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An Update, and Our Thoughts on Environmental Laws
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An Update, and Our Thoughts on Environmental Laws

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] The next few months in Parliament will be critical to defending nature in Canada. Your voice is really needed. Several draft laws that could help reverse the decline of Canada’s endangered species and support truly sustainable development are now being debated in Parliament. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore and strengthen legal protections that were eliminated or weakened by the previous government. But the draft environmental assessment law is not nearly strong enough, and industry is already lobbying hard to weaken it further. In early February, Nature Canada shared its thoughts on the proposed bill and how this bill will impact Canadians. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCsVIJdjMxo&t=2s Here are several amendments that nature needs in the environmental assessment law.

  • Put back legal requirements. Federal decisions to regulate or provide funding to developments should not go forward until good information on the possible harm to nature is presented. Ministers should have much less much discretion in the new law to water down the assessment process.
  • Development in National Parks and National Wildlife Areas or in critical habitat for species at risk should be fully assessed as a matter of law. Nature must come first in our protected places.
  • The public must have a legal right to participate meaningfully in assessments, and the right to ask questions at hearings.
The Prime Minister and your local Member of Parliament need to hear that people support a stronger law to protect nature. Our thanks to thousands of Canadians like YOU for calling on Parliamentarians to improve the environmental assessment law and stand up to industry lobbyists.
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Federal and Provincial Governments Fail Climate Audit
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Federal and Provincial Governments Fail Climate Audit

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] Federal and provincial governments are not on track to meet their commitments to reducing GHG emissions and are not ready for the impacts of climate change says a collaborative audit by Auditors General from across Canada and the Federal Environment Commissioner. Nature Canada’s view is that this collaborative audit is a staggering rebuke to provincial and federal governments in terms of the actual performance of governments (as opposed to promises and intentions)  in addressing climate change. The Auditors General conclude that: “Canada is not expected to meet its 2020 target.  Meeting the 2030 target will require efforts and actions beyond those in place” . . . “Most Canadian governments have not assessed, and, therefore, do not fully understand what risks they face and what actions they should take to adapt to a changing climate” The response of federal and provincial deputy ministers of Environment  to the collaborative audit is baffling in that they barely  acknowledge the criticisms of the Auditors General, claiming that “good progress has been made”, when that is clearly not the case. Nature Canada strongly urges all governments to consider nature-based solutions to climate change (e.g., protect forests, wetlands and  grasslands that store carbon and mitigate effects of extreme weather events) rather than building subdivisions or monoculture agricultural fields on top of them.  

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Eastern Bluebirds: The Little Blue Bomber
Photo taken by François St. Onge
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Eastern Bluebirds: The Little Blue Bomber

What do they look like? Eastern Bluebirds are medium sized songbirds that measure from 16-21 centimeters long and 28-32 centimeters wide, at full wingspan. Males are the most identifiable by the deep blue feathers on their head and backs with a rusty discoloration on their chest. While the females have a much more pale blue coloration on their heads and backs, featuring heavy tones of grey. What do they eat? You may have seen them hanging out on power-lines or low hanging branches scanning the ground for prey. When hunting, they swoop down from their perches to catch bugs like grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles. Eastern Bluebirds are skilled hunters that occasionally can snatch bugs out of midair. They are also known to eat various types of berries in the winter. Where can I find them? Found in eastern North America from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia all the way down to Nicaragua, Eastern Bluebirds will often migrate from Canada to the southern United States after their mating season. They prefer wide-open areas such as farms, grasslands, roadsides and sometimes suburbs. These areas often provide natural cavities to nest in, their favorites being: hollowed trees and old woodpecker holes. These areas are also, far from their natural predators who nest in more heavily forested areas. Predators of the Eastern Bluebird range from sparrows to Tree Swallows and House Wrens. How do they nest? The nesting season for Eastern Bluebirds starts as early as February and can last until September. Nests are constructed from materials found closest to an Eastern Bluebird’s nest. These materials consist of weeds, twigs and dry grass with animal hair or feathers lining of the nest. Males use these materials to entice females to nest with them, showing that they have the resources required to nest with their mates. Can I meet one!? If you have a large tract of lawn space with very few trees or have a park with similar circumstances near you, bird feeders and nesting boxes may be great ways to see Eastern Bluebirds. Bird Feeder While Eastern Bluebirds will eat from bird feeders, it is important to note that they will not be enticed by them unless small worms or bugs are offered. Mealworms have been known to be a great ingredient to supplement your bird feed with alongside other foods such as peanut hearts, suet and fruit are recommended Nest Box The nesting habits of the Eastern Bluebird make them prime candidates for homemade nest boxes. The instructions to construct your own nest box can be found here. It is important to properly maintain and observe your nest box. Instructions on how to protect your nest boxes can be found here.

