More Than 130 Whales Dead After West African Mass Stranding Event

At least 136 melon-headed whales are dead after a mass stranding event off the coast of western Africa last week, according to environmental conservation non-profit BIOS.CV.

Dozens of volunteers from local agencies assisted in relocating a total of 163 adult, juvenile, and calf whales back into the water after they were discovered on September 24 on the island of Boa Vista.

“Unfortunately, upon being re-introduced in the sea, most of the animals stranded again,” wrote the organization in a Facebook post.

Officials are working to bury the individuals to “prevent any environmental and public health hazards,” said BIOS.CV in an update posted on September 26. Samples were taken from 50 of the whales and another four individuals were frozen for future examination by veterinarians.

Though the International Union for Conservation of Nature considers melon-headed whales a species of least concern, the toothed cetaceans are threatened by a number of concerns including habitat changes from climate change, ocean noise, and fisheries bycatch. Closely related to pygmy sperm whales and false killer whales, Peponocephala electra are often found in deep tropical waters around the globe, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They typically live together in groups of hundreds to over 1,000 individuals.

Researchers are still unclear as to what caused the whales to beach themselves.

 

In recent years, a number of mass stranding events have occurred around the world. Last November saw several events, including two pods of pilot whales, totaling 145 individuals, dead after stranding on New Zealand shores. Just three days later, a humpback whale and 27 pilot whales were found beached in Australia. Earlier this year, at least 50 pilot whales were found dead on a remote beach in Iceland after possibly becoming caught in a strong tidal current that prevented them from reaching deeper waters. Since the beginning of 2019, at least 70 gray whales have washed up along the west coast of North America, from Alaska southward to Mexico – so many that NOAA has run out of space to bury decomposing carcasses. 

Mass mortality events and whale strandings are becoming more common than before and the reason why is unclear. This could in part be due to the fact that protections in the last few decades have increased whale populations in waters around the world. However, it could be due to external factors such as disease or extreme weather. Cetaceans may also become stranded after being chased into shallower waters by predators or when chasing prey, increasing the likelihood that they become disoriented and caught by a retreating tide. Furthermore, studies have suggested that naval sonar could impact whales’ ability to navigate via echolocation, perhaps even giving them decompression sickness.

Even after human intervention, many whales die from dehydration and can drown if the tide rises over their blowholes.

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A biker group’s kindness, a great Disney idea and a very lucky monkey

A biker group's kindness

(CNN)Hey morning people, I have a question: Um, how do you do it? How do you start the day with smiles and birdsong and a piping hot cup of coffee and not, you know, curse words and five alarm snoozes? My theory is, morning people are born and not made. However, experts say there are some things you can do to kickstart your mushy morning brain: Splash some cold water on your face, caffeinate slowly, make sure to get a little sunshine as soon as possible and, if you can, try to get outside for a brisk walk. My suggestion? Wake up at noon and avoid mornings altogether! Oh, if only.

