Russian gray whale Varvara, longest mammal migration


This video from the USa is called Gray Whale Migration.

From Treehugger.com:

Longest mammal migration ever recorded measures in at 14,000 miles

Melissa Breyer

April 16, 2015

And the remarkable journey is raising questions about the status of a critically endangered whale species.

In a study using satellite-monitored tags to track three western gray whales, a team of U.S. and Russian researchers recorded a stunning round-trip trek of 14,000 miles. The trio traveled from their primary feeding ground off of Sakhalin Island in Russia across the Pacific Ocean and down the west coast of California to Baja, Mexico and back home again.

One of the whales, dubbed Varvara by the scientists, visited the three major breeding areas for eastern gray whales, which are found off North America.

For a long time it was believed that western gray whales had gone extinct, but a small group was discovered in Russia off Sakhalin Island; they now number around 150 individuals and have been monitored by scientists from Russia and the U.S. since the 1990s. Meanwhile, populations of eastern gray whales were also in a tight spot, but conservation efforts have brought them back – today they are believed to have a population of some 18,000.

But here’s why Varvara’s visit to the eastern gray whales is interesting. Not all experts believe that the two species are in fact distinct, separate species. A number of scientists have proposed that western and eastern gray whale populations are not isolated and that the gray whales found in Russian waters are a part of an eastern population that is restoring its former range.

“The fact that endangered western gray whales have such a long range and interact with eastern gray whales was a surprise and leaves a lot of questions up in the air,” said Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and lead author on the study. “Past studies have indicated genetic differentiation between the species, but this suggests we may need to take a closer look.”

“The ability of the whales to navigate across open water over tremendously long distances is impressive and suggests that some western gray whales might actually be eastern grays,” Mate said. “But that doesn’t mean that there may not be some true western gray whales remaining.

He adds, “If so, then the number of true western gray whales is even smaller than we previously thought.”

Does this spell doom for the western whales? Protecting them has proven challenging. Five western grays have perished in Japanese fishing nets within the last 10 years and their feeding grounds off Japan and Russia include fishing areas, shipping corridors, and oil and gas production – as well as future sites oil sites. But with this new research, hopefully fresh data and visibility will inspire some momentum in conservation efforts. With so few of these wandering giants left, and maybe even fewer than we thought, the time is now.

Mediterranean gulls in the Netherlands


This video shows a Mediterranean gull in summer plumage, with black-headed gulls in winter plumage.

Translated from the Dutch SOVON ornithologists:

Friday, April 17th, 2015

On Wednesday, April 15th large numbers of Mediterranean gulls flocked into our country. Counter Bert van Broekhoven even recorded a new national record from the counting site near Terneuzen: 238 Mediterranean gulls flying along. With its distinctive mewing cry and clear white wings this striking gull is conquering our country rapidly. Since the establishment of this species in the 80s of the last century it has increased exponentially.

Rare vimba breams in the Netherlands


This video is about vimba breams, trying to jump across rapids while swimming upstream in Kuldiga, Latvia, in 2014.

Translated from the Dutch RAVON ichthyologists:

Friday, April 17th, 2015

In South Holland province more than 50 volunteers monitor incoming migration of migratory fish with frame nets. In addition to observations of elvers and three-spined sticklebacks also a lot of valuable information about other fish is collected. In early April the volunteers met several one-year-old vimba breams in their frame nets in the New Waterway near Maassluis. Observations of the vimba bream in the Netherlands are scarce, especially so of young animals.

The vimba bream owes its Dutch name, blauwneus [blue nose] to the blue-gray fleshy nose of adult animals. It was originally a Central European species that by digging the Main-Danube Canal and helped by transfers has expanded into Germany to the Rhine Valley. The first observations of the vimba bream in the Netherlands date back to 1989, when a three-year-old fish was caught in the Lower Rhine.

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

Deep sea sperm whale, video


This video says about itself:

Rare Sperm Whale Encounter with ROV | Nautilus Live

14 apr. 2015

At 598 meters (1,962 ft) below the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, ROV Hercules encountered a magnificent sperm whale. The whale circled Hercules several times and gave our cameras the chance to capture some incredible footage of this beautiful creature. Encounters between sperm whales and ROVs are incredibly rare.

E/V Nautilus is exploring the ocean studying biology, geology, archeology, and more. Watch http://www.nautiluslive.org for LIVE video from the ocean floor. For live dive updates follow along on social media at http://www.facebook.com/nautiluslive and http://www.twitter.com/EVNautilus on Twitter.