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We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

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Right Whales: A Love Story- “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much“

Guest Blog written by Anne Dimonti

With 117 years of experience in environmental protection, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s (ASRI) mission has been to protect birds, other wildlife and their habitat through conservation, education and advocacy for the benefit of people and all living things.

When ASRI was formed in 1897, we had only just begun to understand that the earth’s natural resources could be finite.  Most believed that the world around us had a limitless bounty which provided needed resources.  We could not fully comprehend our impact upon the environment.  Today, thanks to modern technology, the world is a much smaller place.  We have a greater knowledge of the world around us and understand that nature’s resources are not boundless. Sadly, many conservation efforts such as those protecting the North Atlantic right whale, have faced great difficulties and have managed only marginal improvements over time.  Many feel this is a result of lack of understanding by the general public of marine threats as well as a gap in communication among the various stakeholders: NGOs, industry leaders, funders, government agencies and researchers.

 Many people are often surprised that a “birding organization”, like ASRI, would be interested in matters regarding marine species.  However, ASRI is more than just “for the birds”.

No species lives in a vacuum; threats affecting one species often have a domino effect on the rest of the ecosystem including human beings.

Therefore, because of the significance of the North Atlantic right whale as an indicator species to the health of the world’s oceans, ASRI advocates for the protection of this species and other marine species affected by environmental threats. Recognizing the value of combining institutional strengths, ASRI works with the various stakeholders, as mentioned above, in an effort to bridge the gap between awareness of and solutions to marine threats such as competition for natural resources and habitat destruction.

 In July 2000, ASRI opened the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Bristol, Rhode Island.  The Center features exhibits and educational programs based on Rhode Island wildlife, habitats and conservation efforts.  The cornerstone exhibit of the Center is a life-size model of a 33ft North Atlantic Right whale.  ASRI staff and volunteers use this exhibit, and the latest information from the scientific community, to educate the general public about North Atlantic right whales and the threats they face.

 The goal is not only to educate people but also to empower them with opportunities to put their newfound knowledge into action that makes a difference. ASRI staff and volunteers illustrate that it is often the small things that make a big difference, such as keeping trash out of the environment.   For example, in August 2014, a Sei whale was found dead along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Upon investigation of the animal’s body, scientists discovered the whale’s stomach had been lacerated by a broken piece of a DVD case which the whale had swallowed.  This simple, small piece of trash was determined to be the underlying cause of the whale’s death. Most of us would not think that something so small could make such a huge impact on the environment. 

Knowledge is power but one person or organization cannot do much alone.  Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.  By working together and understanding how our past and present use of the world’s oceans affects marine species like the North Atlantic right whale, we can find a balance between the human need for the earth’s many valuable natural resources and preservation of wildlife and the ecosystem for future generations.  

With 117 years of experience in environmental protection, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s (ASRI) mission has been to protect birds, other wildlife and their habitat through conservation, education and advocacy for the benefit of people and all living things.

When ASRI was formed in 1897, we had only just begun to understand that the earth’s natural resources could be finite.  Most believed that the world around us had a limitless bounty which provided needed resources.  We could not fully comprehend our impact upon the environment.  Today, thanks to modern technology, the world is a much smaller place.  We have a greater knowledge of the world around us and understand that nature’s resources are not boundless. Sadly, many conservation efforts such as those protecting the North Atlantic right whale, have faced great difficulties and have managed only marginal improvements over time.  Many feel this is a result of lack of understanding by the general public of marine threats as well as a gap in communication among the various stakeholders: NGOs, industry leaders, funders, government agencies and researchers.

 Many people are often surprised that a “birding organization”, like ASRI, would be interested in matters regarding marine species.  However, ASRI is more than just “for the birds”.

No species lives in a vacuum; threats affecting one species often have a domino effect on the rest of the ecosystem including human beings.

Therefore, because of the significance of the North Atlantic right whale as an indicator species to the health of the world’s oceans, ASRI advocates for the protection of this species and other marine species affected by environmental threats. Recognizing the value of combining institutional strengths, ASRI works with the various stakeholders, as mentioned above, in an effort to bridge the gap between awareness of and solutions to marine threats such as competition for natural resources and habitat destruction.

