Saturday, November 29, 2008

80 Whales Stranded

80 whales were stranded on the southern coast of Australia. Many appeared to be dead. The whales were difficult to reach because of the terrain but two crews of rescuers were sent nevertheless to try and help any survivors.

"The aerial reports indicate the whales have unfortunately stranded on a rocky area of coastline and so have been very badly knocked around by the conditions," Gales said.

"Because of the physical beating they take from stranding on rocks and surf, compared to sandy beach strandings, animals die more quickly."

It is unknown why whales get stranded and how many whales perished. It is strange to see that such large animals dying in these numbers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Zoo's bid to save rare bird from extinction

EDINBURGH Zoo is playing a key role in a bid to save one of the world's rarest birds.
The Socorro dove, which originates from Socorro Island off the coast of Mexico, has been extinct in the wild for more than 30 years.

Only a few birds survive in private collections in Britain and Germany, where breeding pairs have been formed to sustain a population.

Edinburgh Zoo became involved in the breeding programme in 2005, and, with three mature birds, has successfully produced 14 chicks.

The Scots birds form a vital part of the pure-bred global population, which numbers fewer than 100.

Edinburgh Zoo's head bird keeper, Colin Oulton, said their offspring could be the first Socorro doves to return to their ancestral home.

Last month, five of the birds from Edinburgh were flown to California. The doves have now been transferred to Albuquerque Zoo in New Mexico. They will form the first population outside Europe and free up space in European collections for further breeding.

Mr Oulton said: "Breeding Socorro doves can be tricky, as the males are notoriously aggressive in their pursuit of mates."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How about if your species were endangered?

What would you do if you woke up one day and your species was going extinct? You would be worried, upset, and, maybe, even angry. Well, currently, thousands of species are under threat because of human development practices that are not environmentally friendly. I was reading a CNN article today, and I discovered that President Bush is pushing for a new environmental regulation policy that would relax current endangered species rules and eliminate the input of federal wildlife scientists. This means that the biodiversity of the United States would be in danger. Imagine if you woke up one day and the breed of your beloved pet dog was extinct. Imagine that times a thousand. The impact would be detrimental. Having biodiversity in our world is healthy and normal for our environment--something that humans have a hard time of grasping--and our every action affects other species in so many ways. Once a species is gone, it is lost forever, and there is no way in saving it. Work towards reducing your carbon footprint and emissions--and maybe even petitioning lax environmental policies in your community!

For more stories like this one, visit CNN's Principal Voices.

Climate Change Will Happen For the Worse

I was reading a CNN article on how carbon dioxide levels are currently way too high for our health. This means that not only are we breathing unclean air, but the Earth's climate will be unbearably different. Anyone/anything will be underwater. To counter this effect, reduce your CO2 emissions. Visit the EPA's website to calculate your carbon emissions with your carbon calculator. You may be surprised to see how big your carbon emissions may be within the period of one year!

The Oyster's Garter

There are many different blogs in cyberspace but there's one that we highly recommend! It's called the Oyster's Garter which is run by a UCSD, Scripps Institute of Oceanography graduate student Miriam Goldstein. Her blog is especially interesting because she talks about animal tidbits here and there, and we thought that you might enjoy her thoughts. You can access her account either through this blog entry or on the right hand column of our Links List. Have fun!

Hawaii gets digital TV early to protect endangered birds

U.S. TV stations are required to switch to digital transmissions in February, but the citizens of Hawaii will get DTV a month early, courtesy of an endangered bird.

The Hawaiian petrel, also known as the 'Ua'u, makes its nests on a Maui volcano near the state's current analog transmission towers. The petrels' nesting season is in February, when the old towers were scheduled to be torn down.

Fearing for the safety of the fragile birds, which don't much care for modern urban society, the FCC will now build new transmission towers at a different location, and have them operational by mid-January. The old towers will then be torn down, well ahead of the petrel's mating season.

Not only will this reduce the amount of human activity and noise in the area during this critical breeding period, it will help the petrels in another way: they tend to fly into the towers and kill themselves. Once the old towers are gone, conservationists hope the petrels will have a more successful breeding season than usual.

Let's hope. There are only a few thousand of the birds left, and they have already disappeared from most of the Hawaiian islands. This could be the boost they need to survive.

Will Bush rush through changes to Endangered Species Act?

