Kemp’s ridley turtle saved in the USA

Sue and Ridley 480

From Turtle Journal in the USA:

RESCUED! Most Endangered Sea Turtle in the World

Sue Wieber Nourse and Rescued Kemp’s Ridley

Freezing and blustery … in other words, perfect conditions to rescue cold-stunned sea turtles in the Great White North.  Sue Wieber Nourse and Rufus the Turtle Dog headed to Outer Cape Cod this morning, targeting Saints Landing in Brewster as the most likely spot to find a stranded sea turtle with frigid winds pounding out of the north-northwest.

Ridley upside down in surf

Cold-Stunned Juvenile Kemp’s Ridley in Brewster

They headed east at Saints Landing and just before reaching the impassable, flooded area near Breakwater, Sue spotted the pinkish, white plastron of a Kemp’s ridley helpless and tossed upside down in the stormy surf.  This 2-to-3 year old juvenile weighed about six pounds.  Pinkish coloration confirms cold-stunning, as blood pools ventrally when the heart rate drops to only a couple of beats a minute.

Rufus and ridley

Rufus Guards Juvenile Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Once Sue recovered the turtle from the pounding surf, it quickly responded with lively movement, indicating an excellent candidate for rehabilitation and return to the wild.  Rufus stood guard as Turtle Journal notified Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary that Sue would be bringing the turtle to Wellfleet for transport to the New England Aquarium.

Ridley and surf

Cold-Stunned Jvenie Kemp’s Ridley in Cape Cod Bay

Kemp’s ridleys are one of the most endangered sea turtles in the world.  As part of their natural life cycle they drift north as hatchlings from their natal sites in the Gulf of Mexico, catching a ride on sargasso mats in the Gulf Stream.  Around age two or three, they leave the Gulf Stream and transition to a benthic habitat by swimming west to the coast.  Those that hit the U.S. north of Massachusetts have to contend with the giant arm of Cape Cod as they begin to migrate south with dropping water temperatures.  Each fall juveniles get trapped in Cape Cod Bay by cold waters, become cold-stunned and are eventually driven ashore like flotsam and jetsam in stormy conditions.

Ridley en route

Juvenile Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle En Route to Rehabilitation

If we can rescue them from beaches before hypothermia finishes them off, these critcally endangered turtles can be rehabilitated and returned to the wild to restore diminished populations.  At each high tide in the very worst of weather conditions, rescuers scour beaches facing the prevailing winds in search of stranded turtles.  For this lucky Kemp’s ridley, Sue and Rufus were at the right spot at the right time, just as it hit the shore.  So, this turtle’s chances for survival are very good.  And in the case of critcally endangered species like the Kemp’s ridley, saving one juvenile at a time really means saving their whole world.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 at 12:43 pm and is filed under Turtles.

February 2014: A rare, warm water Kemp’s ridley turtle, measuring 30cm, has washed up dead on Woolacombe Beach, North Devon. Experts say it is just one of a few that have been washed up this winter including one in Carmarthenshire and one that was washed up alive in South West Wales but died shortly after: here.

Shark Carol’s long journey studied

This video is called Shark Week– Mako Shark’s Speed.

From the New Zealand Herald:

Shark takes long way home

By Jamie Morton

5:30 AM Thursday Nov 29, 2012

Mako‘s journey of 11,300km in just seven months confounds scientist’s expectations.

A shark that swam from New Zealand to Fiji has returned home for Christmas, rounding off an 11,000km odyssey and amazing the scientists who tracked her journey.

In May, “Carol” became the first mako shark in New Zealand waters to be tracked with a satellite “spot” tag, under a Niwa research project funded by the Ministry of Primary Industries and Nova-Southeastern University in Florida.

Scientists watched in amazement as she set off for the Pacific Islands, only to change her mind halfway and turn back for a two-month stay near Ninety Mile Beach.

After a loop around the top of the North Island, the shark again set off for Fiji, reaching her destination in September.

It was what she did next – returning to New Zealand and arriving home only 100km from the spot where she was tagged – that most surprised scientists.

In the space of seven months, the 1.8m shark clocked up more than 11,300km, covering up to 100km a day.

This month, she cruised around the East Cape and was tracked near Mahia a few days ago, probably bound for Napier.

“This shark did some surprising things,” Niwa principal scientist Dr Malcolm Francis said.

“First she headed off toward Fiji, which was kind of what we expected, then she turned around and came back again – which was totally unexpected.”

When she did reach Fiji, it was thought she would stay there for winter.

“We thought she’d only come back when the waters got warmer in summer, but she kind of turned around and came back straight here anyway – and the water wasn’t much warmer than it was when she left.”

With a sample of only one, researchers could draw few conclusions – but Carol’s adventure has changed assumptions about mako behaviour.

“We used to think they disappeared from our waters during autumn, winter and spring and headed off to the tropics,” Dr Francis said.

“We also didn’t know where exactly they went, what route they took and how long it took to get there. This kind of tag gives us several fixes a day.”

More than 60 species of shark are due in New Zealand waters over summer, among them great whites, seven-gills, blue sharks, hammerheads, threshers and the occasional tiger shark.

But humans can expect to see few of these species, as most stay in deep water.