International Day of Forests: Saying Thank You to Our Tall, Green Protectors
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International Day of Forests: Saying Thank You to Our Tall, Green Protectors

International Day of Forests This blog was written by Intern Gabriel Planas When is it? March 21 So what is it? The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations created the International Day of Forests in 2012 to celebrate the importance of forests by raising awareness about the ways in which trees help and sustain us even in our increasingly urbanized environment. This year’s theme is around ‘Forests and Sustainable Cities’ with a focus on the urban forested areas. What’s the significance? While we are all accustomed to the presence of trees in our neighbourhoods, the sight of widespread forests is becoming rarer with 13 million hectares of forests destroyed globally every year. This is becoming an increasingly larger concern as forests play an important role in providing habitat for almost 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects, helping to maintain and increase biodiversity. Forests also provide an invaluable tool to help curb climate change by storing carbon, filtrating air and water, and reducing noise pollution. Just one acre of trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people to last a year. In addition to their irreplaceable ability to filtrate both air and water, forests provide other benefits to our day-to-day urban life. Urban forests help to prevent flooding, disease and have shown to cool the air by between 2 and 6 degrees. Well-maintained urban forests and other greenspaces can help improve mental health, encourage physical activity and provide a space for communities to come together. These greenspaces can also provide comfortable and calming areas, and help reduce noise from the rest of the city. Not to mention, a city with an abundance of trees and greenspace is much more aesthetic and beautiful too!      On this International Day of Forests, take a moment to appreciate the trees around you, and all that they do. How do I get involved?

  • Step out of your front door into your NatureHood, your local forest is teeming with things to see and places to explore! Even better, bring your families outside into nature and learn about the types of trees that are in your neighbourhood!
  • Make sure that while you are out there exploring to take a picture of a tree in your yard or neighbourhood and share on social media with the hashtag #IntlForestDay. Compete with your friends for the best picture or just show off what your city has to offer, and help spread the good word about the trees!
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Teaching kids about nature AND curriculum… it’s easier than you think!
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Teaching kids about nature AND curriculum… it’s easier than you think!

Children are increasingly spending less time outdoors and in nature. Hundreds of studies have shown that being in nature has both health benefits and improves your capacity to learn. By exposing kids to nature on a regular basis, they’ll reap the health benefits and increase their capacity to learn. Nature Canada's NatureHood program provides children and their families increased opportunities to explore and develop a long-lasting relationship with nature in their communities, and contribute to a healthier lifestyle. NatureHood aims to inspire children with a sense of wonder and appreciation for nature, creating future leaders to protect the natural places in our communities. Nature Canada developed a Do-It-Yourself Toolkit for educators that includes resources and support for nature-based learning. And the best part? You don’t have to leave the schoolyard! The NatureBlitz Toolkit is a guide for educators on how to run a NatureBlitz in the schoolyard. What is a NatureBlitz? It’s simply observing the plants, animals and environment around us in a given amount of time. A NatureBlitz can be done in any season, and almost anywhere - including a schoolyard! It will feel like a field trip, but without all the paperwork! NatureBlitzes are easy to plan, execute, and incorporate into the curriculum. What’s more, NatureBlitzes can be tailored to work with any subject that students are learning about. Link together math with finding patterns in leaves, languages with writing about what was seen during the NatureBlitz, and science with observing what sort of animals frequent your schoolyard!  Still curious about what a NatureBlitz is and how you can hold one in your school’s yard? Take a look at a video from a past NatureBlitz at Regina Street Public School (in Ottawa, Ontario), and hear about what both a teacher and a student have to say about their experience! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13EmKOlN8vc&t=12s Reconnect your students to nature, and have fun teaching them about curriculum subjects at the same time. They’ll thank you for it! Click here to download the NatureBlitz Toolkit.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?
Flip Nicklen/Minden Pictures
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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?

