Can Gowanus Survive Its Renaissance?
Brooklyn’s famously filthy canal is getting cleaned up.
A building boom is coming. And not everyone is happy.
By ANDY NEWMAN
OCT. 13, 2017
The New York Times
“Welcome to Venice Jerko.” The greeting is painted in three-foot-high letters on a brick wall along Brooklyn’s legendarily polluted Gowanus Canal, right across from the canal’s first luxury high-rise and its new waterfront promenade.
One recent sunny Sunday, a party of German seminary students and a pair of hotel publicists gathered for a canoe tour. The seminarians had read about the canal in a German travel guide that promised “a romantic sunset on the water.” The publicists were scouting to see if the boutique hotel, opening a few blocks away, might want to include guided canoe trips.
“It could make for a great guest experience,” one of the publicists said. The voyagers carried their canoes past the cafe tables on the promenade, put in below the new boat ramp and paddled off.
The future is flowing in fast on the sleepy little canal, where the wilderness of urban decay that sprouted artists and then artisanal ice cream shops is being tidied and tamed. Stroller traffic on the bridge to Whole Foods grows thick, and the sliding crunch of the concrete factory conveyor belt is falling silent.
But as much as the canal zone has been remade already, the next few years promise, or threaten, a different magnitude of change altogether.
New Publication by Hawk Mountain scientists shows seasonal changes in migration timing
September 27, 2017
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, PA
Earlier this month, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary biologists published a new paper in collaboration with researchers in Canada and across the United States that suggests global climate change is creating long-term shifts in seasonal migration timing and the amount of time eastern North American raptors spend on their breeding grounds.
The article, "Long-term phenological shifts in migration and breeding-area residency in eastern North American raptors" was published in The Auk: Ornithological Advances on September 20. Dr. Jean-Francois Therrien, the Sanctuary’s senior research biologist, served as lead author with co-authors Director of Long-term Monitoring Dr. Laurie Goodrich, Director of Conservation Science Dr. Keith Bildstein, and seven other collaborators.
The research suggests an overall delay across species in most eastern North American raptors in autumn migration passage, which correlates with an increase in temperature. Combining those results with earlier spring migration data further suggests that most species in this region are increasing the amount of time they spend on their breeding grounds.
West Coast beetle saving East Coast's hemlocks
David M Zimmer, Staff Writer, @dzimmernews
Published 5:00 a.m. ET Sept. 28, 2017 | Updated 12:27 a.m. ET Oct. 4, 2017
A tiny beetle from the Pacific Northwest may be reversing the fortunes of the region’s remaining hemlock stands.
Once thought to be doomed by a sap-stealing insect from Japan called a hemlock woolly adelgid, North Jersey’s hemlock groves now appear to be in the aftermath of a near fatal attack, said Rosa Yoo, an assistant regional forester with the state forestry service.
A series of cold winters several years ago has received some credit for the reprieve. There is also a predatory beetle brought in from the West Coast in 2005 that Mark Mayer, the New Jersey Bureau of Biological Pest Control chief, said has helped him overcome a bought of depression.
To Breed or Not to Breed? Migratory Female Butterflies Face a Monsoonal Dilemma
From: National Centre for Biological Sciences
Published October 3, 2017 10:28 AM
What do CPUs, stockbrokers, and butterflies have in common? They are good at investing their resources in the right place at the right time so as to maximize their returns! Trade-offs are a way of life for butterflies and other small insects that must budget their energy between numerous morphological features and activities during their short lifespans. Time, food, and space are always at a premium, and optimizing resource use is particularly important for migratory butterflies that must prepare for arduous journeys in uncertain environments. A new study by researchers at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS-TIFR, Bengaluru) reports on butterfly migrations in peninsular India and explores the effect of migration on resource investment strategies of migratory butterflies. It reveals that migration affects the morphology and physiological states of female butterflies much more prominently compared to that of males.
Milkweed butterflies (so called because they feed on plants with a milky sap) are commonly found in gardens and wooded areas in southern India. Every year, four species – the Double-branded Crow (Euploea sylvester), Common Crow (Euploea core), Dark Blue Tiger (Tirumala septentrionis), and Blue Tiger (Tirumala limniace) – undertake a bidirectional migration between the Western Ghats and the southern Eastern Ghats and surrounding eastern plains. Swarms composed of millions of these butterflies grace the environs of Bengaluru on their way. This spectacular phenomenon first occurs between April and June, before the southwestern summer monsoons hit the Western Ghats, when butterflies are driven by pre-monsoon showers to the eastern plains and hills. The return migration to the Western Ghats, undertaken by newly emerged butterflies of the next generation, takes place between October and December, after the south-west monsoons are over.
