Jun 11

A team of students and staff from the University of Exeter are set to embark on a 12-day voyage to measure pollution in the Arctic

Their aim: to make the unseen seen. By collecting vital baseline data on the non-visible pollutants lurking beneath the sea’s surface and with a diverse crew of film-makers, artists, photographers, scientists and sailors, they hope to increase public awareness of issues from microplastics to manmade noise by making their findings educational and engaging; highlighting the actions needed to preserve this spectacular region before it’s too late.

Key objectives:

  • To unite sailors, scientists, artists, filmmakers, adventurers, biologists and researchers to make the unseen seen, and reveal the invisible pollution threatening our remarkable marine environment
  • To collect data on microplastics and manmade noise which will be added to a global research database, and in turn will go towards informing policies and instigating change
  • To engage with the public: from the local community in Svalbard to students, their findings will educate and inspire others to make changes to their everyday lives and result in a cleaner, healthier environment

    Microplastics & Zooplankton… take a closer look and all manner of interesting lifeforms and objects appear. Zooplankton are abundant in this sample but also microscopic plastic fragments and microfiber filaments, broken down into tiny pieces entering the very base of the foodchain.

Why?

The Arctic is a unique region witnessing environmental change on an unprecedented scale. Ocean currents such as the Atlantic Gulf Stream meet a ‘dead-end’ close to this archipelago, offloading a plethora of plastics and waste carried for hundreds of kilometers from the UK and elsewhere in Europe – essentially, the Arctic is acting as a ‘dumping ground’ for our waste.

Pollution is a major player among the myriad of threats our oceans face: plastics, toxic chemicals, manmade noise and countless others. These all present an acute threat to living organisms, whether that be through entanglement and ingestion of discarded waste, through to the disruption of communication in animals like dolphins and whales caused by an increasingly noisy underwater environment. However, many of these pollutants aren’t particularly obvious to us, even though their effects on the marine world can be disastrous.

The effects of this ‘non-visible’ pollution on marine life, as well as its concentration and distribution, presents a major gap in our scientific knowledge. This is especially true in remote regions such as the Arctic ocean, where the focus of most research is primarily on the impacts of Climate Change – no less urgent or impactful on the ecosystems here. With this expedition they strive to unveil the exact nature of these ‘invisible’ pollutants in the Arctic ocean, whilst communicating findings to the public and giving compelling evidence to act.

The team assess the levels of pollution in the waters of the Falmouth Estuary in Cornwall

The Expedition

The team will travel on Blue Clipper, a 33m tall-ship, powered solely by wind and ideally suited to Arctic conditions.  Here they will carry out a series of transects across the Barents Sea to the south-west of the archipelago, using manta trawls, drop-net sampling and acoustic hydrophones to gather data on microplastics and noise pollution in this remote area. Once the data collection finished their work will continue as they spend a week in Svalbard itself: meeting members of the local community to present findings, document opinions on global pollution, and assisting with  the beach clean initiatives already in place.

The team’s home for two weeks, aboard the magnificent tallship, the Blue Clipper

Public engagement is a strong theme running throughout the exhibition.  The team, having already reached out to school children about the impacts of single-use plastics, surveyed locally for microplastics here along the Cornish coast, hosted beach cleans and engaging film screenings, and have run a variety of fund-raising events including a ‘Ceilidh Against Plastic’ and ‘Gig Against Plastic’! All these events have enabled public engagement with the issues of single-use plastics and how areas which seem pristine and untouched can be tainted by our actions here in the UK.

Be part of the solution to save our oceans: support the project and enable them to make the unseen seen.

Find out more

Visiting their website www.sailagainstplastic.com

Keep in touch:

Facebook – @amessagefromthearctic

Instagram – @amessagefromthearctic

Twitter – @Sail4seas

Email – sailagainstplastic@gmail.com

Sep 30

Wildscreen recently worked with world-renowned street artist Louis Masai to create two beautiful murals in our hometown of Bristol, UK to mark the beginning of the Wildscreen Festival and raise awareness of two little-known endangered species. This painting event was part of Wildscreen’s Witness the Wild programme, a series of free-to-attend events from 21/09 – 28/10 in Bristol, celebrating wildlife art, photography and film.

