Category : Animals

(World) Scientists discover that Butterflies are more efficiently designed than they realized

For decades, scientists unfairly maligned the humble butterfly as an inefficient creature. Now, with the help of a wind tunnel, scientists in Sweden are proving the opposite is true.

In the early 1970s scientists first noticed the insect claps its wings during flight. At first, the discovery seemed to help cement the creature’s reputation as a clumsy flier. But Swedish scientists on Jan. 20 published a paper in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface showing slapping its wings at the top of the upstroke helps the butterfly produce forward thrust by capturing a pocket of air and jetting it backwards. The discovery demonstrates that, far from being inefficient flyers, butterflies are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Biologists Christoffer Johansson and Per Henningsson of Sweden’s Lund University began by catching six silver-washed fritillary butterflies in a meadow near their Stensoffa, Sweden, field station. The pair of scientists hoped to use a wind tunnel to monitor how the butterflies use their flexible wings to create thrust and lift. But in order to study butterfly aerodynamics, the team needed to see the air interacting with the insects’ wings. By releasing visible gas called a tracer into the wind tunnel, the team could observe the butterflies creating vortices or even capturing pockets of air with their wing flaps. “When the wings clap together at the end of upstroke the air between the wings is pressed out, creating a jet, pushing the animal in the opposite direction,” the scientists wrote in their report.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Science & Technology

Tuesday Mental Health Break–Life is Better when you watch Pandas in the Snow

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

([London] Times) Rise of funerals to give pets a fitting farewell

More and more Britons intend to give their pets an individual send-off, according to the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria. It noted a 10-15 per cent increase last year in owners requesting cremations at a time when, because of Covid-19, people have spent more time with their pets.

Owners spend up to £400 for a service and an animal-shaped urn. This contrasts with the service provided by vets, where remains, which are classed as waste, are typically sent to a third party to be cremated en masse for a fee of about £50.

Vicars and spiritual leaders may also be called upon to help grieving owners who choose to go to pet crematoriums. “Sometimes people contact me for a conversation, while others prefer a full order of service,” says Ms Hellings, whose parish covers Crondall and Ewshot in Hampshire. “It’s such a privilege to help owners who are feeling sad. My job isn’t to tell people what to think.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * General Interest, Animals, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Religion & Culture

A Wonderful NY Times Article–Infrared Drones, Search Parties and a Lasso: Chasing a Runaway Llama

But there she was on Wednesday, speeding from the North Castle Town Hall in Armonk, N.Y., to the police station in Mt. Kisco, the footwells of her Toyota scattered with spilled llama treats, passing out bushels of fliers: “LOST LLAMA,” one read. “Try not to scare him.”

“Gizmo,” she said aloud, as if a missing llama roving the hills of Bedford Corners, a wealthy, equestrian pocket of Westchester County, could hear her. “Where are you?”

Word of the weekslong hunt for Gizmo, the 7-year-old llama who absconded on Dec. 13, had already ricocheted around the town, the state and far beyond. Prayers and tips poured in from people who knew neither Ms. Heimann nor the first thing about pack animals. But a llama was on the loose, and it had captured the public’s imagination.

As the days stretched into llama-less weeks and concern grew, Ms. Heimann’s increasingly desperate Facebook posts morphed into calls for llama search parties.

Tipsters from around the region began calling her at all hours. Someone sent pictures of a llama — a different llama, safe in its paddock. Someone else sent a photo of “llama” dung that turned out to be the leavings of a deer. Complete strangers took to the hills and dales between the mansions and horse estates of the surrounding towns to find Gizmo. One caller said she had located him — with her psychic.

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

(Nature) Can dogs smell COVID? Here’s what the science says

A group in France, led by veterinary scientist Dominique Grandjean at the National Veterinary School of Alfort near Paris, posted its work3 on the preprint server bioRxiv in June. The researchers, who included Sarkis, trained 8 dogs to detect COVID-19 in 198 sweat samples, around half of which were from people with the disease. When these were hidden in a row of negative samples, the dogs identified the positive samples 83–100% of the time. The paper does not say how well the dogs identified negative test results. The research is now under review at a journal, but Grandjean says the process has not been easy. “To publish papers on detection dogs is very difficult because most reviewers do not know anything about working dogs,” he says.

The data in that study look promising, says Fyodor Urnov, a gene-editing scientist who is working on COVID testing at the University of California, Berkeley. But he would like to see larger data sets on how well dogs identify positive and negative samples. He also notes that there is variation in how well individual dogs perform. In Grandjean’s study, for example, 2 dogs identified 68 out of 68 positive samples, whereas one missed 10 out of 57 cases.

