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The Wild

I’ve always been a biology geek.

As a kid, the ocean gave me a sense of awe and belonging.  I loved the other-worldly creatures of the sea and all the unexpected ways they interact with one another. I still love to be outside, in the water, exploring and observing the natural world.  So why, in the name of all that is good and sensible, did I become a lawyer? 

When Jacques Costeau’s film crew first captured the beauty and abundance life among Caribbean coral reefs, we fell in love with the ocean. 

Today, many of those same reefs are collapsing. Once vibrant coral reef ecosystems look like rubble fields. The fish are few, and algae has smothered and killed the reefs.

Atlantic Trawler

The annual spring migration of river herring into East Coast estuaries and rivers historically supported a wealth of predator life, cultural events, and even thriving commercial fisheries.

But a deadly combination of overfishing at sea, dams and pollution in rivers has contributed to a 96 percent decline in river herring populations. Despite removal of dams and reduced pollution in rivers, the recovery has been stubbornly slow, leading scientists to say that the problems at sea must be addressed.

A pod of southern resident orcas in Boundary Pass, north of San Juan Island, WA.

(An infant orca was captured in 1970, named Lolita, and has lived ever since in a tiny pool at the Miami Seaquarium. The following is about her life and a growing movement supported by Earthjustice to have Lolita reintroduced to her native waters and possibly rejoined with her family pod in Washington state waters.)

I’m a rebel. I think we all are. Or could be. Maybe we’re not the James Dean, Occupy Oakland, in-your-face, take-it-to-the-streets kind of rebel. But when pushed just a little too far, when we hear “No!” one time too many, when irrational barriers get placed between us and our dreams … We stand up … We fight … We rebel.

Bears hunt for salmon in Alaska's Tongass National Forest.

For the Tongass National Forest, last week brought a long-overdue agency action that helped offset an unfortunate court decision.

The Tongass stretches 500 miles by 100 miles through the islands of Alaska's southeast panhandle. In a day you can walk from its cold North Pacific waters up salmon-filled streams, through lush ancient rainforest to jagged alpine peaks overlooking massive icefields and glaciers.

Pressure cleaning rocks on intertidal zone in Alaska's Prince William Sound area.

Tragedy struck Prince William Sound in Alaska 25 years ago today when the Exxon Valdez ran aground, rupturing its hull and pouring nearly 11 million gallons of oil into the sound’s pristine waters.

The effects of that oil spill haunt the remote region to this day. Oil remains trapped between and under the boulders on beaches in the Gulf of Alaska. And thousands of gallons of Exxon Valdez oil lurk in beach sediments—still toxic and harmful to marine life.

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