Canadian bald eagle saved from drowning

After a white-tailed eagle was saved from drowning off Norway, now a North American related species.

This video says about itself:

Swimming Eagle Rescued From Bay | National Geographic

4 August 2017

A family spotted an injured bald eagle swimming in the Bay of Fundy off Nova Scotia, Canada and brought it to safety.

Canadian Afghan war veteran kills family, himself

This video from Canada says about itself:

‘Lost my mom and my niece were gone too’

5 January 2017

Lionel Desmond’s sister Cassandra describes how she found out members of her family had been killed.

Read more here.

Not only does the bloody Iraq war come home to the USA as bloodbaths at Fort Lauderdale airport and elsewhere.

The bloody war in Afghanistan comes home to Canada as well.

By Laurent Lafrance in Canada:

Canadian Afghan war veteran commits suicide after killing family

11 January 2017

A tragedy that took place at the beginning of January in Upper Big Tracadie, a small and isolated town in northeastern Nova Scotia, has shed light on the consequences of the increasingly aggressive domestic and foreign policies of the Canadian ruling elite.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed last Friday that 33-year-old Afghan war veteran Lionel Desmond shot himself after killing his mother, Brenda, 52; his wife, Shanna Desmond, 31; and their 10-year-old daughter, Aliyah. The murder-suicide has left the community, located some 200 miles from Halifax, in shock.

Relatives confirmed that Desmond suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after he came back from Afghanistan, where he was deployed from January to August of 2007 as an infantry soldier in the Royal Canadian Regiment. He joined the armed forces in 2004 and was released 18 months ago.

This latest tragedy is an indictment of the entire ruling class and military apparatus that have used young men as cannon fodder to advance Canada’s imperialist interests around the globe. When these men come back home, usually traumatized by the cruelty of war and the atrocities inflicted on the civilian population—often with their own participation—they are left with inadequate health care and other vital services due to decades of budget cutting by all of the establishment political parties.

Desmond wrote on his Facebook page last month that he had hit his head on a light armoured vehicle and suffered back spasms after falling off a wall while in the military. He said he had been told he had post-concussion disorder as well as PTSD. Desmond’s sister-in-law explained that he recently decided to stay at his grandparents’ house because he was “getting so out of control,” and that he was verbally aggressive with his wife.

Rev. Elaine Walcott, another relative, said, “Lionel loved his mother, his family, and he was a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder and the memories he didn’t want to have.” Lionel’s sister, Cassandra Desmond, told CBC News: “My brother suffered in silence for 10 years fighting demons that we don’t even know, seeing things, replaying events in his head…”

According to Shanna Desmond’s aunt, Catherine Hartline, when Lionel Desmond returned from Afghanistan he sought treatment in Montreal but did not get the adequate assistance. “The poor guy needed help and they sent him up to Montreal and put a little Band-Aid on him and sent him back.”

It was also revealed that Desmond tried to check himself into a mental health facility at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish the day before the tragedy, but he was apparently told there were no beds and that the hospital did not have his files.

This revelation prompted Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to claim that his government, in conjunction with health authorities, would find out “what may or may not have happened” at St. Martha’s. In another token gesture, the Canadian government announced that it would pay the costs of the funeral of Desmond and his family members.

The government is clearly seeking to wash its hands of the situation and cover up the fact that the lack of services at St. Martha is the result of years of austerity measures imposed on public services by successive Liberal, Conservative and NDP provincial governments.

An emergency room doctor who works at the hospital, Dr. Maureen Allen, told CBC how budget cuts had impacted the services provided. Allen said emergency rooms “are inundated” with people struggling with mental health and addiction issues, and that the facility no longer has a dedicated budget for mental health services.

Under both the previous Harper Conservative government and the current Liberal Trudeau government, Veteran Affairs Canada has slashed millions of dollars, translating into hundreds of job cuts, closed offices that previously provided assistance to veterans and cut back on medical marijuana. In power, the Conservatives eliminated lifetime pensions for Afghanistan veterans and clawed back benefits. The number of VA employees shrank 21 percent between 2008 and 2014, resulting in the department’s smallest workforce since 1998.

Many ill and injured ex-soldiers must wait for months to find out if they qualify for benefits. Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show that just over half of the 6,000 veterans who applied for disability benefits between April and July last year received a decision within 16 weeks.

Veteran services have also been targeted for privatization. The most recent job cuts imposed by the Liberals will now force veterans to deal with Medavie Blue Cross, a for-profit private insurance company, for their benefit claims.

