Thursday, November 6, 2008

Saving Wild Salmon, in Hopes of Saving the Orca

So what does the president elect have to do with Science (let alone Darwin)? That's exactly what I said when I opened the science section of the NY Times this afternoon. Well there was no answer to be found. Just a questions. "What’s a president to do on issues like climate and population, particularly in an era of huge deficits and pressing real-time problems?" Nice hook. It got me, but gave me very little satisfaction...
But I did see an interesting article about Alexandra Morton a "supky hero" and the Jane Goodall of killer whales. "Alexandra Morton is a self-trained biologist, has been battling fish farms in British Columbia that she says are endangering wild salmon runs that in turn are adversely affectly the orca's ecosystem.

In 1984, 26 years old and armed only with a bachelor’s degree and enthusiasm for her task, she [and her family] moved to the Broughton Archipelago, in the Queen Charlotte Strait of British Columbia, where the whales, or orcas, were abundant." Her husband died 2 years later, but she stayed on and has earned the respect of scientist, fisherman and fishery experts alike.

Ray Hilborn, a researcher at the University of Washington. “She doesn’t come from a science background but she has had a lot of influence in highlighting the issue,” he said. Daniel Pauly, director of the Fisheries Center at the University of British Columbia, calls her “a spunky hero.”

Like the Grants, Morton has remain in one place long enough to identify issues that are missed even by specialists. She's in the NY Times because “the problem with this whole issue is if nobody sees it nothing happens,” she said one day recently as she motored past one of the farming operations. And because most of the fish farmed here end up in trucks heading down I-5 to California, she said, “it can’t just be the Canadian public. It has to be the American public.”
-Pamela Alexander-Beutler

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