“Mother Nature creating new oil eating microbes in Gulf”


A new breed  of oil eating microbes is thriving around the Deep Water Horizon site in the Gulf of Mexico.  Seems these blessed little critters are reproducing and loving the oil filled seas they are living in.

Mother Nature's allies to clean up Gulf oil

Microbes from the sea bed vent community are enjoying eating oil droplets and happily reproducing faster then others of their kind. Temperatures are quite toasty in their zone hover around 5 degrees Celsius, the pressure is enormous, and there is normally little carbon present. They are even living on reduced oxygen so the waters of the Gulf are not turning into a dead zone.
“Two research ships were sent to collect data to determine the physical, chemical and microbiological properties of the Deepwater oil plume. The oil escaping from the damaged wellhead represented an enormous carbon and toxins being put into the water column ecosystem.
The lead scientist was Dr. Terry Hazen, a microbial ecologist with Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and principal investigator with the Energy Biosciences Institute, who has studied numerous oil-spill sites in the past, is the leader of the Ecology Department and Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division. He conducted this research under an existing grant he holds with the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) to study microbial enhanced hydrocarbon recovery. EBI is a partnership led by the University of California (UC) Berkeley and including Berkeley Lab and the University of Illinois that is funded by a $500 million, 10-year grant from BP.

phylochip=microbe detector

After careful analysis of more than 200 samples collected from 17 deepwater sites between May 25 and June 2, 2010. Sample analysis was boosted by the use of the latest edition of the award-winning Berkeley Lab PhyloChip is a unique credit card-sized DNA-based microarray that can be used to quickly, accurately and comprehensively detect the presence of up to 50,000 different species of bacteria and archaea in a single sample from any environmental source, without the need of culturing. Use of the Phylochip, enabled Hazen and his colleagues to determine that the dominant microbe in the oil plume is a new species, closely related to members of Oceanospirillales family, particularly Oleispirea antarctica and Oceaniserpentilla haliotis.

These oil-degrading microbial populations and their associated microbial communities play a significant role in controlling the ultimate fates and consequences of deep-sea oil plumes in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mother Nature Rules!!

Resources

Excerpts and Image 1, courtesy of  http://bit.ly/9gNAUg

Image 2. http://bit.ly/bmYAaP

“Endangered sea turtles releasing them into the sea-a ?? future”


On July 14, 2010 eight  endangered sea turtles were released into to the Atlantic Ocean. The four were named Sunny, Ada Lee, Krista and Gary. All were rescued in February after a drop in the ocean temperature during a winter cold spell stunned the animals. This cold shock  can bring on life-threatening health issues. They have been recovering at the George Sea Turtle Center.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a hospital for ill and injured sea turtles.  We are the only hospital of its kind in the state of Georgia.  Research at the center includes a tracking program for all rehabilitated and released sea turtles.

Check out where these turtles are today.

Before release, satellite tags were placed on two of the turtles, Sunny and Ada Lee, so their travels and health can be  monitored. See where the turtles are now:

To see  Sunny and Ada Lee location today!

Needed Project Sponsors

SEATURTLE.ORG and its partners are looking for Project Sponsors to help track sea turtles around the world. Your support will help to pay for the transmitter and satellite time required to track a sea turtle. The cost of each transmitter and attachment materials is approximately US$2,000, and the average cost of satellite time per transmitter is an additional US$3000.

Will you sponsor a transmitter contacttracking@seaturtle.org

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of   http://bit.ly/aSNHZB


“Saving hundreds endangered reptiles + birds -Malaysia”


It was a good week for saving endangered species with the help of Malaysian officials who seized hundreds of endangered radiated tortoises, tomato frogs and chameleons days after a major wildlife bust of thousands of rare birds.

Customs officials at the Kuala Lumpur international airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 17, 2010, found endangered wildlife in the hand luggage of two Madagascan. Found were 369 radiated tortoises, five Madagascar tortoises, 47 tomato frogs and several chameleons.

“The tortoises were bound with masking tape to prevent them from moving, while the chameleons were stuffed into socks to prevent detection,” he told the Star, adding that the animals were worth 250,000 ringgit (78,000 dollars).

The Radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) is a species in the genus of the Astrochelys tortoises. This species is native to Southern Madagascar and , and has been introduced to the islands of Réunion and Mauritius. As the Radiated Tortoises are herbivores, grazing constitutes 80-90% of their diet, while they also eat fruits and succulent plants. These tortoises are, however, endangered, mainly because of the destruction of their habitat by humans and because of poaching

The Madagascan flat-tailed tortoise is known locally as Kapidolo (ghost turtle) and is currently one of the most threatened and ancient of all the world’s tortoises. Kapidolo is a forest floor-dwelling species found only in a small area of western Madagascar.

The endangered Tomato frog is any one of the three species of genus Dyscophus and originally came from Madagascar. The common name comes from the frog’s bright yellow orange to deep red color. When threatened, a tomato frog puffs up its body. If a predator grabs a tomato frog in its mouth, the frog’s skin secretes a thick gummy toxin that can irrritate the predator’s eyes and mouth, causing it to release the frog.  They tend to eat small insects and invertebrates, but have been known to eat mice!

Two days earlier, Malaysian police stumbled across a massive haul of endangered wildlife, including a pair of valuable birds of paradise, as they raided a warehouse of stolen cars. More than 20 protected species were found in the “mini zoo” in the capital’s suburbs.

The researchers said that with proper law enforcement and protection, the restoration of turtles and tortoises could boost ecotourism, providing income for local people.