According to reports, Desmond received treatment from a joint personnel support unit for a year prior to his release from the military in July 2015. The JPSU, which is meant to provide support to physically and mentally ill soldiers, is severely under-funded.

The horrific event in Upper Big Tracadie is the latest in a string of similar tragedies involving war veterans. According to a Globe and Mail investigation, at least 72 soldiers and veterans have killed themselves after serving on the dangerous Afghanistan mission. The most recent reported case took place in 2015, when Robert Giblin, a veteran of two Afghanistan tours, repeatedly stabbed his wife before they fell from a high-rise apartment in Toronto.

Nearly one in 10 Canadian military personnel who took part in the mission in Afghanistan (about 3,600 out of 39,000) are now collecting disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder. However, experts say the prevalence of the illness is likely much higher among Canada’s combat troops. There are probably many ex-soldiers who have not reached out for benefits, and others who have never been diagnosed.

Calls by the media and politicians for better help for veterans are highly hypocritical. Above all, they seek to obscure the real cause of the Upper Big Tracadie tragedy: Canada’s participation in imperialist carnage in Central Asia and around the globe. In fact, after wiping their crocodile tears, the Canadian ruling class and the media will continue to push for a more aggressive foreign policy.

The Afghan war played a critical role in the reassertion of aggressive Canadian militarism. It marked the definitive end of a period in which, for their own geopolitical interests, the Canadian ruling class presented itself on the global stage as a “peacekeeping” nation.

Military strategists and government advisers celebrated the Afghan intervention, which saw the Canadian Armed Forces assume the leadership role in counter-insurgency operations in Kandahar. In the words of one official, this was a “revolution” in Canadian foreign policy. The ruling class is not about to allow what it views as collateral damage to the lives of veterans and their families to get in the way of the ruthless assertion of its interests.

Desmond’s fate—and the high number of soldiers suffering from PTSD—points to the real character of the Afghan war. Launched in 2001 shortly after September 11 as part of the US-led so-called “war on terror”, the Afghan war has revealed itself as a neocolonial war in which the major powers sought to destabilize and dominate the entire energy resource-rich region.

The Conservatives and the liberals both supported Canada’s participation in the war. For its part, the union-backed New Democratic Party, which made the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan one of its main “progressive” policy planks, made an about-face in the 2008 election campaign when it sought a coalition with the Liberals and pledged to back Canada playing a leading role in the conflict through 2011.

Since then, the Canadian government has joined every military adventure led by the United States. Far from backing down from this war drive, the Trudeau government will soon announce a new deployment of Canadian troops in Africa to join US and French-led counter-insurgency missions and has already sent Canadian forces to Eastern Europe to menace Russia.

SURVIVING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE MILITARY Abused military wives are often told to stay quiet about what happens at home. We talked to a dozen who feel they no longer can. We also asked readers to send us their personal stories. While their experiences occurred over decades, in different locations and across all branches of the military, many of the stories have similar themes. [HuffPost]

Rare sea turtle in Nova Scotia, Canada

This video says about itself:

23 February 2015

A leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) feeds on jellyfish off the coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Video shot using a turtle-borne video camera. Video copyright Canadian Sea Turtle Network.

From CBC News in Canada:

Rare sea turtle washes up in Nova Scotia

The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, nicknamed Eric by those who found it, is hypothermic and very thin

A rare sea turtle that washed ashore in Halls Harbour, N.S., is being nursed back to health after surviving in waters that are typically far too cold for the species.

In fact, this is the only documented Kemp’s ridley sea turtle ever be found alive in Nova Scotia.

“There have only been 13 Kemp’s ridley turtles recorded in the history of Atlantic Canada,” said Kathleen Martin, executive director of the Canadian Sea Turtle Network.

The network is a non-profit group that strives to protect and preserve endangered sea turtles.

Martin says Kemp’s ridley turtles are one of the most endangered sea turtles in the world, with a nesting population of only a few thousand.

Born in more southern waters, Nova Scotia is the very northern edge of where the turtles travel when juvenile. Once fully grown the turtles tend to live in the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Hypothermic and emaciated

The turtle, which has been nicknamed Eric, was extremely hypothermic and emaciated when he was found.

“There’s a special thermometer that’s used to test for hypothermia and the lowest end of it is 60 F. When we tested Eric the first time he wasn’t even on the thermometer, he was lower than that,” said Martin.

