News Article | May 11, 2017
Researchers get ready to tag humpback and minke whales in Wilhelmina Bay. Rod Downie, Polar programme manager at WWF, that helped fund the whale cams, said: ‘This technology will help us to better understand the important feeding areas of whales along the Antarctic peninsula, and the impact of declining sea ice caused by warming temperatures. The data will contribute towards the development of a network of Marine Protected Areas, conserving critical habitat not only for future generations of Antarctica’s ocean giants, but also for penguins, krill and thousands of other marine species.’
News Article | May 13, 2017
Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, famous for its abbey, the Wars of the Roses battle in 1471 and the floods that ravaged the town in 2007, might seem an unlikely place to look for evidence of impending drought. But stroll along the riverbank at Abbey Mill Gate and the signs are there: the mud is cracked and dry, the reeds brown and withering, and the water is starting to form pools. “The water levels are low. I notice it when I put my bucket in the water,” says Christine Greenwood, who has spent the past year living on a barge at Abbey Mill, where a spur of the Avon meets a tributary of the Severn. “It affects us because we can’t turn the boat.” In the last week Abbey Mill Gate has featured consistently near the top of the list of rivers in the county with levels well below their normal minimum. Although rain is expected to give Tewkesbury’s rivers a little relief this weekend, it Tewkesbury is one of many places that could be hit by an expected summer drought following one of the driest winters in more than 20 years. Greenwood points to a small wooden jetty on the far side of the river. “The water would normally be up to the edge,” she says. “Now the water laps almost a metre below at the poles supporting the jetty.” Such small signs of change are familiar to environmentalists and scientists: they suggest that the river system is suffering the effects of a concerted period of low rainfall, an event whose most likely outcome is drought. And while falling levels can be inconvenient for the people living on the rivers, they can be catastrophic for the wildlife that is a crucial part of the river ecosystem. “At the moment, river flows are low and affecting migratory fish – salmon, sea trout, eels, shad, lamprey,” says Arlin Ricard, chief executive of the Rivers Trust. “All of these species’ migration upstream will be affected by low flow. It’s already having an effect. Salmon will be the first casualty, then trout, then coarse fish. Those migrating are struggling most because they need a good flow of highly oxygenated cold water to move upstream. Then you will start to see algal blooms caused by warm, nutrient-rich water. They will smother or kill off fish and invertebrates and deplete oxygen from water. During previous droughts, we’ve seen blue-green algal blooms on reservoirs, which can render water unfit for consumption.” Kathy Hughes, a freshwater specialist at the WWF, says other river species could be threatened by drought. “The situation is challenging because wildlife is in a slow, steady decline. Thousands of fish die every year because of a lack of water in the rivers. Kingfishers need healthy amounts of water, water voles are on a knife-edge. When there is no water, they have no refuge to hide from predators and during drought their population can be wiped out.” The early signs of drought are following a pattern familiar from 2012: a reasonably dry summer last year, a dry winter and a couple of dry months in the spring. April saw just 41% of average rainfall nationally; the six months from October were the driest since 1995-96. The Environment Agency said that, while some rivers, reservoirs and groundwater sources were lower than normal, there were currently no water supply issues as a result of the dry weather. However on Friday Affinity Water, which supplies 3.6 million customers in the south-east, urged people to save water because of a lack of rainfall. The company said that the region had received just over half its average rainfall since July resulting in low river levels. For Hughes, the impact of drought on the life of the river is critical because of the water abstraction regime, where water is taken from a ground source for irrigation or is treated for consumption. “In a normal, healthy environment wildlife can cope with drought and floods,” she says. “In 2015, 3,000 fish were killed due to over-abstraction. Of all the abstraction licences, only about 25% allow for an environmental flow. All the others are historical. There’s a huge legacy of over-abstraction, so in times of drought the abstraction is going to continue until there’s nothing left for the rivers. We’re advocating for a sustainable abstraction regime. It’s more of a policing issue: there must be a sufficient level of water in the river for the environment that is safeguarded.” Environmentalists had hoped that a new water bill would include a reform of the abstraction licences, but the bill has been postponed due to Brexit. For Ricard, population density and climate change have exacerbated the effect of low rainfall. “We’re a really drought-prone country, that’s why we struggle. Because of our population density – in the south and east it’s 1,000 people per square mile – we have less rainfall per head than anywhere in Europe, apart from Cyprus and, bizarrely, Belgium. Most scientists and environmentalists would see what is happening now as symptomatic of climate change or a period of change. As environmentalists, we are always saying that we’re seeing these consistent problems of climate change manifest themselves as drought or flood. All those formulas of a once in a 100-year event don’t work any more.” He says that while water companies have learned from previous droughts – by increasing the ability to transfer water by pipe between areas – other measures, such as improving soil quality and an expanded system of farm reservoirs, can offer a longer-term solution. “Paradoxically, to protect yourself from drought takes very similar measures as it does to protect yourself from flood,” he says. “You need to look to the uplands and wetlands and retain as much water as possible. What’s the one thing we can do? Improve soils and increase the potential of soil to retain and receive water and let it flow through to the aquifers. We’re not doing it.”
