

I personally believe the racial gap in conservation and environmental protection fields exists because these fields typically require advanced college degrees but do not necessarily come with salaries commensurate to those in other fields (medicine, IT, law) requiring the same levels of education.

Jordan on his graduation day from Boston University. Photo courtesy of Jordan Cox.

The past and current oppression of minorities in America due to systemic racism that has prevented wealth building, has streamlined people of color into these other fields that offer higher returns and led to a lack of involvement in the field of environmental protection. I believe this has been extremely damaging as we discuss how African Americans and other people of color are affected by environmental racism/ injustice.

Minorities are less likely to live near natural areas because they are among the first to be gentrified, resulting in higher housing costs, and making it more likely that minority residents will end up in areas suffering disproportionately from climate change and pollution. These issues often go unaddressed, because there are very few people involved in these decisions and the viewpoints of the African American community and other minority communities are often not addressed.

I hope that I can inspire more people like me to get involved in conservation and together we can bridge the racial gap of minorities in environmental protection. Whether that be getting involved with primarily African American conservation groups like Black Birders Week or Outdoor Afro, or pursuing a career in conservation as a Wildlife Keeper or Biologist.

Later in my life, as I advance in this field, I hope to make a more significant impact in the fight against climate change and environmental injustice and to make sure that the voices and concerns of African Americans and other minorities are considered when addressing these critical challenges.

The post Charting a Course for Aspiring Black Conservationists appeared first on Nature.

- Amanda Schmidt
Red Panda Fact Sheet

Red panda (Ailurus fulgens): a small mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China.

AKA: the lesser panda, the red cat bear, and the firefox.

Kingdom: | Animalia
Phylum: | Chordata
Class: | Mammalia
Order: | Carnivora
Family: | Ailuridae
Genus: | Ailurus
Species: | A. fulgens

While they share their name with black-and-white giant pandas, they are not closely related. Previously, red pandas were classified as part of the Procyonidae family, which includes raccoons and their relatives. However, recent DNA studies indicate that red pandas represent a unique family that diverged from the rest of the Carnivore Order. Therefore, taxonomists placed them in their own unique family: Ailuridae.

Size and Weight:

Red pandas are 20 to 25 inches long, not including their tail. Their tail is 11 to 19 inches long. Females weigh 6 to 10 pounds, and males weigh 10 to 14 pounds.


The red panda has dense reddish-brown fur with a black belly and legs. It has white-lined ears, a primarily white muzzle and a ringed, bushy tail. They are well adapted for their arboreal habitat, using their bushy tail for balance and their long claws for gripping. The red panda’s cinnamon-red coat and cream-colored face mask provide camouflage among the red moss and white lichen that cover the tree trunks of their bamboo forest homes. The legs and belly shade black in striking contrast to their red coat.


Like the giant panda, red pandas are bamboo-eaters. They are mostly vegetarian, with powerful molars for chewing on tough bamboo. Bamboo is not a great food source for energy and is hard to digest. Red pandas need to eat 20 to 30 percent of their body weight each day, about 2 to 4 pounds of bamboo shoots and leaves. Red pandas eat mostly bamboo leaves and shoots, acorns, and flowers. Bamboo stalks are eaten in the spring and fruit is enjoyed in the summer. They may also eat eggs, small birds and small rodents.


Red pandas live mostly in cool, temperate forests with a shrubby understory dominated by thick bamboo. In part of India, red pandas live in a tropical forests.


Red pandas are found in small, isolated mountain territories in China, Nepal, India, Bhutan and Burma.


Breeding season occurs from January to April. During this time, red pandas come together in small groups. Cubs and adults may engage in social play, such as lunging, wrestling, and biting. Like giant pandas, the females are fertile for only one or two days a year, and there is a period of delayed implantation when the fertilized egg doesn’t implant or develop right away. She typically gives birth to cubs in the summer when their chances for survival are best. A few days before giving birth, the expectant mother begins to build a birthing den in a hollow tree, stump or rock crevice.

After a gestation period of 98 to 145 days, the mother gives birth to one to four cubs. They are born with thick buff and gray fur. They are vulnerable at birth with their eyes and ears tightly closed, so the mother keeps her cubs hidden in the den. For their first 7 to 10 days, the cubs’ only activity is nursing. They usually begin opening their eyes and ears at 2 to 3 weeks of age and nurse until 13 to 22 weeks old. As they grow, their wooly, gray hair changes to red. Their mother shelters her young in tree hollows and regularly moves them to new dens.

At 40 to 50 days old, the cubs are actively exploring the den, grooming and playing. Cubs venture from the den when about three months old. They begin to regularly eat solid food at four months old. By five months of age, they are almost as large as their mother. They are driven away by their mother when they are mature at 18 to 20 months old. At this time, the mother typically prepares to raise her next litter.

Social Structure:

Red pandas are largely solitary creatures but come together in pairs in the breeding season. They exchange information using scent glands, visual cues including “stare downs” with head bobbing, and a variety of calls. When they feel threatened, red pandas make an ear-splitting, grumbly barking sound. Adults use high-frequency twitters and low-frequency bleats during the breeding season.

They are most active in the early morning and late afternoon (crepuscular), spending most of the day resting in trees conserving their energy. When night falls, red pandas run through the trees to forage for food. During this time, males patrol their territory and scent mark it with urine as well as a secretion from the anal gland. Red pandas are mild-mannered and use their claws mostly for climbing. However, when defending their territory, they stand on their hind legs and use their sharp claws to strike out if threatened. They may also release a strong odor from their scent glands to dissuade predators.


Red pandas live eight to ten years in the wild and up to 15 years in captivity.


The number of red pandas living in the wild has declined dramatically over the last 50 years. There are estimated to be only 2,500 adults remaining in their native habitat. Habitat loss, hunting and the pet trade are the largest threats to the species. Their forest home has been cleared for farming and grazing. They are hunted for their pelts, which are made into fur capes and hats. They are also mistakenly caught in snares set out for wild pigs, deer, and takins.

Conservation Status:

As of 2015, the IUCN has classified the dhole as Endangered on its Red List of Threatened Species.

Conservation Efforts:

There are currently global efforts to protect red pandas. Some habitat has been designated as protected areas in places such as India, China, Nepal and Bhutan. The Red Panda Network is among the conservation groups working to save the species. It is a nonprofit organization that identifies unprotected red panda habitats and trains “forest guardians” to conduct awareness-building workshops on red pandas at local villages and work with villagers to establish new protected areas. Forest guardians also continue baseline conservation research and monitoring of red panda populations.

Source: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and The Red Panda Network.

The post Red Panda Fact Sheet appeared first on Nature.

- Amanda Schmidt
Banking on a Career in Conservation

Alicia visiting the sea lion exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, one of her favorites. Photo Credit: ©Alexandria Brown.

My journey into the conservation field began in 1995. It was then I began working part-time as an accounting clerk at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo—in our “bank” located in the cashroom. My main duties were cashing checks and tallying daily sales from the five wildlife parks: the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, New York Aquarium, Prospect Park Zoo, and Queens Zoo.

Howard Forbes, now retired, hired me. At the time, he was the only African American representative on the Accounting Department’s management team. He was a mentor to me and gave me something to strive for with the utmost style and grace.

When I first started working at WCS, my plan for my tenure was much shorter term. It was by no means guaranteed by the B.A. in accounting I was then pursuing as a first-generation college student. So I was thrilled when the Accounting Department offered me a full-time position upon graduation.

Alicia proudly posing for a picture in her office circa 2005. Photo Credit: Isobel Onorato/WCS.

This milestone defined my decision to make WCS home and seek more knowledge. I continued my education endeavors at Pace University Graduate School to earn my master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA).

WCS (originally the New York Zoological Society) and I share one special bragging point: we were both born in the Bronx! I am a proud Jamaican American. In my early years, I lived in Jamaica with my aunt until I was 5 years old and was about to enter Kindergarten. While in Jamaica, I lived in the countryside, where I was exposed to the farm life very early with chickens, cows, goats and pigs. It was common to see me doing chores at a young age on the farm.

In my culture, it is more typical to go into the medical field and become a doctor or a nurse. This led to some lack of understanding by my family about my decision to get a job that was not in the allied health field at all, but I knew what I wanted to do from a very young age. It all started with board games—specifically, Monopoly.

Alicia Wyatt, Senior Accountant, Wildlife Conservation Society. Photo Credit: ©Alexandria Brown.

When I was a little girl, I loved to play board games with my siblings and cousins. I was the youngest of the group, yet I would usually have one of the most important roles when we played Monopoly. Nothing gave me more joy than having the older kids of the family entrust me with the coveted position of banker.

Even though I was the youngest, I was always trusted. I was always given responsibility and it felt great. In fact, I believe it planted the seeds of my interest in the accounting profession. Today my professional role requires a high degree of responsibility, and I am a trusted advisor within the organization. As an accountant, I facilitate that type of trust and integrity across our many divisions and departments by ensuring compliance with rules and regulations.

I am most proud of my abilities to lead, problem solve, and analyze. I enjoy collaborating, building relationships, and providing the best options to meet the needs of WCS.

I am currently working as a Senior Accountant at WCS, headquartered at the Bronx Zoo. My favorite part of being located at the Bronx Zoo is the fact that I can take daily walks and see the animals and exhibits I love. I usually find myself visiting the sea lions, tigers, and the Congo Gorilla Forest.

Alicia visiting the Tiger Mountain exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. Photo Credit: ©Alexandria Brown.

I have worked at WCS for 28 years as of 2023. My two kids have enjoyed the zoo over the years as much as I have. My son Andrew will be 30 in August. Alexandria is 22. Even though they have grown up and I now live in Mount Vernon, New York, the Bronx and its beloved zoo will always be a home away from home for us.

The post Banking on a Career in Conservation appeared first on Nature.

- Amanda Schmidt
Building Bridges and Connecting Communities through Conservation

Elaine (right) celebrates Juneteenth with colleagues from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s BLAC employee resource group (ERG). Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS.

As a young New Yorker growing up in the Bronx, visiting the Bronx Zoo for my annual class field trip was always a highlight of the year. The zoo provided a magical experience, where I could see animals from all over the world up close and learn about conservation. Over the years it has remained a place full of wonder as I have gone from exploring as a child to sharing these one-of-a-kind memories with my family.

More than a decade ago, I embarked on a career in civil service, working first as a coordinator for the city’s Small Business Services agency and later as Operations Manager at the Department of Youth and Community Development. It was there I developed a deep understanding of the systems and structures that govern the city and saw firsthand the inequities that exist within them.

My passion for uplifting others has taken me on a journey around the world, from exploring the Andean culture of Peru to experiencing the vibrant spirit of Cuba. However, it was relief work in Haiti following the devastating earthquake of 2010 that solidified my commitment to making a positive impact on people’s lives.

WCS staff participate in a Black Birders Week birdwatching outing. Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS.

Over the years, I have dedicated my time and energy to supporting communities in need, and these experiences have taught me the importance of empathy, resilience, and cultural understanding.

In 2021, I was given the opportunity to join WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) as Assistant Director of Education Administration. This was a dream job for me, as I had always been passionate about conservation and education.

As Assistant Director of Education Administration, I oversee an exceptional core team that plays a key role in driving sales and promotions for all of the education programs across the Wildlife Conservation Society. However, what really drew me to this position was the organization’s unwavering commitment to providing opportunities to the youth and young people in our communities.

Elaine participating in a VIP Wild Encounter with a California sea lion at the New York Aquarium’s Aquatheater. Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS.

Whether it is through grant-funded programs or the WCS career lattice program, which provides expanded entry points and professional services to youth from low-income communities, we strive to provide equal access to quality conservation education and opportunities for all. I am aware of the transformative power that increased social capital can have on individuals, families, communities, and neighborhoods.

By providing access to cultural institutions and high-quality education programs like those offered in our parks, we can expand young people’s horizons and inspire them to achieve even greater heights, especially when they see people who look like them achieving success.

It is truly fulfilling to be part of an organization that is dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of our youth and to be able to lead a team that is at the forefront of driving these initiatives forward.

Pan African flag-raising at WCS’s Bronx Zoo for Black History Month. Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS.

