Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time

April 20, 2018 by  
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Bottlenose dolphins typically reside in tropical or warm-temperate waters around the world — but researchers recently glimpsed a group of around 200 of the dolphins and around 70 false killer whales off northern Vancouver Island’s west coast in Canada. They said this sighting is “the only occurrence of common bottlenose dolphins recorded in Canadian Pacific waters” — and a warming trend could be to blame. In July 2017, Halpin Wildlife Research , working with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Department of Environment and Climate Change , documented the dolphins and whales. In research published this month in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records , the three researchers involved said the sighting “is the most northerly record” for common bottlenose dolphins “in the eastern North Pacific .” Related: A beluga whale living with dolphins learned to “speak their language” Lead author Luke Halpin said in a statement , “The sighting is also the first offshore report of false killer whales in British Columbia. To see the two species traveling together and interacting was quite special and rare. It is known that common bottlenose dolphins and false killer whales seek each other out and interact, but the purpose of the interactions is unclear.” Warming in eastern North Pacific waters between 2013 and 2016 could be the reason for the presence of the dolphins and whales. Halpin said he’s documented warm-water species in British Columbia waters since 2014, including a loggerhead turtle and a swordfish . He said, “With marine waters increasingly warming up, we can expect to see more typically warm-water species in the northeastern Pacific.” + BioMed Central + Marine Biodiversity Records Images via Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith on Flickr and the National Park Service

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Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time

Whale mother can’t let go of dead calf likely poisoned by plastic

November 20, 2017 by  
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The impact of humanity’s pollution on nature became all too real in a heartbreaking clip from Blue Planet II . A mother pilot whale grieved her dead baby, carrying it around with her. The calf may have died because of industrial chemicals – and our plastic littering the oceans . A preview for episode four of BBC One’s Blue Planet II revealed a tragic scene: a mother pilot whale who seemingly couldn’t let go of her dead calf. The calf might have been poisoned by the mother’s milk, contaminated with pollutants of ours which enter the oceans. Narrator David Attenborough said she’d been carrying the baby for several days. “In top predators like these, industrial chemicals can build up to lethal levels. And plastic could be part of the problem. As plastic breaks down, it combines with these other pollutants that are consumed by vast numbers of marine creatures,” Attenborough said in the video. Related: Plankton Pundit video shows exact moment plastic enters the food chain Pilot whales possess large brains, Attenborough explained in the video, and have the capacity to feel emotions. He said the adults’ behavior following the death of the calf reveals its loss impacted the whole family. “Unless the flow of plastics and industrial pollution into the world’s oceans is reduced, marine life will be poisoned by them for many centuries to come,” he said. Around eight million metric tons of plastic enters Earth’s oceans every single year, according to the Blue Planet II website, and can kill ocean creatures. They offered several suggestions for how concerned viewers can get involved with ocean conservation , such as picking up trash or downloading the Beat the Microbead app, which tells users if a cosmetic or household product contains microbeads so they can avoid purchasing it (click the links to download for Android or iOS ). + Blue Planet II Images via BBC on YouTube

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Whale mother can’t let go of dead calf likely poisoned by plastic

First ever video footage of wild sand cat kittens in Morocco

October 12, 2017 by  
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Get ready for cuteness overload. Researchers recently filmed sand cat kittens in the Moroccan Sahara , and they’re crazy adorable. The team thinks this could be the very first time scientists “documented wild sand cat kittens in their African range.” Sand cats can be incredibly elusive. They don’t leave many visible footprints. They’re quiet when they meow. And they don’t leave prey remains around. Their fur offers excellent camouflage in the desert, and they move around during the night, or at dusk or dawn. According to Grégory Breton, Panthera France managing director and one of the team members, “Finding these kittens was astonishing.” Related: At this “cat library,” you can check out a kitten for the day Breton was headed back to camp with Alexander Sliwa, Cologne Zoo curator, and Sahrawi driver Elhaj at 2:00 AM, after seven hours of searching for sand cats that day, when they saw the glimmer of three pairs of eyes: the sand cat kittens. Breton described them as having wider faces and bigger ears than a regular house cat. The researchers think they were between six and eight weeks old. Sand cats haven’t been well studied in their natural range, according to Breton. After the sightings, the team acquired a permit from the authorities in Morocco to catch and collar the cats. Breton said they’ve spotted 29 different sand cats and radio-collared 13. They’ve started gathering information that will help protect the species, and some of their findings have surprised them, like the fact that “sand cats are traveling more than we thought and more than what’s been recovered for any other small cats.” The team makes clear in their video above that sand cats are a wild desert species, and say, “Please don’t try to acquire them as a pet , rather save an abandoned domestic cat!” You can follow the team, which also includes Jardin Zoologique National veterinarian Saâd Azizi and other local guides and drivers, on the Sand Cat Sahara Team Facebook page. Via Panthera Images via screenshot

