Segment 404

Seamount of Life. Arctic Traffic, Altamaha River Pollution, Diatoms and Climate Change

State(s) featured in this episode: Alaska/Georgia/Puerto Rico

Seamount of Life: Using special recording technology to document the spawning of endangered fish like the Nassau grouper, scientists in the Caribbean study spawning aggregation sites that are critically important for the survival of many ocean species. We follow them to one of these sites off the western coast of Puerto Rico that has been severely impacted by overfishing; conservationists say an effectively enforced marine protected area is urgently needed there.

Arctic Traffic: Climate change is causing a rapid loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, opening the region to more shipping traffic, oil exploration and other industrial activities that were never possible before. This is creating growing risks to whales, walruses, seals and seabirds – especially in the narrow migration corridor in the Bering Strait. The traffic also poses new risks to the region’s local native people who hunt and fish in small boats. Conservationists are pressing for new measures to protect the marine environment, wildlife and welfare of local residents in the changing Arctic.

Altamaha River Pollution: The Altamaha River in southern Georgia is a major waterway, still undammed, flowing in its natural state more than a hundred miles to the Atlantic and its spectacular estuary. But there’s a large pulp mill on the river that has been operating for decades, and critics say it has been discharging pollution into the river which they allege the pulp company refuses to clean up, and which the state of Georgia has been slow to address. We go to the river to see for ourselves.

Diatoms and Climate Change: In another story on the warming Arctic, we meet researchers in Greenland who gather samples of fossilized microscopic algae in lake sediments, discovering vital clues about past and current climate change in the region.

Related Segments

Segment 806

On the Continental Divide in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, residents support a plan to create new wilderness and wildlife conservation areas, including the nation’s first national historic landscape to honor veterans of the Second World War. In southern Utah, the remote and untamed Escalante River faces a major threat from invasive plants as it winds through spectacular redrock canyons; volunteers chop their way through choking stands of Russian olive to unblock the river and keep it wild and free. A training program in Georgia educates teachers in a new approach to science teaching called 3-D Science – getting teachers and students outside to observe their own surroundings and letting kids’ natural curiosity lead them to learn more.

State(s) featured in this episode: Colorado / Georgia / Utah
Segment 801

Commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico are now using individual fishing quotas to manage their catches of red snapper, a fish population that has made a remarkable recovery after years of overfishing. With federal government support, landowners in Pennsylvania are managing their forests for diversity, providing better habitat for declining species of songbirds like the golden-winged warbler. In Georgia, a program on Lake Lanier for school kids teaches them the importance of water quality.

State(s) featured in this episode: Georgia / Louisiana / Pennsylvania

A farmer in southwestern Iowa has a mission to develop his farm as an example to others, using no-till seeding, multi-crop and pasture rotation, minimal fertilizing, and runoff filtering to keep the nutrients in his soil and prevent runoff. The backlog of deferred maintenance in national parks is a growing problem that needs Congress to act: we see the need for urgent maintenance and repairs at the Grand Canyon, the National Mall, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site in Atlanta. Rafting down the river through the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument.

State(s) featured in this episode: Arizona / California / Georgia / Iowa / New Mexico / Washington D.C.
Segment 502

By presidential order, oil and gas drilling no longer threatens this incredibly rich fishery in Southwest Alaska.

State(s) featured in this episode: Alaska
Segment 501

Join a rafting expedition down the Etivluk River into the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska – a misleading name for the vast, unspoiled Western Arctic wilderness that provides critical habitat for native wildlife and migratory birds.

State(s) featured in this episode: Alaska
Segment 502

A new decision by President Obama supports fishermen and local communities that oppose the prospect of offshore oil and gas drilling that would threaten the Southeast Bering Sea’s incredibly rich seafood harvests. In a project sponsored by the Captain Planet Foundation, high-school students in are restoring oyster beds in New York Harbor with a hatchery and artificial reefs that allow oysters to grow, reproduce and colonize new ground, leading eventually to the return of a self-sustaining oyster population. The chronicle of Dryden’s grassroots campaign to ban fracking inside the town’s boundaries, a decision upheld by New York’s highest court (produced with Earthjustice). Making and enforcing policies about hydraulic fracturing are often steeped in politics, but scientists are studying the impact of this drilling process on air, water, and human health – without all the shouting.

State(s) featured in this episode: Alaska / New York
Segment 501

On a rafting adventure down the Etivluk River in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, a group of conservationists see first-hand why this immense landscape deserves protection as wilderness, despite its misleading name. Development, invasive species and fire are degrading Western sagebrush habitat that is critical for the greater sage-grouse and other wildlife. A coal-fired power plant Nevada produces coal ash that blows across the Moapa Indian Reservation, causing sickness and misery for the people who live there (co-produced with Earthjustice). To assist in conserving the vast range of California’s mountain lions, researchers use biology and computer science to better understand the movements of the majestic cats, resulting in benefits for humans as well.

State(s) featured in this episode: Alaska / California / Nevada
Segment 404

A pulp mill in Georgia has discharged effluent into a mighty river for decades, and critics accuse both the company and state authorities of neglect.

State(s) featured in this episode: Georgia
Segment 402

Young Native Alaskans in a remote settlement are determined to use solar and wind power to reduce their reliance on expensive fossil fuels.

State(s) featured in this episode: Alaska
Segment 402

Owyhee Canyonlands:
Much of Oregon is a desert; and in the dry, remote southeastern corner of the state there’s a wild and captivating canyon landscape carved by the Owyhee River. It’s been described as the largest intact, unprotected stretch of the American West, but it needs more protection from development pressure, including mining. A robust campaign for wilderness designation is making progress.

Sustainable Alaskan Village:
We travel to a remote Alaskan village, Igiugig, where young native Alaskans are adopting new technologies and green ethics to build a healthy, sustainable future while keeping true to their traditions.

Algae Power:
With another report on emerging biofuels, we learn about new advances in converting algae into a wide range of useful products, including oil, growing the algae with by-products from corn ethanol distilleries.

Climbing Fish: Researchers study a type of Goby fish in Hawaii that climbs up steep waterfalls to reach its freshwater spawning areas, an amazing story of adaptation and evolution over time.

State(s) featured in this episode: Alaska / Hawaii / Iowa / Oregon