Chukotka to Myanmar or Bust

Every year, a tiny bird called the spoon-billed sandpiper tours the Asian economic boom. From its breeding grounds in Chukotka, an autonomous region in the Russian Far East, the sandpiper makes a 5,000-mile migration through South Korea, coastal China, and finally to Southeast Asia — including the shores of newly busy Myanmar, where the birds […]

On Eating Whale

Whales are impressive, enormous, beloved animals. Whaling has been banned since the 1980s, but it still goes on in a few pockets of the world. I spent three years of my life in two of those pockets, Norway and Japan, but somehow had never eaten any whale meat. Until this spring. Over the 17th of […]

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 […]