New Antarctic penguin discoveries

This video is called Adelie Penguins of Paulet Island, Antarctica.

From Antarctic Science:

16 January 2013

Large-scale occupancy surveys in East Antarctica discover new Adélie penguin breeding sites and reveal an expanding breeding distribution

Colin Southwell and Louise Emmerson

Australian Antarctic Division, 203 Channel Highway, Kingston, TAS 7050 Australia


Knowledge of spatial distribution is fundamental to ecological studies and crucial for conservation and management of species and biodiversity, but detailed, large-scale spatial data are lacking for most taxa. Although the Adélie penguin is one of the most intensively studied Antarctic vertebrates, spatial data that could aid in ecological study and conservation management are incomplete. We undertook a large-scale survey of the current breeding distribution of Adélie penguins along 3800 km of the East Antarctic coastline

The survey increased the number of known breeding locations by 50% and revealed that the breeding distribution has expanded in some parts of the survey region over the past two to three decades. The expanding breeding distribution may reflect underlying population dynamics of sustained growth and resultant density dependent effect on dispersal and movement from established breeding sites to new sites. The comprehensive, large-scale distribution data from this study will form a baseline for assessing any future changes in Adélie penguin breeding distribution, provide data for developing spatial models for predicting future changes in breeding distribution under plausible scenarios of environmental change, and contribute to the development of metapopulation models by providing estimates of local colonization and extinction probabilities under specific conditions of metapopulation change.


Colourful Canadian salamanders, video

This video is about colourful Canadian salamanders. See here.

More US military and veteran suicides

This video from the USA is called MSM: Ignores Veteran Suicides.

By Bryan Dyne in the USA:

Record number of US military and veteran suicides

16 January 2013

On average, a US military veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes, according to recent estimates from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department. At the same time, suicides by active soldiers increased 15 percent in 2012, to a new record.

According to these figures, more soldiers and veterans take their own lives every year than have been killed in action throughout the last twelve years of Afghanistan and the last ten years of Iraq combined.

The figures on suicide numbers the VA uses are drawn from the National Violent Death Reporting System run by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicides among veterans account for about one-sixth of all suicides annually.

The department also reports that there are 950 suicide attempts per month among veterans being cared for by the Veterans Health Administration. About 150 of the attempts are successful, meaning that seven percent of military suicides occur while the veteran is being cared for by the VHA.

Thirty-three percent of recent veteran suicides are by those with a history of previous attempts.

These figures are far higher than the rate of active service member suicide, which is slightly less than one a day, amounting to 349 suicides of active duty personnel in 2012. This figure, however, is a new record. Recent data from the Army shows that soldiers deployed are more likely to commit suicide. This is a reversal from previous wars, in which those deployed were shown to be less likely to commit suicide.

The high suicide rates are a direct product of the neo-colonial wars being waged by US imperialism.

The Center for a New American Security reports the impact of military training on soldiers. It reports that “the very experience of being in the military and the violence and aggression that go along with it reduces the fear of death inherent in human beings.”

This report also detailed drug and alcohol use among veterans. Approximately 14 percent of those in the Army take a prescribed opiate. Between 2005-2010, 29 percent of the Army suicides included drugs or alcohol.

An indicator of the impact of the most recent US wars on the suicide rate among veterans is the fact that former soldiers aged 17-24 are four times more likely than civilian youth to commit suicide.

The social conditions facing many veterans are another key component of the suicide rate. The VA reported that through the end of September 2012, 26,531 veterans were living on the street, at risk of losing their homes, staying in temporary housing or receiving federal vouchers to pay rent. This is more than double the number in 2010.

Moreover, 1.5 million veterans are at risk of homelessness. During the past year, only about 22,000 of these veterans were helped by the VA.

Young veterans are also more likely to be unemployed. Unpublished 2011 US Bureau of Labor Statistics data uncovered by the Center for American progress recorded that 30.2 percent of veterans age 18 to 24 were unemployed.