Get going with some of our most popular good news stories of the week
a great Disney idea and a very lucky monkey - CNN
What goes around comes around
    Buckle up, because this one’s a great ride: In September 2018, Daryn Sturch and her daughter Bryanne came across a bad accident involving several motorcyclists with the Milwaukee Iron Biker Group. Sturch is a nurse in Chili, Indiana, and obviously felt compelled to stop and treat them. Some of the bikers were critically injured, and after she left the scene Sturch reached out to the group on Facebook to check up on them. To her relief, all of the injured bikers survived. The unfortunate incident kicked off a nice little friendship. Sturch says some of the bikers would check in occasionally on Facebook and offer her support or a kind word. Fast forward to this month: Sturch’s daughter Bryanne had planned a lemonade stand, but it got rained out. Some of Sturch’s biker friends suggested she reschedule for the next week, when the group would be in town. When the day of the lemonade stand came, Sturch and her family were overwhelmed: 30 bikers showed up to support Bryanne, including some Sturch had treated at the accident. Needless to say, it was definitely a waterproof mascara kind of day. “I think it’s a perfect example of how just because you don’t look the same way or dress the same way or have the same hobbies or interests doesn’t mean we don’t have the same core values inside us,” Sturch said. “We shouldn’t make assumptions about people, we should just love each other.”
    news
    A once-in-a-Millennium moment
    When a group of special-needs adults in Louisville, Kentucky, made a video of themselves lip-syncing to a Backstreet Boys song, their infectious joy captured the hearts of the internet. That alone is Good Stuff worthy, but then something even cooler happened: The Backstreet Boys saw the video, too, and arranged to meet the group before a tour stop in Louisville. When the big day came, 12 members of the group attended the concert and spent time with the boy band singing, taking photos and rocking out to a BSB dance party. Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson even recorded a heartfelt video message for the performers. “The passion, the joy, the soul that you put in that video was inspiring,” he said.
    us
    I’m gonna stop talking now and just show you another amazing photo from their meet and greet, because that’s where the real story is.
    A biker group's kindness
    This takes the cake
    An officer with a cake baking hobby helped put together a magical birthday for a 13-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. Now that’s multi-talented! Lt. Brandy Forman of the Smyrna Police Department volunteers with a nonprofit, Icing Smiles, that provides custom cakes for families with ill children. The Clinner family had requested a cake for their son, Tye, who was turning 13 and was about to embark on a special trip to Disney World. Tye has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk or sit up on his own, but his mom says he lights up any time someone mentions anything Disney. After hearing his story, Forman told CNN she knew she could help with “way more than a cake.” Her department coordinated a surprise party for Tye complete with pizza, wings and his own officer shirt. They even invited the community to join in, and a few other Atlanta-area police departments brought some police cars around for local children to check out during the celebration. Oh, and of course, the cake was gorgeous. “If you have the opportunity to do something good for someone else, do it,” Forman said.

    Raise a glass to…

    a great Disney idea and a very lucky monkey - CNN
    Kodi Lee, the newly-crowned winner of Season 14 of America’s Got Talent! Lee, 22, is a gifted singer and pianist who blew the judges away from the very start with his rendition of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You.” He’s blind and has autism, and his mom says being able to express himself musically has helped him deal with a world that is often hard on people with disabilities. “Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world,” she said. “Because when you’re autistic, it’s really hard to do what everyone else does. It actually has saved his life, playing music.”

    A bright idea

    news
    We have a double dose of Disney this week! The big Mouse has rolled out the Disney Bedtime Hotline again for a limited time. The phone service allows kids to receive a special bedtime message from their favorite Disney character (with help from their parents, of course). It goes like this: The characters detail their day, talk about how ready they are for bedtime, then playfully suggest the child on the phone get ready for bed, too. So, if your best Serious Parent voice can’t get them under the covers, maybe Anna and Elsa can give a much-needed assist. No long-distance fees to Arendelle required!

    You gotta see this

    us
    A lost toy monkey got the royal treatment at Buckingham Palace recently, and there are photos to prove it! Savannah Hart, a 5-year-old student at Woodside Preschool in south Australia, accidentally forgot Harriet, one of her school’s traveling stuffed monkeys, during a tour of the palace. (Harriet is an excellent monkey name, by the way.) Once she was back home, Savannah and her preschool classmates sent a letter asking for Harriet’s safe return. Sure enough, the preschool heard via email that Buckingham Palace staff had found the toy monkey. They said she had been busy eating scones and promised to send her back after photographing her at work around the palace. Okay, Harriet HAS to be the most interesting stuffed monkey in the world now.

    Heroes among us

    A biker group's kindness
    “No charge for this lady under any circumstances.” That was a note left by plumber James Anderson on a bill for a 91-year-old woman with leukemia who needed her boiler replaced. Anderson says the woman, who is receiving palliative care, will have round-the-clock plumbing help if she needs it, and free services for life. Anderson of Burnley, Lancashire turned his plumbing business, DEPHER, into a community project for vulnerable people after he saw an elderly man being “manipulated” by another engineer in the area. Since then, he’s helped thousands of people with their plumbing needs at a reduced or waived cost — even when the work leaves him with a loss. “We need to do something more to help the people who need it most,” Anderson said. The daughter of the 91-year-old woman he helped described Anderson as an “angel dressed as a plumber,” which is just another way of saying he’s a straight-up hero.