People were more likely to confront the “fish and chip” variety – school and rig sharks – or bigger species such as bronze whalers and basking sharks.

Great whites would roam all around our coastline over summer, especially in areas where they could find food, but sightings were rare.

Where’s Grim?

That’s the question on the mind of Department of Conservation shark expert Clinton Duffy, who hasn’t seen Grim since the island-hopping great white dropped off the radar last year.

Grim, who was a 3m juvenile when tagged off the Stewart Island in 2010 and would likely span 3.5m today, was last seen by Mr Duffy in March last year.

Scientists have tracked him visiting Fiji, Tonga and Niue before Grim sent a signal from the Louisville Seamount chain, northeast of New Zealand, just over year ago.

“I’d love to know where Grim is, but we haven’t heard anything from his tag for a while,” Mr Duffy said.

“We did have a report from a caged diving operation at Stewart Island he was seen in May this year, but that hasn’t been confirmed.”

But with Stewart Island now boasting a summer smorgasbord of seals, Mr Duffy wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where Grim was now.

Rap music studied by neurologists

This music video says about itself:

Open Mike Eagle stopped thru Knocksville and did an encore performance of his song The Processional.

From Nature:

Brain scans of rappers shed light on creativity

Functional magnetic resonance imaging shows what happens in the brain during improvisation.

Daniel Cressey

15 November 2012

Rappers making up rhymes on the fly while in a brain scanner have provided an insight into the creative process.

Freestyle rapping — in which a performer improvises a song by stringing together unrehearsed lyrics — is a highly prized skill in hip hop. But instead of watching a performance in a club, Siyuan Liu and Allen Braun, neuroscientists at the US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Maryland, and their colleagues had 12 rappers freestyle in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine.

The artists also recited a set of memorized lyrics chosen by the researchers. By comparing the brain scans from rappers taken during freestyling to those taken during the rote recitation, they were able to see which areas of the brain are used during improvisation. The study is published today in Scientific Reports.

The results parallel previous imaging studies in which Braun and Charles Limb, a doctor and musician at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, looked at fMRI scans from jazz musicians. Both sets of artists showed lower activity in part of their frontal lobes called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during improvisation, and increased activity in another area, called the medial prefrontal cortex. The areas that were found to be ‘deactivated’ are associated with regulating other brain functions.

“We think what we see is a relaxation of ‘executive functions’ to allow more natural de-focused attention and uncensored processes to occur that might be the hallmark of creativity,” says Braun.

He adds that this suggestion is “a little bit controversial in the literature”, because some studies have found activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in creative behaviour. He suggests that the discrepancy might have to do with the tasks chosen to represent creativity. In studies that found activation, the activities — such as those that require recall — may actually be less creative.

“We try to stick with more natural creative processing, and when we do that we see this decrease in the dorsal lateral regions,” says Braun.

Pump down the volume

Rex Jung, a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, has also studied the link between brain structures and creativity, finding an inverse relationship between the volume of some frontal lobe structures and creativity. “Some of our results imply this downregulation of the frontal lobes in service of creative cognition. [The latest paper] really appears to pull it all together,” he says. “I’m excited about the findings.”

Jung says that this downregulation is likely to apply in other, non-musical areas of creativity — including science.

The findings also suggest an explanation for why new music might seem to the artist to be created of its own accord. With less involvement by the lateral prefrontal regions of the brain, the performance could seem to its creator to have “occurred outside of conscious awareness”, the authors write.

Michael Eagle, a study co-author who raps under the name Open Mike Eagle, agrees: “That’s kind of the nature of that type of improvisation. Even as people who do it, we’re not 100% sure of where we’re getting improvisation from.”

Liu says that the researchers are now working on problems they were unable to explore with freestylers — such as what happens after the initial burst of creative inspiration.

“We think that the creative process may be divided into two phases,” he says. “The first is the spontaneous improvisatory phase. In this phase you can generate novel ideas. We think there is a second phase, some kind of creative processing [in] revision.”

The researchers would also like to look at how creativity differs between experts and amateurs of a similar artistic ilk to freestylers: poets and storytellers.

“Around the nation, police and prosecutors are using lyrics from rap songs to incriminate suspects and obtain convictions, often in the absence of traditional forms of evidence. In this way, rap music, and by extension the artists behind it, face unique scrutiny in the criminal justice system.” (Read more here)

Tufted duck female retrapped for hundredth time

Tufted duck female

From BTO Bird Ringing ‘Demog Blog’ in Britain:

28 November 2012

Duck happy

Phil Jones writes:

All ringers know that certain birds can become frequent visitors to traps and are prepared to enter them and eat the bait regularly. The inconvenience of waiting for release being outweighed by the readily available supply of food.

The site at Icklesham runs a duck trap during the winter months and catches a trickle of Mallard, Tufted Duck and Coot. We knew that female Tufted Duck with ring FA80827 is a regular visitor but we were surprised when she was retrapped for the hundredth time on 28 October 2012! She appears to be a migrant as she never turns up in the trap early in the autumn, in 2009 her first catch was 03 December and this year we caught her for the first time on 27 October. She was first ringed 27 September 2008 so hopefully will be a regular for many years to come.

Thanks to Phil Jones for letting us know and to Barry Yates for the great photo.