A whales tale

Whale

I found this image a few months ago and thought it would be interesting to discuss. The thought of this animal being horribly alone simply because of a simple mutation makes me wonder how often this occurs. Does this mutation/deformation in the vocal chords happen in other mammals that communicate in a similar fashion?

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White tigers

White tigers are undoubtedly beautiful and craved by many zoos and other entertainment outfits, as well as exotic pet owners. They are not a unique species, however. They are actually a variation or mutant of the Bengal Tiger. This variation of having white fur (instead of orange) is caused by the rare, recessive genes of leucism. While they do occur in nature, it is very rare. It’s estimated 1 in 15,000 Bengal tigers born will be white. Tigers need their normal coloring for camouflage, which also discourages the lighter fur. The population of wild Bengal tigers is at 2,500 – making them an endangered species. That means the chances of finding one in the wild is incredibly unlikely. So humans have taken breeding white tigers into their own hands.

There are at least 200 white tigers in captivity. It is suspected that most of them seen today could be traced back to a single father and have been inbred relentlessly to obtain the light fur. Much like the purebred dog and cat breeds were are more familiar with, this has caused a number of genetic health issues. The list of problems includes hip dysplasia, cleft palates, weak immune systems, scoliosis and crossed eyes. Many organizations are trying to stop the breeding of white tigers; they claim that the proliferation of white tigers is only hindering the already suffering wild tiger population and is merely for economic gain under the guise of conservation.

As beautiful as they can be, I have to agree that the lineage should probably end – none of the leucistic tigers would be able to survive in the wild and shouldn’t bemade to suffer.

zuritiger

Here is an image of Zuri, an inbred “white” tiger. The people of her sanctuary are trying to raise funds to build her a habitat.

http://www.razoo.com/story/Build-A-Habitat-For-Zuri

Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light from a living organism. This happens by a chemical reaction where energy is released in the form of light emission. Many species of many different types of animals from all over the world that emit bioluminescence. In fact, it’s estimated that over 90% of deep sea life have some form or another of bioluminescence. A common source of this light found across multiple species of bioluminescencent creatures (fireflies, angler fish, etc.) is luciferin, which simply reacts with oxygen to produce light. This fish below is called (creatively enough) the loose-jawed fish, and it is the only known species that can emit infrared light. Most other forms of deep sea fish that have the ability to emit light can only produce it in the green-blue spectrum.

There are many reasons that animals have evolved the ability to emit light. In some squid species, their bio-luminescence is actually used as camouflage to hide from predators. It’s used to attract prey, in defense of predators, for hiding, mirroring, reflecting, attracting mates, distracting predators and prey alike, communication, and just as a way to illuminate dark areas.

Food For Thought (1/2)

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Maybe it is just me, and not being from here, and I guess that is why I think what I think and write what I write – and I’m sorry I’m not sorry if I offend someone here, but discussion is encouraged and reflection appreciated. I think it is time to look into and back at our own countries and ourselves, and what we have done before and what we are doing now before we criticize anyone else. Where I come from we are not the best either on many things, but I know that most people in my culture, including me I, are all updated on what efforts are being done and why both nationally and internationally. Knowledge is key. That Is why I decided to write this post (that will be divided in two parts – it’s 1200 words..) and hopefully create some kind of reaction.
Being in class today and listening to our presentations, I noticed a tendency for blaming the loss of biodiversity and extinction of species on the population and the way of living in the individual area. There’s obviously a very good reason for this – according to all kinds of statistics the main cause of declining habitats for animals and plants are yes, us, the humans. However, since this is a class focusing on nature, and not social structures and cultures, we might not have to be political correct. Or is it really so? Can we, without doing proper research about WHY someone might be doing what they are doing, condemn them and blame them for the universal loss of their local hotspots and maybe even the rest of nature? Is that any better when we live in a country that emission the most CO2 after China and has the most municipal waste per head in the WORLD? I think in order for us to grow and learn and understand the issues we are talking about we have to look at every aspect of it and every player involved, and then making a global effort to save the rest of what we have of nature more doable.