Despite receiving thousands of protests about proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, President Bush and his cronies at the Interior Department appear ready to rush their new rules through before President-Elect Obama takes office in January.

According to the Associated Press, "The rules must be published by Friday to take effect before Obama is sworn in Jan. 20. Otherwise, the new president could undo them with the stroke of a pen."

The most damning element of the new rules takes away the long-standing independent scientific review previously required before new government projects begin to see if they would impact endangered plants or animals. As I wrote in August:

The new rules appear to, in many ways, remove the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from reviewing many government-sponsored projects (such as highways) to see if they would impact local species. Instead, the federal agency in charge of the project would be allowed to makes its own decisions about whether or not the construction would impact any endangered plants or animals.

The rules also make it impossible to protect endangered species by saying that they are at risk because of global warming (which means the Endangered Species Act could not be used a back-door leglislation to regulate greenhouse gases).

House Democrats, meanwhile, say they are looking for ways to block these rules should they be published by the end of the week. One tool at their disposal is the Congressional Review Act, a little-used law only employed once in the last 12 years.

The Interior Department received more than 250,000 comments on these proposed rules, even though they took draconian steps to limit public comment. Those comments were "read" at a rate of 7,000 per hour, and even then, appear to have been completely ignored.

Developing, obviously.

A Question for You

When I reminisce my childhood, I have fond memories of playing in my front yard, lifting up heavy rocks and digging into the soil to find worms and rollie pollies. I’d take my little pet cage, the remnants of a failed pet turtle project and drop the little critters in with some soil. I’d watch the worms and pollies for hours, seeing the little airways they made in the soil and watching them fall as they tried to get out of their cage. Somehow, my childhood curiosity for living creatures would always lead to their demise and I did not understand why. I did not understand that living creatures have essential needs like food and water. I’d try this pet experiment over and over, trial and error each time. Now I know the complication and negative effects of my impact on the environment. I understand that since I displaced them from their habitats, I should have taken care of them. I wonder now what it will take for the human species to understand that human growth is at the consequence of others. Our actions have a lasting impact on ecosystems that displace and lead to the demise of entire species. What will it take for humankind to understand?

Some Questions I must ask myself:
What is my human impact?
Where did my pet turtle come from?
Can negative human impacts be blamed on humans? Can the same be said in cases where humans do now know their negative impacts?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Scientists find new penguin, extinct for 500 years

November 19, 2008

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Researchers studying a rare and endangered species of penguin have uncovered a previously unknown species that disappeared about 500 years ago.

The research suggests that the first humans in New Zealand hunted the newly found Waitaha penguin to extinction by 1500, about 250 years after their arrival on the islands. But the loss of the Waitaha allowed another kind of penguin to thrive — the yellow-eyed species that now also faces extinction, Philip Seddon of Otago University, a co-author of the study, said Wednesday.

The team was testing DNA from the bones of prehistoric modern yellow-eyed penguins for genetic changes associated with human settlement when it found some bones that were older — and had different DNA.

Tests on the older bones "lead us to describe a new penguin species that became extinct only a few hundred years ago," the team reported in a paper in the biological research journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Polynesian settlers came to New Zealand around 1250 and are known to have hunted species such as the large, flightless moa bird to extinction.

Seddon said dating techniques used on bones pulled from old Maori trash pits revealed a gap in time between the disappearance of the Waitaha and the arrival of the yellow-eyed penguin.

The gap indicates the extinction of the older bird created the opportunity for the newer to colonize New Zealand's main islands around 500 years ago, said Sanne Boessenkool, an Otago University doctoral student who led the team of researchers, including some from Australia's Adelaide University and New Zealand's Canterbury Museum.

Competition between the two penguin species may have previously prevented the yellow-eyed penguin from expanding north, the researchers noted.

David Penny of New Zealand's Massey University, who was not involved in the research, said the Waitaha was an example of another native species that was unable to adapt to a human presence.

"In addition, it is vitally important to know how species, such as the yellow-eyed penguin, are able to respond to new opportunities," he said. "It is becoming apparent that some species can respond to things like climate change, and others cannot. The more we know, the more we can help."

The yellow-eyed penguin is considered one of the world's rarest. An estimated population of 7,000 in New Zealand is the focus of an extensive conservation effort.

