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Friday Creature Feature: Southern Stingray

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 22 March 2013
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

At Stingray City in the Cayman Islands, the place to go for all your stingray needs, tourists can interact Southern-Stringray-wiki-2with the southern stingray (Dasyatis americana). You can pet, feed, swim, kiss, and take photos with stingrays in the shallow waters of the Caribbean and all of this is available with one easy payment of $44.44! (No CODs, shipping yourself to Grand Cayman not included.)

These vacation memories will eventually go viral and land the human subjects of the photo on the talk show circuit explaining to the five people left who still watch daytime television what the word “photobomb” means.  

Stingray City, a tropical petting zoo, was the subject of a study published this month on PLOS ONE that explored the impact “interactive ecotourism” is having on the stingrays.

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The Daffodil: A Not Very Detailed Look at a Flower

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Sunday, 10 March 2013
in Mother Nature's Vegetation

The first day of spring is still more than a week away but the University of Oxford is helping us poor Narcissus-closeup-Jasssmit-wikiunfortunate souls stuck between winter and spring pull through with the story of how the daffodil got it’s trumpet!

During the long winter days when the sun was seldom seen there was a girl who couldn’t stand the cold and the darkness any longer. She vowed to grab the sun the next time it peeked out from behind the layer of clouds and stick it in a jar forever to hoard the warmth.

Finally the day arrived when the weak winter sun made an appearance so the girl grabbed the sun and crammed it into the jar. But on her way to hide the sun from the rest of the world she tripped and fell. The jar flew out of her hand and rolled away from her.

The sun struggled to get out but its head got stuck halfway out of the opening and it’s yellow and white light seeped out around it creating a halo. The sun was left there and its light seeded the ground for daffodils to grow.

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Actions to Reduce Deforestation In Brazil are Working

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Saturday, 09 March 2013
in Mother Nature's Vegetation

There have been a few creatures I’ve featured on Fridays whose populations have been affected by pete-newton-brazil-rainforest-UMdeforestation- especially animals that live in the Amazon rainforest like the lowland tapir and the giant armadillo.

Animals aren’t usually the first thing that pops into a person’s mind when deforestation is mentioned. The air is usually the first topic of discussion because clearing trees affects air quality and most of us learn that in elementary school: “Trees help us breathe!”

Conserving biodiversity and Brazil’s recent commitment to reduce deforestation in order to lower carbon emissions in the country’s two million square miles of Amazon rainforest are probably what led to a University of Michigan (UM) study that explored the efficacy of Brazil’s policies.

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Ringing's Affect on Offshore Wind Farms

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 27 February 2013
in Clean Energy News

Here is quick round-up of some of the cons associated with wind turbines: killing winged creatures, killing of maintenance workers, flicker syndrome,  and ambiguous placement on the runway for Chanel’s 2013offshore-wind-farm-  halberg - Fotolia Spring/Summer line.  

Offshore wind farms have a slightly different set of issues that have been discussed on the blog: affects (if any) on marine life, disrupting a view, and offending Donald Trump. Now we can add “ringing” to the list.

Professor John Grue from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Oslo, Norway is one of the world's foremost experts on wave research.  Way back in 1989 he discovered ringing  in a 25-meter long wave laboratory located in the basement of a mathematics building.

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Lake-Effect Snow: Snowier than Other Snow!

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Tuesday, 19 February 2013
in Earth Blog

Before I moved to Ohio from California I was warned by practically everyone that this region had a season snow-river-ohiocalled "winter." They said in the gravest voice they could muster with a shudder that during this season there is a form of precipitation called "snow." Some of these acquaintances had been raised in the Buckeye State or the surrounding states and knew firsthand how potentially awful winter can be.

They reminded me that I would be unfamiliar with the icy phenomenon because save for spying it on a far-off mountaintop or a token trip “to the snow” I had no real snow experience. They said I was going to be in for a shock once I experienced “lake-effect snow.”

I can count the number of winters I have experienced on one hand so neither can I explain or tell you if I have experienced lake-effect snow.

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Kids Can Help Their Parents Be Green

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 13 February 2013
in Earth Blog

We all know kids say the darndest things. I’ve got two here right now that I am caring for while their kid-meadow-macieklew-mfilemother, a friend, handles an emergency.  Neither of the two boys, ages five and three, quite understand the meaning of the phrase “inside voice.” The three year old keeps chanting the word “cheeseburger” while he eats a banana.

But sometime kids say helpful things and according to a group of researchers at Imperial College London this means the lessons children learn about protecting the environment can be passed up to adults.

The entire study called “Child-orientated environmental education influences adult knowledge and household behaviour” is available online at IOP Science but can also be found in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

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Save a Bird and Keep Your Cat Indoors

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Sunday, 03 February 2013
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

We want our chickens free-range but not our cats.tiger-cat-katymystiry-mfile

Last week the Internet was buzzing about cats (more so than usual) when a study was published in the journal Nature that said cats are assassins. Cats are responsible for killing an estimated 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 and 20.7 billion mammals annually.  The study said beloved house cats are not to be held completely responsible for the killings.