“So very cold in the core of his little body.”

The turtle is a little under 26 centimetres long. If he makes it to adulthood he could grow to 60 centimetres.

The little reptile was given the name Eric by staff at Halls Harbour Lobster Pound and Restaurant who found him. But the turtle is too young to determine what sex it is.

Hope Shanks, an administrator at the Lobster Pound, helped find the turtle. She and other workers often clean up the surrounding beach. Earlier this week, she spotted a tote that had washed ashore and asked co-worker Les Roy to remove it.

“When he came back he wasn’t carrying a tote, he was carrying a sea turtle, and we at first thought he was dead. But when Les moved him, he opened his eyes. He was awake but very, very, weak.”

‘A chance at living’

Workers weren’t sure what to do with the turtle so they put him in a holding tank filled with seawater.

Then Shanks took pictures of the turtle and sent them to her boss, who eventually got in touch with the Canadian Sea Turtle Network.

“One of the things I love is that it was just the people at the Lobster Pound doing the right thing,” said Martin. “They patrol the beach to try and clean up debris that they find there. By doing that they are giving this critically endangered species a chance at living.”

The turtle is now in the care of veterinarians with the sea turtle network. Martin says Eric is gradually warming up and has started moving.

“He was swimming around a little bit yesterday afternoon and he was more active than I worried he would be. He was perkier. He’s certainly showing signs of life and a little bit of spunk.”

Still, vets say the turtle has an uphill battle ahead of him and it’s not clear if he will continue to be the only member of his species to survive a trip to Nova Scotia.

Update, from the Canadian Sea Turtle Network, 13 November 2015:

I am sad to report that Eric, the lovely little Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, has died.

He couldn’t overcome the combination of emaciation, pneumonia, and the effects of hypothermia.

He had so many things stacked against him.

We did everything we could to help. Eric was cared for with great skill and extraordinary affection by Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark and his team.

We will now send Eric to Dr. Pierre-Yves Daoust at the University of Prince Edward Island. Pierre-Yves will conduct a necropsy (which is like an autopsy) and that way we will learn if there were any additional complications Eric was dealing with. I’ll let you know what we hear.

I am trying to look on the bright side.

I am reminding myself that we learn something new with every sea turtle—both alive and dead—and that this is extremely important, particularly with endangered species.

Canadian tree swallows and human noise, new study

This video is called Tree Swallows in super slow motion.

From Animal Behaviour:

Effect of ambient noise on parent–offspring interactions in tree swallows

Marty L. Leonard, Andrew G. Horn, Krista N. Oswald, Emma McIntyre

Many recent studies suggest that increased ambient noise can disrupt acoustic communication in animals and might ultimately decrease their reproductive success. Most of these studies have focused on long-distance signals used in mate attraction and territory defence, but close-range acoustic interactions between parents and offspring may also be disrupted by noise and are closely linked to reproductive success. To test the effect of noise on parent–offspring interactions, we experimentally applied white noise (65 dB SPL) to the nests of tree swallows, Tachycineta bicolor, when nestlings were 3–6 days old.

At experimental nests, parents gave fewer provisioning calls, which are used to stimulate begging, but otherwise we detected no difference in provisioning behaviour between experimental and control nests. More nestlings begged for food at experimental nests, using calls that were higher in amplitude and minimum frequency, than at control nests. When we played back nestling begging calls during parental visits to stimulate higher feeding rates, parents increased their feeding rates at control nests, but not at experimental nests

Our results show that noise can alter parent–offspring interactions and interfere with parental responses to begging calls. Nestlings may be able to compensate for moderate increases in noise by enhancing the conspicuousness of their begging signal, although at higher noise levels these adjustments may prove ineffective or the extra begging effort may be physiologically costly. …

We conducted this study in the Gaspereau Valley of Nova Scotia, Canada between May and July 2013 (study sites described in Leonard & Horn, 1996) using a population of box-nesting tree swallows.

Little is known about how brief yet acute stressors — such as war, natural disasters and terror attacks — affect those exposed to them, though human experience suggests they have long-term impacts. Two recent studies of tree swallows uncover long-term consequences of such passing but major stressful events. Both studies provide information on how major stressful events have lasting effects and why some individuals are more susceptible to those impacts than others: here.

