The critically endangered species was down to just 22 birds in the early 1980s, according to The Guardian. The remaining birds were placed in a captive breeding program in 1987 and slowly reintroduced beginning in the early 1990s. The birth of the 1,000th bird highlights the success of this program in saving the species from extinction.
"We're seeing more chicks born in the wild than we ever have before," Peregrine Fund condor program manager Tim Hauck told NPR's Scott Simon. "And that's just a step towards success for the condor and achieving a sustainable population."
The California Condor Recovery Program just confirmed its 1000th chick! This is the mood at our breeding center https://t.co/KmVI4NAmCY— Oregon Zoo (@Oregon Zoo)1562951045.0
There are now more than 500 California condors alive worldwide, with more than 300 of them in the wild, Hauck said.
The 1,000th chick was born in Utah's Zion National Park, park biologists announced July 9. The egg was likely laid in March, and the new baby emerged in May. But scientists were only able to confirm the birth in July because condors, like other raptors, build their nests in steep cliffs, Zion biologist Janice Stroud-Settles explained to The Guardian. Researchers had to rappel off a cliff across from the nest to snap a photo of the new baby.
"When we confirmed it … it was just this feeling of overwhelming joy," Stroud-Settles said.
Congrats to recovery program partners and wildlife advocates everywhere on reaching 1,000 California condor chicks!… https://t.co/Vy6EkjEd5A— Don Moore (@Don Moore)1562955068.0
The birth of a 1,001st chick was also confirmed this month in a nest near the north rim of the Grand Canyon, according to The Guardian.
The condor population was decimated during the 20th century due to hunting, habitat loss and lead poisoning from bullets left in the dead animals the condors would scavenge for food. Lead bullets still pose a threat; the mother of the 1,000th chick lost her first mate to lead poisoning in 2016, according to Zion National Park. She has been with the new hatchling's father for two years.
In Utah and Arizona, conservationists are working with hunters to voluntarily reduce their use of lead ammunition, Peregrine Fund global conservation director Chris Parish told The Guardian.
"People aren't inclined to follow rules they don't understand, so here in Utah and Arizona we're focusing on education and explaining to hunters why it's important to cut down on lead bullets," Parish said.
California condors roamed much of the North American continent 40,000 years ago, feeding on the remains of mammoths and giant sloths, according to Zion National Park. They now only live in Arizona, California, Utah and northern Mexico. They have a wingspan of 10 feet and live up to 60 years, the longest of any bird species, NPR reported. They were considered sacred by Native American groups.
DYK: The #California #condor is the largest #bird in North America & can live up to 60 years. The population once r… https://t.co/uX5Y0rSPBh— Defenders of Wildlife (@Defenders of Wildlife)1563377440.0
The 1,000th chick should be ready to fledge, or fly on its own, in November. Its mother lost her first two chicks, according to The Guardian, the first in a failed attempt to fledge and the second when the death of her first mate impacted her ability to care for the baby.
"Now that she's re-coupled with a new mate, we're hoping this chick will successfully fledge once it's old enough to fly–sometime in the fall," Stroud-Settles said.
EcoWatch has long documented attempts by the Trump administration's Interior Department to weaken Endangered Species Act protections, but what does that mean for individual species? That is the question the Endangered Species Coalition set out to answer in a new report, which outlines how President Donald Trump's proposed policies could impact 10 vulnerable animal species.
"The Interior Department under President Trump has been especially cozy with the industries that are harming the very wildlife the Department is supposed to protect," Endangered Species Coalition Executive Director Leda Huta told the Natural Resources Defense Council. "If the administration has its way, the new regulations will put these species on a fast track to extinction."
The report, published Tuesday, looks at how the administration's proposed weakening of the Endangered Species Act, as well as existing policies, would harm the 10 species. The featured animals were chosen by a group of scientists from a pool of nominations submitted by Endangered Species Coalition member groups. Here is just some of the amazing biodiversity now at risk.
1. California Condor
The California condor is the largest land bird in North America, with a wingspan stretching 10 feet. It is also critically endangered, with fewer than 300 left in the wild. The greatest cause of death for the condor in the wild is lead poisoning from tainted carrion, which kills more condors than all other causes combined. That is why it is so catastrophic that former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rolled back an Obama-era rule banning lead ammunition in condor habitat.
2. Leatherback and Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Both of these migratory sea turtles are extremely vulnerable to climate change and could lose their nesting grounds to sea level rise and storm surges. However, new language around climate change proposed by the Interior Department could make it harder to protect habitat threatened by it. One provision would allow other agencies to take actions in areas that the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded will be lost to climate change anyway without consulting the agency responsible for protecting endangered species.
3. Red Wolves
Red wolves are extremely endangered. Less than 30 remain in their only wild habitat in North Carolina. But a new regulation could allow for them to be delisted all together on the basis of new information, even though scientists have yet to make any conclusive determinations about their genetics.
The hellbender, a type of salamander, is the largest amphibian outside of Asia. It is a major health indicator for the streams it lives in, since its health suffers in polluted water. It is under consideration for endangered species status, but a regulation allowing officials to consider economic as well as scientific factors could mean that it does not make it onto the list. Industries like logging, mining and fossil fuel extraction might argue it would cost them too much not to pollute streams.
Giraffes have lost 30 percent of their population in 30 years, but the Trump administration has ignored a petition to afford them endangered species protections. Instead, Zinke's Interior Department has created an International Wildlife Conservation Council that promotes trophy hunting, putting large African mammals like giraffes further at risk.
6. Humboldt Marten
Humboldt martens were believed extinct until 1996, and now there are fewer than 400 left in the wild. But the Trump administration only proposed listing them under the Endangered Species Act when the court ordered them to, and then proposed listing them only as threatened. Threatened and endangered species used to receive the same protections under the act, but the Trump administration has proposed to change this, meaning the rare mammal might not get the protections it needs to survive.
7. Rusty Patched Bumble Bee
This bee was the first to be listed as endangered after it disappeared from nearly 90 percent of its historic range. But new administration regulations would prioritize protecting habitat that species currently occupy, meaning it would be harder to protect the bee's historic range in order to help it recover.
8. West Indian Manatee
The West Indian manatee is especially threatened by the rise in red tides, algae blooms and pollution, but the Trump administration has downgraded them from endangered to threatened. Manatees also live in scattered populations throughout their range, but new regulations would mean that an impact to an endangered or threatened species only has to be considered if it occurs throughout the animals' range, so a pollutant impacting one population pocket but not another would not be considered.
9. San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat
These four-inch, hopping rodents get all of their moisture from certain plants and have their reproduction stimulated by certain amounts of green vegetation. This balance is thrown off by human development in their Southern California habitat, and Trump administration regulations that would reduce the amount of communication required between agencies ahead of new developments like roads could further throw them off balance.
10. Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
This migratory bird species is declining due to habitat loss and was listed as endangered in 2014. However, its critical habitat hasn't been designated yet, and a separate campaign is underway to delist it all together. A new Trump administration rule would facilitate this by allowing species to be delisted before meeting all the goals in their recovery plans.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.