Save rare Florida panthers from Big Oil


This video from the USA is called Rescued Florida Panther Kitten.

It says about itself:

20 February 2014

See photos of him as he grows: http://www.flickr.com/photos/myfwcmed…

Video: Day 1 – 1/23/14 – A single male kitten is discovered in the den of FP195. The 7-day-old kitten is cold (hypothermic) and listless and shows signs of hypoglycemia. FWC panther biologists determine the tiny 1-pound kitten will not survive in this state without intervention and that it’s best chance for its survival is if they rescue him. The biologists take the kitten to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida (ASH) in Naples, where veterinarians and staff perform life-saving measures.

Day 2 – 1/24/14 – FWC panther biologists visit UCFP205 at the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida (ASH) the day after his rescue to assess his condition. UCFP205 improved greatly and was responding as a healthy 7-day-old panther kitten should but still required 24-hour care. Biologists and veterinarians are pleased with the progress the kitten has made and are optimistic about his survival.

Week 2: Biologists and veterinarians are pleased with the progress the kitten has made and are optimistic about his survival.

Florida residents can support conservation efforts like the rescue of this kitten by purchasing a “Protect the Panther” license plate at BuyaPlate.com. Fees from license plate sales are the primary funding source for the FWC’s research and management of Florida panthers.

For more information on Florida panthers, visit www.floridapanthernet.org.

Full story: http://myfwc.com/news/news-releases/2…

Want to see a super cute updated video? Check out Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo‘s video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofr-Y7…

From the CREDO Mobilize site in the USA:

Protect Florida Panthers from Big Oil

To: Fred McManus, Chief, Groundwater and Underground Injection Control, EPA

With as few as 100 Florida panthers alive today, we can’t allow additional threats from Big Oil and its machinery. I urge the EPA to deny the permit to drill a new, unneeded injection well less than one mile from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.

Why is this important?

As a professional nature photographer, I have witnessed firsthand the leading cause of panther deaths in Florida—being struck by vehicles (72%). Not long ago, I had the heartbreaking experience of coming upon a Florida panther kitten that had been killed by a car. My very first instinct was to reach out and pat her lifeless body which was left strewn across the centerline of the road. As I did that, I came to realize that her mother was calling out to her from some brush not far away. I knew then that I needed to do more than just photograph Florida’s wildlife if I wanted it to endure. I knew I needed to take action to protect Florida panthers and protecting them from Big Oil and their machinery is part of that.

Florida panthers number barely over 100 in the wild and can’t afford unnecessary, new threats. Yet, the state of Florida has issued a permit for the construction of a new oil and gas waste disposal well in prime habitat for the endangered Florida panther. This well would be placed less than a mile from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, and would bring with it hundreds of truck trips that could harass or kill endangered panthers, pushing panthers closer to the brink of extinction. Just this year, 12 panthers have been killed in Florida putting the state on path to exceed the average of 17 panthers killed annually by vehicles.

Not only would this well increase vehicle traffic, it could potentially contaminate the ground and water Florida panthers rely on.The waste that will be injected into this well could be very toxic. No one knows exactly what is in the waste because Congress exempted oil companies from a federal hazardous waste law back in the 1980s. We should not entertain any plan that might bring new toxic threats to these already-beleaguered cats.

Additionally, the Texas company that is applying to drill this well is already in hot water over another well in the state of Florida. It has been fined $25,000 for acting outside the scope of the permitted activity at the well site. In short, they’ve already been accused of breaking the law once–why give them another chance while putting highly-endangered panthers at risk?

Please urge the EPA to block the construction of this well and prevent further threats to Florida panthers, their habitat and clean water resources needed by both humans and wildlife.

How it will be delivered

In person if a meeting is possible. If not, by email.

You can sign the petition here.

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Young loggerhead turtles, new research


This video from the USA is called Loggerhead sea turtles hatching. Sebastian, Florida.

From Wildlife Extra:

Young turtles seek warmer climes

March 2014: New study shows where young loggerhead sea turtles disappear to during their ‘lost years’.

Once baby turtles have successfully hatched and made the risky journey to the sea they are rarely seen until they have grown till 40cm, between seven and 12 years later. Yet what happens to them during this period scientists call the ‘lost years’ has remained a mystery until now.

