While we are distracted by so many other things going on in the world, the current Administration has once again seized the opportunity to make vulnerable lands that have long been protected to ensure that drilling and industry don’t completely eradicate natural habitats. I’ve been traveling to ANWR, or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for essentially my whole life. This roughly 20-million acres located in the Northeastern corner of Alaska is abundant in flora and fauna that has enjoyed protections since 1960. The debate over drilling in the region dates back nearly as far.
I understand that this is largely a political issue, but it really shouldn’t be. The preservation of our natural places sets a precedence now that future generations will look to for guidance. How do we justify letting go a protected corner of a state and opening it up to destruction so a few companies can make a buck drilling and moving on? This area is protected because it has already been established as vulnerable, and no science has been revealed to suggest otherwise.
Busy week both here in Art Wolfe land and the world! Sports are returning in limited fashion, political fallout, and conflicts of ideology that are having harmful results (wear a mask! Please – I have many more book projects to complete!). I absolutely enjoyed chatting with Michelle Valberg last night on Earth Is Our Witness. If you enjoyed Michelle’s work, don’t forget to pop over to the Earth Is Our Witness Instagram page and give a photo you like a comment – a lucky winner will receive a free print!
Last night on Tequila Time, I had a bit of fun with a look at some of the antics of my youth, but I also ended on a poignant note. As many of you are aware, the flora, fauna, and livelihood of local fishermen is under immense threat by the proposed Pebble Mine project in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska If the Pebble Mine goes through, the bears will lose, the fish will lose, Alaskans will lose, and Earth will lose. It’s short term gain for the few and long-term destruction for the many.
A little over a year ago now I sent out a call to action to contact your congresspersons and let them know your thoughts on this project, that only serves to propagate wealth for the few while ravaging this beautiful and globally unique environment that we and future generations will lose out on.
With the recent Army Corps of Engineer’s Environmental Impact Study being labelled as inherently flawed and wholly inadequate by respected organizations such as the NRDC and the obvious interests of the Save Bristol Bay campaign, it’s time to make voices heard. No project ever goes flawlessly. We know this as humans. I do my best to see both sides of a conflict, but when it comes to matters of the environment versus the personal gain of a few individuals whom already possess the means to undertake such an environmentally devastating project, my decision is very simple.
We will continue to fight the good fight! Have a fantastic weekend!
It seems like an eternity ago, and in a sense it was. In February I traveled with Kevin Raber and Rockhopper Tours to Antarctica. So much has happened in the relatively short time since then that I very nearly forgot about this trip, filled with abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes.
A highlight was a massive iceberg we cruised by at dinner time. Everyone was deep in their dishes when I jumped up, grabbed my camera and ran off. A krill-red smear announced the presence of Chinstrap and gentoo penguins. Against the blue of the iceberg, it was a rich sign of life in this arresting landscape.
Seals, orcas, petrels and some minke whales also came to escort us along our cruise aboard the ship. Enjoy the photos – if you have any questions about them, join me on Thursday for another live episode of Tequila Time with Art and ask away!
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to vote on the New Big 5 of wildlife! British journalist & photographer Graeme Green has been hard at work creating this new international initiative to create a new Big 5 of wildlife photography, bringing awareness to the plight of wildlife everywhere.
We are living in some crazy times, aren’t we? My thoughts are with you while we navigate all of this, and I’m heartened by what I’ve seen and heard of communities supporting one and other. How about just a little bit of bright news for the day?
The California Condor was down to just 27 individuals in 1987 due to lead poisoning (eating carrion containing lead shot), habitat loss and poaching. At that point an emergency was declared and every wild individual was captured and put into captive breeding programs in two zoos in California. Chicks were hatched and raised and several years later they began the delicate process of reintroducing them to the wild.
Today there are over 300 individuals in the wild with another 200 in captivity, and in 2019 the 1,000 chick was born in the wild in Zion National Park! This is fantastic news and shows just how powerfully we can impact the survival of species world-wide.
Blue whale populations were decimated by whaling, exterminating an estimated 97% of their numbers until a moratorium was placed on whaling in 1986. When whalers first descended on their summer feeding grounds around South Georgia Island off Antarctica they would see “whales by the thousands” in the area. An estimated 176,000 whales were taken over 60 years.
In 2018 a lone pair of Blue Whales was spotted in the area, adding to just one or two sightings over the last 40-50 years. And then in 2020 – on their most recent survey – 55 Blue Whales were counted feeding in the area! An amazing swell in the numbers in such a short time.
In January, Dr. Samuel Wasser and myself had the pleasure of speaking to a crowded Great Hall about the efforts being made to protect and preserve elephants at Town Hall Seattle. If you weren’t able to make it to the event, the Seattle Channel has made it available for all to watch online.
If you’re inspired to help, visit www.giving.uw.edu/ivory and contribute to a very worthy cause via the University of Washington.
Today is “Monarch Butterfly Day” according to whatever mystical powers-that-be control the hashtags! I’ve had the pleasure of photographing Monarchs over the years at many of Mexico’s renowned preserves that harbor millions of butterflies as they migrate.
It’s with a heavy heart, then, that I make this post – one that should be about the beauty of this creature and the symbolism and joy it brings world-wide. However, tragic events that have befallen a pair of conservation heroes in Mexico should be taking center stage right now until answers are found.
As you may have heard, activists and outspoken critics of the illegal logging activities in preserved areas of Mexico, Homero Gómez González and Raúl Hernández Romero were recently found deceased, both under mysterious and possibly malicious circumstances.
González was an agricultural engineer and the manager of the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve. Growing up in a logging family, he was a skeptic of conservation efforts and their possible impact on contributing to poverty in the region. His background and education gave strength to his voice when, in the early 2000’s, he became an advocate for curbing the deforestation he was seeing first hand.
Next Wednesday, January 29th I’ll be joined by Dr. Samuel Wasser at Town Hall Seattle to give a special presentation to discuss the many threats to Elephants world wide, as well as the hopefulness surrounding the many measures being explored and executed to curb the decline of their population.
I had the honor of working with Dr. Wasser on my recent book Wild Elephants. As the director of the Center for Conservation Biology, Sam is recognized world-wide on an expert on elephant populations, and a pioneer in the area of non-invasive monitoring methods.
Through photos, conversation, and research notes we will describe the disturbing trends facing elephants – but also the work being done to ensure their continued survival.
It’s #GivingTuesday – so it’s a good time to mention the wonderful charitable organizations featured in my recent book, WILD ELEPHANTS: Conservation in the Age of Extinction. Though the book does touch on the troubling plight of elephant populations, we also explore many of the fantastic organizations and individuals who are out there making a difference and providing hope for the future of these animals.
To that end, if you’re feeling charitable this holiday season here is a list of the organizations mentioned in the book. Maybe the nature lover in your life or the person who has everything would appreciate a simple holiday donation in their name? Anything helps!