Bahrain dictatorship continues


This video is called CNN exposes Bahrain government’s media censorship of tortured protesters.

Bahrain Special: How Regime Supporters Used a New York Times Reporter (Again) To Denounce the Opposition: here.

Bahrain Government Poised to “Get Tougher” on Opposition: here.

British turtle doves endangered


This video says about itself:

Illegal Trapping of Turtle Doves 2 May 2011, Red Tower (Malta), CABS Bird Guards.

CABS and police seizing nets and live Turtle Dove decoys at the Red Tower (Malta) on 2 May 2011, trappers are running away.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

RSPB scrambles to save turtle dove

Wednesday 09 May 2012

Conservationists will launch a last-gasp effort to save the turtle dove tomorrow.

Numbers of the bird — traditionally seen as a symbol of love and devotion — have dropped by more than 90 per cent since the 1970s.

But scientists have been left scratching their heads about the cause of the dove’s decline.

It may be they’re being shot down during their annual migration as they pass over the Mediterranean, but the RSPB will be investigating the possibility it’s being caused by changes to farming patterns hitting their traditional diet.

See also here.

Endangered honeyeaters released in Australia


This video from Australia is called Helmeted Honeyeaters road to recovery.

From Wildlife Extra:

Critically Endangered Honeyeaters released into the wild in Australia

Helmeted Honeyeaters released to save species

May 2012. Fifteen critically endangered Helmeted Honeyeaters were released into the wild as efforts by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) (Australia) and Healesville Sanctuary continue to save the bird from extinction.

Survives at just 2 sites

The release will boost the numbers to an estimated 100 in the wild at just two sites; Bunyip State Park, 20km south-east of Gembrook and Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve, 18km south of Healesville.

DSE’s Senior Ornithologist Bruce Quin said this is the first time Helmeted Honeyeaters have been released in this section of Bunyip State Park. “The park was burnt by the Black Saturday fires; however, wild birds moved into the site once it started to regenerate. They are surviving here with no supplementary feeding that suggests ideal habitat,” Mr Quin said.

“The birds were fitted with transmitters, for tracking purposes, and transferred to aviaries at Bunyip State Park earlier this week to allow them to get used to their wild environment without danger of predation, especially from birds of prey. All released birds are also leg banded making it easier to track them.”

Spanish fossil giant panda relative discovered


Bear evolution

From ScienceDaily:

A ‘Cousin’ of the Giant Panda Lived in What Is Now Zaragoza, Spain

(May 9, 2012) — A team of Spanish scientists have found a new ursid fossil species in the area of Nombrevilla in Zaragoza, Spain. Agriarctos beatrix was a small plantigrade omnivore and was genetically related to giant pandas, according to the authors of the study.

The fossil remains of a new ursid species, Agriarctos beatrix, have been discovered in the Nombrevilla 2 site in the province of Zaragoza, Spain. Researchers from Spain’s National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN-CSIC) and the University of Valencia suggested that this plantigrade lived during the Myocene

sic; Miocene

period some 11 million years ago.

“This bear species was small, even smaller than the Sun bear — currently the smallest bear species. It would not have weighed more than 60 kilos,” as explained by Juan Abella, researcher at the Department of Paleobiology of the MNCN-CSIC and lead author of the study, published in the journal Estudios Geológicos.

Although it is difficult to determine its physical appearance given that only pieces of dental fossils have been found, scientists believe that it would have had dark fur with white spots mainly on the chest, around the eyes and possibly close to the tail.

“This fur pattern is considered primitive for bears, such as that of the giant panda whose white spots are so big that it actually seems to be white with black spots,” states Abella.

Agriarctos beatrix, from the Ursidae family and related to giant pandas, would have lived in the forest and could have been more sessile that those bears that tend to hunt more, such as the brown or polar bears. According to researchers, the extinct bear would have escaped from other larger carnivores by climbing up trees.

The expert highlights that “its diet would have been similar to that of the sun bear or the spectacled bear that only eat vegetables and fruit and sometimes vertebrates, insects, honey and dead animals.”

The lone bear

“We know that it was a different species to those documented up until now because of its morphological differences and the size of its teeth,” confirms the scientist. “We have compared it with species of the same kind (Agriarctos) and similar kinds from the same period (Ursavus and Indarctos).”

The reasons for its extinction have yet to be determined but “the most probable cause is likely to be the opening up of the forests giving way to more open, drier spaces and the appearance of similar yet larger and more competitive species,” says Abella.

The findings now date the appearance of this group related to giant pandas some two millions years later, from 9 million years ago to 11 million years ago. They could have originated in the north-east basins of the Iberian Peninsula.

See also here.

World’s rarest gorillas video


This video says about itself:

For the first time ever, conservationists have captured video footage of Cross River gorillas in their natural environment, thanks to a camera trap secreted in a forest in Cameroon. The elusive gorillas are some of the most elusive animals on Earth. Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society.

See also here. And here. And here.

Humpbacks help gray whales against orcas


This video from the USA says about itself:

Off the coast of Monterey Bay, California, the arena is set killer whales and gray whales are set for an annual, epic battle. While gray whales are 30-ton powerhouses, they face a fierce predator in killer whales. Join Wild Chronicles to see who wins this struggle for survival beneath the turbulent waves.

