Monthly Archives: September 2017

Turtles are coming back!

With all the bad news about the extinction of species here is one piece of good news; turtles are bouncing back after historical declines. Scientists have studied this through experiments and even small population of turtles are coming back.

And yet, not all of them. The leatherbacks in the Eastern and Western Pacific are still declining. In fact, six of the seven species are either vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. It seems that the bounce back is due to strong efforts since the 1950’s as beaches were protected and fishing was regulated. Establishing marine areas as well helped.

It is only on a longterm basis that scientists can say if a species is bouncing back. For turtles, they have to be followed for long periods of time, 10 to 30 years. Results from studies show that even small population of turtles can return with adequate protection. In Hawaii, green sea turtles increased their nest numbers from 200 in 1973 to 2000 in 2012. This species is now considered to be of least concern for its survival.

More research will be needed as there are still too many unknowns, such as what are the male to female ratios. Shrinking maritime protected areas as is projected in Australia will not help in collecting data on flatback turtles in the area. In other words, scientists are expressing cautious optimism for the survival of turtles.



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Climate change affecting parasites.

We all know about animals that might face extinction due to climate change, but now scientists have discovered that even parasites could disappear, and that is not good. It is possible that in the next century 33% of them could be extinct.

Scientists know that parasites are not sexy and thus people will not miss them, but they are important to the world’s ecosystem. Entire food webs could be affected and this might even harm human health.

Even if some parasites are adversely affected by climate change scientists know that other will thrive. Some might move into new territory recently vacated by another. Deer ticks for example have a rosy future as many climate change models show them expanding northward.

Here is the scary part for humans; it is possible that some parasites are keeping down other parasites that could have more harmful effects on humans. New diseases could spring up threatening us. And all this from having more heat in the atmosphere than we should have…..

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Of trolls and photography.

Trolls are people who specialize in aggravating other people, for often no reason at all. They sometimes do it to provoke a reaction from other people. I often wonder if these people are sick and do not know it.

Of course most people are familiar with trolls on the net. In any forum one can read their posts which are often aimed at some people or other, hoping for a strong reaction. I had my run-ins with them too, but rarely in the real world. Until last Sunday.

I was taking pictures in the botanical garden with a friend when suddenly we saw a heron land on a wood box near the pond. These boxes are used by birds for nesting purposes. The heron was not far from the shore of the pond but as we approached I saw a woman taking two chairs, one for her head and the other for her legs. The nerve she had.

We rapidly approached and prepared to shoot the heron when the women left rapidly, coming back less than 5 seconds later. She then asked us if we had taken her picture. My friend replied that since it was a public space we could but that we did not. I chimed in, asking her tongue-in-cheek if she was famous. She replied that I was presumptuous to ask such a question. I replied that if she were famous then I would take her picture and ask for her autograph. My friend listening to me was smiling broadly. She left and I thought that it was the end of it, but no, like a bad dream she returned.

She said to me that we had really disturbed her, really. I turned around and said she could easily take two chairs and she could install herself a few feet away from us as there was plenty of space. I then told her that if she was so unhappy she could call security or launch an official complaint about us. I was hoping that she would see how ridiculous she was.

She replied that no after all, she would not lodge a complaint. I felt better. But again she said we had disturbed her. At that point I thought that perhaps she was not quite right, especially after she left and returned 10 seconds later with the same lament, that we had disturbed her. And what about us being disturbed by her?

I finally lost it, cursed her and shouted at her and reminded her again that we were in a public space, not in her living room after all. After my outburst she finally left and I hope I never see her again. My friend was laughing at all this, remarking that he had never seen me so angry.

I realized much later what she was, a troll. I should have ignored her instead of trying to reason with her. Something like that happens to me once or twice a year. For some reason taking pictures is not seen as a nice activity by trolls who love to comment on how we “harass” wildlife. I think that from now on I will harass trolls!

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About fish and size.

It now seems according to a recent study that due to global warming the size of fish could decrease by 30% in just 30 years. It seems that for every degree of ocean temperature above the norm the size of fishes drop by 30%.

As fish are cold-blooded they cannot regulate their body temperature which increases if the water they swim in increases as well. At some point, it affects size as metabolic processes in the fish speed up to increase oxygen requirements. The fish then cannot breath properly and this decreases the size of the fish. Already this trend is being seen in the North Sea.

The warming of the oceans is presently seen as some fish migrate to colder areas for oxygen-richer waters. The tropics are losing fish due to that. Other species cannot move and therefore will simply stay put but will shrink in size. So along with over fishing we now will have fish displacement and smaller size fish to contend to in the future. Considering that a good proportion of humanity depends on fish as their main food this decrease in the size of fish will have serious consequences.

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