Writing and Photography by Erin and Will Ellagood
ASC Roadkill Adventurers
Riding a tandem bike across the country documenting roadkill for Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, definitely shifted our perspective pretty quickly. We were constantly in a place of vulnerability as drivers sped past, often with no more than a foot of breathing room. This feeling was only amplified by the mournful camaraderie developed with the roadkill we encountered.
We’d pull off the road and dismount to snap a photo of a carcass — one of us holding our tandem bicycle steady while the other cautiously stepped onto the asphalt. These moments were always anxious ones. All it would take is one careless person rounding the bend while staring at their cell phone, and we could end up just like these unfortunate creatures.
Don’t get us wrong—traveling the country by bicycle was an amazing adventure. We experienced the beauty of the land in such an intimate and immediate way. But with the moments of awe and romance, triumph and splendor, came equally powerful moments of struggle, frustration and fear. And that delicate balance of despair and elation will eventually pull us back to the road again.
The Uinta Mountains are a place of superlatives: This is home to Utah's highest peak, its largest wilderness area, and the tallest east-west mountain range in the lower 48. With extensive alpine high country and more than 1,000 lakes, it hosts wildlife including bighorn sheep, black bear and mountain lion.
Little current data existed about the abundance of wolverines across the Uintas. Through a partnership with the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and with support from the National Forest Foundation, ASC completed the Uinta Carnivore Survey in the summer of 2015, managing dedicated volunteers who monitored remote camera stations throughout the Uinta range.
Get the full story behind the video on National Geographic and learn how you can become an Adventure Scientist by checking out our current projects.
Writing and Photography by Dove Henry
ASC Landmark Crew Member
During the drive to the reserve from Bozeman, Montana, I divide my attention between the unfamiliar terrain outside my window and the atlas on my lap. Something about the western topography is harsh to my northeastern perception. My eyes are used to the Catskills, where old mountains have been worn into rolling hills and mixed deciduous forest covers most of the land, endowing the scenery with an indistinct softness. The Montana landscape is dominated by hard lines and sharp angles. The peaks are jagged, rising abruptly from plains so vast and invariable they are almost startling.
My only experience of the prairie before coming to American Prairie Reserve was from behind a window, on the way to someplace else. I watched it go by as a golden blur when driving across the country. I have seen it on numerous occasions through the tiny window of a plane, from which it appears similarly void of detail.
The view from far away—or the two-dimensional representation of a map—never yields the depth of knowledge conferred by direct experience of the natural world. Underneath the veneer of monotony, I found the high plains of northeastern Montana contain their own brand of immeasurable, exquisite diversity. Tall grass conceals patches of ground encrusted with brilliantly multicolored stones, smoothed by weather. The needle-like shadows of prickly pear cactus spines lengthen across mud that has hardened and splintered into fractal geometry. Tiny green blooms of fringed sagewort cling to the ground. Step out the door, walk out into the blur, and everything comes into focus.
My second week on the reserve with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation’s Landmark project, we hike transects on Burnt Lodge, a small property closer to the Missouri River. The day is hot and there are no clouds that offer potential respite from the sun. It still feels like full summer. This section of prairie is strewn with deep ravines that materialize without warning, a preamble to the steep and ceaseless breaks. Pete and I eventually find ourselves at the edge of one of these ravines when our route on the GPS takes us straight across it.
As I carefully begin my descent, three mule deer bound up the other side and catch my eye. They travel with impressive agility on the precipitous terrain, stopping to look back at us for a moment before disappearing up and over the edge. Pete gets out the tablet to complete an animal sighting form, and I check the compass to determine what direction the deer are moving, though I’m already sure they’re headed east.
While our tools give new parameters to our awareness on the prairie, they alone are inadequate. The topographical lines on the GPS display can’t tell me what it is like to move through the space they represent, to feel the sweat forming on my back and my calf muscles burning. They can’t tell me about the tiny purple aster blooming at the bottom of the ravine, or about the bones of an elk that lay scattered there, half-submerged in the ground. Only through our physical presence here over time—through our adventures—are we able to gain an intimate, sensory knowledge of the prairie and all the minutiae that give us a sense of place here.