Groups need to boost their sample sizes before the wider scientific community can evaluate how useful the dogs might be, agrees James Logan, an infectious-disease researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who is training and studying COVID-19 dogs, including Storm, Maple and Asher. “It’s important not to go out too early with grand claims and small data sets,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(NBC) A Boy and a Puppy Bond Through a Similar Struggle

‘At just two years old, Bentley Boyers has undergone two surgeries after being born with a cleft lip. His family recently adopted a puppy with a cleft lip, and they’ve formed a special connection.’

Watch it all.

Posted in Animals, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(NYT) Doing the Bump With the Belugas in Manitoba

Beneath the waves, two smoldering coals for eyes watched me with an intense, unyielding stare. Pristine white bodies floated up elegantly from the depths, one after another, surrounding my kayak in the open water. Their ghostly pale faces with wide, Joker-esque smiles pushed closer. A long, powerful sound burst up through the air, like a slowly deflating balloon, followed by silence and more expectant staring.

I was having a one-sided conversation with a pod of curious beluga whales. The mouth of Churchill River in northern Manitoba, Canada, was calm and quiet on this chilly, overcast July day, but these bright white whales were not. Belugas, nicknamed “the canaries of the sea” thanks to their song-like sounds, are social, playful and highly communicative. They repeated their shrieks and tunes, floating around me in anticipatory silence. There was only one thing left to do: sing along.

In response, raucous clicks and squeals drifted upward out of the dark water, like someone tapping on a microphone for attention, broken by steady streams of blowhole bubbles. I got the distinct feeling that I was being discussed.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Canada

A Warm Happy national Puppy Day to all Blog readers!

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

(Local Paper) Sea turtles nesting earlier in South Carolina and Southeast as climate change takes hold

“Turtles keep you guessing,” she said. “What’s more shocking is since that nest we’re seen five more.”

The early nestings have bad and good implications for sea turtle nesting in South Carolina and across the Southeast. Loggerheads, which lay most of the eggs here, are also nesting earlier.

The phenomenon is likely one more sign that warmer seas and sands are becoming one more threat to the declining species.

But it might mean the ancient turtles themselves are adapting — again — to a changing climate.

Far more of the eggs that are laid in warmer sands emerge as females, disrupting the gender balance needed to reproduce. The trend has worried biologists for the turtles’ future. The turtles, metabolically if not instinctively, might just be looking for cooler sands. The shift in nesting season is occurring along with an apparent northward shift in range.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Animals, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

(CTV) ‘Extremely rare’ sighting of a lynx litter caught on camera by Hydro worker

A Manitoba Hydro worker stumbled across an “extremely rare” sight while traveling the highways in rural Manitoba – a mother lynx and her litter.

Sean Kirchmann, a Hydro employee, was on his way to Grand Rapids, Man., when he noticed some small feline heads poking out of the trees near the highway.

“One by one, the mother came out followed by her kittens, gingerly crossing through the ditch and then at the side of the road,” said Bruce Owen, the spokesperson for Manitoba Hydro.

Read it all and do NOT miss the video.

Posted in Animals, Canada, Photos/Photography

(Church Times) Locust plague in East Africa prompts plea for help

Aa parts of East Africa face the worst plague of locusts for decades, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has made a plea for international help. It described the situation as “unprecedented” and “devastating”.

At the same time, the Christian relief and development agency Tearfund, which works with hundreds of rural self-help groups in the region, has urged people to pray for an end to the crisis.

In Kenya, the insect swarms are the worst for 70 years, destroying staple food supplies and farmers’ livelihoods. In Somalia, where the invasion is the worst for a quarter of a century, a state of national emergency has been declared. This week, locusts were reported to have reached Uganda. Tanzania and South Sudan have been added to a watch list.

In Ethiopia, the influx is the worst for 25 years. Tearfund’s Emergency Officer, Tewodros Ketsela, said: “The region is already struggling after several poor harvests, due to either drought or excess rain. As such, farmers are particularly vulnerable to this new threat. Anyone who is fortunate enough to have food reserves will have to use them up earlier than expected.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Animals, Dieting/Food/Nutrition

Sunday Afternoon Encouragement–(NBC) Beer can leads to Minnesota woman reuniting with missing dog after 3 years

A Minnesota woman was reunited with her dog, Hazel, this week after spotting her missing pet’s picture on a Florida brewery’s beer can.

The road back together for Monica Mathis, 33, and Hazel began last month when Mathis was scrolling through Facebook and saw a picture of a dog that looked familiar. It was Hazel, her mixed breed that had been missing for three years.

What Mathis had hit upon was a label posted on Facebook from Motorworks Brewing, of Bradenton, Florida, which featured four adoptable dogs, including Hazel. Proceeds from sales of the cans were destined for a fund to build a new county animal shelter.

Read it all or watch the video below (highly recommended).