This blog is written by guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit. Task someone with naming a Canadian species and they are likely to mention the polar bear, the moose, the beaver, or the loon. However, we really do have more animals than simply those on our coins! Canada is so spacious, and there are thousands of animals that have found their place amongst the different ecosystems. There are the mountain animals, the forest dwellers, those accustomed to the tundra and those of the sea. Today’s honorary species is the legendary sea unicorn, the Monodon monoceros, or in plain terms, the Narwhal. This “sea unicorn” has a unique feature that has allowed humans to come up with spectacular stories about the it for centuries. Let's uncover the truth to those tales!


[caption id="attachment_35979" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Photo by Glenn Williams[/caption] The most common misconception is that the Narwhal has a horn, when in actuality - it’s a modified tooth! The Narwhal belongs to the family of toothed whales called the Odontocetes. Its closest relative, the beluga, has the similar stocky body, short head and absent dorsal fin. However, unlike other toothed whales, the Narwhal only has two teeth, one incisor tooth that remains embedded in the skull, and the second incisor tooth that elongates into a long, spiral tusk. [caption id="attachment_35978" align="alignleft" width="300"] Range of narwhal populations in Arctic Canada (From Narwhal, Underwater World)[/caption] But why this feature? What’s its purpose? To find out, marine biologists and dentists have teamed up to study the Narwhal in its home habitat. There are three recognized populations of Narwhals for which two of them are the cold Canadian waters of Baffin Bay and Hudson Bay. These expeditions brought back fascinating results. Firstly, the tusk isn’t even used for defense or sparring as one may hypothesize. Nor it is for impaling prey or to break up ice sheets! Secondly, only males have them. Females may develop them on rare occasions and even rarer is a male with two tusks. Interestingly, Narwhals don’t have any other teeth. That means their mouths are toothless. This may be why they eat fish and squid that are nice and easy to slurp down. Yum! Here’s what else; with an exceptional amount of nerve endings from the base to the tip of these tusks, the Narwhal tusk is a giant sensory organ. The nerve endings can detect even the slightest changes in temperatures, salt content and pressure of the waters. With only males with tusks, it means that sexual selection played a big part in its evolutionary development. If the males with longer tusks and more nerve endings were able to detect the location of females to mate, they would be the one to pass on their genes. [caption id="attachment_35980" align="alignright" width="300"] One of these is Real, from Pierre Pomet's "Histoire générale des drogues, traitant des plantes, des animaux, et des minéraux." (Paris, 1694)[/caption]   Next, scientists are going down to the molecular level to map out the mechanism for this trait expression. What genes signal the spiral formation of the tusk? What are the structures of the hydroxyapatite crystals, which are the main mineral in enamel and dentin? Do the structures differ from other toothed-whales and other mammals? And why? Until we find out more, there’s still a magical aura around the Narwhal’s natural history. There aren’t too many animals whose mythical nature have graced as many history books, or that have inspired legend and lore since the time of Ancient Greece. Despite the mystery of the Narwhal, if one thing is for sure, it is that these sea-unicorns will continue to leave us in awe.
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Information used in this post is from the following sources: Narwhal: At a Glance Narwhal Tusk Research Narwhal: Monodon monoceros COSEWIC: Assessment and Update Status Report For a dentist, the narwhal’s smile is a mystery of evolution

An Artist’s Profile: Suzanne Paleczny
HumanNature, Suzanne Paleczny
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An Artist’s Profile: Suzanne Paleczny