Each day I want to be a part of work that truly matters, fostering and expanding opportunities for young people in my community, and increasing equitable opportunities for staff at WCS. As co-lead of the BLAC (Black Leadership Advancement Consortium) employee resource group, I am committed to ensuring that all employees, regardless of their background or identity, have the support and resources they need to succeed and thrive at WCS.

Wherever I go, whether it’s through my work here at WCS, in my neighborhood in the Bronx or in my travels around the world, I strive to make a positive impact on the places and people I encounter, leaving them better than before.

The post Building Bridges and Connecting Communities through Conservation appeared first on Nature.

- Amanda Schmidt
Dhole Fact Sheet

Dhole (Cuon alpinus): a canid native to Central, South, East and Southeast Asia.

AKA: Asian wild dog, Asiatic wild dog, Indian wild dog, whistling dog, red dog, red wolf, and mountain wolf.

Kingdom: | Animalia
Phylum: | Chordata
Class: | Mammalia
Order: | Carnivora
Family: | Canidae
Genus: | Cuon
Species: | C. alpinus

Size and Weight:

Dholes are only about the size of a border collie. They are 3 feet in length and 20 inches tall at the shoulder. Their tail is 15 to 18 inches long. Males are slightly larger and heavier than females. Females weigh 22 to 29 pounds and males weigh 33 to 44 pounds.


Depending on their habitat, these wild dogs vary in color from charcoal gray to rust red to sandy beige. They have a long, brushy, fox-like tail that often has a black tip. They usually have a white belly, chest, and feet. Adults have rounded ears and a pointed snout.


Their diet varies depending on their habitat, but they typically feed on hoofed mammals. In India, they eat deer, wild pigs, buffalo, and wild goats. In Southeast Asia, dholes feed on deer, gaur, and banteng. And in Siberia, they eat deer, wild sheep, and reindeer. When hunting larger prey, they often hunt as a pack. A pack is capable of taking down prey over 10 times their own body weight. When hunting solo, a dhole may also feed on berries, bugs, lizards, and rabbits.

Dholes maintain a very large territory of up to 34 square miles, helping them to find enough food to eat. Their territory is often shared with larger predators like tigers and leopards, so the pack must be alert. One dog often leads the pack during a hunt. They communicate throughout the hunt with various sounds. This communication, plus their incredible athleticism, helps them take down large prey. With teeth like razors, dholes can consume a quarter of their own body weight in ten minutes.


Dholes occupy a wide variety of climates and habitats, such as dense forests, scrub, steppes, and alpine regions.


Dholes are found in Central, South, East and Southeast Asia.


The breeding season occurs in November and December, which includes two weeks of courting and two weeks of breeding. In a pack of dholes, there is one dominant monogamous pair. The entire pack helps to care for and feed that pair’s pups. After a gestation period of 60 to 62 days, the female gives birth to a litter of up to 12 pups, which is more teats than other canid species.

While the mother is nursing, other members will bring food to her and the pups by regurgitating it from their stomachs after a hunt. The pups remain at the den site for 70 to 80 days. By the age of six months, the pups accompany the adults on hunts and are allowed first dibs on the kills. By eight months of age, they assist the adults with the killing of larger prey. The pups reach sexual maturity at about three years of age, at which time, the females head off to live with other packs.

Social Structure:

Like other wild dog species, dholes are social animals that live in groups called packs. Each pack has 5 to 12 members that care for the young, hunt and feed together. Members may also work or play with dholes from outside of their own pack. Sometimes various packs form super packs of up to 30 dogs. Super packs hunt together, share their prey, and then separate again into the original smaller groups. Inter-pack aggression is rare. Dhole packs live in burrows with multiple entrances.

Dholes are one of the most talkative canid species. They have eleven distinctive calls that are used for different situations. At play, they whine and whimper. They also cluck, scream and mew. They are perhaps best known for their whistle. While hunting as a pack, the low-frequency whistle call carries farther and is easier to hear through thick forest foliage. The whistling sound is so distinct that it can be used to identify individual animals.


Dholes live about 10 years in the wild and up to 16 years in captivity.


The greatest threat to dholes is habitat loss and fragmentation. As human activity expands, dholes are losing their places to live, reproduce and feed. Not only are dhole at risk, but so is their prey. In 2008, there were estimated to be less than 2,500 adult dholes in the wild.

Other threats include disease and human conflict. These wild dogs can easily catch diseases like distemper and rabies from domestic dogs brought by humans moving into the wild dogs’ habitat. Dholes are viewed as dangerous pests in some areas and are trapped and poisoned as a result.

Conservation Status:

As of 2015, the IUCN has classified the dhole as Endangered on its Red List of Threatened Species.

Conservation Efforts:

Scientists and conservationists are working to better understand dholes. For example, scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Species Survival (CSS) are working to study and save dholes by tracking animals with satellite collars, monitoring human-dhole conflict, and doing community outreach.

Source: NATURE’s miniseries “Dogs in the Wild” and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

The post Dhole Fact Sheet appeared first on Nature.

- Amanda Schmidt
Golden Eagle Fact Sheet

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos): a bird of prey living in the Northern Hemisphere.

Kingdom: | Animalia
Phylum: | Chordata
Class: | Aves
Order: | Falconiformes
Family: | Accipitridae
Genus: | Aquila
Species: | A. chrysaetos

Size and Weight:

Golden Eagles are one of the largest birds in North America. Their wingspan stretches 72 to 86 inches. They measure 27.6 to 33.1 inches in length and weigh 6.4 to 13.2 pounds. Females are larger than males.


Adults are dark brown with a golden sheen on the back of the head and neck. Young golden eagles have neatly defined white patches at the base of the tail and in the wings. The amount of white in the wings varies among individuals, and a few lack white in the wings entirely.


Golden Eagles are carnivores that prey mainly on small mammals. While capable of killing large prey, they typically hunt small mammals, such as hares, rabbits, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, and marmots. They’re also known to kill larger mammals like seals, mountain goats, coyotes, badgers, and bobcats. These eagles are also scavengers, feeding on carrion. However, while the same size as the bald eagle, the golden eagle is less of a scavenger and more of a predator.


Golden eagles prefer to live in the grasslands of the Northern Hemisphere. They are found primarily in mountains up to 12,000 feet, canyonlands, rimrock terrain, and riverside cliffs and bluffs. Golden eagles nest on cliffs and steep escarpments in grassland, forest and other vegetated areas.


Golden eagles can be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere in North America, Europe, and Asia.


Golden eagles mate for life. During courtship, two birds circle high in the air, making shallow dives at each other. About one to three months before laying eggs, the pair will build a nest of sticks and vegetation. Their nest can be found on cliffs, in trees, on the ground, or in human-made structures, typically near their hunting grounds. They may use their nest site for many years and may have an alternate nest site. Their nests are huge, averaging 5-6 feet wide, 2 feet high, and enclosing a bowl about 3 feet by 2 feet deep.

The female will lay one to three eggs at a time. The eggs are 2.7 to 3.4 inches long and 1.9 to 2.5 inches wide. The incubation period is 41 to 45 days, followed by a nesting period of 45 to 81 days. When hatched, the chicks are weak, weighing about 3 ounces. They are partially covered with grayish-white down and their eyes are partially open. The young become largely independent of their parents 75 to 85 days after fledging.

Social Structure:

Golden eagles are typically found alone or in pairs. It is believed that they are monogomous, mating for life. The pair defends their territory against other golden eagles. Pairs are also known to hunt prey cooperatively during the breeding season. For example, one eagle diverts the animal’s attention while the second makes the kill. For their large size, these eagles possess astonishing speed and maneuverability for their size. They have been clocked diving at speeds close to 200 miles per hour.


The oldest golden eagle was recorded in Utah, reaching an age of at least 31 years and 8 months old.


The greatest threat to the golden eagle is human activity. It’s estimated that more than 70% of recorded golden eagle deaths are attributable to human impact. Most recorded deaths are from collisions with vehicles, wind turbines, and other structures or from electrocution at power poles. However, newer designs have reduced these risks. Habitat loss is another major threat, as urbanization and agricultural developments have compromised their nesting and hunting grounds. While some eagles die after eating poisoned prey animals set out to control coyotes, others succumb to lead poisoning from ammunition in hunter-shot prey.

Conservation Status:

As of 2021, the IUCN has classified the golden eagle as of Least Concern on its Red List of Threatened Species.

Conservation Efforts:

In 1962, the U.S. Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act outlawed harming these birds, their eggs, and their nests. Although this legislation remains in effect, humans are still golden eagles’ greatest threat.

Source: The Cornell Lab and the National Audobon Society.

The post Golden Eagle Fact Sheet appeared first on Nature.

- Danielle Broza
Using Drones to Assess World’s Largest Mass Gathering of Giant River Turtles

This piece comes to us from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Roughly two months after the turtles nest, hundreds of thousands of hatchlings emerge from the sand and make their way to the river. Photo credit: ©WCS Brazil.

Conservation technology helps conservationists monitor one of nature’s most impressive spectacles: the nesting of giant Amazonian River turtles (Podocnemis expansa). This is the largest concentration of freshwater turtles in the world. Through the use of drones, flights are being conducted over their nesting sites on a river separating Bolivia from Brazil (Bolivians call it the Iténez, Brazilians the Guaporé). But how can technology help us conserve this species?

Every year, thousands of giant river turtles swim up the waters of the Iténez/Guaporé River, and between September and November lay their eggs on stretches of beach between Bolivia and Brazil. This nesting lasts between 20 and 30 days, as each female lays between 50 and 170 eggs per nest for approximately 30 minutes. Nesting occurs at different times of the day and the weather plays a fundamental role.

Each female lays between 50 and 170 eggs per nest. Photo credit: Marcos Amend/WCS.

Unfortunately, the population of this species has been drastically reduced because traffickers have taken advantage of this wonderful natural event to collect the eggs and trap the turtles for their meat, shells, and fat. With this decline, the turtles have become an endangered species in the Amazon, threatening the river ecosystem for which they play a vital role.

In recent years, several conservation strategies have been adopted. Among these is to manage, protect, and monitor the nesting beaches of the Iténez/Guaporé River. These activities are carried out for two months, from nesting to hatching of the eggs.

Every year, thousands of giant river turtles swim up the waters of the Iténez/Guaporé River to lay their eggs on stretches of beach between Brazil and Bolivia. Photo credit: Marcos Amend/WCS.

In Brazil, the Brazilian Institute of Environment (IBAMA) is fighting illegal trafficking with the support of the local NGO Ecovale. On the Bolivian side, residents of the indigenous community of Versalles in the Department of Beni protect the nesting beaches, which are part a Departmental Park in the Beni, the Iténez Forestry Reserve.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) supports these conservation efforts in different areas in Brazil and Bolivia by strengthening the management of protected areas, monitoring the turtle population, and supporting the control and observation of beaches. All these activities are part of an action plan for the conservation of this species that is currently being developed.

As part of that effort, and in the face of changes in the weather of the Amazon as a result of climate change, turtle monitoring has become a fundamental part of conservation, and estimating the number of females nesting in this area is critical. Thus, starting in 2021, we coordinated activities to use technological platforms to count the number of female turtles nesting on the beaches of this fabulous river.

Through programmed flights of drones equipped with visible sensor cameras and infrared cameras, we collected photos and videos of the beaches of the Itenez/Guaporé river during the nesting periods to have a first estimate of the number of females that spawn at these sites. It was possible to carry out this count with a visible camera during daylight hours. The amazing technology of infrared cameras allowed us to observe the egg-laying activity during the night as well, when there is little or no visibility.

The use of drones is now helping conservationists to monitor the spectacular nesting of giant South American river turtles on the banks of the Iténez/Guaporé River. Photo credit: Marcos Amend/WCS.

The results are astounding. Thanks to processing the drone images with the use of spatial analysis software, we have estimated a population of approximately 80,000 turtles on the nesting beaches of this river (the peak was around 3,500 turtles per beach per night). These results confirm a positive conservation status for this area and highlight the importance of continuing to work for the conservation of giant river turtles and other species through the joint work of local communities, authorities, and NGOs found in the area.

While our work demonstrates that it is possible to use the technology for biodiversity monitoring, we are aware that further steps must be taken to make better use of it in the future. These steps are mainly: accurate design of overflights to obtain robust data on turtle numbers in different nesting areas, estimation of turtle body sizes, estimation of turtle biomass, behavior, and the use of artificial intelligence for a robust population estimate of this threatened species.

