A Tiny Dolphin and a Big Problem

The following is an essay I wrote while reporting from the Sea of Cortez last fall. To learn more, read my piece in this month’s Harper’s Magazine: “Emptying the World’s Aquarium.” Over the past few days I have found myself thinking a lot about the tragic poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” In it, […]

Dinner Guide to Saving the Ocean

I am that guy. You know the one. When the waiter comes to the table to give the specials, I’m the one who needs to know where the snapper’s from, how the swordfish was caught, and whether the salmon is farm-raised. My brother generally starts apologizing for me as soon as I open my mouth to see […]

For his bairns, and his bairns’ bairns, and their beavers

The Ramsay family has lived at the Bamff estate, 1300 acres of heathery hills and woodlands in eastern Scotland, for nearly eight centuries. Today, environmentalists Paul and Louise Ramsay share the property with three families of beavers. The couple brought the animals to Bamff in 2002 as part of a controversial effort to reintroduce European […]

Is There Such A Thing As Extinction Proof?

Last year, I reported a story about sharks disappearing in the Sea of Cortez. The story deals with one little spot near the bottom of the Baja Peninsula called El Bajo. El Bajo is famous for two things, I suppose. One, it’s the site where scientists discovered a now-famous behavior in which hammerhead sharks from […]

Broadening the Beam of Compassion

A few years ago, my neighbor in Colorado decided to learn something about animal rights. I thought this was a pretty interesting project under any circumstances, but it was especially interesting because my neighbor is Michael Soule, the biologist credited with founding the field of conservation biology. Like a lot of conservation-minded scientists, Michael was […]

Peak Conservation

So the election’s over, the days are getting shorter, and it’s about time for a nice long nap. May I suggest an 80-foot-long concrete chamber, tucked neatly into a hillside in Tennessee? Clean, cool, and cozy, it’s the perfect winter hideaway … if you’re a bat, that is. Yes, The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee has […]

Coffeewise by Owl-Light

Owls are trending. At least that’s what a grumpy barista told my husband when he tried to get his owl coffee mug filled up. I used to like them before, she sniffed. We do seem to have accumulated a fair amount of owl paraphernalia in the last few years. Before, our house was an owl-free […]

Galápagos Redux: When Is It OK to Kill Goats?

Two weeks ago, I wrote about scientists who intentionally killed 80,000 feral goats on one of the islands in the Galápagos archipelago. The effort was in the name of biodiversity and conservation, sure, but was it right? The post spurred some fascinating questions and comments, particularly from Jason G. Goldman, who writes The Thoughtful Animal […]