Sunday, 30 November 2014

Bum-breathing turtles 'at risk of extinction'

Urgent action required to save white-throated snapping turtle amid fears that loss of eggs and hatchlings is crippling the population, says Queensland researcher

Friday 28 November 2014 05.09 GMT

Urgent action is required to prevent an endangered turtle that breathes through its bottom from being wiped out, a researcher of the species has warned.

The white-throated snapping turtle was recently listed as critically endangered by the federal government amid fears that loss of eggs and hatchlings is crippling the population.

The turtle is perhaps most notable for its ability to breathe via its anus. The process, known as cloacal respiration (or more colloquially as “bum breathing”), allows the turtles to extract oxygen directly from the water.

This unique anal ability allows the turtles, which weigh around 5kg, to dive for up to three hours in search of aquatic plants, which is their main food source along with the odd insect.

The turtles lay one batch of around 13 eggs a year in nests near their preferred habitat of clean, free-flowing water.

However, a James Cook University researcher has warned that the species is losing almost all of its eggs and hatchlings in one of its last strongholds in Queensland, around the Fitzroy, Mary and Burnett river catchments.

The truth about sharks: Far from being 'killing machines', they have personalities, best friends and an exceptional capacity for learning

Friday 28 November 2014

I was snorkelling far offshore when the bull shark appeared. Movement in the corner of my eye, then a silhouette 30 metres away, slipping through the turquoise haze on that late afternoon. He was fat, with a bright white belly and distinctive snub nose. He studied the two-legged intruder and began to circle, slowly closing the gap: 20 metres, 15, 12...

I stuck it out for as long as I dared, then, trying to avoid panicked splashing, I kicked for the boat, not taking my eyes off him. You don't want to mess around with a bull.

These waters off tiny Bimini, in the Bahamas, teem with sharks. A tribe of marine scientists, led by the grandfather of shark biology, Samuel 'Doc' Gruber, has set up base on the island, determined to unravel the secrets of the creature most misunderstood by man. The research coming out of the Bimini Biological Field Station – better known around the world as the Sharklab – is transforming our knowledge of what glides beneath the seas and oceans.

Texas releases more than 50 sea turtles treated for cold-stunning

By Amanda Orr

HOUSTON (Reuters) - More than 50 green sea turtles were released into the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast on Friday after recovering from cold-stunning, or hypothermia, brought on by a drastic drop in water temperature.

The release has taken place in phases, with Friday being the last major release for sea turtles rescued after a mid-November cold snap in Texas sent temperatures below freezing in large parts of the state.

"We wait until the Gulf waters are warm enough to prevent a repeat cold-stunning event for these individuals," said Donna Shaver, chief of the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at Padre Island National Seashore.

As with other reptiles, sea turtles rely on their external environment to regulate body temperature and cold-stunning occurs when water temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), she said.

Symptoms include decreased heart rate and lethargy, which renders the turtles virtually paralyzed and leaves them vulnerable to injury or death by predators and boats.

Shocking extent of the internet wildlife trade is exposed

Thousands of endangered species worth millions of pounds are bought and sold on the Internet, a shocking new report shows.

A six-week investigation by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) found 33,006 endangered wildlife, and wildlife parts and products for sale, worth a staggering £6.5 million, via 280 online market places across 16 countries.

In the UK, websites hosted 1,087 online advertisements offering a total of 1,603 items for sale including ivory and suspected ivory, turtles, tortoises, owls, exotic birds, monkeys and parts and products from elephants, rhinos, hippos, crocodiles, alligators and big cats. The items were valued at more than £300,000. Over two-thirds of adverts were for wildlife parts and products rather than live animals.

The most popular site for sales was eBay with 674 ads, where one seller posted 58 ivory and suspected ivory items on the site during the six-week investigation.

Little-Known Porbeagle Shark May Soon Get Protection (Op-Ed)

Nicole Paquette, The Humane Society of the United States | November 28, 2014 06:29pm 

Nicole Paquette is the vice president of wildlife protection at The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). She contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Following a recent decision by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the federal government must now reconsider protecting porbeagle sharks in the Northwest Atlantic. According to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), populations of the shark in those waters have declined 90 percent during the last 50 years as a result of commercial fishing.

The court rejected a decision by the NMFS to deny listing those sharks under the Endangered Species Act, a ruling that may led to better protection for these imperiled fish.