I was looking forward to the opportunity to interview Suzanne Paleczny. Her focus on the human relationship with Nature is very relevant to me, as I find myself brought back to it time and time again in my work and life. I believe that the way we understand our relationships with the land dictate how we react to our environment, how we make decisions, and how we shape our culture.
This blog post was a collaboration between our featured artist, Suzanne Paleczny and Chloe Dragon Smith, who interviewed Suzanne. [caption id="attachment_36001" align="alignleft" width="150"] Chloe Dragon Smith[/caption]

Part 1: Suzanne/Nature

First, I wanted to understand a bit about Suzanne’s personal relationship with Nature. Learning about Suzanne in this context would help me to understand much more about who she is, her worldview, and her art.

How did your childhood influence your connection to Nature? In my first childhood home we lived on the edge of town with only two houses neighbouring our own. We were up on a hill and could see Lake Timiskaming from our yard although it was quite distant, and train tracks, roads and houses separated us from the lake. An enormous Manitoba Maple tree grew at the front of the house, its branches rising up beyond the height of our two storey house and then curving back down until they almost touched the grass, enveloping the entire front yard in this huge leafy umbrella. We played outside all the time, both under this tree and in the adjacent fields, bush and ravine. My father, in particular, influenced my love of the outdoors. One of my earliest memories is of him taking my sisters and me for walks in the bush. We would start out walking along the train tracks and then would strike off into the forest. Eventually we would stop and make a fire and he would make us hot chocolate from his army rations. If it was spring he would make us whistles from the green willow branches. It was magical. As we got older we hiked and camped, paddled, rock climbed, skated and cross-country skied as a family. We returned again and again to the forests of my dad’s childhood in Northern Ontario. What are your favourite things to do outdoors today? I still love to camp and canoe, hike, skate and cross-country ski. The Yukon provides wonderful opportunities for all of these activities. For me, there is nothing better than sleeping outdoors. And although I don’t particularly like to cook, I love cooking outside over a fire! When I was creating the sculptures for my recent body of work, Human/Nature, I spent two summers working outside in my carport. The sculptures are built from driftwood and range from 7 to 11 feet tall so required a working space that was beyond the size of my studio. We live about 30 km north of Whitehorse, in a quiet, rural setting and working outdoors was wonderful. The carport meant I was protected from the rain and direct sun, but I could still feel the wind and hear the birds, and in our seemingly endless summer days, enjoy the view of the mountains as the sun worked its way almost full circle around me. While I worked away I was visited by foxes, squirrels and birds, and on one occasion a mother bear and her two cubs even wandered through, deftly winding through the maze of sculptures without knocking any of them over. Luckily, I had just stepped inside to get something and so was not in their way! The first summer, I worked well into October, which was far too cold to be outside with bare hands and power drills, but I was not anxious to return to the confines of indoor work space. [caption id="attachment_35993" align="alignright" width="221"] Weight of the World, Suzanne Paleczny[/caption] Have those things changed throughout your life? When our children were born we initiated them early into our favourite activities; our son was only 5 weeks old when we took him on his first overnight canoe trip in Bon Echo Park, and our eldest daughter, the ripe age of two weeks, for her first camping trip to Presqu’ile Park as we participated in the Bailey Bird Count. When our family grew too large for all of us to fit into one canoe, but the children were still too young to paddle, we did more camping in Provincial and National Park campgrounds. Once the kids were big enough to paddle and carry their own packs, we went back to doing more extended canoe trips and back-country hiking (which we continue to do now that we are again on our own). How do you see them changing as you continue to age? We continue to hike, paddle and ski and hope to spend many more years exploring the Yukon mountains and rivers. I suppose that we may become less willing or able to ‘rough it’ as we age. I have seen my own father change from someone who never passed up an opportunity to strike off into the bush with just a pack and an ax, to someone who now enjoys nature strictly through the window from the comfort of his arm chair.

Part 2: Art and life

Suzanne inspired me with her honesty, and stories of a life lived close with the land from her perspective. I was curious about how this lifestyle dedicated to connection with environment contributed to her path as an artist.