For example did you know:

– that the human factors that influence local and natural habitats, are demographic, economic, scientific, technological and maybe most importantly sociopolitical? More specifically; growth in human population, overall poverty, age, gender, education and social structural status in a country, etc. and why people immigrate to a certain area.

– that the most expanding human populations are concentrated around biological hotspots? Due to a generally bad economic status in most of these countries, which is derived from their own primary resources being exploited, exported and sometimes even sold back for the profit of monopoly corporations (f ex “Chiquita” bananas and other fruit), education and family planning is bad to basically non-existent. This again causes people to turn to any work and money they can get hands on – because in the bigger picture it is not their choice, and on a local scale animal and plant life is not their first concern; survival of their family and themselves is.

– that building of roads is the single largest factor worldwide, for deforestation? And that the only people gaining ANYTHING on this in the long run, are the heads of “international” corporations – thus stopping/conflicting with any local effort to stop the destruction of natural habitats (that would be both beneficial for the local economy and the future of the area). This leads to a feedback effect where roads bring human settlements, and expansion of commercial agriculture and logging and all its effective machinery and workforce in that very area.

 

To be continued.. if you want to know more google “Chiquita” bussines  or Kyoto Protocol, to find out why the US is one out of two countries that has not signed this.

What can’t be seen

In class we saw a short TED talk by Jonathan Drori. It was about flowers and how they had evolved to lure insects and hummingbirds into visiting and thus spreading pollen. I thought it was incredible that plants were capable of “tricking” bugs into thinking another bug was sitting there already by pattern, or even changing it’s internal temperature to attract them. It’s really fascinating how plants could evolve such elaborate methods to reproduce, just through natural selection.  What really caught my attention was that at some point, he mentioned that different species of bees see ultraviolet light that is often reflected in flower petals of a number of species. This reminded me of the mantis shrimp.

Image

http://digimorph.org/specimens/Odontodactylus_scyllarus/Odontodactylus.phtml 

The mantis shrimp is a notoriously aggressive predator found in the shallow areas of tropical and sub-tropical waters. They are known to have incredibly strong claws (strong enough to break the glass of aquariums) that they use to either stab or smash their prey to bits.

Some species are capable of seeing up to12 primary colors (we see in three), including ultraviolet light. They also can see the polarization of light – no other animal is known to have this ability. This means that mantis shrimp have the most elaborate eyes know to man! So what good does this do for the shrimp? Researchers think it’s either for hunting (mantis shrimp are known to be very accurate, violent carnivores), predator aversion, or mating. The males of some species have been found to reflect polarized light on reproductive parts of their bodies.

 

I can hardly wrap my head around what additional colors would be like, so the idea of seeing polarization on top of that is unfathomable to me. But these things combined makes me wonder… What other amazing things are hidden in nature, coded beyond our perception?

Fur Baby in need!

Hey everybody I’m trying to help find a home for an siberian husky my mom found at the humane society. After being raised from a pup and living with his past family for seven years he developed a skin condition on his tail and the family could no longer afford to pay for his medication. They sent him to the Humane Society to be euthanized. All because they were cheap! ARG! You just don’t abandon you’re fur babies! Anyway he’s a real sweetheart and the people at the human society just couldn’t him put down and are instead holding onto him hoping someone will adopt him. Do any of you know anyone who is interested in adopting a sweet siberian Husky? I’d take him but my family already has two dogs and three cats and it’s not fair to him to stuff him in our house with all those other animals(if only we lived in a bigger house). We are willing to foster him if worst comes to worst until he his adopted. This baby boy does NOT deserve to die. Please help us find a nice home for him.

Meet Argus  🙂 I really REALLY want him for myself.

http://www.petango.com/Adopt/Dog-Siberian-Husky-Purebred-18867101Image

Bottom Sea Trawling

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We had a brief in-class discussion on trawling, and I couldn’t believe that governments are still allowing this type of damage to occur in our marine environments. Scientists have estimated that trawling has damaged or destroyed 30-50% of the Norwegian self-coral area, and that’s not all.