Blackpoll warbler migration in America, new research

This video from New York City says about itself:

Several male blackpoll warblers (Setophaga striata) are shown in Central Park on their migration to their northern breeding grounds. The blackpoll warbler spends the winter in northern South America and migrates to Alaska, Canada, and small portions of the northeastern United States to breed. It is a common species, and it is assessed as being of least concern by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

This video was recorded on May 13, 14, and 17, 2014 in Central Park, New York City.

From Science Daily:

Tiny songbird discovered to migrate non-stop, 1,500 miles over the Atlantic

Date: March 31, 2015

Source: University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Summary: For the first time biologists report ‘irrefutable evidence’ that tiny blackpoll warblers complete a nonstop flight from about 1,410 to 1,721 miles (2,270 to 2,770 km) in just two to three days. For this work the scientists fitted geolocator packs on 20 birds in Vermont and 20 more in Nova Scotia. They were able to recapture three birds from the Vermont group and two from the Nova Scotia group for analyses.

For more than 50 years, scientists had tantalizing clues suggesting that a tiny, boreal forest songbird known as the blackpoll warbler departs each fall from New England and eastern Canada to migrate nonstop in a direct line over the Atlantic Ocean toward South America, but proof was hard to come by.

Now, for the first time an international team of biologists report “irrefutable evidence” that the birds complete a nonstop flight ranging from about 1,410 to 1,721 miles (2,270 to 2,770 km) in just two to three days, making landfall somewhere in Puerto Rico, Cuba and the islands known as the Greater Antilles, from there going on to northern Venezuela and Columbia. Details of their study, which used light-level, or solar, geolocators, appear in the current issue of Biology Letters.

First author Bill DeLuca, an environmental conservation research fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with colleagues at the University of Guelph, Ontario, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and other institutions, says, “For small songbirds, we are only just now beginning to understand the migratory routes that connect temperate breeding grounds to tropical wintering areas. We’re really excited to report that this is one of the longest nonstop overwater flights ever recorded for a songbird, and finally confirms what has long been believed to be one of the most extraordinary migratory feats on the planet.”

While other birds, such as albatrosses, sandpipers and gulls are known for trans-oceanic flights, the blackpoll warbler is a forest dweller that migrates boldly where few of its relatives dare to travel. Most migratory songbirds that winter in South America take a less risky, continental route south through Mexico and Central America, the authors note. A water landing would be fatal to a warbler.

In the recent past, DeLuca explains, geolocators have been too large and heavy for use in studying songbird migration and the tiny blackpoll warbler, at around half an ounce (12 grams) or about as much as 12 business cards, was too small to carry even the smallest of traditional tracking instruments. Scientists had only ground observations and radar as tools.

But with recent advances in geolocator technology, they have become lighter and smaller. For this work, the researchers harnessed miniaturized geolocators about the size of a dime and weighing only 0.5g to the birds’ lower backs like a tiny backpack. By retrieving these when the warblers returned to Canada and Vermont the following spring, then analyzing the data, DeLuca and colleagues could trace their migration routes.

For this work the scientists fitted geolocator packs on 20 birds in Vermont and 20 more in Nova Scotia. They were able to recapture three birds from the Vermont group and two from the Nova Scotia group for analyses.

So-called light-level geolocators use solar geolocation, a method used for centuries by mariners and explorers. It is based on the fact that day length varies with latitude while time of solar noon varies with longitude. So all the instrument needs to do is record the date and length of daylight, from which daily locations can then be inferred once the geolocator is recaptured. “When we accessed the locators, we saw the blackpolls’ journey was indeed directly over the Atlantic. The distances travelled ranged from 2,270 to 2,770 kilometers,” DeLuca says.

To prepare for the flight, the birds build up their fat stores, explains Canadian team leader Ryan Norris of the University of Guelph. “They eat as much as possible, in some cases doubling their body mass in fat so they can fly without needing food or water. For blackpolls, they don’t have the option of failing or coming up a bit short. It’s a fly-or-die journey that requires so much energy.”

He adds, “These birds come back every spring very close to the same place they used in the previous breeding season, so with any luck you can catch them again. Of course there is high mortality among migrating songbirds on such a long journey, we believe only about half return.”

Chris Rimmer, an ornithologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies notes, “We’ve only sampled this tiny part of their breeding range. We don’t know what birds from Alaska do, for example. This may be one of the most abundant warblers in North America, but little is known about its distribution or ecology on the wintering grounds in Venezuela and the Amazon. However, there is no longer any doubt that the blackpoll undertakes one of the most audacious migrations of any bird on earth.”