How Do Fish Find Their Way?
Hatched in the ocean, larvae may use sound to settle on reefs
By Bennett McIntosh
:: Originally published online September 6, 2017
A day in the field for Justin Suca begins at 4:45 in the morning, just before the first stars begin to disappear from the sky over the island of St. John. He’ll spend the next five hours motoring around the reefs south of that Caribbean island, retrieving tubular nets full of fish trapped during the night. The fish are much too small to eat or sell, but Suca doesn’t throw them back.
He and other scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) are there to count tiny larvae, often less than a centimeter long. The nets intercepted the larvae as they made their harrowing trip from the open ocean where they hatched, to the reef where they would settle down and live. Suca and colleagues are there to understand how they find their way home.
The larvae travel almost blind, swimming overnight through dark waters, so they must rely on other senses. Rich chemical clues about the flora and fauna on a reef can disperse miles through the water, but Suca says the fish would have trouble relying on their noses to guide them home. Smell can travel a long distance, he said, but it’s hard for fish swimming through swirling pockets of odor to discern which direction the smells are coming from without integrating other senses. So Suca is focusing on how the larvae use another sense: sound.
Dead Dolphins Wash Up On 3 New Jersey Beaches
In the past week, dolphins have washed up dead at Sandy Hook, Sea Bright and Sea Isle City. Three dead whales washed up, too. Why?
By Carly Baldwin (Patch Staff)
Updated Oct 10, 2017 4:57 pm ET
Middletown NJ Patch
SANDY HOOK GATEWAY NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, NJ — In the past four days, bottlenose dolphins have washed up dead on three different New Jersey beaches, and marine mammal experts are at a loss as to why. Two whales also washed up dead on New Jersey beaches recently; a pygmy sperm whale and her calf washed up at Brigantine last Wednesday, Oct. 4. They both had to be euthanized because they were badly injured from rolling the surf.
The most recent dolphin washed up Monday in Sea Bright, according to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, a volunteer marine mammal rescue center based in Brigantine. On Sunday, Oct. 8 a dead dolphin washed up in Sea Isle City, and on Friday, Oct. 6 one washed up at Sandy Hook.
Center director Bob Schoelkopf said he wasn't sure why they were washing up, although at least one had shark bites. Tests are being conducted to determine how all three died and if they are connected. A third pygmy sperm whale washed up Sept. 20 in Holgate on Long Beach Island, according to NJ.com. The whales are especially concerning, because the pygmy sperm whales are deep-sea creatures, Schoelkopf said.
The ravenous hunger for sand worldwide was spotlighted in the 2013 documentary “Sand Wars” by French filmmaker Denis Delestrac, which warned that illegal sand mining could make beaches a thing of the past by the end of the 21st century.
Every house, skyscraper and glass building, every bridge, airport and sidewalk in our modern society depends on sand. We use it to manufacture optical fiber, cell phone components and computer chips. We find it in our toothpaste, powdered foods and even in our glass of wine (both the glass and the wine, as a fining agent)!
Is sand an infinite resource? Can the existing supply satisfy a gigantic demand fueled by construction booms? What are the consequences of intensive beach sand mining for the environment and the neighboring populations?
Based on encounters with sand smugglers, barefoot millionaires, corrupt politicians, unscrupulous real estate developers and environmentalists, this investigation takes us around the globe to unveil a new gold rush and a disturbing fact: the “SAND WARS” have begun.
Story by Pola Lem.
NASA The Earth Observatory
Accessed October 4, 2017
Nestled under the crook of Brooklyn, Jamaica Bay is a place as different from New York City as you can find. A rare haven amid the urban gridlock, it borders some of the most densely populated counties in the United States.
On August 26, 2016, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured a natural-color view of the bay. The image was acquired at 11:39 a.m. Eastern Time, just before the low tide. Sediment clouds the water, a result of the ebbing tide passing between a handful of small islands in the bay. Just across the peninsula, south of the Rockaways, larger waves create a marbled pattern on the Atlantic Ocean.
