WCAI Series Reporting

WCAI brings you original in-depth reporting on issues facing the Cape, Islands, and South Coast: Wind Turbines, Education, Water Quality, Alzheimer's, and more.

Stories on this page have been tagged as "Series Reporting."

Click here for a list of all WCAI's series reporting.

Many of our series have won awards. A full list is on our Awards page.

Sam Houghton

The endangered North Atlantic right whale is facing extinction, with fewer than 450 left. The most significant cause of mortality for the whales is entanglement in fishing gear, including lobster trap lines. A lawsuit forcing the government to protect the whales may bring about a change in the way lobster fishermen have worked for more than a hundred years.

This four-bladed arrow can be used to cut fishing gear off entangled whales.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

The disentanglement team at the Center for Coastal Studies might be forgiven for some off-color jokes. Dozens of whales get tangled in fishing gear each year. The results can be grizzly – wounds that cut to the bone, infections, starvation – if not deadly. And attempting to free entangled whales is both physically and emotionally exhausting, not to mention dangerous. What’s not to joke about?  

Bob Lynch stands on the bow of the Center for Coastal Studies' response boat, Ibis, preparing to shoot a four-bladed crossbow arrow to cut the ropes entangling a female North Atlantic right whale known as Kleenex.
NOAA/NEFSC/Leah Crowe / Image collected under MMPA research permit #17335

North Atlantic right whales are severely endangered, and entanglement in fishing gear is a leading cause of both deaths and low birth rates. A small Provincetown-based team tries to free as many whales as possible each year, but these efforts are dangerous and not a permanent solution.

Kathryn Eident

They’re hard to miss when you walk into the New Bedford Whaling Museum: four enormous whale skeletons suspended from the ceiling, nearly filling the 2-story space. There’s a humpback whale and a blue whale, but what catches most peoples’ eye is a pair of whales: a female North Atlantic Right Whale, and her calf—also a female.

NOAA

The North Atlantic right whale was once seen as an inexhaustible natural resource. It was hunted for its oil and enriched New England. That ended one-hundred years ago, but the right whale’s numbers have never been the same. Now, the whales that are left are in direct conflict with the harvesting of another rich natural resource: lobsters. 

Each spring North Atlantic right whales visit Cape Cod Bay. The mammals are well-documented by researchers, but their numbers are dwindling. It’s estimated there are fewer than 450 North Atlantic right whales left. On April 18th, WCAI begins a special series of reports on the endangered North Atlantic right whale, called “In the Shadow of Extinction.”

More than 2,300 grandparents are raising their grandchildren in Barnstable County, according to a state report from 2016. Advocates for grandparents on Cape Cod point to the opioid crisis to explain why so many are skipping retirement and stepping up as parents once again.

In many ways there’s never been a better time in human history to be aging. As knee joints and shoulders give way, or with the first onset of disease, advances in surgery and preventive medicine have meant people can continue being active longer, and with more enjoyment. And the population on the Cape and Islands is well positioned to benefit from these advances. 

Kathryn Eident / WCAI-FM

Three-quarters of Americans over age 45 live in single-family homes, according to AARP. As homeowners age though, it can become increasingly difficult for them to remain in their homes safely. In recent years, a growing number of people have begun retrofitting their homes with new safety features and technology to help them live in their homes longer.

Brian Morris/WCAI

As people age into their 60s, 70s and 80s, senior centers can offer a way to stay active and engaged. But many senior centers also suffer from an identity crisis. One Cape Cod senior center has been broadening its programs and activities to attract people who otherwise might never set foot inside.

Kathryn Eident

Age 65 used to be the golden age to retire. But as guaranteed pensions dwindle and life expectancy grows, more people are working well beyond their 60s. The result is changing what it means to retire.

The first installment of our series, “The Changing Face of Aging: Challenges and Opportunities,” introduces us to two mature workers who hope to bring home a paycheck for years to come.

We’re not just living longer than previous generations; how and where we’re living in our later years is changing as well. What are some of the reasons the life of seniors today is different from previous generations, and how are we and our communities adapting to those changes?

Elsa Partan

The Lewis family ran Nantucket’s only funeral home for 135 years. They closed it nearly 3 years ago and sold the land when nobody wanted to take over the business. Now, a small group of people is trying to open a new one as a non-profit. For some, Nantucket’s identity as a real community is at stake.

Timothy K Hamilton bit.ly/2f1cB1k / bit.ly/OJZNiI

When she first heard about hospice care, Yarmouth resident Christine Greeley was dubious.

“I mean the term ‘hospice’ was kind of scary,” she said. “It really was like, ‘That’s for people who are dying next week, tomorrow, or something. This is the end of it, it’s going to be terrible.’”

When Rachel Tinney realized her brother Josiah had moved beyond prescription pain pills to heroin, she tried begging him, using her other brother's death to reach him.

"I actually said to him, 'Josiah, people are getting bad stuff and not realizing it and they are dying, and I am so afraid that I am going to bury another brother, and I just can't do that.' And I cried," Tinney said. "And he said, 'Ray, no, you won't. I promise that won't happen.' And within days he was dead."

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