"I love how SeaWorld keeps suggesting that somehow Blackfish’s ‘undeserved’ success has prevented it from ‘telling its side of the story.’ SeaWorld was in a position to tell its side of the story for 45 years - in fact, during that time it had almost exclusive use of the mike. Turnabout is fair play, SeaWorld - get over it." - Dr. Naomi Rose
"The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an event that is not likely to fade from the memories of conservationists any time soon. In 2010, an oil rig located 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana burst, pouring 4.1 million barrels (equates to 200 million gallons) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly four years later, the verdict that BP will be fined up to $18 billion dollars in damages for the gross misconduct that led to this disaster is quite vindicating, but it does not wholly solve the problem at hand.
While on the surface, the ecosystem of the Gulf appears to have recovered (the water and animals in the area are no longer covered with oil) there are residual impacts of the spill that are only now being explored. As part of Operation Toxic Gulf, Sea Shepherd and Ocean Alliance have set out to find out how much damage this spill has wrought on the Gulf ecosystem.”
An Elephant Never Forgets
"TOKYO (AP) — Japan is seeking international support for its plans to hunt minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean next year by scaling down the whaling research program the U.N. top court rejected earlier this year, fisheries officials said Wednesday.
Whaling for research purposes is exempt from the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling, and Japan has conducted hunts in the Atlantic and Pacific on that basis. But in March, the International Court of Justice ruled the Antarctic program wasn’t scientific as Japan had claimed and must stop.
Japan’s Fisheries Agency is working on a revised program to be submitted to the International Whaling Commission’s scientific committee around November. The agency will announce its intention and basic plan at the Sept. 15-18 IWC meeting in Slovenia and will continue to finalize catch targets and other details over the next few weeks.
The new program will address the problems cited by the court, an agency official said on condition of anonymity, citing department rules. The court said Japan’s Antarctic program produced little actual research and failed to explain why it needed to kill so many whales for the study.”
“Angel wing” is a deformity commonly found in ducks, geese, swans, and other waterfowl. There has been little scientific study done on the condition, yet most wildlife and waterfowl experts agree the overwhelming cause of angel wing is an unhealthily-high protein and/or carbohydrate-based diet. The disorder causes the last joint in one or both wings to unnaturally twist outward, rather than lying flat against the bird’s body.
Birds with angel wing are stripped of their ability to fly and therefore their main method of defense. Since the affected birds are unable to escape predators, they are often maimed or killed by them. Additionally, when life-threatening weather conditions develop, they are unable to fly away to safety, and instead starve, succumbing to injuries or freeze to death.
The birds most likely to contract angel wing are those residing in parks, on ponds, and in public areas where people feed them unhealthy food. As they grow, young birds subsisting on white bread and other inappropriate food sources can develop issues preventing their bones from forming normally, resulting in angel wing.”
"Critics say the wolf population does not justify a hunt so soon after government protections were lifted. They note that existing laws already allow farmers to kill nuisance wolves on their property and that wolves, unlike deer, are not shot for food.
“This isn’t about guns or hunting,” Kathy Karaba of Battle Creek said before the morning rally. “This is about a species of animal that needs to be protected. There is no rhyme or reason for killing these animals.”
Sherri Weigman of Lansing, carrying a “do not silence my vote” sign, said she helped collect signatures for both anti-wolf hunt petition drives and said she was frustrated to see her work go to waste.
“What is being proposed, and what’s being voted on today, is a real slap in the face to democracy,” Weigman said. “I don’t care how you feel about this issue, if the shoe were on the other foot, I’m sure those people wouldn’t like it if all there work was for nil.”
Twenty-two wolves were legally killed in three regions of the UP last year during Michigan’s first-ever wolf hunt, about half the number the state had hoped for.
An MLive.com investigation found government half-truths, falsehoods and livestock numbers skewed by a single farmer distorted some arguments for the inaugural hunt.”
"Until now, contagious yawning was thought to be something only humans and other primates like chimpanzees do. Scientists who had looked for evidence of yawn contagion among domestic dogs had gotten mixed results—some studies seemed to show that one dog yawning triggered another dog to yawn, whereas other studies didn’t find any association.