Despite the calm of the bay, there are constant reminders that this is, in fact, New York City. A road and train track cuts through the center of the bay, along the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Dozens of times a day, the subway clatters through. Planes roar overhead on their arrival and departure from John F. Kennedy International Airport, built on marshland at the bay’s northeastern edge. In summer months, city dwellers laden with towels and sunscreen pass through the bay on their way south to beaches in the Rockaways.
A snapper bluefish caught in New York Harbor by the author
By Joe Reynolds
New York Harbor Nature Blog
For bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), a native predator fish in New York Harbor and surrounding tidal waters, October means just one thing - it’s time to gorge on large schools of baitfish.
Renowned for their fighting ability, bluefish have voracious appetites and is a frenzied eater. They will travel in large schools to feed predominantly on menhaden, herring, or on any prey they can capture. Bluefish are visual feeders, often hunting in large schools during the daytime to attack anything that moves or slightly resembles food, such as a human foot or thumb.
Spencer Fullerton Baird, an American naturalist, ornithologist, ichthyologist, herpetologist, and the first Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries for the United States Fish Commission, writing in the 1870's, estimated that large schools of bluefish annually consumed “at least twelve hundred million fish during the four summer months off southern New England” which he was present in Woods Hole, MA. This might have been an overestimation, since modern scientific tools were not present to accurately count fish, but large schools of bluefish do have aggressive feeding habits and are frequently known to demolish enormous schools of baitfish.
Decades later, prominent wildlife scientists Henry B. Bigelow and William Schroeder, wrote the Fishes of the Gulf of Maine published in 1953 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They called bluefish the “most ferocious and bloodthirsty fish in the sea, leaving in its wake a trail of dead and mangled mackerel, menhaden, herring, alewives, etc, on all of which it preys.”
With all due respect to striped bass, the unofficial saltwater fish of New York Harbor, pound for pound the bluefish is the finest and fiercest fighting fish in local tidal waters. Forget the detractors. If they can’t appreciate the fight and ferocious nature of a bluefish, it's their loss, right?
Bluefish are tough fighting fish with a ravenous appetite. The blues will feed heavily in October before their migration southward to Cape Hatteras during the winter, but sometimes will swim even farther south to Florida or Cuba. Bluefish are generally warm-water fish that prefer temperatures higher than 55 degrees F. In order to fuel a time-consuming aquatic migration, the fish must eat relentlessly on various species of baitfish including menhaden or bunker, which historically formed large schools during their own southbound migrations.
As Seas Warm, Whales Face New Dangers
By KAREN WEINTRAUB
OCT. 2, 2017
The New York Times
MOUNT DESERT ROCK, Me. — From the top of the six-story lighthouse, water stretches beyond the horizon in every direction. A foghorn bleats twice at 22-second intervals, interrupting the endless chatter of herring gulls.
At least twice a day, beginning shortly after dawn, researchers climb steps and ladders and crawl through a modest glass doorway to scan the surrounding sea, looking for the distinctive spout of a whale.
This chunk of rock, about 25 nautical miles from Bar Harbor, is part of a global effort to track and learn more about one of the sea’s most majestic and endangered creatures. So far this year, the small number of sightings here have underscored the growing perils along the East Coast to both humpback whales and North Atlantic right whales.
This past summer, the numbers of humpback whales identified from the rock were abysmal — the team saw only eight instead of the usual dozens. Fifty-three humpbacks have died in the last 19 months, many after colliding with boats or fishing gear.
The Nation’s Approach to Managing Flood Risks Must Change
September 13, 2017
By Joel Scata
In the era of climate change, the “business-as-usual” approach for addressing flooding is no longer an option. Current federal policies create an unsustainable “flood, rebuild, repeat” situation for managing the nation’s flood risks. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, while extreme events, laid bare the holes in our nation’s ability to prepare for and adapt to a growing number of large-scale natural disasters. We are now seeing more severe storm events, rising sea levels, and more people moving to vulnerable coastal areas. The impacts and associated damage costs from floods will only continue to increase without reform. The Trump administration and Congress must pursue policies that make America safer and more resilient to flooding.
Three major flood policy areas demand immediate attention:
As we tally up the devastation from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the need for these reforms will only increase.