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Facial deformities in Uganda apes linked to pesticide use

August 29, 2017 by  
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Our pesticides may be harming animals that live nearby, according to new research. A group of 10 scientists led by Paris’ Musée de l’Homme and the Great Ape Conservation Project at Kibale National Park in Uganda found baboons and chimpanzees with facial deformities near an agricultural area where they were told around eight pesticides had been used. 25 percent of chimpanzees the researchers monitored displayed abnormalities like reduced nostrils, reproductive issues, hypopigmentation, cleft lip, or limb deformities. Kibale National Park is close to industrial tea plantations and gardens growing maize, which are often raided by the chimps and baboons, according to the researchers. But it appears pesticides in the crops they’re taking are harming them. Related: Bee-killing pesticides have been found in US drinking water The researchers asked people in tea factories and villages what pesticides were being used, and were told of eight: glyphosate , cypermethrin, profenofos, mancozeb, metalaxyl, dimethoate, chlorpyrifos , and 2,4-D amine. They took samples from soils, fresh maize stems and seeds, and river sediments near where chimpanzees reside between 2014 and 2016 and discovered mean pesticide levels were above recommended limits. They also found the pesticides imidacloprid and DDT, as well as its metabolite pp’ -DDE. And it appears these pesticides may be affecting the animals. Out of 66 chimpanzees monitored, 16 had deformities. The scientists also photographed 35 baboons, and at least six had severe nasal deformities. The researchers said in the abstract of their paper they think “excessive pesticide use…may contribute to facial dysplasia in chimpanzees and baboons.” The suggestion that our agricultural practices are physically altering animals is horrifying; the researchers noted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists chimpanzees as endangered . The animals are also of economic importance in Uganda as they draw in ecotourists. The researchers said it may be a conservation priority to minimize threats to their survival, as the use of pesticides may be. The journal Science of The Total Environment published the research online earlier this year. Scientists from institutions in France, Uganda, Canada, and the United States collaborated on the work. Via ScienceDirect Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Edible schoolyards sprout across war-torn Syria

August 29, 2017 by  
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As the civil war continues into its sixth year, millions of Syrians remain in the divided, war-torn country. To meet basic needs and provide young people with a healthy place to play and learn, schoolyards across the country are being reborn as vegetable gardens . At these edible playgrounds, children learn how to grow tasty, nutritious treats, like peppers, eggplants, and cabbages. Then, when the time is right, they are able to harvest and eat what they have grown. This transformative experience offers students and their families an empowering experience of caring for one’s self and others. Young people, whose bodies and minds are rapidly developing, are particularly vulnerable to food scarcity and malnutrition . “Good nutrition is a child’s first defense against common diseases and important for children to be able to lead an active and healthy life,” said Adam Yao, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) acting representative in Syria. FAO provides funding and logistical support for 17 primary schools to plant 500 square meter fruit and vegetable gardens. These gardens are being installed in both government and opposition-controlled territory, so that young people will be able to access healthy food regardless of the politics and violence that surrounds them. Another 35 schools are scheduled to receive an edible playground in the near future. Related: Food-starved Syrians are switching meat for mushrooms Many Syrians now depend on bread and food aid from relief organizations to meet their nutritional needs. This sparse diet is far from traditional Syrian cuisine, which includes dishes such as hummus, minced lamb with spices and pine nuts, vibrant salads, stuffed cabbage leaves, and vegetable stews. These dishes are more are well served by the edible schoolyards , which provide some of the rich vegetables that have become scarce during the civil war. Further investments in agriculture could help to secure the population for years to come. “ Agriculture has become a hope for (many) because they can grow their own food and survive – even in the besieged areas,” said Yao. The seeds planted in the minds of these young children may someday yield a brighter, healthier Syria at peace. Via Reuters Foundation, FAO Lead image via FAO / Zaki Khozam , eggplants via Deposit Photos , others via Celine Nadeau/Flickr and DFID/Flickr

