'Catastrophic' decline in Eastern lowland gorilla blamed on mining for minerals used in mobile phones
The Eastern lowland gorilla, the world's greatest ape, has suffered a "catastrophic decline" in the restive Democratic Republic of Congo, blamed on mining for minerals used in mobile phones.

Scientists said the numbers in the wild have dwindled three quarters in 20 years, to just 3,800 from 17,000 before civil war first broke out in 1996, and fear that without rapid intervention, the majestic creatures could disappear altogether in the next five years.

Andrew Plumptre, of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the lead researcher on the gorilla count, said while they knew numbers had declined, the results came as a shock…


Thanks to the Foundation of FLPMA, the BLM is Ready for Future

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 represents a landmark achievement in the management of the public lands of the United States. For the first time in the long history of the public lands, one law provides comprehensive authority and guidelines for the administration and protection of the Federal lands and their resources under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. This law enunciates a Federal policy of retention of these lands for multiple use management and repeals many obsolete public land laws which heretofore hindered effective land use planning for and management of public lands. The policies contained in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act will shape the future development and conservation of a valuable national asset, our public lands.

Senator Henry M. Jackson
Chairman, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Time to celebrate the wonderful world of reptiles & amphibians! (and not just today, but everyday!) These animals control populations of insects and rodents that spread disease and threaten human food crops. They deserve respect and attention! 

I’ve been working in the rainforest to save frogs from extinction, and these frogs are the primary food source of an endangered Palm Viper snake. Check out our National Geographic video if you want to see this in action! Watch it here:

Image source: Peppermint Narwhal Creative
Researchers: Limits on drilling not enough to protect bird
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Oil and gas development in the Western U.S. could continue to cause sage grouse numbers to decline despite limits on drilling meant to protect the struggling bird species, according to scientists.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and Colorado State University reached the conclusion after examining the effects of drilling on greater sage grouse over a 25-year period ending in 2008…


Metro Parks staff describe how to tell the difference between male and female northern bobwhite. These birds are part of an ongoing effort to restore the bobwhite to Summit county.  As these birds were once part of the natural ecosystem their survival in the metro parks can serve as an indicator of the current health of the parks overall. Since efforts began unbanded bobwhite have been spotted, telling meto park workers that chicks have hatched and survived, fantastic news for birds and people alike. 

We’re the PUBLIC in public lands 

Our national parks have been called America’s best idea, but they are just one piece of the larger, extraordinary concept of U.S. public lands — millions of acres owned in part by each and every American. From snow-capped mountains to the sagebrush sea, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees over 200 million acres of our shared natural heritage. Forty years ago, Congress passed legislation called the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLMPA), which set the course for how the BLM manages our public lands today.

Most Americans have probably never heard of FLMPA, but it is a law that affects all who love and cherish our BLM wild public lands. Prior to 1976, the lands currently managed by the BLM were not necessarily viewed as America’s crown jewels like the national parks or U.S. Forest Service managed wilderness areas. FLPMA notably included conservation and managing areas for wilderness characteristics as priority uses for BLM public lands, in addition to activities like mining, grazing, energy development, and recreation. Fans of wild places can thank FLPMA for directing the BLM to take inventory of the lands it oversees and determining which areas should be managed for conservation.

In order to decide which uses were of the highest value to specific places managed by the BLM, FLPMA importantly created a process to allow citizens to have a say in how their public lands are managed. Each region is governed by a “Resource Management Plan”, which takes into account how the public — YOU — wants to see these lands managed for the next 20–30 years. Should we protect an area’s wilderness character or allow development for energy or minerals? Should motorized recreation be allowed in an untrammeled area?

WE are the public in public lands, and it is imperative that all of us speak up to ensure the wild places we love stay that way for future generations. It is up to us to attend public meetings, submit written comments, and talk to our local land managers about which areas are important to protect from development and other threats. Go to to learn more and get involved with your local BLM Wild partner organization to help safeguard the most important and unspoiled places of the American West.
Pulses of Water Bring Life to the Famished Colorado River
The critical bird habitat is springing back, according to a new report. Here’s what you need to know.

Once a 1,450-mile-long force to be reckoned with, today’s Colorado River is one of the most endangered rivers in the world. It flows from Colorado all the way to the Gulf of California, through nine states—seven in the United States and two in Mexico.

And while it remains an integral source of water and livelihood, its delta is largely barren; the river stops 70 miles short of the sea. Altered by a century of overuse and climate change, the region is a shadow of the sanctuary of its former days, when it flourished with green marshes, migrating Red-winged Blackbirds, cottonwood trees, and willows…


In his travels Marco Polo vividly described the cold province of Badakhshan, a prosperous land where horses that descended from Alexander’s horse Bucephalus were once bred and where priceless rubies and the finest lapis lazuli were found.