Infrared cameras allow the team to observe the egg-laying activity during the night as well. Photo credit: Marcos Amend/WCS.

Thanks to the results obtained through this joint effort, we are confident that there is exciting potential to use technology meaningfully for effective species monitoring that will grow with further exploration. This example of turtle monitoring with drones gives us a broader view of the applications of technologies for the near future, allowing us to do more with fewer resources. In a rapidly changing world, conservation and technology must go hand in hand for a common goal: the protection of nature.

The post Using Drones to Assess World’s Largest Mass Gathering of Giant River Turtles appeared first on Nature.

- The Nature Conservancy
Nature Hub at the UN 2023 Water Conference (Day 2)
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Nature Hub at the UN 2023 Water Conference (Day 1)
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Natural Collaboration
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A Water Secure Future for Dominican Republic
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Climate Solutions: Reforestation
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Protecting Our Water: Every Drop Connects Us
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Climate Solutions: Regenerative Agriculture
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Tipping Point for Texas Oysters
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A SOARing Future for Coastal Communities and Ecosystems
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Thanks to Bristol Bay's Indigenous Stewards
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Volunteering for Nature
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Bristol Bay Celebrates Big Win for Salmon
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Patoka River Protection Project
- explore

By Mike Fitz

If you watch any of the wildlife or animal-themed cams on, then you know that they provide an exceptional lens through which we can view the lives of individual animals. The gorilla Pinga’s leadership and maternal devotion allowed her blended family group at GRACE to heal from trauma. The California condor Inikio survived wildfire only to be prematurely evicted from her nest by another condor. The legendary brown bear Otis is a quintessential example of longevity and adaptability in bears.

During my bear cam live chats, I focus a lot on the lives of individual bears and then relate those bear’s experiences to bigger ideas. Understanding how Otis has adapted to a lower rank in the bear hierarchy, for example, allows us to better understand how old bears adapt to change and challenge.

However, there’s relatively little in the scientific literature exploring how personal connections to individual animals affect a person’s support for conservation. In fact it’s been argued that this is a myopic strategy, and most conservation efforts focus on the species level. The individual animals that we watch on each have a large and devoted following, so how might our connection to individual animals influence our support for conservation of a species? A new paper, of which I’m a coauthor, finds that individual and favorite animals can have a large, positive influence on our attitudes toward conservation efforts.

My research colleagues on this project developed an online survey of bear cam viewers that was available in summer 2019 and summer 2020. When survey participants were asked if they could identify individual bears 14% of viewers said yes, 56% responded sometimes, and 30% said no. Viewers who could identify individual bears were also asked how many individual bears they could identify. Twenty-one percent of those respondents indicated they could identify one bear, 45% could identify 2–4 bears, 20% could identify 5–7 bears, and 14% could identify more than 7 bears. When asked if they have a favorite bear 53% responded yes and 47% responded no.

So what do those results mean? Not much until we examined the answers to follow-up questions. In particular, viewers were asked to rate their agreement with the statement “the ability to learn about and/or identify individual bears influences my willingness to support conservation programs.” The question was on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Those who could identify individual bears agreed with that statement at significantly higher levels (4.86 ± 1.86) than those respondents who could not identify individual bears (3.31 ± 1.80). Importantly, those who said they had a favorite bear reported even higher levels of support for bear conservation (5.01 ± 1.58). These results are consistent with another study based on the same survey that found the ability to identify individual bears positively influences a person’s willingness to pay to protect individual brown bears. Furthermore, intentionally watching the bearcams when a specific bear was on screen yielded better conservation outcomes according to the survey results (that is, if you said you watched the bear cams more when Otis or 503 or another favorite bear were on camera then you were more likely to state you supported bear conservation).

A separate series of questions in the survey aimed to evaluate a person’s emotional connection to brown bears through a statistical method called conservation caring. This is a numerical measure of a person’s positive emotional connection to species or place. These questions were on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 9 (strongly agree). A higher score indicated a greater emotional connection. Viewers who could identify individual bears had significantly higher conservation caring levels (7.06 ± 1.68) than viewers who could only identify individual bears sometimes (6.81 ± 1.54) and viewers who could not identify individual bears (5.85 ± 1.70). Conservation caring levels also climbed with the number of bears a person said they could identify.

If you can’t identify bears on the bear cam, then don’t worry. It’s not a competition and I’ll continue to work to give everyone the tools and stories that allow us to connect with individual bears. I also know there are many people who still care for bears greatly but don’t place as much of an emphasis on getting to know individuals. What’s more important is that we recognize the individuality of wild animals and acknowledge that they are not automatons acting merely on instinct. They think and feel and their lives are important in the conservation of entire species. Other Otis-like bears doing Otis-like things roam over wild areas of North America, and if we can secure and maintain healthy habitat for Otis then other bears will benefit.

We hope to expand on these results and publish more about the influence of individual bears on conservation. I’m also interested in exploring how interpretive events—such as the live chats and Q&As that I lead during the bear cam season—provoke people to act to conserve bears and other wildlife. After all, it’s one thing to say you support wildlife conservation, but it’s another thing to take action.

Many viewers of know that watching wildlife through webcams can be a powerful and meaningful experience. With the statistical support of this and future studies, perhaps we can inspire more parks and protected areas to utilize webcams and interpret the lives of individual animals to build greater support for wildlife conservation.

I’d like to thank the researchers who made this study possible—Jeff Skibins (who drafted this paper and did the data analysis) and Lynne Lewis and Leslie Richardson (who were instrumental in the survey design and implementation). I’d also like to thank the Katmai Conservancy for covering the expense to make the paper available to everyone through open access.

- explore
Comment System Survey Results

by Candice Rusch, Director of New Media at

Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey and gave us feedback about what you want to see in a new comment system. In this blog post, I’ll lay out our goals and analyze the results. Before we begin, I want to offer two caveats. We are still in the planning phase of development. Things can, and likely will, change. The features outlined here may not be feasible. Or, we might need to release these features in phases. The primary goal of the survey was to help us understand what features to prioritize in development. This new system will be for the community and we need you to be a part of this process with us. The second caveat is that we removed feedback from the analysis that was specifically related to moderation policies. This survey was designed to help us understand how to better design a comment system. Moderation policy is a different conversation. Don’t worry, we did read your feedback, but if it was related to moderation then it is not reflected in this report.’s Goals For a New Comment System Stability

It is no secret that Disqus has been buggy. 21% of the free answer portion of the survey was people lamenting how buggy Disqus is as a system. Most of our feedback inbox is filled weekly with people who face issues with the Disqus comment system. Snapshots don’t post. Comments are inaccurately marked as spam. Actual spam floods the site. Comments disappear. Notifications don’t work. The list goes on. The reason we periodically create new comment boards is that Disqus gets even more buggy as a comment board fills up. 

Our primary goal is a new comment system that is stable. To accomplish this, we will have an extensive beta-test. During this test, the new comment board will be placed on a handful of cameras. We will need you to help us test this system: find bugs, tell us where things didn’t function as anticipated. The more feedback the better. I cannot say that our new system will never have bugs, but instead of having to wait days and sometimes weeks for a resolution from Disqus, we will be able to address the issues ourselves. Having our own system also gives us the opportunity to be  transparent with you about fixes and their implementation. 

Features That Fit Our Needs

Disqus is a 3rd party system that we license. We don’t have any control over what features they release and when. This has caused some issues in the past. Most recently their “advanced moderation” feature catches legitimate comments in a spam filter, and we have no ability to opt-out. Even worse, we don’t have the ability to add features that would benefit our community. We feel that the recent tensions around the off-topic rule is a design problem, not a policy problem. This survey revealed that for every person who was sad about the off-topic rule enforcement, there was another person who was happy that the chats are focused on the cams. The community is split in half. We are trying to please two diametrically opposed groups with a system that doesn’t allow us to make any accommodations. Thankfully, you also gave us some great ideas about how to create a chat that can fit more casual conversation, while allowing for people to filter out conversation they don’t find relevant. Explore is unique. It became clear to us that to grow, we need to create something designed for our community. Your responses to the survey were a great help in understanding what you want!

Security & Accessibility

From the moment we started the discussion about what a self-hosted comment system would mean, security and accessibility were at the top of our team’s mind. Part of accomplishing these goals will be consulting with experts to audit the system. Security experts will look at our system and assess it for vulnerability. We will design the system with accessibility in mind from the start. During the beta test we will specifically ask for accessibility testers to reveal any issues there. Once the system is live, we will create guides to help people navigate the new comments.

Survey Results


Do you currently use a commenting account on

It actually came as somewhat of a surprise to me that 40% of people who took the time to participate in the survey do not comment. The next question explains why people don’t comment. 

If you said no, why don’t you use a commenting account?

To analyze the results of this question, I removed everyone who answered, “I do comment.” We accidentally made this a required question. Sorry about that. I then pulled out all the “other” answers and found a few common themes. 

By far the biggest reason people don’t comment is simply that they don’t want to, or are content reading the comments. The rest of this result confirms our suspicion that the bugs in Disqus are preventing people from being able to comment. This validates our goal of trying to build a stable commenting system first. The rest of the “other” responses have given us a lot to think about. For those of you who cited security concerns, we fully agree that the security of our users’ information is vital. I can confidently say that explore does not, and will never, sell our users’ information. It also looks like we could be better at educating our community about what is possible on the site. I was personally surprised that there were a number of people who didn’t know how to comment or didn’t know they even could comment on explore. 

If you use a commenting account, what is your favorite feature?

To analyze this question, I did something similar to the previous question. I removed all the people who said that they don’t comment. I also broke out everyone who answered “other” and organized the answers around the themes that emerged. 

We learned a couple things from this question. First, we confirmed our hypothesis that would not be a good fit for a scrolling chat like Youtube, twitch, and other live streaming platforms. The ability to leave and come back is essential to our community. We also learned that while many of you love the ability to post snapshots to comments, it has been deeply frustrating that that feature has been unstable at best. We agree. The reason it hasn’t worked recently is that Disqus’ system flags most attempts to post a snapshot to comments from explore as spam. If we host our own system, we will obviously not flag our own traffic as spam. This would be a very easy win for explore staff, moderators and fans alike. 

If I were to change one thing about the commenting system, it would be

This was one of the more insightful questions in the survey! Like the previous questions, I sorted the “other” responses into themes. There were quite a few pointing out specific bugs in the Disqus. I sorted the bug complaints into the label, “a stable system that works.”

By far most people wanted an easier way to find information they are interested in. The responses in the Other section came with very helpful suggestions. We are currently discussing search and filter options that would let people more easily find what they are looking for! Many of these suggested features are also found in the free-answer portion of the survey, so I will address more of them there. 

There were a small minority of people who urged us not to move away from Disqus. While we are happy that you have not experienced issues, we hope that this blog helps you see the extensive problems most of the community face. We want to reassure people that our goal is to make the transition as simple and painless as possible. Ideally you will be able to comment on the new system with your existing account and won’t have to sign up for anything new. As much as possible, we aim to maintain any existing features that work, while improving their stability. Any additional features we add will be tested to make sure they add value to the community.

“How Interested Are You” Questions

These questions were meant to gauge the interest of the community on some features that the explore staff brainstormed in one of our planning meetings. While the primary goal is to create a more stable system, we have the opportunity here to add features that could be fun and useful. As a reminder, 1 is Very Uninterested and 5 is Very Interested.

This response was actually somewhat surprising to us! We thought that the ability to private message friends would be a good way to allow for off-topic chatter without making it visible for those that were uninterested, but 56.8% of people were either very uninterested or uninterested in this feature. Only 24.5% of people were interested or very interested in the feature. This was very helpful feedback. Private messaging adds a layer of complexity to the development process. With such a strong response against private messages it is unlikely we will release this feature in the first phase of the new comment system. There were many responses in the free answer portion that specifically asked for private messages. If you were one of those people, know that this doesn’t mean we won’t ever support private messages. It just means that it will not be prioritized over some of the other highly requested features like expanded search and comment filtering. 