How much of your work throughout your life has been influenced by Nature? Because nature has always been a large and important part of my life, it has influenced my art in various ways. Learning to observe nature influenced the way I observe everything around me. I am always on the lookout for effects created by sunlight and shadow and am inspired by colours and patterns that I see in nature. I am not, however, a landscape painter; the human figure is almost always incorporated into my artwork. Human/Nature is my first large body of work that is not just influenced by, but is specifically about nature. Where did you get the ideas for your most recent exhibit – Human/Nature? [caption id="attachment_35991" align="alignleft" width="200"] HumanNature, Suzanne Paleczny[/caption] In many ways, my exhibit Human/Nature is a culmination of concerns and ideas that have come together throughout my life. The exhibit is loosely based on a thesis that I wrote in 2011, but even as a very young child, I remember being aware of and worried about pollution and the health of the planet. The exhibit was also created from a combination of both intellectual and visual ideas. The intellectual ideas were influenced to a great extent by an undergrad degree in Cultural Studies and Philosophy that I completed in 2011 at Trent University. In my final thesis I examined our relationship with wilderness and our understanding of it, as indicated through its depiction in art and culture over thousands of years. In preparing to create Human/Nature I also read about ancient thought and philosophy, creation myths throughout the world, patterns in nature, interaction of trees in forest communities, recently extinct species, evolution, the beginning of the universe, etc. Collecting visual ideas is a continuous and on-going process. Ideas can come from something as simple as a combination of colours that I see, a particular gesture that I observe, or other situations I encounter that can be used as visual metaphors. People, places and situations, in both Yukon and Egypt, came together to provide the visual inspiration for the paintings in Human/Nature. The driftwood sculptures, on the other hand, were inspired by a visit to a specific place in Yukon called Sucker Bay. The bay lies at the juncture of two very long and narrow lakes. Any debris that falls into the waters gets channeled down by the prevailing wind and collects in the bay. As a result, the bay is chock full of driftwood; an endless supply of free art material! The first time I was introduced to the bay by some of my fellow art colleagues, I was struck by how much the individual pieces of driftwood resembled parts of our human anatomy—bones, muscles, tendons—and I could see its potential for what would eventually become the Human Forest installation. Rather than force a pre-determined pose for each of the tree figures, I let the shape of the driftwood determine what the gesture would be. Check out more of Suzanne’s work here.

Part 3: We are Nature

I was compelled by Suzanne’s choice to mindfully follow the driftwood pieces as they dictated shape and posture of her human-tree figures. This is a small example of how we could all be living our lives by the contours of Nature: physical contours like rivers and mountains, as well as the rhythm of the seasons, right down to life lessons about relationships and tiny decisions we make every day. By losing our connection, have we lost our intuition about how to take care of the earth and also live good lives for ourselves? This concept is something that Suzanne has spent significant time thinking about.