    Wanna get away?

    a great Disney idea and a very lucky monkey - CNN
    Looking for your next big trip in 2020? Why not Africa? CNN Travel has put together 30 of the continent’s most breathtaking destinations, any of which could easily reach trip-of-a-lifetime status. Of all the scenic views, this one from the Lekki Conservation Centre in Lagos, Nigeria, really speaks to me. What’s just beyond this lush, curving boardwalk path? Probably more lush, curving boardwalk path, and we’re totally okay with that.

    Tell us something good

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    Macon, GA
    After seeing the destruction Hurricane Dorian wrought on the Bahamas, Rikki Kahley turned her bachelorette party to Nassau into a relief trip. Originally, the 24-year-old was going to cancel and even offered to donate the group’s hotel rooms to local families in need but was moved when the resort’s receptionist got emotional about how much tourism business the area was losing. So Kahley and her sister Chloe put out a call for donations and started collecting donated baby wipes, diapers, food, clothes, toys, books and water filtration tools. By the time they boarded the flight to the Bahamas, they had 37 suitcases full of supplies. (Delta Air Lines waived the extra baggage fees.) “Our experience was great. We enjoyed all the Bahamian people we encountered, heard lots of stories about their families and how the hurricane impacted them,” Kahley said.

    Impact your world

    Today is World Gratitude Day! I am grateful for every single person in our Good Stuff family, and for all of the wonderfully kind and insightful notes you send week after week. You are appreciated more than you know. If you want to up the gratitude in your life, here are three easy rituals that can have you feeling more thankful and ready to take on life’s, well, less gratitude-inspiring tasks.

    Shameless animal video

      There’s always time for cute animal videos. That time is now.
      All animals deserve to be petted! Unless they really don’t want to be, of course. But you’d be surprised at how many un-cuddly species are actually just lovebugs in disguise. This baby croc is so happy to get chin scratches he’s making little laser sounds of gratitude. Who could ever say no to that? (Click here to view)

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      Trump’s right-wing media diet is a factor in the impeachment inquiry

      Media

      New York (CNN Business)A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

      The whistleblower’s complaint says “I do not know why the President associates these servers with Ukraine.”
      Well, he must not be an avid consumer of the MAGA media universe.
        As The Daily Beast’s Kevin Poulsen explained here, Trump was “referencing a conspiracy theory pushed by Russian trolls and far-right pundits that imagines the Democratic National Committee fabricating all the evidence in Russia’s 2016 breach of the DNC network.” In other words, it’s a Russia-friendly theory that contradicts all of the U.S. intel community assessments about Russia’s meddling in the election.
        It went “from the depths of 4chan, promoted by Russian media, to the president’s mouth,” BuzzFeed’s Ryan Broderick wrote.
        This is how the president’s alt-right media diet actively hurts his presidency and the public.

        John Solomon’s contributions

        WaPo’s Philip Bump zeroed in on this point on Thursday. “There’s little indication at this point that Trump’s media diet is anything other than a buffet of conservative television and Internet articles. That diet might just have contributed to the most significant threat Trump’s presidency has seen,” Bump wrote.
        The allegations in the whistleblower complaint “include a significant number of news articles published by a popular conservative opinion columnist for the Hill” — that’s John Solomon, a Fox regular — “articles that the whistleblower seems to think contributed to the fervency of the Trump-Giuliani effort.”
        Bump said it’s clear that “Solomon’s reporting and the stories he helped advance were simultaneously politically useful to Trump and potentially influenced his thinking.” And he pointed out that former chief of staff John Kelly specifically tried to keep these sorts of “unvetted” stories off of Trump’s desk. It doesn’t seem like anyone is trying to do that now…
        → For more on Solomon, WaPo’s Paul Farhi is out with a new story… It says Solomon “has had a long, and occasionally decorated, career as an editor and investigative reporter in Washington, though his more recent work has been trailed by claims that it is biased and lacks rigor…”

