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No. 1220, November 23, 2023
Save Whales From Entanglement and Death
Whales are vital for healthy ocean ecosystems. Sadly, trap fisheries entangle dozens of endangered humpback, gray, and blue whales off the U.S. West Coast every year.
These fisheries place thousands upon thousands of long, strong, thick ropes in whales’ habitat. The lines run vertically through the water, connecting buoys on the surface to heavy traps on the sea floor. Endangered whales caught in mazes of lines can get seriously injured, and some die from starvation, infection or drowning. If they manage to swim away, they often drag the gear behind them, which saps their energy and can cause them to die of exhaustion.
After the Center for Biological Diversity went to court, NOAA Fisheries finally agreed to create a team to protect humpback whales from entanglement due to dangerous fishing practices. Now we’re urging the agency to follow through — and quickly.
You can help. Tell NOAA Fisheries to deploy entanglement-prevention teams for whales now.
New UN Plastics Treaty at Critical Crossroads
The third session of the United Nations’ plastic treaty negotiations just ended in Nairobi — without agreement on how to make progress on a draft treaty before the fourth negotiating session convenes in Ottawa, Canada, in April.
Unfortunately, as attending Center staff report, fossil fuel and petrochemical interests (and the countries backing them) are resisting calls for strong measures to scale back production and protect frontline and fenceline communities from the “upstream” harms of plastic production — instead focusing on “downstream” issues like recycling and cleanup.
“This negotiation session has been beyond frustrating,” said Center attorney David Derrick, who covered the talk on Instagram. “But we won’t stop fighting until all people, wildlife and ecosystems are safe from plastic pollution.”
Join the call for a powerful, ambitious treaty that reduces plastic production.
Western Gray Squirrels Get Upgraded Protection
Washington state just boosted protection for western gray squirrels, upgrading their status from threatened to endangered.
Western gray squirrels look a lot like eastern gray squirrels but are bigger, have bushier tails, and never venture into towns or cities. Since the early 2000s, the Center has fought to increase protections for these shy forest squirrels. Now their population is down to between 450 and 1,500 animals — a critically low number even at the high end.
To all our Washington supporters who sent in comments: Thank you.
Since we asked for your comments on GreatNonprofits.org last month, we've been so gratified by how much you value our work. The Center has been top-rated on the site since 2009 — but for the past two years, with your help, we’ve ranked fifth among more than 2,500 organizations with more than 1,400 raves from the folks who know us best.
“I am so grateful for Center for Biological Diversity and the work that they do protecting not just cute, furry mammals but all the amazing plants and animals that make planet earth so special,” says one reviewer.
The feeling is mutual. And your praise isn’t just an ego boost — it helps spread the word and fuels our mission.
If you haven’t yet, add your own Center review at the GreatNonprofits website. Thank you.
New Endangered Species Mural Honors Abolitionist
Our newest Endangered Species Mural in New Haven, Conn., celebrates endangered plants and local advocacy for racial and economic justice.
The mural shows New Haven prison abolitionist and author Ruthie Wilson Gilmore with an inspiring Gilmore quote — “We can make freedom out of what we have” — and three endangered native plant species: sandplain gerardia, small whorled pogonia, and Jesup’s milk-vetch. Gilmore cofounded several grassroots organizations for prison abolition, including Critical Resistance with Angela Davis. This mural was painted by Jess X. Snow with a group of other artists, all of whom designed the mural in conversation with Gilmore and scholars of her work.
Learn more about the Center’s Endangered Species Mural Project.
Revelator: How Online Shopping Poisons People
As online shopping has surged, California’s Inland Empire has become a dumping ground for billionaires like Jeff Bezos. To fulfill the glamorous promises of expedited, overnight and same-day deliveries, diesel trucks make more than 600,000 daily trips through San Bernardino and Riverside counties alone, spewing 1,000 pounds of diesel particulate matter every day — plus 100,000 pounds of nitric oxide and 50,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.
That pollution causes dangerous health and safety risks for many residents with no choice but to suffer.
Before you take advantage of any digital deals this weekend, head to The Revelator to learn more.
That’s Wild: Cockatoos Rockers
Scientists have long known that palm cockatoos can play impressive drumbeats, and that each bird has unique songwriting abilities. Now a new study explains more about how these rare, smoky-gray rainforest birds craft their original instruments using sticks and seed pods.
With patience and persistence, researchers were able to secure enough video footage and discarded drumming tools to analyze the cockatoos’ drumming behavior. Their study also documents how dad birds teach their young the craft, passing on a tradition that’s almost unheard of in other species.
This research is part of a broader study aimed at securing palm cockatoo conservation efforts on Australia’s Cape York Peninsula.
Check out a video of these little drummer birds in action on Facebook or YouTube.
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