News Article | May 13, 2017
So we now know why narwhals have tusks, and it’s pretty violent We all know and love narwhals as the unicorn of the sea, but now scientists have discovered the mystery of why narwhals have tusks. World Wild Life Fund Canada and Oceans Canada recently collected drone footage that shows that narwhals use their tusks to stun prey. In the video, several narwhals rapidly hit Arctic cod with their horns to immobilize the fish before eating them. Typically, only male narwhals have the tusk, which is a tooth that can grow as large as nine feet. Nerve endings cover the horn for sensory perception. Brandon Laforest, senior specialist of Arctic species and ecosystems with WWF-Canada, told National Geographic that witnessing narwhal feeding habits has been nearly impossible without the drones. He previously spent time camped near narwhals’ winter habitat to more thoroughly study them. However, they tend to cluster in hard-to-reach regions. Canada is home to 90 percent of the narwhal population, and is a prime location to analyze the narwhal. Laforest hypothesizes that narwhals also use the horn for ice picks, sexual selection, weaponry, and even echolocation. This footage plays a major role in better understanding the narwhals, particularly as climate change warms their waters. A majority of the narwhals live in Canada’s Lancaster Sound, which the government is looking marking as a protected area.
News Article | May 10, 2017
Just a few years ago this place had no name. And in fact its new moniker – Hadabaun Hills – is the sole creation of Indonesian conservationist Haray Sam Munthe. Hadabaun means “fall” in the local language – Munthe suffered a terrible one in these hills while looking for tigers in 2013. But Hadabaun or Fall Hills remains unrecognised by the Indonesian governments and is a blank spot on the world’s maps – though it may be one of the last great refuges for big mammals on the island of Sumatra. Last year a ragtag, independent group of local and international conservationists, led by Munthe and Greg McCann of Habitat ID, used camera traps to confirm Sumatran tigers and Malayan tapirs in these hills. Next month they hope to uncover a lost population of Sumatran orangutans. “I’d call it a Noah’s Ark for endangered and critically endangered species amidst an ocean of palm oil plantations,” said Greg McCann, the Project Coordinator for Habitat ID. McCann, an American who lives in Taiwan, spends much of his time swashbuckling Indiana Jones-style across south-east Asia’s last remaining – and highly threatened – rainforests. It’s a passion with a purpose: McCann’s group, Habitat ID, is working to document rare species in a bid to convince governments, NGOs and the public to care about long-overlooked forests. “Not so long ago nearly the entire island of Sumatra was blanketed in tropical rainforest. Today the mountain ranges that are too steep for big plantations are the default wildlife refuges, relics of the once great forests that were never documented by science,” McCann said. “This is where wildlife makes its last stand.” Sumatra has changed remarkably in the last few decades, from an island of villages and wilderness to one of vast monoculture plantations of pulp and paper and palm oil. Since 1985 the island has lost more than half its lowland forest, and it continues to have one of the highest deforestation rates on the planet. Its large mammals – many of which are found nowhere else in the world – have undergone a severe contraction, leaving them at risk of total extinction. McCann first visited the Hadabaun Hills in 2016 after being invited by Munthe. In a short trip the pair saw siamang (the world’s biggest gibbons), lar gibbons, rhinoceros hornbills, Oriental pied hornbills and Argus pheasant, among other species. But it was the two camera traps – just two – that they left behind that really proved the promise of Hadabaun Hills. In just one month they photographed their first Malayan tapir, a species categorised as endangered on the IUCN Red List with its population believed to have dropped by more than half in the last 36 years. And in three months’ time a Sumtran tiger posed for the camera. Fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers are believed to survive in the wild today and the species continues to be decimated by deforestation, snaring and poaching. Munthe runs the Sumatran Tiger Rangers, a group working to protect the top predator by removing snares, and working to mitigate human-tiger conflict. This is Indonesia’s last tiger: the Javan went extinct in the 1970s. The team’s camera traps also photographed golden cat, sun bear, Malayan porcupine, Sumatran porcupine, wild pig and pig-tailed macaque, proving the area is bursting with threatened Sumatran mammals. This year McCann and Munthe plan to trek far further into a mountaintop forest dubbed the “extreme area” by Munthe. First they will take a boat to the bottom of the hills and then cut their way through the forest to reach a little village where they hope to convince a local to guide them to the top of the mountains. “We’ll be likely bushwhacking to this hamlet and startling the local residents with a small contingent of bu-lays [the local name for foreigners] emerging wet and muddy from nearby jungle for the first time ever,” McCann said. “I expect to see children scattering in every direction and to hear Siamangs and hornbills in the forest beyond. After the hamlet we are in terra incognita.” They plan to spend seven days trekking into and through the “extreme area”. Beyond local people, few – if any – have ever been here, but it’s this high-altitude forest that may be home to an undiscovered population of Sumatran orangutans. These great apes – a different species from those in Borneo – are classified as critically endangered and have a total population of around 14,000. Since Sumatran orangutans rarely, if ever, touch down from the trees, McCann and Munthe don’t expect to catch them on camera. Instead they hope to find orangutan nests, photograph them, and bring back the images for confirmation by experts. The team also hopes a new army of camera traps will document the Sunda clouded leopard, dholes, the helmeted hornbill, the Sumatran striped rabbit and the Sumatran muntjac, a type of small deer that McCann describes as so rare as to be “ near-mythical”. “There’s even a very slim possibility of finding Sumatran rhinoceros,” McCann said. “Last year we camped on a plateau at about 600 metres that went by the name of Rhinoceros Hill. Historically, there were rhinos in this region. When did the last one get poached out? Probably nobody knows.” Pretty much every big mammal in Sumatra is threatened, but Sumatran rhinos have the terrible honour of being one of the rarest mammals on the planet: less than 100 survive today. And a subspecies found in Borneo is on the verge of total extinction. Munthe said that in his explorations he has found rhino dung in the Hadabaun Hills. Confirming rhinos there would be a major boon to a species so close to vanishing. Indeed, Hadabaun Hills remains a land so removed it’s full of rumours. Munthe said locals claim to run into a “large black monkey” in the hills. There is also talk of a mythical tribe of humans known as the Suke Mante in this area. Munthe was also told by a local that at the top of the mountain lives a “black-furred, orangutan-like creature walks on two legs”. Historically there have been numerous reports of an unidentified ape in Sumatra called the “orang pendek”, which is similar to an orangutan but smaller with brown-to-black fur and a penchant for walking on the ground. But no one has brought back any real proof of his legendary animal – and many believe that even if such an animal ever existed it has likely been wiped out in Sumatra’s ecological catastrophe. None of the Hadabaun Hills is formally protected. About half the area is considered community forest and the other has no status, according to McCann. On the ground, he said, it didn’t matter what was community-run and what remained without any formal status. “It’s all under threat from agricultural encroachment, logging, road building, snaring – all the usual suspects.” McCann and Munthe asked that the exact location of the Hadabaun Hills remain