Since ancient times lapis lazuli has been sourced in this remote region, north-east of modern Afghanistan, and exported over vast distances. Its mines on the steep Hindu Kush Mountains, above the Valley of the Kokcha River, can only be reached through a tortuous and dangerous route. 

Lapis lazuli consists of a large number of minerals, including the blue mineral lazurite, the white mineral calcite and golden specks of iron pyrites.

A laborious process transforms this composite mineral into the pigment ultramarine; various grades of ultramarine can be obtained, from the purest extremely expensive deep blue, composed mostly of lazurite particles to the pale grey so-called ultramarine ash.

Our conservators recently attended a 2-day workshop learning how to make their own ultramarine pigment for use in our own conservation. See the entire process in our Case Study!


Why music might be killing sharks

For too long, sharks have been portrayed and perceived as the menacing, lurking creatures in the deep. Contrary to popular belief, we are much more of a threat to them than they are to us.

Researchers have found that the ominous music that often accompanies even documentary footage of them has inspired excessive fear about sharks.

In an experiment at UC San Diego, participants watched footage of sharks. Some scenes featured uplifting music, and others had a more daunting score. 

The effect was what you might expect. Viewers saw sharks as intimidating creatures when they they also heard ominous music. 

But with uplifting music (or none at all), viewers had a more positive impression of sharks.  

This is problematic because rarely do we see shark footage without the ominous music, and the negative portrayals of sharks may be hindering conservation efforts.

“We know from prior research that conservation progress for sharks is sluggish compared to marine mammals and that this slow response may be due in part to the societal marginalization of sharks,” says study co-author Elizabeth Keenan.

After all, in the words of Senegalese conservationist Baba Diou, “we will conserve only what we love.”

And while they’re still not exactly a furry, cuddly rabbit, consider this: you’re more likely to be struck by lightening than fall prey to a fatal shark attack.

Sunscreen PSA

(Be aware that this PSA applies to all bodies of water, even man made pools, as the chemicals will still be carried into the ocean.)

It’s well known fact that the ocean is in critical danger from pollution. We are in the middle of a mass extinction event that is being severely advanced by human activity. The ocean drives the Earth’s life and weather. If it fails, we are doomed.

As of today, over 90% of the Great Barrier Reef is dead.




What can we possibly do to help?
Switch to a reef safe sunscreen. Every little thing you do to take the pressure off of reefs will help in their recovery and preservation.

Sunscreen isn’t reef safe? Huh?
The main ingredient in a vast majority of sunscreen brands is something called oxybenzone along with a slew of other chemicals. Oxybenzone and the like is toxic to coral and damaging to fish and crustaceans. Even some “natural” ingredients such as mineral oil are deadly, as it biodegrades very slowly and is harmful to all sea life. It causes the corals to bleach themselves, a process in which the symbiotic algae is ejected from the coral. Coral can sometimes survive a bleaching event but with other pollutants and high heat, they almost never do.

That’s awful! But if it’s in all sunscreen, how can I possibly be safe in the sun and save the reefs?
That’s easy! Start using a “reef safe” sunscreen! These sunscreens contain only zinc or titanium oxide as the active ingredient, a powerful UVB and UVA blocker that is completely reef safe! It’s also great for those with sensitive skin.

Awesome! Where can I find reef safe sunscreen?
You can find reef safe sunscreen in dive shops and most stores that carry sunscreen. Just make sure the only active ingredients are “zinc oxide” or “titanium oxide”. Avoid oxybenzone and mineral oil at all cost! Online shops such as amazon also have dozens of excellent reef safe sunscreens.

Do you have any recommendations?
There are dozens of reef safe brands, so it’s up to you to decide depending on price and scent/unscented. I personally like Stream2Sea, Badger, Biodegradable Reef Safe by Tropical Seas, and Coral Safe.

Is tanning oil okay?
Unfortunately not! Tanning oil causes the same kind of oil damage as an oil spill. In small doses it’s not going to do much but keep in mind that millions if not billions of beach-goers deposit tanning oil into the ocean whenever they swim. It’s best to wash off any tanning oil before entering the ocean to swim. Hit the showers!

Why should I even care that my sunscreen isn’t reef safe?
One earth, one ocean. If the oceans fail, if the biodiversity plummets, if the reefs die, the water turns to toxic sludge, then we are all doomed. We lose a source of food. We lose a source of capital. We lose ways of life. We lose cultures. We will lose the Earth. If the oceans go, humanity will soon follow.