The High Costs of Flooding
Hurricane Harvey, one of the most destructive storms to hit the United States, caused widespread flooding along Texas’ Gulf Coast and in parts of Louisiana. The storm damaged tens of thousands of homes, impacted critical facilities, like hospitals, nursing homes, and water treatment plants, and most tragically, resulted in over 70 deaths. The costs to rebuild Houston and other affected areas will be high, possibly reaching $190 billion.
A juvenile Soft-shell clam
By Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature Blog
Bees do it and birds do, but both do it mainly in the spring. For soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria), once is just not enough. They like to do it twice a year.
The soft shell clam is a common bivalve mollusk within estuarine waters of New York Harbor with a thin, oval, elongated shell. They usually spawn once in late spring and once in mid-to-late autumn. Which means the clams are getting ready to once again create new life.
There is a reason for the twin spawning times. Clams are low on the food chain, which means just about anything loves to eat a clam. These little bivalves need to reproduce often and with many young if they wish for the species to survive.
Predators are quite abundant and include several species of crabs and horseshoe crabs, snails, sea stars, killifish, rays, skates, and even diving ducks and raccoons. Humans also harvest soft shell clams commercially. With so many predators, it’s no wonder why soft shell clams are capable of reproduction after their first year of life. They need to hurry up and just do it.
Similar to hard clams, soft-shell clams reproduce by releasing eggs and sperm into the water column. Once the eggs have been fertilized, free-swimming larva develops within a few hours or within one day. Though the larva are able to swim freely, currents in the bay, winds and wave action often disperse the little critters a great distance away from the site of fertilization. No worries, though, this action helps to increase genetic diversity among the species. Disbursement takes place for about 1 to 3 weeks,
During this time, many clams will become food for plankton eating fish and shellfish. But those that survive will go on to change into juvenile clams, resembling small adults with a small foot and shell.
Next they will find an appropriate place to settle by crawling along the bottom of the bay looking for suitable sandy substrate and low wave action. Ultimately each living clam will find a permanent place to burrow and call home. They will anchor to the bottom of an estuary using thin threads secreted from a gland on the foot and dig into the sediments using their muscular foot.
When soft shell clams become adults, the remainder of their life is spent beneath the sandy sediments, up to a foot in some places, in relatively the same location with minimum movement, often buried in a mixtures of sand, mud and gravel. They can tolerate a variety of salinities and withstand below freezing temperatures too, which makes them well adapted to an estuarine life.
Like all other bivalves, soft shell clams are filter feeders extracting their food, which is mostly plankton, from the water column by use of a slimy siphon. One clam can filter up to a gallon of water per day.
When a soft-shell clam feels threatened, it will often spew out a long spurt of water via their siphon and dig down deeper into the sand. This squirting behavior has earned the soft-shell clam a nasty nickname of "piss clam."
Hurricanes: Bad for People, Good for Dolphins
Katrina led to a marine-mammal boom, and Harvey, Irma and Jose might do the sameBy By Jason G. Goldman
September 9, 2017
Biologist Lance Miller noticed something odd while conducting dolphin surveys in the Gulf of Mexico in 2007: baby dolphins. Lots of them, and lots more than he expected given the results of surveys in 2005 and 2006. The reason? Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricanes like Harvey, the one that devastated Houston and other parts of Texas last week, and like Irma, the one currently threatening Florida, are typically associated with loss of life, loss of property, and other economic losses, the effects of which can be felt for years. That's not only true for humans. It's true for wildlife too.
Starting in December 2004—before Katrina struck—and continuing through November 2007, a group of scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi led by Miller (now at the Chicago Zoological Society), motored around the Gulf of Mexico looking for Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), initially as part of an study about their social organization.
A young bottlenose dolphin seen this past summer within a pod of dolphins in Sandy Hook Bay while forging for bunker.
By Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature Blog
Even though bottlenose dolphins (with their slight upturn in the corner of their mouth which appears to people as the animal is always smiling) is one of the most well known species of marine mammals in the world, many people still don’t realize bottlenose dolphins can frequently be seen in New York Harbor during the summer and early fall. Sightings might not always be well-known, but nearly every summer and fall there are dolphins swimming close by.
Typically, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), arrive to New York Harbor and surrounding tidal waters between May and June. Many people regularly pay for the opportunity to see dolphins from a boat, but for those lucky folks who are in the right place at the right time many dolphins can be seen from the shoreline, sometimes within 300 feet. An amazing natural experience made even more remarkable as it takes place within sight of New York City, the most developed coastline in America!