One morning near the end of September, I wake up cold. The early light has already shifted perceptibly in my four weeks on the reserve. When I unzip the rainfly of my tent, a very thin layer of frozen condensation breaks and slides to the platform. The sun has almost fully emerged from the remote skyline, and its light washes over the prairie, sharpening the tenuous contours of each blade of grass. I can feel the last vestiges of summer evaporating in the muted light.
It takes time to know a place. Two months is very little, but it’s enough to acquire a feel for the way days pass here—how light in the hour after dawn and before dusk slowly reinvents every component of the landscape, how quickly the temperature drops when the sun disappears and how its light lingers, glowing blue on the horizon. These idiosyncratic patterns of light work their way into our psyche after a while, coloring all our memories of a place.
I keep looking out at the sun as I walk from my tent, hoping to witness that transient moment when it departs from the horizon.
A heavy gallop interrupts the morning stillness. Twenty yards to my left, I see a bison bull running parallel to my path. Without the barrier of distance or a car door, I am acutely aware of the sheer mass of the animal as he stops and turns his enormous, wooly head in my direction. We evaluate each other. My racing heartbeat reverberates through my body; my morning grogginess has vanished in this instant, leaving my whole body alert, poised to react to my surroundings.
Encounters like these occur frequently during our adventures in environments where human activity is not paramount. They remind us that we evolved in and emerged from wild places, and that these places remain a powerful force inside our animal bodies. They remind us that conservation is not about a world separate from us, but a world we are deeply and inextricably tangled up with. There are elements of our human selves that are just as mysterious and unpredictable as the wilderness; elements that have remained unchanged, tethering us to the world we came from. At our core, we are still wild, too.
So much of modern science requires that we retreat inside, that we extract our object of study and place it within controlled temperatures under fluorescent lighting. But adventure science calls for a personal engagement with the realm of natural, dynamic, living things and places. Adventure science does more than draw us close to what we are studying: it reminds us that we are part of it.
By Emmy Luenemann
ASC Freshwater Microplastics Adventurer
Denali National Park is one of the most fantastic, awe-inspiring places in the whole world. Every turn, whether it’s on the road, the trail or the riverbed, is more spectacular than the last.
I ventured to the park with my brother, Brian Luenemann, a photographer in Anchorage, Alaska, in September 2015 to observe and photograph the Denali wolves. During our last visit there in 2010, we were fortunate to view four adults and three pups for a few hours near the Toklat River. Just thinking about their haunting howls gives me chills to this day. Their population has been in decline over the past few years, and all we saw on this trip were some tracks on the East Fork of the Toklat River.
While we were there, I also participated in the ASC Global Microplastics Initiative, taking water samples at the Teklanika River and Savage River deep in the heart of Denali. The Tek is a braided, glacier-fed river that quietly meanders around the Alaska Range, while the Savage, which lives up to its name, is a wild thundering beast. After sampling, we had a blast throwing sticks into it and watching them splinter into oblivion.
The experience of working with this project gave me a better understanding of the effect that microplastics have on our environment, and I'm and honored to have contributed to the conservation efforts of ASC.
Libecki Brothers Explore Virgin Vertical Earth in Greenland
Story and Photos by Mike Libecki
I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I had satellite images from the Danish government and every map of the east side of Greenland loaded on my laptop. I zoomed in to double check our location. The 2,800-foot Polar Bear Fang Tower, the object of my obsession, was just around the corner.
It was close to 1 a.m., and the midnight sun was hiding behind the massive mountains surrounding us. Before dropping us off, our captain sailed back and forth looking for polar bears. Last time I was here, there were 11 in the area, but the coast was clear, so he dropped us on the rocky shore.
My brother Andy and I unloaded our gear, and then scrambled to a ledge high on the cliffs near shore to sleep, safe from bears. The next morning we set up a deluxe basecamp and then started up the long valley toward the tower. I carried a shotgun over my shoulder, and we carried flares and pepper spray in our pockets.
Six hours later, we saw the magnificent Polar Bear Fang. I pulled out my 300mm lens and photographed it, so I could locate cracks in the rock face and map a vertical route that would hopefully lead to a first ascent of this massive tower.
Andy doesn’t have much experience on technical mountain terrain—in fact this would be his third climb ever—but I knew he had the focus, determination and communication skills needed. He had followed me up a big wall in China’s Tien Shan in 2005, and up a huge route on Asan in the Karavshin, Kyrgyzstan, in 2006. We had fun. We laughed. It’s a beautiful thing sharing grand adventures as brothers. On this trip, I would again rely on the energy of our brotherhood, our blood, to generate the optimism to keep us safe.
