This post was first published by Scientific American in August. As such, it refers in the future tense to a meeting that took place back in September. You will find an update — and some good news — at the end of the story.
Before whales dive into the darkness of the deep ocean they often come to the surface and release a huge plume of faecal matter—which can be the colour of over-steeped green tea or a bright orange sunset. When Joe Roman, a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont, saw one of these spectacular dumps in the mid-1990s, he got to wondering: “Is it ecologically important? Or is it a fart in a hurricane?” Continue reading →
It has been called the ‘cocaine of the sea’ — the dried swim bladder of the totoaba fish, when smuggled from Mexico to China, sells for US$40-60,000 per kilo thanks to its supposed medicinal qualities. While the fish is critically endangered as a result, the situation of another animal that gets caught in totoaba nets is even more dire. The illicit trade has driven the world’s smallest marine mammal — a kind of porpoise called a vaquita — to almost certain extinction. At the last count, only 12 remained alive. Continue reading →
To mark the International Day for Biological Diversity, here’s an infographic I made to highlight how fig trees are so important to life on Earth. Please feel free to use it/share it. Continue reading →