Fishing net lights save turtles and dolphins


This June 2019 video from the USA says about itsfelf:

Reducing Bycatch Helps Restore Sea Turtle Populations

Bycatch—when animals are accidentally caught while people are fishing for other species—is the biggest threat to sea turtles in the ocean. This project is helping reduce sea turtle bycatch and restoring their populations after the Deepwater Horizon [BP] disaster.

From the University of Exeter in England:

Lights on fishing nets save turtles and dolphins

December 5, 2019

Placing lights on fishing nets reduces the chances of sea turtles and dolphins being caught by accident, new research shows.

LED lights along the top of floating gillnets cut accidental “bycatch” of sea turtles by more than 70%, and that of small cetaceans (including dolphins and porpoises) by more than 66%.

The study, by the University of Exeter and Peruvian conservation organisation ProDelphinus, looked at small-scale vessels departing from three Peruvian ports between 2015 and 2018, and found the lights didn’t reduce the amount of fish caught from “target species” (ie what the fishers wanted to catch).

The findings support previous research which suggested LED lights reduce bycatch of seabirds in gillnets by about 85%. Gillnets, which can be either anchored or move with the ocean currents, are designed to entangle or snare fish by the gills, and are the largest component of small-scale fisheries in many countries.

“Gillnet fisheries often have high bycatch rates of threatened marine species such as sea turtles, whales, dolphins and seabirds,” said lead author Alessandra Bielli, who carried out analyses as part of her master’s research at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“This could lead to declines in the populations of these non-target species — yet few solutions to reduce gillnet bycatch have been developed.

“Sensory cues — in this case LED lights — are one way we might alert such species to the presence of fishing gear in the water.”

The researchers placed lights every 10m along the float line of 864 gillnets, pairing each with an unlit net to compare the results.

“The dramatic reduction in bycatch of sea turtles and cetaceans in illuminated nets shows how this simple, relatively low-cost technique could help these species and allow fishers to fish more sustainably. Given the success we have had, we hope other fisheries with bycatch problems will also try illuminating their fishing nets,” said Exeter PhD graduate Dr Jeffrey Mangel, of Peruvian NGO ProDelphinus.

Most of the turtles caught in the study were green turtles (86%), though loggerhead and olive ridley turtles were also caught.

Among the small cetaceans captured, 47% were long-beaked common dolphins, 26% were dusky dolphins and 24% were Burmeister’s porpoises.

“This work has further shown the usefulness of lights on nets to save wildlife. We now need lights that are ever more robust and affordable,” said Professor Brendan Godley, of the University of Exeter.

Herbivorous dinosaurs, new research


This May 2018 video is called 10 LARGEST Herbivorous Dinosaurs That Ever Lived.

From ScienceDaily:

Dull teeth, long skulls, specialized bites evolved in unrelated plant-eating dinosaurs

December 5, 2019

Herbivorous dinosaurs evolved many times during the 180 million-year Mesozoic era, and while they didn’t all evolve to chew, swallow, and digest their food in the same way, a few specific strategies appeared time and time again. An investigation of the skulls of 160 non-avian dinosaurs revealed the evolution of common traits in the skulls and teeth of plant-eating members of otherwise very different families of these extinct reptiles. These new examples of convergent evolution in plant-eating dinosaurs appear December 5 in the journal Current Biology.

“People often think of dinosaurs as a swansong for extinction or that they were a failed species. But they were actually extremely successful in terms of how different species’ anatomies evolved — particularly in herbivores,” says co-senior author David J. Button (@ItsDavidButton), a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum, London.

By looking at herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaur skulls, Button and co-senior author Lindsay Zanno, a professor at North Carolina State University and the head of paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, found that while there are many ways for dinosaurs that eat similar foods to evolve, some traits reappear during evolution, even in unrelated species.

Herbivorous dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes. Some exhibited dull, flat teeth like horses, while others had beaked faces like tortoises; some developed towering necks like giraffes, while others mimicked the short and stout build of a rhino. “Nonetheless, we see the evolution of common traits in the skull between these otherwise very different herbivorous dinosaur groups,” explains Button.

“For example, both the ostrich-like ornithomimosaurs and giant titanosaurs independently evolved elongate skulls and weaker bites, whereas the horned ceratopsians and gazelle-like ornithopods sported more powerful jaws and grinding teeth,” he says. These are results of convergent evolution, where adaptation to a diet of plants led to the evolution of common characters in different dinosaur groups.

The researchers hypothesized that some traits would be most common in plant-eaters. Slow-moving dinosaurs with small heads and dull teeth would likely have a difficult time wrapping their jaws around the neck of another dinosaur, in the way a carnivore like the Tyrannosaurus is thought to have done with ease. Instead, eating plants poses other challenges, such as grinding down tough plant stems.

“There’s a tradeoff between biting speed and biting efficiency,” says Button. “If you’re a herbivorous animal, you don’t really need speed because plants don’t move very fast.”

Some of the results of this functional analysis surprised the researchers, however. That was the case when investigating the eating habits of ankylosaurs, armored, armadillo-like plant-eating dinosaurs with small teeth and a large stomach cavity. Researchers previously thought dinosaurs with these traits usually swallowed their food nearly whole and let their gut break it down. “In our results, we found that ankylosaurs actually may have chewed their food more thoroughly than is often thought. So, that was interesting,” says Button.

In the future, Button and Zanno hope to look at the entire skeleton of herbivorous dinosaurs for similar, reoccurring traits. They also plan to expand this work to better understand predominate traits in carnivores, though Button admits plant-eaters will always be his favorite dinosaurs to study.

