Scientists discover ‘glowing’ sea turtle



 (Screenshot from National Geographic YouTube video)

In late July, deep sea divers made a glowing discovery: a sea turtle that reflected light.

Marine biologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer David Gruber of City University of New York, says he discovered the animals while he was filming bioflouresence in small sharks and coral reefs in the Solomon Islands.

Gruber told National Geographic that during a crocodile hunt one night, “there came out of nowhere this fluorescent turtle. It looked like a big spaceship gliding into view, an alien craft with a patchwork of neon green and red all over its head and body.”

The turtle, identified as the hawksbill sea turtle, is on the critically endangered list. It is the first reptile to reflect blue light hitting a surface and re-emit it it as a different color, also known as bioflourescence.

Originally available here


Aww! Panda cub Bei Bei is a ‘precious treasure’


FILE – In this Sept. 14, 2015 file photo provided by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Bei Bei, born Aug. 22, 2015, is seen in Washington as keepers weighed the giant panda cub. (Erika Bauer/Smithsonian’s National Zoo via AP)

A giant-panda cub at Smithsonian’s National Zoo is no longer nameless: The furry youngster will now be called Bei Bei (BAY-BAY), which means “precious treasure” in Mandarin, according to his naming ceremony, held at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., Sept. 25.

First ladies Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan (of the People’s Republic of China) revealed Bei Bei’s name with the help of third-graders from the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, who helped unfurl the scrolls bearing the panda’s name in Mandarin and English.

The name Bei Bei has the same meaning as Bao Bao, the cub’s big sister, who just turned 2 years old in August. The two first ladies also collaborated for Bao Bao’s naming ceremony when it was held in 2013, with Obama and Peng sending video messages to mark the occasion.

When Bei Bei turns 4 years old, he will leave his home at the National Zoo to live in China. But zookeepers from both places — the National Zoo and the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong — offered ideas for the panda’s name. [See Photos of Bei Bei Growing Up]

Panda keepers at the National Zoo suggested the name Ping Ping, which means “peaceful and calm.” But the staff at Wolong prevailed with Bei Bei, according to a news release from the Smithsonian.

Typically, giant panda cubs (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) in the United States are named after they turn 100 days old. This tradition dates back to the 1970s, when the United States received its first two pandas from China, and decided to honor the Chinese tradition of naming newborns after 100 days.

But these days (and, in fact, for the past few centuries), Chinese parents no longer wait 100 days to name their children, though they typically have a celebration when the baby turns 100 days old, the zoo said.

Panda keepers in China also don’t wait to name giant-panda cubs, and the National Zoo decided to nix the practice after it learned that the Chinese president Xi Jinping would be visiting Washington, D.C., and that his wife could take part in the naming ceremony.

New name

The celebrations kicked off this morning, when Obama and Peng arrived at the zoo and saw the panda cub get a brief health checkup inside the panda house.

Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton gave ceremonial remarks, and then watched as the third-graders helped the first ladies unfurl two scrolls containing the panda’s name.

“Species conservation is at the heart of our mission at the National Zoo,” Skorton said, according to the news release. “We are honored to have First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Peng Liyuan join us to celebrate the more-than-four-decade history of China and the Smithsonian working together to preserve giant pandas, and to name the newest addition to our panda family.”

Afterward, the students met with Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists and Chinese scientists to learn about giant pandas.

Bei Bei won’t go on public display until early 2016, but the students got to see his father, Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN) and sister Bao Bao in their outdoor yards, celebrating the naming ceremony with panda-friendly frozen cakes.

Meanwhile, veterinarians report that Bei Bei now weighs 2.95 lbs. and can lift himself up on his front legs and scoot around his mother’s den when she sets him down.

Pandas are born deaf and blind, but Bei Bei can now hear, they added. Keepers noticed the little bear react when a door opened on Sept. 19. His eyes will likely open in a few weeks, they said.

His fraternal twin brother, also born Aug. 22, did not live long enough to be named. He died on Aug. 26, likely from aspiration pneumonia, the zoo said.

Panda enthusiasts can see Bei Bei and his mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) around the clock on the Smithsonian’s Giant Panda Cam, and follow him on Twitter with the hashtag #PandaStory.


Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Florida police arrest woman sought for allegedly riding sea turtles

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    Booking photo of Stephanie Moore, 20, who was arrested for allegedly riding a sea turtle. (Melbourne Police Department)

Police in Florida say they arrested a woman on Saturday who was seen in photographs sitting on a sea turtle in July.