New Report Foresees a Short Road to Extinction for CA salmon

A report issued yesterday by the conservation group California Trout predicts that 65 percent of native salmon, steelhead and trout species will be extinct within the next century. The report, authored by UC Davis professor Peter Moyle, lays the blame for declining fish populations on the usual suspects — dam construction, overruse of water by farmers and development prominent among them. No Californian who reads the news is unaware of the serious problems facing the state’s commercial salmon fishery, but the “E”-word, particularly when applied to a creature so emblematic of the state and its fishermen as the wild salmon, is enough to make most of us swallow hard. “Our opinion would certainly be that all of the restoration projects that have been proposed should be accelerated,” said California Trout Executive Director Brian Stranko.

Todd Steiner, director of the Marin County-based Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, agreed that the takeaway from Moyle’s report is that government officials and organizations need to speed up their efforts to restore California’s rivers to salmon-friendly states. “There’s no question that this report reemphasizes the fact that we need more action, more quickly, if we’re going to save these endangered species,” Steiner said. “We get a lot of bureaucratic noise, but not much action.”

So what happens next? The California Trout report recommends a number of initiatives, from increasing the flow of the state’s rivers — cold, deep water is ideal for salmon; when rivers are dammed or diverted for agricultural use they become shallow and warm, leading to disease and death, particularly for young fish — to improving land-use regulations governing streamside development. “A lot of it needs to be done at the local level,” Steiner said, suggesting that even action at the municipal and county levels could make a difference.
Ironically, one of the easier-to-agree-upon fixes — removal of dams with well-documented histories of environmental degradation — is one of the hardest to make happen. The economic might and political clout of utilities such as PacifiCorp, combined with the glacial pace of the federal and state bureaucracies that negotiate with them, make for a gradual restoration process that may yield results only after the West Coast’s commercial salmon fishery is past saving. Oddly enough, Stranko didn’t seem terribly concerned about the pace of the Klamath dam-removal project when he spoke with SF Weekly. “We wouldn’t want to accelerate it and see it fall apart,” he said. Fair enough. Let’s see what falls apart first.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Amphibian Extinction

Question: Can you guess what percentage of amphibians are threatened by extinction?

Answer after the end of the post.

The First World Congress of Herpetology was held in 1989. Researchers reported apparent declines in their study populations and there were the reports of declining populations from seemingly pristine habitats. Now, twenty years later we are still not much further ahead in identifying the cause. Throughout the World over 200 amphibian species have experienced recent population declines, with reports of at least 32 species extinctions.

1. Habitat Destruction

2. Pollution

3. Climatic Changes

4. UV Radiation

5. Predators and Disease

6. Overexploitation of Frogs

7. Pet Trade

Other Examples:
In Costa Rica, Pay attention to his left front leg

Deformed frog

Deformed frog

Mammals face extinction crisis – results of global assessment revealed

"The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ announced on Monday that the world's mammals face an extinction crisis, with almost one in four at risk of disappearing forever. The paper summarizing this comprehensive assessment is published today in the esteemed journal Science.

The new study to assess the world's mammals shows at least 1,141 of the 5,487 mammals on Earth are known to be threatened with extinction. At least 76 mammals have become extinct since 1500. But the results also show conservation can bring species back from the brink of extinction, with five percent of currently threatened mammals showing signs of recovery in the wild.

"The reality is that the number of threatened mammals could be as high as 36 percent," says Jan Schipper, of Conservation International and lead author in the Science article. "This indicates that conservation action backed by research is a clear priority for the future, not only to improve the data so that we can evaluate threats to these poorly known species, but to investigate means to recover threatened species and populations."

The project to assess the world's mammals was conducted with help from more than 1,800 scientists from over 130 countries. It was made possible by the volunteer help of IUCN Species Survival Commission’s specialist groups and the collaborations between top institutions and universities, including Conservation International, Sapienza Universit√† di Roma, Arizona State University, Texas A&M University, University of Virginia, and the Zoological Society of London.

The paper is titled "The Status of the World's Land and Marine Mammals: Diversity, Threat, and Knowledge"."

Song of Extinction

Khim Phan is teacher to Max, a musical prodigy whose mother is dying of stomach cancer. Phan is a solitary individual and Cambodian genocide refugee. He is pained with memories of his family, who did survive the genocide. Phan uses extinction, a “scientific detachment” of sorts to retreat from his memories to which the “escalating

Khim steps in and acts like a surrogate father to Max while Max’s father is fixates on “his crusade to save an endangered beetle” instead of his wife’s terminal illness. The characters are “believably frayed and partial, binding together personal loss, genocide and biological devastation with felt truths.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Elephant Dung, Anyone?

