Friday, 29 July 2016

Street-smart koalas on the move

Koalas are very cute and sleepy animals that can certainly draw a crowd at any zoo.
They are also quite smart, according to a new study that has tracked the movements of the Australian animal in suburban Brisbane.

Griffith University researchers from The Environmental Futures Research Institute team comprehensively monitored 130 man-made koala crossings over a 30-month period.

The crossings were implemented across southeast Queensland as part of a state Government programme to stop koalas from becoming roadkill.

Professor Darryl Jones, who was part of the Griffith research team, said nobody knew whether the structures would actually keep koalas safe from being hit by cars.

"We expected the animals to take a while to get used to them," he said.

To their surprise, the koalas were using the structures three weeks in - seemingly proving you can teach the furry animal new tricks.
"You can, that's the point. I was the first sceptical person to say they're not that smart," said Jones.
The researchers used a range of technologies that allowed them to monitor whether koalas

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Mont Blanc samples will be 'kept on ice' in Antarctica

Samples of ice from Mont Blanc are to be sent to Antarctica where they will be preserved for future research because glaciers in the French Alps are melting at an accelerating rate.

Generations of scientists will be able to study climate change and the impact of pollution by using air bubbles trapped in the ice.

The samples, which will be kept at the Concordia Research Station, a French-Italian Antarctic base, will constitute "an invaluable scientific legacy", said Jean Jouzel, a climatologist.

Researchers will drop by helicopter some 4300m up on the Col du Dome glacier next month and will spend two weeks drilling to collect three samples up to 140m-long.
One will stay in a freezer in France and the others will go to the South Pole as "property of the international community".

The core samples will provide a record of how the composition of the air and ice changed over the past 150 years, revealing levels of sulphur and nitrogen dioxide pollution as well as the effect of specific events such as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

The cores will be airlifted in isothermal containers and stored under 10m of Antarctic snow, at around -54C, to avoid the risk of a freezer breakdown or power cut were they to remain in France.

It is hoped this will preserve them for centuries.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Tiger mauls woman to death in Chinese wildlife park in classic Darwin Award stupidity

A woman was mauled to death and another seriously injured after they jumped out of a car in a tiger enclosure at a Chinese safari park.

Dramatic video footage captures the middle-aged woman flouting the warnings by getting out of the car, and she was killed instantly after she followed the younger woman out of the car at the Badaling Wildlife World, near the Great Wall of China.

Both had ignored repeated warnings to stay inside the vehicle, according to local media.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Drones to collect samples from southern right whales


Flying high-tech drones close enough to southern right whales to catch some of the bugs they blow out will help tell scientists more about the effects climate change is having on the planet.

An international team of scientists, led by Otago University marine biologist Professor Steve Dawson, this week leaves for the wild and windy subantarctic islands for a month-long expedition to shed more light on the nutrition of the big ocean mammals.

What insights they gain will help them discover more about how the species is faring here and around the world, along with how a warming world is affecting one of the most sensitive parts of the globe.
From small boats off the cold and stormy Auckland Islands, about 465km south of Stewart Island, Dawson and his colleagues will use drones mounted with cutting-edge photogrammetric camera technology.

The drones, fitted with a specially developed laser range-finder to measure altitude, will take images of whales precise enough to take highly detailed measurements from.
"This is really state-of-the-art stuff," Dawson said.
"But it's also going to be a very challenging part of the world to use this approach in, because it's extremely windy, wet and cold, and drones don't like any of those things."

At the same time, they're hoping the drones will be able to collect samples of the whales' blow as they exhale.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Hawaii’s Endangered False Killer Whales Are Still Waiting for Protection

Conservationists are headed to court to get some long overdue protection for a rare population of false killer whales.

False killer whales, who are members of the dolphin family, can be found throughout the world’s oceans in tropical waters. The Hawaiian om/causes/hawaiis-endislands are home to a genetically distinct population who stay near shore year round.
Sadly, their population has declined dramatically over the past two decades. There are estimated to be only 150 of them left in existence.


