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Wed, 21 Nov 2018
The World for People who Think



Finback whale washes ashore in Provincetown, Massachusetts

This giant Finback Whale washed up on the outside of Long Point Road in P-Town.
© Provincetown Police Department
This giant Finback Whale washed up on the outside of Long Point Road in P-Town.
From the Provincetown Police Department:

50-60 foot Finback whale washed up on the outside of Long Point Road in Provincetown. The Finback whale (Balaenoptera physalus) is the world's second biggest living animal. Finbacks can grow to nearly 70 feet in length and a weight of 70 tons. Despite that massive size, they are streamlined and muscular allowing them to travel at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, earning it the nickname, "the greyhound of the sea". It can reportedly hold its breath for 50 minutes. The whale's territory stretches across all of the world's oceans. The Finback Whale is listed as an endangered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.


Thousands of fish found dead in Bayou Desiard, Louisiana

dead fish
Thousands of crappie, bass, bream and shad found dead in Bayou Desiard.
Leaving many residents wondering if there is a problem.

"It's affecting several people on the lower end. Residents were waking up and seeing dead fish in their backyards. They are calling us cause they simply want to know what's going on," said Wildlife & Fisheries Biology Manager Ryan Daniel.

Daniel has worked for the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries for 18 years.
He believes the large fish kill may be due to the change in weather.


Stray dog mauls man to death in Pakistan

canine attack
© Angela Antunes / CC by 2.0
A 40-year-old man was mauled to death by a stray dog in Uch Sharif on Friday.

Rescue officials said Khuda Bakhsh, a resident of Meherabad, was passing through the area when a stray dog attacked him.

As a result, he suffered severe injuries and was shifted to a hospital in the vicinity for treatment. However, he could not survive and succumbed to injuries.


Pine bunting from Eurasia turns up on Vancouver Island, Canada - first time ever south of Alaskan islands

The rare pine bunting has never been sighted south of Alaska in North America.
© Maury Swoveland
The rare pine bunting has never been sighted south of Alaska in North America.
Bird watchers are all a-flutter over a very rare bird sighting in Victoria.

"For the birding community, this was a really big deal," said Ann Nightingale, with the Rocky Point Bird Observatory.

On Tuesday, a birder captured a photo of what he thought was a Lapland longspur, but after posting it online there were some questions.

The photo was then shared on the American Birding Association's Facebook page with the question, 'What's this bird?'


Grey catbird from North America turns up in Cornwall, UK

Grey Catbird in Cornwall
© Graham Jepson
Grey Catbird in Cornwall
Hundreds of birdwatchers have descended on west Cornwall to catch a glimpse of a rare avian visitor from North America.

The grey catbird has been spotted on Treeve Moor near Land's End.

It is believed to be just the second time the bird has been sighted on mainland Britain.

The catbird, which is about 20cm (7.8in) long and grey in colour, is named because of its distinctive "meowing" sound.


Hurricane Michael failed to end Florida's 'unusually persistent' red tide

Florida red tide
Dead fish in Sarasota, Fla., in August. Experts say Hurricane Michael failed to break up a patchy and toxic algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida.

Hurricane Michael failed to break up a patchy and toxic algae bloom that has lingered in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida's shoreline for the last year, experts said Monday, meaning the red tide outbreak could continue to cause problems in the weeks ahead.

Hurricanes can break up algae blooms, but they also drop fresh water and increase nutrient-rich runoff from land, which can make them worse, said Robert Weisberg, a professor of physical oceanography at the University of South Florida.

Michael blew red tide at the water's surface into shore, but deep ocean currents that have been feeding the bloom since the summer also have persisted, he said.

"The factors that contributed to red tide outweighed the ones that would reduce it," Weisberg said.

The red tide began last October off southwest Florida after Hurricane Irma swept up the state, killing massive numbers of fish, along with scores of sea turtles and the state's beloved manatees.

