Flights were delayed at New York’s JFK airport on Wednesday for a rather unique problem…150 diamondback terrapins were crossing the runway! The reptiles were on their way to their breeding ground, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge which lies next to the airport. Flights were only delayed for around 15 minutes as the airport staff ran out to the runway to help them on their way.
Archive for June, 2011
With all the sad recent news of two police dogs being found dead in a locked car on the hottest day of the year, the RSPCA have some excellent advice on how to look after your pet in this hot weather. Even in moderately warm weather, around 22 degrees, the temperature inside a locked car can quickly reach 47 degrees within an hour. If you see a dog locked in a car, people are advised to ring 999.
Good news for the endangered Tasmanian Devil, scientists are hoping that mapping the animal’s genetics will help win the battle against the devastating facial cancer that is wiping out the species. The world’s largest carnivorous marsupial has been battling the disease since the 1990s…but unlike human cancers, it is highly contagious acting like a virus and can be passed by simply two animals touching. The disease kills the animal within 9 weeks and scientists estimate the whole species will be wiped out without human intervention. Scientists are hoping discovering which animals are genetically best to preserve will help the species survive.
Having come face to face with these small but very noisy creatures I hope something can be done to save them. Incredibly, although they are only the size of a dog, weighing around 7kg, they have the strongest bite per unit mass of any living mammal…or as the guide I met says, their teeth can shatter a cow’s skull!
Photo : PA
When we asked Sir David Attenborough if he thought there was still life out there to be discovered I don’t think either of us expected so many to be found recently in just one area! The WWF have been working on the Frontier Report, which shows that over the last ten years an incredible 1,060 previously unknown species have been found on the island.
This brightly coloured bird is the wattled smoky honeyeater…others include a frog with fangs, a tree kangaroo and 2.5 metre long river shark. It’s thought the relatively low human population of the area has aided the vast variety of wildlife though now illegal logging is stripping the island’s forests.
Photo : WWF
After the success of last year’s competition, this year there are ten more threatened British species who need a name. They all have scientific names…but don’t have a less tongue-twister common name which might help endear them to the public in their fight against becoming endangered.
Last year brought us such wildlife as the Queen’s executioner beetle and the sea piglet shrimp. Go to the Guardian’s website for the ten species and see if you can give a name to these beautiful species!
Photo : Libor Hudík/Natural England
An update on the lost penguin found in New Zealand…after concerns he had become lethargic from mistakenly eating sand believing it to be snow, Wellington Zoo are now caring for the bird. The penguin has already undergone two operations to pump the sand from its stomach and faces another. His new nickname stems from the children’s film, Happy Feet. Also, he may have found a way home after a kindly businessman leading an expedition to Antarctica next year has offered him a lift!
Photo : AP
Scientists have found that pigeons recognise ‘friendly faces’ who are much more likely to feed them and gravitate towards them…instead of wasting time on the people who are likely to just chase them away!
Up to 28 million pigeons live in Europe, with the majority in urban areas surrounded by humans who provide the majority of their food. In an experiment, the birds quickly learnt to differentiate between a ‘friendly’ feeder and an ‘agressive’ one who would chase the birds away, even when they swapped coats! This implies the pigeons are using distinctive human characteristics to tell the people apart.
With all the current issues about badgers in the UK at the moment, here’s some great news from the Secret World, an animal sanctuary for sick, injured or orphaned wildlife. In this video, you can meet some of their current inmates, some rather boisterous baby badgers being hand reared. These animals can grow up to 10kg and 1 metre long, and as the video shows, they aren’t too fussy about what they eat!
One poor Emperor penguin has turned up in sunny New Zealand believed to have drifted off course when fishing for krill. It’s the first time in 44 years one has been found on the island. The youngster is believed to be only 10 months old and only 80cm high (adults can grow to 122cm). Despite everything the penguin appears in fairly good health with a reasonable fat deposit so scientists are hoping the wayward bird will figure out its own way home. The penguin has been seen eating sand possibly believing it to be snow which it would normally eat to take in liquid.
Photo : Richard Gill/Department of Conservation/EPA
Worrying news with scientists finding a mass extinction in the world’s oceans ‘inevitable’ if current trends continue. It’s not just the well-publicised overfishing that is causing the problem; pollution, fertilisers and seawater becoming more acidic due to the increase in carbon dioxide. Overfishing alone has reduced some fish populations by 90%, plus many sealife are killed or injured by plastic waste dumped at sea. With two-thirds of the planet covered in water it’s vital we help save our blue planet’s sealife.