Posts Tagged ‘Dolphins’

Humans Likely Making Chimps Sick

June 17, 2008

Humans are likely the source of a virus that is making chimps sick in Africa, new research suggests.

After studying chimpanzees in Tanzania for the past year, Virginia Tech researcher Taranjit Kaur and her team have obtained data from molecular, microscopic and epidemiological investigations that demonstrate how the chimpanzees living there at Mahale Mountains National Park have been suffering from a respiratory disease that is likely caused by a variant of a human paramyxovirus.

Paramyxovirus causes various human diseases including mumps and measles. The virus also can cause distemper in dogs and seals, cetacean morbillivirus in dolphins and porpoises, Newcastle disease virus in birds and rinderpest virus in cattle.

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No answers yet to mass dolphin stranding

June 17, 2008

Initial post-mortem examinations on some of the 26 dolphins found dead in southwestern England this week fail to explain why the animals swam ashore in Britain’s biggest mass stranding of marine animals for nearly 30 years, scientists said Thursday.

Scientists from the Zoological Society of London, which is leading the investigation into the deaths of the dolphins in Cornwall, said they have examined 11 of the animals so far.

“At present, no conclusions can be made on the cause of the stranding,” said Rob Deaville, project manager for the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Program. “We are currently undertaking detailed post-mortem examinations on all of the stranded dolphins and will also be conducting a number of further tests. Until the investigation is complete, it is not possible to comment with any confidence on any potential reasons for the strandings that took place on Monday.”

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Could this have been caused by Royal Navy exercises?

Mercury Contamination Found In Stranded Victorian Dolphins

June 12, 2008

Monash University research into heavy metal contaminant levels in dolphins from Port Phillip Bay and the Gippsland Lakes has revealed high mercury levels may be a contributing factor to dolphin deaths.

Researchers from the School of Biological Sciences have confirmed levels of mercury found in the dolphins were within a range considered to cause negative health and mental effects and were higher than mercury levels found in populations around the world.

Supervisory researcher Dr Ross Thompson said the mercury concentrations in 20 live and eight dolphins which died after becoming stranded, collected over the last two years, were measured by Honours student Alissa Monk. Levels in the dead dolphins averaged 3.45 milligrams of mercury per kilogram of tissue compared to 1.32 mg/kg in living dolphins.

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Unravelling The Mystery Of The Kitty Litter Parasite In Marine Mammals

June 9, 2008

Researchers at California Polytechnic State University have discovered what may be a clue to the mystery of why marine mammals around the world are succumbing to a parasite that is typically only associated with cats. The key may just be the lowly anchovy, according to research presented today at the 108th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston.

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite which causes toxoplasmosis, considered to be the third leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 20% of the U.S. population carries the parasite, the only known reservoir of the infectious form of the parasite (the oocyst) are cats.

Over the past decade, toxoplasma infection has appeared in a variety of sea mammals including beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions and seals. It has also become a major cause of death in sea otters living off the coast of California. It is estimated that approximately 17% of sea otter deaths can be attributed to toxoplasma. While many believe fresh water runoff contaminated with cat feces is to blame, there is no definitive science on the source of infection.

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Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean Dolphin Populations Improving

June 6, 2008

The numbers of Northeastern offshore spotted and eastern spinner dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean are increasing after being severely depleted because of accidental death in the tuna purse-seine fishery between 1960 and 1990, according to biologists from NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

“These estimates are encouraging because they are consistent with what we would expect to see if these stocks are recovering, now that reported fishery mortality has been dramatically reduced,” said Dr. Lisa Ballance, director of NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center protected resources division. “However, we have to be careful not to jump to final conclusions. We need to resolve the uncertainties around these estimates before we can definitively say these stocks are recovering.”

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Homosexuality Common in the Wild, Scientists Say

May 26, 2008

As gay couples celebrate their newfound right to marry in California and opposition groups rally to fight the ruling, many struggle with this question: Is homosexuality natural?

On this issue, Nature has spoken: Same-sex lovin’ is common in hundreds of species, scientists say.

Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo, were a couple for about six years, during which they nurtured a fertilized egg together (given to them by a zookeeper) and raised the young chick that hatched.