Melbourne police arrested Stephanie Moore, 20, after they were called to a fight taking place in on the 600 block of Espanola Way in Melbourne. During their investigation, police found Moore who had an active felony arrest warrant in failing to comply with a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission rule, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Fox 35 Orlando reports the warrant charges Moore with possession, selling or disturbing a marine turtle or nest and was positively identified as one of the women in the photographs.

Social media was flooded with pictures of two females seen sitting on the back of sea turtles in early July, police said. Several complaints were filed and forwarded to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, who then opened up a criminal investigation into the case, according to Fox 35 Orlando.

Moore was arrested and booked into the Brevard County Jail and is being held on a $2,000 bond.

Click for more from Fox 35 Orlando.

Click for more from the Orlando Sentinel.

Originally available here

Hawaii fisherman says he fought off tiger shark as it bit his leg

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In this Sept. 20 2015 frame from video provided by Braxton Rocha, Rocha films himself after being bit by a large tiger shark off the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. (AP)

A Hawaii spear fisherman said Wednesday he fought off a large tiger shark by smacking it in its nose after it locked onto his leg along a remote stretch of Big Island coastline.

Braxton Rocha, 27, said the attack occurred after he swam about 60 yards offshore in search of fish.

After checking an underwater cave, he caught a flash of stripes in the corner of his eye and was face-to-face with the largest tiger shark he had ever seen.

“She was jaws wide open, right in front of my face,” Rocha said.

The Big Island native, who later posted a video of his injuries on social media, said he put his hands on top of the shark’s nose to try to control it. But the fish was too strong, he said, and its massive jaws clamped down on his leg.

“Once she locked on my leg … I cocked back, I punched her in the nose,” he said. “She let go and she swam away.”

Rocha said adrenaline and the shark’s sharp teeth kept him from immediately realizing he had been bitten.

“I started making some strokes in after I punched her and that’s when the blood just started gushing everywhere in the water, and I was like, this is not good,” he said. “I started getting scared because I thought she was going to come back in for more.”

Rocha said he swam as hard as he could to shore about 60 yards away. He frantically looked and shouted for his friend, Shannon Pasco, who was hugging the rocky shoreline to get out of the water.

“I was screaming to him for a few minutes,” Rocha said. But the howling wind and crashing waves made it difficult to get his friend’s attention.

When Pasco finally raised his head out of the water, Rocha warned him about the shark.

“Then he saw the shark,” Rocha said. “I thought it swam away but after it attacked me I guess it went for him.”

Once out of the water, Pasco loaded his injured friend into his truck before placing a tourniquet around his thigh. The two headed to town, waiting for cellphone service so they could call 911. Once they met the ambulance, Rocha asked Pasco for his phone so he could call his mother.

When she didn’t answer, Rocha said he did the only other thing he could think of: He posted a video of his wounded leg online so everyone would know what happened.

“I just got attacked by a tiger shark,” the exasperated Rocha said in the shaky video posted to Instagram that quickly went viral.

“Love you, brah,” Pasco said.

“Love you too, brah,” Rocha replied before the clip ends.

Rocha was flown by helicopter to a hospital where he was in surgery for about three hours. Doctors told him that he will make a full recovery once his wounds, which required about 100 staples, heal.

Rocha said he never lost consciousness and was “busting jokes” with the hospital staff the entire time.

“They were like, ‘Wow, you just got attacked by a shark, you could have died. Look how happy and how high-spirited you are,'” Rocha said. “I’m just happy to be alive, happy to have my leg.”

originally available here

Whales return to Long Island Sound after long hiatus


Sept. 12, 2015: In this photo provided by Dan Lent, a humpback whale breaches the water in Long Island Sound off the coast of Stamford, Conn. Biologists at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Conn., said whale sightings on the sound this year are the first in more than two decades. (Dan Lent via AP)

It has been the year of the whale on Long Island Sound, where fishermen and other boaters have reveled in the return of the marine mammals after a long hiatus.

The highly unexpected sightings began in May, when three belugas were spotted off Fairfield, Connecticut. A minke whale was seen off Norwalk later in May. And there have been several humpback sightings in recent weeks, including as far west as Mamaronek, New York, according to records kept by The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk.

Whales haven’t been seen in the western part of the sound since 1993, when a 30-foot finback was spotted in New Haven Harbor, said Joe Schnierlein, research and university liaison for the aquarium.

Videos and photos of humpbacks breaching the surface have been posted online by boaters who were both excited and frightened by the close encounters.