Why do bottlenose dolphins swim in the busy waters of New York Harbor? It’s all about the food. Over the past several decades, as local waters have slowly become cleaner (though not clean, still more work to do), an abundance of sea life is gradually returning to New York Harbor, such as ospreys, whales, seals and bottlenose dolphins too.
Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are a group of marine mammals known as cetaceans, which are high level marine predators having, in part, their daily activities related to the location of their prey. They swim to the harbor for the abundance and diversity of food: from weakfish, croaker, spots, and mullets to skates, rays, squid, shrimp, crabs, and clams.
Their favorite food by far is Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus), also known as “bunker.” Menhaden is a herring-like fish, often swimming in large schools into the thousands or hundreds of thousands. Menhaden can be found from the Maritime Provinces of Canada to the east coast of Florida in estuarine and coastal waters.
Brain damage in fish from plastic nanoparticles in water
Date: September 25, 2017
Source: Lund University
Calculations have shown that 10 per cent of all plastic produced around the world ultimately ends up in the oceans. As a result, a large majority of global marine debris is in fact plastic waste. Human production of plastics is a well-known environmental concern, but few studies have studied the effects of tiny plastic particles, known as nanoplastic particles.
"Our study is the first to show that nanosized plastic particles can accumulate in fish brains," says Tommy Cedervall, a chemistry researcher at Lund University.
The Lund University researchers studied how nanoplastics may be transported through different organisms in the aquatic ecosystem, i.e. via algae and animal plankton to larger fish. Tiny plastic particles in the water are eaten by animal plankton, which in turn are eaten by fish.
By Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature Blog
A sure sign that Old Man Winter will be arriving soon to New York Harbor. Every morning for the past three weeks I've listened to a few downy woodpeckers drilling holes in oak trees near my house. The sound is distinctive and can be heard a great distance by me and probably by other animals.
Downy woodpeckers often excavate roost holes in the fall. The birds are busy excavating not just one, but several roosting holes in preparation for the coming winter.
Having a winter home is important for the survival of a downy woodpecker. A slow-moving woodpecker that didn’t drill at least one in time will be forced to roost in the open where it will have a difficult time retaining heat on a cold winter’s night. It will also be more exposed to owls and other predators during the night.
Listen closely for the next few weeks during the daytime around New York Harbor in nearby urban and suburban parks, woodlots and in residential areas, especially in areas with lots of deciduous trees near a waterway. Perhaps you too will hear the soft rapid drilling sound of the smallest woodpecker in North America.
But don’t confuse drilling with drumming. Both are common activities for woodpeckers, but each with a specific purpose. Drilling is when a woodpecker will create a hollow area in a tree for nesting or roosting. Drumming, on the other hand, is what a woodpecker does to attract a mate or mark a territory. Drumming occurs primarily in the spring.
Right now, downy woodpeckers are drilling. They are making a series of very rapid strikes onto deciduous trees, usually a large dead limb or dead tree, or low tapping sounds that usually last only a few seconds. They seem to be most active early in the morning to around mid-day.
As woodpeckers drill, they will chip out wood to make a small cavity for winter roosting. In the spring, a resurgence of drilling activity occurs in preparation for the nesting season.
It usually takes between 3 to 7 days for a single downy woodpecker to whittle away a home in a tree, depending on the thickness of the tree of course. Throwing out around 40 billfuls of sawdust in the process. If the perfect tree cannot be found, I have seen downies hollow out the interior of bluebird nest boxes. They have also been known to roost in old fence posts.
Roosts are usually 7 to 20 feet above the ground, but can be as high as 60 feet. The entrance is usually a couple inches long, and the cavity is 4 to10 inches deep. The hole is often oriented away from chilly northerly winter winds.
Sometimes sneaky titmice, chickadees, nuthatches or flying squirrels will try to take over a downy’s winter roosting cavity when temperatures become really cold at night. But the birds have seen this tricky behavior before. There is no evidence of downy woodpeckers migrating south for the winter. They have learned to tough it out in hopes for better nesting spots come spring.
Lucky for us, the downy woodpecker is equally at home in urban parks or backyard bird feeders. So even if you don’t get a chance to hear the bird drilling this autumn, chances are really good you can take delight in seeing this ubiquitous feathered resident around New York Harbor sometime soon.
What happens to marine wildlife during hurricanes?
