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Thrills, Spills, and Seabirds in the Subantarctic

This is Part Three of “Voyage of the Yellow-eyed Penguin.” See Part One and Part Two. Endangered (by) Sea Lions Alternate title: Mom, Don’t Read This One 11 November 2017 Chambres Inlet Imagine you’ve sailed 300 miles south of New Zealand to a subantarctic island. You’ve been dropped off by dinghy before sunrise in a secluded cove,…

Planning for a climate-change-resilient Galapagos Marine Reserve

Written by: Salomé Buglass When I first moved to the Galapagos to begin my position as marine ecologist at the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) a year ago, I was in disbelief each time I went snorkelling. Seeing tropical corals and parrot fish, sea lions and sub-Antarctic penguins all sharing the same coastal habitat was mind-blowing.…

Understanding Identity and Kyrgyz Cultural Values Through Food

Food is not just something we eat to enjoy and to give us nourishment; it is also a powerful tool through which we can view and begin to understand other cultures. Every culture brings its own cuisine to the world’s culinary table and each of these dishes tell a story. From the ingredients, we can…

Goliath Pacific groupers under threat in a biodiversity hotspot

“If you miss the first shot, it might try to eat you,” Apsalon, a local spear fisherman, told me during an interview for my research. He was once half-swallowed by a massive goliath grouper near one of his favorite fishing spots, Playa Blanca in Chocó, Colombia. Although they may sound terrifying, these massive fish are…

Penguins Wanted

Voyage of the Yellow-eyed Penguin, Part Two (See Part One) The Search 8 November 2017 Port Ross and Enderby Island It was cold and clear and very dark when six hardy souls climbed over the ship’s rail and down into the little dinghy, surging up and down against Evohe’s hull. Hamish the helmsman yanked the engine into…

Voyage of the Yellow-eyed Penguin

The latest numbers say that yellow-eyed penguins are still heading toward extinction on mainland New Zealand. Their only other breeding habitat is a handful of islands hundreds of miles to the south. In this four-part story I join a surreal voyage to the all-but-inaccessible Auckland Islands, where we’re trying to find out how this gravely endangered penguin is faring in the…

Through the Mountain Pass

I’m sitting in a shared taxi en route to Talas, the region to the west of Bishkek. The sun is descending and night is falling. The inside of the taxi is dark – the only light coming from the small screen hanging from the roof playing Russian pop music videos. All I can see outside…

Residual Fragments of Past Lives

Residual Fragments of Past Lives (Patagonia’s Untold Stories) Decaying fragments hang from the cavity’s roof as streaks of viscous dark red liquid meander down its sides. The peculiar scent of extracellular digestion from fungal mycelia impregnates the stale air. I force myself into the cramped cavity to further investigate. With only half of my body…

Fragmentos Residuales de Vidas Pasadas

Fragmentos Residuales de Vidas Pasadas (Historias no Contadas de la Patagonia)   Con solo la parte superior de mi cuerpo dentro de la estrecha cavidad, miro hacia arriba con asombro. El sonido del silencio es abrumador. Fragmentos en descomposición cuelgan del techo de la cavidad, mientras un viscoso líquido color magenta escurre por sus lados.…

Photography teaches youngsters to “see” the beauty of their Galapagos home

“You’re the Galapagos Photographer. I like your photos. I take photos too.” These were the words from a 7-year-old that helped me understand that through photography, my message about caring for the Galapagos was succeeding in reaching people of all ages. Two years have gone by since this conversation with little Fabio, a conversation I…

How endemic cactus helps restore ecological balance in the Galapagos

To the northeast of Santa Cruz Island within the Galapagos archipelago lies Plaza Sur, a small island made up of 13 hectares of land. It is the home to extraordinary fauna and flora, including the Opuntia echios var. echios species, most commonly known as the cactus (DPNG, 2014) (Jaramillo. et al 2017). The scenario in…

Can a gentle giant of Philippine coral reefs be saved from extinction in the wild?

We once lived in a world full of giants – blue whales freely swimming in our oceans and large animals such as elephants roaming our land. Unfortunately, populations of terrestrial and marine megafauna have declined dramatically in recent years. African elephant populations have declined from an estimated 1.3 million to around 600,000. Populations of big…

A Parable of Refugees, or a History That Is True

I want to take you back nearly 80 years, to Mexico City in 1939, when Lázaro Cárdenas, a revolutionary-turned-politician, sat in the president’s seat and made a decision that no other president in the world would make. Across the Atlantic, the Spanish Civil War had come to a brutal end. The Republicans had fallen. General…

Can You “See” Me Now? Making Trash Visible through the Arts

It’s an open secret. I love Taiwanese milk tea. For ten years, I’ve had the same large, iced, half-sugar, no boba milk tea in teahouses across California. I never really noticed what the milk tea came in—the plastic cup, plastic cover, plastic straw were all just part of the experience. Out of habit, I drank…

An Incredible Week at the National Geographic Society

I was in Washington D.C at the National Geographic Society headquarters a few weeks ago, attending the orientation week for the National Geographic Young Explorer Leadership and Development Program. I was lucky to be chosen as a part of the 15, the first cohort selected for leadership development. Our group comprised people from 11 countries, and professions ranging from conservation biologists to photojournalists and storytellers. This is an amazing bunch of inspirational people doing amazing work and I am glad to have found a lot of friends.