“People think that carnivorous dinosaurs are super exciting and cool because they run fast, and kill stuff,” he says. “But I think the plant-eating dinosaurs evolved in much more interesting and sophisticated ways. That’s what makes this work so exciting.”

Kemp’s ridley turtles beaching in Massachusetts, USA


This 6 December 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Rescue, Cape Cod, MA

I visited a few friends who volunteer saving Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles (and others) on the shore of Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts. Every November, migrant turtles get caught in the bay as they travel South. As the water cools, they become cold-stunned and wash ashore. They need human intervention to rescue them.

Volunteers scour the beaches and get the sea turtles to an aquarium that nurses them back to health and eventually releases them. It’s GREAT work!

90% of the turtles that wash up on Cape Cod are Kemp’s Ridley… the most critically endangered sea turtle in the world. Every single turtle is worth saving and the rescue efforts have been incredible.

The day was amazing and I was honored and privileged to be a part of it. We found three Kemp’s Ridley turtles (two were pronounced dead) and one 88 lb., five-year-old Loggerhead who should do well in rehab! Incredible.

From PLOS:

How do world’s smallest sea turtles become stranded in Cape Cod?

Computer simulations help reconstruct ocean conditions behind stranding

December 4, 2019

A computational analysis has surfaced new insights into the wind and water conditions that cause Kemp’s ridley sea turtles to become stranded on beaches in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Xiaojian Liu of Wuhan University, China, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on December 4, 2019.

The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is smaller and in greater danger of extinction than any other sea turtle in the world. This species is found in coastal waters ranging from the Gulf of Mexico to Nova Scotia, Canada. While Kemp’s ridley populations have slowly risen since conservation efforts began in the 1970s, the number of turtles found stranded on Cape Cod beaches in the last few years is nearly an order of magnitude higher than in earlier decades.

To help clarify the conditions that lead to stranding, Liu and colleagues combined computational modeling with real-world observations. This enabled them to investigate circumstances that could trigger hypothermia in Kemp’s ridley turtles — the primary cause of most strandings — and subsequent transport of the cold-stunned animals to shore.

The researchers used the Finite Volume Community Ocean Model to simulate ocean currents in Cape Cod Bay. To validate these simulations, they also released drifting instruments into the currents and tracked their movements via satellite. Then, they looked for links between the simulations, the drifter data, water temperature data, and records of where and when Kemp’s ridley turtles were found stranded.

The findings suggest that Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are more likely to become stranded at certain beach locations along Cape Cod when water temperatures drop below 10.5° Celsius and, concurrently, winds blow with high wind stress in certain directions. Once stranded, hypothermic turtles usually require assistance from trained volunteers in order to survive.

While these findings provide new insights that could help guide future search and rescue efforts, questions remain. Further research is needed to clarify the depth of water at which Kemp’s ridley sea turtles typically become hypothermic, and how processes like wind and waves may impact stranding events at those depths.

Co-author James Manning notes: “While the state-of-the-art ocean model can help simulate the process, both the student-built drifters and bottom temperature sensors deployed by local fishermen are critical to the investigation.”

Brontosaurus dinosaur video


This 1 December 2019 video says about itself:

Brontosaurus – The Story of the Thunder Lizard

The history of Brontosaurus is one of the most fascinating tales in palaeontology, full of controversies, missing heads and charismatic yet unpleasant people.

Styracosaurus dinosaurs, new discovery


This May 2018 video says about itself:

This time, probably the second-most-popular ceratopsid, Styracosaurus–and by extension Rubeosaurus. Hope you’re ready to learn about the environmental and social forces that shaped this giant pig-antelope-bird. …and also what a parietal spike is.

From the University of Alberta in Canada:

Dinosaur skull turns paleontology assumptions on their head

University of Alberta paleontologists uncover spiky skull–and overturn long-standing assumptions in identifying horned dinosaurs

November 25, 2019

A team of researchers at the University of Alberta has unearthed a well-preserved Styracosaurus skull — and its facial imperfections have implications for how paleontologists identify new species of dinosaurs.

The skull was discovered by Scott Persons in 2015, then a graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences, during an expedition in the badlands northwest of Dinosaur Provincial Park.

Nicknamed Hannah, the dinosaur was a Styracosaurus — a horned dinosaur over five metres in length with a fan of long horns. UAlberta paleontologists led by Robert Holmes, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, have learned much from those horns — because they aren’t symmetrical.

“When parts of one side of the skull were missing, paleontologists have assumed that the missing side was symmetrical to the one that was preserved,” explained Persons. “Turns out, it isn’t necessarily. Today, deer often have left and right antlers that are different in terms of their branching patterns. Hannah shows dramatically that dinosaurs could be the same way.”

The differences in the skull’s left and right halves are so extreme that had the paleontologists found only isolated halves, they might have concluded that they belong to two different species

“The skull shows how much morphological variability there was in the genus,” said Holmes. Like the antlers of modern deer and moose, Hannah shows that the pattern of dinosaur horns could vary significantly — meaning some fossils that were once assumed to be unique species will have to be reevaluated.

Tradition dictates that the person who finds an important dinosaur specimen gets to give it a nickname. “Hannah the dinosaur is named after my dog,” explained Persons, now a professor and museum curator at the College of Charleston. “She’s a good dog, and I knew she was home missing me while I was away on the expedition.”

Despite the nickname, paleontologists have no way of knowing if the dinosaur was female. But they have learned other details from the skull — from a partnership with researchers in the Faculty of Engineering.

“Ahmed Qureshi and graduate student Baltej Rupal in the Faculty of Engineering assisted us in performing a 3D laser scan of the skull,” said Persons. “That let our publication to include a digital reconstruction, allowing scientists all over the world to download the 3D model and inspect it in detail.”

“This is the future of paleontological collections: digital dinosaurs.”