        What Trump’s favorite TV shows are telling him

        Right now they’re telling him that he’s a hero. That the Democrats just hate him no matter what. That, as Dan Bongino said, “this was a professional hit on Donald Trump. I have no doubt.” And that, as Mark Meadows told Lou Dobbs, “the president didn’t do anything wrong.” Trump tweeted out three different clips from Dobbs’ show on Thursday… and two clips from Sean Hannity’s show…
        → Gabriel Sherman reported on Thursday that Fox’s Shep Smith was told to stop critiquing Tucker Carlson. A Fox spokesperson denied that management had any direct conversation with Smith. At issue: The question of whether Trump is in legal jeopardy.
        → Oliver Darcy writes: A chyron on Laura Ingraham’s show said ‘Legal Experts: Both Call And Complaint Show No Criminality or Basis for Impeachment.’ Fox’s senior legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano has said Trump admitted to a crime. Shep Smith has cited other experts who agree. It’s nuts how it has become totally normal for Fox’s biggest stars to totally undermine and contradict the reporting and analysis from their own colleagues…

        NYT’s banner headline on Friday

        The front page says “COMPLAINT ASSERTS A WHITE HOUSE COVER-UP.”
        news
        …And that’s arguably the biggest headline from Thursday: The whistleblower’s allegation that senior White House officials tried to “lock down” a record of Trump’s call, and that other politically sensitive info may have been treated the same way…

        NYT criticized for identifying whistleblower’s workplace

        Who is the whistleblower? Where does he work? What were his motives? Reporters have been chasing these Q’s for more than a week. On Thursday the NYT came out with a story describing the whistleblower as a CIA officer, though not naming him. The paper was widely criticized for sharing the details. The man’s lawyer, Andrew Bakaj, said the report was “reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way.” The WSJ later matched the NYT’s reporting.
        Times exec editor Dean Baquet initially defended the reporting this way: “The role of the whistle-blower, including his credibility and his place in the government, is essential to understanding one of the most important issues facing the country — whether the president of the U.S. abused power and whether the W.H. covered it up.”

        Did the W.H. already know where the man worked?

        On Thursday evening, the NYT came out with more: “The White House learned that a C.I.A. officer had lodged allegations against President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine even as the officer’s whistle-blower complaint was moving through a process meant to protect him against reprisals, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.”
        Baquet updated his statement to note, “We also understand that the White House already knew he was a C.I.A. officer.” If that’s the case, it takes some of the heat off the NYT, for sure…

        The LAT’s scoop

        Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times was the first reporter with quotes from Trump’s shocking remarks to a group of diplomatic officials on Thursday. The NYT followed a few minutes later. The LAT was also first with the audio. “When I heard it for the first time today, it just took me aback,” Stokols told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, calling it “casually menacing.”
        → In his remarks, Trump also said “many” reporters are “scum,” a word that he has mostly deployed against MS-13 gang members and other criminals in the past. He also called members of the press “animals” and “some of the worst human beings you’ll ever meet.”

        Coming up on Friday…

        — Nancy Pelosi will be on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” at 7:30am…
        — Pelosi and House Dems will be holding a presser on 200 days of “Senate GOP Inaction” at 9:30am…
        — BTW, Friday marks 200 days without an on-camera White House press briefing…

        FOR THE RECORD

        — TIME’s cover this week has Trump painting himself into an orange corner…
        — Greg Miller’s analysis: “The whistleblower has by some measures exceeded in weeks what Mueller accomplished in two years: producing a file so concerning and sound that it singlehandedly set in motion the gears of impeachment.” (WaPo)
        — Lester Holt at the end of “Nightly News” on Thursday: “If history is any guide, this will only get uglier. And louder. And yes, further leach at this country’s political divide. Which makes our collective challenge even more important: To listen. To ask. To examine the facts and demand nothing short of the truth. That’s what we endeavor to do here every night. And will continue to do as this story unfolds…” (Mediaite)
        — Tim Naftali, former director of the Nixon library: “The Whistleblower complaint is from a patriot who understands and fears Abuse of Power. If even 50 % of his fears are accurate, we are in a variation of Nixonland again…” (Twitter)
        — Samantha Storey in praise of the whistleblower’s complaint: “It’s well written. It’s clear. The sentences are easy to read. Its point ― that the president of the United States has undermined America’s democracy ― screams off the page…” (HuffPost)