Louis’ work mainly focusses on endangered species and he has painted everything from lovebirds to rhinos all over the world. As well as painting beautiful, realistic murals of animals, Louis has a trademark patchwork style which is the current focus of most of his work. Louis has a deep passion for the natural world that he expresses through his amazing artworks.

Pangolin

The first mural was painted on Stapleton Road in Easton, Bristol. As all of us in the Wildscreen office are extremely fond of pangolins, they seemed like the perfect choice for the first mural.

14536677_10153980124786172_570766830_o

The main threat to pangolins is the illegal wildlife trade. Their scales are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, based on the false assumption that they are a cure for numerous diseases and ailments, despite the fact that they are made out of keratin, the same material as human nails and hair, and rhino horn. Pangolins are also eaten as a delicacy in Vietnam and China, and their habitat is quickly declining due to unsustainable logging, mining and human development.

It turned out that the timing of this pangolin mural was impeccable as just a few days later, there was good news for pangolins everywhere as every species was upgraded to CITES Appendix I, effectively banning all international trade. This new legal framework should help to protect wild pangolin populations, but you can help further by sharing your pangolin knowledge and telling people what they are. Unfortunately, not very many people know about pangolins so read up on them on our new pangolin topic page and watch our pangolin film, made in conjunction with Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, and tell the world what you know!

Green turtle

Our second mural was painted on Mina Road in St Werburghs, Bristol. This mural featured a green turtle. Sea turtles are one of the most ancient animals in the world and are believed to have existed on our planet for over 100 million years.

Turtle

Sea turtles are extremely unfortunate in that they are threatened by pretty much everything. Climate change is one of the main threats to sea turtles – the increased carbon dioxide level in the Earth’s atmosphere is causing ocean acidification which is altering the sea’s ecosystems and food web and, as with most reptiles, increased incubation temperatures lead to more females being born, which is skewing the sex ratio and leading to less successful mating. Plastic pollution is a major threat to sea turtles as they frequently mistake plastic litter for food which can cause major health issues, and they are also negatively affected by chemical pollution and oil spills. Sea turtles are often hit by boat traffic when they surface to breathe, and their coastal nesting habitats are threatened by development. Sea turtles are unsustainably hunted in many parts of the world and their eggs are taken from their nests.

Read up on ocean acidification and marine plastics on our topic pages to see what you can do to help sea turtles and other marine species.

If you live in Bristol please go and visit the murals and share your pictures using #wildscreenfest.

Come to our free bicycle-powered film screenings and open air wildlife photography exhibition in Bristol – check out the programme.

Follow us on Instagram to see what we’re up to

Share this blog to tell your friends and family about the plight of these endangered species.

Check out Louis’ website to see more of his amazing work.

 

Hannah Mulvany, Wildscreen Exchange Executive

Sep 22

At Arkive, we are ever grateful for the support we receive from individuals whether they be photographers and filmmakers who donate their work to make Arkive possible, conservationists & researchers who passionately pursue the science and stories behind the world’s most threatened species, or teachers who bring the WILD into their classroom everyday with Arkive.

But there may be a special group that we cherish support from the most … children! Or, who we like to think of as the “conservationists of tomorrow”. Each time the Arkive team has the chance to connect with children, whether in the classroom, at an event, or on the web through our games and mobile apps, we feel renewed and inspired in our mission to share the wonders of the natural world through the most powerful and compelling images and films that exist.

But sometimes, just when you think you have reached the point of complete inspiration from those youngest members of our society, they completely blow your socks off.

The Afternoon Explorers!

The preschoolers (students age 3-5) of Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School of Chicago, IL, USA, did just that when they decided to dedicate their annual school fundraiser proceeds to Arkive this year and raised

 $317.69

That’s right. Approximately sixteen students, 5 years old and younger. raised over $300 for Arkive in support of our mission and to help keep Arkive a free and growing resource for all. The only thing better than raising this enormously generous sum for Arkive is the way they did it.

