Dodgy facial recognition in North Carolina, USA


This 26 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

How police manipulate facial recognition

Police across the country are using facial recognition to check IDs and find suspects — but are they using it the right way? A new study from Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology suggests even good algorithms can be put to bad uses, particularly once police start getting creative with the images.

Read more here.

FACIAL RECOGNITION FALSELY IDS LAWMAKERS AS CRIMINALS The ACLU’s Northern California branch released its findings from running photos of all 120 California state legislators against a database of 25,000 publicly available mugshots using common facial recognition software. The software identified 26 state legislators ― more than one in five ― as criminals. And a disproportionate number of those lawmakers were people of color.  [HuffPost]

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Sand tiger sharks protect small fish, video


This 14 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

In this excerpt from JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD, Sand Tiger sharks become the unwitting bodyguards for school of small fish called scad on the wrecks of North Carolina.

Tropical fish off North Carolina, USA


This June 2017 video says about itself:

Sent the GoPro down on a popular Gulf of Mexico shipwreck. There was so much life including various baits (cigar minnows, spanish sardines, grunts, vermillion snapper), mangrove snapper, red snapper, grouper, goliath grouper, amberjack, barracuda, and much more!

From Duke University in the USA:

Shipwrecks off North Carolina, U.S. coast harbor tropical migrants

Artificial reefs are preferred habitat for tropical fish searching for favorable habitat

May 6, 2019

Summary: Shipwrecks and sunken structures off the North Carolina coast may act as stepping stones for tropical fish searching for favorable habitats at or beyond the edge of their normal geographic range. A study finds these fishes prefer artificial reefs over natural ones and suggests linked networks of these human-made structures could be used to aid the survival of the ecologically and economically important species.

Tropical and subtropical fish are taking up residence on shipwrecks and other sunken structures off the North Carolina coast. This pattern may continue or even accelerate in coming years given predictions of warming oceans under climate change, a new study co-led by Duke University scientists suggests.

“The artificial reefs created by these structures may be acting as stepping stones for fish that are moving northward and living at the edge of their geographic range, or beyond it, in search of suitable habitat,” said Avery B. Paxton, a visiting scholar at the Duke University Marine Laboratory, who was lead author of the study.

“Globally, there is broad evidence that many tropical fish species are shifting their ranges poleward and to deeper waters in response to changing ocean conditions, and what we see on these reefs seems to fit that pattern,” she said.

One of the most surprising findings of the study is that the tropical and subtropical fish observed off North Carolina exhibit a strong preference for hanging out on human-made structures versus natural rocky reefs found nearby, noted J. Christopher Taylor, a research ecologist at NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and a co-author of the study.

“It could be that the zooplankton and smaller fish these species eat are more plentiful on artificial reefs. Or it could be that human-made reefs’ complex structures give the fish more nooks and crannies where they can evade predators. We’re still trying to figure it out,” Taylor said.

The fishes’ preference for artificial habitats suggests networks of the human-made structures — which are already commonly found up and down the East Coast and in other waters worldwide — could act as underwater corridors the fish use to reach the habitats they need to survive, said Paxton, who also works with CSS Inc. under contract to NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

Paxton, Taylor and their colleagues published their peer-reviewed paper May 6 in Nature Communications Biology.

To do the study, teams of scuba-diving scientists conducted population and species counts at 30 artificial and natural reefs off the N.C. coast between 2013 and 2015. To track seasonal differences in fish populations, most of the reefs were visited four times a year.

Analysis of the data confirmed that the number and diversity of tropical and subtropical fish on deep artificial reefs was far greater than on nearby natural reefs.

Common tropical species spotted on the artificial reefs included blue chromis, purple reef fish and bluehead wrasse. Common subtropical species spotted there included vermilion snapper, greater amberjack and bar jack.

Temperate fish species such as black sea bass and tautog, on the other hand, were far more prevalent on the area’s natural rocky reefs.

The depth of the artificial reef mattered hugely, Paxton noted.

“We didn’t see these patterns on artificial reefs at shallow or intermediate depths, we only saw them on deep reefs, located between 80 to 115 feet below the surface, where water temperatures often experience less seasonal change,” she said.

Sand tiger sharks return to US shipwrecks


This December 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Sand Tiger Sharks of North Carolina | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

Jonathan heads to North Carolina to explore the offshore shipwrecks of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” which have become home to Sand Tiger sharks. The sharks are unwitting bodyguards to small fish seeking protection from predators and have developed a clever way to hide from the fish and to hover with perfect buoyancy control.

JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD is an Emmy Award-winning underwater science/adventure program that airs on public television in the United States.

From Duke University in the USA:

Sand tiger sharks return to shipwrecks off N.C. coast

Coast’s hundreds of shipwrecks are important habitats for vulnerable shark species

April 22, 2019

Summary: A study reveals shipwrecks off North Carolina’s coast are important habitats for sand tiger sharks, whose population plummeted in the 1980 and 1990s. Photos taken months and even years apart by scuba divers show female sand tiger sharks returning to the same shipwrecks. The photos were uploaded to the citizen-science program Spot A Shark USA which used specialized software to ID the sharks.

Photos taken months, and in some cases years, apart by scuba divers show female sand tiger sharks returning to the same shipwrecks off the North Carolina coast, a new study co-led by scientists at Duke University reveals.

This display of “site fidelity” by the sharks suggests the shipwrecks are important habitats for the fierce-looking but docile species, which experienced dramatic population drops toward the end of the last century and is listed as globally vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“Their population is estimated to have dropped by as much as or more than 75 percent in the 1980s and 1990s and we don’t know if it has stabilized or is still declining, in large part because we’ve mostly had to rely on anecdotal sightings,” said Avery B. Paxton, a visiting scholar at the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, North Carolina and lead author of the study.