To solve the mystery a team of scientists, led by Katherine Mansfield of the University of Central Florida, attached solar-powered transmitters to 17 turtles collected from nests along the south-east coast of Florida. The team reared the turtles in the laboratory until they were 11-18cm long before releasing them in the Gulf Stream off the Floridian coast.

They were then tracked for between 27 and 220 days as they travelled distances from 200 to more than 4300km. The scientists found that they all headed north and remained within or close to the Gulf Stream and tended to travel in clockwise direction around the circular North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre currents.

Some turtles however did move out of these Gyre currents into the centre; an area called the Sargrasso sea. The team suggest that this could be linked to the seasonal drift of Sargassum, a type of macro-algae that floats in large mats and to take advantage of the habitat they offer, in particular the warmth the mats trap at the water surface close to them.

For young turtles, staying warm is of upmost importance. Warmer temperatures help their skeletons grow quicker, making them increasingly less vulnerable.

Therefore the team suggest that where these young turtles headed could have been closely linked to where they could find warmer habitats to boost their growth so that once they are large enough they can return to the coast much less vulnerable than when they left as hatchlings.

“Going with the Flow” or Not: Evidence of Positive Rheotaxis in Oceanic Juvenile Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta) in the South Pacific Ocean Using Satellite Tags and Ocean Circulation Data: here.

Three new turtle and tortoise books for kids encourage adventures: here.

Israeli team designs prosthetic fin to save turtle: here.

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Endangered right whale saving attempt by biologists


This video says about itself:

Watch: Endangered Right Whale Trapped In Fishing Line:Rescue by Wildlife biologists

20 February 2014

The fate of the whale hangs in the balance with at least 20ft of fishing rope still tangled in its mouth despite a rescue attempt. An endangered whale has become entangled in heavy fishing rope off the US coast of Georgia.

Wildlife biologists had to cut away more than 280ft of the commercial fishing line which was being dragged by the whale.

It is now swimming easier than it was, but they had to leave the whale with at least 20ft of the thick rope still tangled in its mouth.

Clay George, a marine mammal biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said this would give it “a fighting chance” to free itself.

He said the whale had suffered injuries to its head and tail.

“Disentanglement can’t save every whale. The focus must be on prevention.”

By Philip Ross:

Endangered Whale Gets ‘Fighting Chance’ After Biologists Cut 280 Feet Of Fishing Line From Whale’s Mouth [VIDEO]

A 4-year-old endangered right whale that became entangled in nearly 300 feet of fishing line was partially freed Monday after biologists pursued it and removed some of the heavy rope from its mouth.

The 30-foot whale was spotted in the waters near Jacksonville, Fla., during Navy aerial surveys. Biologists from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were alerted to the distressed whale’s predicament, and quickly sprang into action to free the giant.

According to Associated Press, the rescue crew was able to remove about 280 feet of the heavy commercial fishing rope, but had to leave some of it inside the whale’s mouth.

“We feel like what we did gives the whale a fighting chance to shed the remainder of the rope on its own,” Clay Georgia, a marine mammal biologist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, told AP. “The real take-home message here is, we can’t just go out and save and fix every whale that shows up entangled. In some cases it’s just completely impossible to disentangle that whale.”

Experts say that encounters with commercial fishing gear and accidents with ships off the East Coast are the biggest threats right whales face in the wild.

Right whales, which can reach 50 feet in length and are identified by their enormous heads, are the rarest of all large whales. According to National Geographic, right whales were hunted nearly to extinction by 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century whalers. The whales were especially valuable for their abundant oil and baleen, the row of keratin bristles used to filter krill through their mouths. Baleen was used to make corsets, buggy whips and other popular items.

Northern right whales, which are found in the Atlantic along the eastern coast of Canada and the U.S., are the most endangered of all the right-whale species. There are only about 450 northern right whales left in the wild. Each winter, the whales migrate to warmer waters off the coasts of Georgia and Florida to give birth to their calves.

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Rare birds in Florida


This video is called Birds of Florida.

From the Herald-Tribune in the USA:

Cold winter brings rare birds to Florida

By VALERIE GARMAN
Halifax Media Group

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 8:07 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 8:07 a.m.

PANAMA CITY BEACH – Bay County has been a destination for a more literal type of snowbird this winter.

Frigid temperatures across the country have brought some migrating birds farther south than they usually fly, with some making the trek all the way from the Arctic Circle.

