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Turtle entangled in fishing gear

(Mirror Daily, United States) More and more cases of marine species getting entangled in fishing gear have been reported recently. Raging from whales to sea turtles, the animals in the ocean are severely endangered by human activity and its effects. Overfishing is already a problem, but the abandoned fishing gear is a whole different story.

One of the most recent victims of fishing gear is a right whale, which died last weekend on the coasts of Maine. Its head and its flippers were entangled in a giant fishing net, which made it impossible for the large animal to swim properly. It also might have lost its orientation sense, and ended up on the beach. The situation is alarming, as there were reported only five hundred right whales in the North Atlantic.

Experts say that the most harmful elements of the fishing gear are traps, gillnets, and crab pots. Specialists explain that they end up killing or severely injuring other species, such as whales, sea lions, seals and sea turtles. If any of the distressed animals reach the shores, rescue teams always try to save them. However, there is always the possibility of the animals to die or to return to the ocean with no help from humans.

Wildlife specialists find it extremely difficult to monitor and track these animals at sea. Many of them are left on their own to release themselves from nets and traps. Researchers explain that whales, for instance, can’t always get rid of all the pieces of equipment, and they end up dragging them around, inhaling them or simply carrying them on their bodies. Either of these options is damaging for the health of the animals.

Researchers know that this is no easy process for the animals. Getting entangled in fishing gear and getting rid of it can be the starting point of a long and exhausting process, which can lead to the death of the animals.

Marine species can get entangled in both abandoned and active fishing gear. Authorities try to purify the waters by removing abandoned fishing gear. Such equipment stands as one of the primary causes which lead to the extinction of animals such as right whales. By eliminating the traps, officials hope that all marine species will feel much more relieved and free while swimming in the waters they own by nature.

Image courtesy of: Wikipedia

There is tectonic activity on icy Mercury

(Mirror Daily, United States) New research from scientists proves that Earth is not the only planet in our solar system to display quakes. Tectonic activity has been registered on the closest planet to the Sun too. Mercury’s cliffs provided researchers with evidence of the phenomenon.

NASA specialists account for tectonic activity on Mercury based on information from their spacecraft, Messenger, and Mariner 10. They both found particular rock formations on the planet, resembling cliffs. Scientists could determine that they are six hundred miles long, and almost two miles high. They are called fault scarps.

Another important data on the formations is their age. According to scientists, they are quite young, aged less than fifty million years. This means that the fault scarps started to form in recent ages, and the only possible explanation is tectonic activity.

Researchers also try to explain what determines the quakes in the first place. They believe that the phenomenon is related to the process of cooling of the small planet. As temperatures drop, Mercury cools and contracts. Because of the shrinking process, the quakes, hence the cliffs, emerge, scientists say.

According to previous research, experts think that the quakes could score magnitude five on the Richter scale, or even higher than this. They have already registered such movements on the Moon. They believe that the tectonic activity on the Moon and that on Mercury are quite similar.

The new finding is significant because specialists claim that quakes can be linked to forms of life. However, there are small chances for researchers to find life on Mercury, mainly because of the temperatures which make the planet impossible to inhabit. The smallest planet in our solar system displays wide discrepancies between the temperatures during the day (427 °C) and those registered at night (−173 °C).

One of Mercury’s features keeps scientists intrigued. In spite of its low temperatures, its icy center and the phenomenon of shrinking, the planet still preserves heat resources. This is one of the mysteries they still have to solve about the small planet.

Researchers believed that Mercury was geologically active only in the past. Nevertheless, the recent information they have analyzed proves them that quakes can still occur today on the small celestial body.

A new study on Mercury’s tectonic activity was published in Nature Geoscience.

Image courtesy of: Wikipedia

China’s great radio telescope is bigger than the one in Puerto Rico (picture above)

(Mirror Daily, United States) Chinese scientists are very pleased with FAST, which is short for Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope. They finished building their great radio telescope this summer, and now, they are ready to put it to the test. It seems like space will be devoid of all its dark secrets thanks to the new impressive device from China.

The great radio telescope was presented to the world during a special ceremony, which occurred on Sunday, September 25. The apparatus measures more than one thousand feet (1,640, to be precise) and has over four thousand panels. Its size make it the largest radio telescope in the world, and its features outrank many other similar products.

Now that the time of the premiere has past, the great radio telescope will be put to the test. However, although the trial period has barely started, FAST has already proved its efficiency. One of its first victories is the discovery of a pulsar, which is a star that produces a particular radio signal.

The first star discovered by FAST is located at no less than 1,351 light years away from us. According to developers, the radio telescope is designed to track thousands and thousands of such celestial bodies. However, scientists are looking forward to unexpected discoveries from the high-tech device.

