Polar bear researchers to try crowdsourcing
Researchers studying the effects of climate change on polar bears are trying something new this season. This is the time of year that the Western Hudson Bay polar bears wait for the water to freeze so they can migrate to the Wapusk National Park in Manitoba. For the third season, Polar Bears International and Explore.org are running live webcam feeds of the annual migration in Canada, but this is the first year that they’ve added a ‘snapshot’ feature where anyone watching the webcam can take a picture if they spot something interesting. They also have a new smartphone app that lets tourists who see the migration upload their photos directly to Explore.org. Researchers are looking at whether crowdsourcing data like this will be help them better understand the impact of climate change on polar bears. Take a look at the webcam!
Shark finning banned in NZ waters
Shark finning will soon be banned in New Zealand waters. Over the weekend, the New Zealand government demonstrated their commitment to shark conservation by releasing three sharks into the ocean. It is already an offense to fin a shark and return it to the sea alive, but it is legal to catch a shark, kill it, fin it, and then dump the carcass back into the water. New regulations drafted in the National Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks would change that.
In other shark finning news: Interpol issues warning of new slice-and-dice shark-finning method.
Some shark finners operating in Costa Rican waters thought they found a loophole to the local shark fin ban. In Costa Rica, the law states that shark fins must be “naturally attached” to the shark’s body in order to be landed. Similar wording is used in many other nations with shark fin bans. The language is designed to ensure that the whole shark is used and not cruelly dumped back into the water alive, but without fins. Fishermen take only the fins because they are worth the most money and by taking the whole shark, they lose valuable space on the ship. So, these shark finners cut away all the flesh on the sharks, leaving only the spinal column and a small strip of skin attached to the fins. That method didn’t last long, but Interpol is warning other countries with shark fin bans that this method could be attempted.
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