Riveting Reads – Merry Christmas Week!

Watch out for the Narwhal at Christmas Time! Image ©Liz Climo

Watch out for the Narwhal at Christmas Time! Image ©Liz Climo

Can you beehive it is nearly Christmas! Happy Christmas Eve-Eve! This will probably be my last post before christmas and the New Year! So a Happy Holidays to you all!

Here is a list of links of blogs, news articles, scholarly articles and images I am loving this week.

Large PredatorsThriving in Europe! Land sharing making this a possibility and not a conflict.

Stunning Video: From WDC showing amazing footage of killer whales and humpback whales in Norway! Beautiful to watch.

2008 Stranded Minke Whale Mystery: Solved after Bob Pitman, of the USA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, saw the images! It was killer whales, they love the tongue of large whales!

Shrimp Climate Change Taste Test: A more acidic ocean equals some bad tasting shrimp! A way to kickstart people into action?

Deepest Dwelling Fish: Footage captured in the Mariana Trench of a species of snailfish at 8,145 metres! You can see them at 1:45 on the video.

Rare Great Barrier Reef Occurrence: The reef spawned for the second time this year. It is usually only a once a year spectacle.

Koalas Face Extinction: Stronger protection and action is needed for our favourite eucalyptus chewing marsupials.

Orangutangs Are Non-Human Persons: A landmark ruling means that an orangutan in a  Buenos Aires zoo can be released in to a sanctuary. This amazing court case paves the way for more rulings in the future.

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments below.

A HAPPY HAPPY Holidays to you all!


You can also follow along on the Deep Blue Conversations Facebook Page. I post interesting articles related to marine conservation, share awesome stories as well as photos from the marine conservation and environmental world in general. Come on over and have a look!
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Southern Resident Killer Whales – What’s Going On?

Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) have been in the news a lot lately (well the scientific and environmental news). A pregnant female washed up dead on a beach in British Colombia at the beginning of December and even more tragically was pregnant at the time which, has brought them further into the public eye.

All the SRKW belong to one clan – or “extended family” – therefore they are all related. This clan – J Clan – is made up of three pods – J, K , and L – with 77 individuals of which, only 12 are reproductive females. Four individuals of the population were lost this year which is a big blow for this small clan.

The populations is struggling to recover their numbers back to a viable level and in this post I will discuss why.

Prey Availability

Chinook Salmon. Photo: NOAA.

Chinook Salmon. Photo: NOAA.

SRKW favour Chinook Salmon almost exclusively feeding on it. The problem is that Chinook salmon are struggling to spawn and their numbers are also dwindling due to unsuitable habitats to spawn in. This means that SRKW are facing a depleted prey source and nutritional stress.

Nutritional stress has been shown to affect Glucocorticoids (cortisol) and thyroid hormone in killer whales. Glucocorticoids affect glucose metabolism for a quick response to an immediate threat over a short time frame (indicator of a short term stress), while thyroid hormone lowers metabolism to conserve energy stores over a longer time frame (indicator of long term/sustained stress).

Chinook salmon decline has been caused by activities such as logging and road construction have reduced the habitat condition degrading, fragmenting and eliminating key areas. To turn around their decline river habitats need to be restored to encourage spawning of salmon. This includes the removal/modification of dams on streams and the improvement of water quality and flow.

This issue can be fixed and would be a positive for both the killer whales and local fishermen.

Historic Capture

SRKW captured in 1964 - UBC professor Pat McGeer administers penicillin to Moby Doll at Burrard Dry Dock in North Vancouver in July 1964.  Photo Supplied, Vince Penfold. Via www.nsnews.com

SRKW captured in 1964 – UBC professor Pat McGeer administers penicillin to Moby Doll at Burrard Dry Dock in North Vancouver in July 1964. Photo Supplied, Vince Penfold. Via www.nsnews.com

In the middle of the last century the SRKW populations took a large hit when many members and sometimes whole families were removed in the live-capture industry.
Individuals/groups were removed to be put on display. With the removal of whole family groups the structure and populations numbers were severely disrupted. The SRKW were the most affected populations with 36 whales collected and at least 11 dying. There is nothing we can do now to correct this however there is a ban on the removal of all individuals in North America.

DIVE IN DEEPER HERE

Riveting Reads.

Humpback Whale Blow And Companions Back in British Columbia

A new weekly section I have introduce. A list of links of blogs, news articles, scholarly articles and images I am loving this week. Do you like this idea? Let me know!

J32 SRKW: Preliminary Necropsy Report from The Centre for Whale Research. Interesting read.

NOAA Special Report: On Southern Resident Killer Whales. Lots of info.

Northern White Rhinos: Only five left. Sixth died of natural causes in San Diego Zoe. Heartbreaking for this species.

Massive Oil Spill Just Outside UNESCO World Heritage Site: South Bangladesh, near Sundarbans conservation area. The first dead cetacean has been found. Sad news

Life History Transmitter Tag: Autopsies from Space” monitoring Steller sea lions via satellite to find out where and why sea lions are dying. FASCINATING!!

Drones For Conservation: Flying drones to count endangered animals, cut down surgery times and protect monitory protected areas. Exciting methods.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle: Conservation efforts have led to an increase in numbers in Nicaragua. A win for reducing human impact.

Forests Not Growing From Increased CO2 As Expected: New research says tropical forests density may be increasing but, they are not growing faster as previously thought. Further experimentation is planned.

Pressure To Ban Diclofenac: A medicine for livestock that poisons vultures and other birds when they feed on the corpses of cows. The ban needs to be enforced.

Life ­– a status report: A report from Nature gives a status report of life on earth. The gaps in human knowledge on the planets biodiversity hampers our understanding however, it appears we are heading towards the sixth “great extinction“! Interesting report but, sad news!

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments below.


You can also follow along on the Deep Blue Conversations Facebook Page. I post interesting articles related to marine conservation, share awesome stories as well as photos from the marine conservation and environmental world in general. Come on over and have a look!

Womenswear in Academia.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what women wear in science and how it affects how we are perceived. There is the fact that I don’t think I conform to any “standardised” view of what scientists should wear especially when away from the field. I have also been reading a few other blog posts on it and the articles they have linked to as well. It got me thinking about how women are perceived in science and teaching and how we influence that (for better or worse) through what we wear.

Posts such as:

and

Where the authors talk about their changing styles or how they have been perceived for what they have worn. As well as how different studies and research has shown that their male counterparts are taken to be better teachers and better professors right off the bat.

“Classwork was graded and returned to students at the same time by both instructors. But the instructor students thought was male was given a 4.35 rating out of 5 (in promptness). The instructor students thought was female got a 3.55 rating.” Researcher Lillian MacNell in the Slate article.

I mean that is just nuts is it not? Losing over a point in evaluation because of gender bias!

It got me thinking and also a little worried…what is going to happen one day am I going to be taken less seriously, seen to have less authority and believed to be less efficient just because I am a female. Is the fact that I like to wear a dress and ballet flats as opposed to a power suit or the tried and trusted “uniform” of jeans and a t-shirt going to skew the way I am seen by colleagues and students. If I wear a new outfit everyday does that mean I won’t be taking my teaching or marking seriously (“she looks like she cares too much about her clothes, she wore a different dress every day!”)? I shouldn’t at all, but from the studies and accounts it looks like my future students will! It appears right now females can’t win even if we do conform to female or academic stereotypes of not! What about at the other end of the dress spectrum if I wore field clothes all the time or the same jeans and a t-shirt would the other extreme be taken, that I don’t care about my appearance so how could I care about my work or marking (maybe this is a stretch but, at this point it is not hard to believe). I don’t think how I or other women, and men for that matter, dress should affect peoples perceptions of our ability to do our job in an efficient and competent manner or be able to give the viewer an insight into our intelligence.

When I am in the field and on the boat I obviously dress appropriately for what I am doing. I look like your standard field biologist:

That's me looking pretty snazzy!

Neon is everyones colour!

Me On Adrianus

Layers and coffee! The standard biologists outfit! Photo: © Sacha Guggenheimer

Me On Adrianus 2 - Big Hair Don't Care

Big hair, don’t care! Photo: © Damien Morales

However, this is how I dress day to day away from the field. If I was in the lab, office or giving a talk I am pretty certain I would be rocking something along these lines:

DIVE IN DEEPER HERE