After a few days, a few dozen miles of hiking, and several roped glacier crossings, we came to a beautiful granite ridge surrounded by glaciers, nearly 3,000 feet above the ocean and our base camp. We now stood less than a mile from the tower that I had been trying to get to for a decade—in a way, for my entire life.
A recon revealed a simple scramble with one rappel to reach the glacier between camp and the tower, and the glacier proved surprisingly easy to traverse. From the base, most of the rock low on the tower appeared loose, but after a few hours of scoping, I found a few routes that looked somewhat safe. Back at high camp, I spent time searching the face with my zoom lens and began remapping our route. Honestly, this was no place for a beginner, let alone someone on their third climb ever. Brotherhood, blood, bond, belief.
It started snowing and we took advantage of a couple stormy rest days, ate a lot, and read books. The best part of the storm was having extra time to Skype with my daughter. Yes, that’s right, Skype video calls from one of the most remote areas on the planet.
Once the sun emerged, we racked up and headed to the base of the tower. I brought the satellite phone—a first for me. At least Andy would have some kind of fighting chance if something happened up there. We started our push the following morning after sleeping at the base of the tower. I planned to free climb the entire route, while Andy would follow by ascending the rope. Before we got in our bivy sacs, I climbed a pitch and had him clean it for a refresher. He accomplished the task with ease.
For food, we took only Clif Bars, Shots and Bloks, and three liters of water. I led with two ropes and a double rack of cams and nuts, a few hexes, a hammer, six pitons, four bird beaks, and two alpine aiders. Andy followed with the food and emergency gear.
We started in light fog and clouds. By the third pitch, huge, hanging daggers of rock had forced me off my planned route. The terrain unfolded with fun, well-protected climbing. I focused on how the rope would run for Andy’s safety, using up a few extra hours to prevent him from pulling loose rock on top of himself.
The almost-full moon came out as dusk fell. Clouds brushed the sky like gray, eerie paint strokes over the moon. We rappelled down to a small ledge just off to the right, where water dripped into a bowl of rock about the size of a bathroom sink. There, sat next to each other and shivered out the night.
At sunrise we got out of our frost-covered bivy sacks, filled our water bottles, and washed down Double-Espresso Clif Shots and Clif Bars. We ascended the rope back to our high point, and Andy stacked ropes as I racked gear. So far, I hadn’t encountered anything harder than 5.11 and hadn’t had to drill a single bolt. It was a good style and we were having actual fun, not just type II. The next pitch had cool, flaky laybacks with short 5.11 cruxes and good rests every 10 to 15 feet. We climbed all day until the sun went around the corner and shade trapped us in shiver-land.
We were higher than the other summits around us, but it wasn’t over yet. The crux came two pitches before the top in a huge chimney full of loose flakes and rotten stone-teeth. When I finished it, I radioed to Andy.
“Hey man, please, please go really slow, be careful what you touch. No mistakes.”
Just inches from my anchor were big teetering fingers of stone I did not want to touch. We finessed through it and climbed an overhanging bombay chimney next—one of the coolest 5.8 pitches ever. The last technical pitch is often the most dangerous in terms of loose rock. But here, a full 200 feet of 5.9 on clean granite took me to within 50 feet of the true summit. A walkable, knife-edge ridge led to the fang tip.
That night, we laughed as we lay in our bivies on a little platform we’d carved out atop the Fang, the sky waning dark pink on the horizon. It was a perfect moment in an imperfect world. A couple hours later, we were shivering so uncontrollably we couldn’t stop laughing. We never really slept, and eventually crawled out of our frozen bivy sacks at dawn, 6,600 feet above the ocean, and nearly 400 miles from the nearest civilization.
The Libecki-Libecki Route, the first ascent of Polar Bear Fang Tower, went in 16 pitches at 5.11 and was supported by the Mugs Stump Award and the Shipton-Tilman Grant. Read more about Mike Libecki’s adventures at mikelibecki.com.
