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Nature

13 Jul

Massive School of Anchovy Swarm Southern California Coast

A massive school of anchovy swarmed the waters of the Pacific Ocean near Scripps Pier at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego in La Jolla, Calif., last week on July 8. The incredible event was witnessed by many marine enthusiasts and beach goers — many of whom took to the waters.

Watch the video below and see the amazing lava-lamp-like ebb and flow of the school of fish as curious swimmers approach and as they ride the current:

Researchers haven't seen an event like this in over 30 years and have no explanation for its occurrence.  The school consisted of millions — possibly even over a billion — of the fish, called the Northern anchovy.

The anchovy returned the next day, Wednesday, and many swimmers, snorkelers and surfers hit the waters to take full advantage of the rare opportunity to swim with the phenomenon.  See the Scripps YouTube playlist for more footage of the amazing event >>

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Photo: YouTube image 

The Northern anchovy is harvested off the West coast.  It is mostly used as bait by commercial fishermen.

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30 Jun

10 Things You Should Know about the Elephant Crisis

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R.I.P. mighty Satao. One of the largest and, arguably, most-loved elephants on the planet was recently killed for his massive tusks. According to The Tsavo Trust, 45 year-old Satao was shot dead by poisoned arrows May 30. His legendary tusks, which nearly touched the ground, were hacked off by poachers to feed what seems to be an insatiable demand for ivory across the globe.

For nearly five decades the iconic Satao thrilled tourists and evaded poachers in Tsavo East National Park. During that time he fathered many offspring. Some are still out there trying to avoid his fate. Whether or not they survive . . . is up to us. Here are 10 things to know about the elephant crisis.

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10 Things to Know

1. One elephant is killed every 15 minutes. 

2. Over 20,000 elephants were poached in 2013.

3. At the current rate they’ll be extinct in 20 years.

4. Violent conflict and ivory poaching are interconnected. Heavily armed crime cartels and militias use ivory funds to finance terrorism and wars in Africa.

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19 Jun

President To Expand Pacific Ocean Sanctuary, Here's Some of the Marine Life He Will Help Protect

President Obama announced a proposal earlier this week to expand marine sanctuaries of the Pacific Ocean, doubling the size of the currently protected oceans.

The plan would expand the protected region around the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, increasing the sanctuary from 87,000 to 782,000 square miles — an area twice the size of the state of Texas. The protection would limit fishing, drilling and other resource extraction or destruction, waste dumping and other commercial activities specifically directed at energy development.  The move would also require federal agencies to make moves toward combatting over-fishing, pollution and acidification of ocean waters.

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Photo: The island country of Kiribati is on average only seven feet above sea level. They are directly combatting the effects of climate change that may literally drown their nation in the coming decades. See the WashingtonPost.com Report >>

 

President George W. Bush established the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument as protected oceans on January 6, 2009. It includes a number of islands which you can find here >>

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6 Jun

PHOTOS: Bees: Up Close and Beautiful

Many probably think of bees as those pesky things that come around during picnics and manage to give everyone a good scare.  Sam Droege, a biologist at the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, however, gives everyone a chance to see these insects in a beautiful new light with his brilliant photographs.

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Photo Credit Sam Droege

Droege's role is to document many of the 4,000 species of bees that can be found here in North America.  From this information he is able to work with his colleagues to track fluctuations in different species’ populations.  The photographs are magnified to show the bees at up to five times their actual size according to Smithsonian.com.

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16 May

Jumping Crocodiles Offer Strong Reminder to Never Get in the Water Again

8rk74In further evidence supporting our decision to never enter the water again, this video of amazing crocodiles leaping majestically out of the water to catch some meat on a fishing line proves that these chomping beauties aren't creatures to be messed with.

The video, from Northern Territory, Australian Outback YouTube channel shows how you can get up close and personal with the crocodiles (in a safe, smart manner, of course). Check it out.

As for us? With all of our Monster Week research, we'll stick to dry land, thanks. Check out more reasons to never get back in the water - including this piranha whose teeth can bite through steel:

Tune in for a brand new Monster Week - starting THIS Sunday at 9PM E/P

(with specials premiering at 8PM E/P too!)

7 May

A Moment In Monster History: Meet The 10-Ton Sarcosuchus

Crocodiles can come in a variety of sizes, from as a small as a few feet, to as long at 18 feet. No matter what size they come in, there’s no denying the species is one of the most revered and respected in the wild.

But what if we told you there was once a predator bigger than the giant crocodiles we’ve seen recently in Uganda and the Philippines?