According to University of Oslo zoologist Petter Böckman, about 1,500 animal species are known to practice same-sex coupling, including bears, gorillas, flamingos, owls, salmon and many others.

If homosexuality is natural in the animal kingdom, then there is the question of why evolution hasn’t eliminated this trait from the gene pool, since it doesn’t lead to reproduction.

It may simply be for pleasure.

“Not every sexual act has a reproductive function,” said Janet Mann, a biologist at Georgetown University who studies dolphins (homosexual behavior is very common in these marine mammals). “That’s true of humans and non-humans.”

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Some dolphins are party animals, some are not

May 19, 2008

Some people are betting at mixing than others, and research shows that dolphins are just the same. Research into bottlenose dolphin behaviour in Cardigan Bay has confirmed that they too have individuals who are social brokers par excellence!  The research provides vital information to help guide the future management of the Bay, which has been designated a Special Area of Conservation in order to give added protection to the dolphins.

Edita Magileviciute, who is Sightings Officer for the Sea Watch Foundation, compared the interactions recorded by the organisation over five years between more than two hundred bottlenose dolphins living in Cardigan Bay in West Wales. On average a bottlenose dolphin has 20 others they associate frequently with during a year – although some can have many more while others have far fewer.

She found that certain dolphins play a key role within their social groups and that one in particular seems to be a constant link between the different social groupings. This dolphin, known as Flint is amongst a number which researchers in the Bay can recognize from its markings recorded as part of an intensive photo ID project which has been running for six years.

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The world’s first bionic sea creature: Winter the dolphin gets a prosthetic tail

May 8, 2008

Two years ago Winter was the dolphin that could not swim.

Instead of powering through the water with a flick of her tail, the bottlenose could barely waggle from side to side.

She had lost her tail in a crab trap at just two months old and was found floating in distress off the coast of Florida.

Rescuers got her to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida where staff fought to save her life.

Winter survived but there was a problem … where her tail should have been there was only a stump.

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Navy releases extensive marine impact study

April 5, 2008

After losing a series of lawsuits, the Navy for the first time today will release a massive study that examines the potential collateral damage to wildlife when training sailors to use sonar, drop bombs, fire missiles and help Marines storm beaches in Southern California.

The environmental impact statement, fatter than the Los Angeles phone book, comes after federal judges have repeatedly ruled that the Navy failed to do a proper assessment on how to protect whales and dolphins from sonar used to hunt submarines.

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Fishermen ‘beat dolphin to death’

January 30, 2008

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Fishermen in Bangladesh beat a rare river dolphin to death because they had not seen “this kind of creature before,” according to local news accounts.

The fishermen then tried to sell the body of the Ganges River dolphin as a rare fish. When they failed, the men gave up and dumped it outside a museum — where a large crowd tried to catch a peek, the national Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news organization reported Tuesday…

…The Ganges River dolphin inhabits the murky waters of the Ganges River and can be spotted only when it surfaces to breathe. Thus, they are very rarely seen, according to the World Wildlife Fund Web site.

Unlike its marine counterpart, these fresh-water dolphins have a pudgy body and an extra-long and sharp-toothed snout. They are almost completely blind probably because of the poor visibility of the waters in the Ganges River, the WWF said.

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Earth may soon face huge losses of species, and this time, we humans are the asteroids

January 20, 2008

 

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The news of environmental traumas assails us from every side – unseasonal storms, floods, fires, drought, melting ice caps, lost species of river dolphins and giant turtles, rising sea levels potentially displacing inhabitants of Arctic and Pacific islands and hundreds of thousands of people dying every year from air pollution. This month has brought more – new reports that Greenland’s glaciers may be melting away at an alarming rate

…More than a decade ago, many scientists claimed that humans were demonstrating a capacity to force a major global catastrophe that would lead to a traumatic shift in climate, an intolerable level of destruction of natural habitats, and an extinction event that could eliminate 30 to 50 percent of all living species by the middle of the 21st century. Now those predictions are coming true. The evidence shows that species loss today is accelerating. We find ourselves uncomfortably privileged to be witnessing a mass extinction event as it’s taking place, in real time.

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