The bloom also causes respiratory irritations in people which, coupled with the stench of rotting marine life, sent many tourists inland away from the beaches, seaside attractions and restaurants with outdoor seating.

The bloom then seemed to spread up the Gulf coast into Florida's Panhandle over the summer, and finally around the Miami area on the east coast earlier this month.

Comment: Algae blooms and dead zones have quadrupled since 1950 with Oman and the Baltic sea as some other recent examples. But what's causing them? Surely industrial agriculture will have contributed to their rise, but when we factor in the discovery of thousands of underwater volcanoes, the increasingly unstable methane deposits and the slowdown in the Gulf Stream, which all appear to be linked to a slowdown in the Sun and Earth's rotation, clearly there are other more significant drivers to take into consideration.

See also: Worldwide ocean anoxia driven by global cooling was possible factor in previous mass extinctions


'Very scary' and 'hyperalarming' study shows massive insect loss - cause unknown

© Pixabay
Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest's insect-eating animals have gone missing, too.

In 2014, an international team of biologists estimated that, in the past 35 years, the abundance of invertebrates such as beetles and bees had decreased by 45 percent. In places where long-term insect data are available, mainly in Europe, insect numbers are plummeting. A study last year showed a 76 percent decrease in flying insects in the past few decades in German nature preserves.

The latest report, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that this startling loss of insect abundance extends to the Americas. The study's authors implicate climate change in the loss of tropical invertebrates.

"This study in PNAS is a real wake-up call - a clarion call - that the phenomenon could be much, much bigger, and across many more ecosystems," said David Wagner, an expert in invertebrate conservation at the University of Connecticut who was not involved with this research. He added: "This is one of the most disturbing articles I have ever read."

Comment: More on this from Adapt2030:


Another death of right whale confirmed off Massachusetts - 3rd this year

dead whale
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the third death of a rare North Atlantic right whale this year has been confirmed.

NOAA and conservationists are keeping a close eye on the right whale population because of high mortality and low reproduction in recent years. The agency says a right whale carcass was found floating about 100 miles east of Nantucket on Sunday.

NOAA says photographs of the animal show wounds consistent with entanglement. Entanglement in fishing gear is a significant cause of death for right whales. The agency, however, says it's still too early to speculate on the cause of death.

Right whales number no more than 450. About 4 percent of the animal's population died in 2017. No new calves were spotted this year.

Source: AP


Wrong place, wrong time: Rare swift spotted for first time in UK

The white-rumped swift was spotted on Sunday evening at Hornsea Mere
The white-rumped swift was spotted on Sunday evening at Hornsea Mere
A species of bird has been spotted for the first time in the UK flying over a lake in Yorkshire.

The white-rumped swift was seen yesterday evening (sun) at Hornsea Mere in East Riding.

Pictures posted on social media revealed hoards of wildlife enthusiasts gathered in the fields by the lake after flocking to catch a glimpse of the bird.

Another image showed the streets of Hornsea lined with parked cars for miles after the bird watchers descended on the town.

Enthusiasts have reportedly come from all over the UK in the hope of making a sighting.

Arrow Down

Acidified oceans are dissolving the protective shields of large shellfish population - study

© Reuters/Pascal Rossignol
Rising levels of carbon dioxide in seawater could be a major threat to the planet's shellfish population, with a new study showing how the pollutant stunts growth and strips away the protective shields of marine life.

In a joint project by the UK's University of Plymouth and the University of Tsukuba in Japan, researchers analysed the effect of the pollutant from a natural gas vent on the sea snail charonia lampas, or triton shellfish.

Famous for its large colorful shell, the triton was once harvested for jewelry, like necklaces. The unique shellfish is now facing a very different and encompassing threat in the form of increasing carbon dioxide in the planet's oceans.

According to the new study, which featured in the peer-reviewed Frontiers in Marine Science journal, tritons were smaller in seawaters predicted to absorb higher levels of Co2.