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The Wild

This is the time of year when Chinook salmon head back up the Klamath/Trinity River system to spawn—if they have abundant, cold water.

But this year—this week—powerful business interests are in court trying to seize that water, putting tens of thousands of salmon, and an entire generation of their offspring, in peril.

Here’s why:

Pity the lowly herring, an essential species getting little love these days from the government agencies that are supposed to protect them.

Everything eats herring—from whales to striped bass to seabirds. Without abundant herring stocks, the Atlantic food web doesn’t work. That’s why herring protection brings together a diverse coalition of interests that includes recreational and commercial fishermen, conservation groups and whale-watching businesses.

Right now, in the prime-time of summer fishing, surfing, and swimming season, health officials in one of the prettiest places in southeast Florida are warning people not to touch the water because it poses a dangerous health risk.

A massive toxic algae outbreak along the Atlantic coast, north of Palm Beach, is turning the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie Rivers sci-fi green. This is one of the most biologically productive parts of South Florida, and one of the most popular for water sports.

Should sea otters be allowed to repopulate Southern California?

Seems like a strange question, right?

When a highly imperiled species starts to recover in its native habitat, we should all be grateful and welcome them back. This has certainly been the story of the American bald eagle.

First off, let’s establish that these guys are undeniably cute. Did you know otters hold hands while they sleep so as not to be swept away from their loved ones?

The idea that humans should come first when it comes to our relationship with the natural world traces back to the roots of western culture. For example, in Genesis 1:26, God orders that mankind will “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” According to that train of thought, we are the stewards of the planet. The earth belongs to us. It is ours to till and to keep—and to exploit, if we wish.

This is my first day back in the office after a week rafting and hiking in the Grand Canyon, a week spent marveling at the canyon’s majesty and trying to grasp its lessons of the earth’s history. The canyon wren serenaded us each day, and cicadas and fluttering bats each night. We floated through layers of time, eventually reaching Pre-Cambrian schist and granite, the bowels of the earth.

Millions of sharks are losing their fins and lives to the sharkfin soup market.

Every year, Discovery Channel’s Shark Week concludes its program with a familiar saying: “Sharks have more reason to fear us than we have to fear them.” This comforting thought—more people are killed each year by falling coconuts than by sharks—has never been so true. Sharks are being brutally slaughtered for their fins by the millions, and at this rate sharks soon will be functionally extinct.

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