This past summer, veteran ASC sailors Matt Rutherford and Nicole Trenholm sailed from Annapolis, Maryland through the North Atlantic, the Labrador Sea, and north along the west coast of Greenland to Qaanaaq, a point just north of Melville Bay. The four-month voyage was part of their work with the nonprofit organization, Ocean Research Project.
In addition to gathering ASC samples from Baffin Bay, Davis Strait and Smith Sound, they completed ocean acidification research for the Smithsonian and climate change research for two NASA programs, which is why they sailed so close to the icebergs.
Prior to this, the team gathered 14,000 miles worth of microplastics samples during their 2013 North Atlantic Gyre Plastic Pollution Project and the 2014 Trans-Pacific Plastic Pollution Project. Here, we explore the otherworldly icebergs aboard Ault, their 42.5-foot research vessel.
Big cats are magnificent, powerful creatures, with incredible stealth and hunting prowess. Their populations are in decline worldwide, caused by habitat loss and conflict with humans.
"More humans populate the planet than ever before, encroaching further and further into previously natural areas," according to the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative. "When human and big cat populations collide, the big cats typically lose."
The more we know about these magnificent, powerful animals, the better served the conservation community will be to protect them. Here are a few of the big cats ASC has captured on camera traps and tracked, informing our research partners from Utah to Costa Rica.
Nocturnal creatures, ocelots weigh up to 40 pounds and can live as long as 20 years. Also known as "painted leopards," they climb and run with agility, and are good swimmers. The fur trade nearly drove these cats to extinction, but today they have rebounded; even so, they're threatened by habitat destruction, poaching and vehicle collisions. An ASC team in Costa Rica caught this ocelot on a camera trap at Reserva Playa Tortuga.
Video: Mountain Lion
Mountain lions live mostly in remote places and are rarely spotted by humans. Weighing in at 85-180 pounds and stretching 7-8 feet long, they hunt by ambush and kill with a powerful bite at the base of the skull, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife. A typical male's territory is 100-plus square miles, while females range less than 50. Our Uinta Carnivore Crew captured this lion in northeastern Utah this summer.
During an expedition to the Darhad region of Mongolia, an ASC crew documented snow leopard tracks. Although local Mongolian herders and hunters had reported sighting these elusive cats, no DNA or track evidence bolster their claims prior to the ASC findings, and researchers thought that the rare cat had been eradicated from the region.
Named for its short bobbed tail, the bobcat is the most populous wildcat in North America, with 725,000-1,020,000 in the wild. At 10-28 pounds and up to 23 inches tall, they're slightly smaller than lynx, their much less common relative. Early 20th century trapping nearly wiped out bobcats in the eastern and midwestern United States, where they've since recovered.
ASC volunteers are going deep to learn more about the scope of aquatic microplastic pollution—literally. The divers of National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala's Pristine Seas team work to find, survey and protect the last wild places in the ocean, and for the last year they've been gathering samples for the ASC Global Microplastics Initiative from beneath the ocean surface.
Marine creatures of all types and sizes are affected by microplastic pollution: Often ingested by smaller aquatic life, it passes up the food chain, bringing with it the toxins that commonly absorbed by plastic particles.
Pristine Seas included the findings from their ASC samples in a report to the Government of Palau, which you can read here, and have since gathered samples from remote waters in the Seychelles and Baffin Bay.
In Palau, the Pristine Seas team collected 22 samples—half on the surface and the rest at three and five meters below the surface. ASC microplastics researcher Abby Barrows found that the Palau samples gathered below the ocean surface contained a higher number of microplastics—263 pieces in total—compared to 191 from the surface samples.
In the Seychelles, Pristine Seas team collected another 22 samples, both on and below the water surface. In those, Barrows found an average of 6 pieces of microplastic per liter, a maximum of 52 pieces per liter, and only one sample with no plastics. Again, more microplastics were present in the samples from below the surface.
The expedition helped to inspire the President of Palau to create a National Marine Sanctuary around 80 percent of the country's waters last month.
Explore the depths of their adventures below:
In late 2014, ASC partnered with the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, a fleet of sailboats that makes an annual crossing of the Atlantic. In total, 93 of the 251 boats gathered water samples for the ASC Global Microplastics Initiative, contributing 521 samples to ASC’s dataset and covering an estimated 602,000-square-nautical mile area.
