Wildlife Roundup: The Good News, September 2009

new species of butterfly fish (NOAA photograph)

Another installment in our monthly series: good news stories about wildlife conservation.

  • Scientists in Hawaii have, for the first time, collected a specimen of a never before classified species of butterfly fish while exploring the new Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.  They also recorded the presence of a dozen species in the Monument for the first time.  You can check out an interview with Richard Pyle, an ichthyologist from the Bishop Museum, about the discovery.  Dr. Pyle also gets props for one of the all-time best quotes by a biologist trying to explain his specialty: “"I'm a fish nerd, basically.”
  • A German scientist, Peter Jäger, has discovered a new species of spider in Malaysia and, in order to raise awareness about the disappearance of arachnids, named it in honor of David Bowie.  So, without further adoo…we bring you Heteropoda davidbowie.  Myself, I probably would have named it Heteropoda ziggystardust.
Heteropoda daviedbowie (Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum)


  • Sockeye salmon runs are at record highs in Idaho (hat tip: Ralph Maughan).  Have you noticed the salmon news has been pretty good lately?  Previous Wildlife Roundups have reported returning Atlantic salmon runs in the Northeast (and, as Matt points out in a comment, Paris).  Also, in another bit of good news for salmon, officials recently removed a dam from a tributary to the Androscoggin River, opening up more habitat to Atlantic salmon.
  • Three new species of frogs have been discovered in the cloud forests of the Peruvian Andes.  The discovery doubles the number of known species in these frogs’ genus, Bryophryne.  Interestingly, one of the three species’ reproductive cycle skips the tadpole stage; instead, tiny little frogs (frogettes?) are hatched fully formed.
  • A biodiversity hotspot, encompassing portions of the Mura, Drava and Danube Rivers are going to get a boost.  Both Croatia and Hungary have pledged to protect the area and establish a United Nation’s Biosphere Reserve along 300 miles of the rivers. 
  • It seems that mountain lions are making a comeback.  A mountain lion was just spotted in New Hampshire.  There have been several possible sightings in recent years, but state wildlife officials have been hesitant to acknowledge the possible return of these big cats to the state.  This time, however, the sighting was made by a New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game employee.  It could be the first confirmed report of mountain lions in New Hampshire in 140 years. Michigan wildlife officials concluded that their state was home to a mountain lions in 2001; one of the cats was just photographed in Leelanau County. And wildlife officials recently confirmed the presence of mountain lions in Bemidji, Minnesota (something they had long denied) after a large male cat was killed by a car.
mountain lion
  • Palau has created the first shark sanctuary in the world, closing its territorial waters—an area the size of France—to all commercial shark fishing.
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