unpublished due to concerns that such information could lead to an increase in poachers. Munthe said he feared poachers were already entering this lost world. “I have mentioned the Hadabuan Hills and its scarce animals to the forestry minister and the head of the district administration. Until now there is no help to protect [the Hadabaun Hills] from the government,” Munthe said. Most of the world’s biggest conservation groups have a presence in Sumatra – such as WWF, WCS, and Conservation International – but none of them have explored this particular forest. “Funding for new conservation projects seems difficult to come by, and in the past the large NGOs poured their time and money into places like Gunung Leuser National Park and Kerinci National Park – and with good reason,” McCann explained. “Those places are so important, so magical, and they need urgent protection.” But still McCann worries about a “curiosity crisis” in conservation today, pointing to the lack of interest in the Hadabaun Hills as an example. “Why aren’t scientists and conservationists seeking out these last holdouts?” he asks, noting tantalisingly that Hadabaun Hills isn’t the only unexplored area of Sumatra. “Sumatra is one of the last places where you can use Google Earth, zoom around on the map and wonder: ‘What might be lurking in there? It’s not a national park or a protected area. What’s in there?’ Nobody knows except the locals.” But McCann’s organisation, Habitat ID, almost had to cancel the expedition due to a lack of funding. Instead these rogue conservationists have decided to press ahead by paying for most the trip out of pocket and scaling back initial plans. All this despite the fact that the team had already documented tapirs and tigers in Hadaban Hills. McCann said the team was close to securing funding for the expedition until the donor asked to see government data on Hadabaun Hills. But, of course, there is none. “That’s the reason why we want to explore it – it’s an empty page for wildlife surveying,” said McCann. Without more funding, the team is left self-funding the bulk of the trip and missing out on the potential of bringing more camera traps to increase their chance of documenting rare or even new species. A struggle to secure funding is not new to McCann, who ran into the same issue when trying to document wildlife in Virachey National Park in Cambodia. McCann was able to prove that Virachey was home to many threatened mammals, including elephants, even though big conservation groups had largely abandoned the park. “I think that money will only go where money is,” McCann said. “Few want to go it alone; it’s seen as being too risky … if another NGO is already working there and you can collaborate and share, then your chances of landing funding shoot up. So places that enjoy some level of NGO support will get more support, and ones that don’t will languish.” But such shortsightedness means that exploratory expeditions have trouble getting off the ground and small NGOs like McCann’s – with far less overhead and often a larger penchant for risk-taking – struggle to find the funds to survive. “We really had the wind taken out of our sails on this when we didn’t get the funding and it almost killed the project,” McCann said. But he is now turning to crowdfunding in a bid to raise some extra funds for more camera trapping on their trip. In our age there are fewer and fewer places like Hadabuan Hills – newly named, wholly unexplored – yet that’s the draw for adventurers and conservationists like McCann and Munthe. “When you trek up into the inmost heart of the mountains like we will be doing, and in an untrodden area such as this, mysteries may reveal themselves,” McCann said. It sounds like language out of another time, another age: but for all our hubris our little planet – third from the sun – remains full of mysteries. Most of the species on Earth have never been documented or named by scientists and there are places – even on an island like Sumatra which has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world – where every turn, every snapshot of a camera trap, could reveal a new world.