Missing 400-lb Sasquatch Statue, 'Squashy,' Returned To Ralph Spence

CINCINNATI (AP) — A southwest Ohio family is searching for Sasquatch no longer.

The Spence family in Delhi Township, west of Cincinnati, says their 400-pound concrete statue of the mythical beast, which was reported stolen Saturday, has been found.

Sixty-one-year-old Ralph Spence says his two sons bought the statue for him several years ago. They affectionately call it "Squashy."

Though it started out as a practical joke, the statue became part of the family. They even dress it up for holidays.

Spence says he received a call from a friend Tuesday who saw the statue in a nearby open field. A note found with the statue poked fun at its weight, and was signed by "the body building bandits."

Spence says Squashy is "a legend around here in the neighborhood."

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Aggressive squirrel forces schoolchildren to run for cover

One member of staff was attacked and scratched by the bad-tempered grey squirrel during the encounter at the Watford infants' school

By Keith Perry

4:53PM GMT 28 Nov 2014

Terrified schoolchildren were forced to evacuate the playground after an aggressive squirrel caused havoc and attacked a teacher.

Staff had to lead the children to safety at Watford's Chater Infants School after an "unusually aggressive" grey squirrel disrupted their afternoon playtime.

One member of staff was attacked and scratched by the squirrel during the encounter.

Headteacher at the Southsea Avenue school, Mrs Amrit Bal-Richards, said they were monitoring the situation and the caretaker is being extra vigilant, but fortunately the squirrel had not been seen again.

She said: "We did have an incident where we had a squirrel. It is very uncommon for a squirrel to be aggressive. It was quite bad tempered. We will be monitoring the situation and the caretaker is being extra vigilant.

Tuna showdown looms at Samoa conference

Small Pacific island states and powerful foreign fishing nations are heading for a showdown next week over management of the world's largest tuna fishery.

The islands want the annual meeting of the influential Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Samoa to limit fishing for bigeye, a tuna prized by sashimi markets in Asia, America and Europe.

They also want limits placed on catches of other tunas to maintain stocks.

Brown bears return to Chernobyl after a century away

28 November 2014 Last updated at 01:23

By Mark Kinver
Environment reporter, BBC News

Scientists have captured what is believed to be the first photographic evidence of brown bears within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ).

Camera traps, used by a project assessing radioactive exposure impacts on wildlife, recorded the images.

Brown bears had not been seen in the area for more than a century, although there had been signs of their presence.

The exclusion zone was set up after an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine in April 1986.

"Our Ukrainian colleague, Sergey Gashchak, had several of his camera traps running in one of our central areas over the past few months in order to start to get a feel for what (wildlife) was there," explained project leader Mike Wood from the University of Salford.

He told BBC News that data retrieved from one of the cameras in October contained images of a brown bear.

New clam species found off of B.C.'s coast

The Canadian Press 
Published Wednesday, November 26, 2014 7:25PM EST 
Last Updated Wednesday, November 26, 2014 7:45PM EST

VICTORIA -- Ten years after an unusually scalloped clam was dragged up from the ocean floor off northern Vancouver Island, the tiny mollusk is making waves in the research world.

Melissa Frey, curator of invertebrates at the Royal BC Museum, was cataloguing a number of species about four years ago when she noticed something different about the tiny clam.

"I looked at the unusual scalloping and I thought this was definitely special," she said in an interview Wednesday.

"It's unusual enough and I compared it to everything that has previously been described on the West Coast of North America ... and it didn't match up to anything that was there."

To the untrained eye, the clam doesn't look much different than others. It's the same chalky white colour as many other clams and about the same length and height as a walnut in the shell.

Frey asked for the opinion of Graham Oliver, a world expert on bivalves at the National Museum of Wales, who confirmed it was a new species.

Year of the llama: Bolivia calls for 2016 to be dedicated to camelids

South American nation wants UN to raise awareness of the animal family, which includes alpacas and dromedary camels

Sara Shahriari in La Paz

The Guardian, Friday 28 November 2014 19.32 GMT

For centuries they have hauled loads up the Andes and through trackless deserts with no more acknowledgment than a slap on the rump. Now, however, the llama’s moment may finally have come: the Bolivian government is lobbying the UN to make 2016 the international year of camelids.

