Innovative fish adoption program protects San Marcos River from invasive species

September 26, 2019 by  
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Like any ecosystem , the San Marcos River is happier without invasive species taking over. This spring-fed river in San Marcos, Texas, maintains its 72-degree temperature year-round, making it popular with humans, fish and turtles who live in the area. But a problem arises when humans decide they no longer want their exotic aquarium fish and decide to release these non-native species into the river . Fortunately, the San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department has devised an innovative way to protect both the river and the unwanted fish. Inhabitat spoke with Melani Howard and Eric Weeks to learn more about San Marcos’ Pet Fish Drop Off program. Howard is the Habitat Conservation Plan Manager for San Marcos’ Engineering and Capital Improvements Department. Weeks is the coordinator of the Discovery Center, an interpretive center for the Blanco and San Marcos rivers, parks and associated trails. Related: Robotic fish offer a solution to controlling invasive species Inhabitat: How and when did the program start, and why was it needed? Howard and Weeks: The program started in 2017 to reduce the number of non-native fish being dumped into the San Marcos River from aquaria and, most importantly, to educate the public about the impacts of non-native fish on native populations. We started with a small outside pond, but the predators eventually turned it into a “food bowl,” so we had to move the program to our inside tanks.  We have three large aquaria — one is dedicated to native species and the other two we use for the Fish Drop Off program. Inhabitat: How many fish do you usually have at once? Howard and Weeks: We typically have anywhere between 15 to 30 fish total in both aquaria. Inhabitat: What types of fish have people dropped off? Howard and Weeks: Suckermouth catfish (our target fish to collect, as it is incredibly invasive ), goldfish, angelfish, neons, beta, zebra, bala, gourami, cichlid, rainbow, Oscar, aquatic frog, carp, tetra and platy. Inhabitat: Do the fish get “adopted” and brought home to new aquariums? If so, how does that process work? Howard and Weeks: Yes, all the fish are adoptable by anyone who wants them. The adoption process has been fairly constant, although has slowed down somewhat because of decreased marketing. Individuals just have to stop by the Discovery Center, Monday to Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., with their own take-home containers. Inhabitat: Who takes care of the fish, and what kind of care is provided? Howard and Weeks: Discovery Center staff cares for the fish. Care consists of regular cleaning, water changes and feeding. Inhabitat: What results have you seen from this program? Howard and Weeks: The program has been used by college students primarily, but we have also received goldfish after the carnival has been in town (ugh), and people are very grateful to have such a program. Adopters are also quite pleased to be getting free fish. But the most important result is public education regarding the impacts of aquaria dumping.  Inhabitat: What has the public response been? Howard and Weeks: Incredibly positive. It’s been fun. Inhabitat: Could you give us a brief overview of your involvement with the fish program, as well as your other duties as watershed protection manager? Howard and Weeks: My involvement consists of responding to questions and assisting the public with dropping off or adopting the pet fish, tracking the number of fish and species type dropped off/adopted for reports and ensuring proper care and feeding. We also have education and outreach with the intent to reduce the introduction of non-native fish species in the San Marcos River. Watershed protection manager duties include implementation of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan to conserve habitat for endangered and threatened species that inhabit the upper San Marcos River. Conservation measures include non-native predator fish removal, non-native aquatic and terrestrial vegetation removal, aquatic and terrestrial native plantings, recreation management, litter removal, bank stabilization, education and outreach and water quality best management practices. Inhabitat: What are the main threats to the San Marcos River? Howard and Weeks: The primary threat is overpumping of the Edwards Aquifer, which feeds the San Marcos River, water quality impacts from urbanization, impacts of recreation, invasive species — all these threaten the diverse, high quality habitat in the river, which supports diverse natives including several endangered species . + Pet Fish Drop Off Program Images via Melani Howard

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Innovative fish adoption program protects San Marcos River from invasive species

Oldest living manatee in captivity, Snooty, dies at age 69

July 25, 2017 by  
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Grab your tissues, folks. A 1,300-pound manatee named Snooty recently passed away after celebrating his 69th birthday. In the wild, manatees are fortunate to live into their teens, which is partly why the elder marine mammal was beloved by so many. According to the South Florida Museum, Snooty’s death was accidental and that the circumstances are being investigated. Snooty was born in captivity in 1948 — before laws were passed to protect marine wildlife . Every year, a party was thrown to celebrate the manatee’s birthday. This year, thousands of people traveled from all over to visit the celebrity mammal. Regarding Snooty’s untimely death, the museum said in a press release, “Snooty was found in an underwater area only used to access plumbing for the exhibit life support system. Early indications are that an access panel door that is normally bolted shut had somehow been knocked loose and that Snooty was able to swim in. Snooty’s habitat undergoes a daily visual inspection and there were no indications the previous day that there was anything amiss. The Aquarium will remain closed while Museum staff continues its investigation and staff who worked with him have an opportunity to grieve.” In 2015, the manatee was certified as the world’s oldest captive manatee by the Guinness World Records . Just a handful of years prior, he gained notoriety when his life history made him one of the most renowned stewards for endangered species and the environment. Following the manatee’s death, the museum posted on their Facebook page, saying: “We know that our community and Snooty fans around the world share our grief.” (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); The South Florida Museum is deeply saddened to share the news that our beloved Snooty has died. Snooty’s death was a… Posted by South Florida Museum on  Sunday, July 23, 2017 Via BayNews9 Images via Sarasota Herald Tribune , Wikimedia Commons

