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.
Learn about our state's journeying marine mammals. From the biggest animals on Earth like the blue whale, which weighs as much as 33 elephants (~200 tons) and has a heart the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, to some of the smartest and most agile, like the bottlenose dolphin, Oregon's ocean has it all. We gave a warm whale-come to Dr. Ballance, the Director and Endowed Chair for the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University. She discussed the cutting edge science surrounding marine mammals, threats, and what can be done to protect them.
There are hikers, and there are hikers. Long distance thru-hikers are uniquely driven, but Triple Crown hikers? They're extra special. In order to qualify as a Triple Crown hiker, you must complete three of the US's major long distance trails - the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail.
On February 2nd, Bob Bailey from the Elakha Alliance taught us about the sea otter feasibility study, the most important guiding document for reintroducing sea otters to the Oregon coast. We learned about topics varying from habitat suitability and ecosystem effects of sea otters, to political, legal, economic, and social considerations for successful reintroduction.