The Chinese researchers have great plans for their great telescope. If it can track radio signals from stars such as pulsars, they could also track other types of radio signals. Experts believe that they could even discover forms of alien life thanks to FAST. They are positive that if there are other civilizations out in space, their great radio telescope will be able to provide them with evidence.

The great Chinese telescope is located in the Guizhou province. Researches chose this place because of the natural advantages of the region. It is a karst region which prevents radio signals to interfere with the activity of the telescope.

Chinese researchers intend to put FAST to good use to the benefit of the entire scientific community. Specialists describe the activity of the great radio telescope as being similar to the way a very sensitive ear functions. However, as opposed to our hearing organ, the telescope will carefully listen to the cosmic noises of the universe.

The hopes of Chinese scientists are high regarding their most recent invention. FAST is expected to provide accurate information on the processes that happen in the universe. Many theories could find their confirmation thanks to the great Chinese radio telescope.

Image courtesy of: Wikipedia

Arizona mud turtle

(Mirror Daily, United States) Another species gets to be added to the lists of endangered animals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently announced that the Arizona mud turtle joins other endangered species on the official act. The announcement was officially released on September 21.

The Arizona mud turtle was proposed for the endangered status years ago, in 1997, but it is only now when specialists were able to draw the authorities attention to the situation. The turtles live in the Sonoran Desert, and as aquatic species, they depend on the existence of water. The intensified drought season and the rising temperatures in recent years stand as major threats to the animals.

By adding them to the list of endangered species, advocates hope to improve the natural conditions in which the animals live, as well as to offer them protection. Specialists intend to make sure that the water supplies are not damaged.

Another thing that the specialists are concerned about is the natural habitat of the Arizona mud turtle. Since the loss of habitat affects the animals, wildlife experts think about strategies to replace or repopulate the former areas.

According to specialists, the Arizona mud turtle is a subspecies of the wider family of the Sonoran mud turtle. Statistics show that, at the moment, there is only one such population on the territory of the United States, and it can be found at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Four other mud turtle populations can be found in the South, in Mexico, more precisely.

Arizona mud turtles are extraordinary creatures, as they managed to develop a strong dependency on water in highly arid areas. Global warming has taken its toll on the little aquatic creatures, as the rising temperatures led to droughts and lack of water. This shows the delicate situation of the turtles and this is why specialists have been insisting on the classification of the Arizona mud turtle as an endangered species for so long.

Arizona mud turtles have different colors, such as brown, yellow and green. Both their bodies and their shells can have these colors. They are diurnal creatures, but they can also be active at night, especially during the monsoon period, which typically occurs in the hottest months of summers (July and August).

Except for the natural threats, there are also human activities which threaten the small Arizona mud turtles. However, the species is known to be quite resistant, hence its survival in the desert, despite their dependency on water. Specialists are optimistic about their odds to be saved.

Image courtesy of: Wikipedia

Australian aboriginals come from a massive migration from Africa.

(Mirror Daily, United States) Researchers have recently discovered that migration from Africa is one of the most important facts about human evolution. People migrating from Africa more than 70,000 years ago settled down in Australia, and they are the ancestors of Indigenous Australians today. A DNA test showed that they are the most ancient human population on Earth, older than Eurasian populations.

The scientists in charge of the study explain that the massive migration from Africa occurred, more precisely, 72, 000 years ago. People headed towards the Australian continent that we know today, where they remained isolated from the world until four thousand years ago. There were speculations in the scientific community that Aboriginal populations living in Australia could be one of the oldest in the world.

The scientific proof of this theory comes only now, as a DNA examination. Researchers studied the DNA of people living in the Australian tribes today and established a link between them and their ancestors who led the migration from Africa thousands and thousands of years ago.

When the migration from Africa occurred, the populations found a new land, called Sahul. It included lands such as modern day Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania. Researchers suggest that the people who left Africa split into two groups, one of which reached this new land.

The researchers were able to sequence the DNA and find relevant data about the first humans leading the migration. The study is based on the results obtained from eighty-three Aboriginal Australians and twenty-five Papuans.

The new study provides the researchers with data on the evolution of the populations in Australia. They were considering the possibility of successive migrations, but in light of the recent discovery, there was only the migration from Africa. The evolution of the Australian Aboriginal populations went on with the arrival of the European population.

The research is also proof that Indigenous Australians are the oldest race on the Earth.

The new study on the DNA of modern indigenous Australian populations was published in the journal Nature. The research was conducted by Professor Eske Willerslev (University of Cambridge). Colleen Wall was the co-author.

There are two more studies on human evolution and migration published in the journal Nature.

