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An Afternoon at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic

Note: The interview with Maureen Murray that follows aired on WGBH, while an audio version of the slideshow, below, was broadcast on WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station!

Meet the patient, stoic Blanding’s Turtle, who arrived with a huge hole in her shell, yet managed to lay her eggs! And the red-tailed hawk who’s given a sonogram of its eyeball! Watch the satisfying release of another hawk, after it’s fully healed. And observe the staff of the Tufts University Wildlife Clinic, in Grafton Massachusetts, as they respectfully care for these wild animals.

In addition to the slideshow above, ThoughtCast speaks with staff veterinarian Maureen Murray, who has a special interest in turtle medicine.
Click here (11:30 minutes) to listen.

Posted on June 26, 2011 in Environment
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The North Atlantic Right Whale: Our Urban Leviathan

Note: This interview was broadcast on WGBH radio, Boston’s NPR station for news and culture, on April 17, 2011!

Breaching North Atlantic Right Whale

Photo: courtesy US Marine Mammal Commission

The endangered North Atlantic Right Whale is probably our closest cetacean neighbor. There are only about 350 of them in total, and they live precariously near to shore, along the Eastern seaboard, in a horrendously busy commercial shipping corridor that stretches from Nova Scotia to Florida.  Scott Kraus, the vice president for research at Boston’s New England Aquarium, and the head of its right whale research project, has studied these whales for decades, and the aquarium’s efforts on their behalf have led to dramatic improvements in right whale habitat.

Fargo Meets Right Whale Calf

Courtesy Rosalind Rolland/New England Aquarium

But they remain nonetheless threatened — primarily by us humans.  ThoughtCast’s Jenny Attiyeh met with Kraus at the New England Aquarium recently, to discuss his latest book, which he co-edited with his colleague Rosalind Rolland, called The Urban Whale.

Click here (20 minutes) to listen!

And click here (4 minutes) to hear Scott Kraus read a poignant passage he wrote (about a baby whale) from The Urban Whale.

Posted on April 1, 2011 in Environment, Science
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Coral reefs, hermit crabs and tube worms with Randi Rotjan

Note: This interview was broadcast on WGBH radio, Boston’s NPR station for news and culture, on April 17, 2011!

The Cambridge Science Festival returns this week with Inspiring Minds: Meet Women in Science, a program at the Museum of Science that includes a talk by Randi Rotjan, a coral ecologist at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Randi has been stung by jellyfish, coral, you name it. It’s all part of the job, studying coral reefs on location in exotic locales like the Red Sea or the Phoenix Islands, the world’s largest marine protected area. She goes face to face with hermit crabs as they line up, after the usual jostling, to form vacancy chains, waiting to trade in their old shells for newer, larger ones. It’s the classic upgrade, and it follows rules – perhaps ones we humans might care to copy.

Rules abound undersea – as does death. If the water temperature is too warm, corals bleach, starve and die. And if the tube worms that thrive near deep sea hydrothermal vents venture too far from the fissure, they’ll freeze. But most of the time, they’re doing just fine, thank you, feasting on the poisonous spewing gases they’re so fond of.
Watch this brief video on corallivory (the eating of live coral by fish!) to get you started.
And then click here (12 minutes) to listen to the audio interview, for the details.

Posted on April 26, 2010 in Environment, Science
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Lydia Ratcliff: Vermont Farmer, Stubborn Survivor

Note: this audio program and slideshow have been picked up by New Hampshire Public Radio. The audio program was also broadcast on WAMC and WGBH radio in Boston.
Milking TimeAbout 40 years ago, farms were thick on the ground in Andover, a rural town in southern Vermont. Today, 75-year-old Lydia Ratcliff’s Lovejoy Brook Farm is the last working farm still in operation. But can it survive much longer? ThoughtCast’s Jenny Attiyeh grew up visiting Lydia each summer, listening to her tales, eating fresh corn and carrots from her garden, and watching the animals give birth, and grow old. On a recent visit to see Lydia, Jenny brought along her microphone …

Note: this slideshow was commissioned by the BBC program Americana.

Lydia Ratcliff is a survivor. She’s farmed her 90 acre plot of land in Andover Vermont for 43 years, and though she’s now come down with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, she still climbs on top of that tractor in hay season.
Does she offer a lesson for the rest of us? Does she represent the future of farming in Vermont, or is she one of the last of a dying breed?
Click here to listen (9 minutes.)

Posted on July 1, 2009 in Economics, Environment, Front Page
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