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Wed, 21 Feb 2018
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Endangered right whale's calving season peaks, but no young seen

In this 2009 file photo, a female right whale swims at the surface of the water with her calf a few miles off the Georgia coast in 2009.
© John Carrington
In this 2009 file photo, a female right whale swims at the surface of the water with her calf a few miles off the Georgia coast in 2009. Scientists watching for baby right whales off the Southeast U.S. coast have yet to spot a single newborn seven weeks into the endangered species' calving season, a dry spell researchers haven't seen in nearly 30 years.
Scientists watching for baby right whales off the Southeast U.S. coast have yet to spot a single newborn seven weeks into the endangered species' calving season — the longest researchers have gone without any sightings in nearly 30 years.

Bad weather that has limited efforts to look for whales could be to blame, rather than a reproductive slump. But scientists also worry it could point to another low birth year for the imperiled whales after a grim 2017, when 17 confirmed right whale deaths far outpaced a scant five recorded births.

"We basically right now should be at the peak of the season and we haven't seen anything, so that's concerning," said Clay George, a wildlife biologist who oversees right whale surveys for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. "I'm going from being the optimist I normally am to being pretty pessimistic about it."

Attention

Unusual weather triggered 2015 mass death of quarter million saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan, study says

Saiga antelope deaths
© JOINT SAIGA HEALTH MONITORING TEAM, KAZAKHSTAN
Saigas died in large numbers across the Betpak-Dala region of Kazakhstan
Humidity and hot temperatures triggered the deaths of more than 200,000 endangered saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan over the course of three weeks, researchers say.

The May 2015 deaths were caused by hemorrhagic septicemia triggered by a bacteria known as Pasteurella multocida Type B, which dwells in the respiratory tract of the animals, according to a study on the event.

"The animals were in a sort of foggy soup, and it looks like the bacteria naturally occupying the tonsils were woken up by this environmental factor," Royal Veterinary College professor of wildlife health and emerging disease Richard Kock told The Washington Post.

Comment: Strangely enough, no one knows for sure why flu viruses appear in winter. Some say that viruses thrive in low humidity because they remain suspended in the air longer, but humidity can be very high in wintertime in many places. Maybe these bacteria and virii are in our bodies all the time and only activate during certain atmospheric conditions. Maybe some bugs need a 'key' to turn them on? Like some other virus or something in the atmosphere?

See also: Sixth Extinction continues: Mass deaths of Saiga antelope in Kazakhstan caused by bacteria


Attention

Pair of pit bull terriers severely maul 4-year-old in Melbourne, Florida

PIT BULL ATTACK
A 4-year-old child "severely mauled" by a pair of pit bulls Thursday afternoon in Brevard County was airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando for treatment, police said.

The incident happened about 1:15 p.m. at The Meadows mobile home park off Rolling Rock Drive near John Rodes Boulevard, just north of Eau Gallie Boulevard. Paramedics responded to the scene within minutes.

"They're working on him now," Melbourne police Lt. Steve Sadoff told News 6 partner Florida Today.

Three pit bull mixes were taken from the scene by Brevard County animal control, but four dogs were at the residence at the time of the attack, officers said.


Police said the child suffered multiple lacerations but is believed to have non-life-threatening injuries.

Wolf

Man has 'left testicle ripped off' by savage dog while trying to stop it attacking woman in Romania

Ouch

Ouch
A good Samaritan had his testicle ripped off by a dog after trying to stop it attacking a young woman who ran away from the scene with her clothes ripped.

The unfortunate man, 47, came to the rescue of the 22-year-old woman who was being attacked by a pair of aggressive dogs.

The animals then turned on two men in the city of Iasi, north-eastern Romania.

According to local media reports, the dogs escaped from the courtyard where they were kept.

Shocking video shows two men trying to fight off the American Staffordshire Terriers, with one of them using a broom to hit the dogs.


Attention

Mass of dead and dying seabirds on Bay of Plenty shores in New Zealand

A blue penguin washed up on Mount main beach on Wednesday.
© George Novak
A blue penguin washed up on Mount main beach on Wednesday.
The Western Bay and ARRC Wildlife Trusts are urging the public to be aware of seabirds washing up on Bay of Plenty shores.

