Environment

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In 1874, when the painter and naturalist Henry Wood Elliott was observing a small crowd of walruses on the Punuk Islands off Alaska's coast, he was preoccupied with the appearance of their pustules and the precise texture of their skins.

"The longer I looked at them the more heightened was my disgust; for they resembled distorted, mortified, shapeless masses of flesh," he wrote. Almost off-handedly, he noted their number — around 150, all male — before pondering their resemblance to "so many gnomes or demons of fairy romance."

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Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Now, you can love your seafood and eat it, too. But first, you'll have to catch it. Fisherman Kirk Lombard's new book, The Sea Forager's Guide to the Northern California Coast, teaches the art, science, ethics and wisdom of fishing for your next meal in the ocean. Through wit, poetry and anecdotes, Lombard makes the case that the sincerest stewards of wild sea creatures are often those who intend to have them for dinner.

Southern Flooding Update

Aug 14, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

There's a chestnut tree in a nature reserve in Duesseldorf, Germany, and it has a mailbox. People have sent it 5,500 letters and postcards since 2007.

They wrote to the spirit of the tree named Juechtwind or "where the wind always blows," and every piece of mail was answered.

Last year the almost 200-year-old tree got sick, struck with a fungal disease, and had to be cut down.

But now tree counseling has been taken over by its younger brother named Erona, which means summer breeze.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Jonathan Garaas has learned a few things in three seasons of backyard beekeeping: Bees are fascinating. They're complicated. And keeping them alive is not easy.

Every two weeks, the Fargo, N.D., attorney opens the hives to check the bees and search for varroa mites, pests that suck the bees' blood and can transmit disease. If he sees too many of the pinhead-sized parasites, he applies a chemical treatment.

Susan Bence

At last count, Wisconsin was home to more than 230 different species of birds. Now, 1,000 surveyors are pooling data for across the state to see if those numbers are holding.

In the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II survey, bird experts aren’t counting the ones who simply stop over during migration, rather those that rely on Wisconsin's habitats to multiply.

On Sunday, the city of Flint, Mich., will no longer be under a federal state of emergency. A new report suggests that lead levels in the city's water are dropping, though researchers still recommend caution because of the health dangers posed by even small amounts of lead.

Lead problems with the water in Flint, Mich., have prompted people across the country to ask whether they or their families have been exposed to the toxic metal in their drinking water, too.

When it comes to assessing the risk, it's important to look in the right places.

Even when municipal water systems' lead levels are considered perfectly fine by federal standards, the metal can leach into tap water from lead plumbing.

Just 12 years ago, researchers feared that the California Island fox, a species about the size of a cat inhabiting a group of islands off the Southern California coast, was toast. Non-native predators and pesticides had dramatically reduced their ranks. The few that remained were placed on the endangered species list.

Susan Bence

Vanessa Tobin has a very specific professional niche. She is Senior Technical Adviser for Water Supply, Sanitation and Water Resources Development for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) based in Baltimore Maryland.

Before joining CRS in 2012, Tobin worked extensively in the field for the United Nations and other organizations in places such as South Sudan and Nepal. Most recently she served as UNICEF’s Chief of Water, Environment and Sanitation.

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