When a big hurricane hits, the animal living underwater search for refuge ... if they can.
September 8, 2017, 3:31 p.m.
Mother Nature Network
Hurricanes are incredibly powerful storms that wreak havoc on marine and coastal ecosystems as they work their way from deeper water toward land. The force of the storm churns up water, mixing warmer water at the surface with cooler water from farther down the water column. In all this churning, what happens to the wildlife living in the storm-tossed waters?
While some species can sense the approaching danger and head to safer areas, those that cannot escape the path of the hurricane are displaced or don't survive.
"When Hurricane Andrew hit Louisiana the government estimated that more than 9 million fish were killed offshore. Similarly an assessment of the effect of that same storm on the Everglades Basin in Florida showed that 182 million fish were killed. Hurricane Katrina also had a huge effect on dolphin species," wrote the National Wildlife Federation.
Meanwhile, those species that survive may find their ecosystem dramatically altered, with new threats to livability ranging from increased silt to decreased salinity.
Why This Hurricane Season Has Been So Catastrophic
After Harvey, Irma, and Maria, we look at why this hurricane season has been so active.
By Michael Greshko
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 22, 2017
Just as Hurricane Harvey wrapped up its devastation of Houston, Irma got into line behind it and quickly built into the strongest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. Now, Maria leaves a broken Caribbean in its wake: Dominica's rooftops and rainforests have been ripped to shreds, and Puerto Rico may be without power for months as a result of the storm. (Learn more about how hurricanes work.)
It’s hard to avoid comparisons to the last time two such powerful storms threatened U.S. landfall in the catastrophic 2005 hurricane season, 12 years ago.
As in 2005, when Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast in rapid succession, the country is staring down the barrel of multiple hurricanes making landfall. In the face of multiple major storms, a reasonable person might wonder why this season seems worse for U.S. cities, and why the last dozen years brought fewer large hurricanes to U.S. shores.
If you have a question about this hurricane season compared with recent years, we’ve got you covered:
Yes, New York Harbor Has Sea Turtles too!
According to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, four different species of sea turtles are commonly found inhabiting the waters of New York Harbor and Long Island Sound during the summer months and early fall, where they feed on a variety of food, such as spider crabs, jellyfish, seaweed, and green crabs: Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Green Sea Turtles, Kemps Ridley Sea Turtles, and Leatherback Sea Turtles.
Watch for Sea Turtles when Boating this Fall!
BY MASS AUDUBON
| SEPTEMBER 14, 2017 |
On the Water Magazine
Your attention on the water and your concern can help save these threatened and endangered species.
There have been at least five loggerhead and two leatherback sea turtles killed by boat strikes in Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay over the past two weeks, and fishermen are being urged to please keep a close eye out for sea turtles. There are four species feeding in Massachusetts waters this time of year, and with fall fishing quickly approaching its peak, it increases the likelihood of sea turtle boat strikes.
You’re most likely to see leatherbacks and loggerheads. Leatherbacks are huge, 4 feet or more in length, dark, with fore-and-aft ridges on their upper shell. Loggerheads in our waters are usually 2 to 3 feet long, tan/brown with yellow/orange around their heads and flippers. Loggerheads often have barnacles and algae on their upper shell. Both species sometimes bask at the surface, and swim at or just under the surface. A small powerboat could easily kill a loggerhead or a huge leatherback, and there have been had numerous boat strike fatalities in recent weeks.
How Three Friends Proved That Jellyfish Can Sleep
By STEPH YIN
SEPT. 21, 2017
The New York Times
Worms and fish do it. Birds and bees do it. But do jellyfish fall asleep?
It seems like a simple question, but answering it required a multistep investigation by a trio of Caltech graduate students. Their answer, published Thursday in Current Biology, is that at least one group of jellyfish called Cassiopea, or the upside-down jellyfish, does snooze.
The finding is the first documented example of sleep in an animal with a diffuse nerve net, a system of neurons that are spread throughout an organism and not organized around a brain. It challenges the common notion that sleep requires a brain. It also suggests sleep could be an ancient behavior because the group that includes jellyfish branched off from the last common ancestor of most living animals early on in evolution.
The Ocean Flyway: The Surprising Open Water Routes of Songbird Migrations
BY JOE SMITH
SEPTEMBER 21, 2017
Cool Green Science
If you are fascinated with migration, it is a good time to be alive. Sophisticated tracking technologies are revealing migration routes and destinations that have long been inscrutable.