Posted in Animals, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Corporations/Corporate Life, Marriage & Family, Media

Friday Mental Health break–(NBC) Airport Pig Spreads Holiday Cheer In San Francisco

Posted in Animals, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Travel

The Latest Picture of the Harmon’s new Puppy Luka

Posted in * By Kendall, Animals, Harmon Family, Photos/Photography

(NPR) The Gulf Of Maine Is Warming, And Its Whales Are Disappearing

Each summer for the last two decades, Jim Parker has readied his small whale watch boat, and made a business out of ferrying tourists out into the cool blue waters of the Gulf of Maine.

For years, it was steady work. The basin brimmed with species that whales commonly feed on, making it a natural foraging ground for the aquatic giants. Whales would cluster at certain spots in the gulf, providing a reliable display for enchanted visitors to the coastal community of Milbridge, Maine.

But lately, the whales have been harder and harder to find. Waters in the gulf have been warming, sending the whales’ food supply searching for cooler temperatures. The whales have gone with them. Some days this summer, Parker says he didn’t spot a single one. Business fell 20%, forcing him to cut his season short.

To help make ends meet, he’s been leading nature tours instead of whale watching expeditions. It’s gotten so bad, Parker says, that he and his partner have considered moving away from whale watching.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Ethics / Moral Theology

The Golden Retriever Puppy is Getting Bigger!

Posted in Animals, Harmon Family, Photos/Photography

A New Male Golden Retriever Puppy for the Harmons!

Posted in Animals, Harmon Family, Photos/Photography

Monday Night Inspiration–Stay in the Game

On his own in Costa Rica, Max had figured out how to get Chica into the US, and convinced someone at American Airlines to let her fly on his lap, because they wouldn’t let dogs fly in the hold due to the heat. Thereafter, he and Chica settled in to their little apartment downtown near the White River canal, and each of them began their new life, together. Max had saved Chica. And Chica had saved Max.

One afternoon three months later, when Max was walking Chica, she saw something she hadn’t seen in Costa Rica. It was a squirrel, and before Max could stop her, Chica chased that squirrel straight out onto Indiana Avenue. Right in front of a speeding car.

The car ran over Chica. My son screamed. In that brief moment everything that Max had worked for, everything he had overcome, everything that he was living for, was gone.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Young Adults

Blue Lobster Found in Cape Cod Restaurant Shipment

A Cape Cod restaurant saw a rare sight Monday when it received a brilliantly blue lobster as part of a shipment.

Nathan Nickerson, owner of Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar in Eastham, received the colorful crustacean in a batch order from Ipswich Shellfish Group.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals

(NBC) Aspiring Doctors Learn At The Zoo In Unique Medical School Program

“A unique program at Harvard Medical School sends aspiring doctors of human medicine to Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo, where they learn to treat lemurs, frogs and other animals. The goal: to learn how our worlds interact and improve care for all.” Watch the whole thing.

Posted in Animals, Education, Health & Medicine

(ESPN) A Terrific story on the Boston Red Sox Groundskeeper and his Service Dog for Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted in Animals, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Sports, Travel

(Local Paper front page) South Carolina’s treasured dolphins tangle with human threats. Their future is uncertain.

That leaping dolphin, one of the most beloved animals of the South Carolina coast, might be dying off in front of our eyes.

Nobody knows how many are really out there. More dolphins are dying tangled up in yards of crab pot lines and other marine gear. They are backing away from their usual behaviors as beachgoers and boaters crowd them.

The local population of the sea mammals is smaller than many people realize. Some people think the waters around Charleston are home to thousands of dolphins, said Lauren Rust of the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network.

But the last survey by a federal team was done more than a decade ago, in 2008. It found only 350 living in Charleston area waters.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Animals, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Stewardship

(WSJ) Climate Change Drives Fish Into New Waters, Remaking an Industry

The fish are moving, and so is an entire industry.

Aboard the Stanley K and the Oracle, two 58-foot vessels, Buck Laukitis and his crews chase halibut across the Bering Sea worth $5 a pound at the docks. As sea temperatures rise and Arctic ice retreats, the fish appear to be avoiding warming waters, migrating northward where they cost more to reach, federal fisheries biologists say.

Twice this past fall, the Oracle sailed 800 miles north from the seaport of Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, before finding the halibut that a decade ago lived several hundred miles closer to home. Each voyage took twice as long and yielded half as many fish.

“It keeps me up at night,” he says. “I woke up at three in the morning. I couldn’t sleep thinking about where the fish are going.”

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Climate Change, Weather, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

Thursday Mental Health Break–A soldier’s beloved dog greets her upon her return

Posted in Animals, Military / Armed Forces

From the Morning Sermon–The Stunning True Story of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, Mercy, Memory, and Thanksgiving


 

About sunset, it happened every Friday evening on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast. You could see an old man walking, white-haired, bushy eye-browed, slightly bent.

