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Scientists Disentangle Whale From Perilous Plastic

Scientists Disentangle Whale From Perilous Plastic

Most plastic bags have suffocation warnings on them, but that's no good for whales who can't read them.

Vets from Argentina's Patagonian National Center (CENPAT) had to remove a giant plastic bag that could have suffocated a whale who was apparently "playing" — or, rather, struggling — with it, in waters off Puerto Madryn, Clarín reports.

Plastic bags have become a veritable ocean plague in recent decades, and frequently suffocate sea life who become entangled with them or ingest them.

CENPAT vet Carla Fiorito had been taking marine samples from a boat when she noticed a whale diving in and out of the sea with its head covered by a bag or plastic sheet. Staff on the CENPAT boat approached to remove it from the whale's head, and the southern right whale was said to have remained unphased by the incident and continued its "languid" movements.

Whales congregate in these waters from May to December for reproduction and have become one of the area's primary tourist attractions. Unfortunately, they do often come into contact with man-made objects such as bags or nets,Clarín reports.

Photo: garrettc via Flickr

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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