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Dog rescues drowning baby deer in the most adorable video youll see today

July 18, 2017 by  
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We already knew dogs are saviors to humankind – but it turns out they are heroes to other species as well! Recently a golden retriever named Storm rescued a baby deer from drowning off the coast of Long Island, New York . The dramatic ordeal was captured on video and has since gone viral – check it out below. This past weekend, Storm was out for a walk with his caretaker Mark Freeley when he “plunged into the water and started swimming out to the fawn, grabbed it by the neck and started swimming to shore,” according to CBS New York . In the video, Freeley can be heard saying, “Storm is trying to save this baby deer — I think he’s trying to save him.” Upon realizing that Storm was, in fact, saving the 3-month-old fawn’s life, Freeley started offering words of encouragement to the dog. “Storm, bring him in! Storm, bring him in! Good boy, Storm, bring him in!” he yelled. The golden retriever dragged the dog to the beach, where it immediately stood up, scurried away, then collapsed. This prompted Storm to chase after it — again. Freeley encouraged Storm to leave the fawn alone as the dog nudged its body and pawed its leg. After receiving a call, Frank Floridia with the Strong Island Animal Rescue League rushed to the beach. There, he found the fawn “completely disoriented.” Out of distress, it rushed into the water again. Erica Kutzing, the animal rescue’s co-founder, told The Washington Post : “They tried to encourage Storm to go back into the water, but the deer was so far out that Storm could not see the deer.” Once they saw the deer’s head was underwater, Floridia jumped into the water to rescue the animal. According to the activist , “It was a do-or-die situation.” Fortunately, the deer made it. Related: Living green bridge keeps wildlife safe from a busy highway According to Kutzing, deer can swim – even in the Long Island Sound – but it’s likely the fawn was spooked and too young to be able to survive in the water. Fortunately for the animal , Storm was nearby to save its life and alert humans to its struggle. Via The Washington Post Images via Mark Freeley

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Dog rescues drowning baby deer in the most adorable video youll see today

Biodegradable PawPods: a better way to bury your pet

June 26, 2017 by  
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Burying a beloved pet is never easy. But PawPods offers a thoughtful, biodegradable option for burying deceased animals with their bamboo and rice husk pods. Similar to eco burials for humans, PawPods allow pets to return to the earth with dignity. PawPods CEO Ben Riggan had a terrible experience after he had to put down a cherished dog. His pet was given back to him in what he called a glorified plastic bag, and Riggan said the experience bothered him and he couldn’t let go of it. He was determined to create an alternative so others wouldn’t have to experience what he did. On his website he said, “I decided to create a company to provide a better way for pets to come home, whether they will be buried or cremated.” Related: Space Burial Service Will Launch Your Pet’s Remains into Outer Space The result was PawPods. These pet caskets are made of bamboo powder, corn starch, and rice husks, and will fully break down in three to five years. They’re sturdy – Riggan said he didn’t want to offer flimsy paper caskets like others on the market. PawPods are also designed to be painted and decorated so families can grieve through art, and have a therapeutic experience as they say goodbye. PawPods offers several different sizes, from a $9.99 fish pod to a $149.99 large pod designed for medium dogs or large cats . The products have a seeded wildflower leaf on them so a pet grave can be adorned with color in the spring. They also come with a sympathy card. The company also offers two $39.99 urns – a heart-shaped one and traditional one. The urns are designed to hold ashes and will biodegrade as the pods do or can be displayed. These come with a seeded sympathy card that can be buried in place of an urn if the family wishes. + PawPods Via TreeHugger Images via PawPods Facebook

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Biodegradable PawPods: a better way to bury your pet