The proposal – which would include not only llamas but alpacas, vicuñas and guanacos, found in Andean South America, and the Bactrian and dromedary camel, found in Asia, Africa and Australia – is contained in a draft resolution which proclaims “the economic and cultural importance of camelids in the lives of the people living in the areas where they are domesticated and used as a source of food and wool and as pack animals”.

With monkey on the lam, Florida neighborhood goes bananas

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - Florida authorities vowed on Friday to capture a monkey last seen running through a Tampa neighborhood that they described as "three-foot tall, brown and fast."

A resident initially reported seeing a fleet-footed monkey running through a yard in the middle of a sunny Thanksgiving Day afternoon, Tampa police said.

An hour later, another caller spotted a monkey about a dozen blocks away, near a bridge on a road that is several miles (km) from downtown Tampa.

"There is no probable cause for this monkey's arrest, however, we will work tirelessly to apprehend him," Tampa police said in a Facebook post.

Both sightings occurred near Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, whose officials told police that its monkeys were all accounted for.

Friday, 28 November 2014

'Demon' hedgehog steals hearts of internet users despite bizarre appearance

An albino hedgehog has become a fast favourite among the internet masses after its owner posted a picture diary of the animal

5:00PM GMT 26 Nov 2014

An albino hedgehog has become an overnight internet star after its owner posted pictures of her pink eyed pet online.

The animal's owner Tokiko Kojima, 25, posted a series of images of her normal pet hedgehog alongside its albino doppelganger.

The combination of quirky and cute meant that her photoset spread like wildfire and was even syndicated by a popular website.

Tokyo-based Tokiko's hedgehogs are notably rotund, enjoying an entirely sedentary lifestyle.

Queensland Government jeopardises future of Barrier Reef

Australia’s Queensland state government is jeopardising The Great Barrier Reef with its decision to push ahead with damaging legislation WWF-Australia warns.

This new legislation includes the removal of the need for the ecological sustainable allocation of water across all Reef catchments from the Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Bill. This removed the need for the ecological sustainable allocation of water across all Reef catchments.

“Why remove such a safeguard?” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman. “Ecological sustainability means ensuring environmental, social and economic goals are met and is part of good governance.” 

“Put together with the opportunity for large-scale land clearing which the government also legalised last year, we run the risk of a huge spike in farm chemical pollution washing into reef waters – a result the Government does not dispute as one of the major causes of coral loss.” 

Arctic conditions may become critical for polar bears by end of 21st century

November 26, 2014


Shifts in the timing and duration of ice cover, especially the possible lengthening of ice-free periods, may impact polar bears under projected warming before the end of the 21st century, experts say.

Do Dogs Understand Words or Emotions?

by Tia Ghose, Staff Writer | November 26, 2014 12:00pm ET

Come boy! Off the couch! Aww, who's my widdle fur baby?

It's an age-old debate: Do dogs understand the words their owners say to them, or are they just cuing in to the tone of voice?

It turns out it may be both: Man's best friend not only hears the meaning of human speech, but also perceives the emotion behind it, new research finds.

Although the new findings don't prove that dogs fully understand all of the emotional aspects of human speech, they do show that dogs are at least paying attention to it, said study co-author Victoria Ratcliffe, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of Sussex in England.

Nine thousand rabbits culled on tiny Hebridean island and sold to France

One of UK's biggest rabbit culls carried out on Canna after population explosion following previous cull of rats

By Auslan Cramb, Scottish Correspondent

5:07PM GMT 26 Nov 2014

Nine thousand rabbits have been culled on a small Hebridean island, and sold to restaurants in France, in one of the biggest operations of its kind in the UK.

The large-scale cull was ordered on Canna, which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, after a previous cull of rats allowed rabbit numbers to spiral out of control.

A team of six men spent a "manic" three months on the island killing the rabbits using methods including traps, dogs, ferrets, shotguns and rifles. The carcasses were then sold in France for £1 each.

Despite the operation, an estimated 7,000 rabbits still remain and one man is carrying on the cull on the tiny island, which is the westernmost of the Small Isles and has around 11 residents.

Edward Cook, of Evergreen Rabbit Control in Hampshire, won the contract to carry out the operation and said it was “one of the biggest rabbit culls in UK history".

He added: "They had done quite a bit of damage. It's made a massive difference. The island looks green again."