Julia Graham, Western Bay Wildlife Trust chairperson, said there was a mass seabird mortality with many dead or dying birds being washed up on the beach.

"Many of these are juveniles that cannot survive in this rough weather and episodes of mass die-off are a natural course of events," she said.

Arrow Down

Florida child dies after being scratched by rabies-infected bat

child dies rabies infected bat
A 6-year-old Eustis boy reportedly died of rabies Sunday at an Orlando hospital after being scratched by a sick bat that Lake County officials said had been living in his home.

Henry Roque confirmed his son Ryker Roque's death to NBC News after previously telling the "Today" show that Ryker became infected when the bat scratched him.

Lake County deputies responded to the Eustis home about two weeks ago after they were told the family's pit bull may have had rabies. When they arrived, somebody told them the residents were at the hospital with their son, who had been scratched by a bat, sheriff's Maj. Chris Delibro said.

"We're told the bat had been in the house for a week or two prior to the boy going to the hospital," Delibro said.

During that time, authorities said the bat may have come in contact with the dog.

Question

Rash of dead birds found in Destin, Florida

Dead gannets

Dead gannets
More than a dozen dead sea birds were discovered on local beaches last Friday. Their cause of death is waiting to be determined by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission veterinarian.

A mix of common loons and young gannets were found on beaches at Henderson Beach State Park, June White Decker Park and O'Steen Public Beach Access. ECWR wildlife health technician Shelby Proie said staff collected six of the bodies to be sent to an FWC veterinarian based in Gainesville where the bodies will undergo necropsies.

Michelle Pettis, who is also a wildlife tech at ECWR, said there were groupings of around four birds at the beaches. At the O'Steen site, some residents from a nearby condo helped point out the birds to ECWR, one of which was still alive.

Wolf

Young girl killed by pit bull terrier in Duncan, Oklahoma

PIT BULL ATTACK
A young Oklahoma girl was killed in a dog attack over the weekend.

Jason Dodge told KFOR he left his 3-year-old daughter, Rylee, at home with his mom.

He had only been gone about 20 minutes when he got the terrible phone call that Rylee had been mauled by a dog.

Dodge says he had just taken in the pit bull 5 days earlier from a friend and that there were no warning signs that the dog could be vicious.


Eye 2

Signs and Portents: Two-headed snake found outside Branson, Missouri

This two-headed western ratsnake found last fall in Stone County is currently on display at the Missouri Department of Conservation's Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Branson.

This two-headed western ratsnake found last fall in Stone County is currently on display at the Missouri Department of Conservation's Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Branson.
A two-headed snake — or is it snakes? — found this fall by a southwestern Missouri teenager is now on display at a hatchery outside Branson, the Missouri Department of Conservation announced Friday.

The unusual reptile, a nonvenomous western rat snake, was found in October by Terry Lowery under the deck of his family's home in Hurley, about 45 minutes south of Hurley, according to the department.

After the family took photographs of the young dual-headed snake, they contacted the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, and zoo staff forwarded them to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery operated by the Department of Conservation.

The hatchery near Branson is primarily a trout-raising facility producing hundreds of thousands of trout a year, but its staff agreed to observe the snake.

Fire

Australian birds have weaponized fire: Astonishing research indicates black kites are purposefully spreading wildfires

Raptors, including the whistling kite, are intentionally spreading grass fires in northern Australia, a research paper argues. The reason: to flush out prey and feast

Black kites
© Bob Gosford
Black kites (Milvus migrans) visit a grass fire in Borroloola, Northern Territory, Australia, in 2014.
Dick Eussen thought he had the fire beat. It was stuck on one side of a highway deep in the Australian outback. But it didn't look set to jump. And then, suddenly, without warning or obvious cause, it did.

Eussen, a veteran firefighter in the Northern Territory, set off after the new flames. He found them, put them out, then looked up into the sky.

What he saw sounds now like something out of a fairy tale or dark myth. A whistling kite, wings spread, held a burning twig in its talons. It flew about 20 metres ahead of Eussen and dropped the ember into the brittle grass.

And the fire kicked off once again.