The sources of microplastics pollution include microbeads manufactured for many face washes and toothpastes, particles weathered from larger debris like bottles and bags, and microfibers shed down the drain when synthetic clothing is washed.
In addition to the ARC sailors, volunteer sea kayakers, surfers, rowers divers and hikers have collected samples from places including Scandinavia, the Antarctic Peninsula, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and West Africa. They have contributed more than 1,200 samples to the ASC dataset, which is likely the largest of its kind.
“Once we have enough data, we plan to use this information to leverage change, working with legislative, corporate and public partners to stop the influx of microplastics,” said ASC Executive Director Gregg Treinish.
Hey all! This is Graham Zimmerman. Over the past eight months I've been fortunate to take overseas trips to New Zealand, Pakistan, Kenya and China, and have gathered data for ASC Microplastics and ASC Snow and Ice in new remote places during my travels.
Here, I'll share with you a bit about my adventures collecting glacial samples from a crevasse in Pakistan's Karakoram Range after completing a first ascent of the 7,040-meter South Face of K6, as well as more on why I've committed my time and energy to working with ASC.
Boasting one of the planet's highest biomass productions, the Tongass National Forest is the largest remaining temperate rainforest on Earth. With its famed ice caves and ancient glacial melt, it encompasses the entire Mendenhall Glacier.
Visit the Mendenhall Glacier in this stunning film:
ASC adventurers and naturalist guides Erica Prather and Andy Davidson spent this past summer sampling freshwater sources in the spectacular Tongass.
Their film follows meltwater from the Mendenhall as it snakes through Juneau and pours into the open ocean, where it drives a largely intact marine food chain. A window into the magical salmon spawning grounds highlights the interconnectedness of fresh and saltwater systems in Southeast Alaska.
In July, six paddlers set off to follow the water for 3,500 miles. The group began their adventure at Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park, following snowmelt, small creeks and cold water springs to the Missouri River. From the Missouri, they will continue to the Mississippi and then on to the Gulf of Mexico.
On the water every single day, the gang from On the River feels a deep connection to these water systems and an added sense of urgency to protect them. Their mission is to raise awareness for river conservation, connecting with schools and collecting water samples for the ASC Microplastics Project along the way.
Paddler, educator and artist Sara Dykman has brought along her watercolors, and is sharing her experience in brushstrokes.
Federal Government Releases Memo, Toolkit for Citizen Science
By Emily Stifler Wolfe
ASC is riding the crest of a powerful wave. At a September 30 forum, The White House released a memo on crowdsourcing and citizen science, as well as a new Federal toolkit for citizen science.
"The field of citizen science has just been elevated in a dramatic way," said ASC Executive Director Gregg Treinish, who attended the invitation-only forum in the Eisenhower Building.
Both the memo and the toolkit are designed to help government agencies build, manage and gain value from citizen science projects. Included in the memo are mandates for agencies to designate a citizen science liaison and list their public projects on a federal website.
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren noted multiple benefits of citizen science in his keynote:
"These innovative approaches can simultaneously enhance scientific research, address societal needs, provide hands on STEM learning and increase STEM literacy, and by allowing individuals to participate in efforts that transcend geographic and sectorial boundaries, citizen science can help create a sense of connectivity, community and ownership that you rarely get in traditional scientific activities."
By Thomas Nielsen
ASC Microplastics Adventurer
By mid afternoon, light southerlies were filling in. The sea surface became rippled and our sail was starting to pull. Free speed.
Up from behind, the bigger boats were pouring on the canvas, and soon they grew from pinpricks on the horizon to distinguishable teams gaining on us. After three days, the Race to Alaska fleet was now at the southern end of the Gulf Islands, between Victoria Island and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Here the fleet split up, some headed for the Strait of Georgia, others the channels between Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. This decision would spell an end to some teams. Scott and I turned toward the Strait of Georgia, the southerly winds lifting our 20-square-meter yellow sail.
Click above to hear the elk
Writing and Media by Dove Henry
ASC Landmark Crew Member
During the third week of September—the peak of the elk rut in Montana—the Landmark crew made a trip to the Slippery Ann elk viewing area in the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge. Herds of elk cows grazed and wandered in the grassy clearing, guarded by large bulls. Beyond them, the towering cottonwood trees bordering that stretch of the Missouri River had just begun to yellow, their trunks like columns. I decided to return after sunset to capture an audio recording of the bulls bugling.
