Baby Leatherback Turtles are in Trouble with Rising Temperatures

November 28th, 2012

One of the most amazing creatures on our planet is being threatened by the earths rising temperatures, the leatherback sea turtle. The leatherback was already threatened by fisherman and egg poaching, but adding rising temperatures to this list could make for an unpleasant future.

A female leatherback surveys the ocean at Playa Grande, Costa Rica. While her hatchlings will be affected by rising beach temperatures, she faces threats at sea. Photo by: The Leatherback Trust.

  • The leatherback turtle is the largest known turtle in the world. Named for their characteristic leathery, almost rubber like, shells.
  • These turtles spend almost all of their lives in the ocean, with females only returning to land every 3 or 4 years in order to lay their eggs.
  • The issue though lies in that fact that fewer baby turtles will hatch and get out into the ocean in such dry hot conditions, instead of the cooler ones that the baby turtles prefer.
  • This could make the already small population of leatherback turtles 75% smaller!
  • To try and help save the baby turtles from this fate scientist have been investigating ways to shade and water leatherback turtle nesting sites in order to help the babies survive.

Want to read more? Read the full story here: Climate change threatens population of Earth’s largest sea turtle

Great Apes very own Mid Life Crisis?

November 28th, 2012

Scientists set out to find why people get sadder in the middle of their lives and happier in later portion, the answer they found though only makes the question more complicated. The scientists made the shocking discovery that great apes, like humans, will go through the classic “Mid life crisis” stage like many humans do. Scientists have confirmed that Great Apes go through a stage where they get much sadder during the middle of their lives and get happier gain as they get older. This amazing find has shown that we have even more in common with great apes than we’ve previously thought.

Wild male orangutan in Sumatra. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

  • The study was done on 500 great apes and showed that they had very similar patterns of well being as humans had.
  • This shows us that the “Mid life crisis” stage has a deep, natural aspect in humans.
  • To find how out happy the apes were scientist would develop an “ape questionnaire” where an animal’s keepers would observe their moods and how often they socialized, at different stages of the apes lives.
  • “We hoped to understand a famous scientific puzzle: why does human happiness follow an approximate U-shape through life? We ended up showing that it cannot be because of mortgages, marital breakup, mobile phones, or any other paraphernalia of modern life. Apes also have a pronounced midlife low, and they have none of these”- co-author Andrew J. Oswald

Want to read more? Read the full story here: Great apes suffer mid-life crisis too

House windows kill millions of birds

November 28th, 2012

The thud of a bird crashing into a window is an all-too-familiar sound for many Canadians. Birds often mistake windows for openings, flying into the glass at full speed. A startling new study suggests about 22 million Canadian birds die each year from such crashes.

Students at the University of Alberta surveyed 1,750 locals. Each person gave the number of fatal bird strikes at their homes during the previous year. By applying these numbers to every house in Canada (called extrapolating), the researchers figured out the common numbers of deaths for different types of homes. Then, the team estimated the national bird death rate.

Rural houses with bird feeders and lots of vegetation generally had more bird deaths—as many as 43 in a year. Common birds, like sparrows, robins and chickadees, accounted for most casualties. Luckily, the study found no endangered birds killed by windows.

But this isn’t just a problem in Canada. In the United States an estimated 100 million to 1 billion birds die each year by crashing into windows.

For people looking to stop bird deaths, the easiest step is to move bird feeders and birdbaths away from windows. Placing stickers or plastic wrap on the outside of the window can also prevent a bird from making a crash landing.

The imprint of a pigeon on a window. Common birds made up the bulk of window fatalities in a recent Canadian study. Photo by: Gary Huston.

Wolf hunt moves to the Midwest

November 17th, 2012

Wolves, which were protected under the the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 1973, were stripped of that status by legislation in 2009, opening the door—should a state choose- to hunting. Although the wolf hunt was just beginning in Minnesota and Wisconsin, as of November 14th, 196 animals had been killed in the region.

Although the return of gray wolves (Canis lupus) to the western Rockies made headlines worldwide. The landmark protection of the ESA then allowed wolves to make a comeback in the Great Lakes region, including Wisconsin and Michigan, until around 4,000 wolves re-occupied old habitat. But now, these wolves are facing the first test to their natural re-wilding.

Two wolf hunting seasons have been established in Minnesota, where six thousand permits have been issued for wolf-hunting. In just eleven days, 123 wolves had been killed. In Wisconsin, farmers site their right to protect their livestock, which they have complained that wolves have killed.

“I think this wolf hunt is tragic,” Maureen Hackett, founder and president of Howling for Wolves, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Hackett says that wolves bring out strong emotions in the Great Lakes: “People absolutely love them or they absolutely hate them.”

Wolf tracks on a frozen lake in northern Minnesota. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.