IUCN's new green list celebrates successes

The IUCN has launched a new list, but this time it is one to aspire to be on as it celebrates conservation success not conservation failures. Called the Green List, it is the only global standard of good practice for protected areas, and aims to recognise and promote success in managing some of the most valuable natural areas on the planet.

So far there are 23 sites listed, from 50 put forward by eight countries. These include two protected areas in Kenya – Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy – as well as others in Australia, South Korea, China, Italy, France, Spain and Colombia.

Nominated protected areas, says the IUCN “ will need to meet a full suite of minimum standards, including for conservation objectives, for legitimate establishment, for management effectiveness, for governance and for visitor experience before being listed.”

Rio Negro Shrimp Research Shows Amazonian Diversity

Eric Hopton for – Your Universe Online
The vast area of Amazonia is one of Earth’s most biologically diverse environments. That diversity has attracted many scientists and countless studies. But sometimes it still feels as though we are just scratching at the surface. There are extensive gaps in our knowledge and we can still only guess at the real number of species that exist there.
Now, a new study, published in the open access journal ZooKeys, reveals how little we know about that Amazonian diversity.
Since the first half of the last century, there has been a long-running scientific debate about the validity of two species of freshwater shrimp.
Until now, specialists in crustacean biology have argued about the exact taxonomy of the species in question. Some crustacean experts thought that one species, first described in 1950 using shrimps from Bolivia with the scientific name Palaemon ivonicus, might actually be the same species that was first discovered in 1935 in Guyana and named Palaemon carteri. Other crustacean scientists, however, believed that they were entirely separate species.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Frogs breeding in November due to mild weather

Frogspawn spotted in Cornwall, months before the usual spring spawning time, is earliest sighting in almost a decade

Thursday 27 November 2014 05.30 GMT

Mild autumn weather has led to frogs breeding five months early, with frogspawn sighted in Cornwall this week. It is the earliest frogspawn recorded in nearly a decade.

The Woodland Trust was alerted to the frogspawn by a National Trust ranger, who had spotted the common frog’s spawn at the North Predannack Downs nature reserve on the Lizard Peninsula.

“This year I first saw frog spawn on 21 November, which is early, but not unheard of in a Cornish context,” said Rachel Holder, the ranger who first spotted the frogspawn. “The gamble of getting ahead in the breeding game must be worth taking, and the risk of a severe cold snap which could freeze the spawn is worth braving,” she said.

Frogspawn usually seen in March across the UK, with the earliest occurrence in recent history being on 26 October, in 2005.

Dr Kate Lewthwaite, project manager for Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar , said: “Although spring is generally arriving earlier, to receive a frogspawn sighting before winter has properly begun is highly unusual.

“Given the reasonably mild weather we have been enjoying recently, it is possible for frogs to be fooled into spawning early, but sadly it is unlikely the spawn will now survive the frosts we are experiencing,” she said.

November has been mild and very wet so far, according to the Met Office, with average temperatures nearly 2C above the long-term average, and 93.1mm of rainfall.

Role Of Stress, Flower Loss In Bee Population Declines Investigated

Chuck Bednar for – Your Universe Online

The loss of wildflowers could be a bigger threat to bee populations than climate change, but stress management could help save these essential pollinators, according to the researchers behind a pair of recently-published studies.

Experts have long known that bees, and honeybees in particular, currently face a vast array of different threats, including pesticides and the parasitic Varroa mite. Now, a paper published Monday in the journal Trends in Parasitology have found that stress could be one of the primary causes of recent widespread losses in honeybee colonies in the northern hemisphere.

More specifically, the study authors report that a complex and mysterious interplay of different stresses and their impact on the health and immune systems of bees could be at fault. As a result, bees have grown weaker and have become more susceptible to diseases that insects can ordinarily carry without issue. The Italian researchers behind the study believe that stress management and improved nutrition could help rectify the situation.

Honeybees live in complex societies frequently characterized by densely packed populations, and as a result have developed unique mechanisms for interacting with pathogens, the researchers explained. However, pathogens such as Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) can cause asymptomatic infections normally contained by their immune systems, and stress factors can synergistically promote replication of the disease and symptomatic infections.