I believe very much in the statement ‘we are Nature’ – Nature is not something separate from us. I know this is something you strive to explore and depict in your work. What does ‘we are Nature’ mean to you? We are nature. This is not a metaphor, it is a fact. The phrase ‘we are Nature’ is a statement of awareness. With the exhibit Human/Nature, I was trying to make sense of why we treat the world so badly. I was trying to make sense of this disconnect between our awareness of the environmental crisis that is upon us and at the same time, the fact that we are not reacting with the urgency that this crisis deserves.   And the only thing that I could think of, was that we must have somehow forgotten that we too are nature; that we are so used to living in a human-made world, that we have forgotten that nature is not something outside of us—someplace we go hiking in on the weekend—but that it is us. And this led me to the notion of memory. [caption id="attachment_35995" align="alignright" width="300"] HumanNature, Suzanne Paleczny[/caption] Our own human story begins along with everything else in the world; as a bunch of chemical elements created through the life-cycle of the stars, and then as one-celled animals in ancient oceans and then as more and more complex animals until we eventually climbed out of the ocean. There are remnants of our ancient selves preserved in different structures of our bodies. For example, the fact that we get the hiccups is attributed to our earlier gill breathing days. If we have physical remnants of our ancient selves still present in us, then is it not conceivable that remnants of our ancient past might also be lodged in our memory?  And so I began to imagine what it would be like if we could actually remember our origins. What if we could remember what it feels like to be stardust, or to live in salty seas, or to feel that connection that we have with everything else? Through the exhibit I am asking “what would having that sort of insight mean for us and for our world?” With this awareness, would we behave differently? What do you think are the best ways to live that philosophy, as an individual, and as a society? I have realized over the years that my artwork is often a question, but is seldom an answer. I don’t know the answer to the questions that I am posing; I just know that we need to figure it out together. I guess an important step is to recognize our own connection to the rest of the world and to understand that ours is a shared destiny. We need to make individual and societal decisions that reflect that knowledge; decisions that are based not on short term gain but on a long-term view that takes into consideration the collective good of future generations and the planet. I know your exhibit was titled ‘Human/Nature’… This is very interesting to me, as I’ve had a lot of trouble with reconciling the concept of Nature in the past year or so. In many ways I see our language as a symptom of the way we relate to the world around us as ‘other’. I’d love to get your thoughts on that. I think that your point is exactly right. That notion of the outer world as ‘other’ is embedded not just in language but in every aspect of modern Western culture, and it is inevitable that it should affect the way we act. The way we think about ourselves has been influenced over time by attitudes and philosophies that we may not even recognize as cultural ideas, and may mistake as truths. How will we set that right?

How will we set that right?

The weight of that question commands space to hang here; powerful yet without judgement, at the end of my conversation with Suzanne. How will we set that right? What do you think?

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Killer Whales in the Canadian Arctic – A New Force to Contend With
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Killer Whales in the Canadian Arctic – A New Force to Contend With

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="150"]becka-tulips Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. Known as “aarluk” in Inuktitut, the Killer Whale (Orcinus Orca) is featured as Nature Canada's calendar photo for March 2018.

About the Killer Whale

One of the world’s largest animals, the Orca belongs to the Dolphin family (Delphinidae). Males can reach ten metres in length and 22,000 kilograms in weight. Females are smaller, but still considerable, at 8.5 metres long and 7,500 kilograms. Highly intelligent and distinctive for its black and white colouration, these magnificent creatures are also deadly. Poised at the top of the oceanic food chain, they are carnivores whose diet is often geographic and population specific. The Killer Whale’s menu could be fish heavy—such as salmon, herring, and tuna—or comprise larger marine life, such as seals, sea lions, penguins, sharks, and other whales and porpoises. Extremely social, Orcas live (and hunt) in matriarchal family pods typically comprising five to fifty whales and use echolocation to communicate. [caption id="attachment_35651" align="alignright" width="384"] A Killer Whale surfaces in the Strait of Georgia. Image courtesy of Gary Sutton.[/caption] Killer Whales are distributed throughout the world, from the polar ice caps to the tropics near the Equator. In Canadian waters, there are noted populations in the northern Pacific along British Columbia, and, though less commonly, in the Atlantic and Arctic regions. In recent years, however, this has begun to change, as sea ice both recedes and occurs for shorter times each year.

Heading North and Staying There

One consequence of increasing melting and retreating ice and the growing unpredictability of ice formation schedules is the change in roaming patterns of Killer Whales, who now venture into far northern waters where they previously did not. Killer Whales typically avoid ice because of their high dorsal fins. With the loss of year-round sea ice in the Arctic, however, these cetaceans, once largely absent from the region, are now both spending more time there and going to areas that were formerly inaccessible due to permanent or seasonal ice cover. For example, Killer Whale sightings, once rare in Hudson Bay, have been reported not only during summer months but in winter as well. Up north, the whales can miscalculate when the water will freeze and become trapped in ice, like what happened near the small northern Quebec village of Inukjuak in January 2013. A pod of a dozen Orcas became stuck, stranded in an opening of water just ten feet wide in northeastern Hudson Bay. Visibly stressed, the whales thrashed and took frantic turns surfacing for oxygen. Fortunately for them, the weather changed, causing the ice to break, and they were able to escape. The incident called attention to the shifting patterns of Arctic freezing due to climate change. [caption id="attachment_35657" align="alignleft" width="300"] A pod of narwhals in northern Canada, August 2005. Image courtesy of Kristin Laidre.[/caption]