Want to learn more?  Read the full story here: Controversial wolf hunt moves to the Midwest, 196 wolves killed to date

Leopard poaching may be worse than people feared

November 12th, 2012

The leopard is one of the most beautiful animals on earth, however, it has recently been learned that this beautiful cat is under attack. New studies led by TRAFFIC are finding that in India, leopards are being poached at a terribly high rate with almost four leopards being poached every week in the past ten years. This study helps to show the world just how dire the situation is.

Leopard skin. © TRAFFIC.

  • Part of the reason why this has gone unnoticed for so long is because of the amount of attention given to saving the tigers in India.
  • The study found that the amount of leopards being poached was double of what we thought it really was!
  • There have been 420 findings of illegal leopard parts recently in India including teeth, claws, skulls, other bones, and furs.
  • Many speculate the reason that the Leopard is being poached at such a high rate is because the role Leopards part play in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • To combat, this TRAFFIC suggested finding a better way to find the people responsible for poaching.
  • Another suggestion, and one of the most important, is to help spread the knowledge about what is happening to the leopards in order for people to help save them.
  • “Without an effective strategy to assess and tackle the threats posed by illegal trade, the danger is the leopard numbers may decline rapidly as happened previously to the Tiger”- Divyabhunusinh Chava, President of WWF India.

Want to learn more? Read the full story: Leopard poaching is a bigger problem in India than previously believed

Nine new spooky and beautiful Tarantulas discovered in time for Halloween

November 12th, 2012

Of all the creepy crawlies that people are most scared of Tarantulas usually rank around the highest. It seems fitting then that just in time for the end of Halloween season scientists have found nine new species of Tarantulas! These large, hairy, and unique arachnids may be in trouble though if we don’t pitch in to save them.

Male specimen of new species: Iridopelma oliveirai. Photo courtesy of R. Bertani.

A female Typhochlaena seladonia. Photo courtesy of R. Bertani.

  • All nine species were found in Brazil, South America.
  • All were found to be arboreal, meaning that they all spend most of their time living in trees.
  • These “tree living” tarantulas are much smaller and leaner than their non tree living cousins, they also have longer legs to help them get around.
  • Many of these tarantulas live in bromeliads- flowers that live on other plants and are shaped like a pitcher.
  • Bugs often come to these flowers to get the water that is stored in them. This gives the tarantulas somewhere to live where the food comes right to them!
  • Their bright vibrant colors also make them beautiful to look at, but also attracts people to steal them for the pet trade.
  • The destruction of these tarantulas’ homes because of deforestation is also a large contributor to the tarantulas dropping number.

Want to learn more? Read the full story: Happy Halloween: nine new species of tree-climbing tarantula discovered

Photos of flooded New York Aquarium

November 7th, 2012

Jon Forrest Dohlin, director of the WCS New York Aquarium, surveying a sea lion exhibit while walking through flood waters. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher of WCS.


The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released pictures on November 6th, showing damage caused at the New York Aquarium by Hurricane Sandy.

  • The conservation group says it is “making progress restoring life support systems to our aquatic exhibits” by using back-up generators, but that it may need to temporarily relocate some of the animals, and there are still areas that staff cannot safely get to.
  • “We are facing a critical period when we will have to decide if we are going to move some of our animals. We are still working around the clock to accomplish what we need to do,” says WCS.
  • WCS says that some of the aquarium’s best known inhabitants, including an orphaned rescue walrus named Mitik, various adult walruses, sharks, penguins, sea turtles, and sea lions, “did well” in the storm. The fish collection also weathered the storm.
  • “We have been able to maintain temporary life support on our tanks and exhibits since we lost power when the storm hit. This was made possible by … the team of professionals we have at the New York Aquarium, led by its Director, Jon Dohlin. Our veterinarians have been working with the animal care staff to ensure the health and well-being of all our animals,” says WCS.

Flood damage at the New York Aquarium on Nov 1, 2012 following Sandy. Photos by Julie Larsen Maher of WCS.

Want to learn more?  Read the full story here: Photos of flooded New York Aquarium released

New frog discovered in Sri Lanka

November 7th, 2012

A female Polypedates ranwellai. Photo courtesy of Mendis Wickramasinghe.

Sri Lanka, an island country lying off the southeast coast of India, is famous for its different animals. Now, one more can be added to its list: Ranwella’s Spined Tree Frog (polypedates ranwellai). The frog is named after Dr. Sanjeewa Ranwella to honor his dedication towards wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka.

First spotted in 2000, Ranwella’s Frog is only now declared a new species after testing from scientists all over the world to make sure that the frog is unique.

The habitat of this newfound frog is already under threat. Sri Lanka has lost much of its forests as human populations have boomed. Now only 2-3 percent of its primary forest remain. The frog is in further danger, as a proposed construction of a dam would flood its entire habitat, the Gilimale Forest reserve. Logging, mining, and burning down surrounding forests also pose a threat to this new-found species.

A male Polypedates ranwellai calling. Photo courtesy of Mendis Wickramasinghe.

Want to learn more?  Read the full story here: New rare frog discovered in Sri Lanka, but left wholly unprotected