Real Neat Blog Award, congratulations, nominees!


Real Neat Blog Award

In 2014, I made this award: the Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I will try to do something about that 🙂

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty 🙂

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.

5. Ask them 7 questions of your own.

6. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

2. What is your favourite sport?

3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2020?

4. What is your favorite quote?

5. What was your favorite class when still at school?

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

My nominees are:

1. Tim’s favorite Camping Blog

2. Street Photography

3. world photography

4. african poetry

5. News, music and sports

6. Short Prose

7. On Dialogues

8. THE PERSEVER OF LIFE

9. The West Laine Wanderer

10. Get It Right! For Life

11. kindfeelings

12. twenty something

13. The Gleaming Glow

14. fashionhealthtips.fitness

15. Anshul Saluja

16. Kaylebs Mental Health Blog

17. Penable

18. a bookish balance

19. Living Below Sealevel

Corals use colours to fight bleaching


After a warm spell, some corals, like these Acropora corals in New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean, turn bright hues instead of bleaching white. The corals boost their production of pigments after losing the beneficial algae that live in their cells, a study finds. Photo: Richard Vevers/The Ocean Agency, XL Catlin Seaview Survey

After a warm spell, some corals, like these Acropora corals in New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean, turn bright hues instead of bleaching white. The corals boost their production of pigments after losing the beneficial algae that live in their cells, a study finds. Photo: Richard Vevers/The Ocean Agency, XL Catlin Seaview Survey.

By Carolyn Wilke, May 29, 2020 at 8:00 am:

Neon colors may help some corals stage a comeback from bleaching

Coral pigments act as a sunscreen and may make a more hospitable home for returning algae

For some corals, going bright may be part of their fight against bleaching.

Higher-than-normal ocean temperatures can cause some corals to bleach and lose the beneficial algae that dwell within their cells. Those algae help feed the corals and give them their color, so bleached corals can become bone white, and may struggle to survive (SN: 4/7/20). But when some corals bleach, they turn neon hues from red to blue to purple.

A new study finds that those flashy colors may be part of a response that can help the corals recover from bleaching and reunite with their algal partners.

“It’s visually very striking, but … there was surprisingly little information” on how and why colorful bleaching happens, says Elena Bollati, a marine biologist at the National University of Singapore.

Some researchers suspected that with the algae gone, the bleached corals’ vivid natural colors shone through. But the new work suggests a different dynamic. In the lab, certain wavelengths of light appear to trigger an uptick in a coral’s production of pigments, which act as a sunscreen to create a more hospitable home for the returning algae, Bollati and colleagues report May 21 in Current Biology.

The research “shows that some of these corals are trying to protect themselves with really spectacular side effects,” says Daniel Wangpraseurt, a coral reef scientist at the University of Cambridge who was not involved with the study.

A survey of bleaching events in the world’s oceans from 2010 to 2019 revealed that some corals’ neon colors corresponded with mild heat stress, caused by a long spell of warmer waters or a brief temperature spike. In most cases, the colors appeared two to three weeks after the heat stress events, says Bollati, who did the work while at the University of Southampton in England.

In the lab, the scientists simulated mild bleaching by exposing coral colonies to a slow ramp up in temperature. As the team turned up the heat, the amount of algae, detected by the red light they emit under a certain wavelength of light, in cells plummeted. A few weeks after the heat stress, the corals bumped up their levels of a fluorescent compound, the pigment that gives them color. The scientists also found that an imbalance of nutrient levels could cause colorful bleaching.

After losing their algae, an increased exposure to blue light in sunlight may play a role in this rise in pigment production, the team found. Healthy, unbleached corals rely on algae’s pigments to absorb some sunlight. Without the algae, more light — including its blue wavelengths — can enter and bounce around inside the corals’ skeleton structure. That added reflection boosts the exposure of the corals’ living tissue to light.

A bombardment of blue light prompted bleached corals to start pumping out more of their own protective pigments, the researchers found. The scientists also observed that that vividly colored areas of the corals more quickly regained their symbiotic algae than areas with less pigment.

Corals “have this capacity to fight back,” says University of Southampton marine biologist Jörg Wiedenmann, who was part of the research team. “They are by no means doomed” after one bleaching event. But, he cautions, their long-term survival depends on people acting to limit climate change so that corals don’t experience more stress than they can handle.

Racism and corporate Democrats in the USA


This 29 May 2020 video about the USA says about itself:

Van Jones Connects Amy Cooper, Hillary Clinton, and Derek Chauvin on CNN

Van Jones used to be an environment official in the Obama administration; but was sacked because of pressure by Big Oil.

Earlier today on CNN, Van Jones made a very important point. That when it comes to discrimination and prejudice against black people, he fears white moderates like Amy Cooper who support people like Hillary Clinton most of all. Without them, the actions of people like Derek Chauvin in taking the life of Floyd George wouldn’t be possible.

Van Jones gave us a clear reminder that hatred is not as partisan as many would like to believe.