As Wesley, Pete and I played cards at our nearby campsite later that evening, the eerie, distant sound of bugling echoed through the cottonwoods. After we finished a round, I grabbed my recorder and walked back toward the elk. The half-moon beamed, stretching my shadow across the ground as I came out of the trees. I continued walking and heard large animals rustling in the brush; in the moonlight, I could make out the dark shapes of cow elk running about 30 feet to my right. A bugle erupted close by, harsh and guttural. I sat down on the road and turned on my recorder.
By Lesley de Souza
ASC Microplastics Adventurer
I plunge my arm below the surface of the water, feeling the weight of the bottle increase as it fills with our first sample. The sun is relentless here at 3 degrees north of the equator, and my first impulse is to dive in and cool down, but I know black caiman, anaconda, sting ray, electric eels and piranha also take pleasure in these waters.
We are on southern Guyana’s Rewa River studying arapaima, one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. Arapaima often surface to breathe air, and their size—more than 10 feet long and up to 400 pounds—makes them an easy target for sight fishing and overharvest. Despite their threatened status, they are a sought-after delicacy in tropical South America.
I’ve spent the last three years studying arapaima movement patterns, helping inform managers about the need for protection. I work with the indigenous Rewa villagers and Rewa Eco Lodge, whose ban on commercial harvest has contributed to high arapaima numbers here.
Spreading the word about ASC projects is in our DNA, because public awareness is paramount to creating change. Check out these recent stories helping us facilitate that part of our mission!
NPR Weekend Edition
Listen to Galen Koch interview ASC microplastics lead researcher Abby Barrows and ASC sailor Teresa Carey:
This past weekend, 56 local hikers, climbers and boaters trained with ASC staff and guides for the launch of our Gallatin Microplastics Initiative. Hiking and paddling hundreds of miles over two days, the volunteers gathered 130 samples from 69 sites in the Gallatin River and its tributaries.
"Without the volunteers, I would never be able to collect this many samples in such a short amount of time," said ASC microplastics lead researcher Abby Barrows. "[This project] will greatly accelerate our knowledge of microplastic pollution in the Gallatin Watershed."
By Pavel Cenkl
ASC Microplastics Adventurer
If you trace Iceland’s south coast along the Atlantic Ocean to its beautiful north coast on the Greenland Sea, you’ll make a 240-kilometer arc across the western Icelandic highlands.
I ran that arc over the course of three days this summer, as part of an independent project called Climate Run. I followed trails, gravel roads, faint paths and sometimes no paths at all, running along rivers, over snowfields, beside waterfalls, glaciers, thermal springs and across the open tundra.
Before and after the run, I collected ASC microplastics water samples from five locations in Iceland—from the southwest urban center of Reykjavik, to the isolated Westfjords in the northwest, to the harbors of the north coast. The coastline outside Iceland's few cities and large towns is remote and sparsely settled, yet far from isolated from the ebb and flow of global commerce and our indelible imprint upon the oceans and coastal regions.
Our Landmark project is well into its second year, and this season our crews have contributed some particularly creative media. A member of the July/August crew, Josiane Segar took the time to collect, press and study different species of grasses on the prairie. Below, she shares the final product.
Writing and Media by Josiane Segar
The term “grass” is largely misunderstood.
More often than not, it conjures an image of a neatly mowed patch of lawn. But the mixed-grass prairie in northeast Montana is so much more diverse than this: One of the world’s largest and least protected ecosystems, it has the capacity to support an exceptional diversity of animals.
The primary objective of ASC’s Landmark project is wildlife research. We hike transects to observe and collect data on pronghorn, bison and other local fauna, we map prairie dog towns, and we do camera trapping to study how wildlife interact with fences.
But to understand the bigger picture of our work, we must look closely at the grassland ecosystem itself.
Photography and Writing by Danny Walden
ASC Roadkill Adventurer
One night at a barbecue in Fairbanks, Alaska, a friend asked me if I wanted to try moose meat.
"It's roadkill," he said with pride—the same way a suburban foodie might say, "It's organic."
Vegetarian that I am, to say that I was unimpressed would be an understatement. But soon I realized that these grisly slabs were exempt from the reasons I avoid meat. It was lean—tough, but healthful. It was local, having come from right up the road (literally).
