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Nature Watch

Summer 2014
Ocean Mapping: A Whale’s Tale

Our Mid-Atlantic Seascape team’s new ocean maps are supporting regional planning initiatives — but what does this really mean? Well, one dot on our maps represents a Northern right whale nicknamed Half Note and her newborn calf.

In a photo captured this past winter, Half Note’s baby appeared thin, but researchers are hopeful that the pair migrated safely and are now bulking up in their summer feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine.

Right whales like Half Note remain the most critically endangered large whales on Earth, but there is good news. Recent estimates put the population above 500 — the highest numbers in 30 years of tracking. The biggest threats to these slow swimmers? Getting entangled in fishing gear or struck by ships.

These are solvable problems. And we’re working with diverse partners to generate the stronger maps, scientific information and political will required to rescue these highly intelligent animals from extinction. Check out our new video for an overview.

Endangered Woodpeckers Reach New High

Endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers are reaching new heights at Piney Grove Preserve. This spring, despite some natural losses of juvenile birds, researchers confirmed that the number of breeding groups grew from 10 to 13.

With only one cluster of potential nest trees remaining unoccupied at Piney Grove, we need to expand nesting habitat. We will conduct more forest thinning on our preserve next summer, as well as work with the state to enhance habitat on the adjacent Big Woods Wildlife Management Area.

Piney Grove remains central to restoring longleaf and other pine savanna habitat in southeastern Virginia. Norfolk Southern provided financial support for conducting prescribed burns on 1,725 acres across the coastal plain, including Piney Grove, four state-owned conservation areas and Conservancy partner Bill Owen’s Raccoon Creek Pinelands.

Helping Virginians Adapt to a Changing Climate

Nikki Rovner, the Conservancy’s Virginia government relations director, will serve on Governor Terry McAuliffe’s new Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission. The commission is charged with finding ways to help Virginians, especially in coastal communities, address impacts from climate change and rising seas. Learn more from this report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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