Congo River & Leatherbacks On National Geographic

Brian Skerry / National Geographic

A hat tip to Ann Barrett of National Geographic who wrote to me after spying my confessional post on sea turtles and memories of my grandfather. National Geographic’s May issue features leatherback sea turtles with some absolutely dazzling photographs by Brian Skerry included. (Well, naturally they’re dazzling photos, it is NatGeo afterall!) Alongside the visual feast, Tim Appenzeller writes an exploration of the status of the species and the continued efforts to conserve and manage the existing populations in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The Great Turtle Race, also on NG, follows eleven tagged Atlantic leatherbacks on their way to nesting natal beaches in the Caribbean. The Race ends Thursday, so check in to see who falls in behind Backspacer!

National Geographic has been on my mind a lot lately, especially in the TV form. This weekend I caught the Explorer’s episode, Monster Fish of the Congo, documenting an expedition to learn more about tigerfish and icthyofauna diversity in the Congo River (particularly by comparing the lower and upper populations which are divided and potentially isolated by enormous cataracts). Not only was I appreciative of the deep love of fish displayed by the researchers, I was completely blown away by a staggering fact discovered by the team. The Congo River is probably the deepest in the world with several canyon systems along its path that measure well past 700 feet.

SEVEN HUNDRED FEET! IN A RIVER! I almost fell off the couch! This remarkable find adds a new dimension to the habitat types available in the Congo River. The team already suspects that a new species of cichlid – both eyeless and entirely depigmented – is probably a deepwater denizen. If you havent caught the episode or read the May issue consider it your newly assigned homework!