Brant (Branta bernicla)
Brant are small, dark geese with large wings that give them their characteristic strong flight. They often nest in loose colonies in arctic North America and Russia using coastal tundra, islands, deltas, lakes, and sandy areas among puddles and shallows and vegetated uplands. 
To avoid predation, they build nests on small offshore islands, in small ponds or on gravel spits. Brant winter along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja California and mainland Mexico, and along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to North Carolina, primarily along lagoons and estuaries and on shallow bays.
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
(via: USFWS_Migratory Birds)

Brant (Branta bernicla)

Brant are small, dark geese with large wings that give them their characteristic strong flight. They often nest in loose colonies in arctic North America and Russia using coastal tundra, islands, deltas, lakes, and sandy areas among puddles and shallows and vegetated uplands.

To avoid predation, they build nests on small offshore islands, in small ponds or on gravel spits. Brant winter along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja California and mainland Mexico, and along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to North Carolina, primarily along lagoons and estuaries and on shallow bays.

Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

(via: USFWS_Migratory Birds)

Four Decades of Sea Ice From Space:  A Decline

by Maria-José Viñas,
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

By the end of last century, scientists had painstakingly developed and tested the remote sensing techniques that allowed them to monitor sea ice from space.

In the 1980s, the scientific community started becoming more interested in watching for signs of climate change in various Earth systems — but through that decade, sea ice showed very little in the way of clear-cut trends. The drastic changes of the past 15 years weren’t even imagined back then.

“It was like watching paint dry,” said Jay Zwally, a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., one of a handful of scientists who began in the early 1970s intensively working with satellite imagery to study sea ice.

Still, the new data allowed researchers to start analyzing the long-term behavior of the Arctic Ocean’s icy cap…

(read more and see video: Climate.NASA.gov)

images: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus)

Bull trout are members of the salmon family, in a group known as the char. Char are distributed farther north than any other group of freshwater fish exc

They can grow to more than 20 pounds in lake environments. Char are distinguished from trout and salmon by the absence of teeth in the roof of the mouth, presence of light colored spots on a dark background, absence of spots on the dorsal fin, small scales and differences in the structure of their skeleton.

To learn more about bull trout, visit: USFWS - Bull Trout

Muskox Birth Gives Keepers Reason For Hope

Keepers at Highland Wildlife Park, in Scotland, are excited to announce the arrival of a Muskox calf.

Karin, the mother, who was born in the Czech Republic in 2002, gave birth to the male calf on June 2, 2014. This is a major event for the Park as Muskox are difficult to breed due to high neonatal mortality rates. The last Muskox calf to survive until adulthood in the UK was born in 1992.

Last year, Belle the Muskox calf sadly passed away at Highland Wildlife Park at around five months old due to an injury inflicted by one of her parents. Musk-ox calves are notoriously difficult to rear in captivity as their weak immune systems means that they are highly susceptible to disease and infection, and the inherent aggressiveness of the adults further complicates the situation. This year keepers are working hard to make sure this new arrival has a successful outcome…

(read more: Zoo Borns)

The Arctic shipping boom - a bonanza for invasive exotic species
by Natasha Geiling
As the Arctic warms and its ice melts, growing numbers freight ships are reaping big savings from the ‘Arctic short cut’. But this is creating a huge risk of invasive species spreading in ballast water and on hulls - disrupting both Arctic and temperate ecosystems.
… cargo isn’t the only thing that they’re (ships) transporting: some marine biologists worry that ships carting cargo through the Arctic’s newly opened waterways are introducing invasive species to the area - and bringing invasive species to some of America’s most important ports…
(read more: The Ecologist)
photo: Arctic Red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, is causing ecological havoc as it devours its way down Norway’s coast. It can reach a leg-span of 1.8m. Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

The Arctic shipping boom - a bonanza for invasive exotic species

by Natasha Geiling

As the Arctic warms and its ice melts, growing numbers freight ships are reaping big savings from the ‘Arctic short cut’. But this is creating a huge risk of invasive species spreading in ballast water and on hulls - disrupting both Arctic and temperate ecosystems.

… cargo isn’t the only thing that they’re (ships) transporting: some marine biologists worry that ships carting cargo through the Arctic’s newly opened waterways are introducing invasive species to the area - and bringing invasive species to some of America’s most important ports…

(read more: The Ecologist)

photo: Arctic Red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, is causing ecological havoc as it devours its way down Norway’s coast. It can reach a leg-span of 1.8m. Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

Global warming has become the biggest headache for atlas illustrators.

For instance, when the National Geographic Atlas of the World is published this coming September, its renderings of the ice that caps the Arctic will be starkly different from those in the last edition, published in 2010, reports National Geographic. That reflects a disquieting long-term trend of around 12 percent Arctic ice loss per decade since the late 1970s—a pace that’s picked up since 2007…

Walruses Are Deadly Hunters, Not Cute and Squishy
by Jason G. Goldman
Despite their tusks, walruses seem cute. Indeed, most marine biologists think they use their massive chompers just to eat clams and other shellfish. But walruses have a secret: they sometimes indulge in meatier meals.
The first clue that walruses used their tusks for more than breaking through clamshells came in 2008, when the BBC revealed footage of walruses chasing after eider ducks. “What? Walruses hunting ducks? Didn’t they eat clams and other shellfish? What nonsense!” thought marine biologist Adrian Burton. “Yet here was visual evidence that these white-tusked, bristle-lipped pinnipeds might be something more than the bottom-feeding mollusk-munchers I had thought them to be.”
When a paper was published describing the scene caught by the BBC, the authors were careful to note that they never witnessed a walrus actually catching a duck, only chasing them. Perhaps they were playing, rather than hunting?
As Burton discovered, evidence is slowly accumulating that walruses indeed dine on the occasional feathered specimen. And it’s not just birds, either. Walruses were also found feasting on seals. Evidence for that went all the way back to 1889…
(read more at io9)
photograph via USFWS

Walruses Are Deadly Hunters, Not Cute and Squishy

by Jason G. Goldman

Despite their tusks, walruses seem cute. Indeed, most marine biologists think they use their massive chompers just to eat clams and other shellfish. But walruses have a secret: they sometimes indulge in meatier meals.

The first clue that walruses used their tusks for more than breaking through clamshells came in 2008, when the BBC revealed footage of walruses chasing after eider ducks. “What? Walruses hunting ducks? Didn’t they eat clams and other shellfish? What nonsense!” thought marine biologist Adrian Burton. “Yet here was visual evidence that these white-tusked, bristle-lipped pinnipeds might be something more than the bottom-feeding mollusk-munchers I had thought them to be.”

When a paper was published describing the scene caught by the BBC, the authors were careful to note that they never witnessed a walrus actually catching a duck, only chasing them. Perhaps they were playing, rather than hunting?

As Burton discovered, evidence is slowly accumulating that walruses indeed dine on the occasional feathered specimen. And it’s not just birds, either. Walruses were also found feasting on seals. Evidence for that went all the way back to 1889…

(read more at io9)

photograph via USFWS

Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri), male. 
One of the 17 Species Recovery Projects that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is funding is on Alaska’s Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge to help protect this endangered sea duck. 
Read more about the projects and Endangered Species Day in our latest blog: NWR Association BlogPhoto: Laura L. Whitehouse/USFWS 
(via: National Wildlife Refuge Association)

Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri), male.

One of the 17 Species Recovery Projects that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is funding is on Alaska’s Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge to help protect this endangered sea duck.

Read more about the projects and Endangered Species Day in our latest blog: NWR Association Blog

Photo: Laura L. Whitehouse/USFWS

(via: National Wildlife Refuge Association)