Wildlife

Whales Using Bubble ‘Nets’ to Hunt

Some cetaceans use “nets” to catch their food. Like humpback whales. They’ll dive down and swim in a ring around their prey, blowing out bubbles as they go. That rising ring forms a column that traps fish, allowing other whales in the group to swim up from below, mouths agape, through the bubble cylinder to feast.

Global Warming

North American Birds under Threat

Two-thirds of bird species in North America are at risk of extinction if global temperatures continue to rise, according to a new report from scientists at the Audubon Society. A total of 389 species, out of 604 studied, are expected to experience declines in their populations as a result of warmer temperatures, higher seas, loss of habitat, and extreme weather, all driven by climate change.

Among those birds most at-risk are the greater sage grouse, Baltimore oriole, common loon, and the wood thrush. The new study comes less than a month after research found the United States and Canada have lost 3 billion birds since 1970, equal to losing one out of every four birds.

Wildlife

Bears Starving in Canada

Grizzlies in Canada are starving as the salmon population withers amid climate change. Excruciatingly thin grizzly bears in Canada are fresh evidence of the dire consequences of climate change and vanishing food sources for wildlife. Salmon, a key food source for grizzlies, is at an all-time low, affected by climate change. Fisherman say the salmon population is the smallest they’ve seen in 50 years.

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Bird Populations in Mojave Desert Collapse

Bird populations in the Mojave Desert have collapsed over the last century, and now scientists say they know why: The animals’ bodies can’t cope with the hotter and drier weather brought on by global warming.

The discovery, described this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, draws upon historical records and high-tech virtual bird modeling to explain how climate change has caused such drastic population losses — and how it will likely cause even deeper losses in the future.

As climate change and habitat destruction due to human activity continue across the globe, many species have found themselves in decline or under threat. A recent study in the journal Science, for instance, found that there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds in North America today than there were in 1970.

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Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Depressing Image Shows Dead Baby Sea Turtle Found with 104 Pieces of Plastic in Its Belly

Sea turtles aren’t made to eat plastic.

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Wildlife

Earthworms vs Plastic

A new study finds that one of the world’s most common earthworms cannot thrive in ground polluted with high levels of microplastics.

Lead researcher Bas Boots of Britain’s Anglia Ruskin University says the finding adds to the growing body of evidence of how increasing plastic pollution is affecting the natural world.

“These effects include the obstruction and irritation of the digestive tract, limiting the absorption of nutrients and reducing growth,” Boots said.

Wildlife

Jellyfish Population Surges

Human activities are allowing jellyfish numbers to surge in the world’s oceans, which a new U.N. report says are undergoing profound and dangerous changes.

French researchers say that the population of jellyfish is increasing because of man-made factors such as overfishing, deep-sea trawling and the heating of the oceans in the deepening climate crisis.

Overfishing is eliminating some of the jellies’ natural predators, such as tuna and sea turtles, especially those that feed on plankton, giving the jellyfish more of the plankton to feed on themselves and thrive.

Whale Stranding – South Carolina, USA

South Carolina wildlife officials say five pilot whales were found stranded on Edisto Beach Saturday morning. Beachgoers found the mammals on the shore and tried to rescue them, but four of the whales died and at least two of them were calves. Officials said one of the whales was dead before crews could get to the beach to help and some of them had to be put down because they were too sick or injured.

Wildlife

Disappearing Birds

Pollution, habitat loss and environmental degradation have led to North America’s bird population plunging by 2.9 billion since 1970, a new report says.

Writing in the journal Science, scientists say the greatest losses have occurred among species that live in grasslands, such as blackbirds, finches, sparrows and warblers. Their populations dropped by around 53% over the past half-century while overall bird losses were about 29%.

“Birds are the quintessential indicators of environmental health, the canaries in the coal mine, and they’re telling us it’s urgent to take action to ensure our planet can continue to sustain wildlife and people,” said co-author Peter Marra.

Wildlife

Walrus Attacks and Sinks Russian Navy Boat

While traversing frigid Arctic waters in the Franz Josef Land archipelago, a Russian Navy vessel met its match — a mighty mother walrus defending her calves. Battered by the tusked mammal’s attacks, the tugboat Altai sank into the sea. The boat’s crew of Navy service members and researchers made it safely ashore on a smaller vessel.

Wildlife

Endangered Giant Salamanders of Mexico

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When the Aztecs settled the Valley of Mexico in the 13th century, they found a large salamander living in the lake surrounding the island where they built their capital, Tenochtitlán. They called the salamander “axolotl” after Xolotl, their god of fire and lightning. Xolotl was said to have transformed into a salamander, among other forms, to avoid being sacrificed so the sun and moon could move in the sky. He was eventually captured and killed.

