Barrel jellyfish coming back to Dorset, England


This video says about itself:

Swimming with a giant Barrel Jellyfish

23 June 2014

This Barrel Jellyfish (Rhizostoma pullmo) was filmed in the Percuil Estuary, near St Mawes, Cornwall. Large numbers of these, the UK’s largest jellyfish species have been seen this year around our coast. They are totally harmless and feed on plankton. They do have stinging cells but they are not able to get through human skin. They can grow to 80cm wide and weigh up to 30 kilos!

From the Dorset Echo in England today:

Warmer weather sees return of the barrel jellyfish to Dorset shores

by Tara Cox, Reporter

APRIL has seen the return of the barrel jellyfish in Dorset due to warmer weather – and experts warn there could be more sightings to come.

Barrel jellyfish, which can grow up to one metre wide, have been spotted in Weymouth Bay and Lyme Bay in recent weeks.

And the Dorset Wildlife Trust claim that during the spring and summer, we could expect to see up to eight different species of jellyfish along the Dorset coast.

Last year, more and more sightings of the sea creatures were reported after members of the public spotted them both in the ocean and washed up on beaches in Weymouth, Portland and West Dorset.

Barrel jellyfish can grow up to one metre wide.

These particular jellyfish do not sting, but the trust is advising members of the public not to touch any jellyfish they find washed up and to report them to the trust to identify and record.

Emma Rance, DWT marine conservation officer, said: “These oceanic drifters can change in shape, colour and size when they are beached.

“We would encourage people to look but not touch and keep their animals away from the jellyfish, because many jellyfish can still sting when dead.

“It’s very likely that we’re going to get more reports of jellyfish due to warmer weather. Barrel jellyfish feed on zooplankton – tiny animals floating in the water – which have increased due to longer days with more sunlight.”

The trust also said that the leatherback turtle and oceanic sunfish feed on jellyfish, so there could also be a possibility of seeing both of these species in Dorset.

Steve Trewhella, a professional wildlife photographer and environmental campaigner, said he was surprised to hear of jellyfish sightings on Portland and Chesil Beach as early as this in the year.

Broadwindsor resident and freelance writer Sophia Moseley spotted a barrel jellyfish on Lyme Regis beach near the iconic Cobb last Friday.

She said: “I took my two children down to the beach for fish and chips and was quite surprised to see it so early in the year.

“The jellyfish was 20 inches in diameter. It’s a worry that they are populating our seashore but there isn’t much we can do about it.”

Sophia tweeted a picture of the jellyfish to the Dorset Wildlife Trust, and said she would encourage others to do the same.

People who see a jellyfish are encouraged to take a photo and report it to the DWT via their Facebook page at facebook.com/dorsetwildlife.

Alternatively, any sighting photos can be tweeted to @DorsetWildlife.

Mid-Permian extinction of animals, new study


This 2013 video says about itself:

Animal Armageddon The Great Dying – Episode 5

The Permian-Triassic extinction event, informally known as the Great Dying, was an extinction event that occurred 252 million years ago, forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods, as well as the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. It is the Earth’s most severe known extinction event, with up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. It is the only known mass extinction of insects. Some 57% of all families and 83% of all genera became extinct. Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on Earth took significantly longer than after any other extinction event, possibly up to 10 million years.

Researchers have variously suggested that there were from one to three distinct pulses, or phases, of extinction. There are several proposed mechanisms for the extinctions; the earlier phase was likely due to gradual environmental change, while the latter phase has been argued to be due to a catastrophic event. Suggested mechanisms for the latter include large or multiple impact events, increased volcanism, coal/gas fires and explosions from the Siberian Traps, and sudden release of methane from the sea floor; gradual changes include sea-level change, increasing aridity, and a shift in ocean circulation driven by climate change.

From the Geological Society of America:

15 April 2015

New evidence adds the Capitanian extinction to the list of major extinction crises

Boulder, Colo., USA – Since the Cambrian Explosion, ecosystems have suffered repeated mass extinctions, with the “Big 5″ crises being the most prominent. Twenty years ago, a sixth major extinction was recognized in the Middle Permian (262 million years ago) of China, when paleontologists teased apart losses from the “Great Dying” at the end of the period. Until now, this Capitanian extinction was known only from equatorial settings, and its status as a global crisis was controversial.

David P.G. Bond and colleagues provide the first evidence for severe Middle Permian losses amongst brachiopods in northern paleolatitudes (Spitsbergen). Their study shows that the Boreal crisis coincided with an intensification of marine oxygen depletion, implicating this killer in the extinction scenario.

The widespread loss of carbonates across the Boreal Realm also suggests a role for acidification. The new data cements the Middle Permian crisis’s status as a true “mass extinction.” Thus the “Big 5″ extinctions should now be considered the “Big 6.”