Trawls are very large fishing nets that get dragged along the sea floor in hopes of catching large amounts of sea life, usually for commercial purposes. The net has large metal doors that allow the net to get to the very bottom of the floor (as seen in the image above). These metal doors disrupt the ecosystem and reek havoc on the habitat of countless numbers of species.

3lophelia

Beyond national jurisdictions, most bottom trawling is unregulated either because there is no organization to regulate or because the organizations that do exist do not actually regulate. There are, however, major restrictions set in place in the Antarctic Region. The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources has instituted extensive bottom trawling restrictions that has closed seamounts and part of the mid-Atlantic Ridge from all fishing, including trawling (though it still leaves most international waters completely without bottom trawl regulation).

NOAA Ocean Explorer: Lophelia II 2012

There is particular growing concern for the Lophelia pertusa (the only species in the genus Lophelia), a cold-water coral that grows in the deep waters throughout the North Atlantic Ocean as well as parts of the Caribbean Sea. There has been much impact on the growing of this species due to trawling and other destructive fishing practices.

This is just one example of the countless numbers of species on the bottom of the sea floor that we may know little to nothing about. Who knows how many species get damaged on a daily basis, and how many have become extinct because of these types of practices.

Coral Reef Destruction Caused by Fishing

 

All fishing methods affect coral reefs, but some are much more destructive than others. Fishing is currently the largest and most prominent threat to coral reefs around the world. These harmful fishing practices not only reduce the number of edible fish in the wild, but in terms of biodiversity it also reduces the species diversity and species richness, alters the size structure of the species that are being harvested, AND it also causes a butterfly effect, giving cascading debilitating effects onto other fish by changing the population, density, and species composition.

The most prominent destructive fishing methods include: cyanide fishing, dynamite fishing, muroami, and fishing with destructive gear (trawling). Cyanide fishing is a method used to “stun” reef fish to collect them, causing damage to other fish and their environment from the pollutant put in the water to disable the fish. Dynamite fishing or blast fishing is self-explanatory. It’s been used for centuries, and is still in very regular use in at least 40 countries. This was a huge surprise to me, you’d have thought after centuries we would have come  up with a more effective and efficient way of harvesting fish than literally exploding them out of the water. Muroami is a type of net that gets dropped with huge heavy stones to basically trap fish underneath it to make it easier to collect them. The huge stones that rock the ocean floor usually destroy reef structures on the way down. Lastly, trawling is basically dragging huge metal and steel fishing gear along the bottom of the ocean, which typically destroys all reefs in their path.

At the end of the day, it’s a lack in governmental regulation that has let this industry run wild. Until more countries begin to strictly regulate the import and export of fish that aren’t sustainable and adopt a more stringent policy on defining the areas that may and may not be used to collect fish, it will continue to happen.

Chocolate lab

photo-1This is my beautiful dog, Sammi. She is a chocolate lab and she is 10 years old, most of which she has been a member of my family. Within the last 2 years, she has developed a growth on her right eye. It started out looking like a sty, so we weren’t very concerned about it, but it continued to grow until it covered nearly half of her eye. We took her to the vet and found out that it’s actually a clogged pore in the eyelid that results in an overproduction of cells. The vet also informed us that most chocolate labs develop one of these when they are older. It’s in their genes. In fact, Labradors that are intended on being bred are required to be approved by a veterinary ophthalmologist for an eye score. Other than hot compresses, there isn’t much that we can do. Sammi is constantly trying to clean it by licking her paw and rubbing her eye. It fluctuates in size weekly. If we were to get the topical growth removed, it would only grow back. If they surgically remove the actual pore, they would have to put her under. Since she is so old, she probably wouldn’t survive the surgery. Luckily, we have found a way to care for it so that it stays small enough as not to obstruct her vision in any way. There she is, in the picture, asleep on my bed just happy as a clam. With her eyes closed, the growth is nearly invisible. Labs can also suffer from joint problems. In the past month, Sammi’s joints have been very sensitive. Some days, she will have trouble standing up and will walk with a limp, but most days she’s fine. Once again, it’s in her genes and there isn’t much we can do.