manatees

In defense of all species

The new year wasn't yet a week old when we learned that the beginning of 2021 is going to feel a lot like the 52 weeks of misery that was 2020.


Thousands of Rebels Without a Clue stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, resulting in five deaths. This week I just didn't want to write about coronavirus, or Trump, or impeachment. We've all heard plenty about all of them.

I spoke with our senior editor Brian Bienkowski, and he had one word: Manatees.

Manatees are freakin' adorable. West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris, the put-upon Florida subspecies) have even put their mark on Washington's unique madness: Last week, a manatee was discovered with the word "T-R-U-M-P" etched in the algae on its dorsal side.

There's no evidence that this jowly, logy, Wilford Brimley-esque marine mammal was harmed. However, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 says you need a special permit to even touch the critter. The Act aside—why the hell would you mess with a manatee? Marvel at them. Then leave them alone.

But enough about manatees. Let's touch on some of my other favorites.

Whale threats

Potential calving female North Atlantic Right Whales

The North Atlantic humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), with its sweeping white pectoral fins and soaring leaps out of the water thrills whale watchers with encounters close enough that the horrible stank emanating from their blowholes almost goes unnoticed. Lately, with abundant food and cleaner water, there's been an uptick in humpback sightings in New York City. I'm hopeful this bolstered visibility will translate to more awareness about the threats that climate change poses, as outlined in a study last month that found decreased reproductive success for the whales linked to climate and overall ecosystem change.

I've never seen the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Scientists estimate there are roughly100 breeding females, which make the species critically endangered. At the end of last year, however, the feds proposed a new rule aimed at reducing the number of North Atlantic right whales killed in fishing gear off New England. The rule was widely skewered by environmental organizations.

"For these beloved animals to survive, we need to get all vertical fishing lines out of important right whale habitat immediately. We must transition to on-demand ropeless fishing gear," said Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director with the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. The Center pointed out that the endangered population is down to 360, suffering an average of 24 deaths and serious injuries per year.

While I do love the ocean, let's be honest—it's still hard to beat Canis familiaris (dogs!) and its hundreds of breeds. I've always been something of a traditionalist about dogs, so when crossbred Labradoodles, Golden Doodles, Rottweildoodles, and Chihuahuadoodles became au courant several years ago, I labeled them all as Laboratory Retrievers.

But I trust the judgement of my friend of nearly 30 years, Sharon Collins, who writes/produces/anchors a remarkable show called Georgia Outdoors, and my lifelong friend Paul Godowski and his wife Melanie and daughter Jaeda, crossbreed owners all.

The moral of this story is that all species, all breeds are cool. I'm looking at you, Physarum polycephalum.

His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher, Environmental Health Sciences.

Banner photo: Manatees. (Credit: nrca/flickr)

From manatees to Labradoodles, let's treat them all with respect and dignity.

Researchers find that mangroves expand and contract following phases of the moon

This revelation is critical for determining when mangrove stands, which are good at carbon sequestration and may aid in the fight against climate change, are most likely to grow.
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Time to charge the true cost of fossil fuels

There is a crucial disconnect impeding climate action. As author and climate activist, Naomi Klein puts it, “Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war…. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.”

Oil industry seeks SCOTUS lifeline amid mounting setbacks

The Supreme Court is poised to decide whether to wade into another fight between fossil fuel producers and nearly two dozen U.S. cities, states and counties suing the industry for climate change damages.

How New Mexico’s largest wildfire set off a drinking water crisis

In a community ravaged by fire, floods and contaminated drinking water, residents wonder, ‘What’s next?’ And who will pick up the bill?

Hurricane Ian makes landfall in western Cuba as a Category 3 storm, threatening path of destruction as it churns toward Florida

Rapidly intensifying Hurricane Ian made landfall in western Cuba early Tuesday morning while on its trek toward Florida, where residents in some coastal areas are already evacuating.

Why Tampa Bay faces high storm surge flood risk as Hurricane Ian nears

The precise size, strength and path of Ian remains uncertain. But the Tampa Bay region that lies in its crosshairs is one of the most vulnerable places in the United States to severe flooding.
From our Newsroom
Failure of the universities: The culture gap is now near lethal

Universities are failing us

Our educational systems are failing to prepare people for existential environmental threats

Shell's new petrochemical complex in southwestern Pennsylvania

The Titans of Plastic

Pennsylvania becomes the newest sacrifice zone for America’s plastic addiction.

Ruth Greenspan Bell: Wealth and the climate dilemma

Ruth Greenspan Bell: Wealth and the climate dilemma

Developing countries that increase their fossil fuel production are at a crossroads: securing their own long-term well-being or earning revenue to finance programs to support immediate economic growth.

Solving the climate crisis will help both ‘sacrifice zones’ and ‘cute’ puffins

Solving the climate crisis will help both ‘sacrifice zones’ and ‘cute’ puffins

Curbing pollution for families in Chicago calms the climatic conditions that drive fish away from puffins half a continent away.

puffin tern recovery climate change

Good news: A good year for puffins and terns, despite climate change

A visit to a remote Maine island finds puffins and terns rebounding despite climate change

Optimism in the climate change fight

Optimism in the climate change fight

So much is happening so quickly. With the climate bill now law, here's what you need to know.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.