The Orca Effect on the Arctic Ecosystem

Killer Whales in the Arctic are also disrupting the region’s fragile existing ecosystem. The disturbance of Narwhals is one such documented effect. Narwhals, nicknamed “sea unicorns” for the prominent tusks seen on males, are shy, wary whales who have been difficult to study due to the remoteness of their chosen habitats—two of three recognized populations of Narwhals live in Canadian Arctic waters, with the third occurring in eastern Greenland. A 2017 study demonstrated that the presence of Killer Whales drastically alters the behavior and distribution of Narwhals. Narwhals will move to and remain closer to the shore when Killer Whales are nearby, rightfully fearful and frazzled by the predator in the midst. Killer Whales, who hunt in packs, will try to push Narwhals into deeper waters and then encircle their panicked prey. By moving to shallower waters to flee Killer Whales, Narwhals become farther from the abundant stocks of fish that they eat. Additionally, staying closer to shore makes them more vulnerable to hunters. With Narwhals an important food source for the Inuit, the encroachment of Killer Whales into the Arctic also increases the competition for limited food sources. In addition to the Narwhal, Killer Whales in the Arctic are also preying on Beluga Whales and Bowhead Whales. With receding sea ice and continuing climate change, Killer Whales are poised to become a major Arctic predator to contend with. Today scientists continue to monitor Killer Whales and their impact on the Arctic marine environment. One tool that has proven particularly useful is questioning the local Inuit who directly observe these whales’ behaviors and interactions in the Arctic every day. Known as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), scientists combine these firsthand observations and cultural knowledge accrued over generations with their research to help form a clearer picture of Orcas in the Arctic. Acknowledgments: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, NOAA Fisheries, RCI, Science Daily
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Women for Nature look at Biodiversity Barriers and Drivers
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Women for Nature look at Biodiversity Barriers and Drivers

[caption id="attachment_35797" align="alignleft" width="150"] Kayla O'Neill, Carleton University Practicum Student[/caption] This blog was written by Carleton Practicum Student Kayla O'Neill as a summary of the latest Women for Nature e-Dialogues conversation. Biodiversity conservation is an issue that requires work from multiple scales, from government to local. Canada as a whole can take these recommendations to further our efforts in biodiversity conservation across the nation. To look deeper into these issues, Changing the conversation hosted the third e-dialogue from our four part series Biodiversity Conversations: How important are the Common Loon and Polar Bears to Canadians. Led by Women for Nature, the panelists brought a variety of very interesting perspectives and knowledge to this specific issue. When looking at the scales in regards to biodiversity conservation, there are different levels to consider. A first one is looking at the different scales of government. There needs to be collaborations between the scales of government, as there are currently gaps. These gaps between the levels of government and the private ownership and citizens needs to be fixed in order for establish greater protection of biodiversity. Another scale that need considering is the emotional scale. An example being that Polar Bears are "emotionally valued more" and are a recognizes as a symbol to conservation efforts, therefore there has been more advertising and care for the species. Overall, all scales need to work together to achieve the most conservation possible. This e-Dialogue also looked at what Canada can do specifically to help biodiversity conservation. Collaborations and education were the two biggest things that Canada can do to protect biodiversity. The first being collaboration between agencies and different organizations. There needs to be a network of connections for biodiversity strategies to have the best effect. A second thing is educating the public on the issues surrounding biodiversity and what can be done to help. A starting point being education in school systems and putting biodiversity into the curriculum so to engage youth on this topic. In addition, there needs to be greater awareness on raising efforts to protect biodiversity to the general public. An overall agreement from this talk was that Canada needs more conservation areas. Funding is an issue so there needs to be better funding options and the recent federal budget is the first step to this. To view the full conversation click here for the PDF, or check out our biodiversity library to learn more from a collection of resources from the changing the conversation platform. The last conversation will bring together the recommendations to develop an action agenda for biodiversity conservation in Canada.

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