Mother right whales ‘whisper’ to calves


This 2016 video is called North Atlantic Right Whales.

From Syracuse University in the USA:

Hush, little baby: Mother right whales ‘whisper’ to calves

October 9, 2019

Summary: A recent study explores whether right whale mother-calf pairs change their vocalizations to keep predators from detecting them.

On June 20, a whale that researchers had named Punctuation was found dead in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, a busy international shipping channel. Punctuation — so named for her comma-shaped scars — was a North Atlantic right whale, a species severely threatened by human activity. With only 420 left in the world, it is one of the most endangered whale species. Any additional death, especially of a reproductive female, puts the species further in jeopardy.

News of this death was particularly difficult for Syracuse University biology Professor Susan Parks, who had studied and written about Punctuation in a paper exploring acoustic communication among North Atlantic right whales.

This study was recently published in Biology Letters by Parks, along with Dana Cusano, also of Syracuse; Sofie Van Parijs, Ph.D., of the NOAA Fisheries, Northeast Fisheries Center; and Professor Douglas Nowacek of Duke University. It sheds new light on behavior between mother and calf North Atlantic right whales.

Parks has studied North Atlantic right whale behavior and acoustic communication since 1998. She leads the Bioacoustics and Behavioral Ecology Lab at Syracuse University, whose researchers study the sounds animals make, including those of right whales.

The recent study in Biology Letters explores whether mother-calf pairs change their vocalizations to keep predators from detecting them. Right whales, due to their large size, have few natural predators and are only vulnerable to orca or sharks when they are young calves.

One way to reduce the risk of predation for young calves would be for mothers to hide their young. Because the water is murky, predators are most likely to find right whales by eavesdropping on their communication signals. Any hiding by a mother and her calf would have to be acoustic — that is, producing little or no sound.

Parks and her collaborators studied whether mothers with young calves stop using the usual loud, long-distance communication signals to talk to other right whales. To collect the data, the team listened to whale sounds in the North Atlantic right whale calving grounds off the coasts of Florida and Georgia, using small recording tags attached to the whales by suction cups. Collecting data from mother-calf pairs, and from other juvenile and pregnant whales in the habitat that have less need to hide, the researchers sought to determine if mothers were modifying their behavior to be less conspicuous.

The Biology Letters study shows that mother-calf pairs drastically reduce the production of these common, louder sounds but they also produced a very soft, short, grunt-like sound. These grunts, previously unknown in right whales, were only detectable by the attached recording devices and were not audible more than a short distance from the mother-calf pair.

“These sounds can be thought of almost like a human whisper,” Parks says. “They allow the mother and calf to stay in touch with each other without advertising their presence to potential predators in the area.”

“Right whales face a number of challenges, including a very low number of calves born in recent years combined with a number of deaths from collisions with large ships or entanglement in heavy fishing gear,” Parks says. “There have been 30 confirmed right whale deaths in the past three years, including the recent death of Punctuation in June of this year. There are still so many things we don’t know about their behavior, and it is my hope that studies like these will help to improve efforts for their conservation.”

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German nazi murders at synagogue, kebab shop


This 9 October 2019 German video, by right-wing daily Bild, says about itself (translated):

Right-wing terror in Halle +++ Neo-Nazi Stephan Balliet streamed his attack live

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The perpetrator of the attack in Halle, Germany, has recorded the murder of two people on video. The images were uploaded on video site Twitch. The clip lasts nearly 36 minutes and is similar to the footage Brenton Tarrant made of the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand in March of this year.

The shooter in Halle seems to act alone. Because his weapon repeatedly jams, kiling of more victims was prevented.

German media report that the perpetrator is 27-year-old Stephan B. … He films himself at the start of the video and calls himself ‘anon’. That’s a term for anonymous users on forums like 8chan. He calls Jews “the cause of all problems” and denies the Holocaust. He also complains about feminism and mass immigration.

Bucket full of explosives

You can see how he drives to a synagogue. He can not come in, after which he fires a few shots at the door. He then applies a home-made explosive device to a side door. A bucket full of explosives can be seen in his car. The man tries to find another entrance but does not succeed. He walks around the synagogue in a swearing and ranting tone.

A woman passer-by who talks to him is cold-bloodedly murdered. The man drives away and stops again at a street corner where he walks into a [Turkish owned] döner-kebab shop. Two men can escape because the shooter’s gun repeatedly jams.

Back on the street, he shoots at a passer-by again, but he doesn’t seem to hit. He then goes after two workmen and shoots at them, but they also escape.

“Weapons worthless”

The shooter then returns to the kebab shop and shoots a man dead who is hiding in a corner. When he leaves the shop again, the gunman complains about his weapons: “I have proven that improvised weapons are worthless.”

He is then blocked by police, whom he shoots at repeatedly. He is injured in the neck himself. “I don’t know if I’m going to die,” he says. When the man manages to escape, he listens to music and apparently by chance to a radio program about the arms trade.

After barely half an hour he apparently throws the camera or telephone out of the car window. The images continue to run for a few minutes while cars drive over the camera.

Big new wasp species discovery in Africa


This August 2018 video is about hornets and wasps.

From the University of Turku:

New large-sized insect species discovered in tropical forest

October 9, 2019

Scientists at the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku in Finland have studied the diversity of tropical parasitoid wasps for years. Parasitoid wasps are among the most species rich animal taxa on Earth, but their tropical diversity is still poorly known. Recently, the research group sampled Afrotropical rhyssine wasps, which are among the largest wasps. Scientists from three countries and research institutes participated in the research led by the University of Turku research group.

Rhyssines are sizeable wasps that parasitise the beetle or wasp larvae of decaying wood. The largest species can grow over ten centimetres in length. Females carry an extremely long ovipositor, which is used to drill through wood, stab and paralyse the host, and lay eggs.

Large-sized insect species are usually known better than small species, but tropical rhyssines are an exception.

“A good example of how poorly tropical rhyssines are known is the species Epirhyssa overlaeti, which is the largest African rhyssine. Only two females were known before, one collected in the 1930s in the Congo and the other one in Cameroon in the 1980s. Now, at one single Ugandan site, we found large numbers of both females and males. This completely changed what is known of the distribution of the species,” says Doctoral Candidate Tapani Hopkins from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku, who led the project.

Scientists at the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku have previously studied the diversity of rhyssine wasps especially in the Amazonian lowland rainforest.

“In our Amazonian research, we have described ten large-sized South-American species new to science and our understanding of the diversity of South American tropical rainforest parasitoid wasps has changed. Extending the research to the African continent is important, because our goal is to understand the global diversity of the parasitoid insects which are extremely species rich,” says Professor in Biodiversity Research Ilari Sääksjärvi from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku.

In the newest study, two new African tropical parasitoid wasp species were described.

“We named one of the new species Epirhyssa quagga, because its colouration resembles that of a zebra. The other species became Epirhyssa johanna. The name Johanna refers to my wife,” Hopkins says delightedly.