An abrupt extinction in the Middle Permian (Capitanian) of the Boreal Realm (Spitsbergen) and its link to anoxia and acidification: David P.G. Bond et al., University of Hull, Hull, UK. Published online ahead of print on 14 Apr. 2015; http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/B31216.1. This article is OPEN ACCESS (available for free online).

Hippo dung helps dragonflies, fish


This video is called Inside Nature’s Giants- Hippo.

From New Scientist:

Hippo dung is health food for river animals

18:45 15 April 2015 by Jessica Hamzelou

Don’t just flush it away. Just as one person’s trash is another’s treasure, hippo dung seems to be a valuable source of nutrition for the animals’ aquatic neighbours.

By injecting millions of tons of faeces into African waters every year, hippos may be providing a vital link between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Douglas McCauley of the University of California in Santa Barbara and his colleagues compared fish and dragonfly larvae in two river pools in Kenya‘s Laikipia district, one inhabited by hippos and the other hippo-free.

They found components of hippo dung in the tissues of dragonfly larvae that lived alongside the animals year round. During the dry season, fish absorbed faecal nutrients as well, while levels in dragonfly larvae increased.

The team thinks that during the wet season, high rainfall dilutes the hippos’ waste and faster-flowing rivers also wash away dung before animals can access it.

As climate change and development in east Africa continue to affect local rivers, it will be important to consider how the benefits of hippo excrement can be preserved.

Journal reference: Ecosphere, doi.org/3nv

European wild bee species threatened


This video says about itself:

Olivia’s Wild Bees

21 August 2007

A young American biologist studies wild bees on the island of Lesvos, Greece. She explains her work and the bees’ role in nature.

From Wildlife Extra:

One in 10 bee species faces extinction

The first-ever assessment of all European wild bee species shows that 9.2% are threatened with extinction, while 5.2% are considered likely to be threatened in the near future.

A total of 56.7% of the species are classified as Data Deficient, as lack of experts, data and funding has made it impossible to evaluate their extinction risk.

The assessment was published as part of The IUCN European Red List of Bees and the Status and Trends of European Pollinators (STEP) project, both funded by the European Commission.

It provides – for the first time – information on all 1,965 wild bee species in Europe, including their status, distribution, population trends and threats.

“This assessment is the best understanding we have had so far on wild bees in Europe,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director, IUCN Global Species Programme. “However, our knowledge about them is incomplete as we are faced with an alarming lack of expertise and resources.

“Bees play an essential role in the pollination of our crops. We must urgently invest in further research in order to provide the best possible recommendations on how to reverse their decline.”

The report shows that 7.7% of the species have declining populations, 12.6% are stable and 0.7% are increasing. Population trends for the remaining 79% of bee species are unknown.

Changing agricultural practices and increased farming intensification have led to large-scale losses and degradation of bee habitats – one of the main threats to their survival.

For instance, intensive silage production – at the expense of hay-cropping – causes losses of herb-rich grasslands and season-long flowering, which constitute important sources of forage for pollinators.

The widespread use of insecticides also harms wild bees and herbicides reduce the availability of flowers on which they depend. The use of fertilisers promotes rank grassland, which is low in flowering plants and legume species – the preferred food resources for many bee species.

Intensive agriculture and farming practices have caused a sharp decline in the surface area of dry steppes, which house the Vulnerable Andrena transitoria bee – a formerly common eastern Mediterranean species that spreads from Sicily to Ukraine and into Central Asia.

Ploughing, mowing or grazing of flowering plants, as well as the use of insecticides have led to a 30% population decline of the species over the last decade, and its extinction in certain countries.

Climate change is another important driver of extinction risk for most species of bees, and particularly bumblebees.

Heavy rainfalls, droughts, heat waves and increased temperatures can alter the habitats that individual species are adapted to and are expected to dramatically reduce the area of its habitat, leading to population decline.

A total of 25.8% of Europe’s bumblebee species are threatened with extinction, according to the assessment.

Urban development and the increased frequency of fires also threaten the survival of wild bee species in Europe, according to the experts.

The report also includes an assessment of the Western Honeybee (Apis mellifera) – the most well-known pollinator. The Western Honeybee has a native distribution through much of Europe but it is uncertain whether it currently occurs as a truly wild, rather than domesticated species.

As the Red List only covers wild – not domesticated – species, it has been assessed as Data Deficient. Further research is needed to distinguish between wild and non-wild colonies, and to better understand the impacts of malnutrition, pesticides and pathogens on honeybee colonies, according to IUCN.