“We’ve had a number of birds that have been quite rare for Bay County,” Bay County Audubon Society member Neil Lamb said Monday. “Probably the most exciting we’ve seen is a snow bunting that is out at Deepwater Point at St. Andrews State Park, where the [St. Andrew] Pass and Grand Lagoon meet.”

The arctic snow bunting doesn’t usually travel farther south than Ohio for the winter. Ironically, the bird was first spotted by a human snowbird about a week ago among the Savannah sparrows and yellow warblers common to the state park’s sand dunes.

“They’re one of the Arctic regulars and they winter usually down in the Great Plains part of the U.S.,” said Lamb, who led a walk with the Audubon Society on Saturday to seek out the snow bunting. “It’s quite unusual.”

Colder-than-usual temperatures in the northern states also have brought huge numbers of loons and ducks to the area this year.

While most of the visiting loons and ducks are species commonly seen in the winter, Lamb said he also recently spotted another arctic bird, a red-throated loon, among a flock of about 55 others in St. Andrew Bay.

The bay also has served as a winter home to thousands of ducks, more than usual this year, as they fatten up on feasts of fish and shrimp to prepare for the long journey back home.

“If you look at the weather reports, the Great Lakes have been totally frozen over for the first time in years and years,” Lamb said. “When the water’s frozen, the ducks can’t survive on ice. They have wings, so they’ll go where there’s open water.”

Some spotted species include red-breasted mergansers, hooded mergansers and redhead ducks.

Lamb said news of the rare bird sightings also have brought a boost for ecotourism in the area, with bird enthusiasts from across the Southeast hoping to catch a peek.

“It’s been bringing quite a few people into the area,” said Lamb, who noted there are three times as many bird watchers as there are hunters.

Avid birders often upload their finds to an online documentation site, eBird.org, which sends out “rare bird alerts” when unusual species are reported in a user’s region of interest.

“We’re always on alert,” Lamb said.

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Boys’ mass grave at Florida prison discovered


This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Black & White Boys At Dozier Reform School ‘Worst Nightmare’

10 July 2013

An anthropological investigation into abuse and death at the now closed Arthur G. Dozier Reform School for Boys found a record of 98 students died between 1914 and 1973-19 more than what a state probe previously uncovered. Several men who were boys at Dozier Reform School speak out about the abuse they experienced as students at Dozier.

By Jake Dean in the USA:

Fifty-five bodies found at Florida’s former reform school

5 February 2014

An excavation in the makeshift graveyard at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Florida last week uncovered 55 bodies in unmarked graves. These grisly findings are in addition to several other bodies found on the grounds of the campus, once housing 1,400, by an initial investigation carried out in 2009 by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

The excavation efforts are led by Dr. Erin Kimmerle, an associate professor of forensic anthropology at the University of South Florida, and involve 50 other researchers from nine different agencies in attempting to locate the missing bodies that have been buried there, and to determine the cause of their deaths.

During a press conference, Dr. Kimmerle expressed her motivation for leading this mission: “This project has always been about fulfilling a fundamental human right for families who, like all of us, have a right to know what happened to their loved ones and are entitled to bury their relatives in manner which they deem proper.”

The team used ground-penetrating radar to help find the grave shafts of at least 50 unmarked graves. The actual campus cemetery contains only 13 bodies, marked by pipe crosses to symbolize their death.

During the excavation, the research team found thousands of artifacts, which will help to date and more accurately record the identities of the boys buried. Some of the artifacts include belt buckles, buttons, coffin hardware, and a marble in a boy’s pocket.

Also known as the Florida School for Boys and Florida State Reform School, the juvenile detention center was operated by the state of Florida from 1900 to 2011. Well before the excavation took place, the school was notorious for allegations of physical and sexual assault against the boys incarcerated there. An investigation by the US Justice Department, as well as countless other accusations, led to the institution’s closure on May 26, 2011. Significantly, the official reason given by the state for closing the school was a lack of funds.

The school was intended for boys who committed crimes such as theft and murder. A change in the state’s law, however, lowered the requirement to include minor infractions from “incorrigibility” to “truancy,” leading to an increase in the number of boys who were sent there.

