The Best of 2013, Days 5 & 6: Fellows Becky Kessler and Sammy Fretwell

Dearest Nooze followers! You may have noticed a lapse in our "Best of 2013" series during the first half of this week. We hadn't forgotten about you out there in the blogosphere; our break was due to the fact that we were all tied up with a very successful trustee, staff, and advisory board meeting in Chicago. We accomplished a lot, planned out our upcoming programming, and brainstormed fundraising ideas. The relevant news of the weekend? Keep an eye on our website in the coming days to see our line-up of 2014 Institutes!

Without further ado, two day's-worth of Nooze for you:

rebecca kesslerFellow spotlight: Becky Kessler is a freelance science and environmental journalist based in Providence, Rhode Island. A former senior editor at Natural History, her work has been published by,Conservation, Discover, Natural History, ScienceNOW, ScienceInsider, and Environmental Health Perspectives.

Check out some of Becky's fantastic recent stories in Yale E360 and Environmental Health Perspectives on whales, urban gardening, paint, and more!

Photo courtesy New England Aquarium

A North Atlantic Mystery: Case of the Missing Whales

Every summer and fall, endangered North Atlantic right whales congregate in the Bay of Fundy between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to gorge on zooplankton. Researchers have documented the annual feast since 1980, and well over 100 whales typically attend, a significant portion of the entire species. Only this year, they didn't. Just a dozen right whales trickled in — a record low in the New England Aquarium's 34-year-old monitoring program. And that comes on the heels of two other low-turnout years, 2010 and 2012. 

Numbers of the critically endangered marine mammal have been ticking up in recent years just past 500 individuals, so no one thinks the low turnout in the Bay of Fundy augurs a decline in the species as a whole. The right whales must have gone elsewhere. But where? And more importantly, why?... Read more.

Urban Gardening: Managing the Risks of Contaminated Soils

How Fishing Gear is Killing Whales in the North Atlantic

In Midwest, Bringing Back Native Prairies Yard by Yard

Mercury's Silent Toll on the World's Wildlife

Long Outlawed in the West, Lead Paint Sold in Poor Nations

New Initiatives to Clean Up the Global Aquarium Trade


Sammy fretwellFellow Spotlight: Sammy Fretwell Sammy is a staff writer covering environmental issues (among other things) at The State in Columbia, South Carolina. He's been covering plenty of contentious issues there in 2013, including a great series on solar power and a "secret" climate report that was hidden from the public!

Secret Climate Report Calls for Action in S.C.

A team of state scientists has outlined serious concerns about the damage South Carolina will suffer from climate change – threats that include invading eels, dying salt marshes, flooded homes and increased diseases in the state’s wildlife.

But few people have seen the team’s study. The findings are outlined in a report on global warming that has been kept secret by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources for more than a year because agency officials say their “priorities have changed.”

DNR board members never put the study out for public review as planned. The State newspaper recently obtained a copy.... Read more. 

Read the follow up to this story here.

Wildlife Could be Biggest Losers as SC Islands Wash Away

Endangered fish a Weapon Against Port Dredging

And some of his solar series:

Buzz Williams and his wife, Nicole Hayler have lived off the grid in their solar powered home in Oconee county for five years. The home has a solar water heating system, large windows for more light, a flushless composting system, several dc powered appliances, and a cupola with windows to help air flow to cool the interior. The couple grows a large variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs in their garden. (Photo by Tim Dominick)

Why Solar Power Rarely Shines in SC

Understanding Solar Power: The Basics

SC Has Plenty of Sun, Solar Advocates Say

Scuttled Solar Deal Leaves Churches, Charities in the Lurch

Retired Columbia Minister Crusades for Solar Power

SC Power Companies Defend Solar Practices

Solar Frees Upstate Family from Power Grid