        McConnell’s silence

        “Sen. Mitch McConnell, who often ignores reporters’ questions but sometimes engages, just ignored three of mine,” CNN’s Manu Raju reported Thursday afternoon. “I asked him if he’s concerned the whistleblower alleged Trump sought help from a foreign power to interfere in the 2020 elections. I asked if he’s concerned that the WH allegedly sought to conceal the president’s conversations And I asked if he has any concerns with Trump asking the Ukraine president to talk [to] Rudy Giuliani.” McConnell “walked in silence…”
        → Related, and the headline of the day, from the WSJ: “Everyone In Washington Is Reading the Whistleblower Complaint — Except Senate Republicans.”

          Romney is not alone, but…

          Jonathan Martin is out with a must-read story about Mitt Romney. He says Romney’s public statements of concern “reflect what many in his party believe privately but are almost uniformly unwilling to say: that they are faced with damning revelations about the president that are difficult to explain away, and are unsure of whether there is more damaging material to come.” This calls to mind what Mike Murphy said on MSNBC the other day: “One Republican senator told me if it was a secret vote, 30 Republican senators would vote to impeach Trump.”

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          The Dire Wolf And The (American) Lion Were Not Natural Enemies

          European settlers of America probably thought they had it hard, but they had no idea of the perils they might have faced. Had things gone differently 10,000 years before, the continent’s predators might have been considerably more fearsome. Much of what we know about the North American animals of the last glacial period comes from the La Brea Tar Pits, but a recent study of those fossils shows we’ve been getting some of these extinct giants wrong.

          Located in the heart of Los Angeles, the tar pits provide a spectacular record of more than 600 species that became trapped in the tar over 50,000 years. Dr Larisa DeSantis of Vanderbilt University has been studying the teeth of entombed predators to learn their place in the ecosystems of the day.

          Along with the ancestors of gray wolves and coyotes, the pits host larger and more terrifying predators including dire wolves (yes, they were real), saber-toothed cats, and American lions.

          Contrary to the message of their chief propagandist, the frequency with which dire wolves were caught in the pits suggests they may not have been smarter than gray wolves. They did, however, have particularly terrifying teeth, and the greatest bite force of any member of the dog family, even when allowing for their size. The American lion, on the other hand, was considerably bigger than its African equivalent.

          Their disappearance, and that of the equally dentally fearsome saber-toothed cats, roughly coincided with both the arrival of the first people in North America and the ending of the last ice age. The debate as to whether it was humans or the changing climate that caused the extinction of these giants is among the fiercest in palaeontology.

          In Current Biology, DeSantis shows the answers are more likely to vary by species than previously recognized. “Isotopes from the bones previously suggested that the diets of saber-toothed cats and dire wolves overlapped completely, but the isotopes from their teeth give a very different picture,” DeSantis said in a statement

          If predators with the same prey went extinct about the same time, it’s reasonable to assume they had the same cause. However, DeSantis continued, “The cats, including saber-toothed cats, American lions and cougars, hunted prey that preferred forests, while it was the dire wolves that seemed to specialize on open-country feeders like bison and horses. While there may have been some overlap in what the dominant predators fed on, cats and dogs largely hunted differently from one another.” This division held even as climatic conditions shifted.

          Prey differentiation increases the chances the extinctions, despite occurring at similar times, had different causes, and rules out the possibility that competition between them was responsible for some species’ demise.

          Meanwhile, DeSantis noted, once these large predators disappeared, species like cougars and coyotes that previously fed on smaller prey or scavenged others’ kills were able to expand to fill the new apex niches. Coyotes benefited from the loss of big cats by moving into forest territory as well as consuming larger prey, while the diets of gray wolves and cougars changed less.

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          World’s largest frogs can move rocks half their weight

          news The Goliath frog belongs to the largest known frog species in the world.(Credit: M. Schäfer/Frogs & Friends e.V.)

          The world’s largest frogs may also have the best pollywog daycare on the market. To protect its wee tadpoles, these enormous amphibians build their own “nursery ponds,” sometimes moving rocks more than half their weight to do so, and then guarding the pond to ensure the next generation’s survival, a new study details.