Image courtesy of: Wikipedia

A humpback whale washed ashore

(Mirror Daily, United States) Rescue teams are always there to help animals in need. Unfortunately, this was not the case of a humpback whale, which was found on the beach of Sea Isle City, in New Jersey. Specialists found the humpback whale washed ashore on Friday, and according to them, it must have died at sea.

People at the Marine Mammal Strand Center were in charge with the humpback whale washed ashore in Sea Isle City. Experts determined that the large marine animal must have died four or five days before being dragged to the shore by the restless waves. Veterinarians who examined it observed that it showed signs of exhaustion.

The autopsy was completed the following day, and it revealed further details on the status of the humpback whale. The procedure took specialists no less than eight hours. All signs seem to indicate that the animal met humans at sea. Researchers believe that getting entangled in fishing gear was the first problem of the animal. After struggling with it, the whale got problems which prevent it from feeding and eating properly.

Moreover, another important factor which must have contributed to the animal’s death is that it collided with a ship. Being hit by a large vessel must have been the final cause which led to the humpback whale’s death, and, eventually, its body ended up on the coasts of New Jersey.

The Marine Mammal Strand Center was also in charge of removing the body of the humpback whale and cleaning the beach. Workers used special, heavy equipment to perform the task.

The humpback whale washed ashore on Friday afternoon was a young male. According to specialists who did the measurement, it weighed twenty tons, and it was approximately thirty-three feet long. Humpback whale adults can grow more than this, reaching more than forty feet long, and weighing over thirty tons.

Humpback whales are kind marine mammals, one of the largest that roam the seas and oceans of the world. They use echolocation to communicate and navigate, and males are famous for being able to produce long songs, which last for ten or even twenty minutes. They migrate, and in summer they feed in cold waters at the poles. They spend their breeding season in warm waters, in tropical regions.

Humpback whales used to be hunted, but now they face other human threats which endanger the population. Entanglement in fishing gear is just one of them, and it happened to with the humpback whale washed ashore in Sea Isle City.

Image courtesy of: Wikipedia

Levels of the Arctic sea ice in recent years

(Mirror Daily, United States) As 2016 seems to be one of the hottest years on record, it should come as no surprise that the Arctic sea ice is severely affected. According to recent statistics from researchers, the Arctic sea ice is in critical condition, very similar to the one recorded in 2012. The Arctic sea ice reached its lowest level four years ago, and recent atmospheric phenomena seem to lead in the same direction.

Researchers observed that global warming caused the Arctic sea ice to melt at alarming rates this summer. Recent calculations show that the Arctic sea ice covered 1.6 million square miles on September 10. It was only in 2012 when the region covered by ice represented a smaller area than this one in the Northern parts of the Globe, namely 1.31 million square miles.

Scientists were able to observe the phenomenon thanks to satellite technology. They also believe that global warming is rapidly advancing, as the phenomenon of Arctic ice melting happening at such rates in a relatively short period of time is a clear sign of that.

Environmentalists predict that the moment when the Arctic ice will be completely gone is closer than we might think. They have reasons to believe that within less than twenty years there will be no more areas covered in ice at the North Pole.

The team of researchers who investigated the ice melting on September 10 suggest that the situation can get worse. Although the freezing season should be approaching, the process of melting could actually advance. However, cold winter couldn’t restore the initial size of the Arctic sea ice. It used to cover 7.5 million square kilometers, even during summer.

The melting of snow and ice in the North Pole is only one of the effects of global warming, and one of the most visible too. However, the loss of such a significant area of the Arctic sea ice has its own effects. First of all, it stands as the loss of habitat of many marine and land species, polar bears among them. Losing the protective ice also exposes the region to further pollution and overfishing. There are also native human populations who are strongly connected to their environment.

Climate change is a natural phenomenon, which might have happened with or without man’s help. However, there is no denying that human activity contributed to the process, although no harm intended. Pollution and gas emissions play an important part in the process of global warming, which led to massive ice melting in the Arctic.

Image courtesy of: Wikipedia

Illegal fishing is a strong business

(Mirror Daily, United States) Authorities have been thinking about a solution to the pressing problem of illegal fishing, which destroys the balance of natural ecosystems and breaks the law of several states and countries. However, it is a difficult issue to deal with, but the solution comes from Google. The giant search engine will launch a program which will allow authorities to survey the ships’ activity, based on the information of a satellite in space.

The new program powered by Google is called Global Fishing Watch, and it is meant to track any illegal fishing activity. All the seas and oceans in the world will be carefully watched. Fishermen who thought they could go on with their illegal activities have to bear in mind that the system will function 24/7. The system seems the best method to monitor all navigable routes in the world, at the same time.

According to officially released information, authorities expect to see on their readers no less than thirty-five thousand fishing vessels. They will be monitored in real time, and the authorities will have access to several types of information, such as the location of the ships, the amount of fish they capture, the time of the capture and so on and so forth.