This feature was suggested in response to a somewhat common complaint about the phenomena of multiple posts of the same photo in chat. We thought if people could curate multi-photo posts it might incentivize them to curate one large post instead of posting a lot of the same photo. The response here is split. 39.7% of people were some form of uninterested, 36.7% had some form of interest. With a split response, the release of this feature will come down to ease of development and implementation. We might ask for more feedback on multi-photo posts when we have a more concrete example to show people. 

To be honest, this is a feature that the explore staff is very strongly interested in. We use the Fan Favorites section to create the Fan Cam Friday newsletter. As it stands, it is not super obvious how to favorite other community members’ snapshots. I would not be surprised if some people learn right now from this blog post that they can go to a gallery and favorite other people’s snapshots. Moving this feature directly to the comments would add another way to interact with your friends AND it would help us curate the Friday newsletter better. With 36% of the people uninterested and 42% of people interested, we will probably move forward with this feature!

I actually expected this question to even more strongly favor the Very Interested side than it did. 36.5% of the people were uninterested while 44.1% were interested. We know that comment archiving is critical for several fan wikis. We are exploring ways to import Disqus history into the new comment system. We are currently discussing how long we should archive comments in the new system. Text is fairly inexpensive to store. Addition of media such as photos, videos, and gifs, adds to the eventual storage costs of a self-hosted system. We are trying to find a way to balance the need to archive comments with operational costs. Rest assured we are planning on archiving comments, though for how long is an open question. We might request more feedback later in the development process to understand how you are currently using comment archives. 

This feature was suggested as a way to use the snapshot galleries in a new fun way. 37.5% of the respondents were uninterested while 40% of the respondents were interested. Several people mentioned in the free-answer portion of this survey that this would be a great way to discuss bear IDs. It’s a fantastic observation that we didn’t consider! 

We often get feedback that the app would be better if it had comments. 32% of people were uninterested while 44% of the people were interested. We have tried to get Disqus to work with our app multiple times over the years, and it just has not worked. App integration is very high on our feature requirements for a new comment system. 

We suggested this feature because we know that many schools and parents have their kids watch explore. It is not a huge surprise that 69.4% respondents were not interested in this feature while only 13.4% were interested. Explore’s website audience does trend to people who no longer have school age children. This strong response against parental controls means that it will not be very high on the feature list. Again, this does not mean that we will never release this feature, only that it will not be prioritized in the beginning.

Is there anything else you’d like to see out of a new comment system?

Personally, this was the most interesting and insightful part of the whole survey. Some of the features suggested here we have already addressed. I won’t address every suggested feature, but I would like to highlight a few. 


This has been addressed throughout this blog. It is our primary goal for a new comment system. The ongoing bugs are detrimental to the community. They are also the primary source of complaints for the website. 

Search & Filtering

These suggestions were the best thing to come out of this survey. So many of you had great ideas for how to use search and filtering to make information easier to find, and to interact easier with other fans. We are currently brainstorming an “off-topic” tag that would allow people to filter out off-topic comments while creating space for people to interact with their friends. 

Off Topic Comments

I did say at the top of the blog that we were not addressing moderation policy issues, but I also acknowledged that the off-topic tension is a symptom of the limitations of Disqus. We obviously want people to feel like they are welcome on explore and we understand that many longtime friendships have been formed here. On the other hand, we also got a lot of feedback from people who say that the off-topic comments make them feel unwelcome, and distract them from the goal of learning more about the live cams. It is a difficult balance. We hope that some of the search and filtering options can create room for both perspectives. 

No Repeated Snapshots 

This was also a common complaint. We don’t have any solid solutions here yet but we are actively considering how to address this issue. In a similar vein, many people requested a way to hide media. We think a filter that would let you see Images Only or Text Only might be a good solution. 

Reactions & Emoji’s

This was also suggested in one of explore’s brainstorming meetings! It is something we are also interested in developing.

Block and Unblock users

This was on our list of basic feature requirements already. Not being able to unblock a user on Disqus is confusing to us as well.  

No Ads

This came up a few times in the survey. Explore does not, and will never, advertise on the site. If you are currently seeing ads in Disqus please let us know, because they should not be doing that. We can guarantee that there will not be ads in the new product. 


Thank you to everyone who made it this far! This will be a long process, but we thank you for helping us start this journey. I didn’t address every feature or concern raised in the survey here, but we have read all of them. Your feedback is critical in making a comment system everyone will enjoy. We will continue to provide updates as we move forward. As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please email us at

- explore

by Mike Fitz

Watching unfiltered footage of wild animals on means that we’ll inevitably witness nature’s harsh realities. Bears strip the skin off of living salmon. Lions subdue zebras. A python snares an unsuspecting bird from its perch. Falcons fight for nesting territories. Ravens pillage an unoccupied eagle nest. Although these events can be difficult to watch, the reasons for them are typically clear. Hunger and reproduction are powerful motivators. Other behaviors and situations, though, challenge our best available science as well as our sensibilities of right and wrong.

A bird nest is a dichotomous place of nurturing and conflict. Parents care for their vulnerable young, while chicks compete for food and space. The competition in a bird nest can manifest in ways far beyond the times when my brother, sister, and I fought over the last cookie. 

An extreme form of sibling rivalry at a bird nest may lead to siblicide. Also called Cainism after the biblical story of Cain and Abel, siblicide occurs when a nestling’s behavior leads to the death of one or more of its siblings through starvation, physical injury, or eviction from the nest. While siblicide is not common among birds overall, it does happen in a wide variety of birds. It’s documented in the osprey, shoebill, southern ground hornbill, white-bellied swiftlet, blue-throated bee-eater, and blue-footed booby as well as certain species of cranes, eagles, egrets, hawks, herons, guillemots, gulls, owls, pelicans, penguins, and vultures. 

Siblicide in birds often occurs as soon as a larger or more aggressive nestling gains the size, strength, and weaponry (such as a sharp beak) to cause significant harm to its younger and smaller nest mate(s). On we’ll likely witness it on the webcam that features the African black (Verreaux’s) eagle nest in South Africa, and it is possible that we could see it at the cams of great blue heron, osprey, black guillemont, and bald eagle nests in North America. But, there are differences in how it occurs. African black eagles experience obligate siblicide: two eggs are laid, they hatch at different times, and the older chick always kills its younger sibling. In contrast, siblicide is facultative in herons and osprey: it is circumstantial and doesn’t always occur. 

Distinguishing the nuances of obligate and facultative siblicide doesn’t make it any easier to witness, of course. I wonder if this behavior is so difficult to watch, in part, because it is so difficult to explain. 

Many organisms including humans make overt efforts to help ensure the survival of related individuals. This trait isn’t universal, though. At best, many more organisms behave indifferently to their siblings’ survival. Others take a more aggressive stance. Certain species of sharks attack and eat their siblings in the womb. 

If siblicide was maladaptive, if it failed to provide survival benefits in the near or long term, especially if an alternate life history strategy such as cooperation among nestlings led to higher survival and reproductive rates, then those with the siblicidal trait might eventually have their genes winnowed from the population or species. Yet since siblicide persists, then scientists—or at least my interpretation of their conclusions—have operated under the assumption that siblicide, especially obligate variation, provides some sort of benefit that leads to reproductive success for the individuals that practice it.

During the last few decades, scientists have hypothesized many potential explanations for siblicide in birds. Maybe the only thing we know for sure is that there are certain factors that make it more likely to happen, although none appear to be universal. Among birds, siblicide is correlated with large body size at maturity, complex hunting and foraging behaviors, a protracted period of learning in early life, and a slow life history pace (that is, you live a long time and have a low reproductive rate). In addition, siblicidal bird species are more likely to have a long nestling period and effective weaponry at a young age such as a sharp bill. Regarding the nesting period, consider that American robins (a species with no documented siblicide) leave the nest about 14 days after hatching, while the African black eagle doesn’t fledge for 95 days or longer. The nests of many siblicidal species usually offer limited escape possibilities too. A mallard duckling spends relatively little time in its nest after hatching and its ability to move and feed independently allows it to easily avoid a pushy sibling, unlike a heron chick that remains in a nest high in a tree for weeks after hatching. Additionally, if the species practices asynchronous hatching, then the older, first-hatched chick has a head start on growth and those few days can make a tremendous difference. A mother Canada goose may lay many eggs, but she does not start incubating until the entire clutch is laid and all of her eggs hatch at about the same time. In contrast, a female African black eagle begins to incubate her first egg immediately even though she usually lays a second egg three or four days later. As a result, her first chick hatches several days before the second. When the second chick hatches, the older black eagle chick uses its strongly hooked beak to attack its younger, vulnerable sibling. In More than Kin, Less than Kind: The Evolution of Family Conflict, biologist Douglas Mock notes a case when an older African black eagle chick attacked its nest mate within a few hours of its sibling hatching. The younger chick died three days after hatching and weighed 18 grams less than when it hatched due to the repeated attacks and food monopolization from its older sibling. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, food availability and hunger play an important role, especially in species with facultative siblicide. If the parents deliver food in large parcels, then the older or stronger chicks may be able to monopolize the food to the detriment of their siblings. If the parents feed their chicks infrequently and food transfer between feedings is slow, then an older or stronger chick can also interfere with the feeding of its sibling.

Competition for food can become more intense as chicks grow. But, sufficient food can also allow younger or smaller chicks with the fortitude and energy to withstand and survive the aggression of their nest mates. One study on great egrets found that the amount of food had little direct influence on fighting behavior between siblings, though it consistently influenced chick survival. When scientists provisioned a great egret nest in Texas with extra food they found that nest mates didn’t reduce their aggression toward each other, but more chicks to survive to fledge. 

There may be other factors that influence siblicide as well. One idea, for example, posits that some chicks may be more vulnerable to parasites. These infestations might leave a chick in a weakened state where it cannot withstand the aggression of its nest mates.

As species with facultative siblicide demonstrate, all nestlings can survive when circumstances allow. Parent birds are often great hunters and select their nesting territories well, which makes obligate siblicide perplexing. Food is not always in short supply for young (less than one week-old) African black eagle chicks. So if “Cain” is always going to kill “Abel,” then what’s the point of laying a second egg? Perhaps obligate siblicide evolved in anticipation of food shortages later in the nesting period or maybe there are other, stronger reasons. After all, natural selection operates on a continuum of scales.

For a mother African black eagle the energetic cost of laying a second egg is relatively small, but the payout could be huge—at least in terms of reproductive success—if something happens to the first egg. In this way, a black eagle’s second egg might serve as an insurance premium of sorts. An independent analysis of one chick mortality study in African black eagles found that about one in five of the second-to-hatch chicks survived to fledge. In fact, “Abel” survived to fledge at the Black Eagle Project’s Roodekrans nest, where now has a webcam, in 2005 and 2006 after the first egg failed to hatch. Although the probability of the second egg surviving remains low, it still may offer just enough of a reproductive reward to ensure the effort of laying a second egg, even if sibling aggression will lead an older chick to kill its nest mate in most instances.

I offer this information knowing that it won’t make siblicide any easier for many of us to witness. It is appropriate and natural to feel for animals and empathize with their struggles. Siblicide is often difficult if not disturbing to watch, so always remember that it is also okay to take a break from the cams or watch a camera that focuses mostly on scenery rather than wildlife when things get unpleasant.

The diversity of survival strategies among wild animals, though, serves as a never-ending point of fascination for me and I hope you as well. I wasn’t always the best brother to my younger siblings when I was a kid, but I was vested in their welfare. So something like siblicide in birds seems so out of the ordinary to feel alien. However, rather than judging whether it is right or wrong, I see it as something different, something outside of human ethics, a behavior that has purpose for the animals that experience it. Although siblicide in certain species of birds seems to have evolved to benefit survival, it remains a behavior that provokes our discomfort and is difficult for science to reconcile.

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The Africam Show (Tuesdays at 7 a.m. PT / 10 a.m. ET) – A special live Q&A session to catch up on the best weekly Africam moments. Viewers will have the opportunity to ask Ranger Russel Gerber questions on the Africam Shows Channel or on our YouTube chat roll.

Africam4Good Show (Thursdays at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET) – A weekly conversation about the conservation of African wildlife, and an overview of great moments from the live cams. Watch these special broadcasts on the Africam Shows Channel or on our YouTube channel.