Unique pterodactyl fossil discovery in England


This 2015 video says about itself:

Tapejaridae” are a family of pterodactyloid pterosaurs from the early Cretaceous period. Members are currently known from Brazil, Morocco, Spain and China, where the most primitive genera are found, indicating that the family has an Asian origin.

From the University of Portsmouth in England:

Chinese pterodactyl wings its way to the United Kingdom

May 28, 2020

The first-ever specimen of a pterodactyl, more commonly found in China and Brazil, has been found in the United Kingdom.

A fossil hunter recently discovered a peculiar shaped fragment of fossil bone while out walking his dog in Sandown Bay on the Isle of Wight.

Not sure what it was, he passed it to University of Portsmouth Palaeontology student Megan Jacobs, who thought it might be the jaw bone from a pterodactyl. Further research proved she was right.

However, this was no ordinary pterodactyl jaw. This one lacked teeth and was remarkably similar to a bizarre group of pterosaurs called ‘tapejarids‘. They are better known from China and Brazil and have never previously been found in the UK.

Just last year a team from the University of Portsmouth discovered as similar specimen in North Africa (Morocco) which they named Afrotapejara.

The new specimen from the Isle of Wight has been named Wightia declivirostris.

Megan Jacobs said: “Although only a fragment of jaw, it has all the characteristic of a tapejarid jaw, including numerous tiny little holes that held minute sensory organs for detecting their food, and a downturned, finely pointed beak.

“Complete examples from Brazil and China show that they had large head crests, with the crest sometime being twice as big as the skull. The crests were probably used in sexual display and may have been brightly coloured.”

The researchers determined that the Isle of Wight example seemed more closely related to the Chinese tapejarids rather than the Brazilian examples.

Co-author of the study Professor David Martill, a palaeontologist from the University of Portsmouth, said: “This new species adds to the diversity of dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles found on the Island, which is now one of the most important places for Cretaceous dinosaurs in the world.”

The finder has kindly donated the specimen to Dinosaur Isle Museum at Sandown, where it is hoped it will go on display in the future.

Coronavirus news, Brazil and Britain


This 31 May 2020 video says about itself:

Brazil’s coronavirus death toll now the world’s fourth-highest

Latin American countries are struggling to get the coronavirus outbreak under control.

Brazil has now surpassed France to record the fourth-highest death toll in the world.

Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reports.

This 31 May 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

Several senior scientific advisers to the United Kingdom government have spoken publicly to say it is too soon to lift the country’s lockdown.

That is even though the next stage to ease restrictions starts on Monday.

They say the decision is “political”.

Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba reports from London.

North American pintail ducks in trouble


This 2011 video from the USA says about itself:

Northern Pintail courtship displays in Sacramento Valley, California. Courtship involves drakes “showing-off” their remarkable plumage both on the water and in aerial courtship chases.

From Penn State University in the USA:

Changes in cropping methods, climate decoy pintail ducks into an ecological trap

Important waterfowl species struggling with conditions in the Prairie Pothole Region

May 28, 2020

After a severe drought gripped the Prairie Pothole Region of the U.S. and Canada in the 1980s, populations of almost all dabbling duck species that breed there have recovered. But not northern pintails. Now, a new study by a team of researchers suggests why — they have been caught in an ecological trap.

The Prairie Pothole region straddles the U.S.-Canada border and sprawls from central Iowa in the south to Alberta in the north, covering a large swath of Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Manitoba and Saskatchewan in between.

“With increasing cropland cover in the region, pintails have been selecting for cropland over scarce alternative nesting habitat, probably because it is similar to the native mixed-grass prairie they evolved to nest in,” said lead researcher Frances Buderman, Penn State. “That behavior results in fewer pintails the following year due to nest failures from predation and agricultural practices.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s North American Waterfowl Management Plan calls for more than 4 million pintails, but recent estimates are only half of that. The reason pintails are not thriving like other dabbling ducks, according to Buderman, assistant professor of quantitative wildlife ecology in the College of Agricultural Sciences, is that they are being “misled” by modern cropping methods and climate change into choosing risky nesting habitat.

Also called puddle ducks, dabbling ducks frequent shallow waters such as flooded fields and marshes. They feed by tipping up rather than diving. There are 38 species of dabbling ducks — they float high in the water and are swift fliers.

By their very nature, pintails may be vulnerable to the ecological trap, Buderman explained. Despite being an early-spring nester — a quality that typically would allow for reproductive “plasticity” to climatic conditions — pintails have demonstrated inflexible breeding behavior, such as being unwilling or unable to delay nest initiation and being less likely to renest than most other waterfowl.

“Inflexible breeding behavior may result in greater vulnerability to unpredictable weather events and changes in climactic conditions,” she said. And given their preference for nesting among landscapes of grass-like, low-lying cover, pintails readily nest in fields of stubble in untilled agricultural fields. “Unlike other ducks that generally avoid nesting in stubble, pintails in the Prairie Pothole Region commonly select crop stubble nest sites and often select it over remnant patches of grass and other cover.”