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Buddhist monks buy dozens of lobsters - and return them to the ocean

A group of Buddhist monks from Canada have saved the lives of a large number of lobsters, buying them from various vendors around Eastern Canada's Prince Edward Island.
While the crustaceans had been destined for the cooking pot, the monks, from the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society, instead took them back out to sea.

A spokesman for the monks, Venerable Dan, told CBC News that the lobster rescue mission was not intended as a comment on people's dietary choices, but rather was about compassion.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Frightened lions hide in tree after being charged by angry elephants

The pride of Lions in a very picturesque African tree after being spooked by a herd of Elephants.Photo/Zhayynn James via Caters News
A wildlife photographer has captured the dramatic moment a pride of lions bolted up a tree after they were spooked by a herd of elephants.

The sheepish cats were relaxing in the bush but sought refuge in the tree's branches when they were startled by the leader of the herd.
  The protective elephant charged at the frightened lions as they scrambled up the tree to safety in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania.
Photographer Zhayynn James, from India, was in the right place at the right time when he captured the incredible scene.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Even the clouds altered by climate change, says study

Clouds, which act as thermal regulators for Earth, have altered in character and global distribution due to climate change, and could in turn make warming worse, a study said.

A trawl of satellite images has revealed reduced cloudiness in Earth's temperate mid-latitude zones, which lie between the poles and subtropics in both hemispheres, accompanied by a poleward expansion of the subtropical dry zones.

The tops of clouds everywhere rose higher, according to data that stretched over more than two decades from the early 1980s.

"These cloud changes enhance absorption of solar radiation by the Earth and reduce emission of thermal radiation to space," said a statement from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, which took part in the study.

"This exacerbates global warming caused by increasing greenhouse gas concentration."
Clouds regulate Earth's temperature by reflecting some solar radiation back into space before it can hit the ground, while also acting as a blanket to limit heat loss from the planet at night.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

How sea otters help save the planet

Charles Darwin once mused on the impacts that predators could have on the landscapes around them. In particular, he wondered - in On the Origin of Species - how neighbourhood cats might affect the abundance of flowers in the fields near his house at Downe in Kent. He concluded the animals' potential to change local flora was considerable.

A robust cat population, he argued, would mean that local mouse numbers would be low and that, in turn, would mean there would high numbers of bumble bees - because mice destroy bee combs and nests. And as bees pollinate clover, Darwin argued that this cascade of oscillating species numbers would result in there being more clover in fields in areas where there are lots of feline pets. Cats mean clover, in short.

It was an idea that took the fancy of Darwin's chief disciple, the biologist Thomas Huxley who extended this cat-clover cascade in 1892 to include old maids. They kept cats, Huxley argued, and those pets would ensure neighbouring fields would be low in mice, high in bees and rich in clover.
And that in turn would have powerful consequences for the British Empire, Huxley added. Cattle graze on clover and cattle means beef. Thus old maids would provide the perfect setting for ensuring plenty of clover and therefore healthy cattle and good roast beef to feed our troops and thus ensure the prosperity of the British Empire. Old maids mean military might, in short.

Around islands that lacked sea otters, urchins had increased in size and in numbers with devastating consequences.

Monday, 11 July 2016

World's saddest polar bear on display in Chinese shoppin

This is barbaric! Free them all!
They are one of the world's most magnificent predators. But one beautiful polar bear has been named the saddest in the world after it was filmed locked up in an enclosure in a Chinese shopping centre.
The bear can be seen lying slumped on its side in the tiny enclosure at the Grandview Aquarium, Guangzhou, China. Punters at the shopping centre disturb the bear regularly by knocking at its cage windows and taking selfies. The cruel make-shift zoo is also home to belugas, a walrus and a wolf.
Charity Animals Asia have since started a petition to close Grandview Aquarium which has seen over 153,000 signatures.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Horror as spectators watch bullfighter gored to death in Spain

An award-winning bullfighter has been gored to death live in front of hundreds of terrified spectators - the first matador fatality in Spain this century.

