When you’re threatened or endangered, love can be hard to come by. Since 1973, the United States has been protecting vulnerable plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Alaska’s eight threatened and endangered species have embraced the modern and signed up for ESA-Listed, the newest dating app. From our most recent eligible bachelor in 2008 (polar bear) to the eskimo curlew who's been longing for love for over 50 years.
Hobbies Spa day! I love to groom. And groom and groom and groom. I think I spend most of my day grooming… but I swear it’s important. I need my gorgeous fur to be in good shape to keep me warm. All this grooming keeps my looking FAB and roasty toasty.
What I’m looking for Someone with a swimming bod. Trust me, I’m not shallow. It’s just practical. I’m so clumsy on land and I won’t go far from the water.
What I’m listening to Anything from the musicals Grease or Hairspray. I just really relate to the amount of time they spend on their hair. My glossy fur coat has the thickest hair of any mammal. Up to one million hairs per square inch!
Vacation destinations I’m a bit of a homebody. My local kelp forest is enough of a destination for me. I’m protected from the stresses of life there, like sharks and storms.
My red flags 🚩 Aggressive ocean travelers… like orcas and some boat drivers. But, on the flip side, I swoon for mariners who practice sea-otter safe boating.
Best dad joke Who does a seal bring to a wedding? His significant otter.
Hobbies Grazing and free ranging with my best bison buds! A small and mighty herd, we were reintroduced in 2015 to the Lower Innoko-Yukon River region and are the only wild wood bison currently living in the United States. I love roaming meadows and foraging for forbs by waters’ edges near Shageluk, a Deg Hit’an Athabascan community. Plus, I know pleeeenty of fire spots – literally! Grazing in recently burned grassland is one of my favorite pastimes.
What I’m looking for Someone who’s also into fitness! Not the gym-bro kind... I’m talking about biological fitness, AKA my ability to reproduce and pass genetic material (DNA) to my offspring. Because our herd is small, biologists are worried that low genetic diversity will hinder our ability to adapt to environmental changes.
What I’m listening to My Humps – Black Eyed Peas.
Trust, there’s plenty of me to go around. I'm 6 feet-plus and 2,000 pounds of horns, muscle, hair, and hump (Talk about tall, dark, and handsome). The latter allows me to clear thick snow with my head, making grass and sedges more accessible for you and me to eat in the winter. And they say chivalry is dead.
Vacation destinations The Lower Innoko-Yukon River, and hopefully more soon to come. Earlier this year, the Department of the Interior announced that $25 million would be allocated for the incorporation of Indigenous Knowledge and the best available science to restore bison populations across the country.
My red flags 🚩 Disease 🤢 Intermingling with herds of plains bison and cattle can be a risky business – both species might carry bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis, which are two of the biggest threats to us wood bison. Oh, and if you’re a Canada thistle, swipe left ❌ I am NOT into invasive weeds that outcompete native plants (my food!)
Best dad joke What did I say when my son left to take a dip in the Yukon River? Bison.
Hobbies Catching some waves… by wing, of course. Updrafts of air flow up the back of ocean waves and I use them to cruise. I ride these waves all around the north pacific to forage for my favorite foods: squid, shrimp, and fish. You’ll just love flying into the sunset with me.
What I’m looking for My soulmate, someone who knows how to dance! Monogamy. A partner to share the burden of sitting on our egg for 60+ days until it hatches. Oh yeah, and then we must feed it for months.
What I’m listening to Anything J-pop. I hatched on the Japanese Island of Torishima and J-pop gets me hyped to go back and raise my own chicky!
Vacation destinations The Pacific Norwest to California coasts. For the adventure, of course. My paparazzi love to check me out when I’m in their area. All I ask is you be respectful and observe me from afar.
Fashion statement I'll age gracefully. You might not like my scruffy appearance now, while I'm young and adventurous, but someday I'll have a majestic golden head and white feathers. Isn't my bubble gum colored beak with the blue tip adorable?
My red flags 🚩 Love interests who forget their reusable bags. I’m always confusing those gosh darn plastic bags for yummy squid in the water! Plastic-free or bust.