Best of all, this moose, until its unfortunate last moments as a hood ornament, lived its life as Old McDonald's pigs and chickens can only dream of: in the wild, with ample habitat and freedom. Furthermore, it would now feed my friends for a winter.
Pledge to Support Clean Water with ASC and 1% for the Planet
The ASC Microplastics Project is featured as a “Water Activator” in a far-reaching campaign this summer run by one of our nonprofit partners. 1% for the Planet’s Blue Needs You To Make Waves campaign will involve thousands in a pledge to help keep the Earth’s waters clean.
Check out this creative piece highlighting ASC Executive Director Gregg Treinish’s contributions to water conservation:
The Pledge: Blue Needs You To Make Waves
Water—Swim, play, snorkel, fish, bathe, drink—the main component of all living things,
from tadpoles to tigers. Clean is how we like it, and how our planet needs it. Good quality
and access are basic not only to our survival but to our well-being and pleasure.
Water issues take on many forms depending on locale, but no matter where we live, water matters and we need to care of it.
Photos by Joe Klementovich | Story by Emily Stifler Wolfe
ASC volunteer Joe Klementovich woke at 4:30 a.m., and quietly snuck out of the house where his family was vacationing in Camden, Maine, pulling out of the driveway without waking anyone. He followed Route 1 along the coast, and then turned south toward Deer Isle. After an hour on winding dirt roads, he pulled into Stonington, a tiny lobstering town with a small flood of summer tourism.
In a gray, shingled building overlooking the harbor, he found the ASC Microplastics lab, where Abby Barrows and Margie Pfeffer were hard at work processing samples from the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.
“Talk about a place to really dig into ocean science,” said Klementovich, also a professional photographer. “We went out the back door of the lab, and there’s the ocean. It’s where the rubber hits the road, so to speak.”
By Emily Stifler Wolfe
When Brittany Ingalls and Caitlin Pennington first tried to set up their camera trap near the 10,767-foot Bear Lake, the trail was impassible, blocked by thick deadfall.
“We crawled through a quarter mile of blowdown, under and over [fallen trees],” Ingalls recalls of their adventure in the High Uintas Wilderness. “It was general mayhem trying to get through, and there was no way to do it quickly.” Reassessing, they decided to set up the camera in a more accessible spot.
Our 30 remote Uinta cameras have since captured hundreds of images of moose, bobcat, marten and others living in this beautiful corner of northeastern Utah. The volunteer teams have visited their research stations on three occasions, changing the batteries and bait, and retrieving SD cards.
“It’s been interesting to go back to these places multiple times... to watch as the foliage changes over and different wildflowers come in," Ingalls said. “It feels good to be contributing to a larger body of research, and I’ve learned a lot personally. It’s been an awesome experience.”
Black Bear Sow and Cubs
A black bear sow and her two cubs try to pull the bait off a tree with no luck. The bait is a beef bone covered in a delightful substance called Gusto. Its secret ingredient? Skunk anal glands.
Coyotes are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will hunt when given the opportunity—day or night. They eat small game such as rodents, rabbits and fish, larger animals like deer, and when those aren't available, insects, snakes, fruit and grass.
Adventures on the Bruce Peninsula
By Kara Steeland
ASC Microplastics Adventurer
The steel-hulled boat rocked gently as we sat on the back, readying to jump into the frigid water of the Georgian Bay.
On the way to a weekend backpacking trip, we'd detoured to explore the historic W.L. Wetmore shipwreck by snorkel. The steamship sank in November 1901, after colliding with one of the many limestone reefs and shoals that lurk below the water’s surface in northern Lake Huron.
Before taking the plunge, we collected our first water sample for the ASC Microplastics Project. I looked into the water, wondering if microplastics drifted there above the glacially scoured bedrock and century-old ship.
On that sunny summer day, the sunken remains of the old wooden steamship recalled the fury and wildness of these vast waters.
With roughly 25 shipwrecks in the Fathom Five National Marine Park, the area served as a reminder that humans have been impacting the planet since long before microplastics appeared in our soaps and other products. Unfortunately, the mistakes we make now have a resounding, ecosystem-wide impact, compared to the heap of sunken wooden planks and old boiler on the bottom of this remote bay.
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