From the BBC:

9 May 2012 Last updated at 09:32

Humpback whales intervene in killer whale hunt

By Ella Davies Reporter, BBC Nature

A BBC/National Geographic film crew have recorded rare footage of humpback whales intervening in a killer whale hunt.

Gray whales migrating along the coast of California, US are often targeted by orcas.

One mother and calf’s journey was being filmed for the BBC series Planet Earth Live when the third party became involved in the drama.

Onlookers suggest they were deliberately disrupting the hunt.

“To be honest we weren’t expecting to see anything – it was our very first day out on the boat,” said Victoria Bromley, a researcher with the crew that witnessed the scene.

“It was a massive stroke of luck when we received the call about the attack.”

Working from a whale-watching boat from Monterey Bay Whale Watch, the team set up to film in an area known for sightings of gray whales.

Every year female gray whales travel north from the birthing waters off the coast of Mexico to the nutrient rich waters of the Bering Sea with their calves.

Along the route, they are targeted by orcas, which co-ordinate their attacks – aiming to separate the defenceless young from their mothers.

To minimise their risk from the predators, gray whales swim in relatively shallow water but at Monterey Bay the whales must swim over the Monterey Canyon that in places can reach two miles deep.

The film crew arrived at the scene of the hunt following a tip off call from a sister boat.

Using a camera mounted on the boat, Ms Bromley told BBC Nature: “we saw a lot of grey shapes in the water and quickly realised they were humpbacks.”

According to the crew the additional whales were not just observers of the hunt but were actively involved.

Humpback whales are known for their impressive range of calls, including a high-pitched “trumpeting” noise made when they are agitated.

The humpbacks at Monterey Bay were trumpeting, diving and slapping their pectoral fins against the water.

“It didn’t seem at all like they were confused… they were definitely there with a purpose,” said Ms Bromley.

Shortly after the crew arrived the orca successfully caught their prey. The mother whale fled the scene but the humpbacks remained.

“I have never seen anything like this before,” said marine biologist Alisa Schulman-Janiger who accompanied the filmmakers.

Mrs Schulman-Janiger has studied California killer whales since 1984 and is currently the director of the American Cetacean Society/Los Angeles Chapter’s Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project.

After the attack, two humpback whales moved into the area where the calf was last seen alive. They continued to make trumpeting calls, rolled in the water and slashed their tails aggressively at killer whales that came near.

According to Mrs Schulman-Janiger the whole encounter lasted seven hours.

“An extraordinary number of humpback whales had appeared “overnight”, feeding within a five mile area: about 100 humpback whales – converging on an abundance of krill that had grown concentrated after two days of very strong winds,” she explained.

“The whales [we watched] should have been off feeding: instead, they deliberately stayed in our area, loudly announcing their presence.”

The researchers have sent photographs of the humpback whales to a research centre for identification against the North Pacific humpback whale catalogue.

“Female humpback whales would be expected to react much more strongly to the protection of a youngster,” said Mrs Schulman-Janiger.

“This was not a curious approach by these humpback whales: they seemed truly distressed.”

Whale facts

Gray whales undertake the longest annual migration of any known mammal, a round trip of about 20,000km or more
Humpback whales perform spectacular displays of breaching (leaping clear of the water) and males sing a complex song that can last for days, in order to attract a mate
Killer whales are not actually whales at all – they are the largest species of dolphin

ScienceDaily (May 8, 2012) — Though they evolved separately over millions of years in different worlds of darkness, bats and toothed whales use surprisingly similar acoustic behavior to locate, track, and capture prey using echolocation, the biological equivalent of sonar. Now a team of Danish researchers has shown that the acoustic behavior of these two types of animals while hunting is eerily similar. The findings were made possible by a new type of whale tag that allows scientists, for the first time, to track whales’ foraging behavior in the wild: here.

Researchers: Whales May Turn Down Their Hearing Sensitivity When Warned Of An Impending Loud Noise: here.

Do Whales Have Wax In Their Ears? Here.

Killer whale expert out of work as feds cut ocean-pollution monitoring positions: here.

Australia: Return of the killer whales of Eden, NSW: here.

May 2012. Watchers looking out for orcas from Duncansby Head on the very north of mainland Scotland were stunned to witness an attack by a six strong pod on five white-beaked dolphins: here.

May 2012. Sightings of a large whale off the Cornish coast near Lizard Point are causing a stir amongst scientists who say it could have been a North Atlantic right whale, one of the most endangered species in the world. Other possibilities are the Gray whale which went extinct in Atlantic Waters in the 17th century, though one was seen in 2010 in The Mediterranean, or a humpback whale: here.

Humpback near Rotterdam: here.

Earthquakes, other geology, video


This video from the California Academy of Sciences in the USA says about itself:

Morrison Planetarium: Evidence of a Restless Planet, Trailer

Don’t miss Earthquake, a major new exhibit and planetarium show, opening May 26, 2012. Take a kinetic journey toward understanding these super seismic phenomena and how they fit into the larger story of our ever-changing Earth. Our planetarium show, Evidence of a Restless Planet, will launch you on a breathtaking tour through space and time. Fly over the San Andreas fault before diving into the planet’s interior, travel back in time to witness both the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the break-up of Pangaea 200 million years ago, and much more.