On Saturday, Chris Curran of Darien, Connecticut, caught a young humpback whale on cellphone video breaching the water about 20 to 30 feet from his boat about 1½ miles off Darien and Norwalk, while he was with his 8-year-old son and his son’s friend.

Curran said the humpback appeared to be a young whale about 10 to 15 feet long; it came out of the water about nine times, the last time being the closest.

“I was having heart palpitations I was so excited,” Curran said. “The boys were fearful for their lives. They thought it was an orca. I was never concerned about it hitting the boat until that last incident then I got out of there fast.”

Lately, the whales have been the talk of Long Island Sound, including warnings to boaters from state and federal environmental officials to watch for whales and try to stay at least 100 feet away from them. If a whale gets within 100 feet, boaters should put their engines in neutral and not re-engage them until the whales are clear of harm. Federal law protects marine mammals.

Schnierlein believes the whales were attracted by a big increase in bait fish including menhaden, which are rich in omega-3 oils and calories. He surmises menhaden have thrived for several reasons, including 2-year-old harvesting restrictions on them and a lack of rain, which he believes has reduced pollution-laden runoff from entering the sound.

Whale sightings in the eastern part of Long Island Sound also are uncommon events, according to records kept by Mystic Aquarium. The last confirmed sightings before this year were a long-finned pilot whale off Stonington in 2009 and a minke off Old Lyme in 2005, said Janelle Schuh, stranding coordinator at the aquarium.

Whales that have become stranded in the sound included a humpback that floated to Stonington on the edge of the sound from Rhode Island in July 2012; a fin whale in New Haven in 1993; long-finned pilot whales in Branford in 1991 and Madison in 1989; and a beluga whale in New Haven in 1986, Schuh said.

Daniel Lent of Easton, Connecticut, says he believes he saw two humpbacks Sept. 12 off the coast of Stamford. He snapped a photo of one breaching the water. He said it was about as big as his 27-foot power boat.

“I thought I was staying away a safe distance,” Lent said. “Then one came up behind me. That’s when I freaked out. It went from being really cool to being really scary.”

Originally available here

New duck-billed dinosaur uncovered in Alaska, researchers say

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In this 2014 photo released by the University of Alaska Museum of the North, a sample of frozen bone is seen after researchers excavated it from the Liscomb Bed in the Prince Creek Formation near Nuiqsut, Alaska. (AP)

Fossils from a unique plant-eating dinosaur found in the high Arctic of Alaska may change how scientists view dinosaur physiology, say Alaska and Florida university researchers.

A paper published Tuesday concluded that fossilized bones found along Alaska’s Colville River were from a distinct species of hadrosaur, a duck-billed dinosaur not connected to hadrosaurs previously identified in Canada and Lower 48 states.

It’s the fourth species unique to northern Alaska. It supports a theory of Arctic-adapted dinosaurs that lived 69 million years ago in temperatures far cooler than the tropical or equatorial temperatures most people associate with dinosaurs, said Gregory Erickson, professor of biological science at Florida State.

“Basically a lost world of dinosaurs that we didn’t realize existed,” he said.

The northern hadrosaurs would have endured months of winter darkness and probably snow.

“It was certainly not like the Arctic today up there — probably in the 40s was the mean annual temperature,” Erickson said. “Probably a good analogy is thinking about British Columbia.”

The next step in the research program will be to try to figure out how they survived, he said.

Mark Norell, curator of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, said by email that it was plausible the animals lived in the high Arctic year-round, just like muskoxen and caribou do now. It’s hard to imagine, he said, that the small, juvenile dinosaurs were physically capable of long-distance seasonal migration.

“Furthermore, the climate was much less harsh in the Late Cretaceous than it is today, making sustainability easier,” he said.

Most of the fossils were found in the Liscomb Bone Bed more than 300 miles northwest of Fairbanks and a little more than 100 miles south of the Arctic Ocean. The bed is named for geologist Robert Liscomb, who found the first dinosaur bones in Alaska in 1961 while mapping for Shell Oil Co.

Liscomb thought they came from mammals. They remained in storage for about two decades until someone identified the fossils as dinosaur bones, said Pat Druckenmiller, earth sciences curator at the University of Alaska Museum.

Researchers over the next 25 years excavated and catalogued more than 6,000 hadrosaur bones, far more than any other Alaska dinosaur. Most were from small juveniles estimated to have been about 9 feet long and 3 feet tall at the hips.