In the same vein, axolotls were commonly killed for food by the Aztecs and are still eaten today in Mexico. They’ve also become one of the world’s most popular pets, thanks to their easy care and charisma. The creatures’ extraordinary regenerative abilities have made them an interesting study subject for scientists. But in their native home, the salamanders have almost disappeared.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources considers axolotls critically endangered and their population declining. Surveys in 1998 and 2008 found that the population density had dropped from about 6,000 individuals per square kilometer to 100 individuals per square kilometer. A more recent survey in 2015 found about 35 individuals per square kilometer.

Pollution has been particularly detrimental to the species. Poor waste regulations and increasing tourism in Mexico City mean that trash, plastics, heavy metals and high levels of ammonia spilled from waste-treatment plants clog the canals where the salamanders live.

Aussie bats suffer mass starvation event

A mass starvation event affecting bats in the Australian State of Queensland has left rescue organizations inundated and prompted a call to the public to leave food out in their backyards to support the struggling creatures.

The affected population are a native species known fruit bats, or flying foxes, which normally feed on fruit and nectar.

With the recent drought, developments and deforestation, there’s just not enough food supply and especially with the recent bushfires which aggravated the situation because there has been a lot of habitat loss.

Aggravating the problem is the issue that a number of bats are now failing to return to their colonies during the day and are instead remaining with food sources, leaving them vulnerable to birds, people and other dangers. They’re so desperate for food, when they do find a food source, they’re staying there and they’re guarding it and they’re refusing to leave.

Residents in the Gold Coast region are being told if they want to help the bats they can thread apples onto wire and hang them at least two meters from the ground in their gardens where the bats can feed safely during the night.

Wildlife

Spotted Zebra

A rare polka-dot zebra foal has created a stir after pictures appeared this past week. The equine oddity was spotted at Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, and is said to be a first for the park.Screen Shot 2019 09 19 at 1 08 33 PM

Wildlife

Birds lose weight, migrate later after consuming insecticide

Birds that have ingested seeds treated with a common insecticide experience weight loss and delay their migrations — effects that could reduce their chances of surviving and reproducing, researchers found.

In a study of white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) in Canada, biologists documented the effects in birds that eat the equivalent of just a few seeds treated with the neonicotinoid pesticide imidacloprid — an amount they could be expected to consume in the wild from agricultural fields.

Researchers suspect these impacts could be related to a dramatic decline in some songbird populations.

Neonicotinoids are often applied as a seed coating to protect crops from harmful insects, but when the chemicals are exposed in the environment, studies have found they can affect pollinating insects as well as birds.

Researchers found that birds given a higher dose of the pesticide lost 6% of their body mass within six hours, causing the birds to stay an average of 3 ½ days longer than birds in a control group at the stopover site before resuming migration.

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Wildlife

Botswana Reintroduces Elephant Hunting

Botswana has reintroduced elephant hunts with a cautious approach to pricing, a move that’s likely to further inflame the controversy that’s threatening a $2bn tourism industry after a five-year ban on hunting was lifted.

The government will auction licenses to hunting operators for the right to shoot 158 elephants but is yet to decide on the minimum price it will set at the sales, said Kitso Mokaila, the country’s environment minister.

There will also be a charge of 20 000 pula (about R27 000) for each of 72 elephant hunting licenses designated for foreigners, according to government documents seen by Bloomberg. That compares to at least $21 000 for the right to shoot an elephant in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population, with about 130 000 of the animals roaming free nationwide.

By lifting the hunting ban, Botswana has brought itself in line with its neighbours. The number of hunting licenses are below the 400 cap it set itself, and compares with 500 licenses in Zimbabwe and 90 in Namibia. In South Africa, foreign hunters generated R1.95bn in 2017. Less than 50 elephants are shot in South Africa annually and Zambia has allocated 37 licenses for this year.

Wildlife

Fish Rescue – Australia

Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) state government has launched an operation to transplant masses of native fish from a dwindling river threatened with further shrinkage during the scorching and dry summer ahead. The move comes after massive fish deaths hit the stressed lower Darling River basin last summer.

“We’re staring down the barrel of a potential fish Armageddon, which is why we’re wasting little time rolling out this unprecedented action,” said NSW agriculture minister Adam Marshall.

Some environmental advocates say water extraction for agriculture upstream amplified the effects of the drought on the river, which ravaged species living in it.

Ihhuyt

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

From a distance, the beach scene at Alabama’s Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge looked appealing: blue sky, soft sand and a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. But as one approaches closer one can see the fatal noose around the turtle’s neck attached to the washed-up beach chair.

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Wildlife

Cultural Exchange

British researchers say humpback whales have distinctive songs that are unique to where they originally came from, but the tunes can change over time.

Ellen Garland of the University of St. Andrews says those songs evolve as the marine mammals encounter others of their species while traveling through the oceans.

“We can pinpoint a population a whale has likely come from by what they are singing,” Garland says.

Writing in the journal Royal Society Open Science, Garland says the sharing of whale song is a type of cultural exchange that occurs throughout whales’ lives.