News Article | May 9, 2017
"As technology evolves, the way businesses communicate with their customers needs to evolve too," said Mathew Myers, cofounder of Vision6. "Email marketing has the highest ROI of any digital marketing channel, and SMS has the highest open rate of any mode of communication. When combined and fully automated, the possibilities are endless." In today's world, the average customer checks their phone 46 times a day. The smartphone has definitely become a lifeline to the outside world for most people. Finding new ways to connect with consumers is essential for businesses to remain relevant and thrive. The perceived urgency of text messages makes it a powerful channel for time-sensitive communication between brands and their audience. This integration will allow Vision6 customers to reach their audience with a level of immediacy, even more so than any other channel. Beginning today, Vision6 customers can leverage the power of the Twilio integration by inserting text message components directly into their existing email automation workflow. The text message capabilities will complement customer communications programs and deliver a more effective method of connecting with the customers' audience. The fully-automated and personalized text message feature sets Vision6 apart from competitors and delivers a truly integrated customer experience. Vision6 is an advanced email marketing solution for marketers and agencies. Vision6 helps people connect with their customers and build their businesses. Thousands of companies across the world trust Vision6 every day to simplify their customer communications. Vision6 brings a full suite of email marketing, automation, SMS, forms and social media amplification together in one intuitive platform. Founded in 2001 with headquarters in Australia, Vision6's customers include Audi Sydney, BMW Brisbane, Mitsubishi Electric, Royal SPCA, and WWF. Passionate about giving back to the community, Vision6 provides ongoing education with free training, timely resources and industry events, like the annual Email Marketing Summit. To learn more, visit vision6.com. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vision6-combines-email-marketing-with-personalized-text-messages-via-twilio-300454001.html
News Article | May 12, 2017
The Saimaa ringed seal, named after their home in Europe's fourth-largest lake, is found only in these waters and is one of just five remaining freshwater seal species in the world. But milder winters have left few shoreline snow banks for the seals to burrow into lairs where they give birth to pups, and many get caught in fishing nets. During the next few weeks, viewers will be able to tune into the seal watch stream known as "Norppa Live," from the Finnish name for seal, although not that much action is expected. Often the seals are difficult to spot, lying motionless on the smooth rounded rocks they resemble. Sometimes all you can see is just an empty rock. "Not a lot happens," says Joonas Fritze, a conservationist from World Wildlife Fund Finland. "The highlights are seal climbing on a rock, seal turning on a rock, seal scratching itself, but that's the beauty of it ... I guess that's part of it, like, real slow TV. So it's kind of like an opposite of the hectic life people live." The organization is hoping for a large audience after its successful launch last year became an online hit in Finland, where it was broadcast in offices, schools, libraries and hotel lobbies, drawing more than 2 million viewers in the Nordic nation of 5.5 million. The irresistible seal pups, with their furry heads, often find rocks sheltered by tall reeds near the shoreline. Other, bigger specimens, sprawl out like lumps of soft rock, unaware of the hidden camera. Last year a male seal became so popular that thousands of people sent in suggestions to name him—the winner was Pullervo, which referred to his "chubby" shape. There were hopes of a romance with a popular female seal, but that apparently didn't materialize. As word has spread about the seals' plight, conservationists again expect millions of viewers to tune in hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the remaining 360 Saimaa seals—according to the latest count by Parks and Wildlife Finland. Although the seals have a fairly carefree existence in the sprawling labyrinth of waterways that make up Lake Saimaa, dotted with more than 1,300 islands, there is one real threat—fishing nets. The lake is a popular venue for Finns, who flock to thousands of summer villas spread along the shores of the country's 180,000 lakes, where fishing plays a major role in everyday activities, including laying nets. Young pups are particularly prone to getting caught in them and consequently drown. Fritze hopes that seals online will help. "We hope we can raise awareness of this special animal and tell people about the species and its threats," he says. "And people learn that a net fishing is a big threat to the seal." Lack of snow is also causing a worry for conservationists. "The ice came quite early, already in December, and there was time for the snow to accumulate and build those snow banks," said Petteri Tolvanen from WWF Finland. "And now the situation is much worse for the seals and in some years there (are) hardly any natural snow banks." In 2016, helped by a band of volunteers, conservationists decided to build their own snow banks, creating 211 man-made snowdrifts where 40 seal pups were born. Earlier this year, they constructed 277. "The ringed seal is totally dependent on ice and snow when breeding," Tolvanen said. Scientists from the nearby University of Eastern Finland in the city of Lappeenranta, are studying the seals with camera traps, using their unique fur patterns to identify them and produce useful data about their movements and population changes. It's not all bad news. The population has been slowly growing since hunting them was banned in 1955. "The population is slowly growing, the situation is getting better," said Meeri Koivuniemi, a scientist at the University of Eastern Finland, but cautions that should remain alert to the dangers facing the seals. WWF Finland launched the live stream wwf.fi/en/norppalive/ on May 10 and is expected to continue till the beginning of June. By that time the seals will have finished malting and will retreat back into the lake's cool waters. Explore further: Human intervention can help endangered Saimaa ringed seal adapt to climate change