One gnarled hand would be gripping the handle of a pail, a large bucket filled with shrimp. There on a broken pier, reddened by the setting sun, the weekly ritual would be re-enacted.

At once, the silent twilight sky would become a mass of dancing dots…growing larger. In the distance, screeching calls would become louder.

They were seagulls, come from nowhere on the same pilgrimage”¦ to meet an old man.
For half an hour or so, the gentleman would stand on the pier, surrounded by fluttering white, till his pail of shrimp was empty. But the gulls would linger for a while. Perhaps one would perch comfortably on the old man’s hat”¦and a certain day gone by would gently come to his mind.

Eventually, all the old man’s days were past. If the gulls still returned to that spot”¦ perhaps on a Friday evening at sunset, it is not for food”¦ but to pay homage to the secret they shared with a gentle stranger.

And that secret is THE REST OF THE STORY.

Anyone who remembers October of 1942 remembers the day it was reported that Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was lost at sea.

Captain Eddie’s mission had been to deliver a message of the utmost importance to General Douglas MacArthur.

But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life. . Somewhere over the South Pacific, the flying fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, and the men ditched their plane in the ocean.

The B-17 stayed afloat just long enough for all aboard to get out. . Then, slowly, the tail of the flying fortress swung up and poised for a split second”¦ and the ship went down leaving eight men and three rafts”¦ and the horizon.

For nearly a month, Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun.

They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. Their largest raft was nine by five”¦ the biggest shark ten feet long.

But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred.

In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” that was B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off.”
Now this is still Captain Rickenbacker talking”¦ Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a seagull. I don’t know how I knew; I just knew.
“Everyone else knew, too. No one said a word. But peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at the gull. The gull meant food”¦ if I could catch it.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten; its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.

You know that Captain Eddie made it.

And now you also know…that he never forgot.
Because every Friday evening, about sunset…on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast…you could see an old man walking…white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent.

His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls…to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle…like manna in the wilderness.

Paul Harvey’s the Rest of the Story (Bantam Books, 1997 Mass paperback ed. of the 1977 Doubleday original), pp. 170-172

Posted in Animals, Death / Burial / Funerals, Soteriology

The Joy of Reading

Posted in * By Kendall, Animals, Books, Harmon Family

(PAW) Exploring the Ecological Cost of War

In the Nature study, they found that between 1946 and 2010, conflict had occurred in 71 percent of protected areas in Africa. During that time, animal populations in conflict-free areas were roughly stable. As conflict levels increased, however, wildlife populations fell dramatically. To quantify this, the researchers calculated the frequency of conflict in each location and compared it with corresponding wildlife populations. Even one outbreak of violence every 20 to 50 years could push animal populations into decline. Every 10 percent increment in conflict frequency added another 2 percent to the annual rate of wildlife population decline — meaning the longer conflicts went on, the greater the effect.

“Even a small amount of conflict can be severely destabilizing to locals’ livelihoods, in ways that end up having detectable negative effects on wildlife,” [Robert] Pringle says. The researchers examined other factors, such as climate change, drought, corruption, and socioeconomic welfare, and no other factor came close to having the same effect.

On the other hand, even in areas with the most conflict, wildlife populations rarely went extinct, they found. That’s consistent with the idea that populations declined due to poaching, rather than wholesale habitat destruction. That fact offers some hope for even the continent’s most severely affected areas, implying that when the conflicts subside, the remaining animals can seed new populations. “Governments and conservation areas shouldn’t give up on these post-conflict landscapes as totally lost,” says [Joshua] Daskin.

In fact, adds Pringle, restoring them can help rebuild the country in more ways than one….

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Animals, Defense, National Security, Military, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Violence

Great local story–South Carolina’s sea turtles have an army of volunteers on their side

The sun isn’t up yet and raking machines are sifting piles of seaweed out of the sand, but Lorna Sheets and Penny Verbos are still eager to get to the beach.

The two women are members of the North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol, an all-volunteer group that scours 4 miles of the shore every morning for signs of a sea turtle nest or stranded animal. They walk a 1-mile section every Tuesday morning starting around 6 a.m. from May to mid-August — nesting and hatching season — to try to flag nests before they can be trampled or otherwise disturbed.

Both women are retired nurses and neighbors that live just a few blocks away from their designated starting point at Main Street. Both joined the patrol for the first time this year. They bought themselves matching leggings, with turtles printed on them, to celebrate.

“We’re excited. We want to find a nest,” Verbos said.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, South Carolina

Friday Morning Mental Health Break–People Versus Birds

Posted in Animals, Humor / Trivia, Photos/Photography

Temah Harmon RIP

Posted in Animals, Harmon Family