News from a World gone mad

yet there is still so much beauty



Tilikum the killer whale is dying, announce SeaWorld

Tilikum the killer whale is dying, announce SeaWorld

SeaWorld have announced that it’s not looking too good for Tilikum the killer whale.

The orca, who is the subject of documentary BlackFish, is becoming ‘increasingly lethargic’ and has reached ‘the high end of the life expectancy for male killer whales’.

In an official statement, SeaWorld say: ‘We are saddened to report that over the past few weeks, Tilikum’s behavior has become increasingly lethargic, and the SeaWorld veterinary and animal care teams are concerned that his health is beginning to deteriorate.’

full story at:Metro








Identification Of Animals And Plants Is An Essential Skill Set

photo credit: La Trobe University students learning how to identify plants near Falls Creek. Susan Lawler

I have recently been made abundantly aware of the lack of field skills among biology students, even those who major in ecology. By field skills we mean the ability to identify plants and animals, to recognise invasive species and to observe the impact of processes such as fire on the landscape.

My colleague Mike Clarke calls it “ecological illiteracy”, and identifies it as a risk for nature at large. While people spend more times indoors in front of screens, we become less aware of the birds, plants and bugs in our backyards and neighbourhoods. This leads to an alienation of humans from nature that is harmful to our health, our planet and our spirit.

On a more practical, academic level, I was in a meeting this week where an industry representative complained that biology graduates are no longer able to identify common plants and animals. This limits their employment prospects and hampers the capacity of society to respond to changes in natural ecosystems predicted by climate change.

Field taxonomy vs. Bloom’s taxonomy

So what is going on? Why don’t ecology students get this information during the course of their University degrees?

Practical sessions teaching scientific names of animals or plants can be perceived to be boring and dry. Students may be asked to collect and pin a range of insects or press and identify certain plants as part of their training in biological diversity, but these activities are time consuming and expensive. As we strive to be more flexible and efficient, classes and assessments relying on identification skills are quickly dropped.

ful story IFLScience








Water emergency in Peruvian Amazon after 3,000-barrel oil spill contaminates 2 rivers

Aerial view of a river in Peru's Amazon region of Loreto © Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Peru is in the midst of an emergency as two rivers in the Amazon basin are now contaminated with 3,000 barrels of crude oil after the country’s main pipeline burst. There are plenty of villagers relying on this water who have effectively been cut off.

The Health Ministry has declared a water emergency in five districts in the vicinity.

According to state-owned regional Petroperu, there were two separate breaks in January and early February, which have halted transportation of 5-6,000 barrels of crude per day. According to Petroperu president German Velasquez, the first rupture appears to have been caused by a landslide. The cause of the other is still being worked out.

The oil is now in the Chiriaco and Morona rivers in northwest Peru, Reuters reported OEFA, the national environmental authority, as saying. There are at least eight native-populated villages now under threat, an indigenous leader told the agency. Petroperu has estimated the amount of the spilled oil at 3,000 barrels.

The company now says it will take “some time” before operations return to normal. But its efforts have been hampered by pouring rain, which led to oil containment walls bursting and the crude flowing into the rivers.

If Petroperu, which is responsible for refining and transportation, is found to have hurt the locals’ health in any way, the company faces 60 million soles ($17 million) in fines.

The OEFA told Petroperu earlier that its pipeline was in need of maintenance and repairs. “It’s important to note that the spills…are not isolated cases. Similar emergencies have emerged as a result of defects in sections of the pipeline,” the environmental agency said in a statement.

READ MORE: Coast Guard to use dye to investigate mysterious oil spill coating Potomac River

Velasquez says an evaluation is currently being carried out on the 1970s pipeline. But the process could take up to two months.

Allegations emerged that Petroperu was using children to help clean up the spill, something Velasquez has denied, but added he was considering firing four officials, one of whom was linked to allegedly getting children to work on the spill.

 source :RT










The Boiling River of Mayantuyacu, Peru

Deep in the Amazon rainforest, in Mayantuyacu, Peru, flows a river so hot its water actually boils. The locals call it “Shanay-timpishka” which loosely translates to “boiled with the heat of the sun.” They believe that the hot water is released by a giant serpent called Yacumama, “Mother of the Waters,” who is represented by a large serpent head-shaped boulder at the river’s headwaters. The river is about 25 meters wide and 6 meters deep,…
read more AmusingPlanet

Charming Bears And Fair Princesses. Fairy Tales Brought To Life Through Stunning Photography.

When was the last time you needed professional animal trainers for your photography? Meet Russian photographer Katerina Plotnikova. Katerina had a vision of contrasting fierce wildlife with angelic women in vintage princess-like dresses. From bears to snakes to tigers… we can’t even begin to imagine the challenges she must have faced during this shoot.  As you can see below, the results are absolutely worth it. Her work is visually stunning, full of emotion, and evocative of a world straight out of a fairy tale.

ful story and more stunning picture at:MestaSpoon













Penguin Disaster As Iceberg Blocks Route To Sea

photo credit: These Adélie penguins are thriving at the edge of the sea ice, but their fellows are dying when trapped too far from the ocean. Annette Turney/Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-14

A penguin apocalypse is unfolding in Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica, as tens of thousands of birds are cut off from their food supply by a stranded iceberg. The iceberg in question,B09B, has altered the penguins’ frigid environment, resulting in a mass of deaths. The finding is a worrying sign for other penguin colonies confronted with climate change.