The Africam Show: (2nd November)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and updates us with highlights of animal characters.

Africam4Good Show: Predator Conservation (4th November)

Russell chats with Thandiwe Mweetwa from the Zambian Carnivore Project about her conservation efforts in Zambia and what it’s like having a career in conservation.

The Africam Show: (9th November)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and updates us with highlights of animal characters.

Africam4Good: Ground Hornbill Project (11th November)

Russell chats to Kyle-Mark Middleton about the endangered Southern ground hornbill and their current efforts to protect the bird’s future.

The Africam Show: (16th November)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and updates us with highlights of animal characters.

Africam4Good: Tembe Elephant Park – (18th November)

Russell chats with Ernest Robbertse from Tembe Elephant Park about his water project for the Tembe community and to chat about the history of Tembe.

The Africam Show: (23rd November)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and updates us with highlights of animal characters.

Africam4Good: Kalahari Wild Dog Project (25th November)

Russell chats to Nadja le Roux from the Kalahari Wild Dog Project about her conservation work with the endangered painted dog.

The Africam Show: (30th November)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and updates us with highlights of animal characters.

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All live events for the Polar Bear Cam will take place on the Tundra Connections Channel.

Tuesday, October 19th, 1:00pm Central

Polar Bears on the Tundra: Cam Kick-off

It’s that time of year again! Polar bears are gearing up for the sea ice to return soon, gathering along the shores of Hudson Bay in anticipation of eating soon. In the meantime, we’ll be watching and live-streaming their every move while letting you know what we’re seeing! Join us as we kick off the season with familiar faces and answer all your questions about what this season holds!

Thursday, October 28th, 11:00am Central

Arctic Innovations

The Arctic is known to be a harsh environment, but we choose to work there anyway! We are going to talk about some of our favourite new technologies and innovations allowing us to learn more about polar bears and help us keep them in the wild.

Thursday, November 4th, 12:00pm Central 

Polar Bear Tracking: Past, Present, and Future

From bulky radio collars in the 80s to stick on tags smaller than a deck of cards in 2020, polar bear tracking has come a long way! Join us to discuss the difficulty, evolution, and importance of tracking an animal that lives on the Arctic sea ice for most of its life!

Friday, November 12th, 1:00pm Central

Farewell to the Tundra

It’s been another amazing season! We will discuss our favorite (and fan favourite!) highlights from this bear season and look at what’s next for the polar bears of Western Hudson Bay.

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The Africam Show (Tuesdays at 7 a.m. PT / 10 a.m. ET) – A special live Q&A session to catch up on the best weekly Africam moments. Viewers will have the opportunity to ask Ranger Russel Gerber questions on the Africam Shows Channel or on our YouTube chat roll.

Africam4Good Show (Thursdays at 7 a.m. PT / 10 a.m. ET) – A weekly conversation about the conservation of African wildlife, and an overview of great moments from the live cams. Watch these special broadcasts on the Africam Shows Channel or on our YouTube channel.

The Africam Show: World Animal Day (5th October)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and updates us with highlights of animal characters.

Africam4Good Show: Charlie Annenberg – Founder of (7th October)

Russell talks to Charlie Annenberg, the founder of He discusses his love for Africa and what inspired him to set up live cameras around the world.

The Africam Show: (12th October)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and updates us with highlights of animal characters.

● Africam4Good: Giraffe Conservation Foundation (14th October)

Russell chats to Arthur Muneza about giraffe conservation and the work done by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation to help protect giraffes across Africa.

The Africam Show: (19th October)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and updates us with highlights of animal characters.

Africam4Good: Birdlife South Africa (21st October)

Russell talks to Ernest Retief about the flamingos at Kamfers Dam and the conservation work done by BirdLife South Africa.

The Africam Show: (26th October)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and updates us with highlights of animal characters.

Africam4Good: Elephants Alive (28th October)

Russell talks to Michelle Henley from Elephants Alive about her projects involving elephant identification and conservation.

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Celebrate the success of Brooks River’s world-famous bears during Fat Bear Week. Your vote decides which bear will be crowned the fattest of the year. National Park Service rangers and’s resident naturalist Mike Fitz are hosting many live events to help inform your vote. Watch the bears every day on

Fat Bear Junior

For these young and maturing bears, it is win and you’re in! During this warm-up event for Fat Bear Week, you choose the cub who will compete in the annual Fat Bear Week tournament. Join the bracket reveal with Mike Fitz from and Katmai National Park ranger Naomi Boak during a live play-by-play on Monday, September 20 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific. The Fat Bear Junior vote takes place September 23 – 24 on

Fat Bear Week in the Classroom

We invite teachers to take bearcam into the classroom and consider the different ways in which bears find success in Katmai’s challenging environment. Ranger Lian Law from Katmai National Park and’s resident naturalist Mike Fitz will record a special broadcast to answer your students’ questions. Learn more about how your class can participate. Questions are due by September 28. The recorded broadcast premieres on October 4 at 2 p.m. Eastern / 11 a.m. Pacific on the Explore Live Nature Cams YouTube channel.

Fat Bear Week Live Chats

Find these events on the Brooks Live Chat channel. And, if you miss any of our live chats, you can find the replays on our Bears and Bison YouTube channel.

Fat Bear Week Bracket Reveal

September 27 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific

The road to Fat Bear Week greatness began months ago. After a summer-long effort, brown bears at Brooks River in Katmai National Park have reached peak fat. How did they do it and what challenges did they face along the way? Those are a couple of the questions that’s resident naturalist Mike Fitz and Katmai National Park rangers Naomi Boak and Lian Law will answer as they reveal the contenders and the bracket for the 2021 Fat Bear Week tournament.

Welcome to Fat Bear Week

September 29 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific

Winter comes quickly in Katmai and bears must get fat to survive it. Fat is the fuel that powers their ability to endure winter hibernation as well as the key to their reproductive success. Learn more about the importance of fat in the survival of the Fat Bear Week contestants with’s resident naturalist Mike Fitz and Katmai National Park rangers Naomi Boak and Lian Law.

A Very Fat Bear Play-by-Play

October 4 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific

A favorite of rangers and bearcam fans alike, play-by-plays are live events when rangers and other experts narrate the bear and salmon activity at Brooks River. It’s an opportunity to learn more about the individual bears on the cams and how they survive.

Fat Bear Tuesday

October 5 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific

In the tournament of champions that is Fat Bear Week, the merely pudgy bears have been winnowed away. The truly fattest are left standing. On Fat Bear Tuesday we conclude another titanic Fat Bear Week, and the two finalists are quintessential examples of success and the supreme adaptations that bears possess to survive. Explore the lives of the two final contestants with’s resident naturalist Mike Fitz and Katmai National Park rangers Naomi Boak and Lian Law.

Live Q&As

Chat in the comments with Mike Fitz,’s resident naturalist, and rangers from Katmai National Park during our weekly Q&As. Bring your questions about bears, salmon, and Katmai. Every Tuesday (except October 5) from 5 – 7 p.m. Eastern / 2 – 4 p.m. Pacific in the comments on the Brooks Live Chat channel. YouTube Q&As: Every Thursday from 2 – 4 p.m. Eastern / 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Pacific in the comments on the Brooks Falls YouTube page. Tiktok Q&As: Join on the Tiktok channel. October 1st at 5 p.m. Eastern / 2 p.m. Pacific.

Brown Bear Superlatives

Choose your favorite bear among many categories including “most respected mom” and “best angler” in this post-Fat Bear Week celebration and fundraiser for the Katmai Conservancy. New superlatives are chosen each day from October 6 – 9 on the Brooks Falls YouTube page.

A Brown Bear Celebration

October 9 at 4 p.m. Eastern / 1 p.m. Pacific on the Brooks Live Chat channel.

After Fat Bear Week concludes, bears continue to fish at Brooks River and the Katmai Conservancy continues its work in support of Katmai National Park. Join the Katmai’s Conservancy’s Sara Wolman,’s Mike Fitz, and several special guests for this live event celebrating the 2021 brown bear season at Brooks River.

Got Questions?

Did you see something on the bearcams you’re curious about? Or, would you like to submit a question in advance for our live events? Ask it here. Rangers and expert staff may answer your question in a live chat, in the bearcam comments, or in a blog post.

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Late summer is here and Katmai National Park’s brown bears are packing on the pounds in preparation for their winter hibernation. National Park Service rangers and’s resident naturalist Mike Fitz have many live events in store this month, including Fat Bear Week which begins September 29. And, don’t forget to watch the bears every day on

Live Chats

Join park rangers and other experts for in-depth conversations about brown bears and salmon. Find these events on the Brooks Live Chat channel. And, if you miss any of our live chats, you can find the replays on our Bears and Bison YouTube channel.

A Conversation with Katmai National Park Superintendent Mark Sturm: September 1 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific

What challenges does Katmai face now and in the future? Get a superintendent’s perspective on the park’s priorities, issues, and plans for the future when Ranger Naomi Boak interviews Mark Sturm, superintendent of Katmai National Park. Submit your questions in advance using Ask Your Bearcam Question.

Late Summer at Brooks River: September 8 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific

During a season when daylight wanes and nights begin to grow long and frosty, Brooks River is still very much alive. Brown bears, who seem to have an unlimited stomach capacity, seek to satisfy their hunger while spawning salmon attempt to complete their life’s work. Join’s resident naturalist Mike Fitz and Ranger Naomi Boak from Katmai National Park as they discuss the late summer season at Brooks River. It is the second peak season on bear cam and a time of year that offers bears their last opportunity to gain the fat reserves necessary to survive winter hibernation.

The Language of Bears: September 15 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific

So you speak English, German, Urdu, etc. Want to learn Bear? In this chat Ranger Naomi interviews Bear Management Ranger Nick to translate bear language into our own. What does it mean when a bear lowers its head? That popping sound—what does that signal? Is that a fierce growl or a friendly greeting? No need for Google Translate today.

Katmai’s Keystone: September 22 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific

Pacific salmon are born in freshwater, grow large in the sea, and return to their place of birth to spawn and die. Their uncommon lives have extraordinary consequences for the ecosystems they inhabit. Join Mike Fitz to explore the amazing lives of Pacific salmon—the heartbeat of Bristol Bay’s economy, culture, and ecology.

Fat Bear Junior Bracket Reveal

Which chubby cubby will face off in the first ever Fat Bear Junior tournament? Find out at the beginning of the bearcam play-by-play on September 20 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific.

Fat Bear Week

Choose the fattest bear of the year! Some of the largest brown bears on Earth make their home at Brooks River in Katmai National Park. Fat Bear Week is an annual tournament celebrating their success in preparation for winter hibernation. From September 29 to October 5, your vote decides who is the fattest of the fat. Visit and join the special live events on the Brooks Live Chat channel.

Fat Bear Week Junior: It is win and you’re in for these young and maturing bears! During this warm-up event for Fat Bear Week, you choose the bear cub who will compete with the largest adults in the annual Fat Bear Week tournament. Fat Bear Week Junior takes place Sept. 23-24 on Fat Bear Week Bracket Reveal: September 27 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific. Welcome to Fat Bear Week: September 29 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific.


September 6, 13, and 20 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific

A favorite of rangers and bear cam fans alike, play-by-plays are live events when rangers and other experts narrate the bear and salmon activity at Brooks River. It’s an opportunity to learn more about the individual bears on the cams and how they survive. Find these events on the Brooks Live Chat channel. You never know what might happen!

Live Q&As

Chat in the comments with Mike Fitz,’s resident naturalist, and rangers from Katmai National Park during our weekly Q&As. Bring your questions about bears, salmon, and Katmai. Every Tuesday from 5 – 7 p.m. Eastern / 2 – 4 p.m. Pacific in the comments on the Brooks Live Chat channel.  YouTube Q & As: Every Thursday from 2 – 4 p.m. Eastern / 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Pacific in the comments on the Brooks Falls YouTube page. Tiktok Q & As: Find these on the Tiktok channel. September 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 at 5 p.m. Eastern / 2 p.m. Pacific.

 Fat Bear Week in the Classroom

We invite teachers to take bear cam into the classroom and consider the different ways in which bears find success in Katmai’s challenging environment. Rangers from Katmai National Park and’s resident naturalist Mike Fitz will record a special broadcast to answer your students’ questions. Learn more about how your class can participate.