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Oldest living manatee in captivity, Snooty, dies at age 69

New Traveler XL Limited tiny house can comfortably sleep up to 10 people at once

July 25, 2017 by  
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This tiny home on wheels features a surprisingly spacious interior that can sleep up to 10 people. The new Escape Traveler XL Limited comes with two bedrooms, 344 cleverly-designed square feet, and it can go completely off the grid with solar panels, battery storage and composting toilets. The Traveler XL Limited features the modern, clean design of the original, but offers much more space and a wide array of functions and amenities. Based on a triple-axle trailer, the Traveler XL Limited measures 30 feet (9.1 meters)-long and has a total floorspace of 344 square feet (32 square meters). Related: Georgia couple convert old Blue Bird school bus into a cozy home on wheels It features larger windows and optional extras like a sofa bed, a pop-up TV, and Blu-ray player. The kitchenette includes a range cooker and sink, which the bathroom includes a 5-foot-long tub and shower, toilet, and cabinet, with an optional washer/dryer. The new Traveler XL Limited can accommodate up to ten people, assuming a few of those are kids. The design also offers off-grid options with the standard solar package packing a 500 W solar panel array, linked to an upgradable 200 Ah battery storage. A standard RV hookup is also available, as are composting and non-composting toilets. The Traveler XL Limited starts at US$78,500. + Escape Traveler Via New Atlas

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New Traveler XL Limited tiny house can comfortably sleep up to 10 people at once

INFOGRAPHIC: The endangered animals of Latin American and how you can help

January 15, 2016 by  
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Hunting , poaching , industrialization and other eco-threatening human activities are proceeding at a pace that nature can’t sustain. According to conservationists, many animal species are unable to adapt fast enough to survive the dramatic changes of their habitat and climate that result from human activity. Consider the sloths of Central and South America, which move on average only 40 yards per day and sleep for 15 to 20 hours per day. Such ingrained biological habits leave them with virtually no chance of adapting to the rapid pace of industrial deforestation. Cox & Kings created this extraordinary infographic that identifies the most popular endangered species in Latin America in hopes to bring more awareness to the dangers they face. Hunting, pollution, global warming, urbanization, and agriculture are among the many man-made factors responsible for the large-scale destruction of natural animal habitats. According to the World Wildlife Fund, habitat loss is the greatest threat to biodiversity on this planet today. The impact of habitat destruction can trigger a wave of destructive forces. For example, the howler monkey—found in the tropical regions of Central and South America—is threatened by its inability to find food as a result of deforestation. When its food supply is threatened, the howler monkey is less likely to reproduce, thus compounding the threat to the health of its population. Deforestation, in particular, is a devastating driver of habitat loss. Half of the world’s original forests are already gone, and they continue to be removed at a rate 10x faster than they can be regrown. The impacts of human behavior are not felt only by the creatures of the land. There are currently only 8,000 nesting Hawksbill sea turtles left in the wilderness, many of whom inhabit the waters surrounding Costa Rica and other Latin American territories. The hawksbill and other sea turtles are facing extinction due to man-made climate change and human interference with its nesting sites and food sources. In addition to contributing to and volunteering for the many worthy conservationist organizations, you can also do your part by learning more about the animals that are currently threatened, where and how they live, and how they contribute to their respective ecosystems. + Cox and King

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INFOGRAPHIC: The endangered animals of Latin American and how you can help

Record high air and water temperatures in the Arctic are threatening walrus and fish at an alarming rate

