Deep in the silent, still wood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, is a Christmas nativity scene erected by sisters Annette and Sue Amendola. The Amendolas have been building this festive tableau for the community every Christmas for last ten years. But, in the past few years, a pack of mewling, begrimed feral cats has moved in…
The newfound sea snail, or limpet, is from a group that specializes in feeding on the decaying beaks of squid, octopi, and their relatives, according to study leader Katrin Linse of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
Linse and a team of marine biologists from BAS and other institutions hauled up 5,469 specimens belonging to 275 species from the depths of the little-explored sea of the Southern Ocean during a 2008 research cruise.
That year, scientists on the RSS James Clark Rosstook advantage of the thin summer ice to get close to the edge of the ice shelf and bring up the thousands of specimens, including some newly discovered in Antarctic waters. At least 10 percent of all the species collected are new to science, and the figure is likely to rise, Linse said.
The above photo is of Apolemia lanosa a type of siphonophore belonging to phylum Cnidaria that also includes corals and jellies. It’s basically the ocean’s way of celebrating Christmas all year long. Like many other Cnidarians, siphonophores bud new individuals—exact clones themselves. In a manner similar to Christmas elves although this is not proven by science. In the case of some Cnidarians, the clones never leave home so family never has to travel for the holidays.
Basically, Santa’s reindeer if Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen were all budded from and genetically identical to Santa. In some Cnidarians, clones in the colony will specialize but among siphonophores the specialization is unrivaled. Clones will specialize for feeding, defense, locomotion or reproduction. The feeding clones catch food by tentacles equipped with cells that shoot out poisonous harpoons stinging and stunning their prey. In the most popular of all siphonophores, the Portuguese man o’ war, with a large gas filled buoyant bladder adapted for catching the wind and sailing.
Interestingly, all the clones are attached via a single digestive and circulatory system. Research is still needed on which clones are adapted for drinking eggnog, singing carols, and wrapping gifts…
The mystery of Ashmore Reef’s disappearing sea snakes
It’s far from people and industry, it’s protected under international convention, and yet one of the world’s richest sea snake communities has disappeared from Ashmore Reef.
by Ben Collins
When Dr Vimoksalehi Lukoschek started her research on the evolution of sea snakes she needed a location with plenty of animals to study. Ashmore Reef was an obvious choice. Lying about halfway between Australia’s Kimberley coast and East Timor, Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve was renowned for being a sea snake hot spot. Previous surveys had found high numbers of sea snakes of a huge variety, some not found anywhere else in the world.
But instead of studying sea snake evolution, Dr Lukoschek found that she was documenting the disappearance of one of Ashmore Reef’s natural wonders.
"In ‘73 there were up to 45 snakes seen per day and about eight or nine species. And then in 2002 when I was there we only saw 20 snakes a day and only four species. And in 2010 we saw a grand total of just 45 snakes over a ten day period, and essentially just one species. So the message, I guess, from that is that there’s been a massive and unprecedented decline in the diversity and abundance of sea snakes at Ashmore Reef," she says…
The state of Minnesota and the city of Oakland, Calif., are the latest governments to pass legislation that mandates bird-friendly building designs. Several other municipalities across the country have either passed legislation or produced voluntary guidelines.
As many as 1 billion birds die each year colliding with buildings; it’s one of the leading causes of bird mortality in the United States. Many people are unaware that birds are being killed at their windows because the victims are small, frequently fall behind shrubbery, and more often than not are eaten by predators…