Martin Svedén / Creative Commons

A tree’s roots touch more than just soil. They reach into the recesses of our past; into our culture and our traditions. It's something Fiona Stafford writes about in her new book The Long, Long Life of Trees. This hour, we sit down with the author. 

There are less than 500 North Atlantic right whales left in the world. And now, one less: This weekend, one of the 45-ton creatures was found dead off the coast of Maine, completely entangled in fishing line — head, flippers and all.

This was not an isolated incident.


Sep 28, 2016
Todd Gray / CPBN

What have you always wondered about? WNPR is taking your questions.

The recent death of two right whales in the Gulf of Maine and the discovery of another entangled in fishing gear is bringing renewed attention to the plight of the endangered species.

Last Thursday, a right whale was spotted off Provincetown, Mass., swimming, but entangled in gear. Friday, a dead female whale was seen off Boothbay and towed to shore, where its death was determined to be from stress caused by entanglement. Saturday a dead whale was spotted off Mount Desert Rock, but could not be recovered.

Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium is hosting its first-ever Florida manatee -- an 800 pound creature rescued last week from the waters of Cape Cod Bay in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation is kicking off a new project to collect data on black sea bass, a species that has moved north in search of cooler water.


President Barack Obama has signed an order protecting a section of underwater mountains and canyons off New England's coast. It's the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Modern biologists catch and study fish much the same way they did centuries ago: by shoving their hands, or a net, into the water and pulling fish out. But safely catching slippery fish can be tricky, which makes one piece of gear invaluable: electro-backpacks. 

anuradhac / Creative Commons

Two painted storks are making their public debut at Brooklyn's Prospect Park Zoo, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. 

ptwo / Creative Commons

Examples of climate change often seem pulled from faraway spots – places like Northern Alaska, Canada, or the mountains of Europe. But what about southern New England?

Editor's note: Since this story was originally published — on Friday, July 29 — Explore.org, in partnership with the National Audubon Society, captured this dramatic slow-motion footage of a bald eagle attacking ospreys on Hog Island, Maine. Watch below, then read our story about what the bald eagles' resurgence means for other bird species.

Call it conservation blowback: Since the 1970s, when the pesticide DDT was banned and the Endangered Species Act took effect, the emblematic American bald eagle’s population has roared back from near-extinction. But more eagles need more food, and for some other struggling bird species — here in Maine and around the country — the eagle’s success story has a menacing side.

Wikimedia Commons

Each year, thousands of deer are killed on Connecticut roads and highways. Those collisions can lead to costly insurance claims, injuries, and deaths -- which made scientists wonder what would happen to deer, and to us, if an elusive carnivore came back to the northeast: the mountain lion. 

The first time he encountered a tiger shark in the water, marine ecologist Neil Hammerschlag was in the Bahamas conducting research. His team was on a boat and hadn't seen many sharks, so when someone yelled, "Tiger shark!" he grabbed his snorkel gear and camera and jumped into the water.

"One [tiger shark] moved right in toward me and came close," Hammerschlag tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "It opened its mouth, and I was looking through its mouth down its gut and seeing its gills from the inside."

marakawalv / Creative Commons

This weekend, nearly 200 scientists joined up with members of the public in a 24-hour race to identify as many plant and animal species as possible. It's called a "BioBlitz."

Attention, New Englanders: You may see a seal pup on the beach this weekend, and you may be tempted to take a selfie with it. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is asking that you please resist that urge.

Emily Mocarski/flickr creative commons

Last week, police and wildlife officials were called in to tranquilize and relocate two bears within four days.

State officials are apologizing for the way they’ve handled a plan to use an island in the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts as a breeding ground for endangered timber rattlesnakes. They say they are now looking at alternatives.

A legislative hearing held near the reservoir in Athol Tuesday brought out some strong opposition and showed what a major political issue rattlesnakes have become in that part of the state.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

As Schuyler Thomson lead a group of paddlers down the Housatonic River in northwest Connecticut, he squinted through the morning sunlight on the water. 

Pattys-photos / Creative Commons

Biologists are starting to augment eyes in the forest with eyes in the sky. But even as satellite imagery has a growing role in a field long-dominated by on-the-ground observation, the brave biologist trekking through a rainforest with binoculars and a cool hat isn't going away anytime soon. 

A video of a porcupinefish trapped in a net in Chaloklum Bay, Thailand, being freed by snorkelers who happened upon it got lots of traction last week.

NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, 2013 Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition Science Team

The fight to grant permanent federal protection to three areas off New England's coast continues, despite a setback for conservationists at one of the spots. 

Andy Morffew / Creative Commons

A rare bird described as a "flying rainbow" that normally doesn't fly north of the Carolinas on the East Coast has turned up in a small town in Vermont, drawing hundreds of bird watchers to Pittsfield hoping to catch a glimpse of the painted bunting. 

Steven Sola

In the 1960s, the eagle population in the United States was in critical decline, due in part to the pesticide DDT and loss of habitat. 

Last week, we wrote about the fundamental three questions concerning the origin of life on Earth: When? Where? How? Although they are interrelated, each has a specific set of sub-questions that keep researchers very busy.