 In July 2000, ASRI opened the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Bristol, Rhode Island.  The Center features exhibits and educational programs based on Rhode Island wildlife, habitats and conservation efforts.  The cornerstone exhibit of the Center is a life-size model of a 33ft North Atlantic Right whale.  ASRI staff and volunteers use this exhibit, and the latest information from the scientific community, to educate the general public about North Atlantic right whales and the threats they face.

 The goal is not only to educate people but also to empower them with opportunities to put their newfound knowledge into action that makes a difference. ASRI staff and volunteers illustrate that it is often the small things that make a big difference, such as keeping trash out of the environment.   For example, in August 2014, a Sei whale was found dead along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Upon investigation of the animal’s body, scientists discovered the whale’s stomach had been lacerated by a broken piece of a DVD case which the whale had swallowed.  This simple, small piece of trash was determined to be the underlying cause of the whale’s death. Most of us would not think that something so small could make such a huge impact on the environment. 

Knowledge is power but one person or organization cannot do much alone.  Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.  By working together and understanding how our past and present use of the world’s oceans affects marine species like the North Atlantic right whale, we can find a balance between the human need for the earth’s many valuable natural resources and preservation of wildlife and the ecosystem for future generations.  

With 117 years of experience in environmental protection, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s (ASRI) mission has been to protect birds, other wildlife and their habitat through conservation, education and advocacy for the benefit of people and all living things.

When ASRI was formed in 1897, we had only just begun to understand that the earth’s natural resources could be finite.  Most believed that the world around us had a limitless bounty which provided needed resources.  We could not fully comprehend our impact upon the environment.  Today, thanks to modern technology, the world is a much smaller place.  We have a greater knowledge of the world around us and understand that nature’s resources are not boundless. Sadly, many conservation efforts such as those protecting the North Atlantic right whale, have faced great difficulties and have managed only marginal improvements over time.  Many feel this is a result of lack of understanding by the general public of marine threats as well as a gap in communication among the various stakeholders: NGOs, industry leaders, funders, government agencies and researchers.

 Many people are often surprised that a “birding organization”, like ASRI, would be interested in matters regarding marine species.  However, ASRI is more than just “for the birds”.

No species lives in a vacuum; threats affecting one species often have a domino effect on the rest of the ecosystem including human beings.

Therefore, because of the significance of the North Atlantic right whale as an indicator species to the health of the world’s oceans, ASRI advocates for the protection of this species and other marine species affected by environmental threats. Recognizing the value of combining institutional strengths, ASRI works with the various stakeholders, as mentioned above, in an effort to bridge the gap between awareness of and solutions to marine threats such as competition for natural resources and habitat destruction.

 In July 2000, ASRI opened the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Bristol, Rhode Island.  The Center features exhibits and educational programs based on Rhode Island wildlife, habitats and conservation efforts.  The cornerstone exhibit of the Center is a life-size model of a 33ft North Atlantic Right whale.  ASRI staff and volunteers use this exhibit, and the latest information from the scientific community, to educate the general public about North Atlantic right whales and the threats they face.

 The goal is not only to educate people but also to empower them with opportunities to put their newfound knowledge into action that makes a difference. ASRI staff and volunteers illustrate that it is often the small things that make a big difference, such as keeping trash out of the environment.   For example, in August 2014, a Sei whale was found dead along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Upon investigation of the animal’s body, scientists discovered the whale’s stomach had been lacerated by a broken piece of a DVD case which the whale had swallowed.  This simple, small piece of trash was determined to be the underlying cause of the whale’s death. Most of us would not think that something so small could make such a huge impact on the environment. 

Knowledge is power but one person or organization cannot do much alone.  Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.  By working together and understanding how our past and present use of the world’s oceans affects marine species like the North Atlantic right whale, we can find a balance between the human need for the earth’s many valuable natural resources and preservation of wildlife and the ecosystem for future generations.  

Anne Dimonti is the Director of the Environmental Education Center at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and has been a long-time collaborator with the WDC North American Office and a friend we are truly thankful for!

WDC is grateful to our guest bloggers and value their contributions to whale conservation. The views and opinions expressed by our guest bloggers are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of, and should not be attributed to, WDC.