Thousands of Eocene Shark Teeth Found in Canadian Arctic

By Agata Blaszczak-Boxe, Live Science Contributor | November 27, 2014 06:07am ET

The stark, barren landscape of Banks Island in Canada has yielded an unexpected find — more than 8,000 shark teeth that date back millions of years, and have now been described in a study.

In the summer of 2004, study author Jaelyn Eberle, a paleontologist and associate professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, ventured out with her research team to Banks Island, which is Canada's westernmost Arctic island. The researchers were hoping to find fossils of mammals, but after spending about a week there, they had not found any. Moreover, the weather was cold and the researchers' tents were covered with snow, Eberle said.

This really is the pits, Eberle remembers thinking at the time. 

Blind Scottish Centipede Genome Unlocks Evolutionary Secrets

Eric Hopton for – Your Universe Online

An international group of scientists has completed the first ever genome sequence of a blind myriapod, Strigamia maritima. The species is one of a group of venomous centipedes that are unusual in the way in which they care for their eggs. The research also provides new insights into the biological evolution of Strigamia maritima and its unique absence of vision and circadian rhythm.

The work was partly carried out and the sequencing completed at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and the findings have been published online in the journal PLOS Biology.

“This is the first myriapod and the last of the four classes of arthropods to have its genome sequenced,” said Dr. Stephen Richards, assistant professor in the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor. “Arthropods are particularly interesting for scientific study because they diverged into more species than any other animal group as they adapted in many ways to conquer the planet. The genome of the myriapod in comparison with previously completed genomes of the other arthropod classes gives us an important view of the evolutionary changes of these exciting species.”

Other scientists involved in the study were Dr. Ariel Chipman, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, Dr. David Ferrier, of The University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom, and Dr. Michael Akam of the University of Cambridge in the UK.

Chipman, associate professor at the Hebrew University, said that “The arthropods have been around for over 500 million years and the relationship between the different groups and early evolution of the species is not really well understood. We have good sampling of insects but this is the first time a centipede, one of the more simple arthropods – simple in terms of body plan, no wings, simple repetitive segments, etc. – has been sequenced. This is a more conservative genome, not necessarily ancient or primitive, but one that has retained ancient features more than other groups.”

RSPCA reports sharp spike in number of hedgehog rescues

Animal charity says that around double the usual number of hedgehogs are being brought in to be nurtured back to health

Tuesday 25 November 2014 14.21 GMT

Some arrived when they were little bigger than a human thumb after becoming separated from their families, while others turned up bigger and beefier, but in desperate need of antibiotics for prickly little coughs. One creature had to be rushed in after a close encounter with a bonfire.

One of the hoglets at the RSPCA's West Hatch
centre in Somerset. Photograph: RSPCA
The animal charity the RSPCA is reporting a bumper year for hedgehog rescues with around double the usual number being brought in to be nurtured back to health before being released again into the wild.

“Nobody is sure why we have so many,” said Carol Noble, wildlife care assistant at the RSPCA’s West Hatch centre in Somerset as she carefully removed one of her charges from its bed of shredded newspaper for its daily weigh-in. “But they are certainly keeping us busy.”

Four rooms at the centre near Taunton are full of crates containing 60 snoozing, snuffling – and sometimes snapping – hogs.

Lionfish Predation Habits And Ideal Prey Analyzed In New Study

Brett Smith for – Your Universe Online

Majestic lionfish have been spotted in the Caribbean and Atlantic since the 1980s and these invasive fish have a reputation for ferocious predation and rapid expansion.

Now, a new study by researchers from Oregon State University and Simon Fraser University in Canada has revealed details surrounding the lionfish’s predation habits and ideal prey.

“With species now moving all over the world in both marine and terrestrial systems, we need to know who will eat whom when species encounter each other for the first time,” said study author Stephanie Green, a research fellow in the OSU College of Science.

“Normally, predator-prey experiments take a lot of effort and time,” Green said. “But there are mathematical techniques that can help us better understand what is happening when we observe animals hunting in the wild, and why some species get eaten and others don’t.”

Published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, the new study reveals that the lionfish’s ideal prey is a small, solitary fish with a long, skinny body situated near the seafloor.

By analyzing studies on the observations of lionfish predation and the stomach contents of these fish, the study team was successfully able to identify what traits all lionfish prey tend to have in common.