“It appears that a herd of young animals was killed suddenly, wiping out mostly one similar-aged population to create this deposit,” Druckenmiller said.

They initially were thought to be Edmontosaurus, a hadrosaur well-known in Canada and the U.S., including Montana and South Dakota. The formal study of the Alaska dinosaur, however, revealed differences in skull and mouth features that made it a different species, Druckenmiller said.

Researchers have dubbed the creature Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis (oo-GROO’-nah-luk KOOK’-pik-en-sis). The name means “ancient grazer” and was chosen by scientists with assistance from speakers of Inupiaq, the language of Alaska Inupiat Eskimos.

The dinosaurs grew up to 30 feet long. Hundreds of teeth helped them chew coarse vegetation, researchers said. They probably walked primarily on their hind legs, but they could walk on four legs, Druckenmiller said.

The Liscomb Bone Bed during the Cretaceous Period was hundreds of miles farther north in what’s now the Arctic Ocean, Druckenmiller said.

University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student Hirotsugu Mori over five years completed his doctoral work on the species. The findings were published Tuesday in “Acta Palaeontologica Polonica,” an international paleontology quarterly journal.

Researchers are working to name other Alaska dinosaurs.

“We know that there’s at least 12 to 13 distinct species of dinosaurs on the North Slope in northern Alaska,” Druckenmiller said. “But not all of the material we find is adequate enough to actually name a new species.”

They have found no evidence of crocodiles, turtles, lizards or other ectotherms, the cold-blooded animals that depend on the sun or another external source of heat to regulate their body temperature.

“It tells us something right there about the biology of these dinosaurs,” Erickson said, an indication they were more like birds and mammals.


Originally available here

How to diagnose delirium in less than 40 seconds

How to diagnose delirium in less than 40 seconds

Researchers have come up with a two-question test that can diagnose delirium in elderly patients in around 36 seconds. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart)

Health researchers have figured out how to identify whether elderly hospital patients are suffering from delirium with nearly complete accuracy in about the same amount of time as it takes to read this paragraph, according to a new studypublished yesterday in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

Delirium is a serious problem for elderly patients, who may arrive at the hospital mentally sound only to develop delirium during their stay, possibly from medications or poor sleep, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“Delirium can be very costly and deadly—and with high-risk patients, time matters,” Penn State professor Donna Fick says in a press release. Doctors and nurses currently use a 3-minute test to diagnose delirium, but sometimes they don’t even have that much time, the researchers note.

That’s why Fick developed an “ultra-brief” two-question test for diagnosing delirium that takes an average of 36 seconds to administer and has a 93 percent success rate, according to the press release.

By asking 201 participants—42 of whom were clinically diagnosed with delirium—what day of the week it was and asking them to recite the months of the year backward, researchers were able to identify those with delirium.

The test also incorrectly identified six people with delirium, but Fick says she’s fine with false positives, as doctors can use the short test to decide who should get the longer delirium test.

Researchers plan to conduct a larger study of the two-question test before recommending it for use. (Is police brutality just a form of delirium?)

This article originally appeared on Newser: How to Diagnose Delirium in Under 40 Seconds

More From Newser


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Scaly snaps: Model poses face-to-face with crocodiles in Mexico



Too close for comfort? Roberta Mancino holds out her hands to an American crocodile. (Courtesy Eli Martinez)

Most people probably wouldn’t want to take a dip in crocodile infested waters.

But for Roberta Mancino, an Italian model with a knack for adventure, swimming with crocodiles fulfilled a long held fantasy.

“I have a list of animals that I would love to swim with,” Mancino told via emailing, explaining that she first thought of the idea in 2009. “I have been swimming with sharks for many years and I love underwater animals.”

Last month, Mancino traveled to a lagoon in the middle Banco Chinchorro, an atoll reef near the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. This secluded area is home to hundreds of crocodiles but tourists aren’t usually allowed to get so close to the animals.

“I had a small team of people helping me to get the best pictures in the safest way,” Mancino said. “I was very afraid. This is why we stayed long time in the water with those animals to learn a bit of their behave before getting too close.”

She spent five days learning about the animals from local divers and swimming with a mask before the big photo shoot. Often, she had to be in the waters for hours in order for the crocodiles to get used to her presence. And when several crocodiles would swarm around the group, the model turned stunt woman says she would stay on the boat for safety.

Shot by Eli Martinez, the stunning underwater photographs may inspire fear in some viewers but Mancino ultimately hopes the project will bring about greater respect for American crocodiles, which are usually between 8 and 13 feet long.

