Massive ‘Mortality Event’ Kills 30 Whales in Alaska


TIME

Scientists are deeply troubled and puzzled by the sudden deaths of 30 large whales that washed up on the coast of Alaska, calling the incident an “unusual mortality event.”

“While we do not yet know the cause of these strandings, our investigations will give us important information on the health of whales and the ecosystems where they live,” Dr. Teri Rowles, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ marine mammal health and stranding response coordinator, said in a statement. “Members of the public can greatly assist the investigation by immediately reporting any sightings of dead whales or distressed live animals they discover.”

The deaths of the whales—which include 11 fin whales, 14 humpback whales, one gray whale, and four unidentified others—are strange: the rate is nearly three times the historical average. NOAA’s declaration of the situation as an “unusual mortality event” will allow the agency to partner with…

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Obama Moves to Protect 12 Million Acres of Alaskan Wildlife


TIME

The Obama Administration will ask Congress to protect millions of acres of land in Alaska from a range of human activity including drilling and road construction, officials said Sunday.

If approved by Congress, the move would designate more than 12 million acres as wilderness, the highest level of federal protection, and protect native wildlife including caribou, polar bears and wolves. It would be the largest such designation in more than 50 years.

“Designating vast areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness reflects the significance this landscape holds for America and its wildlife,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement. “Just like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s crown jewels and we have an obligation to preserve this spectacular place for generations to come.”

The proposal will undoubtedly meet opposition in Congress. Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski…

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