News Article | May 12, 2017
Set in 2016 as part its broader 2025 Agenda, the new climate goal takes into account PepsiCo's direct operations, owned-fleet fuel use and purchased electricity, which account for approximately 7% of the company's total carbon footprint. Importantly, however, the goal also includes the 93% of PepsiCo's carbon footprint that emanates from sources outside PepsiCo direct operations, such as farming, packaging, third-party transportation and consumer use of its products. To date, 44 companies worldwide have had their climate targets validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative, a partnership between CDP, the World Resources Institute, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the UN Global Compact, with over 200 more companies awaiting validation. "The Paris Climate Agreement that entered into force in April 2016 set out the obligation for collective action to limit the impact of climate change," said Dr. Mehmood Khan, PepsiCo Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer, Global Research and DevelopmentGlobal Research and Development. "We believe combating climate change is critical to the future of our company, our customers, consumers and our world. Our new target represents a meaningful and measurable contribution to meeting the two degree global goal. Such rigor is now a requirement of any responsible business." Cynthia Cummis, Director of Private Sector Climate Mitigation at the World Resources Institute and a member of the Science Based Targets Initiative Steering Committee, said: "The threat of climate change calls for governments and businesses to commit to science-based action. We congratulate PepsiCo on their science-based target. By seeking to decarbonize its value chain, the company is showing leadership within the food and agriculture sector and strengthening its competitive advantage in the transition to the low-carbon economy." PepsiCo will work to reduce its GHG emissions by: Among new actions already underway, PepsiCo has joined the Business Renewables Center at the Rocky Mountain Institute and signed on to the Renewable Energy Buyers Principles, which were developed by leading NGOs and set out the future purchasing expectations of large companies regarding renewable energy in the United States. These actions are informing PepsiCo's renewable energy procurement strategy. PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated approximately $63 billion in net revenue in 2016, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo's product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales. At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – our fundamental belief that the success of our company is inextricably linked to the sustainability of the world around us. We believe that continuously improving the products we sell, operating responsibly to protect our planet and empowering people around the world is what enables PepsiCo to run a successful global company that creates long-term value for society and our shareholders. For more information, visit www.pepsico.com. The Science Based Targets initiative champions science-based target setting as a powerful way of boosting companies' competitive advantage in the transition to the low-carbon economy. It is a collaboration between CDP, World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments. The initiative defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting, offers resources and guidance to reduce barriers to adoption, and independently assesses and approves companies' targets." For a full list of companies that have committed to set science-based targets visit www.sciencebasedtargets.org/companies-taking-action To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pepsico-embraces-science-based-targets-in-the-fight-against-climate-change-300456475.html
News Article | May 12, 2017
Scientists have finally figured out what the unicorn tusk on a narwhal’s head is for and it turns out it’s a weapon. Drone video footage caught the arctic whales using the long, spiraled tusk on their heads to smack and stun fish before eating them. The World Wildlife Fund released the video (below) on Friday, and in it you can see narwhals slapping arctic cod with their tusk, so quickly that you could easily miss it and have to rewind. While the prey is immobile, the narwhal gobbles it up. That tusk, which has earned it the nickname “the unicorn of the sea,” is actually an especially long tooth that can grow up to 9 feet long. According to the WWF, the behavior of using the horn to stun fish has never been caught on film before. Previous theories on the use of the horn included fighting between males in a sort of jousting match. “People have been trying to figure out the function of the narwhal tusk for a long time,” Brandon Laforest, senior arctic specialist for WWF-Canada, said in the organization’s explanatory video. “While there are some things we know about it — it is full of nerves, it likely has a sensory capacity and it’s not used for fighting — this footage has shown us a new feature, which is narwhal using it to catch fish.” “Research like this will continue to shed light on the biology of narwhal and will lead to more information which we can use to make proper conservation decisions in the future to safeguard the species,” Laforest said. The whales live in the arctic waters surrounding Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia. According to the WWF, narwhals can grow to 17 feet long and can weigh up to 4,200 pounds. They eat fish like halibut as well as squid and shrimp. Narwhals are born with a grayish color but turn black when they mature. The elderly narwhals have white streaks or turn nearly completely white. Males are often the ones that have the tusks, but some females also sport the facial appendages. When the tusk appears, it is one of only two teeth — the left one. “In most males, the right tooth remains embedded in the skull,” the Canadian governmental organization Fisheries and Oceans Canada explained. However, some males rarely have two outward tusks. “They seem very agile with their tusk, when you watch the video,” Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Marianne Marcoux said. “They can flip the fish in very agile ways, so what’s very exciting to me is like what else can they do with their tusk?”
