Finally the broadcast networks are wising up and releasing their shows online and thankfully that includes National Geographic. Finally I can watch nature documentaries online. Which for me is great, I love learning about the world around me, but I wouldn’t buy the dvds and I don’t have a tv.
In a world where the blame game often boasts a larger player roster than the lastest Wii adventure, global warming can find itself an easy scapegoat for all disastrous things happening on the planet. Take for example a 2006 study that blamed climate change on a deadly outbreak of frog fungus in South and Central America. The results, published in the journal Nature, stated that the rise in the Earth’s temperature had contributed to the vast spreading of the chytrid fungus< (aka Chytridiomycota).
But a new study contradicts these findings, saying the fungus — which has caused mass amphibian extinction by thickening the outer layer of their skin (the one through which they breathe and drink), then roughening it and causing it to separate on a cellular level — actually “spreads in waves like other infectious diseases” such as Ebola or West Nile.
Scientists in Montana and Wyoming recently uncovered another species that has disappeared from its natural habitat: the white-tailed jackrabbit. This cute little guy hasn’t been seen in Yellowstone since 1991, and only three have been spotted in Grand Teton since 1978. All while wolf, bison, and grizzly populations have been on the rise.
What’s odd is that scientists didn’t really pay any attention to the rabbit’s disappearance until a recently published article by Dr. Joel Berger, a biologist from the University of Montana, called for reintroducing the animals. And no one can explain why the rabbits are gone; global warming doesn’t seem to be a likely culprit, but the timelines do coincide.
What comes to mind when you think of a deadly stampede? Cattle? Buffalo? A year-end sale at Barneys?
Certainly not walruses, right? But yet, thousands of them died this past spring on the Russian side of the Bering Strait — from a stampede that scientists say is a direct result of global warming.
Walruses are big-tusked mammals who, unlike seals, are unable to swim indefinitely, They typically use sea ice to rest or haul themselves onto land for a few weeks at time. (You may recall a poignant CG graphic in “The Inconvenient Truth” of a polar bear attempting to climb on various pieces of ice, only to have them crumble into pieces.)
It’s too bad there’s no match.com for birds. At this point that seems to be the only thing that’s can save New Zealand’s Magenta Petrel. This rare and critically endangered seabird (also known as the Chatham Island Taiko) is, like so many of us, having a really hard time getting lucky.
Not to be confused with New Zealand’s Storm Petrel, the Magenta was first discovered at sea in the late 1860s. In 1978, it was rediscovered on New Zealand’s Chathan Island but with an 80% population cut, courtesy of introduced species like pigs, cats and rodents competing for the Petrel’s nesting burrows.
If you thought finding a mate was hard, try these odds: of the known Magenta Petrels in existence, 95% of them are male. And if you weed out the potentially sterile ones or the shy ones (who knows…there could even be some gay ones), you’re left with somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 to 15 breeding pairs in the world.
Apparently hairy mammals are not the only ones that fear the words “louse” and “lice.” Sea lice, the insidious parasite that infects adult salmon, is leaving many salmon farmers in the Broughton Archipelago northwest of Vancouver, BC scratching their heads.
In a report released last month in the Journal of Science, lice that flourishes on salmon farms is infesting juvenile wild salmon as they journey out to sea. The problem is pretty simple actually. Sea lice usually only infects salmon out at sea and dies off as adult fish make their way into fresh water where the lice cannot survive. Juvenile salmon are protected from contact with lice until they are out at sea where they are bigger and stronger. The large farms close to river mouths are exposing the juveniles to lice when they are too small to survive an infestation and wild populations are declining rapidly as a result.
A remote area of diverse terrain and vegetation. Lake Albert where we hope to find the rare and elusive Schubyll. Semliki Lodge is a haven in the middle of a vast savanna. We stay at the reserve lodge, which is a classic safari lodge, with an open plan and thatched roofs.
On this addition of African Odyssey, we fly into Jeki Air Strip followed by a 40 minute drive to camp observing the dry, wide open savannah. Sausage Tree Camp-Lower Zambezi Valley, Zambia. We camp in rustic tents and enjoy the calmness of strolling along the river in the African bush.
The animals here in the park seem relaxed and worried about poachers. The local lions have a very unique trick, they can climb trees. In the rest of Africa you never see this, and in fact many animals climb trees just to escape lions.
I always enjoy a good hypothetical survival story. Let’s say you were abducted by aliens and given the choice of mating with a greenie or dying a slow, painful death. Would you get it on with the martian? I bet you would.
Global warming seems to be putting the polar bear in a similar situation. As ice in the Arctic melts, the polar is finding itself forced onto the beach while the grizzly bear moves further and further north. And it’s not just their habitats that are overlapping. Scientists say mating of the two species has produced a hybrid they’re calling the “grolar bear”.
If global temperatures rise as predicted, the planet’s sobering message to tropical insects is: adapt or die. Scientists warn that a full blown wipeout is in the cards, altering the face the entomology forever as we bid adieu to a host of beetles, butterflies, aphids and others insects.
Researchers at the University of Washington explained that while temperature rises could deplete insect populations in the tropics, it could also result in an insect boom at higher latitudes as tropical insects are driven out of their normal habitats. The effects on plants pollination and the food supply are unknown. Says the BBC: “In the research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. scientists studied how temperature changes between 1950 and 2000 had affected 38 species of insects”.
China’s been under such fire lately. People are pulling out of the Beijing Olympic games right and left because of the country’s pollution issues or alleged contributions to the Darfur crisis. It seems we’re also bombarded with constant reports of Chinese manufactured lead-based toys that endanger children. But not I’m going to talk about any of that. I’m only sharing happy thoughts here as I shine the good light on one of the world’s oldest and most fascinating civilizations.
While the Chinese may not care about kids eating poisoned paint (wait — I wasn’t going to talk about that), they care a lot about the Tibetan antelope. And the rare species, which is found exclusively in China’s Tibet-Qinghai region, not has not been doing well since the late 20th Century. This medium-sized bovid, who also goes by the name of chiru, is a gregarious animal that has a life span of about eight years.
Want to know who doesn’t have a boring sex life? Wild octopuses. Emphasis on the wild. Unlike their tame domestic counterparts, these frisky eight-limbed sea creatures were recently observed off the coasts of Indonesia by a team of perverts, I mean scientists, from the University of California, Berkeley and their findings were published in the journal Marine Biology.
A recent National Geographic article reveals that wild octopuses “engage in ‘jealous murders,’ gender bending, and once-in-a-lifetime sex.” Here are some more juicy details: upon observing the baseball-sized Abdopus aculeatus octopus species, the team witnessed male octopuses jealously guarding their digs. If any competition approached, the males would “occasionally go so far as to use their 8- to 10-inch (20- to 25-centimeter) tentacles to strangle romantic rivals to death.” Says Berkeley biologist Roy Caldwell, who co-authored the new study: “This is not a unique species of octopus, which suggests others behave this way.”