Got Questions?

Did you see something on the bear cams you’re curious about? Or, would you like to submit a question in advance for our live events? Ask it here. Rangers and expert staff may answer your question in a live chat, in the bear cam comments, or in a blog post.

- explore

The Africam Show (Tuesdays at 7 a.m. PT / 10 a.m. ET) – A special live Q&A session to catch up on the best weekly Africam moments. Viewers will have the opportunity to ask Rangers Phill Steffny and Russel Gerber questions on the Africam Shows Channel or on our YouTube chat roll.

Africam4Good Show (Thursdays at 7 a.m. PT / 10 a.m. ET) – Join ranger Russell Gerber and Phill Steffny for a weekly conversation about the conservation of African wildlife, and an overview of great moments from the live cams. Watch these special broadcasts on the Africam Shows Channel or on our YouTube channel.

Africam4Good Show: World Vulture Day (2nd September) Russell talks to Kerri Wolter from Vulpro, a vulture conservation organization. Kerri discusses the trials and triumphs of vulture conservation. The Africam Show: (7th September)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and update us with highlights of animal characters.

Africam4Good: Care For Wild: Rhinos (9th September) Russell talks to Petronel, the founder of Care For Wild, a rhino rescue and rehabilitation organization. She chats about the live cams and rhino conservation and the upcoming World Rhino Day! The Africam Show: (14th September)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and update us with highlights of animal characters.

Africam4Good: Elephants (16th September) Russell talks to Adine from the organization HERD about elephant rescues, rehabilitation and conservation. The Africam Show: (21st September)

Russell and Phill take us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and update us with highlights of animal characters.

Africam4Good: Flamingos (23rd September) Russell talks to Ester, the Environmental Specialist at Ekapa Mining. She chats about flamingos and the exciting new flamingo cam. The Africam Show: (28th September)

Russell takes us on a virtual safari with the live cameras and update us with highlights of animal characters.

Africam4Good: Leopards (30th September) Russell talks to a leopard expert about the conservation efforts being made to protect one of the most elusive cats, the leopard.
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Mother Bears and Human Emotion

By Mike Fitz

Perhaps no other group of bears captures our attention like mothers and their cubs. We empathize with their plight and wish them success. Mother bears often show a high tolerance for each other, almost as though they recognize their mutual problems.

In 2016, I watched 128 Grazer and 409 Beadnose back down from conflict instead of risking a fight in which they or their cubs might be injured. Read my full breakdown.

Bears have large appetites, though. They must eat a year’s worth of food in six months or less. Limited fishing success and empty stomachs  increase the frequency and intensity of conflict between bears at Brooks Falls. Although bears avoid physical conflict most often, we still see them fight. How should we react when bears don’t play nice?

It’s been an unusual year at Brooks River so far. The salmon run was slow at first even as the number of salmon entering the greater watershed climbed above two million. It strengthened and increased in the river toward the end of July and has remained somewhat strong through much of early August. This has kept many bears around at a time of year when they usually disperse away from the river.

As recently as the beginning of the week, dozens of bears have been fishing within sight of Brooks Falls. Congregations like this don’t happen without some level of mutual tolerance, even as the bears warily eye and look to usurp fishing spots from each other.

Mother bears, in particular, must work especially hard to keep their cubs protected and well fed. They display their work ethic and devotion in subtle and overt ways. Some mother bears avoid areas with high numbers of bears, foregoing prime fishing opportunities to give their cubs greater security. As a group, though, no matter if they fish at the falls or elsewhere, mothers are the most defensive of all bears.

128 Grazer, for example, often isn’t willing to back down when another bear approaches her family too closely. If Grazer senses another bear might threaten her offspring, she confronts the threat head on. Under those circumstances her defensiveness extends to most all other bears. She’s defended her yearlings from the largest adult males as well as younger bears who maybe took too great of a risk to satisfy their own hunger.

Here is a cam highlight that shows Grazer defending her cubs against an adult male.

128 Grazer, 854 Divot, and their yearling cubs, engaged in a prolonged conflict over space and a fish on August 10, 2021. In my experience at Brooks River, it’s quite rare to see mother bears compete so vigorously with each other. This situation, interestingly, was precipitated by the yearlings. Grazer’s yearlings wanted a fish that Divot’s yearlings had in their possession. Divot felt the need to defend her yearlings. Each time Divot stepped in, she got too close to Grazer’s yearlings and that caused Grazer to react defensively. It was, for a moment, a feedback loop.

Grazer’s defensiveness, in particular, has provoked a wide range of reactions among webcam viewers, everything from awe to fright to concern to disdain for her aggressiveness. Some viewers have also wondered if Grazer poses an undue threat to other bears. She doesn’t FWIW, but this has got me wondering, once again, how do our human-centered perceptions of the world affect our reaction to the behavior of wild animals?

Although it elicits the ire of many people in the natural sciences, it’s sometimes difficult to not anthropomorphize animals. We are human and applying human characteristics to non-human creatures is common in literature and in real life. We usually have few qualms interpreting the feelings of our pets as sad, happy, or guilty even if our interpretations are sometimes incorrect. When we see Grazer beat up a small, seemingly non-threatening subadult bear, her behavior can seem harsh.

If I’m being honest with myself and you, her behavior is harsh. However, I use that word with caution. The act of being harsh may come loaded with negativity in our minds. I use it, therefore, not as a judgement but as a description. 

For a moment, consider the world through Grazer’s eyes. She’s a sentient individual living in a difficult and competitive environment. Her survival and that of her cubs is not guaranteed. While bears are not as asocial as their reputations suggest, Grazer doesn’t live within a permanent social group. She’s devoted to her cubs, yet cannot rely on the help of other bears to raise them. Her species hasn’t evolved a sense of reciprocation. Like other bears, she establishes her place in the hierarchy through the use of body size, strength, and force. She senses the clock ticking perpetually toward winter, when she and her cubs must outwait famine by hibernating. Grazer faces those challenges daily.

If we can decouple the behavior of bears from the implications of the words we use to conceptualize their behavior—whether that’s moral or ethical—then perhaps we can more easily understand why bears make the decisions they do. Grazer is harsh toward other bears. Yet, her morals and rules for life are not our own. If I am to be fair to her, even as she is unfair to other bears, then I should consider life from her perspective rather than my culture’s and species’ rules for social engagement.

It’s okay to feel when we watch bears. We are emotional creatures, after all. Try as I might, I can’t fully channel my inner Spock well enough to remove myself emotionally from the bears’ lives. I only need to acknowledge that the bears’ minds, morals, and ethics are not human. Bears and other non-human creatures behave in ways that may clash with our values of right and wrong. And, that makes their behavior neither right nor wrong but something unique to them alone.

- Nature Canada
Nature Network Showcase: Grand River Environmental Network – Advocating for the Greenbelt at Nature on the Hill 2023

As part of Nature Canada’s annual Nature on the Hill event, the Grand River Environmental Network is one of the many nature groups advocating to protect the Greenbelt and make good on the need to protect 30 percent of Canadian land, waters, and ocean by 2030.

Our first Nature on the Hill meeting was on March 8, and it was fantastic to have federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault drop by and join with a huge thumbs-up for Nature Canada and biodiversity.

It is so important that elected officials hear first-hand from citizens on the need for better biodiversity and environmental protections — particularly in a rapidly warming world facing astonishing levels of extinction.

About Grand River Environmental Network

The Grand River Environmental Network (GREN) is a proactive voice for the environment in the Grand River Watershed. Our members are activists, watchdogs, guardians, stewards and concerned citizens who foster an environmental awareness and promote respect for our natural world. We work throughout our community and with all levels of government for the sustainable solutions we need.

GREN is advocating for an Action Plan that protects 30 percent of land and water by 2030 and fights climate change

Our work has focussed a lot on stewardship and land protection in recent years — be it the Ontario Greenbelt at the Provincial level, our Protected Countryside, our Countryside Line Concept, our Environmentally Sensitive Landscapes (ESLs), or our Source Water Protection Areas at the regional and municipal levels. All of these activities are integrated in these meetings at the federal level, where we are focussed on Global Biodiversity Framework and the need to ensure that 30% of Canada’s land and ocean is protected by 2030. We have advocated for the creation of many of these protections, supported them all, and folks from across all our communities have done everything they can to ensure long-term success.

Recently, we’ve been speaking up to save the Greenbelt and ensure a sustainable future for our communities and asking Doug Ford to Keep His Greenbelt Promise. Additionally, we have been defending our visionary Official Plans, and seeking to Repeal Bill 23 to protect our countryside and farmland from urban sprawl and while also protecting our groundwater.

This ties in strongly with the work of Nature Canada, particularly protecting biodiversity, conserving 30 percent of land and water by 2030 and fighting climate change..

You can help!

You can help Nature Canada and our Nature Network partners like Alberta Wilderness Association to halt and reverse nature loss at Nature on the Hill by sending a letter now to the Prime Minister demanding an Action Plan that:

Protects 30 percent of land and water by 2030 Establishes more Marine Protected Areas Supports Indigenous-led conservation Fights climate change by planting trees and protecting carbon-rich ecosystems Speak up now!

The post Nature Network Showcase: Grand River Environmental Network – Advocating for the Greenbelt at Nature on the Hill 2023 appeared first on Nature Canada.

- Nature Canada
Nature Network Showcase: Alberta Wilderness Association – Advocating for habitat protection at Nature on the Hill 2023

As part of Nature Canada’s annual Nature on the Hill event, Alberta Wilderness Association is one of the many nature groups advocating to protect Canadian species through habitat protection, and make good on the government’s promise to protect 30 percent of Canadian land, water and ocean by 2030.

About Alberta Wilderness Association

Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA), founded in 1965, works throughout Alberta towards more representative and connected protection of the unique and vital landscapes that are the source of our clean water, clean air, and wildlife habitat. With over 7,500 members and supporters in Alberta, across Canada and around the world AWA remains committed to ensuring protection of wildlife and wild places in Alberta for all Canadians.

Alberta Wilderness Association is advocating for an Action Plan that…

Protects 30 percent of land and water by 2030
Alberta Wilderness Association has long advocated for expanding Alberta’s network of representative protected areas that will contribute to protecting 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030.

One example is fighting for adequate habitat protection for species at risk such as Woodland Caribou and Greater Sage-grouse, both federal priority species whose protection helps conserve vital peatlands, old forests and grasslands ecosystems. AWA is calling on the federal government to designate more critical habitat for Sage-Grouse under emergency protection order, and to point out deficiencies in Alberta upholding its commitments under their joint Species at Risk Act Conservation Agreement for caribou.

Supports Indigenous-led conservation
AWA would like to see more federal funding towards advancing Indigenous conservation initiatives. For example, the boreal woodland caribou Conservation Agreement between Canada, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) helped to develop the 2022 ACFN-MCFN Tâdzié-Sagow Atihk Stewardship Plan for Richardson, Red Earth, East Side of the Athabasca River and West Side of the Athabasca River caribou ranges. This visionary plan sets measurable goals and timelines to reach 80 percent undisturbed habitat in these ranges by 2061, so caribou populations can recover.

Fights climate change
Peatlands, old forests and grasslands are important carbon stores. Protecting them helps fight climate change by removing and keeping greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

You can help!

You can help Nature Canada and our Nature Network partners like Alberta Wilderness Association to halt and reverse nature loss at Nature on the Hill by sending a letter now to the Prime Minister demanding an Action Plan that:

Protects 30 percent of land and water by 2030 Establishes more Marine Protected Areas Supports Indigenous-led conservation Fights climate change by planting trees and protecting carbon-rich ecosystems Speak up now!

The post Nature Network Showcase: Alberta Wilderness Association – Advocating for habitat protection at Nature on the Hill 2023 appeared first on Nature Canada.

- Nature Canada
Nature Network Showcase: Island Nature Trust – Advocating for land protection at Nature on the Hill 2023

As part of Nature Canada’s annual Nature on the Hill event, Island Nature Trust in PEI is one of the many nature groups advocating to Canadian MPs for meeting the government’s promise to protect 30 percent of Canadian land, water and ocean by 2030. As a land trust, we are first and foremost interested in protecting 30 percent of land by 2030, as well as halting and reversing biodiversity loss through protected habitat for species at risk.

