Now is a good time to spot gray whales off the coast of Southern California, but scientists have been seeing an unusually high number of other whales. "The fact that we're getting a chance to see at this time of year fin whales, blue whales, is really a mystery," says a marine biologist.
An experimental technique called optogenetics is starting to change the way researchers look at the brain. The tool allows them to switch entire brain circuits on and off using light, and may help figure out what's going wrong in brain ailments from epilepsy to depression.
Global warming is pushing species like the polar bear to the brink of extinction. It's not a typical conservation problem, so one government biologist discovered the best way he could help save the great white bears was to quit his job.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to take the gray wolf off the endangered species list. The wolf had been extirpated from the West and had dwindled most other places in the U.S. The great canine has rebounded since it was reintroduced to the northern Rockies in the 1990s and is continuing to spread into the Pacific Northwest. But biologists warn that if these wolves loses federal protection, they will not be able to return to some places, such as Colorado, where the ecosystem sorely needs them.
Forty-two of the 49 panda cubs born in captivity in 2013 have survived — a record number that says a lot about how far captive breeding programs have come. But while captive pandas are faring well, panda researchers warn that much more needs to be done to protect the wild population.
The Texas Camel Corps leads trips through the rugged Big Bend region of West Texas. Indigenous people lived in the area some 9,000 years ago, and for a while, camels called it home, too. In the 1800s, U.S. soldiers brought the animals in to traverse the distance between water supplies for the first American settlers.
When the popularity of catfish moved from the South across the U.S. in the 1980s, American catfish farmers could barely keep up with demand. But Vietnam has flooded the U.S. market with cheaper catfish, driving many catfish farms out of business and sparking a dispute that threatens a major trade deal.
After several years of declining shrimp stocks, regulators have imposed a moratorium on shrimping in New England waters. The closure could hurt commercial fisherman and future demand for the Gulf of Maine shrimp, but scientists say the move may be the only way to prevent the population from collapsing.
Six years ago, Elwood shot to fame when he was named the world's ugliest dog. He died on Thanksgiving Day but is immortalized in a children's book written by owner Karen Quigley. Everyone Loves Elwood is about how it's OK to be different.