Poor social conditions have exacerbated the mental health conditions facing veterans. Since 2000, more than 936,000 veterans have been diagnosed with at least one mental health problem. The VA admits this number is likely much higher, with many veterans not seeking assistance dealing with the issues that arise from being deployed, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder. The VA’s suicide hotline receives on average 10,000 calls a month.

As many veterans face dismal job and housing prospects, they are unable to provide any medical treatment for themselves, relying solely on the VA. This has swamped the agency as it attempts to cope with cases it receives even as its funding is being threatened. More than one million veterans await VA disability claims.

The callousness of the US ruling elite towards soldiers was evident in the recent US Supreme Court decision to refuse to hear a lawsuit that would force the VA to adequately care for those suffering from PTSD. (See, “US Supreme Court refuses to hear lawsuit on suicide crisis facing war veterans”).

In its pursuit of endless war abroad and one neocolonial invasion after the next, the American ruling class treats the majority of soldiers called on to carry out these operations as so much cannon fodder.

By Louise Boyle:

‘I’m sorry… I am happier now’: Suicide note of decorated marine, 24, who killed himself in his childhood bedroom after battling PTSD

Lance-corporal Janos Victor Lutz died on January 12 in Davie, Florida

His mother said: ‘He was a casualty of war, stateside’

Marine is latest U.S. serviceman to take his own life – 349 troops committed suicide in 2012

16 January 2013

A veteran marine committed suicide on Saturday as he struggled to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder following tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lance-corporal Janos Victor Lutz, a decorated machine gunner known as Johnny, took an overdose in his childhood bedroom on January 12.

The 24-year-old killed himself in Davie, Florida just hours after discussing his studies at Palm Beach State College over lunch with his mother.

See also here.

New Mozambique snake discovery

Thelotornis usambaricus

From the Mozambique News Agency:

Mozambique: New Venomous Snake Discovered in Cabo Delgado

15 January 2013

Maputo — A researcher at Lurio University, based in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, has discovered a species of highly venomous snake not previously known in the country.

The species is Thelotornis usambaricus, which belongs to a group of snakes commonly known as twig snakes. Previously, this species was only known from Tanzania, but the researcher, Harith Farooq, discovered it when he was undertaking a survey of terrestrial wild life on Vamizi island, in the Quirimbas archipelago, off the coast of Cabo Delgado province.

Farooq caught two of the snakes, which he could not immediately identify.

He sent one of the animals to the Natural History Museum in Zimbabwe to ascertain its taxonomic classification. This work was done by the zoologist Donald G. Broadley, who discovered the species in Tanzania in 2001.

The second of the snakes is now in the reptile collection kept in the branch of Lurio University in the Cabo Delgado provincial capital, Pemba.

Thelotornis Usambaricus is a member of the Thelotornis genus of back-fanged snakes. Its venom is hemotoxic – which means that it destroys red blood cells. This type of venom can disrupt blood clotting, and cause generalized tissue damage.

It is much slower acting than the neurotoxic venom (poison that affects the nervous system) of snakes such as the black mamba. However, no anti-venom has yet been developed for Thelotornis poison, and although bites are rare, fatalities have been recorded in Tanzania.

This snake usually conceals itself in trees, from which it strikes at its favoured prey – lizards, frogs and sometimes birds.

With this discovery, the number of snake species known to exist in Mozambique has risen to 96.

The black mamba has quite a reputation. It is one of the world’s deadliest snakes; it is the fastest land snake in the world; and it is Africa’s biggest poisonous snake. This snake’s potential danger has been the subject of many African myths and it has been blamed for thousands of human deaths: here.

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United States birds nests’ research

This video from the USA says about itself:

Learn how illustrator Pedro Fernandes is creating a new poster of nesting birds for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch citizen-science project.

From the 2012 NestWatch Year in Review, by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA. They coordinate counts of bird nests in various states in the USA.

Top 20 Species Monitored in 2012 Species New to NestWatch in 2012

See also here.