All animals and plants are interconnected in a vast web of life. The cement that holds this web together is biodiversity, or the variety of species, the genetic assortment within each species, and the range of ecosystems inhabited by all. There is no better example of biodiversity than the awesome array of migrants in our oceans. Marine biodiversity is essential to life on Earth, yet it is seriously threatened by human activities like overfishing and industry. One way to conserve our aquatic treasures is to participate in a biodiversity field study along a migratory route.
- Survey a flyway. Researchers need data on avian migrants like shorebirds, seabirds, and waterfowl. Wildlife agencies in Canada are especially concerned about the health of more than half of our 15 sea duck species — including oldsquaws, common eiders, and harlequin ducks — whose numbers are in steep decline. Canadian youth can help halt this trend by taking part in the Sea Duck Joint Venture (SDJV), recently launched by a number of partner organizations within the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Youngsters working in small groups will monitor spring and fall sea duck migrations by gathering data on species observed, their abundance, habitat use, and links with other life-forms.
- Record marine mammal sightings in the Arctic. Youngsters living in the North can track the arrivals and departures of marine mammals such as narwhals, belugas, and bowhead whales. Participants list sightings for each day of the year in a chart showing dates, species sighted, and the habitats — including open water, floe edge, pack ice, or fast ice — in which animals appear. Report findings to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
- Report leatherback sightings. Students living on the East Coast can provide vital data to the North Atlantic Leatherback Turtle Working Group, which hopes to solve several mysteries surrounding the endangered reptile's migration from the Caribbean to the North Atlantic. For more information see http://www.freetheleatherback.com.
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