Beach Lumps Worth Big Bucks
Whether it’s the rolling lockdowns, the personal and family health struggles, or the challenges of working from home and the juggling of duties that entails, the COVID-19 pandemic has made for a hard year and a half and a feeling like there’s no good time to take a break. But this week, that’s what I’m doing. 
If all goes to plan, by the time you’re reading this, I’ll have hung some patio lights on my balcony, finally put away the boxes that have been sitting around since I moved into my apartment a few months before Ontario went into its first lockdown, and will be sitting on the dock at my sister’s cottage—perhaps idly casting a line with my niece and nephews. We probably won’t catch anything—I don’t really know how to fish—but that’s fine. It will just be nice to see them.
Normally when I write the newsletter intro I feel the need to find something insightful to say. That my title—news editor—requires me to be hard-nosed and serious, or at least seem that way. But this time, I don’t have anything particularly astute to share. All I know is that the fourth wave is spreading, potential lockdowns and strict tracking measures are looming, the potential for vaccine-resistant variants to emerge is not out of the cards, and that now—otherwise, when?—is probably a good time to take a break, even if just for a minute. 
Colin Schultz
News editor
PS Hakai Magazine will be taking a break next week, too, and we won’t be publishing any new stories, but we’ll be right back to usual on August 30.
This Week’s Stories
Why We Can’t Shake Ambergris
The odd, enduring appeal of a scarce commodity few people use and no one really needs.
by Mark Wilding • 3,300 words / 16 mins
Fishers Struggle as Fish Head for the Poles
In the northeastern United States, fishing regulations are not keeping up with species on the move.
by Steve Murray • 850 words / 4 mins
The Americas’ First Ecosystem Managers
When it comes to sea otters, modern conservation goals are overlooking the firm hand Indigenous people wielded through time.
by Jessa Gamble • 1,000 words / 5 mins
When Restoring Marine Life, Clumping Works Best
Experiments in the Netherlands point to better ways of getting plants to help each other.
by Matthew Ponsford • 750 words / 3 mins
What We’re Reading
First Nations on both the east and west coasts of Canada are calling for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to recognize their self-regulated fisheries and honor their right to fish. In Nova Scotia, Chief Mike Sack of the Sipekne’katik First Nation was arrested by federal fisheries officers this week on the same day his Nation’s fishery launched its new season. (APTN National News, CBC)
Farther south, fishing trawlers are putting species caught unintentionally at risk of extinction. Trawling frequently results in the capture of small marine animals with no commercial value and, in Brazil, up to 50 kilograms of fish is thrown away for every kilogram that makes it to shore. (Mongabay)
A fossilized egg the size of a tennis ball found by a Chinese farmer in 2018 contained a surprise: a baby turtle that would have lived among the dinosaurs during the Cretaceous period. (CBC)
Oh, to be a walrus on a makeshift couch set adrift at sea. Wally is an 800-kilogram Arctic walrus with a penchant for hauling himself out of the water to lounge on boats. Since he took up residence off the coast of Ireland, he has damaged several small boats and has sunk a few others. To provide him with a new place to relax, a couch-shaped pontoon is set to be installed. (Irish Examiner)
Live sand dollars are washing up on the northern coast of Oregon by the thousands and no one is quite sure why. (Oregon Coast Beach Connection)
The North Water Polynya, a stretch of unfrozen seawater surrounded by ice frequented by polar bears, narwhals, belugas, and other marine animals in Canada’s high Arctic, could be at risk of collapse in the next few decades due to climate change. (Hakai Magazine, CBC)
Human hair, a resource that will never run out, is highly effective when used to clean up oil spills on the surface of the ocean because grease is easily absorbed by the strands. (Reasons To Be Cheerful)
Got worms? Bears in Alaska often do as a result of their salmon-heavy diet and their tapeworms can grow to more than nine meters long. A camera trap on Prince of Wales Island captured a black bear walking around with a very long tapeworm trailing from its behind. Maybe save this story to read after lunch? (Cool Green Science)
The recent release of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes sharing The Atlas of Disappearing Places timely. Written by sustainability expert Marina Psaros, the book is a virtual tour of 20 coastal locations around the world that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, including the Cook Islands; Pisco, Peru; Ben Tre, Vietnam; and Houston, Texas, and each chapter ends with a speculative vignette, “a view from 2050.” But this isn’t just a book about flooding coastlines, it also shows how the impacts of changing ocean chemistry, strengthening storms, and warming waters reverberate. The book is well-designed, clearly written, “engaging and enraging,” but it’s also quite beautiful to look at, with illustrations for each chapter made on sheets of dried Ulva, a species of green algae, by the artist Christina Conklin. Here’s an excerpt from Literary Hub, “Is New York Doing Enough to Prepare for the Next Catastrophic Flood?
Reply to this email to send us questions, comments, or tips.
If this newsletter was forwarded to you, you can subscribe here.
Copyright © 2021 Hakai Magazine. All rights reserved.