About Island Nature Trust

Island Nature Trust (INT) is a non-government, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and management of natural areas on Prince Edward Island since 1979. Governed by a volunteer board of directors, INT protects lands in perpetuity and works with governments, like-minded organizations and private landowners to protect and maintain a network of natural areas and wildlife corridors across the province of Prince Edward Island.

Our Goals for Nature on the Hill

Simply put, we need more funding to reach our land protection goals. At Nature on the Hill, we will be advocating for more resources to be committed to land protection as well as for more collaboration with those provincial governments that are well below COP15 commitments for land protection. For instance, in the Maritimes the province of Prince Edward Island has a stated goal of seven percent protection by 2030. Nova Scotia is committed to 20 percent and New Brunswick just reached 10 percent. There are many reasons why these commitments are low, and 30 percent might be too difficult to reach for some provinces, but higher numbers are possible with support from the federal government.

We will also be advocating for more resources to establish and steward healthy natural areas that are resilient to major weather events and human impacts. In the fall of 2022, the province of Prince Edward Island lost a substantial amount of trees to post-tropical storm Fiona, prompting the provincial government to create an Emergency Forestry Task Force and a Forestry Commission. Building back healthy and resilient forests—a priority landscape identified by the current federal government—will be paramount to ensuring we have a diversified native forested landscape that can adapt to climate change and continue to offer the ecosystem services needed by people and wildlife alike. Nature on the Hill is a chance to protect areas for the forests that will help us withstand the effects of climate change.

Island Nature Trust is advocating for an Action Plan that…

Protects 30 percent of land and water by 2030
We need increased support and collaboration with provincial and territorial governments that are currently under-committed to help create more equitable outcomes across regions, ensuring optimized approaches to halting and reversing biodiversity loss in a larger cross section of ecosystems.

Establishes more Marine Protected Areas
The core mission of INT focusses on land protection, though we recognize that marine protected areas are just as important.

Supports Indigenous-led conservation
As a partner in conservation with the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils, we work to protect land for Pituamkek (bee-doo-um-gek), a future National Park Reserve, and collaborate on conservation projects and shared stewardship goals. We would anticipate that any increases in resources for land protection and forested landscape stewardship would automatically benefit current and future Indigenous-led work.

Fights climate change
Increased resources to protect and steward healthy forested landscapes on Prince Edward Island will result in more resilient and diverse forests that sequester and store more carbon.

You can Help!

You can help Nature Canada and our Nature Network partners like Island Land Trust to halt and reverse nature loss at Nature on the Hill by sending a letter now to the Prime Minister demanding an Action Plan that:

Protects 30 percent of land and water by 2030 Establishes more Marine Protected Areas Supports Indigenous-led conservation Fights climate change by planting trees and protecting carbon-rich ecosystems

Speak up now!

The post Nature Network Showcase: Island Nature Trust – Advocating for land protection at Nature on the Hill 2023 appeared first on Nature Canada.

- Nature Canada
Defending the Deep at IMPAC5: Your Ocean Highlights

Thousands of delegates gathered in Vancouver to advance ocean protection from February 3rd to 9th for IMPAC5 (the fifth International Marine Protected Areas Conference).

The Ocean Festival at IMPAC5 was designed to educate Canadians and encourage passersby to consider the state of marine protection and the importance of making progress to halt and reverse the loss of marine species. There was a drag queen, a giant octopus, and more!

Things are looking good for protecting 30 percent of oceans by 2030. With 125 countries in attendance and plenty of goals met, the conference was a huge success!

Here are highlights from the conference:

Ocean Victory! New Marine Protected Area Tang.ɢwan-ḥačxʷiqak-Tsig̱is was announced.

Image: Carol Linnitt / The Narwhal

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Haida, Pacheedaht, and Quatsino Nations with Fisheries and Oceans Minister, Joyce Murray, announced a Memorandum of Understanding to co-manage a proposed new Marine Protected Area (MPA) to be known as Tang.ɢwan-ḥačxʷiqak-Tsig̱is. This area, previously known to ocean conservationists as the Pacific Deep Sea Oasis, is of great ecological importance and has been the focus of Indigenous-led efforts towards protection for years. In fact, Nature Canada has been campaigning for protection in this area for years! Learn more here.

Frida Whales engaged kids at the Ocean Festival.

Through storytelling, participants were invited to discover the diversity of marine life that live in the oceans and their importance to human and planetary health and wellbeing. With more than a million species on the cusp of extinction, these future generations may not have the opportunity to appreciate marine wildlife if our governments don’t act to protect them today.

The giant octopus made waves for marine species protection.

A massive octopus sculpture caught in a fishing net sat at the entrance to the festival, a display that provoked questions about the damage that commercial fishing practices inflict on marine life. Members of the public were encouraged to write their hopes and dreams for ocean protection on bands that were tied to the trapped animal, and to illustrate the impact that human activity has on aquatic species.

We marched to stop deep sea mining.

Young Professionals at IMPAC5 lead a protest against Deep Sea Mining and Nature Canada was there! Deep sea mining has a devastating impact on marine life and Nature Canada has been calling for a moratorium on the practice in our waters. The Canadian Government has no regulatory framework governing deep sea mining prior to IMPAC5, and at the conclusion of the gathering the Ministry of Natural Resources confirmed no deep sea mining would be permitted in Canadian waters. As one of the hosts of IMPAC5 the Young Professionals elevated the issue of deep sea mining and directly contributed to the prohibition announced by the federal government.

IMPAC5 encouraged and amplified youth voices throughout the congress, with the goal of inspiring future environmental leaders and incorporating new ideas and processes into the global conservation movement.

Nature Canada’s NatureHood program was featured in a panel focused on Youth Engaging Youth in the Conservation Sector. NatureHood connects kids, families, newcomers, and marginalized communities to nearby nature. Issues examined in the panel included strategies on effectively engaging youth, suggestions on how to bridge gaps between urban and rural youth, and a discussion on the current state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Canadian environmental sector.

Not to mention… The Great Bear Sea network announced an action plan to protect the North coast of BC through a series of interconnected Marine Protected Areas. Learn more here.
Policy mechanism for minimum protection standards implementation Creating a National Marine Conservation Areas policy framework Canada to become the first country to protect all seamounts within its waters High level declaration by Canada and others to finalize and ratify the High Seas Treaty

Thanks to all who raised their voices in support of nature!

You can help us continue defending the ocean and reach our goal of protecting 30 percent of the ocean by 2030. Send a letter to Oceans Minister, Joyce Murray, to say you want to see the ocean protected for future generations!


The post Defending the Deep at IMPAC5: Your Ocean Highlights appeared first on Nature Canada.

- Nature Canada
Introducing Emily McMillan: Nature Canada’s New Executive Director

Emily McMillan is the Executive Director of Nature Canada. She leads the organization’s efforts to discover, defend, and restore nature.

We sat down with our new Executive Director to learn more about her and her vision for Nature Canada.

Where does your love for nature stem from?

As the daughter of a military family, I moved around a lot. This taught me independence and curiosity. I explored the wilderness around me as a kid, from catching frogs to hiking. Nature has always been my happy place.

We regularly went on family camping trips. One of my fondest memories is a 10-day road trip from central to eastern Canada, where we stopped to camp along the way.

How has that love of nature inspired you growing up?

I learned about Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall in high school. They inspired me to join the local environmental club.

I moved to the east coast to attend the University of New Brunswick for my Bachelor of Science with a focus on environmental biology. There, I joined leagues with other young environmental activists through the New Brunswick Environmental Network. We taught youth about environmental conservation, as well as organized protests and workshops and launched letter-writing petitions.

I became passionate about people’s values and how we move communities to action. I pursued a Master’s of Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University, exploring how we learn environmental values in post-secondary settings.

You also got your PhD. at Laurentian University. What made you want to pursue a doctorate?

People’s values can transform when they’re informed. This gave me hope that change is possible, so I completed a PhD. in Human Studies. I explored how home and public schooling settings shape how children learn about and appreciate nature, and how this influences people long-term to create a society that cares about protecting nature.

You have an impressive career spanning over 20 years in environmental conservation. Can you break it down for us?

Before joining Nature Canada, I spent seven years as Executive Director of the Green Party of Canada during which the party was more successful than ever. We doubled donations, grew the membership, and made electoral breakthroughs across Canada.

Prior to my time in politics, I was also the Director of Sierra Club’s Atlantic Canada chapter. I grew the organization from a mostly volunteer-led group to over six staff and an annual budget of over $260,000.

And of course, I’m not new to Nature Canada. I joined the team here three years ago as Deputy Executive Director so I’ve been helping shape and lead our strategy for some time now.

What made you want to join and lead Nature Canada?

Nature Canada is one of the oldest national nature conservation charities in Canada. The organization represents a network of over 175,000 members and supporters, and more than 1,200 nature organizations. The breadth of Nature Canada’s impact is remarkable.

But our people are even more impressive. Everyone truly feels passionate about protecting nature, and the plants and animals depending on it for survival.

We’re a unique organization working together to achieve big goals.

When you’re not leading Nature Canada, you’re in the wilderness with your children. How does your love of nature show up in motherhood?

My parents instilled in me the values of self-discovery and compassion for the world around me. Now as a mother with two children under 10, I know that to be a mentor to your kids, you have to let them experience nature firsthand.

This is why we’ve gone camping and canoeing every summer since they were born. My kids love Algonquin Park and its wetlands for bird watching.

They’re also enrolled in Waldorf schooling, an education system that fosters their independence, creativity, and imagination.

The post Introducing Emily McMillan: Nature Canada’s New Executive Director appeared first on Nature Canada.

- Nature Canada
Thank You to Our Members and Donors

A big thanks to all our members and donors who take action to halt and reverse nature loss in Canada. Your gifts were hard at work week after week, month after month over the past year. Everyone here at Nature Canada, and our partners all across the nation thank and applaud your trust and dedication!

The post Thank You to Our Members and Donors appeared first on Nature Canada.

- Nature Canada
The Polar Bear: Rider of Icebergs

Legendary commercial actor, close friend of Santa Claus, and explorer of the North, the Polar Bear is nothing if not the symbol of Arctic life. Their Latin name, Ursus maritimus, translates to sea bear and provides great insight into how they live. As apex predators, polar bears spend lots of time hunting in and around Arctic waters for their prey, their favourite of which is the ringed seal. Polar bears are recognisable by their white coat and their large size. Males tend to weigh between 350-600 kilograms while females will weigh between 150-290 kilograms, both can be over 10 feet tall when standing. Their bodies are made to withstand all the cold that the Arctic climate has to offer, as their two layers of fur and thick layer of blubber offer them more than enough warmth to survive – sometimes even too much warmth for the summers!

Apart from the big screen, polar bears live across the Arctic region, particularly in five countries: Canada, the US, Greenland, Russia, and Norway. As such, polar bears represent history for many peoples across the Arctic. For millennia, various indigenous groups have counted on polar bears as key contributors to their ways of life. They are still hunted today as part of their long-held traditions, but the process is very monitored and respectful of the prey. Nearly every part of a polar bear is used by the hunters, whether for weather-appropriate clothing or for calorie-rich meals. Many regulations have been imposed on the hunters, serving to protect polar bear populations from being threatened by direct human action.

So what’s the issue?

According to both SARA and COSEWIC, polar bears are a species of special concern. Although effective in curtailing over-hunting, the regulations do not address the main threat polar bears face; climate change. Polar bears rely on sea ice as their habitat. This has historically worked very well for them as it allows them plenty of room for hunting, but lately, with rising global temperatures as a result of climate change, living on the ice has become more trying for them. Different polar bear populations face different challenges, but among the most threatened are those living in regions of Seasonal Ice and Polar Basin Divergent Ice.
The existence of Seasonal Ice, as the name suggests, is dependent on the season as it melts in the summer and begin to return in the fall. When the ice melts it leaves polar bears unable to hunt, forcing them into a fast. Fasting is not new to them, but the duration of the melt is getting much longer than it used to be, making it more challenging for polar bears to fast through longer summers. For Polar Basin Divergent Ice regions the challenges are similar. The sea ice builds up near shores and will retract from the shores as it melts in the warmer months. Climate change accelerates this process and melts more of the ice near the shore. This forces the bears to either go back to land where they would have to fast or swimming further out in search of more ice. 