Akiba Schechter is full to the brim with students who are eager to dive into the natural world, learning about both species that live in their community and across the globe. Through a program called the Afternoon Explorers, the students decide which species and habitats they want to digitally explore and spend weeks diving into the photos, films, stories, and scientific information learning everything they can.

Then, at the end of the school year, students channel all the knowledge they have gained through their worldly explorations and interpret it through artwork which they sell at their year-end culminating event called the Afternoon Explorers Boutique. The Boutique is a chance for the students to share their wild journeys with family, friends and the local community and to sell their artwork with proceeds benefiting the students’ charity of choice. Lucky for us, Arkive was their chosen charity for 2014.

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Why was Arkive chosen this year? According to one of the teachers leading the Afternoon Explorers, Emily Bradley Schoenberg,

“Arkive has given the children an amazing window to the world around them and has inspired them to think about the Earth and all of its creatures and how some are endangered. It gives them a sense of responsibility to care for those animals and the environment to make sure they are safe.”

Here’s a taste of some of the incredible items made by the explorers for the Boutique.

Picture1

Afternoon Explorer Boutique items – all hand made by the Explorers themselves

And even better, every single item was sold! The team here at Arkive cannot thank the Afternoon Explorers enough for using Arkive as their window to the natural world and for so generously naming Arkive as the recipient of this year’s Afternoon Explorer’s Boutique.  Keep on exploring!

Liana Vitali, Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

Mar 31

One of the best parts about sharing ARKive with educators from around the world is learning how educators are using the collection in unique and creative ways to engage students in science learning. So when we learned how one teacher was inspired by ARKive to create a series of comics about Adaptation that encourage STEM-based inquiry learning, we were all …

Zebra ear photo

you guessed it – EARS!

Laura Balliet is a science & math teacher at a school for at-risk youth in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. She often struggled with engaging her students in reading about science concepts and as a result, her students were often missing important information in their science curriculum.  She decided to make short, colorful, one-page comics that addressed specific topics that she knew were going to appear on the Ohio State Achievement Assessment and then handed the comics out to her students.

Adaptations comic - Cool School Rap

As it turned out, her students couldn’t get enough of her comics and requested new comics to read daily! In her search for new ideas and inspiration for her educational comics, Laura turned to ARKive and even started included research on ARKive as part of the learning process in her comics. Over time, she has organized her comics into a collection called the Cool School Rap.

We caught up with Laura to ask her a few questions about her comics and how ARKive has helped inspire her. Here’s what she said!

What first inspired you to draw comics?

I have always doodled cartoon characters, but it wasn’t until last year, a few weeks before the achievement tests, that I figured out how to channel it.  The initial intent of the comics was to help my students prepare for the test by reviewing key science topics, but their responses were so positive, I felt inspired to continue drawing and developing the idea.

How do your comics help to teach science to a variety of student ages and learning abilities?

As a teacher of at-risk youth, I face a wide variety of learning abilities, especially low reading skills and short attention spans.  My comics deliver content with illustrations, word bubbles and diagrams making them less intimidating to struggling readers and engaging to those who are turned off by lengthy passages.

Photosynthesis comic - Cool School Rap Consumers comic - Cool School Rap

What has been your most rewarding experience using comics in the classroom?

I think the most rewarding aspect of my comics is my students’ reactions when I present them with a new comic.  They are always excited and eager to read, and when I overhear them conversing about the illustrations and the concepts, I get butterflies because it is apparent they are engaged and learning.

How has ARKive played a role in your comics?

I have been using ARKive as a resource for information for some time now, but recently, I began incorporating this site directly into The Cool School Rap’s inquiry activities.  The adaptation inquiry is a great example.  My students utilized this site to research a specific animal of interest and gather information to build a model of their animal’s habitat.  My students find the site easy to navigate and enjoy browsing through the pictures and videos.

Student using ARKive for learning

NSTA logoLaura shared that her ultimate goal with Cool School Rap is to reach as many learners as possible and we are more than happy to help share Laura’s talent and passion with the world! She has created an Adaptation comic series specifically for ARKive that you can download from the Cool School Rap website. Laura will also be volunteering at the ARKive booth at the upcoming National Science Teachers Association Conference in Boston, MA on April 3-5. Hope to see you there!

Liana Vitali, Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

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