One recent revelation is that small songbirds are bypassing land and making direct flights southbound over the Atlantic Ocean during fall migration in September and October.
It’s an unlikely proposition that a bird that is only the weight of two sheets of paper would opt to fly between one and two thousand miles in a straight shot across open water. It would seem that the better bet would be to take a leisurely route over land where a safety net of habitat awaits below.
Blackpoll warblers, Connecticut warblers, bobolinks and perhaps other species all make this paradoxical choice, setting off across a watery abyss as they make their way to winter destinations in South America.
Sea Turtles Appear to Be Bouncing Back Around the World
By JOANNA KLEIN
SEPT. 20, 2017
The New York Times
On this planet, so many plants and animals are disappearing that scientists worry we’re experiencing a sixth mass extinction. Many of these organisms are taking hits from a variety of angles — habitat loss, climate change and more — that it’s hard to get a grasp on how to stop their declines. Conservation success stories are rare.
But sea turtles may be an exception, according to an comprehensive analysis of global sea turtle abundance published Wednesday in Science Advances.
Antonios Mazaris, an ecologist at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and a team of international researchers found that globally, most populations of sea turtles are bouncing back after historical declines. Their research helps clarify why some conservation and research groups have reported both increases and decreases for individual nesting sites over the past decade.
Young birds suffer in the city
September 8, 2017
City life is tough for young birds. But if they survive their first year, they are less susceptible to the effects of stress, according to research from Lund University in Sweden.
Life in a city constitutes both a threat and an opportunity for wild animals. Researchers at Lund University have now tackled this contradictory state in urban environments. They studied young and adult great tits in Malmö, Sweden, and compared their survival rates with the same bird species in rural areas.
What emerged was that great tits in the urban environment live in a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, it is considerably tougher for birds to reach maturity in a city. On the other hand, if they do survive their first year, the negative effects decrease and the birds seem to be hardier.
"It seems that the various stress factors in the city do not affect the survival of adult individuals in the same way as they affect that of young birds", says Pablo Salmón, who is a research student in biology at Lund University.
September 19, 2017
Contact: Shelley Dawicki
New Method to Estimate Abundance, Detect Trends in North Atlantic Right Whales Confirms Recent Population Decline
Study confirms need for urgent action
NOAA Fisheries researchers and colleagues at the New England Aquarium have developed a new model to improve estimates of abundance and population trends of endangered North Atlantic right whales, which have declined in numbers and productivity in recent years. The findings were published in the journal Ecology and Evolution.
Between 1990 and 2010, the abundance of North Atlantic right whales increased just under three percent per year, from about 270 animals in 1990 to 482 in 2010. After relatively steady increases over that time, abundance has declined each year since 2010 to 458 animals in 2015. The analysis shows that the probability that the population has declined since 2010 is estimated at 99.99 percent. Of particular concern is decline of adult females in the population, estimated at 200 in 2010 but 186 in 2015, the known deaths of 14 North Atlantic right whales this year, and the widening gap between numbers of males and females.
"Although our work directly reveals a relatively small decrease, the subtext is that this species is presently in dire straits,” said lead author Richard Pace
Ship exhaust makes oceanic thunderstorms more intense
Date: September 7, 2017
Source: American Geophysical Union
Summary: Thunderstorms directly above two of the world's busiest shipping lanes are significantly more powerful than storms in areas of the ocean where ships don't travel, according to new research.
A new study mapping lightning around the globe finds lightning strokes occur nearly twice as often directly above heavily-trafficked shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea than they do in areas of the ocean adjacent to shipping lanes that have similar climates.
The difference in lightning activity can't be explained by changes in the weather, according to the study's authors, who conclude that aerosol particles emitted in ship exhaust are changing how storm clouds form over the ocean.
The new study is the first to show ship exhaust can alter thunderstorm intensity. The researchers conclude that particles from ship exhaust make cloud droplets smaller, lifting them higher in the atmosphere. This creates more ice particles and leads to more lightning.
STOP THE WILLIAMS FRACKED GAS PIPELINE THROUGH NY HARBOR!
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT NY HARBOR
1. Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City by Leslie Day
2.Heartbeats in the Muck by John Waldman
3. The Fisheries of Raritan Bay by Clyde L. MacKenzie Jr.
4. Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate
5. The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell