Did you know that an estimated 18,000 new species of animals, plants, and insects are discovered every year? This mind-boggling statistic thrilled and uplifted me; who says there’s nothing left to discover? The International Institute for Species Exploration recently released a list of its top ten newly discovered species from the past year, which includes a new member of the raccoon family as well as a new kind of gecko. While new doesn’t always mean better, it’s a nice idea to carry forward, especially for us soon-to-be graduates; we, as a species, are never done learning.
No matter how you feel about fish hatcheries, this story of 25,000 steelhead being broken out of a hatchery east of Seattle is pretty interesting. The police are currently looking for whoever broke into the hatchery and released the fish, and details are little about the suspicion of a certain “disgruntled angler.” The Wild Fish Conservancy has called out the hatchery program for its harmful effect on the steelhead population, which has declined 97% in Puget Sound waters since 1895. The idea is that these hatcheries, with the way they concentrate populations, may contribute to overfishing. While this problem won’t necessarily be aided by the breakout, it’s interesting to consider the motive behind the operation. We’ve all had fantasies about breaking into the zoo and releasing the animals, but of course, in our urban environment, those animals probably wouldn’t get far. Here’s to hoping that this steelhead liberation contributes in some small way to the restoration of their presence in Pacific Northwest waters.
A while back I posted about a Rocky Mountain Elk Herd coming to Washington and the breathtaking photos accompanying their arrival. But what’s better than elk photos? An elk video of course. On March 27th, footage of a large elk herd jumping a fence and crossing a Montana highway was posted by Washington-native Austin Stonnell, going viral on youtube within a few days. The inspirational video (possibly tear-worthy) shows the last elk in the herd struggling for a bit before finally hopping over the fence and joining the others, and the best part is that several elk can be seen waiting for it. It sounds like something out of a Disney movie, but the miraculous thing is, it isn’t. You can check out the video below, and if you’re having a bad day that could use some encouragement, you might want to prepare a few tissues.
It seems like most everyone has fun childhood memories of vising the zoo, watching penguins scoot and slide across the ice, feeling transported to exotic locations all around the world through the viewing of lions, mountain goats, polar bears. But on the other side of those warm experiences of youthful world expansion is the fact that we were all looking at animals who were forced into confinement for our entertainment. The topic of zoo-keeping ethics is not a new one, but reading this article about the Woodland Park Zoo and its elephant conundrum got me thinking about the issue again. Continue reading
If you’re planning on doing some gardening this spring break, you should try and include some milkweed seeds in your planting. Why? Because the Monarch butterfly is in danger of becoming extinct, and it needs all the milkweed plants it can find. The decline is illustrated by the fact that only 33 million monarchs were estimated to have made their yearly migration from Canada to Mexico-compared to 1996’s one billion. Here on the west coast, the extension of urban territory has contributed greatly to the loss of Monarch habitat-milkweed plants, to be exact, the sole plant that Monarchs lay their eggs on. This is a rare example in which we humans have the ability to neutralize (or at least push back on) the loss of habitat we have created. Simply by planting milkweed seeds, we can help the species of Monarch butterflies grow strong in numbers once again, and prevent the possible loss that may come if nothing is done. Check out this site for info on finding the right kind of milkweed to plant.
Just about a month ago I wrote about a mammoth tusk discovered underground in South Lake Union. If you followed the story, you know that the Burke Museum was able to dig it up and take it to be preserved. It was put on display March 8th as part of “Dino Day,” and the Burke blog has recently posted about the tusk’s journey out of hiding. In the effort to remove the tusk from the ground safely, Burke paleontologists had to cover the tusk in aluminum foil, add layers of burlap strips soaked in water and dipped in plaster, and place 2 by 4’s alongside the tusk. According to the blog, the tusk was covered in more layers of plaster on Tuesday after two core samples were removed and sent away for carbon dating, which can tell us just how old the tusk actually is. Continue reading