Boys who were sent to the school refer to themselves as the “White House Boys.” The designation refers to the building in the school where abuse took place. Boys as young as five years of age were subjected to beatings and rape, and were hog-tied and locked in isolation, sometimes up to three weeks, in the “White House.”

Students who died at the school were buried in unrecorded locations, and frequently had their deaths cited as “unknown” in the death certificates. School officials on multiple occasions did not report the deaths to the state, and failed to provide a death certificate or conduct any form of investigation. Some of the bodies were burned in the school incinerator, making it impossible to locate all the boys’ bodies in order to determine the cause of death.

As a result of the extensive research conducted by Dr. Kimmerle’s team, it was determined that a minimum of 98 boys died between 1914 and 1973. Many of the victims were young black males, ranging from the ages of 6 to 18. During their research, the team also discovered that 7 died while attempting to escape, and 20 died after having been there less than three months.

It would be no exaggeration, given the number of bodies discovered and the countless anecdotal stories related by those who survived the experience, to assume that many of the deaths did not result from natural causes, but from a range of violent and barbaric acts.

Researchers also suggest that many of the children buried may have been killed. Only further research will establish the cause of their deaths. Five sets of DNA samples have already been sent to the University of North Texas Health Science Center to identify some of the bodies.

The University of South Florida was commissioned on August 6th, 2013, to begin the excavation of remains. Florida’s secretary of state, Ken Detzner, had attempted to prevent the investigation by various means, including refusing to authorize the permit for it. The team was forced to appeal to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, when Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet authorized Dr. Kimmerle to begin the excavation.

The first public exposure of the Dozier School took place in October 2008, when five former wards emerged publicly, telling their stories of physical and sexual abuse. The account was published in a Tampa Bay Times series entitled “For Their Own Good.” Since 2008, more than 500 people have come forward with similar stories, all giving similar testimony.

In 2009, a follow-up investigation by the Tampa Bay Times caused the governor to order a state investigation into the accusations. The FDLE, which carried out the investigation, determined in its 18-page report that the deaths of the 31 boys buried at the school were due to a fire that took place in 1914 and a subsequent flu outbreak. The FDLE report only relied on the school’s record to calculate the number of deaths and to map out the cemetery.

The authorities also ruled out allegations that the boys were killed by the guards and buried there. Because of lack of any first-hand information, Florida’s state attorney for the district, Glenn Hess, declined to open any formal criminal investigation.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2011 launched its own investigation into the school, ultimately leading to its termination. The DOJ released its report on December 2, 2011. Among its findings was the failure of Florida’s oversight system to “detect and sufficiently address harmful practices at both the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the Jackson Juvenile Offender Center.”

The report also stated that the school failed to properly protect the youth from harm, failed to provide any rehabilitation services in violation of due process rights, displayed indifference to the risk of self-injurious or suicidal behaviors, and implemented unconstitutional means of disciplinary confinement.

Despite the findings from the DOJ and the discovery of the bodies, Florida has yet to even open a criminal investigation of those who worked at the school. Another dig is scheduled for Dr. Kimmerle’s investigative team next month in the hope to find more bodies and to discover the truth behind the deaths of the boys.

The horrors being uncovered in Florida, spanning as they do a century of American history, including the likely attempt by the authorities to cover them up, targeting the most vulnerable sections of the working class, testify once more to the bankruptcy of the present social and political system.

A forensics team identified the remains of two more children at the notorious Florida School for Boys: here.

Pennsylvania: Kids for Cash: Inside One of the Nation’s Most Shocking Juvenile Justice Scandals: here.

The U.S. Is Locking People Up For Being Poor: here.

Leatherback turtles, new study


This video says about itself:

Leatherback Turtles 21 May 2013

These two Leatherback Turtles were observed feeding on Moon Jellies approximately 8 nautical miles Southwest of Mexico Beach, FL. It was amazing how they allowed me to swim within 4 feet of them for about 9 minutes as they fed on Moon Jellies.

From The Robesonian in the USA today:

UNCP professor leads study to help protect leatherbacks

20 hours ago

A blockbuster scientific study that tracked ocean-going leatherback turtles may help save the endangered reptiles whose numbers have plummeted as commercial fishing continues to take a toll.

John Roe, a biology professor at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and reptile expert, is the lead author of a satellite-tracking study that began more than two decades ago and included 15 scientists from leading universities and institutes. The study tracked 135 leatherback turtles as they trekked across the Pacific Ocean. It was released online on Jan. 8 by The Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences) of London and will be published in print form on Feb. 22.

