The Science of Sustainability

Biology

Two Endangered Icons: Southern Resident Killer Whales and Chinook Salmon

Two Endangered Icons: Southern Resident Killer Whales and Chinook Salmon

Kenneth Balcomb, senior scientist at the Center for Whale Research Friday Harbor, Washington, explains the connection between the Southern Resident killer whales (orcas) and chinook salmon.

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Science on the SPOT: Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Tracker

Science on the SPOT: Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Tracker

Katie Colbert, a naturalist at the Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness, shares with us how she tracked dozens of Northern Pacific rattlesnakes and what surprised her about their movements and behaviors.

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Rumors and Truth in Lake Tahoe

Rumors and Truth in Lake Tahoe

A few weeks ago, scuba divers in Lake Tahoe found the body of a man who had drowned in the lake 17 years ago. Still in its wetsuit, the body was very well preserved. Because the water in this high alpine lake is so cold, decomposition is very slow. This fact has spawned rumors, the most famous of which involves Jacques Cousteau and still makes me shudder, years after I first heard it.

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Redesigning Life

Redesigning Life

All living things pretty much use the same language to read their genes. That is about to change.

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Rendezvous With Horseshoe Crabs

Rendezvous With Horseshoe Crabs

They're more closely related to spiders and scorpions than to crabs. Each spring, thousands of horseshoe crabs mate on the shores of the Delaware Bay.

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Science on the SPOT: Rendezvous With Horseshoe Crabs

Science on the SPOT: Rendezvous With Horseshoe Crabs

Watch as thousands of prehistoric horseshoe crabs take over a beach in Delaware.

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Science on the SPOT: Bats Beneath Us

Science on the SPOT: Bats Beneath Us

Every summer, 250,000 bats take up residence under a freeway bridge in California's Central Valley. And each night, they exit the bridge in a stunning ribbon-like formation.

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Shark Week and the State of Sharks

Shark Week and the State of Sharks

This week millions of viewer’s eyes will be turned to "Shark Week", the Discovery Channel's most popular program. With shows like "Top Five Eaten Alive", "Killer Sharks and Rogue Sharks", the program continues to dish up blood, teeth and fear, while perpetuating the irrational perception that sharks are killing machines.

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The High Cost of Sex

The High Cost of Sex

Biologically speaking, sex is ungodly expensive. One reason it may have evolved in to keep our genomes stable and intact.

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Science on the SPOT: Green Eggs By The Gram – Sustainable Caviar

Science on the SPOT: Green Eggs By The Gram – Sustainable Caviar

Once an exotic product associated with royalty and overfishing, caviar is now being farmed sustainably right here in California.

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Why I Do Science: Dan Costa

Why I Do Science: Dan Costa

One of the great things about my job is to be able to talk to some of the world's greatest and most charismatic scientists, like Professor Dan Costa of UC Santa Cruz.

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Architecture for the Birds

Architecture for the Birds

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as many as one billion birds die each year in collisions with man-made structures. Recently, lawmakers have started to do something about this problem.

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Climate Change Favors Invasive Species in California Grasslands

Climate Change Favors Invasive Species in California Grasslands

California’s grasslands are some of the most heavily invaded habitats in the state. As the climate changes—temperatures increase and water becomes scarcer—the conditions will favor exotic grasses, which will become even more prevalent.

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Science on the SPOT: Sound Waves – Listening to Orcas

Science on the SPOT: Sound Waves – Listening to Orcas

They are an icon of the Pacific Northwest, stirring a mix of fascination, awe and affection. Thousands of people come to the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound just to catch a glimpse of the Southern Resident orcas that call these waters home.

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Into the Waves with Orcas

Into the Waves with Orcas

Orcas use sound to navigate, find food and communicate. But underwater noise is making it more difficult. We explore how scientists use hydrophones to track noise from ships and boats to discover what affect noise pollution really has on orcas.

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Why Killer Whales Don’t Eat People: Where Science and Legend Meet

Why Killer Whales Don’t Eat People: Where Science and Legend Meet

It’s clear that in the wild, orcas seem to have a pretty universal rule: don’t attack humans. The reason would appear to be both biological and cultural.

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Herbicides: Help or Harm?

Herbicides: Help or Harm?

Recent headlines have brought to light some of herbicides’ unintended effects. Herbicides can provide farmers and gardeners with advantages over unwanted weeds—but they also come with drawbacks.

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Cultural Differences in Northwest Orcas

Cultural Differences in Northwest Orcas

Even though different groups of orcas in the Pacific Northwest often share the same waters, they don’t interact outside of their group, follow a distinct diet and demonstrate unique behaviors.

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Puget Sound Orca Poop is a 'Treasure Trove' for Researchers

Puget Sound Orca Poop is a 'Treasure Trove' for Researchers

Scientists are looking for clues in killer whales' aquatic droppings as they try to determine why their numbers remain so low in Puget Sound. To sniff out these floating data dumps, researchers have turned to a furry colleague named Tucker.

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The Killer Affecting Killer Whale Populations

The Killer Affecting Killer Whale Populations

Nothing excites whale researchers and whale fanatics more than seeing a new calf born into the pod. However, researchers have learned that calf survival rates are incredibly low, especially for the orca’s first born. The mother’s young calf often dies because of something the mother passes on to her offspring—PCBs.

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