Friday, 29 April 2016

Elderly elephant collapses and dies after giving rides to tourists in Cambodia

Elephants eat and roam free at the Elephant Nature Park in the mountains of northern Thailand, near Chiang Mai in 2013. Photo: Lillian Cunningham, The Washington Post 
Tourists flock to Angkor in Cambodia - home to one of the largest operating archaeological sites in the world - to marvel at massive Khmer Empire ruins and ride elephants. For a price, you, too, can sit atop one of these majestic creatures as it carries you around the Angkor Wat temple complex.

Elephant riding has long been the target of criticism from animal activists, who call the practice cruel and harmful. Now, those activists are calling for an end to elephant rides after an elderly female named Sambo collapsed last week after carrying tourists around the historic site.

Sambo, thought to be between 40 and 45 years old, suffered from heart failure after working in extreme heat, Angkor Elephant Company owner Oan Kiri told the Associated Press.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Billions needed to save the Great Barrier Reef

Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef.Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
It will take several billion dollars to save the Great Barrier Reef from water quality threats, a conservation group says.

WWF Australia has grave doubts the Australian Government will meet its current funding commitments to the reef, and even if it does the money won't come close to what's needed to save it from agricultural run-off and sediment build up.

WWF scientist and spokesman Sean Hoobin says a reef rescue plan, on the scale of the one forged for the Murray-Darling basin, is needed.

He expects a key scientific taskforce looking at reef health to recommend a multi-billion dollar investment when it reports back to government next month.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Devastating bleaching toll on the Reef

Heart Reef on Great Barrier Reef near the Whitsunday Islands. 
The conclusions are in from a series of scientific surveys of the Great Barrier Reef bleaching event - an environmental assault on the largest coral ecosystem on Earth - and scientists aren't holding back about how devastating they find them.

Australia's National Coral Bleaching Task Force has surveyed 911 coral reefs by air, and found at least some bleaching of the vast majority of them. The bleaching was the worst in the reef's remote northern sector - where virtually no reefs escaped it.

"Between 60 and 100 per cent of corals are severely bleached on 316 reefs, nearly all in the northern half of the Reef," Professor Terry Hughes, head of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, said. He led the research.

Severe bleaching means that corals could die, depending on how long they are subject to these conditions. The scientists also reported that based on diving surveys of the northern reef, they already are seeing nearly 50 per cent coral death.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Earth's temperature just shattered the thermometer

The Earth is warming so fast that it's surprising even the climate scientists who predicted this was coming.

Last month was the hottest March in 137 years of record keeping, according to data released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It's the 11th consecutive month to set a new record, and it puts 2016 on course to set a third straight annual record. Now, it might seem premature to talk about setting a new yearly record after just three months of data, but these months have been such an extreme departure from the norm that Gavin Schmidt, who directs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has already made the call.

"I estimate [a greater than] 99 percent chance of an annual record in 2016," Schmidt wrote last week, after NASA released its own record climate readings. A month ago-following the release of February's data-Schmidt wrote, simply, "Wow."

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Shark grabs fish from hook of US fishermen

A group of fishermen in the United States were forced to share their catch after a massive shark leapt out of the water for a bite of the fish they had hooked.
The men were fishing just a few miles off Biscayne Bay, Miami, when the massive shark jumped out of the water and grabbed the sailfish from the line.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Great Barrier Reef feeling the heat

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral structure on Earth.
The Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral structure on Earth, is suffering from what may be its worst bleaching event ever recorded.
But according to new research, future bleaching events could be even worse and may disable a natural protection mechanism of the reef's corals - leaving them more defenseless against warmer seas.

Friday, 15 April 2016

So long, suckers! Inky the octopus makes an amazing escape

Inky the octopus waited until it was dark and the staff had gone home from the National Aquarium of New Zealand before making his move.
He squeezed and pushed his way through a tiny gap in the mesh at the top of his tank and slithered 2 meters (6.6 feet) to the floor. Then he made a beeline across the room to a drain hole.

With a body the size of a rugby ball, Inky managed to stretch out and squeeze into the hole. From there, he shimmied down the 50-meter (164-foot) pipe until he was back in the Pacific Ocean.
All he left behind three months ago was a slimy trail, allowing staff at the Napier aquarium to re-create his amazing escape.

He's not been seen since.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Keeping to a climate warming limit

Snow-covered mountains are seen behind the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska. Photo / AP
Snow-covered mountains are seen behind the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.
Top climate scientists will launch a study this week of how hard it would be to limit global warming to 1.5C, although many of them fear it might be too late to reach that level.
Where are temperatures at now?
The world's average surface temperatures reached 1C above pre-industrial times in a record-hot 2015. They will rise by 3C or more by 2100 if current trends continue, many projections show.

Yet 1.5C is the target?
A 195-nation climate summit in Paris in December asked the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for a report in 2018 on limiting warming to just 1.5C. The IPCC began a three-day meeting in Nairobi today to consider how to do that.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Now Playing Watch: Penguins during hunt for krill

The krill population has declined caused by the warmer climate.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Why Is Disney Performing Research on Captive Dolphins?

So Disney is using dolphins for research! Sounds familiar. Should we deal with Disney's "The Seas" project as Sea Shepherd is dealing with Japanese Whalers?

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Antarctic loss could double expected sea level rise by 2100, scientists say

The startling findings, published in the journal Nature, paint a far grimmer picture than current consensus predictions. Photo / iStock
Sea levels could rise nearly twice as much as previously predicted by the end of this century if carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, an outcome that could devastate coastal communities around the globe, according to new research published Wednesday.

The startling findings, published in the journal Nature, paint a far grimmer picture than current consensus predictions, which have suggested that seas could rise by just under a meter at most by the year 2100.

The scientists behind Wednesday's study used sophisticated computer models to decipher a longstanding riddle about Antarctica: how did it surrender so much ice during previous warm periods? They found that similar conditions in the future could lead to monumental and irreversible increases in sea levels. If high levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue, they concluded, oceans could rise by close to two meters in total (more than six feet) by the end of the century. The melting of ice on Antarctica alone could cause seas to rise more than 13 meters (42 feet) by 2500.

Friday, 1 April 2016

'Severe' coral bleaching is damaging huge swaths of the Great Barrier Reef, scientists say

Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef observed by aerial survey. Photo / Terry Hughes, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies 
Scientists have declared that key portions of the Great Barrier Reef - over a thousand miles long and the "largest living structure on the planet," according to Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - are now seeing the worst coral bleaching in recorded history.

"We're seeing very severe bleaching in the northern part of the reef," said professor Terry Hughes of James Cook University, where he heads the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. "And I think that just highlights how precarious the situation has become, whereby severe El Niño events, which happen every few years, are enough to trigger a bleaching event. And it wasn't always like that."

Hughes spoke after undertaking an aerial survey of 520 reefs north of Cairns, Australia, and encompassing the northern part of the reef.