News Article | May 12, 2017
While trekking through the lush Guatemalan jungle years ago, local environmentalists encountered a problem. Fundaeco, a conservation group they worked for, wanted them to engage the local communities, and enlist their help in protecting the valuable ecosystem. But half of the population were too sick to help. "Here we were trying to do conservation, trying to get communities involved in conservation, and women were dying giving birth," said Marco Cerezo, Fundaeco's general director. In rural Guatemala there are stark rates of maternal and neonatal mortality, and limited access to health care of any kind, let alone reproductive care.This realization spurred Fundaeco to shift its focus on not just rainforest conservation but also women's health. And it found something remarkable: in the areas where women were given access to reproductive health care and education, Fundaeco's conservation efforts started to improve. Helping women wasn't only the right thing to do, it was a major contributor to protecting the rainforest. Without prioritizing the health and role of women in the community, there's only so much progress to be made on an environmental front, according to Felisa Navas Pérez, the president of one of the forestry concessions in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve, which shifts forest stewardship back to local indigenous communities. "One of the challenges is educating people to understand that women have to be active in all fields and decision-making processes," Pérez told me. "Otherwise it creates a conflict between what is good for them as a woman and the actual decisions that are made." But Cerezo and other like-minded conservationists have struggled to get recognition with the worlds of conservation and women's health. Even as more evidence mounts that the two efforts benefit each other, many in the global development field are reluctant to break down long-established silos. I met Cerezo in Guatemala City, far from where he and his colleagues do their field work. He told me that he presented this idea the global conference for the International Union for Conservation of Nature last fall. This summit is held just once every four years, and is the world's largest gathering of conservationists, but Cerezo's ideas on combining women's health with environmentalism were not embraced. "If people understood how powerful this is, they would get on board." "Unfortunately, only about 35 people attended," Cerezo told me. But what he's preaching seems to work. Fundeco started to provide reproductive health care, including midwifery and new medical clinics. And the women, in turn, started to become advocates for the rainforest, especially since they're usually the ones directly interacting with natural resources. "Women in these communities are the ones who go out to fetch wood, or collect water, and if they're not empowered, the community doesn't even know if they had to walk for four hours to get firewood [because of deforestation]," Cerezo said. "If they're not even allowed to complain, then nobody will take care of the problem." The organization now operates the largest network of rural women's health clinics in Guatemala, with 22 clinics in some of the country's farthest corners. "The women are healthier, they're using family planning methods, and they're becoming leaders," Cerezo said. "They can participate in taking care of their water, and forests, and all of a sudden women are becoming our main partners in the community because they're health, they feel better, and they're empowered." So far, all the evidence they have is anecdotal, which Cerezo said it frustrating. There's a "gap" he says, between what researchers sitting in labs say and what he sees every day in the field, and it makes it difficult to convince his peers in conservation that this kind of collaborative approach works. Robert Engelman, a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research group in DC, co-authored a report for Worldwatch that combed through scientific research to look for evidence of the impact population health, particularly reproductive health, has on the environment. They found a smattering of data points that showed a positive impact: in general, when women have access to reproductive health care, they're more likely to participate in their communities, and that has a positive impact on conservation efforts. But nothing was anywhere near conclusive. Part of the problem is that it's tough to get funding for this kind of research, and it's difficult to execute: how, for example, would you do a control group? Offer one group of women in the community access to reproductive health but not others? Engelman said it's also not been a priority on the ground. This lack of peer-reviewed evidence, combined with a squeamishness about treading too close to population control, has made it even more difficult to convince people that it's the right move. But major conservation groups have dabbled in the idea of folding in women's empowerment and health care to their environmental goals. The World Wildlife Fund, for example, has a program in partnership with CARE, the international relief nonprofit. Though it used to do some work on health care, the focus now is purely on women's empowerment. The workers in this program have seen results, too, but also struggle with preaching the importance to the wider conservation community. "Field staff tend to get it more," said Althea Skinner, a senior program officer with Care-WWF. "There's a bit of a disconnect in terms of having a conversation about gender integration in conservation. There's a gap between the field and headquarters. If people understood how powerful this is as a tool, they would get on board." For now, those involved in this kind of strategy are soldiering on, hoping that enough anecdotal evidence might compel other groups to give this holistic approach a shot. At the end of the day, even if a direct link between women's health and conservation can't be established, is working together towards a common goal really such a bad idea? Travel expenses while reporting this story were funded through a fellowship provided by the UN Foundation. Subscribe to Science Solved It , Motherboard's new show about the greatest mysteries that were solved by science.