Humble brag Seven foot wingspan, if it matters. So, why you messin’ with those other albatrosses? I’m the one.
Hobbies Rock climbing 🧗
I don’t mean to play hard to get, but us ferns live exclusively in moist crevices, grottos, and beneath overhangs along the rocky walls and cliff faces of Mt. Reed on Adak Island, in the Aleutian chain. But hey, talk about an exciting first date! You'll be in safe hands (well, fronds). We've been growing here and scaling these surfaces since the Pleistocene epoch, between 12,000 and 2.5 million years ago. No one, literally no one, knows these rock walls as well as me. Alex Honnold who?
What I’m looking for Someone with two green thumbs 👍🌿 Because of our dwindling population and near-extinction, scientists have attempted to breed us in greenhouses. Unfortunately, these efforts have been unsuccessful. I’m looking for someone who can work some botanical magic and get us shield ferns back on a prosperous path.
Along those lines, I’m an optimist looking for an optimist. Sure, there’s only four populations of us left on Earth, and yeah, only about 100 plants total – but doesn’t that just make me the hottest commodity on this side of Mt. Reed? I’m a glass half-full (fern half-unfurled) type of plant.
My red flags 🚩 Landslides. Our four remaining populations grow on cliffs and any one big change to a rockface could do us in, for good. Only swipe on me if you’re sure-footed, please!
Vacation destinations For ferns like me, travelling isn’t much of an option. I have too many connections – literally – to my rocky home.
What I’m listening to I Am a Rock – Simon and Garfunkel. More like: “I live on rocks, on Adak I-I-I-I-I-sland...” 🏝️
All I ask is You give me a chance! Too many past suitors have already "voted me off the island,” so to speak, saying that my extinction is inevitable. To that I say: Even though we’re endangered, scientists say our populations are stable. Translation: Single and ready to mingle.
Hobbies Staring contests, with the ocean. Sitting next to holes in the ice, still as a sculpture. It gets exciting when I see bubbles in the water. I win when a seal surfaces and I get my yummy seal snack.
I also love long walks on the sea ice, seal hunting, and beachcombing for washed up whales in late summer and fall. In the summer, when sea ice is at its lowest and it's harder to access seals, I love lounging around on a cold beach to conserve energy while waiting for the sea ice to return.
You can also call me Nanook, Nanuq, Nanuk, Ice Bear, Sea Bear, Isbjørn, Ursus maritimus
What I’m looking for A big man bear with dark eyes, ready to follow my scent and track me across the sea ice. It’s been harder meeting partners as the sea ice has become more fractured.
What I’m listening to Anything by Ice Cube 🎵 Cold as Ice by Foreigner 🎵 Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice
Vacation destinations I dream of a maternal den out on the sea ice, but I'll settle for a den dug into snow on the tundra. I know, not your typical vacation destination. We polar bears don’t den or sleep in the winter months… except when we have babies! And I hear the dens stay as warm as 32 degrees, even when its -40 degrees outside.
My red flags 🚩 Anyone who lives in a tropical location 😉. Also, unsecured garbage or other attractive foods that may tempt me to come close to people.
But, can we talk green flags? Anyone who gets involved with climate change prevention.
Hobbies Swimming, diving, living my aquatic life along Alaska’s bluest shorelines! Males spend nearly 11 months per year at or near the sea; 8-9 months for females. We are sea ducks in both name and practice 🌊
Confession: I’m a foodie, and love trying out the local cuisine. Hairy snails, mussels, clams, mollusks, crabs, sea stars, barnacles – even sand dollars (you know I’ll spare no expense, babe 🤑)!
What I’m Looking for Somewhere wet, coastal, and cool – and someone who enjoys these spaces! I like to breed within 15 miles of the sea. Only in June, July, or August. And, I’m not much of a walker (after a few feet, I’m tuckered out), so having water nearby on which I can glide is a MUST. I swear I’m not that picky…
My red flags 🚩 You think we’ll have chemistry? I hope so – but that’s a controversial area for me. The greatest threat to my species is lead and other trace elements polluting our home – selenium, copper, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic, to name the other culprits. Avoiding the use of lead sinkers while fishing, and lead shot while hunting, would go a long way to winning me over 😍.