DeLuca says, “It was pretty thrilling to get the return birds back, because their migratory feat in itself is on the brink of impossibility. We worried that stacking one more tiny card against their success might result in them being unable to complete the migration. Many migratory songbirds, blackpolls included, are experiencing alarming population declines for a variety of reasons, if we can learn more about where these birds spend their time, particularly during the nonbreeding season, we can begin to examine and address what might be causing the declines.”

As for why the blackpoll undertakes such a perilous journey while other species follow a longer but safer coastal route, the authors say that because migration is the most perilous part of a songbird’s year, it may make sense to get it over with as quickly as possible. However, this and other questions remain to be studied.

Other researchers on the team besides those from UMass Amherst, the University of Guelph and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, were from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Acadia University, Bird Studies Canada and the University of Exeter, U.K. Each contributed to funding the study.

Light-level geolocators reveal that Veeries instinctively follow the shortest possible #migration path: here.

Rotate a warbler in 3D, distinguish similar-sounding songs with spectrograms, or identify a warbler using clues from plumage and song at the same time. With this new app from The Warbler Guide authors Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, ID tips leap off the page onto your mobile device in a whole new way. Read our review.

Endangered porbeagle sharks eaten in Belgium

This video from Canada is called Porbeagle Shark in St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia.

Translated from Natuurpunt in Belgium:

Monday, December 22, 2014

The National Professional Federation of Fish Shopkeepers calls in its magazine for the fishing industry on its members not to sell the endangered porbeagle shark even if wholesalers would offer it. Natuurpunt had insisted on this when two months ago it turned out that the strictly protected shark was still traded in Flanders.

A lot of commotion in October when it turned out that the porbeagle, which is strictly protected since 2010, was still sold by Flemish fishmongers.

Tagged bluefin tuna recaptured after sixteen years

This video says about itself:

Behind the Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna Trade | Pew

18 Oct 2011

Mind the Gap, an analysis of worldwide trade in Mediterranean bluefin tuna, shows a significant gap in the trade of bluefin tuna, compared to what can be caught legally every year. In 2008, the gap between the trade and quota was 31 percent. By 2010, that gap grew to 141 percent. But solutions exist. Pew is calling for an electronic catch documentation system to replace the current paper system, to allow for better tracking and monitoring of the bluefin tuna trade. To learn more, visit here.

From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the USA:

Tagged Bluefin Tuna Recaptured After Sixteen Years at Large

By tagging fish for NOAA’s Cooperative Tagging Program, fishermen have contributed greatly to our scientific understanding of many valuable species.

Al Anderson, a charter boat captain out of Point Judith, Rhode Island, participates in the NOAA Fisheries Cooperative Tagging Program, which provides free tags to fishermen so they can contribute to our scientific understanding of fish. One of the fish he tagged, a bluefin tuna, was recently recaptured after 16 years. In the history of the program, only two recaptured fish had been at liberty so long.

That bluefin weighed a mere 14 pounds when Anderson caught it in the Mudhole east/southeast of Block Island in 1997. When a Nova Scotia fisherman recaptured it late last year, it weighed more than 1,200 pounds.

Anderson started tagging 45 years ago when he was a graduate student in fisheries biology at the University of Rhode Island. But ask him today why he tags so many fish, and he’ll cite the career he ultimately settled into. “I’m a fisherman,” he said. “I want to know where the fish go.”

Scientists want to know as well. That’s why NOAA provides fishermen with tags to put on fish they catch and release, including highly migratory species like tunas, sailfish, and marlin. After tagging a fish, they send the tag number to NOAA Fisheries, along with date, location, length and weight. If the fish is recaptured, the fisherman can read the number and call it in. That allows scientists to track migration patterns and estimate growth and mortality rates for these valuable species.

Bluefin tuna travel widely and fast. Anderson once recaptured a bluefin off Rhode Island that had been tagged ten days earlier near New Orleans. In that brief time the fish traveled at least 1,600 miles. And bluefin tuna that Anderson first tagged have been recaptured off the coasts of Turkey and France.

These conventional tags provide snapshots of data when the fish is tagged and again when it’s recaptured. For a more detailed picture, scientists also deploy PSATs— pop-up satellite archival tags.