Chinese circus ties up endangered tiger so that visitors can take selfies

January 12, 2017 by  
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A horrifying video posted on Chinese video platform iQiyi shows circus trainers brutally binding a tiger to a metal table – all for the sake of selfie photographs. The animal is believed to be an endangered Siberian tiger, and it was cruelly lashed down so that children and adults could sit on its back for photos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4SDV_Xi3To The video’s description says the circus was performing in the Hunan province, and that the tiger was strapped down “to be safe for everyone to take pictures – but the expression of the tiger is very desperate.” When the tiger was finally freed, it bounded up and dashed away from the table. Related: Tigers punched for fun at horrifying “sanctuaries” in China Mashable reports that in China the God of Wealth is often portrayed sitting on tigers, and the act is associated with the deity. In the video a small child can be heard saying (as translated by Mashable), “I’m scared, I’m scared,” and one trainer responded, “Isn’t it cool to sit on a tiger? It can keep you away from the devil and earn you promotions and wealth.” Many commenters condemned the actions of the trainers and the parents who gleefully allowed their children to sit on the poor tiger. One iQiyi user said, “What kind of values are these parents teaching their children?” Another user wrote, “You can’t earn much from this, and instead you’ve brought so much pain to the animal, do you think it’s worth it?” Siberian tigers, also called Amur tigers, are found in the Russian Far East, China’s border areas, and possibly in North Korea, according to the World Wildlife Fund . There are only up to 540 of the endangered tigers left in the world. Via Mashable Images via screenshot

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Chinese circus ties up endangered tiger so that visitors can take selfies

Four dolphins escape from Taiji center after nets were slashed

January 6, 2017 by  
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Four dolphins escaped from a recreational center in Taiji , Japan, the town that’s home to the yearly horrifying dolphin hunts. The pod swam outside their pen at DolphinBase after nets surrounding their seaside enclosure were slashed. Three animals returned to the facility but one is still out in the wild. DolphinBase, a facility that offers tourists the opportunity to swim with dolphins and watch them perform, contained the bottlenose dolphins in a pen divided from the ocean with nets, where they’d been kept and trained for over six months. The dolphins are about three to five years old. Police say they do not yet know who cut the nets, allowing the animals to escape. Related: The first dolphins have been slaughtered in this year’s annual Taiji hunt In a blog post translated by the BBC, DolphinBase said, “We are enraged by this heinous act which can easily lead to the dolphins dying. They think that once out of their pen, dolphins will swim far away but that is not true. Dolphins will not stray far and they will not leave their group.” Three of the dolphins did swim back into the pen; the fourth is “scared” and confused about how to get back inside using the new entrance, according to DolphinBase, although it is close by. When asked by the BBC if the dolphins were bred in captivity or wild, the facility would not respond. Activist organization Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project , which monitors the Taiji cove, said in a statement , “While we are against keeping dolphins in captivity, we do not condone illegal behavior…It is our hope that Taiji will ultimately turn into a tourist destination, where no dolphins are hunted or captured for display.” The controversial Taiji dolphin hunt happens every single year between September and March. Hundreds of dolphins are captured, and then either slaughtered for their meat or sold to aquariums . Via the BBC Images via FollowYour Nose on Flickr and DolphinBase

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Four dolphins escape from Taiji center after nets were slashed

Unique solar-powered home in Scotland functions like a Rubik’s cube

January 6, 2017 by  
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This unusual corner house that architect Richard Murphy designed for himself combines sustainable technology with modernist design. Located at the junction of two Edinburgh estates developed in the 1820’s, the design creatively responds to the area’s planning contradictions with an multi-functional residence with a rich material palette. Ten years after the architect first contacted the owner of this lot in the eastern Edinburgh New Town, he finally received planning permission in 2007, but soon had to halt the development again due to the recession. The laborious process has finally resulted in a spacious, three-bedroom residence Glenn Murcutt called “A Rubik’s cube”, referring to its complexity and mechanical features. The front façade continues the stonework pattern of the street façade, with the entire structure featuring a combination of glass blocks, steel, burnt timber and lead. This introduction of bespoke design solutions and materiality reference Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre in Paris that featured an abundance of custom-made steel elements and moving mechanisms. Related: Architect Miguel Rivera’s Daylit Residence in Austin is a Renovated 1917 Bungalow Photovoltaic cells are installed on the south facing monopitch roof, while two giant mechanized shutters in the living room and the master bedroom allow the glass to generate heat for the house when open, but prevent it radiating heat when closed. Most of the windows have insulated shutters which slide or pivot. An automated internal air circulation system takes warm air from the top of the house to the basement to counteract the stack effect. Rainwater is funneled to grey-water storage tanks in the basement and used to flush toilets and supply the sprinkler system . + Richard Murphy Architects Via World Architecture News

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Unique solar-powered home in Scotland functions like a Rubik’s cube

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