Don’t let the next generation grow up with stories of “….back when the reefs still existed”

Extremely rare ‘Species X’ rediscovered in Brazil after 75 year disappearance!

The blue eyes of an extremely rare bird hadn’t been seen for nearly a century. In one of the most extraordinary stories in Brazilian conservation, a group of researchers have announced the comeback of the Blue-eyed Ground-dove. Last documented in 1941, it was believed extinct. But now the species has been found at top-secret locations in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. However researchers can only confirm sightings of 12 individuals, so securing its habitat will be the key to conserving this elusive bird.

Read the full story here:
At 100, Migratory Bird Treaty More Essential Than Ever
The Migratory Bird Treaty, adopted on this day 100 years ago, set a standard for international cooperation that we still follow today.


Today is the 100th birthday of the Migratory Bird Treaty!
“Boring,” you think, and start to scroll down.


The Migratory Bird Treaty is important, way important!
Look at this sweet face, this elegant beauty.

That’s a passenger pigeon, and it’s extinct because humans are assholes and didn’t understand or care about conservation, and there was no regulation on just going out and wiping out as many animals (birds, in this case) as you very well pleased, and destroy as much habitat as you wanted. Observant individuals saw the population crashing, but except for a few passionate conservationists (which were often viewed as eccentric), no one even did a thing to help save these birds. They went from 3 billion (scientists think that an average historic population was probably 330,000) to none. There were reports of people killing 50,000 per day at nesting sites. The last known passenger pigeon died in 1914.

What about this cutie?

This sweet bird child is a Carolina Parakeet, and it too is now extinct. The only parrot native to the eastern USA, this bird once was very numerous, but, as with the passenger pigeon, extreme deforestation and wanton killing of this species wiped it out. Tragically, due to the social and intelligent nature of parrots, these birds were known to circle around to the sites where their flock mates had been killed, allowing entire flocks to be shot wholesale. It’s sad but, these birds were generally considered a pest and of no value other than for decor, and so no studies or surveys were done. Because of this we don’t know much about this species beyond anecdotal information and the DNA tests we can do on their remains today.

BUT WAIT… this post is not all doom, gloom, and sadness.
There is good news. People saw what was happening, and people cared. People cared enough to get the government to make changes. People cared enough to get a cross-boundary treaty formed and signed. That’s incredible, given the times!

Have you heard of these two badass ladies, Harriet Hemenway and Minna Hall*? We have them to thank for many of the birds we enjoy today, which may well have gone extinct if not for this famous treaty. Harriet and Minna’s push to keep birds and other species from going extinct due to the sheer over-harvest of species pushed congress to pass the Lacey Act, which banned the illegal sale of wild animals. Unfortunately, the Lacey Act, while helpful, was unable to stop interstate trade nor international trade, as as many of our bird species in North America are Migratory, these birds know no political borders.

Something unprecedented happened then, in August of 1916. At a time when people were only starting to care about environmental issues, the Migratory Bird Treaty was signed by the US and Canada. Later, Mexico would be added to the treaty, and Japan and Russia also have similar agreements now to protect globally migratory birds.
The treaty makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations. That’s pretty good protection!
The protection that this treaty offered allowed many species that were, at the time, on the brink of extinction, to rebound. The treaty allowed for more conservation efforts to be made in the future, which had the good cascading effect of protecting species from extinction. Many iconic species of the south, such as snowy egrets, roseate spoonbills, and other birds with beautiful plumage, were nearly wiped out. We can thank the fact that we still enjoy these species to the treaty and the ones that pushed for it to exist.

Emily Jo Williams, ABC’s Vice President for North American Birds and Habitats, is quoted: “The recognition that birds are international resources or treasures established the basis for all of us to work together across international boundaries. It set the stage for that shared responsibility.“

Some birds that we even consider populous to the point of being pests were dwindling. People look at me as if I were crazy when I mention that Canada Goose numbers weren’t good for a while. Now they are considered a “pest”. You may not have a lot of love for them, but don’t forget… not that long ago, Carolina Parakeets were also considered “pests” too.
Wood duck populations were crashed. Can you imagine how sad it would be if there were no wood ducks?
Trumpeter swans were nearly extinct. There were less than 70 known individuals living in the lower US in the 1930s. Protections such as the Migratory Bird Treaty, Trumpeter Swan Society, and Federal Duck Stamp (by way of conserving National Wildlife Refuges) saved them and their population is now stable.
Hey, coincidentally, the new duck stamp features a trumpeter swan. That’s pretty awesome.

