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Sea Snakes, Rhinos, And The Close Observation Of Two Tragic Commons

November 23, 2014


Thanks as always to Conservation, and in this case to Jason G. Goldman for the excellent summaries of scientific findings each week. There is not much happy news in this story, but nonetheless it is critical reading because of the detailed observation of the scientists:

Each month, hundreds of squid fishing vessels return to port in Vietnam loaded not just with squid, but also with sea snakes harvested from the Gulf of Thailand. Each month, the seven major snake processing facilities move an average of 6,500 kilograms of sea snakes, which are sold for between $10 and $40 per kilogram, depending on species. By comparison, squid sell for between $7 and $20 per pound, making sea snakes the more lucrative catch.

In the most recent issue of the journal Conservation Biology, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology researcher Nguyen Van Cao and colleagues argue that the harvest of sea snakes from the Gulf of Thailand is perhaps the world’s largest systematic exploitation of marine reptiles in the world, but it’s one that is woefully ignored or, at best, underscrutinized. Read more…

Migrating Wildlife Needs More Than Merely Parks

November 23, 2014

According to an in-depth atlas project being undertaken by the Wyoming Migration Initiative, many species of wild ungulates (hoofed mammals) require more land than what is currently encompassed in wilderness reserves. Certain areas that are under private ownership or designated as mixed use government lands are also key to the survival of species like the bighorn sheep (whose migration routes are to the left), mule deer, elk, and others.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Northern Barred-Woodcreeper (Carara National Park, Costa Rica)

November 22, 2014

An Impromptu Tacacorí CUBs Art Contest

November 22, 2014

A crudely-formed bird (airplane?) mosaic, photographed from the school roof

Last week, after many delays, I was able to get down to the school in Tacacorí and take photos of all the CUBs rocks that the students had painted. I used my camera (rather than my phone) and a borrowed tripod so that the pictures would be better quality and also more standardized. The result was 146 photos of rocks. I don’t know the exact number of students at the school, but I know that fifth-graders in particular were impatient to take their rocks home before I photographed them, because there were only a handful of specimens left last week.

Unfortunately for those students who didn’t wait until I told them they could  Read more…

President of Iceland to Speak at Cornell in T-minus Two Hours

November 22, 2014

10421239_10152851517090132_6600294053230348364_nIn less than two hours, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the fifth president of Iceland, will deliver a talk at Cornell’s Einaudi Center, as part of the Foreign Policy Distinguished Speaker Series.

Since I have a very personal academic connection to Iceland, I will be viewing the live stream of the speech at CornellCast’s webpage, and I invite you to do the same! The site helpfully provides a countdown of the talk for those of us in diverse time zones.  Read more…

Bird of the Day: Purple Sunbird (Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala)

November 21, 2014

Purple Sunbird by Sudhir Shivarm - RAXA Collective

The Sophie’s Choices Of Conservation

November 21, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 5.53.37 PM

Life is not fair.  Sometimes it is really unfair, especially when it comes to entire lifeforms disappearing, or not disappearing, subject to choices we humans make, with all our inherent biases. Thanks to Nautilus for bringing this research to our attention:

Which Endangered Species Would You Save?

Conservation is in the eye of the beholder.


You have just been appointed Conservation Czar. But there is a catch. You can only save three animals. Look at the 12 animals below and click on the three that you would save. After you make your choices, you will learn about the endangered status of each animal.

Read more…


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