Not everyone is happy about the data presented in the paper called: “The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States.”

"This study is part of a continuing propaganda campaign to vilify cats," said Becky Robinson, the president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies, a national advocacy organization based in Maryland that is dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. The statement called the study “biased” and a “a veiled promotion by bird advocates to ramp up the mass killing of outdoor cats.”

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Is Whistling Going to be a New Potty Training Method?

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 30 January 2013
in Earth Blog

“Swedes have grown accustomed to the idea that babies cannot be potty trained, but that parents need to diaper-changing-station-mfilewait until they are mature, usually when they decide that they no longer want diapers,” said a recent University of Gothenburg study that explored the potty training process.

I guess we can say that the general view of potty training in America is about the same as the Swedish: most parents potty train their children at two or three years of age or when they deem them mature enough. The child usually doesn’t get to help decide when that is and sometimes the parents sick of handling diapers will expedite the process.

One article I found said the average child will end up using a total of 6,000-7,000 disposable diapers by age two. That article, written in 2010, also broke down the cost per diaper of several diaper brands and the cost per year from birth to age two: $1,000-$2,240. Cloth diapers have become popular again with parents who say they are saving money and diverting diapers from landfills.

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The Howler Monkeys in Veracruz are Stressed Out

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 23 January 2013
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

There is a reason why after listening to a focus group an unknown corporation somewhere coined thehowler-monkey-Arturo-Gonzalez-Zamora phrase “one-stop shopping” because having to visit more than a couple of stores in a day for the things you need can stress you out.  

You hear the plea from friends and relatives all the time: “I just want to go in, get what I need, and get out.” When did going to the store for cereal and coffee turn into an expedition on par with fighting your way into a jungle to retrieve the artifacts of a lost civilization? We have choices though and that’s what makes being a human so nice.

But you know who doesn’t have a choice when it comes to where they get their food? The endangered howler monkeys living in the fragmented forests of Mexico.

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California's Plants Are Extra Special

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 09 January 2013
in Mother Nature's Vegetation

A not yet published study about California’s plants says that the reason the Golden State is a shining california-poppies-mfile-k4example of biodiversity is because low extinction rates over the past 45 million years have allowed flora to thrive.  California’s climate is just one of the contributing factors to the singularity of the plant life and researchers say the plants may not have survived elsewhere in the country.

“Because California has so many unique and relatively young plant species, it was long assumed by biogeographers and naturalists that high speciation rates were the cause of California's biodiversity," said ecologist and evolutionary biologist Lesley T. Lancaster Ph.D, currently with Lund University in Sweden, "It turns out that these species have not arisen at a particularly high rate in California compared to elsewhere. Instead, features of California's climate, topography, and latitude have preserved these species, allowing us to see them today, when they may have simply gone extinct if they had arisen elsewhere."

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Giant Peach Would Have Needed More Birds

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Tuesday, 08 January 2013
in Clean Fun

Four students from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy have done the seagulls-ocean-mfile-2impossible and called out beloved children’s author Roald Dahl for bad science.

In Roald Dahl’s book James and the Giant Peach (which was made into a movie produced by Tim Burton in 1996; both were referenced in the study) James, the seven year old main character, sails across the Atlantic Ocean in house-sized peach with some giant, talking insects that happened to be living in the fruit.

For the first leg of the sea adventure he sails the giant peach like a boat. Then (spoiler alert) the peach is lifted into the air by 501 seagulls that had to be tethered to the stem of the peach by the thread of the Silkworm or the peach’s residents would have all been the stars of an episode of “Shark Week.”

The research team looked at both the ability of the peach to be navigable and the execution of the 501 seagull rescue.

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Saving Frankincense and Christmas For Future Generations

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Monday, 10 December 2012
in Mother Nature's Vegetation

“Whilst we are all familiar with gold (especially in this Olympic year), it is the mention of frankincense andFrankincense and matchbox myrrh that really says ‘Christmas’ to us and and takes our imaginations back to ancient times,” opened an Oxford University Press news release about a study published earlier this month in the journal Annals of Botany called “Resin secretory structures of Boswellia papyrifera and implications for frankincense yield.”

Does it take your imagination back to “ancient times?” Do the the three gifts the Wise Men brought to welcome baby Jesus and “resin secretory structures” evoke Christmas like chestnuts roasting on an open fire or pink aluminum trees?

I think the majority of us wonder what frankincense and myrrh are- spices, plants, or are they candy? Please let them be candy!

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Will Climate Change Cause Snakes to Creep North?

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Monday, 26 November 2012
in Climate Change

One theory about climate change and certain species of animals is that some creatures are going to relish Everglades National Park USFWS the warmer temperatures. Creatures like mosquitoes, snakes, and kissing bugs will slowly creep northwards to places that were once traditionally colder and inhospitable for them or they are going to  rapidly reproduce. Some will grow to gigantic proportions like this Burmese python and have all us all for breakfast. The last part is my personal part of the theory; most studies don’t mention them eating us.

The Burmese python and its place in the sun under climate change has been subject to scrutiny lately and recent studies, including one from USGS, suggests that the pythons in the Everglades could potentially expand as far north as the southern third of the United States.

