Earthwatch Institute

To engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.
Dec 2, 2016

Iceland's Killer Whale Research Begins June 2017

A Killer Whale approaches the research boat
A Killer Whale approaches the research boat

Thank you for supporting Earthwatch’s Killer Whales and Their Prey in Iceland research expedition. Earthwatch has spent the last two years developing this exciting new field study, which gets underway in June 2017, and we’re thrilled to announce that all 5 volunteer teams have been filled.

In a message to volunteers and supporters, Dr. Filippa Samarra, Principal Investigator, writes:

Iceland, due to its position in the North Atlantic marine ecosystem, sits at the confluence of major oceanic currents making its waters rich in wildlife including fish and marine mammals. Iceland has long been home to orcas, however little is known about this population. Crucial aspects of their lives such as what they eat, where they go and how many there are have been little understood. Our research has shown that Icelandic waters are visited by over 400 orcas, for a variety of activities including feeding, resting, socializing, and nursing, although some seem to be only occasional visitors.

The Icelandic Orca Project is a long-term research, monitoring and conservation program, focusing on orcas in Icelandic waters. Our mission is to understand the ecology and behavior of orcas in Iceland through a long-term monitoring research program so that we can better identify the threats they face and develop effective conservation and management strategies. We aim to raise public awareness of this little known orca population through education and outreach activities.

This project represents the first long-term effort to monitor and better understand the Icelandic population of orcas. Before its inception, little was known about orcas in Iceland. By using several research techniques in combination with citizen science we now know that part of the population that occurs in Icelandic waters regularly travels to other parts of the North Atlantic, yet still Icelandic orcas show unique behavioral characteristics. We have only just begun to understand the complexity of these animals and many questions remain unanswered. We are extremely happy to have your support!

We look forward to sharing observations from the field with you next summer. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season and new year!

With gratitude,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services
hwilcox@earthwatch.org
978-450-1208 

P.S. Remember, you don't just have to read about this research from afar... you can be at the center of the action as an Earthwatch research volunteer! Please follow the link below to join the waitlist for volunteering on the Icelandic Orca Project, or visit earthwatch.org to learn about several other marine projects that are accepting volunteers.

Researchers tracking a pod of killer whales
Researchers tracking a pod of killer whales
Researchers listen for killer whale vocalizations
Researchers listen for killer whale vocalizations
Stunning Iceland scenery
Stunning Iceland scenery
A killer whale surfaces
A killer whale surfaces
Dr. Filipa Samarra, Principal Investigator
Dr. Filipa Samarra, Principal Investigator

Links:

Nov 17, 2016

Fire, Wolves & Bison - Year Two Research Concludes

Three Wolves Caught on Camera
Three Wolves Caught on Camera

With your support, Restoring Fire, Wolves and Bison to the Canadian Rockies has completed its second year of research with Earthwatch Institute. This year, 48 volunteers joined Dr. Cristina Eisenberg and her research team in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, between May and September. Sometimes hiking up to 12 miles a day, volunteers helped conduct aspen surveys, track transects, and conduct wolf and other wildlife monitoring.

Early findings from this year indicate abundant large carnivore activity by wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, cougars and coyotes, while remote monitoring confirmed that two wolf packs in the park had denned and produced pups. Bolstering the research this year was the addition of two local Kainai First Nation community fellows. Sponsored by a group of donors, the fellows received expert training in field ecology and ecological restoration methods to help advance conservation planning and support tribal economic health. In turn, they were able to share their vast knowledge and history of the research sites with scientists and volunteers.

Engaging tribal members augments local positive effects on conservation and education, improves human-wildlife coexistence, strengthens local environmental stewardship, and empowers community members, particularly under-represented groups such as women, to become conservation leaders. By directly engaging current and future leaders from the Kainai Nation, the tribal community will strengthen its partnership with local governance to build and inspire support for the conservation of healthier tribal lands.

Looking ahead to next spring, volunteers will take on new mapping of aspen stands on a much finer scale to better understand the influence of stand size on fire severity and subsequent elk browsing. Elk diet analysis will also be added to assist park managers with bison reintroduction scoping. A key focus of next year’s research will be to identify indicator variables that park managers can use easily and cost-effectively to monitor fire response over a longer temporal scale.

In the meantime, thank you again for your ongoing support of Earthwatch’s Restoring Fire, Wolves and Bison to the Canadian Rockies research. Your involvement will help implement management plans that keep this pristine wilderness – and the many people and species who depend on it - thriving. We look forward to sharing Dr. Eisenberg’s analysis and conclusions from her 2016 work early next year.

With gratitude,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services
hwilcox@earthwatch.org
978-450-1208 

P.S. Remember, you don't just have to read about this research from afar... you can be at the center of the action as an Earthwatch research volunteer! Please follow the link below to see which teams are accepting volunteers for 2017.

Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton Lakes National Park
Volunteers heading to a research site
Volunteers heading to a research site
Dr. Eisenberg records data during a transect track
Dr. Eisenberg records data during a transect track
Volunteers scanning for wildlife
Volunteers scanning for wildlife
A wolf track spotted in the mud
A wolf track spotted in the mud

Links:

Nov 17, 2016

Bahamas Sea Turtle Research Year Three Concludes

A green sea turtle is gently captured and measured
A green sea turtle is gently captured and measured

With your support, Tracking Sea Turtles in The Bahamas has completed another year of critical data collection with Earthwatch Institute. This year, 7 teams of 68 total volunteers joined Dr. Annabelle Brooks and her research team on Cape Eleuthera to help tag and release turtles, conduct Baited Remote Underwater Video surveys, and map shelter and food resource availability across mangrove, coral and seagrass bed habitats. Three of these teams were specially designed and reserved for teenagers to give them an opportunity to test the waters of a future career in science.

Unfortunately, no volunteers signed up during the months of September, October and November. This has been a challenging year for volunteer travel, which is quite susceptible to severe weather, health scares, terror threats, political unrest and economic downturn. However, the research must go on. This is why your financial support is so incredibly helpful and impactful: donations like yours give Dr. Brooks and her staff the resources they need to continue their data collection, even in the absence of volunteers.

Dr. Brooks says:

We have gained insight into the seasonal trends of sea turtles and their predators and are able to start addressing some of the larger questions posed by this project. As we complete the third year of research in 2016, the large data set compiled will be analyzed and the insight gained will be ready to publish.

Looking ahead to 2017, 37 volunteers have already signed up to join several expeditions, so we are hopeful that this is a sign of volunteerism rebounding. In the meantime, thank you again for your ongoing support of Earthwatch’s sea turtle conservation efforts in the Bahamas. Your involvement will help researchers and the government create management plans that will protect the right habitats from development and give these threatened turtles the best chance at survival and recovery. We look forward to sharing Dr. Brooks’ analysis and conclusions from her 2016 work early next year.

With gratitude,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services
hwilcox@earthwatch.org
978-450-1208 

P.S. Remember, you don't just have to read about this research from afar... you can be at the center of the action as an Earthwatch research volunteer! Please follow the link below to see which teams are accepting volunteers for 2017.

Measuring a Captured Sea Turtle
Measuring a Captured Sea Turtle
Seagrass beds - a favorite habitat of sea turtles
Seagrass beds - a favorite habitat of sea turtles
A Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) system
A Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) system
A captured sea turtle gets ready to be released
A captured sea turtle gets ready to be released
A school of fish
A school of fish
View from the research center
View from the research center

Links:

 
   

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