“Having photographic evidence that these wrecks form an important habitat the sharks return to from time to time gives us a focal point for ongoing research so we can better understand how the species is faring,” she said.

“We’re now trying to figure out why they return. They could be using the wrecks as rest stops along their migratory paths, but they could also be returning here for mating or possibly to give birth. There are all kinds of hypotheses our team is testing,” said Paxton, who formerly was a postdoctoral researcher at the South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation.

She and her colleagues published their peer-reviewed paper April 22 in Ecology.

Having access to photos taken by citizen scientists, including images uploaded to the Spot A Shark USA program led by the North Carolina Aquariums, was vital to the study’s success.

“This area is called the Graveyard of the Atlantic for a reason — it has hundreds of wrecks. As researchers, we can’t have eyes underwater at each of them,” Paxton said. “Being able to rely on scuba divers and other citizen scientists who are out there and have cameras with them extends our reach.”

Each sand tiger shark has a unique pattern of brown spots on its skin that acts like a fingerprint, allowing scientists to identify individual sharks and distinguish them from others of their species.

By analyzing and comparing the spot patterns on sharks in divers’ photos dating back to 2007, Paxton and her colleagues identified six female sand tiger sharks that have returned to the same wrecks, or to similar wrecks close by, at intervals ranging from one to 72 months apart.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to document site fidelity to habitats in offshore waters along the East Coast,” Paxton said. “Previous studies have shown similar behavior patterns in Australia and Africa and in estuarine habitats such as Delaware Bay, so what we are finding off North Carolina definitely fits into global patterns.”

Male sharks may also exhibit site fidelity to wrecks off the North Carolina coast, but so far no matching photos have been found to prove it.

That may change as more and more citizen scientists share their images, said Hap Fatzinger, director of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher and a co-author of the study.

“Through collaborations and strong partnerships, Spot A Shark USA is engaging recreational divers to become citizen scientists and provide essential data to expand our knowledge,” Fatzinger said. “By increasing community engagement, we are creating stronger connections to local, regional and global concerns for sharks and healthy ocean ecosystems.”

Erica Blair, a graduating senior at Duke and a co-author of the new study, helped map the unique spot patterns on the sharks’ skin that were used to confirm their identities. Brian Silliman, Rachel Carson Associate Professor of Marine Conservation Biology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, also co-authored the study.

Squirrel species in North Carolina, USA


This 6 January 2019 video from North Carolina in the USA says about itself:

Four squirrel species come to the deck each day to eat in the Great Smoky Mountains – compared to Florida which only has Grays – Chipmunk, Flying Squirrels, Gray Squirrels and Red Squirrels visit up north – and the Red Squirrel rules the daytime. Actually Groundhogs are in the yard and they are a fifth member of the squirrel family, but they don’t come up on the Deck – yet!

Hurricane Florence in the USA update


This 19 September 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Rev. Barber: North Carolina Has Two Storms—Florence & the Policies That Keep People in Poverty

As President Trump visits North Carolina, where thousands are evacuating after Hurricane Florence caused record flooding, we go to Raleigh to speak with Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. Areas devastated by the storm include some of the poorest areas on the Eastern Seaboard. Barber’s recent CNN piece is headlined “In hurricane wind and waves, the poor suffer most.”

This 20 September 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

South Carolina: Two Women from Mental Health Facility Drown in Flood During Transport by Deputies

Two women being transported by sheriff’s deputies to a mental health facility drowned Tuesday in South Carolina when the van they were riding in was overcome by floodwaters. The two sheriff’s deputies in the vehicle survived.

Because, unlike the two women, the deputies had not been manacled and chained.

Forty-five-year-old Wendy Newton and 43-year-old Nicolette Green are two of at least 37 people killed by Hurricane Florence since the storm made landfall. Both women had gone to hospitals Tuesday morning when they were involuntarily committed and detained. Less than 24 hours later, they were dead. “There are a lot of questions remaining about why this had to occur, then, why there couldn’t have been some sort of an emergency delay”, says Meg Kinnard, South Carolina correspondent for the Associated Press, who has been following the story closely.

This 20 September 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

South Carolina Prisoners Were Left In Cells as Florence Descended. Why Weren’t They Evacuated?

South Carolina officials are coming under fire for refusing to relocate prisoners in mandatory evacuation zones even as Hurricane Florence barreled down on the state. Prisoners were instead put to work behind bars making sandbags to prepare for the storm’s arrival. We speak with Kymberly Smith, a community organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation. She has been protesting South Carolina’s choice to not evacuate prisoners during Hurricane Florence.

THOUSANDS BRACE FOR MORE FLOODING AFTER HURRICANE FLORENCE About 6,000 to 8,000 residents in coastal areas in the Carolinas were warned Sunday that they may need to leave their homes because rivers are still rising more than a week after Hurricane Florence. In Washington, Congress is starting to consider almost $1.7 billion in new money to aid recovery efforts from the storm. [AP]

As new flooding forces evacuations in South Carolina. Hurricane Florence unleashes coal ash, hog waste pollution: here.

Two weeks after Hurricane Florence first made landfall on the North Carolina coast, its impact is still being felt throughout the region. The death toll now stands at 48 across the three states—North and South Carolina and Virginia—most directly affected by Florence, with 37 of those in North Carolina. The latest reported fatality was an 85-year-old North Carolina man who, while cleaning up storm debris, suffered an injury that later became infected, causing his death: here.

North Carolina is suffering a massive mosquito problem in the wake of Hurricane Florence.