Treats on the Internets

North Atlantic right whales, a species of just 356 known animals, are on the decline (again) due to climate change:

An analysis of data on plankton, oceanic conditions and whale sightings, published Wednesday in the journal Oceanography, showed that the whales abandoned their traditional feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine in 2010, the same year that warming water caused the fatty crustaceans they eat to plummet in the area.

Many of the whales eventually followed their food north to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but the protections from fishing gear and ships that had safeguarded them in their previous habitat did not exist in their new one. Entanglement in gear is the leading cause of death for North Atlantic right whales, followed by collisions with vessels.

The lack of food has led to a decrease in whale births and an increase in deaths.

A town on the coast of Tuscany was losing its native sea animals to poachers. Fish and crustacean populations had been declining for years and lobsters had been gone for decades. Six years ago, a fisherman came up with an idea: drop dozens of enormous stone sculptures into the bay to tangle the nets from illegal trawlers and thus deter illegal dredging. It worked. Fish, jellyfish, anemones and lobsters are all back – and there’s a resident pod of dolphins.

(Stock photo via Pexels)

Everything in nature is connected, even fish and trees:

Fish from rivers with healthy floodplains thrive, while those in rivers without a healthy floodplain merely survive.

The connection between thriving fish, healthy rivers, and functioning floodplains? Trees.

Trees at the river’s edge perform an array of functions that keep ecosystems healthy including providing shade to help cool the water temperature. And:

Fallen leaves, limbs, and branches support the food web by providing food and habitat for the bugs that are in turn food for fish. 

The author suggests that urban riverfront parks should include as many trees as feasible for the benefit of all living organisms, including people.

The Colorado River, a significant source of fresh water for millions of Americans, is quickly drying up due to the worsening climate crisis. Hard choices may have to be made by residents, including farmers, in the region, although there could be a simple solution:

A majority of the water used by farms — and thus much of the river — goes to growing nonessential crops like alfalfa and other grasses that feed cattle for meat production. Much of those grasses are also exported to feed animals in the Middle East and Asia. Short of regulating which types of crops are allowed, which state authorities may not even have the authority to do, it may fall to consumers to drive change. Water usage data suggests that if Americans avoid meat one day each week they could save an amount of water equivalent to the entire flow of the Colorado each year, more than enough water to alleviate the region’s shortages.

And lastly, a story on dry land:

Researchers in Peru spotted a real life Paddington bear – more accurately a spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) with golden fur. Spectacled bears, an endangered and elusive species about which little is known, normally have black fur. Determining the reason the one bear’s fur is golden would require additional study.

(Image via Amazon)

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