“Public and scientific attention tends to focus on Western Honeybee as the key pollinator, but we must not forget that most of our wild flowers and crops are pollinated by a whole range of different bee species,” says Simon Potts, STEP project Coordinator.

“We need far-reaching actions to help boost both wild and domesticated pollinator populations. Achieving this will bring huge benefits to wildlife, the countryside and food production.”

World’s largest marine reserve around Pitcairn islands


This video says about itself:

Edge of the World: Stunning Pitcairn Islands Revealed

18 March 2015

In 2012 National Geographic‘s Pristine Seas project went on an expedition to the Pitcairn Islands—a legendary and remote archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean—and returned with footage of incredible natural wonders underwater and on land. The expedition led to the historic announcement that the British government has created the largest contiguous marine reserve in the world, protecting this one-of-a-kind ecosystem. Join National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala as he meets with some of Pitcairn’s residents and explores the waters around the islands.

Read more about the announcement and the area around the Pitcairn Islands, one of the most pristine places on Earth: here.

From Wildlife Extra:

The world’s largest marine reserve given green light

The UK government has announced the creation of the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve in the southern Pacific Ocean.

The Pitcairn Islands is one of the remotest places in the world, and protecting its 322,000 sq miles (over 834,000 sq km, or roughly three and a half times the area of Britain) of pristine waters will safeguard countless species of marine animals – mammals, seabirds and fish.

The government’s decision was endorsed by two leading organisations working to preserve the world’s oceans, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Geographic Society, both of which joined the local elected body, the Pitcairn Island Council, in 2013, to submit a proposal calling for the creation of a marine reserve to protect these spectacular waters.

“With this designation, the United Kingdom raises the bar for protection of our ocean and sets a new standard for others to follow,” said Jo Royle, Global Ocean Legacy, a project of Pew and its partners that advocates for the establishment of the world’s great marine parks.

“The United Kingdom is the caretaker of more than 6 million sq km of ocean — the fifth-largest marine area of any country. Through this designation, British citizens are playing a vital role in ensuring the health of our seas.

“The Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve will build a refuge of untouched ocean to protect and conserve a wealth of marine life. We celebrate members of Parliament for pressing for this action.”

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Enric Sala, head of the Society’s Pristine Seas project, says: “Our scientific exploration of the area revealed entirely new species as well as an abundance of top predators like sharks. It was like travelling to a new world full of hidden and unknown treasures, a world that will now be preserved for generations to come.”

In a statement, the Pitcairn Isleand Council said: “The people of Pitcairn are extremely excited about designation of the world’s largest marine reserve in our vast and unspoiled waters of the Pitcairn Islands, including Ducie, Oeno, and Henderson Islands. We are proud to have developed and led this effort in partnership with Pew and National Geographic to protect these spectacular waters we call home for generations to come.”

A March 2012 scientific survey of Pitcairn’s marine environment, led by the National Geographic Pristine Seas project in partnership with Pew, revealed a vibrant ecosystem that includes the world’s deepest-known living plant, a species of encrusting coralline algae found 382m (1,253ft) below sea level.

The reserve will also protect one of the two remaining raised coral atolls on the planet as well as 40 Mile Reef, the deepest and most well-developed coral reef known in the world.

In conjunction with the designation, the Bertarelli Foundation announced a five-year commitment to support the monitoring of the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve as part of Pew’s Project Eyes on the Seas, using a technology known as the Virtual Watch Room.

With this satellite monitoring system, developed through a collaboration between Pew and the UK-based company Satellite Applications Catapult, government officials will be able to detect illegal fishing activity in real time.

This is the first time any government has combined creation of a marine reserve with the most up-to-date technology for surveillance and enforcement of a protected area.

Good Dutch bee news


This video from England says about itself:

15 December 2014

A lecture given by Jamie Ellis at the 2014 National Honey Show entitled “Biology of the Honey Bee“.

Translated from Wageningen university in the Netherlands:

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Again, Dutch beekeepers have lost last winter on average comparatively few bee colonies: about 10%. This means that winter mortality, measured in early April, now for three years in a row has been around 10% (respectively 13%, 9% and 10% in 2013, 2014 and 2015). This is the outcome of a telephone survey of beekeepers carried out on 2 April by the Dutch Beekeepers Association (NBV) and bee researchers from Wageningen university.

Winter mortality among bee colonies has for years been alarmingly high. There were winters that one out of four colonies did not survives. Fortunately, the most recent winters shows that the mortality rate is lower now.

Dippers and their insect prey, videos


This is a video about a European dipper, feeding on insect prey.

Degeus in the Netherlands made this video.

What insects do dippers eat? Various species, including caddisfly larvae.

This video shows a caddisfly larva with a mussel.

Jos van Zijl from the Netherlands made this video.