“They’re basically a flash drive that you attach to the fish,” said Derke Snodgrass, a biologist at NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Those devices record temperature, depth, and light intensity every ten seconds, with the timing of changes in light intensity used to estimate latitude. The PSATs detach after a year or less, then float to the surface and transmit summary data via satellite. When possible, scientists or other boaters recover the PSATs so its gigabytes of data—too much for satellite transmission—can be retrieved.

Pop-up satellite archival tags provide a huge amount of data on habitat preference, movement, and diving behavior, but because they’re costly there’s only so many of them. Conventional tags provide less data per tag, but fishermen with the Cooperative Tagging Program have put them on roughly 270,000 fish of almost 80 different species since the program began in 1954.

“That gives us a lot of statistical power,” said Snodgrass. Data from conventional tags has helped scientists identify distinct stocks of fish, an important step in managing them. And long-term recaptures like the bluefin that Al Anderson tagged 16 years ago provide valuable data on longevity and help to refine age and growth models for the species.

Some of those species have declined in number over the years. “When I started tagging bluefin, there were so many they were a pain in the neck,” said Anderson. “I would put lures in the water for striped bass, and schools of small bluefin would leave me with no line on my striper outfits.”

That was in the early 1970s, when there was little market for bluefin tuna. Today they’re prized for their fatty flesh, and a single bluefin can net a fisherman over ten thousand dollars.

“We see a lot fewer of them today,” Anderson said.

Over the years, Anderson and his charter clients have tagged tens of thousands of striped bass, almost five thousand bluefin, and 1500 sharks.

Anderson keeps a record of who caught which fish, and he notifies the client if their fish is recaptured. Many of his clients are conservation-minded, and they enjoy contributing to the science.


World’s smallest prehistoric footprints discovery

The tiny Batrachichnus salamandroides trackway found in Nova Scotia. Image courtesy Justin Spielmann

From ScienceDaily:

World’s Smallest Fossil Footprints: Small Amphibian Roamed Earth 315 Million Years Ago

(Sep. 11, 2012) — A new set of fossil footprints discovered in Joggins, Nova Scotia, near Amherst, have been identified as the world’s smallest known fossil vertebrate footprints.

The footprints were found at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Joggins Fossil Cliffs. A fossil specimen of the ichnogenus Batrachichnus salamandroides was collected by local amateur paleontologist Gloria Melanson, daughter of Don Reid, the famed Keeper of the Joggins Cliffs, while walking the Joggins beach.

“This was one of the most exciting finds I have ever made and I am very pleased that, along with my colleagues, we are able to share it with the world. Every big fossil find is by chance; it’s all about being lucky and recognizing what you’re looking at. When I saw the very small tail and toes I knew we had something special. I never thought it would be the world’s smallest,” said Melanson.

The footprints belonged to a small amphibian which would have roamed Earth 315 million years ago, a creature not unlike a salamander.

The fossil record at Joggins is most famous for its diverse skeletal record of small tetrapods, dominated by an array of small, primitive amphibians (temnospondyls and microsaurs), and the oldest known reptile, Hylonomus lyelli, entombed within once-hollow fossil tree stumps.

Small trackways of these animals at Joggins are common, but none so small as the one discovered recently. The 48-mm-long trackway preserves approximately 30 footprints with the front feet measuring 1.6 mm long and back feet measuring 2.4 mm long. Study of the footprints by paleontologists at Saint Mary’s University (student Matt Stimson) and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History (Dr. Spencer Lucas) has revealed the trace maker was a juvenile amphibian, similar to a salamander (temnospondyl or microsaur) with an estimated body length of only 8 mm from snout to tail.

Further examination shows the animal began in a walk and later changed direction as it began to run. Speculation could be made that these are some of the juvenile’s first footsteps on land after transforming from a tadpole stage that hatched in a local pond. The change in direction and speed may be interpreted as the animal either becoming startled by a larger predator, or perhaps while hunting some small insects, itself.

Melanson’s fossil is on display at the Joggins Fossil Centre at the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Joggins Fossil Cliffs. The fossil is described in a paper by Stimson, Lucas and Melanson in the international scientific journal Ichnos on Aug. 27, 2012. The scientific article documents the significance of Melanson’s fossil discovery and the secrets it reveals about ancient juvenile life in the Coal Age 315 million years ago in Nova Scotia.

See also here. And here.

Canadian wildlife discoveries

This video from Canada says about itself:

This young bald eagle was released outside Windsor, Nova Scotia after rehabilitation at the Hope for Wildlife Centre.

