Hakai Magazine: Why Australia Should, and Shouldn’t, Take Humpback Whales Off Its Endangered Species List

Earlier this week, an international team of marine researchers caught a lot of attention,and flack, for their argument that Australia should take humpback whales off its threatened species list.

Since 1972, when commercial whaling was outlawed internationally, Australia’s east and west coast humpback populations have recovered by 63 and 90 percent respectively, as compared to pre-whaling numbers. Ecologist Ari Friedlaender and colleagues argue in a new study that because Australia’s humpback populations are nearly back to normal, the money and attention currently being devoted to them could be directed elsewhere. He also says that down-listing the whales, or removing their “threatened” designation entirely, would give hope to other conservation efforts.

“These success stories are important for the animals themselves, but also to legitimize conservation biology, and conservation practices,” he says. “It’s a trophy to be able to say, ‘Look, we did this. We’ve done our job, it’s time to refocus,’” he says.

But would the gains Australia’s humpbacks have seen over the past four decades hold if they are taken off the threatened species list?

Read more at Hakai Magazine

CANADALAND: I was a Canadian Geographic Intern

Cannibalizing readers’ trust by partnering with organizations whose interests obviously prevent even-handed reporting on science and nature in Canada will build up over time. Even a publication with a history and reputation like Canadian Geographic can only go back to the well so many times before readers catch on and their credibility starts eroding. When that happens – when they have mortgaged their only valuable resource enough times – they will have gone so bankrupt that even CAPP won’t have any use for them.

Read more at Canadaland.

Hakai Magazine: A Requiem for an Ice Shelf

Svalbard

When you’re careening across the undulating surface of an ice shelf, anything that isn’t white, black, or gray stands out. But an old broken-down snowmobile—a first- or second-generation Bombardier with flecked yellow paint and a rust-eaten body—offers more than a splash of color. It’s a reminder that even here, in this empty world where not even trees can grow, people have made their mark. Yet as the world warms and this ice disappears for good, so too will many of these human traces. And, with them, the legacies of those who ventured to the extreme parts of this planet.

Read more at Hakai Magazine. This story was also reprinted in the Tyee.

Toronto Star: Doctor brings Syrian medical aid organization to Canada

UOSSM

Dr. Ammar Zakaria sits turning the key in the aging Mitsubishi he borrowed for the day. The engine clicks without much enthusiasm. No luck. He tries it again, and again, and eventually the car comes to life.

“I was forced to sell my car,” he says, his 3-year-old daughter peering between the front seats as he navigates through the chaotic streets of Reyhanli, Turkey.

He drives to a picturesque lake at the eastern edge of the city and points to barbed-wire fencing on the hill, where a camouflaged soldier lounges in the shade of a tree.

“That’s Syria,” he says.

Read more here