The leatherback population has declined by 90 percent since 1980 due in large part to longline fishing vessels hauling them in as “bycatch.” Using GPS to track the travels of the world’s largest ocean-going turtle, it may be possible to untangle them from the multi-billion dollar fishing industry, Roe said.

“The high profile of this paper helps the turtles’ cause; it’s a huge industrial issue,” Roe said. “It’s an important study, and many conservation groups are behind it.”

The study represents “the largest compilation of satellite-derived position estimates with fisheries information to predict times and locations of bycatch risk for any species of marine vertebrate.” Roe analyzed huge volumes of data, which gives “strong evidence of predictable time and location of leatherback movements” all of which “make the problem of leatherback bycatch more manageable.”

Some of the participating scientists work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, which is responsible for the stewardship of the nation’s living marine resources and their habitat.

Leatherback turtles travel thousands of miles to and from nesting sites, and their movements are predictable,” Roe said. “They follow jellyfish, their sole food source, and fishermen follow similar patterns.”

It’s difficult to get data from the industry on leatherbacks hooked on longlines, but fishermen do not intentionally catch the large turtles, which can damage their equipment.

The study, which began in 1992 and ran through 2008, is a remarkable cooperative effort among many groups who tag turtles, according to Roe.

“Knowing that many people are putting satellite transmitters on turtles, we were able to collaborate with them to get a better picture of what’s going on in the ocean,” he said.

Universities represented in the ongoing research are UNCP, Indian-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, Cornell, Duke, Stanford, Maryland and Drexel. Institutes participating were NOAA and the Leatherback Turtle Conservation Trust. Funding came from the Lenfest Oceans Program of the Pew Charitable Trust, the tagging of Pacific Pelagics Program, Drexel’s Betz Endowment and the Schrey Endowment of Indiana-Purdue.

Several leading international turtle scientists were co-authors, including the study’s senior scientist James Spotila of Drexel, Stephen Morreale of Cornell, and Frank Paladino of Indiana-Purdue, who is Roe’s mentor.

“I was able to maintain a relationship with this group from my time as a post-doctoral fellow,” Roe said. “I pushed the study forward and crunched the numbers.”

As lead author, Roe is also the spokesman for the paper, and interest in the study has been high. Thus far, BBC News, Nature World and Science Daily have reported on it. Roe has done an interview with WHYY, Philadelphia public radio.

Roe said acquiring more data would narrow the field of collisions between turtles and fishing vessels. A related study of leatherbacks in the Atlantic will be published online in the coming months.

“Turtles and whales are in the spotlight globally,” Roe said. “There has been success in some areas like shrimping on the East Coast of the Atlantic where turtle excluder devices have been incorporated in nets. But leatherbacks are not coastal turtles and remain in deep water, which makes regulation more difficult.”

The study identified hot spots of conflict. In the eastern Pacific, leatherbacks are at the highest risk in the South Pacific Gyre, an enormous ocean eddy past the Galapagos Islands and south of the equator. In the western Pacific, the highest potential for bycatch is near nesting beaches of northwest New Guinea.

In Pembroke, Roe stays busy with his students tracking box turtles, a terrestrial species that is North Carolina’s state reptile. Roe, who joined UNCP’s faculty in 2010, earned his doctorate from the University of Canberra, Australia. He has studied turtles and snakes Down Under, across the Pacific and from Michigan to North Carolina.

“I expect to have some papers on box turtles ready for publication in a year, and I am looking at some turtles of conservation concern in the Lumber River,” he said. “There is no shortage of interesting reptiles.”

See also here.

The last large populations of the leatherback turtle are at risk because their migratory routes in the Atlantic Ocean clash with the locations of industrial fisheries, a new study shows: here.

Just recently in San Jose, Costa Rica police officers rescued a leatherback sea turtle from poachers who planned to kill the animal and sell it. Apparently these poachers who planned to capture the sea turtle were doing illegal actions. In Costa Rica selling a leatherback sea turtle or its eggs is illegal because these kinds of turtles are endangered. However, on the black market leatherback turtles sell for very high prices, which is most likely why poachers were trying to capture this marine animal: here.

The Definitive Ranking Of Animals Riding On Turtles: here.