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Conservation

Chief scientist Mark Baumgartner secures a glider (with its wings removed) after it was re...

Every year between November and January, endangered North Atlantic right whales are thought to use an area off the coast of Maine known as the Outer Fall as a breeding ground. They are “thought to” because the ocean conditions at that time of year can make it difficult to locate them. Two autonomous marine robots called gliders have now been used as a real time whale-detection system for researchers and to warn boats in the area to slow down to avoid striking the marine mammals.  Read More

The AquatiCo ROV prototype

“People will protect what they love, and they love what they know,” says robotics engineer Eduardo Labarca, paraphrasing Jacques Cousteau. That’s why he and his team at Mountain View, California-based 9th Sense Robotics want to start up an online marine exploration project known as AcquatiCo. If it reaches fruition, it will allow computer users anywhere in the world to control an actual ocean-based submarine, while watching a real-time feed from its onboard video camera.  Read More

iBatsID is a free online tool that automatically identifies bats based on their calls (Pho...

Everyone knows that it’s possible to identify different species of birds by their vocalizations, but did you know that it’s also possible to differentiate between different types of bats based on their echolocation calls? Well, now you do. So far, however, there hasn’t been a standardized system of doing so – it’s been left up to individual human listeners to decide on the closest match. That may soon no longer be the case, though, as the new online iBatsID tool comes into use.  Read More

Map of Life is a new Google Maps-based website, which indicates the distribution of almost...

Ever wondered if a certain species of animal can be found where you live? The Map of Life website aims to answer this question. A Yale University-led project built on a Google Maps platform, it lists virtually all of the vertebrate animals that can be found at any one point in the world.  Read More

EM Observe is an electronic system, that remotely monitors fishing vessels' catches

In an effort to save the world's oceans from overfishing, many countries now require commercial fishing vessels to bring along an observer, who checks that the crew aren't exceeding their catch limits. That observer takes up cabin space on the boat, however, plus they require a salary, and probably aren't made to feel particularly welcome by the crew members. This month, however, a Spanish purse seiner became the world's first tropical tuna-fishing vessel to try out something different - an electronic monitoring system. Designed by Archipelago Marine Research, the EM Observe system is already in regular use in the company's home province of British Columbia, Canada.  Read More

Instant Wild is a conservation app that sends photos of wild animals to users' iPhones, as...

Why do ecotourists travel thousands of miles to catch glimpses of rare, exotic animals, when they could get long, lingering looks at them just by turning on their TV? Well, partly because it’s fun to travel. Also, however, it’s a lot more exciting when you never know what you’re going to see, or when, or where. While it’s not quite as epic as trekking through the African Savannah, the Zoological Society of London’s Instant Wild App is bringing that same sort of wilderness-lottery-like excitement to the iPhone. Users can subscribe to feeds from camera traps located in several areas of the world, and will receive photos of the animals that trigger those traps, as they’re triggered. While that might be neat enough in and of itself, users can then proceed to help conservationists protect those creatures.  Read More

Eden Project impressive Biomes  (Image by COMAS)

Located in Cornwall, UK, in what once was a disused clay mine, you can discover a rich and abundant garden with over one million plants. Considered by the Guinness Book of Records to be the world's largest greenhouse, the Eden Project is a unique resource center for people who want to know more about nature and the environment.  Read More

By tagging cod fish with data logging thermometers, European scientists have attained a be...

With the advent of robust, miniaturized electronic devices, an increasingly common method of studying wild animals involves temporarily attaching data-logging sensors directly to them. Some readers might have seen point-of-view video footage obtained with National Geographic's "Crittercam," for instance, or heard about the study where the migratory routes of Arctic terns were determined by putting tiny light loggers on the birds. Now, a consortium of scientists from nine European research institutions have tagged cod fish with mini-thermometers, to find out how they will be able to cope with rising ocean temperatures.  Read More

The upper toothrows of the giant rat compared to the skull of a common rat (Image: Ken Apl...

I’ve always thought of rats as being quite small and lightweight creatures – even verging on dainty. Well someone forgot to tell the rats in East Timor to keep an eye on their calorie count…archaeologists have discovered rodent bones that suggest the biggest rat that ever lived weighed about six kilograms. That’s about as much as a three month old baby!  Read More

The compost filter socks in place, in a grassed waterway

Compost filter socks are mesh tubes filled with composted bark and wood chips. Besides making lovely wedding gifts, they are also used at construction sites to limit the amount of silt in water runoff. What was previously unknown, however, was their effectiveness at reducing sediment, herbicides and nutrients in runoff from agricultural fields. Two soil scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have completed a two-year study, measuring just how good a job the socks did when placed in grassed waterways alongside fields. Their conclusion: the socks rock... sort of.  Read More

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