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Yawning Fetuses Caught On Camera

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Saturday, 24 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

A blog I wrote last week looked at contagious yawning in bonobos and had some theories about why 4D fetus yawninghumans yawn.

Out of all the theories explored- bored and used as a synchronizing signal by the senior member of a group to indicate it might be time for an activity change, drawing more oxygen into the brain, and sexual arousal- none of them can explain why fetuses have been spotted yawning in the womb.

Since yawning is contagious in humans does that mean when the fetus yawns the mother can catch the yawn? Can a fetus sense when their mother is yawning and catch it from her? Do scientists studying yawning fetuses catch the yawns and spend their time stifling the action? Scientists have ruled out contagious yawning and it doesn't look like they recorded how much they yawned during the study.

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Valencia Oranges In The Grip of Thrips

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Monday, 19 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Vegetation

A team of researchers from Universitat Politècnica de València, in where else but Valencia, Spain, the Pezothrips scar valenicia orangeUniversity of Navarra in Pamplona (Fun Fact: The founder of the University of Navarra is also the founder of Opus Dei the “ultra-secret” Catholic organization featured in the bestselling thriller The Da Vinci Code), and a Belgian company Biobest Belgium NV have studied thrips: a disease that affects Valencia oranges and is transmitted by a tiny, winged pest and they may have found a bug to fight the bug.  

The guilty bug is called Kelly’s citrus thirps or Pezothrips kellyanus and whatever you do don’t do a Google image search for the insect- here is a link. You’re welcome.

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Nine New Spider Species Found In Brazil

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Sunday, 04 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Last week right before the arrival of Superstorm Sandy and a handful of days before Halloween, tarantulatarantulaspiderscary.jpg specialist and researcher at the Instituto Butantan in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dr Rogério Bertani had his study about nine recently discovered tarantulas published in ZooKeys. As if we needed nine more things in the world to be horrified and scared of last month.

These new tarantulas are mostly arboreal (not an uncommon trait for tarantulas) meaning they live in trees like their counterparts found in tropical locales. The new nine were found in Central and Eastern Brazil.

Tree spiders have a lighter build, thinner bodies, and longer legs with increased surface area at the ends the better to climb, the better to move, and the better to eat you with.

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Friday Creature Feature: Korean Speaking African Elephant

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 02 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

First there was the talking beluga whale named NOC who was heard spontaneously vocalizing over twentyKoshik african elephant years ago at the National Marine Mammal Foundation and now there is news that an african elephant named Koshik has learned a few Korean words.

According to the team of researchers that recorded Koshik speaking he knows five words spoken in the language he hears often from caretakers while living at the Everland Zoo in South Korea : "annyong" ("hello"), "anja" ("sit down"), "aniya" ("no"), "nuo" ("lie down"), and "choah" ("good").

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Hi-yo Nanosilver Away!

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Thursday, 01 November 2012
in Earth Blog

What is nanosilver and why is it in our clothes?Rickard-Arvidsson wastewater plant o mattsson

Nanosilver is added to clothing and textiles by the manufacturer to act as a antimicrobial. When you wash your clothing the nanosilver releases toxic silver ions that enter the waste water and cannot be recovered at water treatment plants or broken down completely in nature -similar to the way plastic photodegrades and never quite disappears.

For example Newegg.com is selling a beanie: the “ABSOLUTE OUTDOOR XSYSTEM FLEECE BEANIE MOSSY OAK INFINITY OSFM” that is listed as containing Nano-Silver to prevent odor because when you are hunting the only smell you should be emitting is the stuff you willingly doused yourself in to repel or attract the animal you intend to kill.

Rickard Arvidsson (pictured above right at the Ryaverket waste water treatment plant), a researcher at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, conducted a study that suggests: “If everyone buys one silver nanoparticle -treated sock a year, the silver concentration in waste water treatment plant sludge can double.” Well, that can’t be good.

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Another Look at How Sound Travels In the Ocean

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Thursday, 18 October 2012
in Mother Nature's Water

Next week the the Acoustical Society of America (which would be a great name for a indie rock band) will sea shells chamomilemeet in Kansas City, Missouri for their 164th meeting.

David G. Browning, an acoustician, will present the findings of a study at the meeting that suggest the rise of carbon dioxide in the ocean, likely due to global warming and its affect on the ocean’s acidity, could change the way sound travels in the ocean.

"We call it the Cretaceous acoustic effect, because ocean acidification forced by global warming appears to be leading us back to the similar ocean acoustic conditions as those that existed 110 million years ago, during the Age of Dinosaurs," Browning explained in a statement this morning.

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Ancient Spider and Wasp Caught in Amber

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Monday, 08 October 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

There isn’t anything mysterious about the way spiders spin webs and trap their prey but there is ancient spider attack OSU polinar ambersomething interesting, cruel, and creepy about it. If we stop to look we can observe spiders trapping and wrapping food in our homes and yards and now we can see what it looked like when a spider did it in the Early Cretaceous period.

Two Researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) are saying they have found the only fossilized evidence of an ancient spider attacking a meal ensnared in its web.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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