Oh snap, nice painting, Joe Hautman!

Anyhow, THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO CELEBRATE! You can do them every day, honestly, but if you .. you know… want to party with the cool bird nerds, you can do them this week.


Here are a number of ways (most are free) to celebrate:

You can also pledge to help wild birds! Many of the things on this list don’t cost anything, and every bit helps.

SO! PLEASE POST BIRDS. Take a photo, a video, do a doodle, share a story, tell some bird facts. It can be anything! Tell people that the Migratory Bird Treaty exists, so that they can help protect it. Use the tag #birdyear to show your support! Feel free to reblorb this. Tell your friends. Tell your boss. Tell your grandma. Anything you do is awesome. Remember, some kickass women got pissed off about birds being killed for hats and started a conservation movement out of their homes. I bet the least you can do is slap some birdy stuff up on your tumblr.

Does.. does the treaty need protecting? SADLY, YES.

In 2015, our own House of Representatives passed an appropriations amendment that would have kept the Department of Justice from enforcing the laws under the Migratory Bird Treaty. The amendment ultimately failed, but, um, excuse me? Does this REPRESENT your wants?

If not, make sure your representatives in our government know how you feel! Write those folks a letter! You can do it from your computer, it’s pretty easy!

*- a subtle reminder that conservation and big changes and movements usually start very, very small. These two powerful woman changed history for conservation, and may well have indirectly saved unknowable numbers of species from extinction. STAY INSPIRED, and PASSIONATE… What will you be remembered for?

Find Dory, but don’t buy her!

Finding Dory, the sequel to Finding Nemo, is coming out today, June 17th 2016. A few years ago, Finding Nemo was such a massive success that it drove demand for pet clownfish through the roof, and resulted in hurting the wild population, instead of fostering an appreciation for marine animals in their natural habitats. Over 90% of the clownfish sold came from the big, blue sea! Let’s avoid doing the exact same thing with Dory, shall we?

The case of Dory, or the case of blue tangs, is a bit different from clownfish. A “Finding Nemo effect” and a similar pet-trade boom could have catastrophic results for this species.

First of all, blue tangs aren’t bred in captivity. Blue tangs are pelagic spawners, meaning that they need sufficient space to breed and mate in mid-water columns. Once the eggs are hatched in captivity, it is extremely difficult to keep them alive. This means that every blue tang you will see in tanks or at the pet store has been taken from the wild. 

Originally posted by thekrazybitch

Second of all, chances are they were taken illegally. Regulations and their enforcement vary from country to country, but live saltwater fish like Dory are too often illegally collected using sodium cyanide as a liquid stun gun. For clownfish, scientists have witnessed local extinctions in areas they were collected in, and to the destruction of reefs and other species with this method.

Moreover, very little is actually known about the species. Subsequently, researchers don’t know if the blue tang population would be able to withstand increased demand after the movie release.

Behavioral ecologist Culum Brown works on fish cognition and welfare, and he reveals what is known about the species in an interview with NPR:

“You’ll be shocked to discover that we actually know very little about cognition in blue tangs. Correction … make that nothing. But that is true for the vast majority of the 32+ thousand species of fish out there.

"We know that their skin reflects light at 490nm (deep blue) and they tend to get lighter at night (this is under hormone control). They have very sharp spines on either side of their tail which erect when [the fish are] frightened. They have a huge distribution (Indo-Pacific) but are under threat from illegal collection. They graze algae on coral reefs, which is a very important job because it prevents the corals from being over-grown.”

So what can you do to save Nemo and Dory?

Originally posted by a-night-in-wonderland

If you must have a clownfish in your tank, make sure it was bred sustainably in captivity and not taken from the wild. As for having a Dory, you get it, it’s a big no-no. Keep Dory on the reef.

The aquarium industry harvests more than 1 million clownfish from their natural habitats every year so they can be sold as pets. This overharvesting, along with other stressors like global warming, is likely leading to the depletion of clownfish populations in places like the Philippines and the Great Barrier Reef.

Captive breeding has proved to be a sustainable alternative that can meet the demands for ornamental fish like Nemo, without hurting the reef’s populations. Tank Watch is also an app that helps you identify the captive-bred (good) from the wild-caught (bad) fish. 

While you go out and see this movie over the weekend, remember to educate yourself on the many species represented (including a whale shark and a beluga whale!). Many of them are under some sort of threat in the wild. All of these species are better off out in the sea, so if you fall in love with one of them and instead of taking Dory out of the ocean, I hope you moviegoers will support research, education and conservation!

Originally posted by rollingstone