Putin's tiger the main suspect in mystery China goat deaths: Xinhua

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Siberian tiger released into the wild by Russian President Vladimir Putin is the main suspect in a series of goat deaths in China's northeast, state media reported Chinese local authorities as saying on Tuesday.

Siberian tiger experts have pegged Ustin, one of three tigers freed by Putin, as the killer of two goats, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Three goats are still missing.

According to a Xinhua witness, the dead goats' skulls had been crushed with puncture holes "the size of a human finger clearly visible".

Japan likens anti-whaling campaign to attempt to ban kimono

Tokyo’s chief negotiator at the International Whaling Commission attacks ‘eco-imperialist’ countries who want a ‘stupid’ ban on hunting

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

Wednesday 26 November 2014 18.29 GMT

Australia’s “imperialist” campaign against whaling is akin to restricting the right of Japanese women to wear the kimono, the country’s chief negotiator at the International Whaling Commission has said.

Joji Morishita, the head of Tokyo’s delegation to the International Whaling Commission, said Japan would defy “eco-imperialist” anti-whaling countries – led by Australia and New Zealand – and resume the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean in late 2015.

In March the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan had produced insufficient scientific data to justify the killing of whales for “research” and put an immediate end to its hunts in the Antarctic.

Morishita said international objections to whaling, partly on the grounds that the hunts are unprofitable and bankrolled by Japanese taxpayers – could be compared to restrictions on the wearing of kimono.

“The average Japanese woman wears kimono perhaps two or three times in her lifetime,” he said. “Those ceremonial kimono cost millions of yen, so some might argue that they are a waste of money. But what if another country then said that only a small number of women could wear kimono?”

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Poison frogs rely on experience to find the way home in the rainforest - via Herp Digest

Biology Letters, Published November 19, 2014 , Volume 10 Issue 11
Go to 
to see entire article for free

Andrius Pašukonis, 
Ian Warrington, 
Max Ringler, 
Walter Hödl

Among vertebrates, comparable spatial learning abilities have been found in birds, mammals, turtles and fishes, but virtually nothing is known about such abilities in amphibians. Overall, amphibians are the most sedentary vertebrates, but poison frogs (Dendrobatidae) routinely shuttle tadpoles from terrestrial territories to dispersed aquatic deposition sites. We hypothesize that dendrobatid frogs rely on learning for flexible navigation. We tested the role of experience with the local cues for poison frog way-finding by (i) experimentally displacing territorial males of Allobates femoralis over several hundred metres, (ii) using a harmonic direction finder with miniature transponders to track these small frogs, and (iii) using a natural river barrier to separate the translocated frogs from any familiar landmarks. We found that homeward orientation was disrupted by the translocation to the unfamiliar area but frogs translocated over similar distances in their local area showed significant homeward orientation and returned to their territories via a direct path. We suggest that poison frogs rely on spatial learning for way-finding in their local area.

The secret of dragonflies' flight


November 24, 2014


American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics


Dragonflies can easily right themselves and maneuver tight turns while flying. Each of their four wings is controlled by separate muscles, giving them exquisite control over their flight. Researchers are investigating the physics behind this ability by recording high-speed video footage of dragonflies in flight and integrating the data into computer models.

Rare whale successfully rescued after stranding on Welsh beach

A stranded young six-foot Pygmy Sperm Whale has been successfully been refloated off a beach at Anglesey, North Wales and last seen heading towards the Irish Sea.

Sea Watch volunteer and BDMLR marine medic Ben Murcott, was the first to arrive at the Newborough beach on Anglesey after the alarm was raised. He and other trained volunteers assessed its condition and kept it comfortable until they were satisfied it could cope with being refloated. It was then carried out to the sea on a stretcher and allowed to reacclimatise to the water before being released to swim away.

The Pygmy Sperm Whale is one of two species of theKogia Whale, the other of which is a Dwarf, and sightings of either is unusual in UK waters.

Endangered species success: Idaho salmon regaining fitness advantage

November 25, 2014

NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region

Once on the brink of extinction with only a few fish remaining, Snake River sockeye salmon are regaining the fitness they need to rebuild wild populations. A new analysis shows that naturally spawned offspring of fish saved by a hatchery program are now surviving to return at increasing rate -- high enough to not only sustain the population but also to rebuild it.

