It’s a twist on the standard doomed love story: instead of two beings desperately wanting to be together who shouldn’t, we have two beings who desperately need to hook up but probably won’t. For ridiculous reasons.
For once, abstinence has dire consequences.
It’s bad enough that China had to say goodbye to the Yangtze River dolphin last year when the species was declared extinct. But without immediate action, the fate of the Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle will be the same.
The Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle is considered to be one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. It is characterized by a wide, flat shape, leathery carapace (shell), and a deep head with a pig-like snout. Normally found in large river systems — specifically the Yangtze River in eastern China — they are, as of this writing, the rarest turtle in the world. The severity of their situation was first brought to light in the early 1990s, and in 2004 it was believed only six turtles remained.
China’s been under such fire lately.Thank goodness for field naturalists. These tireless volunteers brave the elements, brambles and blisters in an effort to preserve precious native flora and fauna, as well as promote nature conservation and protect endangered species. (This, while the rest of us are hanging out in malls, watching the Wire or dating.) It sounds like tedious work, but the rewards are huge when it pays off — as was the case for Kevin Bonham, a local field naturalist in Tasmania, Australia.
Bonham chanced upon the “dense midge orchid” — a species of plant that was long thought extinct. (The last one was recorded in 1852.) And it’s not just one or two — an officer from the Threatened Orchid Project says an incredible 60 patches were found on private land. (Just what he was doing on the private land was not reported.) ABC News quotes him as saying: “They’re tiny, so they’re only 4 to 7 centimeters tall and very fine, so unless you’re really down on your hands and knees looking, you’d just miss them.” (Okay, what he was doing on private land down on his hands and knees is probably best skipped right over.) Furthermore, “you’ve got to be there at that right window when they’re actually in flower to actually see them or else there’s nothing above ground, just a tuber below ground.”
Vaquita is Spanish for “little cow”. Not sure how such a moniker became attributed to the world’s smallest porpoise, but that’s what the locals call it. However, vaquita might as well be Swahili for “vanishing”, because according to vaquita.org, it is the planet’s most critically endangered small marine mammal.
Found only in San Felipe and Roca Consag in the Gulf of California, this rare Mexican porpoise prefers shallow water and is usually spotted along the shoreline. Less than five feet long, the animal has a medium to dark gray body with beautifully distinctive black rings around the eyes and lips.
Unfortunately, the vaquita is dangerously close to extinction, with only an estimated 100-300 remaining.
A piece of happy news: the Bald Eagle, America’s national bird, has been taken off the endangered species list. The announcement was made by the Department of the Interior and will go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. It’s been a long journey 40 years to be exact since the Bald Eagle enjoyed a thriving community. Threatened by poaching and the widespread use of DDT pesticides, their numbers dwindled to a mere 500 breeding pairs, and seemed destined to become extinct. Now they’ve bounced back, with a reported 9,700+ pairs at last count. If you want to see a Bald Eagle up close catch this video for a “bird’s eye” view (literally). And for trivia lovers, I’ve accumulated a few fun facts you can use to impress your friends. Check them out below the jump. Continue Reading / See Additional Photos