Pintails often initiate nests before remaining stubble fields are worked by farmers in the spring, making nests vulnerable to mechanical spring tilling and planting of remaining standing stubble, Buderman explained. That can destroy a large percentage of initial nests. Exacerbating the effect of pintail selections over time, the amount of land in the Prairie Pothole Region annually tilled for spring-seeded crops has increased by approximately 34% since 1959.

Dabbling duck incoming

Another factor that is contributing to pintails’ decline, researchers contend, is a trend in some areas of the Prairie Pothole Region to manipulate drainage to consolidate surface water into larger and deeper wetlands that dry out less frequently and have more surface-water connections to other wetlands.

Those drainage practices make mowing around ponds easier for farmers, and most waterfowl species have coped thus far, but it hasn’t been good for pintails. Wildlife scientists suspect the birds need the smaller, shallower, ephemeral ponds with which they evolved. For reasons not clearly understood, pintails appear to be particularly sensitive to changes in the number of productive, small wetlands that have occurred across the Prairie Pothole Region.

Buderman pointed out that funding partner Delta Waterfowl is working hard to restore these valuable seasonal wetlands on the U.S. side of the region by establishing a Working Wetlands program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture via the federal farm bill.

To reach their conclusions, researchers used more than 60 years of data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service, which have monitored spring population sizes for North American waterfowl since 1955. They published their results in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

That information is organized into regions that reflect both habitat differences and political boundaries. For many decades, waterfowl have been counted on both sides of the border by aerial crews flying fixed-wing aircraft along established transect lines at low altitude, while simultaneously, ground counts are conducted at ponds on a subset of air-surveyed areas.

To analyze population dynamics, researchers developed a complex model to deal with a huge dataset that took days to run on a powerful computer, which calculated a “breeding pintail count” for the survey period. The model — which also took into account precipitation, climatic conditions during the breeding season and pond dynamics — allowed researchers to identify the relative influence of long-term changes in climate and land use on both the selection and quality of habitat for pintails in the Prairie Pothole Region.

United States anti-African American police brutality


This 31 May 2020 video says about itself:

This short film demonstrates the danger Black men in America face when interacting with police.

In US news and current events today, protests have broken out across the country, with demonstrators calling for justice for George Floyd. George Floyd was a Black man who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

‘Groundhog Day for a Black Man’ shows the dangerous reality Black men in America face every day, especially regarding police brutality and police violence. Watch the full film here.

King penguins, other wildlife of South Georgia


This 29 May 2020 video says about itself:

South Georgia – Penguin Paradise of the South Atlantic | Free Documentary – Nature

In the middle of the Antarctic Ocean, an entire mountain range arises from the water: South Georgia, the nursery of the Antarctic. Hundreds of thousands of penguins, elephant seals, fur seals and their young overcrowd the beaches.

The rough weather and the extremely difficult access to the island cause filmmaking to be an endeavor requiring much of the film crew around Roland Gockel and Rosie Koch and the state of the art cameras. A lot of patience and sensitivity over a period spanning some five years now offers unknown and poignant insights into the life of the king penguins on South Georgia Island.

Belgian prince gets coronavirus at Spanish party


This June 2014 video says about itself:

Prince Joachim of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este (Joachim Karl-Maria Nikolaus Isabelle Marcus d’Aviano, born 9 December 1991), Prince Imperial of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, Prince of Modena, is the third child of Prince Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este and Princess Astrid of Belgium. He studied for a “Bachelor of International Economics, Management and Finance” from September 2011 at Bocconi University in Milan.

I wonder how many people in the Austrian republic, in the Hungarian republic, in Bohemia in the Czech Republic and in Modena in the Italian republic, know that this Belgian Prince Joachim is their ‘real’ sovereign 🙂

Today, Dutch NOS radio reports (translated):

Belgian prince infected after ‘party’ in Spain

Belgian Prince Joachim has tested positive for the coronavirus. King Philip‘s nephew may have been infected after a party at a house in Córdoba, Belgian media report. It is not clear with how many people he attended the party in Spain and whether the meeting was allowed at all, the Flemish broadcaster VRT reports. A day after the party, he showed the first symptoms of corona.

This looks like a ‘Flu Klux Klan‘ style party for rich people; similar to the one at which Belgian police fined extreme right MP Van Langenhove.

The Belgian royal family only confirms to Flemish broadcaster VRT that Joachim had traveled to Spain last week. This concerned “a professional relocation, for an internship in a corporation”. The 28-year-old prince will stay in Spain in the near future; he is in isolation.

According to correspondent Rop Zoutberg, the matter is far from over. The news of the prince’s contamination is headline news in Spain, he says. Possibly because the prince violated coronavirus measures, such as the quarantine obligation [on arrival] in Spain. And there are said to have been 27 people at the party, while in Córdoba a maximum of 15 people can gather.

“It’s a bit like the story of Cummings, in England. The whole country is locked down. No one is allowed to travel. And then some princeling thinks those rules don’t apply to him,” says Zoutberg. The Spanish authorities have now launched an investigation into what exactly happened. If it will turn out that rules have been broken, the fines can amount to 600,000 euros.