So I've posted up some possible solutions to the extinction problem but today I happened upon a really interesting one! This one is about Sri Lankan Elephants whose population is about 4,000.

Here's the background story:
There is a renewed civil war between Sri Lanka's government and the separatist Tamil Tigers whose many victims are the island's wild elephants. Last year, 74 elephants died in the region and of them, 44 were killed by gunfire, others were victim to poison or were deliberately electrocuted by wire fences, or even fell down wells. Only four died of natural causes. The elephants are not straying into the frontlines of the Sri Lankan war.

Solution: Environmentally friendly gifts, Poo paper
Poo Paper is made of the elephant's dung. The paper is meant to impart economic value to Sri Lankan elephants, which are often killed because they compete with local farmers for space. Yay, Poo Paper!

Bright Idea: Christmas presents?

For more information, visit these websites!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


For over the past eighty years, scientists have considered the pygmy tarsier as extinct. The pygmy tarsier is a rare, small primate that, in my opinion, resembles a FurBy and lives throughout various small islands in Asia. The good news is that scientists have spotted and caught three (2 males, 1 female) pygmy tarsiers with hopes to breed the rare primate that had been thought lost forever. Even though this is an exciting find for both the scientific and animal communities, it is a rather bittersweet ordeal. Once a species is declared extinct, it is gone forever. Even though this particular species was lucky enough to have survived and rediscovered, not every species is lucky. Currently, the world is facing a mass-extinction in which there are a lot of species suffering for a major wipeout, and humans, through fossil fuel consumption or their non-environmentally friendly ways, are the main cause. This means that a species very close to you may be on the verge of becoming extinct. Do your part: It doesn't take much to be environmentally friendly. You can start by buying more green products or turning your lights off when you leave the room. In the end, only you will be benefitting!

For more information about the pygmy tarsier, read the article on Yahoo!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Baiji Dolphin

The Baiji Dolphin is functionally extinct, meaning that too few breeding pairs remain for the species to survive. Their only habitat was the Yangtze river in China. In 1998, the number of Baiji dolphins was estimated at only 150 animals. Conservationists attempted a captive breeding program, though it ultimately failed. In 2007 a thirty-eight day expedition found no Baiji dolphins at all and scientists declared it extinct.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Online Mating

Zoos are going online to find mates for their rare species. Talk about Conservation Effort! The program is a computer software called Studbooks which matches animals in captivity to potential mates online.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Rhino Story

Rhinos are amazing creatures, when I look at them I'm so in awe of their sheer size and body structure. They have horns, tough shield-like skin, and massive feet, I mean wow - could you image how wonderful it would be to see one of these creatures running through the African landscape?

I'd like to be able to see a Rhino do just that. Unfortunately, no one will ever be able to see the Western Black Rhinoceros in its full glory. Simply, no more specimens exist. The last few were hunted down in Africa in a wildlife preserve. Tough to think about, huh?

Brings me to the point that awareness and working against extinction is important. Biodiversity is important. Knowing human affects on wildlife is important.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day!

Hello, everyone! Democrat or not, Barack Obama has just been voted as the first African-American President of the United States. Like many other many other young Americans, I voted for the first time today. Voting is important because it gives the citizen power to make change in one's government--especially when it comes to climate change and extinction. Our current administration has done very little to help fight against global warming, deduction in fossil fuel comsumption, and extinction. However, just because your candidate may have won office tonight, it doesn't mean that our fight for a better planet has been solved. Our fight still continues, and do your best to make bigger influence on your community by spreading the word out!

Happy Election Day!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Extinction Happens in Water, Too

One important problem is how we overlook extinction that we cannot see. If we can't see it, if it makes no obvious difference then the loss of one species doesn't matter, right? What we don't know is that the species maybe a keystone species, in which case the affects of their extinction would be substantial. Keystone species are important to there ecological environments (niches) and provide a function needed in the niche. While we are not advertising that the mussel is a keystone species, nevertheless the loss of one species can and does affect other organisms an often in a detrimental way. Extinctions of other speices caused by the loss of one species is called an extinction cycle, just something we should all be aware of.