Are you into ASMR? The sound of falling rain? Keep on swiping… I’m no fan of inclement weather like that – for us spectacled eiders, they’re oftentimes a danger. Storm and spring tides are known to drown young ducklings and wash away eggs from our coastal nests.
Biggest fashion statement My spectacles, duh! As ducklings, both males and females are born with this signature plumage, and its color changes as we grow older. Males have distinct white eye patches whereas females’ are a lighter brown, so chic.
Favorite movie From Russia with Love. James Bond’s foe seems to have taken a page from the spectacled eider’s book 🧐. And, on a more scientific note, it’s where the majority of us live! This population also spends its nonbreeding months with us in the Bering Sea. It’s a grand spectacled reunion – and a perfect place to meet your future in-laws, am I right.
Hobbies Chasing around my precocious chicks. They leave the nest nearly as soon as they hatch! We nest on bare ground in dry tundra areas of the Arctic and subarctic and migrate all over. My lifestyle is exhausting, you’ll love it.
What I’m looking for Some may consider me a flight risk because I’m highly migratory and you might not see me around very often. But I’m still lookin’ for love. Does this mean I’m the ultimate bad boy? Swipe right to find out.
What I’m listening to I’m a Believer by the Monkees. I just have to believe there are some more curlew like me out there. Also, did I mention I haven’t been seen since the 1960’s?
Vacation destinations Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina… anywhere with nice grasses all winter long. Alaska’s icy, cold winters? No thank you.
My red flags 🚩 You might know me as the “dough bird” because of my nice, fatty reserves for migration. If you’re just into me because of my sweet curves, swipe left!
Claim to fame I’ve been around since before this whole “ESA” dating app thing even started. I was listed as endangered on the predecessor, the Endangered Species Preservation Act, in 1966.
Hobbies Synchronized diving 👯♂️🏊
Seriously! When the time comes to forage for food, we gather in large flocks and, wings open, dive into shallow water, creating a spray as we submerge and surface as one. In the Aleutian shelf, we’re hoping to emerge with mouthfuls of nutritious fauna and epifauna – amphipods, snails, sow bugs – which cling to the ecologically important eelgrass blades. Talk about chemistry 😍
Together, we can Netflix and preen 📺❤️ As fun as my flock can be (“birds of a feather,” and all that jazz), I desperately need my self-care moments … many of them. Biologists in Alaska did the math, and 98 percent of my “self-maintenance” time is spent preening my feathers: Grooming, removing dirt and parasites, and applying a waxy oil which keeps my wings durable and waterproof – a particularly helpful attribute on shorelines, where I spend much of my time basking in ocean spray or the sea itself.
What I’m looking for Someone who is curious and loves learning new things 🔎
So much about the Steller’s eider – its Alaskan range, current and historical threats, habitat needs, and even population trends – remain relatively unknown to scientists. If a mysterious lover is something you’re into, I’m the eider for you. 🕵️
My red flags 🚩 I’m with my spectacled relatives on this one – lead, ice loss, and oil. While scientists are still learning exactly why our populations are declining, pollution and spills are a conservation focus moving forward. We’re small in stature with very specific habitats, so any large-scale phenomenon will negatively affect us, in big ways.
I’d love to tell you more about My Iñupiaq name, Igniqauqtuq, which translates to the “bird who sat in the fire,” after male Steller’s eider burnt-orange chests.
Vacation destinations Alaska’s own Izembek National Wildlife Refuge! I arrive each autumn to molt in the Izembek Lagoon, where one the world’s largest beds of eelgrass supports both myself and hundreds of thousands of other waterfowl. It’s also where U.S. Fish & Wildlife biologists place bands around our legs, sometimes with small tracking devices, in order to learn more about our species’ movement and population. While they’re at it, sounds like a perfect time to measure ring size too, don’t you think? 💍