“Oftentimes predators are misunderstood,” Mancino explained. Though crocs appear big and scary, the model believes they shouldn’t be butchered for consumer items like handbags.

“What looks like a monster can actually be harmless and gentle if you show them love. By visiting them in their element, I hope the world can see what I see. Let’s respect and protect these ancient souls.”

There are opportunities for travelers to swim with crocs.  In Australia, a theme park called Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin City offers visitors the opportunity to go face-to-face with a deadly 16ft-long crocodile.  And there are diving companiesthat offer American crocodile expeditions. But most places warn people to stay away from croc-infested waters.

But for Mancino close encounters with jaws of death isn’t enough. In addition to swimming with crocodiles, Mancino enjoys sky diving all over the world.

originally available here

Study finds more sharks than ever swimming in waters along the East Coast


More sharks than ever are swimming along the East Coast, federal researchers announced this week, amid a busy summer in which a record number of the fish have attacked North Carolina beachgoers.

Scientists with the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) captured and tagged 2,835 sharks in waters from Florida to North Carolina in 2015, up from 1,831 in 2012 — the last year the survey was completed. Scientists recorded the length, sex, age and location of each of the sharks caught. The survey has been ongoing for 29 years.

Lisa Natanson, a scientist at the Narragansett Laboratory of NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and leader of the coastal shark survey, told that the rise in the shark population is tied to federal regulations limiting commercial shark fishing, which were enacted in 1993.

“They took off a lot of fishing pressure of these species and it gives them a chance to come back,” Natanson said.

The survey – conducted every two to three years — covers routes along the East Coast where many species migrate as waters become warmer, making it easier to keep tabs on the population, according to the NOAA.

Sandbar, Atlantic sharpnose, dusky, and tiger sharks were the most common amongst the 13 species caught this year onboard the 100-foot charter fishing vessel Eagle Eye II, which set sail from Port Royal, S.C. and  Ft. Pierce, Fla., from April to May.

Natanson told that researchers – who used a line with baited shark hooks to catch the fish — saw an uptick in numbers in waters off Florida.

“Usually we get a few here and there on the first few sets,” she said. “But we were getting a lot.”

The announcement comes in the wake of a string of shark attacks in North Carolina in June and July. Eight people were attacked — the most in a year in since the Florida Museum of Natural History began tracking shark incidents 80 years ago. The previous high for North Carolina was five bites in 2010, The Virginian Pilot reported.

Despite the increased shark population, Natanson said beachgoers should not assume that there will be a rise in attacks, although “there is always going to be a risk.

“Just because there are a lot of sharks out there doesn’t mean there are going to be more coming in to bite people,” she told, adding that the survey was conducted in areas where people were not swimming.

Around 2,179 of the sharks captured in the survey were tagged and released, 434 were brought aboard, and 222 were released untagged. The sharks that did not survive capture were dissected at sea to obtain biological samples for studies on shark age and growth, reproduction, and food habits, the NOAA said.

“Sandbar sharks were all along the coast, while most of the dusky sharks were off North Carolina,” Natanson said, in a press release. “We captured a bull shark for the first time since 2001, and recaptured 10 sharks previously tagged by our program and two sharks tagged by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.”

The longest shark captured in the survey was a 12.5 foot long tiger shark off North Carolina.

Originally Available here

Bull elephant at Zimbabwe park crashes lunch party


Video shows the elephant approaching the table, flapping its ears, which the animals use to scare off potential threats. (knockbaun /Youtube)

Tourists go on an African safari to get close to wildlife, but this encounter with a bull elephant may have been too close for comfort for a pair of travelers.

A group of tourists were having lunch at Mana Pools National Park in northern Zimbabwe when bull elephant approached their table.

A video posted on YouTube shows the elephant strolling towards the group and pausing for a moment surveying the scene before it knocks over the table and its inhabitants.

“As we were eating brunch an elephant was eating pods off of the ground and as it approached we were told to stay very still, which we did,” YouTube user knockbaun wrote.

Stephen Montague, 39, (left) and his brother-in-law Shane Wolf try to stay calm as the elephant watches the lunch party from only a couple of feet away.

In the video, you see as the elephant approaches the table, flapping its ears, which the animals use to scare off potential threats. The bull comes right up to him and pushes Montague off his chair with its trunk, its tusk missing his torso by a whisker.

Both tourists emerged from the incident with only a few cuts and bruises.

Originally available here