What #WorldShorebirdsDay Means to Me

September 6th is World Shorebirds Day: a day bird lovers celebrate the monumental migrations undertaken by shorebirds such as Red Knots (well known for their dependence on Horseshoe Cab eggs), Bar-tailed Godwits (as many as 9 days without rest),  and Arctic Terns (pole to pole migration). It’s the launch of fall migration.

I celebrated #WorldShorebirdsDay with the start of classes and participating in the hashtag by  uploading some of my recent photos from a few days spent on Long Beach Island, NJ.

img_5269

September 6th  is also a day conversationalists rally around shorebird conservation, particularly the focusing attention on stopover grounds, the important refueling refugia. Which is why it was so alarming that this week a piece was published out in Washington questing the value of radio-tags, geolocators and other tracking technology. Without the use of such technology in conservation we wouldn’t know that Bar-tailed Godwits don’t stop as they circumnavigate the globe. We wouldn’t be able to identify stopover migration hotspots in remote regions. In larger organisms we wouldn’t be able to see how they  are internally  responding to the stresses we are putting on  their bodies through the changes we wrought in the environment.

img_4986

These are important lessons.

These are the reminders being shared right now in Hawaii at the IUCN Congress (#IUCNCongress), an international meet up of governments, scientists, policy  makers, NGOs, to take a harsh look at the human  impact on wildlife. But to merely describe it as such is limiting to the scope of what is on the table and what is at stake.

  • Oceanic animals are migrating poleward 1.5 times faster than land animals are migrating north. (link)
  • Pandas have been moved off the IUCN Endangered List (link), but  4 of 7 Great Ape species are now Critically Endangered.  (link)
  • Thousands of strange blue lakes are appearing in Antarctica, and it’s very bad news. (link) We saw this happen in Greenland a few years back. It resulted in  much faster ice melt than models predicted.
  • Poaching of wild elephants is on the rise. (link) To recover from 10 years of poaching will take African Elephants 90 years to recover. (link)

Every  morning I get up and I read these messages and the longer articles that come along with them. If you were to sit down and read them all, your heart would break. But this isn’t all I read. Interspersed with these updates are the #NoDAPL updates. Which seems ironic really  because this struggle is exactly  what the IUCN Congress is all about. The controversy surrounding #NoDAPL is that a corporation has decided the most expedient route for the pipeline is through indigenous lands in the Dakotas. This land is steeped in great environmental and cultural heritage. Within the proposed corridor pipeline are at least 27 burials, 16 stone rings, 19 effigies & other sacred sites (link).  The juxtaposition  is striking.

What is nature without clean  water? Without clean air? Without unspoiled land?

The  shorebirds we’re valuing today depend on clean water, clean air, clean land. So do the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all the indigenous  groups around the world responsible for stewarding 24% of  earth’s land (link). We also depend on these things.

Without nature, there is no life. Later is too late.*

img_5236

Suggested Reading List:

*IUCN  quotes

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s