What can we do?

The most important thing we can do to keep polar bears safe is to support environmental initiatives in government. Making green choices from the top-down is essential to fighting climate change on a macro scale, and the best way to do this is to stay informed on the issues along with the candidates who advocate for them. On a more personal level, supporting polar bear charities or conservation organisations goes a long way in furthering research, and making eco-friendly decisions in our daily lives can push others to follow suit.

The post The Polar Bear: Rider of Icebergs appeared first on Nature Canada.

- Nature Canada

The ocean can’t protect itself. That’s why thousands of delegates are gathering in Vancouver to advance ocean protection from February 3rd to 9th for IMPAC5 (the fifth International Marine Protected Areas Conference)—basically the Olympics of ocean conservation.

The ocean is one of the most important and precious resources on our planet; we cannot survive without it. It covers over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and is home to a diverse array of plant and animal life. It produces 50 percent of the planet’s oxygen, puts food on our plates, helps us fight climate change, and supports vibrant coastal communities.

But the vast majority of Canada’s ocean remains legally unprotected, leaving marine species and their habitats vulnerable to destruction and exposed to contaminants, as well as under threat from a variety of human activities, including pollution, overfishing, and climate change.

As the country boasting the longest coastline on Earth, Canada isn’t doing enough to conserve it. In order to protect the ocean and the life it supports, it is essential that we take action to address these threats.

What is IMPAC5

As you read this, we approach an unprecedented opportunity to protect the ocean with Canada hosting a major global meeting to spur ocean conservation known as IMPAC5. IMPAC5 is a key global moment to advance protection of the ocean and recent commitments to nature made at COP15 to protect 30 percent of land and ocean by 2030.

You can take action now to protect the ocean or read on to learn more about what makes IMPAC5 so important.

The ocean needs all of us to ensure that its marine inhabitants can survive.

From February 3rd to 9th, the International Marine Protected Areas Conference (IMPAC5) will be happening in Vancouver, as the world’s best scientists, policymakers, academics, and conservationists from around the world will gather to find ways to safeguard the ocean now and for the future.

What do we need to see come out of IMPAC5?

As host of IMPAC5, Canada can be a leader for ocean protection by:

Laying out a clear pathway to our 30×30 ocean protection promises: how we will protect 25 percent of Canadian ocean waters by 2025, and 30 percent by 2030, including progress on major sites such as the ‘Deep Sea Oasis’ in the Pacific Offshore Area of Interest. Demonstrating support for Indigenous leadership in ocean conservation through co-management of marine protected areas such as the Deep Sea Oasis noted above  Committing to strong protection standards in Marine protected areas including limiting unsustainable fishing and offshore oil and gas exploration Building momentum for international protection of the global ocean by announcing a moratorium on deep sea mining in Canadian waters and committing with other nations to ratify a High Seas treaty to protect international waters We need to protect the ocean—now

The ocean is warming at an alarming rate due to increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As the ocean warms, it expands, leading to hurricanes, sea level rise, and increased coastal flooding.

Today, we are driving alarming species decline, destroying diverse ecosystems, and damaging our long-term future. Amazing marine animals, like the North Atlantic right whale and Southern Resident Orca, are at risk of extinction. We can choose a better future for ourselves and for the ocean.

Take action today to protect the ocean.

The post Why IMPAC5 matters for the Ocean appeared first on Nature Canada.

- Nature Canada

Joanne Papineau has been a proud member of Nature Canada since the 1980s, and a monthly donor for more than 20 years. 

As a child, Joanne fell in love with nature, especially the underwater world. She was inspired by the underwater discoveries and adventures of Jacques Cousteau, and at a young age she told herself “I’m going to be a marine biologist!” Her work has allowed her to explore her passion for nature and conservation, especially whales. “Underwater is my favourite place to be. If I had gills, I would just stay there. It’s quiet, beautiful, colourful.”

Joanne has many nature stories to share, but one of her most recent experiences holds a special place in her heart. “I visited Antarctica a few years ago, and as I sat down, a baby penguin came and pecked at my boots. I felt so privileged—we were respecting their space and they were happy to share their environment with us. We were a curiosity, but not a threat. It was a magical moment of connection.”

And it’s this connection with nature and species that drives Joanne to be involved with Nature Canada and stay informed on conservation issues. “You don’t need to be a scientist to understand the cycle of life. My membership is my way to have a voice in the conversation, since animals and the environment can’t speak for themselves. It’s our duty to protect them, and I’m fiercely proud of the work we’ve done, and hopeful about the work we have yet to do. Choosing to give monthly to Nature Canada was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

“We live in such a beautiful country. The first time I saw the totems at Haida Gwaii was an incredible moment. It was so spiritual and profound. My goal is to discover every national park, and visit the jewels in every province.”

Thank you, Joanne, for sharing your story and your passion for nature! Members who give monthly as Guardians of Nature providing us crucial support on a steady and ongoing basis.  You can join as a monthly donor online or by calling Anna at 1-800-267-4088 ext. 225.

The post Member Spotlight: Joanne Papineau appeared first on Nature Canada.

- Nature Canada

In May 2022, an Alberta Court of Appeal majority held that the federal Impact
Assessment Act is unconstitutional. Nature Canada disagrees, and is preparing
to intervene on behalf of nature in the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada
this March 2023. As Nature Canada—represented by West Coast
Environmental Law—argued before the Alberta court, the Impact Assessment
Act is reasonable, justified and falls squarely within federal jurisdiction.

The appeal has every chance of success in the Supreme Court. This case
matters because it will confirm the extent to which federal authorities can
inform themselves about the potential impacts, risks and benefits of large
development projects that might harm nature, climate or human well-being,
or impact Indigenous rights. In other words a law to “look before you leap”, as
well as a key process for the public to have a say in projects that affect them,
and to seek the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous people.

The Alberta Court’s opinion perpetuates the myth that this law—formerly
known as Bill C-69—will stop all development in its tracks. In fact, federal
impact assessment has led to the rejection of less than a handful of
development projects over three decades. The claim also ignores the fact that
the Impact Assessment Act applies to roughly a dozen projects a year across
Canada. The notion that the law is an economic chokehold as claimed by the
Alberta Court of Appeal is simply unsupported by facts.

Impact assessment is just smart decision-making. In this age of climate and
biodiversity crises, and of increasing recognition of the need to uphold
Indigenous rights, this law is more important than ever. Nature Canada is
preparing our legal arguments in this fight for nature, and we are confident
the Supreme Court will agree when this case is heard, in just a few weeks time.
Consider making a donation today to help support our efforts to stand up for
strong environmental laws in Canada.

The post Intervening for Nature at the Supreme Court appeared first on Nature Canada.

- Mark

You may remember that I wrote to Natural England about SSSIs in my local area (click here). I’ve had a reply.

It’s a pretty clear reply and I’ve highlighted in a purply-pink colour two passages that are of particular interest. The first says ‘the data on the designated sites system are up to date’ – in other words the condition assessments really are this out of date – it’s not just that we haven’t had time or resources to edit the data displayed. The second explains that Unfavourable Recovering can mean that there is a plan allegedly in place but it doesn’t necessarily mean that anything really is recovering because this hasn’t been checked.

The English Protected Area system, run by the statutory sector, rarely checks sites and assumes that a site is recovering if there is a plan in place that might lead to recovery if implemented well.

This is like running an MOT system for cars where you rarely check their roadworthiness and assume that all the faults will be corrected if you send someone away with a list of things to do.

Dear Dr Avery

Case ref:  2002231421CW

Thank you for your email to Natural England which was received on 20th February 2023.

I have gathered some information regarding condition assessments in relation to your questions. I hope this information answers your queries.

Designated Sites Views ( and hold the information about site condition and the last time an assessment was undertaken.

Each SSSI was selected on the basis of one or more “features of interest” and the SSSI comprises one or more units. Natural England reports condition at the unit level. From April 2023 we will also report condition at the feature level.

In 2015 Natural England introduced a risk-based approach to deciding when a SSSI unit would be assessed based on several factors. The number of condition assessments undertaken between 2015 and 2020 declined significantly but additional funding since then has increased capacity and resulted in the ability to increase the number of assessments made. All four nature conservation bodies (Natural England, NatureScot, NRW and DAERA) and the JNCC released a statement in 2022 describing how the nature conservation bodies are all moving to a risk-based approach to monitoring to ensure best use of resources and new technologies.

The recent Environmental Improvement Plan has set Natural England a challenging target of having an up-to-date assessment for every SSSI by 31 January 2028. Natural England are producing a prioritised monitoring plan for the period of the EIP target, and this will be available later this year.

When a site unit is assessed, the condition may be categorised into; Favourable, Unfavourable – Recovering, Unfavourable – No change, Unfavourable – Declining and Destroyed/Part Destroyed.

Unfavourable recovering condition is often known simply as ‘recovering’. The Feature is not yet fully conserved but all the necessary management measures are in place. This means that the necessary actions to achieve favourable condition have been identified; at least one action is underway; and no actions are behind schedule. Provided that the recovery work is sustained, the feature will reach favourable condition.

Natural England provides advice to land managers about the measures needed to ensure that the condition of Unfavourable Units improves and thereby contributes to delivery of Natural England’s statutory purpose and international and national objectives. Natural England seeks to secure appropriate management of protected sites through close working relationships with those who own or use the sites, including tenants, small landowners, and large landowning organisations.

Staff visit sites for other reasons apart from undertaking a condition assessment and during these visits staff look to check that the management activities are improving the condition of a site’s features. At this point recommendations can be made about undertaking a new condition assessment.

Deciding on when to undertake a condition assessment is based on the feature’s vulnerability and its resilience. The more vulnerable it is, the more frequently an assessment might be required. Additional information about past management, partnership-working and condition stability is factored in to deciding when a new assessment of condition is required.

Natural England has a protected sites data system (which generates the information available in Designated Sites View), this is the primary source of information used by Natural England and partner organisations to track progress with site improvements as management actions are implemented.

I hope this information has been useful to you.

Yours sincerely

Farm and Conservation Service


- Mark
Sunday book review – Landscape by Rosamunde Codling

I’m glad I read this book, and I’ve never read one quite like it. It’s an exploration of landscapes – how we portray them and how we feel about them. It ranges widely from the lunar landscape via Antarctica to East Anglia and from urban to rural.  The author is a landscape architect (and I realised I didn’t really know what that meant) and has a long career in this area.  She writes very gently and clearly – it’s a thoughful book.

There are many references to poetry, art and popular culture. When we are in The Fens we hear from Dorothy L. Sayers, Graham Swift, John Clare and others.

If you’d like to be nudged, gently nudged, into thinking more about how the world around you looks, then you will enjoy this book. I certainly did.

The cover?  Far less interesting than the book – I’d give it 6/10.

Landscape: a common place by Rosamunde Codling is published by Mascot Media



My forthcoming book, Reflections, will be published on 4 July and already can be ordered.

Details – click here.

- Mark
Sunday book review – Planting with Nature by Kirsty Wilson

Any book which starts with a quote from Audrey Hepburn is off to a good start with me. She said that to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. No wonder there are now so many areas of artificial turf and gravel. But this book is an antidote to that as a ‘practical and easy-to use’ guide to gardening. Any guide is always called practical and easy to use but this one really is.

How to create nectar-rich borders, a wildflower meadow, a hedge or a pond are all explained here. So too are the ins and outs of producing compost and/or a wormery or a leaf cage. There is helpful advice on which plants to choose to benefit different groups of wildlife.  All in all, the amount of information imparted, clearly and briefly, is impressive. I learned a lot – but then, I’m no gardener, and I guess that means I’m in the target audience.

The author is a Garden Manager at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.  That seems quite a good provenance.

The cover? As with all the illustrations, it is by Hazel France. The style is simple, but fairly accurate, and very pleasing. I’d give it 8/10.

Planting with Nature: a guide to sustainable gardening by Kirsty Wilson (illustrated by Hazel France) is published by Birlinn and the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.




My forthcoming book, Reflections, will be published on 4 July and already can be ordered.

Details – click here.

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