Segovia bullfighter Víctor Barrio, 29, suffered a mortal blow during a tournament in the town of Teruel in Aragon, Eastern Spain.

The performer was rushed to hospital unconscious but doctors were unable to save his life.
He had rolled to the ground in a painful somersault after the bull caught him while he tried to attract the animal with a 'muletazo' manoeuvre, reports La

The bull caught him in the side, rammed him to the ground and gored him the chest.

The Maños bull, named Lorenzo, had reportedly been struggling but caught the showman off guard.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Why is Antarctic sea ice increasing?

Scientists have shed more light on the puzzling contradiction of increasing Antarctic sea ice in a warming world.

In a new paper published in Nature Geoscience this week, researchers from Monash University and the US-based National Center for Atmospheric Research pointed to climate variability and a complex series of flow-on effects between the tropical Pacific and Ross Sea.

Reasons why the extent of Antarctic sea ice has increased since satellite records began in 1979 have long confounded climate scientists.

The Antarctic situation sits in stark contrast with the Arctic, where ice is rapidly melting, and is not reflected in climate model predictions.

In the new study, the researchers report that patterns of climate variability and corresponding changes in water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and the Amundsen Sea off the coast of west Antarctica, have changed ocean circulation in the Ross Sea, driving an increase in sea ice.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Hole in ozone layer is closing and will be 'healed' by 2050, scientists say

  The hole in the ozone layer has shrunk by more than 1.7 million square miles since 2000. Photo / NASA
The hole in the Antarctic ozone layer is beginning to close, scientists have discovered.
Researchers from the University of Leeds and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, have confirmed the first signs of an increase of ozone, which shields life on Earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.

New findings, published today in the journal Science, show that the average size of the ozone hole each September has shrunk by more than 1.7 million square miles since 2000 - about 18 times the area of the United Kingdom.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Warning sounds on global warming

The record warm start to the year will be the new normal within the next few generations, scientists say.

The first six months of 2016 have been the warmest since records began, but these temperatures may soon seem on the cold side, climate scientist James Renwick says.

"We're going to see more and more of these record warm months and years and in 50 years' time this year's record warm might be normal or even cool. What we think of as warm now is going to be average in a generation or so."

Northerly wind flows had contributed to warmer temperatures and a milder autumn this year, but Dr Renwick said it was the backdrop of climate change combined with weather patterns that created the record temperatures.

His predictions were echoed in climate change projections released by the Ministry for the Environment yesterday, which found average temperatures in New Zealand were expected to rise by up to 1C by 2040 and by up to a further 2C in the 50 years after that.

The report also predicted the number of hot days would increase by 40 to 100 per cent by 2040, while the number of cold nights would decrease by 30 to 50 per cent.
Rainfall would decrease in the north and east of the North Island, but increase elsewhere. The number of dry days each year would increase, as would the intensity of droughts.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Scientists created zombie 'Frankenturtles' to discover why loggerheads are dying

The two majestic loggerhead sea turtles were dead, and nothing could change that. Like dozens of their kind, they'd succumbed in the ocean and washed up on Chesapeake Bay beaches, a major concern for marine biologists.

But two researchers had a crazy idea: What if they could bring the giants back to life, so to speak. David Kaplan, a professor at the College of William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and Bianca Santos, a graduate student there, went to work. They stuffed their body cavities with flotation material, stuck them back in the water and followed their drift in the hopes of finding where loggerheads are encountering the numerous things that are killing them.

The scientists didn't laugh madly. No electricity flashed between poles in a lab. But make no mistake, some horror was involved. "It's gruesome," said Santos. "It's not the prettiest of topics. But overall it's been positive."

They call them Frankenturtles because they look like monsters -- zombies with eyes missing and mouths shut tight. Their bodies at launch were still thawing out from the freezer at the Virginia Aquarium's Stranding Response Program, which collected the two specimens after beachcombers spotted them. Two weeks later, the mission to give their lives purpose is going "pretty well," Santos said.