University of Tokyo biologist Teresa Romero was especially interested in how dogs and wolves thought differently, so she figured that investigating contagious yawning among wolves might help provide a better understanding of the two species’ differences.
Romero wanted the latest study to be in as realistic a setting as possible, so she and her colleagues spent 524 hours over five months observing a pack of 12 wolves at the Tama Zoological Park, which is known for its naturalistic enclosures. They noted every time a wolf yawned spontaneously, then recorded the responses of any wolves nearby that had seen the yawn. The researchers also measured how frequently the wolves yawned without seeing their packmates also doing so.
The researchers found that the wolves were significantly more likely to yawn after seeing another wolf do so than at other times. In 50 percent of their observations, a wolf yawned after seeing another do so; wolves yawned only 12 percent of the time when they didn’t see another wolf do so.
Yawns were also more likely to be contagious among wolves with close social bonds, the researchers report Wednesday in PLOS ONE.
Canine behavior expert Monique Udell of Oregon State University in Corvallis, who was not involved with the study, says some “previous studies concluded that contagious yawning was unique to dogs due to their domestication. This new study shows that might not be the case.”
"SPOKANE, WASH. — State officials approved the killing of a portion of a wolf pack in northeast Washington, sending hunters aboard a helicopter during the weekend to take aim at the wolves.
Officials from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife approved the killings for the Huckleberry Pack in Stevens County after 22 sheep were killed this month. But a conservation group argues the state did not exhaust non-lethal methods before ordering the hunt.
The hunt’s announcement comes after the state authorized a rancher to shoot the same wolves approaching his flock of 1,800 sheep. The state Fish and Wildlife Department said efforts to deter the pack have failed, The Spokesman-Review reported (http://bit.ly/1tFwf4P).
In an effort to break the predation cycle, agency Director Phil Anderson said he authorized on Saturday the killing of four wolves from the pack, which is estimated at up to 12 members. Officials will later evaluate whether that is enough lethal force to end the sheep attacks.
Gunners in a helicopter began flying over the area near Hunters on Saturday. A wolf was spotted, but officials said no wolves were killed Saturday. A male wolf is wearing a radio collar that researchers attached to monitor the pack.
"As of Friday, we had confirmed that 17 sheep had been killed by wolves in five separate incidents, and we continue to find more dead and wounded sheep from the flock," said Bruce Botka, agency spokesman.
Botka said the situation meets the state’s conditions for lethal removal of wolves, which are protected in eastern Washington by state endangered species laws. The pack is one of about a dozen wolf packs confirmed in eastern Washington.”
"CLEARWATER — In a dramatic shift in tone, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Friday unveiled updated plans for its new aquarium in downtown Clearwater.
The new design has a much heavier focus on the aquarium’s longtime mission of rescuing and rehabilitating marine mammals, and ultimately releasing them back into the wild.
Gone from the plans is a proposed stadium with 2,000 seats for tourists to take in dolphin shows. The updated plans feature dolphin habitats, mock turtle rescues and behind-the-scenes tours of animal operating rooms.
CMA also says its new facility will cost $68 million to build, a steep drop from the previous sticker price of $160 million.
This comes at a crucial time for the aquarium, with the Dolphin Tale movie sequel coming out in weeks, an upcoming bid for Pinellas County bed tax dollars, and a massive fundraising effort that’s just now getting off the ground.
Friday’s announcement came at the current aquarium, which has outgrown its location in a former sewage treatment plant in the Island Estates community near Clearwater Beach. Clearwater’s mayor and two previous mayors were in attendance, as well as a crowd of business and tourism officials.
Although no one in the room said so, the new aquarium’s shift in focus could help blunt any animal-rights criticism that gets aimed its way.
Orlando’s SeaWorld theme park is facing plunging stock prices and controversy over its killer whale shows in the wake of the 2013 documentary film Blackfish, which takes a highly critical look at the treatment of marine animals in parks like SeaWorld.”