Meet the Sarcosuchus:

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Based on fossils and other research, scientists discovered that the Sarcosuchus weighed around 10 tons and had the strength to dominate other large predators, including dinosaurs. (Photo by Vassil)

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22 Apr

VIDEO: Google Glass – A News Lens for Conservation in Nepal

Contributed By Shubash Lohani, Deputy Director, Eastern Himalayas Program, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

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Last month, I wrote about Nepal’s tremendous feat of zero poaching of rhinos, tigers and elephants for an entire year. Today, we are at 429 days and counting…

The main reason Nepal has been so successful in curbing poaching within its borders, as I mentioned in my previous post, is the strong collaboration between the government, NGOs and local communities. Nepal is also at the forefront of using new technologies that have helped them achieve these kinds of conservation results. From satellite based GPS collaring to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to biogas stoves for rural families, Nepal has been a testing ground for cutting-edge innovations and ideas that could help turn the tide in favor of global conservation efforts.

Recently, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had the opportunity to take part in another tech “exploration” in Nepal. Selected to participate in Google’s Giving Through Glass program, we had the opportunity to brainstorm creative ways and test how Glass – Google’s wearable smart glasses – could help us do our work more efficiently in the field. While still early in the process, one thing we’ve been working on is a new Glass-specific app (“Glassware”) that could help field researchers take notes hands-free during rhino monitoring by recording information on a rhino’s condition, habitat, activity, location and other key data, and then uploading the information so that it can be easily shared among members of the research team. While the Glassware is still in beta phase and we’re still early in the process of testing it out, such a tool could be very helpful to field biologists and conservationists working to protect rhinos and other threatened species.

You can see Google Glass in action in this short video featuring my colleague Sabita Malla – senior research officer at WWF-Nepal – testing it in the field.

1 Apr

What’s Scarier Than Lions, Tigers and Bears? Life Without Them.

Remember that tourist video of a lion pride and a crocodile playing a deadly game of tug-of-war with a buffalo calf? Just when the lions seemed about to triumph the buffalo herd came charging to the rescue. If you’re like most people you cheered when the baby buffalo got up and staggered back to its herd. For some reason, we humans rarely root for the predator. But if we know what’s good for us, we better start.

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A recent study in the journal Science, "Status and Ecological Effects of the World's Largest Carnivores," finds that life without top predators is a scary prospect for the planet—and us. 31 carnivore species weighing over 15 kilograms were analyzed. After reviewing over 100 different surveys the authors conclude that losing predators from ecosystems causes those ecosystems to unravel. The effects range from an increase in pest animals, wildfires and diseases, loss of beneficial species, rivers changing courses, desertification and speeding up of climate change, to name just a few.

Sylvester.RGB.altIn contrast, the environmental and economic benefits these ecosystem engineers provide runs the gamut—from mountain lions who keep mule deer in check allowing plants and trees to grow to sea otters who’s appetite for sea urchins protects kelp beds and the productivity of coastal areas. Even with all our technology we humans cannot duplicate the ecological services these predators provide for FREE 24/7/365 days a year.

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5 Mar

Amazing Video! Migration of Dolphin Mega Pod Filmed By Flying Drone

WHOA! Check out some pretty spectacular footage of of a mega dolphin pod off the coast of Dana Point, Calif.

Tour boat captain Dave Anderson captured the amazing video using a drone outfitted with a GoPro camera. The footage also includes three gray whales migrating south toward San Clemente, Calif. Keep your eyes peeled for an adorable baby whale calf snuggling up to mama on their journey! Watch now:

Here's a messaege from the captain to take note, also posted with the original YouTube video:

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28 Feb

USDA Launches $3 Million Bee-Friendly Initiative

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© Monty Rakusen

Honeybees are important little insects when it comes to making our food. So why do we pay little attention when it comes to their food supply?

For a decade, habitat loss, pesticide use, and a mysterious phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder have all contributed to a staggering decline in bee populations. In its continued effort to reverse this trend, The U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend $3 million to provide new food sources to sustain the nation’s remaining honeybees.

The USDA’s latest approach to solving the honeybee crisis is unique because it focuses on the quality of bees’ food, not just the quantity. According to The Associated Press, the money will be used by farmers in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas to plant crops that will healthily sustain bee populations, like alfalfa and clover. As opposed to diet supplements like high-fructose corn syrup, these crops will provide nutritious nectar and create healthier habitats for bees.

Although the funding for this program is limited, the USDA hopes to see a big return on its investment--these five states alone host 65 percent of the nation’s commercial hives over the course of a year.

Do you think that this $3 million initiative will pay off for the bees? Let us know in the comments below!

Take The Ultimate Bee Colony Collapse Disorder Quiz to find out more about the honeybee crisis!

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Welcome to the Bites @ Animal Planet, where you can connect with the people who bring Animal Planet to life. Find out what's in the works here at Animal Planet, share your feedback with the team and see what's getting our attention online and in the news.

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