From the Sackville Tribune Post in Canada:

Conservation scientists make interesting discoveries in 2011

Katie Tower

Published on June 27, 2012

SACKVILLE, NB – The team of scientists at Atlantic Canada’s Conservation Data Centre (ACCDC) have had another busy and productive year, discovering several new species of flora and fauna in the Maritimes and gathering data that is essential in helping to protect the natural environment.

“It’s been an exciting year for the CDC,” said Sherman Boates, chair of the Sackville-based conservation centre during the group’s annual general meeting earlier this month.

Through their extensive field work in 2011, the staff not only identified a number of new provincial species records of flower fly in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, but also found three plant species, two dragonfly species and a butterfly species never before documented in Nova Scotia. One of those plant species, the Maleberry, was also a new species for Canada and will likely be listed as a federal Species at Risk in the future.

Boates applauded the work of the staff – who have a broad range of expertise in botany, zoology, landscape ecology and forestry – saying their “remarkable amount of knowledge” has really made a difference in the world of conservation.

Botanists Sean Blaney and David Mazerolle made the Maleberry discovery late last summer on a property purchased last year by the Nova Scotia Nature Trust near Springhaven in Yarmouth County.

The Maleberry, a coastal plain shrub, is a member of the blueberry family that can reach heights of 3.5 m (12 feet) and does not produce edible fruit. It is otherwise found in southern Maine and southward through the eastern United States and it joins a suite of 40 other “Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora” species restricted within Canada to the special climatic and environmental conditions of southern Nova Scotia.

Blaney and Mazerolle located a small population of the Maleberry in a swamp on Long Lake.

“It’s one of the best finds we’ve had since I’ve been at the CDC,” said Mazerolle. “It’s a new species for Canada . . . and it’s a good candidate to become a listed species.

During that same trip, Mazerolle and Blaney also found Canada’s third population of the Threatened Water Pennywort, a small population of the provincially-endangered Eastern White Cedar and a large population of Spotted Pondweed, currently under evaluation as a potential provincially-endangered species.

Also last summer, during a plant survey for the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, the botanists discovered an extremely rare plant at Shingle Lake Barrens in Nova Scotia – Bluecurls, a member of the mint family.

“This hadn’t ever been found before in Nova Scotia . . . and it’s quite rare in Canada,” said Blaney. “So that was an exciting find.”

He noted the Bluecurls are now a high-priority candidate for federal evaluation under the species of concern list.

John Klymko, zoologist with the conservation data centre, also kept busy in 2011, continuing his efforts on the Maritimes Butterfly Atlas, a five-year citizen science project that was launched in 2010 to help document butterfly occurrences in the Maritimes. The first two years of the effort has produced more than 6,000 records with 80 different butterfly species documented.

Klymko said in 2011, there were a number of spottings of rare species in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and also documentation of a significant range expansion for one species in particular, the Salt Marsh Copper.

Populations of the Salt Marsh Copper were detected twice in the Cape Breton area last August, the first time the species was documented that far away from its known range of the Gaspe Peninsula, Chaleur Bay, the Northumberland Coast and coastal areas of PEI.

Klymko said the butterfly atlas project, which is the first comprehensive survey of butterflies ever done in the region, just recently received national coverage on the Weather Network, hopefully helping the ACCDC “reach a whole new demographic” of volunteers who want to participate in the initiative.

Klymko also conducted both Dragonfly and Pollinator surveys last summer, identifying new species of dragonflies in Nova Scotia and new provincial records of flower fly in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, 26 of which were new to the Maritimes.

Also moving forward with research last year was Sarah Robinson, who works in landscape ecology. Robinson conducted a biodiversity assessment of the coastal dune systems of Nova Scotia, the “first data of this type and in this much detail ever done in the province.”

Robinson collected data from 12 different dune systems and 300 plots within those systems. During her research, she came across a number of rare species, including Umbellate Bastard Toadflax and Slender Flatsedge, and also noted the unique conditions of some of the dune systems which were dominated by Bearberry, a species of dwarf shrub, or lichens. She was also able to document the prevalence of exotic species that were of concern, such as Purple Loosestrife and Scotch Broom.

Whale spouts rainbow, video

This video says about itself:

While on a whale watching cruise in Nova Scotia, it was not until I watched the video much later that I saw the spray of the whale closest to the boat catch the sun and turn the spray into a rainbow. It looks as if the whale is blowing a rainbow out of it’s blowhole.

See also here.