The early-to-mid 20th Century was marked by an era of dam building across the United States. These dams came at a cost to watersheds, freshwater ecosystems, and indigenous communities. Every year, millions of salmon were blocked from reaching their historic spawning beds, eventually resulting in the collapse of salmon runs across the west. The Columbia River basin was once home to the world's most productive chinook salmon runs. These fish traveled all the way into the central mountains of Idaho to spawn.
Enter the mysterious world of the marbled murrelet, a rare seabird that nests in the dwindling old-growth forests of Oregon's Coast Range. For years, scientists struggled to understand where these birds nested - eventually finding them intimately tied to the forest ecosystems of the coast that were also home to salmon, northern spotted owls, and many other species at risk from extensive clearcutting. Out at sea, these birds face a different set of challenges to survival - especially in a warming climate.
Orcas, the largest member of the dolphin family, are instantly recognizable with their distinct monochrome ensemble. Best known for exceptional hunting, this has earned them the title ‘killer whale’. However, behind the nickname the mammals have a fascinating array of aptitudes and strategies – such as extreme intelligence, language, familial loyalty, and sheer athletic prowess – that make them apex predators of the ocean.
Informed by unparalleled access to a research project that studied wolves in Alaska’s Yukon–Charley Rivers National Preserve for more than two decades, award-winning author, photographer, and naturalist Tom Walker shares the story of Wolf 258, nicknamed “the Wanderer.” A GPS collar recorded the animal’s coordinates once a day as it moved through the wilderness, and to the amazement of all, the Wanderer traveled more than 2700 miles in less than six months.
From pinky-finger sized to arm-length - salamanders thrive in Oregon's rainforests and waterways. On this webcast, we're joined by Oregon State University professor Tiffany Garcia, who tells the story of torrent salamanders, what makes them special, what habitats they need to thrive, and what conservation concerns there are for these amazing little creatures.
Although porcupines may be slowpokes, most other animals know to keep a wide berth from those sharp quills! The porcupine's prickly self defense mechanism makes it easily recognizable, however their vital importance in the ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest is often less known. Porcupines are intertwined with healthy forest lifecycles, turning trees into critical habitat for dozens of other species. Aside from the quills, they also have many other valuable physical characteristics, allowing them to be true adventurers of every elevation of a forest.
Whether hovering or diving from a branch, a belted kingfisher's headfirst plunge to snap fish near the surface is swift and precise. The jay-sized birds flourish across North America where water is clean, and in places with plentiful fish, perches, and coveted earthen nest banks. Oregon's many rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, wetlands, and coastal bays offer refuge for this dazzling bird.