Wildlife

Help for Bluefin Tuna!
September 11, 2014 07:13 AM - Dennis Normile Science

A multinational organization that coordinates fishing activities in the western Pacific is throwing a lifeline to heavily overfished Pacific bluefin tuna stocks. Speaking today at a press briefing, Japanese officials provided details on a plan agreed to last week that aims to rebuild the spawning population by halving the catch of juveniles and limiting takes of mature fish as well. The proposal calls for total Pacific bluefin catches to be kept below the 2002 to 2004 annual average levels and for catches of fish weighing fewer than 30 kilograms—juveniles too young to spawn—to be reduced to 50% of those levels.

How is a warming climate impacting coral reefs?
September 10, 2014 07:34 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

How is a warming climate impacting life in the oceans? Fish can move to cooler areas, but coral reefs are anchored in place. Late-summer water temperatures near the Florida Keys were warmer by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last several decades compared to a century earlier, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Researchers indicate that the warmer water temperatures are stressing corals and increasing the number of bleaching events, where corals become white resulting from a loss of their symbiotic algae. The corals can starve to death if the condition is prolonged.

Greenhouse gases hit new record
September 9, 2014 11:07 AM - Alex Kirby, The Ecologist

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has reported that the amounts of atmospheric greenhouse gases reached a new high in 2013, driven by rapidly rising levels of carbon dioxide. The news is consistent with trends in fossil fuel consumption. But what comes as more of a surprise is the WMO's revelation that the current rate of ocean acidification, which greenhouse gases (GHGs) help to cause, appears unprecedented in at least the last 300 million years.

Norway has biggest whaling season in over 20 years
September 9, 2014 07:48 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

As of late August, Norway has killed 729 northern minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) during its annual whaling season, the highest number taken since 1993. Norway continues whaling by having filed an "objection" under the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which has banned whaling worldwide aside from a few exceptions for indigenous peoples. Only three countries continue to practice whaling: Iceland, Norway, and Japan. In contrast to Norway, both Iceland and Japan conduct whaling under a research banner.

Should the Pacific walrus be considered a threatened species?
September 8, 2014 03:52 PM - USGS Newsroom

A recent U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Pacific walrus population nearly halved between 1981 and 1999, the last year for which demographic data are available. The study notes that the decline was most severe in the mid-1980s, and then moderated in the 1990s. Currently, the USGS is working to obtain more recent population data of the Pacific walrus. This information will be vital because the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is expected to determine whether the Pacific walrus should be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2017.

Dairy - the case for greener, healthier cows
September 8, 2014 08:06 AM - Mark Eisler, Graeme Martin & Michael Lee, The Ecologist

With supermarket milk cheaper than spring water, it's time to rethink the modern dairy industry. It's not just the milk that's become a throwaway product - the high-octane Holstein cows that produce it are also in the knackers yard after just two or three lactations, the living waste of a loss-making, environment-trashing industry.

Monarch Butterflies losing critical habitat
September 7, 2014 09:57 AM - KEVIN PROFT/ecoRI News staff

Sandy Oliviera has raised monarch butterflies in her East Providence backyard for 25 years. In 1998, she helped 125 monarch caterpillars transform into butterflies, and then released them to the wind. "I began to feel like a butterfly factory that year," Oliviera said. Each time her husband or daughter collected milkweed to feed their captive caterpillars, they returned with more eggs or caterpillars to raise. Some days, Oliviera released a dozen newly emerged butterflies, to the pleasure of her 8-year-old grandson who let them rest on his head before they flew away. This summer, for the first time, Oliviera hasn't found a single monarch egg or caterpillar, and hasn't seen any monarch butterflies.

How Pollutant Risk is Affected by Different Insect Stages
September 5, 2014 11:34 AM - Editor, ENN

The food chain is a hierarchical series of organisms that are interrelated in their feeding habits. The chain starts when the smallest being like an insect is fed upon a larger prey species, which in turn feeds an even larger species. So if a species among the lower ranks of the chain has accumulated toxins such as pesticides or other organic chemicals, there is potential for these toxic substances to affect the species that prey upon them. This is the subject of new research conducted by the US Geological survey that found when fish feed on insects and when other wildlife species feed on fish, harmful contaminants are transferred up the line.

The tragic fate of the Passenger Pigeon
September 3, 2014 01:46 PM - Joel Greenberg, Yale Environment360

This September 1 is the 100th anniversary of a landmark event in the history of biodiversity. On that day in 1914, at about one o'clock in the afternoon, Martha - the last surviving passenger pigeon - died at the Cincinnati Zoo. It is extraordinary to know with virtual certainty the day and hour when a species ceases to be a living entity. And it was a stunning development because less than half a century earlier, the passenger pigeon had been the most abundant bird in North America, if not the world. As late as the 1860s, passenger pigeons had likely numbered in the billions, and their population was neither evenly distributed across the landscape nor in any way subtle. These birds had a propensity for forming huge aggregations that are difficult to imagine today. John James Audubon, America's best-known student of birds, recorded a flight of passenger pigeons along the Ohio River in Kentucky that eclipsed the sun for three days. Other accounts, written over the course of three centuries and in several languages, testify to the birds darkening the sky for hours at a time over the major cities of the eastern third of the United States and Canada.

How Farm Pests Can Threaten Food Security
September 2, 2014 12:49 PM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Agricultural pests - viruses, bacteria, fungi, blights, mildews, rusts, beetles, nematodes, flies, mites, spiders and caterpillars - are spreading thanks to trade, travel and global warming, writes Tim Radford. The world faces a dire future of increased crop losses and growing insecurity. Coming soon to a farm near you: just about every possible type of pest that could take advantage of the ripening harvest in the nearby fields.

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