Author J.B. MacKinnon’s latest explores our ever-shrinking, increasingly unnatural world
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Author J.B. MacKinnon’s latest explores our ever-shrinking, increasingly unnatural world
The bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is a large baleen whale living in Arctic waters. Two populations are found in Canada: the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Sea population and the Eastern Canada-West Greenland population. During the summer, the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Sea population is found in the waters of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, while the Eastern Canada-West Greenland population is found in Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, Lancaster Sound, Hudson Strait, Foxe Basin, northwest Hudson Bay and the channels and fjords of the Arctic Archipelago. Commercial whaling began in the 1500s and ended around 1915. Both populations of bowhead whale were severely reduced by this industry. While their numbers have increased, other challenges, such as climate change and oil and gas development, pose threats to bowhead whales.
The Saguenay Fjord was carved out near the very edge of the North American continental ice sheet. This fjord has the very rare characteristic of being intracontinental.
Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), large, predaceous, soft-rayed freshwater fish occurring naturally only in eastern North America.
Walnut (Juglans), genus of trees of the walnut family (Juglandaceae). The roughly 15 known species are widely dispersed through temperate and tropical regions.
Octopus is the common name for all 8-armed cephalopod molluscs; it more properly refers to the largest genus in order Octopoda (over 100 species).
The environmental movement seeks to protect the natural world and promote sustainable living. It had its beginnings in the conservation efforts of the early 1900s. During this time, conservationists aimed to slow the rapid depletion of Canadian resources in favour of more regulated management. Many scholars divide the evolution of the environmental movement into “waves.” These waves are periods in time easily characterized by certain themes. While the number of waves and their characterization may differ from scholar to scholar, they’re often defined as follows: The first wave focused on conservation; the second, pollution; the third, the professionalization of environmental groups; and the fourth, climate change.
Dog (Canis familiaris) is a carnivorous mammal, and probably the first domesticated animal. In Canada, dogs were first kept by Indigenous peoples. The Canadian Kennel Club recognizes 187 breeds, five of which are uniquely Canadian: the Tahltan bear dog, the Canadian Inuit dog, the Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever, the Newfoundland dog and the Labrador retriever. A sixth dog breed indigenous to Canada, the Salish woolly dog, went extinct before the Canadian Kennel Club officially registered it as a breed.
Zoos, also known as zoological gardens, are facilities exhibiting wild and domesticated animals for purposes of education, recreation, conservation and research. Zoos range from conventional, dense-occupancy facilities to open animal parks and game farms. They can incorporate aquariums exhibiting fish and other aquatic life forms. There are 28 accredited zoos in Canada, according to the Canadian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums. Canada’s largest zoo is the Toronto Zoo.
Forestry is the science and practice of caring for forests. Both the meaning and practice of forestry in Canada have evolved over time.
Bears (of the family Ursidae) are stocky, bob-tailed mammals with 5 clawed toes on each paw. Three species inhabit Canada.
Rattlesnake is the common name for about 30 species of venomous, viperid snakes in the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus, found from southern Canada to South America. Three species of rattlesnake are found in Canada: the Western rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganous), the prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridus) and the Eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus). Another species, the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) is extirpated, meaning the species no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but lives elsewhere.
The Manicouagan Reservoir, 1,942 km2, elevation 360 m, is located in southeastern Quebec, about 140 km from the Labrador border. The second-largest natural lake in Quebec, it was created by a meteorite millions of years ago. The name “Manicouagan” is possibly of Innu origin and might mean “where there is bark” (for canoe making). The lake appears on Jonathan Carver’s map of Quebec (1776) as Lake Asturagamicook, and is shown to be drained by the Manicouagan or Black River.
Fleas are very small, wingless, laterally flattened insects of the order Siphonaptera. They’re best known for being external parasites on mammals and occasionally birds. Adult fleas live in the fur or feathers of their hosts, feeding on their blood to survive and reproduce. While fleas do feed off humans, more common host animals include rodents, dogs and cats. The “human” flea, Pulex irritans, actually attacks a broad range of mammal species, and the same is true of most flea species that bite humans. About 2,000 species and subspecies are known worldwide, with at least 127 found in Canada, most of them in British Columbia and Alberta.
The beaver (Castor canadensis) is a herbivorous mammal. It is Canada’s largest rodent and the second-largest rodent in the world (after the capybara). It is primarily nocturnal and lives a semi-aquatic life. The beaver is one of the only mammals, other than humans, that can manufacture its own environment. It is known for building dams, canals and lodges. Its colonies are created by one or more beaver-built dams, which provide still and deep water for protection against predators. An emblem of Canada older than the maple leaf, the beaver has had a greater impact on Canadian history and exploration than any other animal or plant species. (See also Fur Trade in Canada.)
Members of the Central Asiatic Expedition, led by the American Museum of Natural History, first recognized dinosaur eggs in Mongolia in the 1920s. Since then, paleontologists have discovered fossilized remains of dinosaur eggs at over 200 locations worldwide. These locations include sites in Africa, China, Europe, India, Korea, and the Americas. The first dinosaur eggs from North America were discovered in Montana in the late 1970s. In Canada, dinosaur eggshell fragments were initially found in the early 1980s. Complete dinosaur eggs were discovered in 1987 at a site in southern Alberta known as Devil’s Coulee.
The Montreal metro opened on 14 October 1966. The second Canadian subway system after Toronto’s, which opened in 1954, the Montreal metro was the first subway in North America to run on rubber tires instead of metal wheels. Extensions to the Montreal metro were built on Montreal Island over the two decades after it opened, and then to the city of Laval, on the island of Île Jésus, during the 2000s. The system runs entirely underground, and each station has a distinct architecture and design. The Montreal metro consists of four lines running a total of 71 km and serving 68 stations. In 2018, its passengers made more than 383 million trips.
A species is endangered if there are threats to its survival. Plants are put at risk for several reasons, including: climate change and the loss of natural habitat to cities, agriculture and industry. In Canada, these activities threaten entire natural ecosystems, such as older forests and Prairie grasslands. As of 2021, 250 plant species are at risk in Canada, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. In addition, four are extirpated and one is extinct. The committee’s definition of a wildlife species includes taxonomic categories as well as geographically distinct populations. For example, the bent spike-rush (Eleocharis geniculate) is included on the list of at risk plant species twice, as there are two different populations, one in British Columbia and one in Ontario, facing different threats to their survival. (See also Endangered Animals in Canada.)
Substances used to control pests include insecticides (for control of insects), fungicides (for disease-causing fungi), herbicides (for weeds), rodenticides (for rodents), avicides (for birds), piscicides (for fish) and nematicides (for nematodes).
Spirit bears are rare white-coated black bears (Ursus americanus kermodei) that live in the coastal temperate rainforests of Northwest British Columbia. Their striking colour is caused by an uncommon recessive genetic trait. Spirit bears are not a unique species or subspecies, but a unique colouration of the coastal British Columbian black bear subspecies kermodei. Referred to as moksgm’ol, meaning “white bear,” by Tsimshian coastal First Nations, spirit bears play an important role in local culture and increasingly in Indigenous-led ecotourism.