The Global Fishing Watch system will interfere with the plans of fishermen who intend to hide information on their location. What they do is actually trying to get away with murder, as those who don’t reveal such basic information are most likely to be behind activities such as illegal fishing.

Environmentalists have been trying to implement this program since 2014. They have been using it on their own and discovered cases of illegal fishing, which were reported to authorities. Their initiative was officially introduced at a conference by actor Leonardo DiCaprio himself, who has been involved in environmentalist campaigns before.

The new surveillance system was unveiled at the conference on Thursday, in Washington, D.C. The meeting was held by the U.S. State Department. The developers and wildlife experts are satisfied with the results of their hard work, as the Global Fishing Watch is now a free service.

Modern technology proves its advantages again, and this time, it helps the marine animals in need. The Global Fishing Watch system can identify marine protected areas and reports any illegal trespassing. Authorities are confident that the rates of illegal fishing will drop considerably from now on.

Image courtesy of: Flickr

Polar bears depend on ice.

(Mirror Daily, United States) As global warming persists and temperatures continue to grow, it follows naturally that the Arctic regions are affected. Snow and ice are melting, the seas are increasing their levels, the water temperature is constantly rising too. These changes in the natural environment affect the animals living on icy lands, including polar bears.

Researchers observed that the ice is melting in spring earlier than usual. Autumn is also supposed to bring low temperatures that should allow ice to built on, but the process has been delayed more and more lately. Polar bears depend on the cold environment and on the ice to live, travel, find food, and simply put, they need it to survive.

Specialists report that there are nineteen polar bear subpopulations and all of them are vulnerable because of habitat loss. They explain that the animals need the floating ice to stay on while they hunt for seals, which stand as their main dish. Polar bears are the largest carnivores on Earth, and if they are secluded on the land, they don’t have much chance of survival. According to the official statistics, three of the subpopulations have lost a significant number of individuals, and they are currently in decline.

Researchers state that there is a strong connection between seasons, temperature and the polar bears’ habits. Their breeding season is in spring, and the cubs are expected in the cold season (fall and winter). Polar bear females eat very much during their gestation period, and sometimes the process leads to their body weight being doubled. This means that they gain at least two hundred kilograms. So healthy moms and cubs depend on the thickness and existence of the ice so that they can be able to hunt and get the food they need so much.

On the other hand, if ice doesn’t freeze during fall and winter, cubs are in dangers. Both them and their mothers are hungry, and they must learn how to hunt and protect themselves as soon as possible.

The new study led by researchers points out that there is a three-week delay in the natural melting and freezing periods in summer and winter, respectively. Specialists will keep monitoring the phenomenon.

The new study on the situation of polar bears was published in Cryosphere, on September 14. It is called “Sea-ice indicators of polar bear habitat.”

Image courtesy of: Flickr

Hawaiian Crow

(Mirror Daily, United States) Dogs, dolphins, and chimps are classical examples of intelligent animals. As the natural world is full of surprises, researchers were highly impressed by the skills of a Hawaiian crow species. The birds proved themselves able to use tools, which is evidence of high IQ in the animal kingdom.

The Hawaiian crow is locally called ‘Alalā. It is the second crow species which proved the remarkable skill of using tools. Before this recent discovery, researchers believed that the New Caledonian crow was the only species of the family that could display such abilities.

Both the New Caledonian crow and the Hawaiian crow tend to use small sticks or other tools they can carry and find in the wild in order to extract insects from rotten trees. Researchers noticed that there is a strong resemblance between the two species, regarding their bills. Both of them have straight bills, which the specialists deem to be an adaptation for using tools.

However, there is a sad part of the story, too. The Hawaiian Crow is on the verge of extinction. Experts in conservation strategies launched a program last year, meant to help the birds recover their initial status. Breeding pairs have been captured and protected, so that they could reproduce in captivity and no threats should interfere with the process. Researchers hope that their efforts won’t be in vain and that they will be able to release the birds in their natural environment as soon as possible.

Specialists were able to observe the birds behavior and their tendency of using tools when feeding in captivity. Scientists who studied both the New Caledonian and the Hawaiian crow state that they are very much alike, especially when it comes to their habit of using tools.

Researchers are enthusiast because this is one of the rare occasions when a species is studied altogether, and not by its separate individuals. They also noted that adults don’t teach babies to use tools, so it is more like an inherent capacity of the birds. They just develop it spontaneously, when confronted with a situation demanding it from them.

Specialists think that this discovery is highly significant, as the ability must have evolved with each species at different times, or independently. It is not common to all crow species, so this raises interesting questions about animal behavior in general.

Image courtesy of: Public Domain Image

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