Map of Endangered Shark's Wanderings Could Aid Conservation

by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | November 26, 2014 07:10am ET

A young hammerhead's 10.5-month journey through the Gulf of California reveals that the endangered shark often swam outside of protected areas, according to a new research that suggests key areas where protection could help the species survive.

After hitching rides from local fishermen, researchers caught and tagged three young scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) in the Gulf of California, which separates the Baja California peninsula from mainland Mexico.

Maps of the sharks' wanderings could help conservationists develop plans to protect the vulnerable species.

Grey seals found to prey on porpoises

As well as fish suppers grey seals are also partial to a Harbour Porpoise dinner, according to new research.

Hundreds of mutated porpoises have been washing up on Dutch beaches over the last decade with no hint of a cause. 

Back in 2012 Belgian researchers suggested that grey seals might be preying on porpoises. A year later a French research group published images of a swimming porpoise appearing to be under attack from a grey seal. However until now there has been no evidence the seals were actually killing the porpoises.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Crocodile attack database ‘will aid conservation efforts and save lives’

Australian-founded database CrocBITE, with records of 2,700 worldwide crocodile attacks, an attempt to understand ‘human-crocodile conflict’

Oliver Milman

Tuesday 25 November 2014 01.59 GMT
An Australian-founded database that lists worldwide crocodile attacks will be used to help conservation efforts for the species and save people’s lives after securing funding.

The database, called CrocBITE, was started in 2013 by Dr Adam Britton, a researcher at Charles Darwin University, and his student Brandon Sideleau.

CrocBITE has now received $30,000 in funding through an Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration award so that the database can be expanded with the help of Imperial College London.

Britton told Guardian Australia that when CrocBITE launched “on a shoestring budget” last year, it had 1,800 registered incidents logged, including fatal and non-fatal crocodile attacks. There are now around 2,700 crocodile attack records, taken from around the world.

“We realised there was no way to gather information on crocodile attacks in one place, even though these attacks are becoming more of a problem,” Britton said. “Human-crocodile conflict is a serious conservation problem and we need basic information on when and why people are being attacked.”

Continued ...

Lone Wolf Traveled More Than 450 Miles to Grand Canyon, DNA Confirms

by Megan Gannon, News Editor | November 24, 2014 07:26am ET

A DNA test has confirmed that a lone gray wolf is roaming Arizona, just north of the Grand Canyon, a long way from its home in the northern Rockies.

The animal, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act, is the first known gray wolf to visit Arizona in about 70 years. The species disappeared from the state in the 1940s, which makes this development exciting news for conservationists who want to see wolves spread back into their former habitats.

After repeated sightings of the wolf over the last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) collected a sample of the animal's feces in Kaibab National Forest, near the north rim of the Grand Canyon. 

People ate mammoth; Dogs got reindeer

November 24, 2014

Universitaet Tübingen

Biogeologists have shown how Gravettian people shared their food 30,000 years ago. Around 30,000 years ago Predmosti was inhabited by people of the pan-European Gravettian culture, who used the bones of more than 1000 mammoths to build their settlement and to ivory sculptures. Did prehistoric people collect this precious raw material from carcasses -- easy to spot on the big cold steppe -- or were they the direct result of hunting for food?

Creepy Deep-Sea Anglerfish Captured in Rare Video

by Kelly Dickerson, Staff Writer | November 24, 2014 05:07pm ET

An underwater robot exploring the deep seas captured the first video footage ever of a creepy-looking anglerfish — a creature that looks so menacing it is sometimes called the "black seadevil."

Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) were using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to explore the Monterey Canyon ocean trench, a steep seafloor canyon in California that extends about 95 miles (153 kilometers) into the Pacific Ocean.

The robotic sub came across the anglerfish around 1,968 feet (600 meters) below the surface. The researchers used the ROV to take pictures and video of the anglerfish, and then captured the deep-sea creature and brought it back to MBARI for closer study. [See photos of the creepy anglerfish]

Turtles and dinosaurs: Scientists solve reptile mysteries with landmark study on the evolution of turtles

November 24, 2014

California Academy of Sciences

A team of scientists has reconstructed a detailed 'tree of life' for turtles. Next generation sequencing technologies have generated unprecedented amounts of genetic information for a thrilling new look at turtles' evolutionary history. Scientists place turtles in the newly named group 'Archelosauria' with their closest relatives: birds, crocodiles, and dinosaurs.

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