News Article | May 11, 2017
Chilean firm Blumar expects to harvest approximately 30,000 metric tons of Atlantic salmon in 2017, flat year-on-year, Daniel Montoya, commercial director at the firm's salmon arm Salmones Blumar, told Undercurrent News. The firm plans, however, to recover its output compared with previous years, increasing its production to 40,000t in 2018. The firm currently produces most of its output in the XI region. The firm also has about 15 concessions in the XII region, having acquired some additional authorized concessions. Blumar's board is evaluating and in the process of making a decision on its expansion plans for the region. It is considering producing 20-25,000t in 2022 or 2023. In order to do so, it needs to decide three years before. "We are very close to this decision," Montoya said. Montoya also pointed out the firm was considering the possibility of building a hatchery and a processing plant in the region. "At present there is not sufficient smolt capacity in the XII region, so smolts are transported from further up north. In the long-term, it will be needed to produce the smolts closer to the farms, so our project considers the construction of a hatchery and of a processing plant," Montoya said. The cost of transporting salmon from the XII region to the XI region is feasible only in the current situation of high prices, so it will be needed to invest in a processing plant, he also noted. "Without doubts we will consider the option of working together with other firms," Montoya said, pointing out that the firm has several ongoing commercial alliances in several parts of the world. "We have alliances in the production of mussels, white fisheries, as well as in China and the US", Montoya said. Blumar owns 50% of St. Andrews, the world's largest producer of mussels. It also owns a 55% share of Pacific blue, which fishes hoki, giant squid and hake in Chile. In the US, Blumar has a joint venture with Chilean salmon farmer Ventisqueros, which bought a 50% stake in Blumar USA, the sales arm of Chilean salmon farmer and fishing company Blumar. In China, Blumar is part of New World Currents, a joint venture with three other Chilean salmon producers that operates a sales branch in the Asia country. Blumar has recently signed an agreement with WWF Chile to pursue an aquaculture improvement project, with the objective to get an ASC certification for its salmon farms. The project was undertaken because buyers in some regions are privileging products that are certified for sustainability but also because the firm has a long-term vision to differentiate its products for the highest standards of sustainability, Montoya noted, pointing out that the firm's farms had also been awarded the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) four star certification. Blumar supplies salmon for processors that produce skin-pack products in the US, where it also supplies large retailers and food service distributors. In the future, the company might develop its own branded skin-pack products, Montoya said. It is also developing other products for the US and Brazilian markets. Blumar is also growing its sales in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia. Sales in China, through the Chilean joint venture New World Currents, and Europe are also growing. There is space to develop business for Chilean salmon in Europe, particularly for frozen premium products, as Norwegian salmon is mainly sold fresh, Montoya noted. Earlier this year, a budget of $14 million was approved by Chile's Blumar to invest in fisheries and aquaculture. The company expects to invest in its operations in the salmon farms it owns in the Los Lagos and Aysen regions. The investment will focus on improvements in feeding systems at farms where it did not invest during 2016. It will also be investing in equipment and to improve the performance in filleting by automating cuts at the firm's salmon processing plant. Blumar is listed in the Chilean stock market and controlled by the Yaconi-Santa Cruz and Sarquis families.