          The finding marks the first time scientists have described the Goliath frog’s(Conraua goliath) unique nest-building and parenting tactics. However, local frog hunters in Cameroon have known about it for years, and they were the first to tell the researchers about the frogs’ parental dedication.

          In fact, the researchers were studying something completely different (they were studying the diet of Goliath tadpoles) when “we heard about the breeding behavior of the Goliaths and decided to investigate if it [were] true or not,” said study senior researcher Mark-Oliver Rödel, curator of herpetology at the Natural History Museum in Berlin. [15 of the Largest Animals of Their Kind on Earth]

          The 7.3-lb. (3.3 kilograms) Goliath frog is native to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. To learn more about its nesting quirks, the scientists spent part of spring 2018 searching a 1,300-foot (400 meters) section of the Mpoula River in western Cameroon. They also interviewed four frog hunters and two villagers who lived near the river to learn more about C. goliath’s habits.

          In all, the scientists found 22 breeding sites, 14 of which had almost 3,000 eggs apiece. The team even set up a time-lapse video at one nest, which showed a Goliath guarding the nest at night.

          These frogs are creative builders, constructing three different types of nests, the researchers found. One type, the rock-pool nest, was built on larger rocks within the river, meaning that “frogs were using pre-existing structures for breeding,” the researchers wrote in the study.

          For the second type, frogs used naturally existing shallow pools near the river as nests. It appeared that the frogs had enlarged these pools, the researchers noticed, in essence turning a cottage into a McMansion. For the third type, the frogs dug small ponds, surrounding them with large stones, some weighing up to 4.4 lbs. (2 kg).

          Impressively, none of these nests had debris in them, suggesting that the frogs also acted as housekeepers, keeping the ponds clean for their tadpoles. “We have never observed them directly, but from indirect evidence, it is apparent that they push out material (e.g. leaves, pebbles) from natural ponds or push away larger and smaller stones to create their ‘own’ ponds,” Rödel told Live Science in an email.

          It’s likely that the male frogs, which are more than 1.1 feet (34 centimeters) long, use “their huge and very muscular hind legs” to move the stones, he added.

          While the researchers never directly witnessed a Goliath frog digging a nest, “the most detailed description we got (from one frog hunter) was that the male would construct the nest while the female waits in proximity,” the scientists wrote in the study. “Once the nest is finished, the male whistles to attract the female, which then is grasped by the male and eggs are deposited. Afterwards, the female would guard the nest and subsequently open the nest towards the river.”

          Is daycare worth the cost?

          The frogs invest a substantial amount of energy into nest-building, cleaning and guarding. But is it worth it? If their tadpoles survive, it absolutely is, but it appears each nest has benefits and challenges, the researchers found. Nests within a riverbed can flood from heavy rains, allowing predators such as shrimp and fish to get inside and devour the tadpoles, said Rödel, who is also the president of Frogs & Friends, the nongovernmental organization that co-funded the research. [So Tiny! Miniature Frog Species Are Among World’s Smallest (Photos)]

          Digging a pond alongside the river would sidestep these predators, but if it doesn’t rain for a spell, the pond could dry up, killing the tadpoles. “Thus, each of the three nest types has advantages and disadvantages, and the frogs need to choose what is best at a certain time,” Rödel said.

          Goliath frogs aren’t the only amphibian superparents out there. The gladiator frog (Hypsiboas rosenbergi) in South America builds nests for its young, while the male African bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus) guards tadpoles and digs channels up to 40 feet (12 m) long to allow tadpoles to escape from drying pools, the researchers noted. However, Goliath is the only known African frog to build nesting ponds, the researchers said.

          Unfortunately, the Goliath frog is endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, largely because of habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, disease and hunting. (The frogs are considered a luxury food and are often served at weddings, Rödel said.)

          It would be a shame to lose these creatures without fully understanding them, he said. “The reason why we wanted (and actually did) study the tadpoles, was that we needed to know more about the biology of the species, just to make sure we know what to do in case a captive breeding program might be the last chance for the Goliaths’ survival in the future.”

          The study was published online Friday (Aug. 9) in the Journal of Natural History.

          Originally published on Live Science.

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