Remembering nature poet Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver. (© Mark Lennihan/AP Images)

Mary Oliver, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose work focused on nature, passed away on January 17.

Many of Oliver’s poems focus on the connection between nature and the spiritual world, and her titles — such as “The Swan” and “The Rabbit” — reflect this. She is perhaps most well-known to have penned the question: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Her work appeared in publications such as The New Yorker and made many best-selling lists.

Continue reading

Fish story: How a coelacanth discovery set off a flurry of science, subterfuge

Indonesian coelacanth

The Indonesian coelacanth, photographed off Bunaken Island in 1998. (© MV Erdmann)

The 1938 discovery of a coelacanth is an oft-told tale.

This species of fish was thought to have been extinct for 65 million years when one was caught in the western Indian Ocean.

Lesser known is the tale of a coelacanth sighting thousands of miles away in the mid-1990s, when one was spotted for sale at an Indonesian fish market by a marine biologist on his honeymoon.

The story of that discovery — and how it was told to the world — is filled with shocking twists and turns. At the center of it all was Mark Erdmann, now vice president of Asia-Pacific Marine Programs at Conservation International. Continue reading

In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

Jellyfish in West Papua

Jellyfish on Karawapop Island, Southeast Miso, Raja Ampat. (© Keith A. Ellenbogen)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

  1. Australian jellyfish swarm stings thousands, forcing beach closings

Several beaches in Australia are closed after thousands of people were stung by bluebottle jellyfish — a potentially troubling sign for ocean health.

The story: Since December 1, there have been 22,787 jellyfish stings recorded in Australia, Livia Albeck-Ripka reported for The New York Times last week. Typically, bluebottle jellyfish — whose stings are not normally fatal — stick to deeper waters, but strong winds and warmer waters have caused “a relentless influx” on beaches.

Continue reading

The year ahead in climate change

Northern lights

Northern lights in Russia. (© Paul Itkin)

It can be argued that climate change gave us the top stories of 2018.

The world has little more than a decade to stop accelerating climate change and keep the average global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to a much-anticipated report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). As if to hammer home the point, extreme weather events ruled the headlines, from flood-inducing hurricanes in the Carolinas to wildfires in Greece.

To find out what climate change has in store for 2019, we spoke with Conservation International’s climate change lead, Shyla Raghav, and learned what is going to make news about the climate in the coming year.

Question: What’s the biggest thing on the horizon for climate change in 2019? Continue reading

In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. (© filipefrazao)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

  1. A rising threat to wildlife: electrocution

Electric fences, trip wires and power lines are killing or severely injuring wildlife across Africa and Asia.

The story: Animals as small as birds and as large as elephants are being electrocuted, some on a mass scale, and the issue may be contributing to the endangerment or extinction of certain species, Rachel Nuwer reported for The New York Times last week. Trip wires — designed to deter lions and bush pigs — are the culprit most of the time, killing countless tortoises and pangolins.

Continue reading

In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

Anzihe Protected Area

Anzihe Protected Area, Chongzhou, Sichuan. (© Kyle Obermann)

Editor’s note: Although the news cycle slowed during the holiday season, it did not stop. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

  1. This island was on the brink of disaster. Then, they planted thousands of trees.

A small islet in Tanzania had water shortages, scorching heat and a dwindling food supply due to deforestation, but things began to change once they started planting trees.

The story: Kokota, home to only 500 people, had such little fresh water that people would sail for hours to the neighboring island of Pemba to buy water, Sarah Gibbens reported for National Geographic last week. So a local non-profit employee began a partnership — Community Forests International — with a Canadian tree planter to begin reforesting the islands. Continue reading

Best of 2018: 3 things you didn’t know trees did for you

Harenna forest in Ethiopia. (© Robin Moore/iLCP)

Editor’s note: As the end of 2018 approaches, Human Nature is revisiting some of our favorite stories of the year. To support crucial conservation work like this, consider making a donation to Conservation International.

Regular readers of our blog know that forests benefit human life immeasurably: storing water, regulating climate, harboring wildlife.

But did you know that forests can make you smarter?

Continue reading

Best of 2018: To save marine habitats, conservationists find natural ally: surfers

A surfer rides a wave in Fiji. (© Reniw-Imagery)

Editor’s note: As the end of 2018 approaches, Human Nature is revisiting some of our favorite stories of the year. To support crucial conservation work like this, consider making a donation to Conservation International.

When looking for conservation allies, it’s only natural to appeal to the people whose hobbies center on nature.

Whom better, then, to turn to for marine conservation than the world’s 34 million recreational surfers?

Continue reading

Best of 2018: Satellite tags shed light on sea turtle treks

Sea turtle in the Pacific Ocean

A sea turtle, pictured above, swimming in the Pacific Ocean. (© Keith A. Ellenbogen)

Editor’s note: As the end of 2018 approaches, Human Nature is revisiting some of our favorite stories of the year. To support crucial conservation work like this, consider making a donation to Conservation International.

Sea turtles are known to migrate across vast distances of the ocean, nesting in one area and feeding in another. But protections for these endangered species can vary widely in these places.

Protecting them means knowing where they travel. So a team from Conservation International tagged 10 sea turtles in Southeast Asia’s “Coral Triangle” to track their maritime travel patterns.

Continue reading

Best of 2018: In a long-lost city, scientists find an ‘exuberance’ of life

Red-eyed tree frogs are one of the 56 species of reptiles and amphibians found by the team. (© Trond Larsen)

Editor’s note: As the end of 2018 approaches, Human Nature is revisiting some of our favorite stories of the year. To support crucial conservation work like this, consider making a donation to Conservation International.

Deep in the rainforest of Honduras, an “ecological SWAT team” embarked on a mission — to quickly gather key biological and social data from the critically important area. Trond Larsen, director of Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program, and his team explored “the White City” — hidden for centuries within a remote valley — and discovered a trove.

Continue reading