When the explorer Douglas Mawson established a base at Cape Denison at the head of Commonwealth Bay in 1912, he complained about the noise of the Adélie penguin colony, estimated to contain 100,000 birds. Considering the location is the windiest place on Earth, the birds must have been loud.

However, Professor Chris Turney of the University of New South Wales recently found numbers around a tenth of that, and many were not even trying to hatch eggs. In Antarctic Science, Turney and his co-authors attribute the difference to the iceberg B09B, grounded offshore, filling the bay with ice. The penguins of Cape Denison now have an almost impossibly long walk to the ocean to feed.

In normal times, the sea ice is driven offshore, leaving gaps into which the penguins can dive to feed. However, powerful winds now sweep down from the Antarctic highlands and freeze the waters of Commonwealth Bay.

The cause of the penguin’s suffering is, as Turney put it to IFLScience, the size of a small country. B09B broke off the Ross Ice Shelf in 1987 and in December 2011 became frozen to the seabed at the mouth of Commonwealth Bay. The sea ice is now blocked, and has built up to form what is called “fast ice,” which is ice fastened to the shore by some blockage.

The paper reports there was still some open water off the glacier a year after the fateful stranding, but by January 2012 “fast ice extended around 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) offshore from Cape Denison.” A long way for penguins to waddle.

It is not clear whether the 5,500 surviving penguins pairs have found rare cracks in the ice to jump through, or if they are journeying all the way to the edge.

What the authors were able to determine was that the surviving birds are not doing well. In December 2013, “Hundreds of abandoned eggs were noted, and the ground was littered with the freeze-dried carcasses of the previous season’s chicks,” they wrote.

One of the few healthy-looking penguins left at Cape Denison. Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014

Turney told IFLScience: “We have no idea how long B09B will stay there. It could move this year, or it could be there for decades to centuries.”

Based on long-abandoned rookeries, “There is some evidence that this might have happened in the past,” Turney added. Nevertheless, the fear is that global warming will cause an increase in iceberg calving, creating situations such as the one at Cape Denison all around Antarctica. Already, Turney noted, it appears that icebergs have become drastically more frequent off the Antarctic Peninsula, the area of the continent most affected by climate change.

Turney said the penguins appear unable to move to new colonies and there is no prospect for rescuing them by carving holes in the ice, as these would rapidly freeze over.

source and more fascinating stories at IFLScience









Frost Flowers: Nature’s Exquisite Ice Extrusion

It is as beautiful as it is rare.  A frost flower is created on autumn or early winter mornings when ice in extremely thin layers is pushed out from the stems of plants or occasionally wood. This extrusion creates wonderful patterns which curl and fold into gorgeous frozen petioles giving this phenomenon both its name and its appearance.

Conditions have to be just so for frost flowers to form.  Early winter and late autumn are the optimum time to come across them as although the weather conditions must be freezing it is vital that the ground is not.

As the temperature gets to freezing or below the sap in the stem of the plants will expand.  As it does so the outer layer of the stem comes under increasing pressure and microscopically thin cracks, known as linear fissures, begin to form.  These will finally give way under the pressure of the sap and split open.

Full story and pictures at  Kuriositas








Super cute baby meerkats explore the outside world for first time


We love a good meerkat, but it’s not often that you see baby versions of these cute critters hanging around.

These pups were born at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo on Jan. 7, the children of first-time parents Nairobi and Maputo. It’s also the first time meerkat pups have been born at the zoo in seven years, making this kind of a big deal.

“They were initially a little wary of this big new world outside, but with a bit of encouragement from mum and dad they started to explore,” zookeeper Courtney Mahony, said in a statement sent to Mashable Australia via email.

Now weighing a little over 120 grams each, they’re both yet-to-be-named as their sexes are not yet known. They will be discovered in veterinary examinations happening in late February. Keepers suspect it is a male and female, developing their own personalities as they grow. “Our male is the bigger of the two and he’s more adventurous and inquisitive, while the female is quieter and prefers to stay close to mum,” Mahony said.

The pups will wander for short periods of the day as they slowly make their way into the world with their parents and keepers maintaining a keen eye. Aren’t they just divine?

full story and supercute pictures at Mashable








Storm Henry: force of wind causes waterfall to flow upwards

Strong winds which brought havoc to the UK on Monday even upset the course of nature – by blowing waterfalls backwards.

Dramatic footage shows a waterfall being turned upside down by the powerful winds on the west coast of the Isle of Mull, Scotland.

Full story:…

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