Birds Under Threat From Brown Tree Snake in Marianas

The Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons mariae), a rare species found on Rota, Northern Mariana Islands, is one of the #birds at risk from brown tree snakes, which have devastated bird populations on Guam. Efforts to safeguard the Marianas’ remaining native birds, such as snake trapping and translocations of birds to islands without snakes, are underway.

Read more: Yahoo News

(via: American Bird Conservancy)

Photograph by Jack Jeffrey



In 2009, the island of Palau, located in the western Pacific Ocean just above New Guinea, established the first shark sanctuary in the world. Officials from the country say they’ve seen such success with the shark sanctuary as a buzzing tourist destination that they’ve launched plans to ban all commercial fishing in Palau’s large ocean territory by 2018.

The free fishing zone will span 630,000 square kilometres (240,000 square miles) - an area the size of France - and has been described as “unprecedented”.

The reason behind the no-fishing zone, according to the President of Palau Tommy Remengesau, was to allow the ocean to heal and replenish its populations of fish after decades of overfishing by commerical enterprises from around the world. 

Remengesau said Pacific island nations, which are also struggling to deal with climate change, were effectively “the conscience of the world" on environmental matters and had to lead by example because of their special connection with the ocean,” says Neil Sands for AFP.

The ocean is our way of life,” Remengesau told journalists. “It sustains and nurtures us, provides us with the basics of our Pacific island cultures, our very identities.”

Remengesau added that sharks offered more value to Palau as eco-tourism assets, saying that a 2011 study conducted by the Australian Institute of Marine Science concluded that a single reef shark could raise almost US$2 million for the local economy over 10 years thanks to the tourists that visit it. Figures put the tourism industry as being almost 30 times more lucrative to Palau than the commercial tuna industry. No attacks have ever occurred as the operators are careful to make sure everyone keeps a safe distance from the sharks.

We feel that a live shark is worth a thousand times more than a dead one,Remengesau said


Found along the North American coastline from British Columbia to Baja California, Pacific madrone trees (Arbutus menziesii) are well known for their beauty, but more often are known for being cold to the touch. The madrone tree’s bark makes it easily identified, with smooth orange-red bark that peels and curls as it ages, and eventually falls off, leaving its inner bark (often a pale green) bare and visible. Even on hot days, madrones still feel cool due to water running upwards in the trunk just beneath the bark layer. 

Often also referred to as madrona, bearberry, or sometimes strawberry trees, madrone trees (and in particular, their bark) have been historically used to treat a variety of diseases by Native Americans, and are still used to make flavorings and tea. They, like other trees, require fire to germinate, and even hold an advantage during times of intermittent fires, due to their ability to survive fire and regenerate more quickly than some of their conifer neighbors, like Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Madrone trees are also known to be excellent for their assistance in erosion control, as their roots spread widely and quickly, holding soil in place along the erosion-prone West coast of North America. 

All around, pretty cool trees… pun certainly intended. 


Photo Credit: Randell Zerr, as hosted by

Further Resources:
Introduction to Trees of the San Francisco Bay Region. 2002. Glenn Keator. University of California Press