December 17, 2015 by  
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Tuesday that the Arctic is “warming twice as fast as other parts of the planet.” Arctic temperatures hit a record high this year , more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average, with some areas seeing a 2 degree increase over average temps. Scientists say the higher temperatures are drastically changing the habitat of marine life, like walruses, who rely on the sea ice for survival. The melting ice also contributes to rising sea levels around the globe, posing an increased threat to low-lying coastal regions. Logically, warmer air and water temperatures lead to increased ice melting, sending ever more fresh water into the oceans. The NOAA report indicates the largest warming trend is occurring in Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska, and Baffin Bay, off the west coast of Greenland. Scientists say Greenland has experienced “extensive” melting over 50 percent of its ice sheet, which leaves ocean water vulnerable to the sun’s rays, resulting in warmer water temperatures. Less ice and warming ocean water pose a threat to the entire ecosystem, with negative impacts on everything from weather to marine life. Related: Greenland’s ice is melting faster than previously thought In particular, NOAA scientists are concerned about fish and walruses. “The decline in sea ice is dramatically changing the habitat for walruses,” the report states, largely because the mammals “traditionally use sea ice for mating, giving birth to young, finding food and shelter from storms and predators.” With less territory to support their livelihoods, walrus are moving to new locales in large numbers. Recently, an estimated 35,000 walruses hauled out (the term for walruses coming out of the water) on a barrier island near Point Lay, Alaska, and other large groups have been spotted through aerial surveys. The large-scale haul outs are problematic to walrus survival, as the overcrowding leads to stampedes that kill calves and increase competition for limited food resources. Via Al Jazeera America and NOAA Images via Corey Accardo, NOAA/NMFS and Dan Pisut, NOAA/Climate.gov

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Record high air and water temperatures in the Arctic are threatening walrus and fish at an alarming rate

World’s first ‘bee highway’ protects endangered pollinators in Oslo

June 26, 2015 by  
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Bees in the capital city of Norway now have their own ‘highway’ thanks to a pioneering initiative by environmentalists protecting urban bees. Concerted efforts to sprout pollinator-friendly plants on rooftops, balconies and in gardens throughout Oslo give bees a safe space to proliferate without having to overcome pesticides and other human-caused curve balls that have decimated global bee populations. Headed by Bybi , the project has captured the attention of private individuals, businesses and various state bodies, who can map their section of highway on a dedicated webpage . Read the rest of World’s first ‘bee highway’ protects endangered pollinators in Oslo Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Animals , bee highway , bee hive , bee news , bees , Biodiversity , Bybi , colony collapse disorder , environmental news , habitat , highway for bees , norway , oslo , pesticides , pollinator friendly plants , pollinator highway , rooftop gardens , super highway

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World’s first ‘bee highway’ protects endangered pollinators in Oslo

Tiny hobbit home carved from a stump is straight out of a fairytale

June 26, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Tiny hobbit home carved from a stump is straight out of a fairytale Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: fairytale house , Haida Gwaii , lloyd alter , Noel Wotten , Sitka Spruce , Sitka spruce house , Sitka spruce treehouse , Sitka Studio , tiny home , tiny house , Tlell , treehugger

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Tiny hobbit home carved from a stump is straight out of a fairytale

Winners of 2nd Annual Architizer A+ Awards Announced

April 2, 2014 by  
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Winners of the second Annual Architizer A+Awards have been announced and the shortlist of 129 projects includes works by Zaha Hadid Architects , Studio Fuksas , SOM and BIG . The awarded designs in over 60 categories will be celebrated at a red carpet ceremony at Highline Stages in New York on May 15, 2014. Read the rest of Winners of 2nd Annual Architizer A+ Awards Announced Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: AATA Arquitectos Asociados , architecture competition , architecture competition winners , architecture news 2014 , Architizer A+Awards , Architizer competition , big , House in Travessa , People’s Architecture Office , Pop Up Habitat , Pritzker Prize , Studio Fuksas , zaha hadid        

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Winners of 2nd Annual Architizer A+ Awards Announced

Powerscape: A Solar Canopy That Could Provide Power and Shelter in the Desert

September 7, 2012 by  
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The world’s deserts receive a tremendous amount of solar exposure – in fact, it’s estimated that if just 0.3% of the Saharan Desert was used for a concentrating solar plant, it would produce enough energy to power all of Europe. Architect and technologist Otto Ng has designed a large solar canopy called the Powerscape that is capable of generating energy while serving as a functioning habitat. While the canopy has the potential to be a cheap and practical system for harnessing solar energy, the concept of placing a giant canopy over desert areas does raise a few questions. Read the rest of Powerscape: A Solar Canopy That Could Provide Power and Shelter in the Desert Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “solar energy” , Canopy , Design , geoengineering , habitat , otto ng , powerscape , solar canopy , Solar Power , TED Conference , TENT

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Powerscape: A Solar Canopy That Could Provide Power and Shelter in the Desert

Miller Hull Partnership and Habitat for Humanity Build ‘The House of the Immediate Future’ for Anniversary of Seattle World’s Fair

August 31, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Miller Hull Partnership and Habitat for Humanity Build ‘The House of the Immediate Future’ for Anniversary of Seattle World’s Fair Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: affordable , habitat for humanity , House of the Immediate Future , Miller Hull Partnership , Seattle , Sustainable , World’s Fair

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Miller Hull Partnership and Habitat for Humanity Build ‘The House of the Immediate Future’ for Anniversary of Seattle World’s Fair

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