“Thank you Malaysian authorities for for dedication to saying the most endangered species on the planet so future generations can enjoy their unique beauty.” -Mother Nature

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of     http://bit.ly/ddlxRl

Excerpts and Image radiated tortoise courtesy of    http://bit.ly/czs4Zb

Excerpts and Image  tomato frog courtesy of   http://bit.ly/cK6FLH

“Tarball stew coming to beach near you”


What are tarballs anyway?

Tarballs can be small to large chunks of crude oil and debris. They may be  dark in color congealed oil globs that stick to our feet, skin, sand, rocks, plants and soil.

(Example only tarballs depicted in image to the right.)

During the first few hours after a crude oil spill, the oil spreads into a  slick. Winds and waves tear the slick into smaller patches that are scattered over a much wider area. Weathering changes  the appearance of the oil.
First, the lighter components of the oil and methane gas mixed with it evaporates, leaving the heavier crude behind. Then some of this crude mixes with water to form an emulsion that often looks like reddish dark brown chocolate pudding. This emulsion is much thicker and stickier than the original oil. Winds, temperature, weather and waves then continue to stretch and tear the oil patches into smaller pieces, or tarballs. Hard and crusty on the outside while being soft and gooey on the inside, like a toasted marshmallow. tarballs may be as large like the one in the picture above or small coin-sized.

Tarballs are very persistent in the marine environment and if picked up by the deep ocean currents can travel long distances. The damage this goo reeks on the environment and all living tings and people is unknown.   Do not let children, animals  or pregnant women play with tarballs or on oily beaches.

Caution
If you are especially sensitive to chemicals, including the hydrocarbons found in crude oil and petroleum products avoid contact with them. They may have an allergic reaction or develop rashes even from brief contact with oil.

Contact with oil should be avoided.

If contact occurs, wash the area with soap and water, baby oil, or a widely used, safe cleaning compound such as the cleaning paste sold at auto parts stores. Avoid using solvents, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, or similar products on the skin. These products, when applied to skin, present a greater health hazard than the smeared tarball itself.

Report tarball sightings

If you notice unusual numbers of tarballs on the beaches, call the U. S. Coast Guard any time at 800-424-8802.
References

Excerpts courtesy of  http://yhoo.it/9sCy3i

Excerpts courtesy of  http://bit.ly/dd39YC

Excerpts courtesy of    http://bit.ly/divjzh

Image courtesy of   http://yhoo.it/aTebiy

“Dam-age if you do Dam-age if you do not -oil spill clean up”


The potential effects of the crude oil itself on the health of the entire biome, man through the tiniest of sea creatures, from the spill is long term. The crude oil is toxic if inhaled, ingested or if one is coated with it. Everyone’s being touched by it could suffer respiratory, skin reactions and cancers of various types are some of the possibilities.  Toxicity from hydrocarbon (crude oil/petroleum) exposure depends on which organ system is predominately involved. Organ systems that can be affected by hydrocarbons include the pulmonary, brain and nervous system, cardiac, embryological, gastrointestinal, hepatic, kidney, dermatologic, and hematologic systems. The respiratory system seems to be most effected with pneumonia.
As the crude oil is dispersed by wind, weather and the sea, micro organisms ingest it and as larger animals up the food chain eat the smaller ones  thus spreading the residues from the oil into their body tissues. These are the dangers to living systems (without even considering the land, shoreline and soil communities.) is if no one uses dispersant.


The effects of
dispersants

In a 2005 National Academy of Sciences report, the dispersants and the oil they leave behind can kill fish eggs. A study of oil dispersal in Coos Bay, Ore. found that it accumulated in mussels. Another study examining fish health after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989 found that PAHs (dispersant) affected the developing hearts of Pacific salmon. The acute toxicity of dispersants is generally attributed to the effects on biological membranes; usually the  dispersant disrupts  the outer membrane of respiratory cells, often causing electrolytic and/or osmotic imbalance within the cell.

There is insufficient understanding of the fate of dispersed oil in aquatic ecosystems.
A version of Corexit a dispersant was widely used after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and, according to a literature review performed by the group

the Alaska Community Action on Toxics,

Corexit a dispersant was later linked with

health impacts in people including respiratory, nervous system, liver, kidney and blood disorders.

surface-active compounds in the dispersant likely affect the embryonic membrane. This is evidenced by the fact that developed, abnormal larvae were virtually nonexistent at the end of experiments, observers either found fully developed, normal larvae or embryos that had been arrested at the multicell stage, often appearing as only loose aggregations of cells. These observations are consistent with known effects of surfactants on biological membranes.  The dispersant increases permeability, loss of barrier function, and osmotic imbalance  Some other abnormalities have been seen in developing embryos in marine echinoderms and other gastropods. Some mysid mortality may seem to be asphyxiated through damage to respiratory structures
The dispersants used today are less toxic than those used a decade ago.  Toxic still. Maybe they accumulate slowly, or disrupt the hormonal systems of animals and humans less-no one has bothered to research these toxins in long term studies to find out. Possible Russian roulette with the Gulf’s version of Texas Tea.
For a little bit of levity  on the oil rupture check out  Stephen Colbert.
Resources
Excerpts
courtesy of  http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/821143-overview
Excerpts courtesy of  http://www.madsci.org
Excerpts courtesy of   www.pwrc.usgs.gov/infobase/topbibs/petroleum.pdf

Image courtesy of    http://bit.ly/ad2lhb

Image courtesy of   US Air Force


“Walmart bows to the California Environmental Quality Act”


Walmart forced to cut Greenhouse Gas Pollution
California Environmental Quality Act {CEQA) makes environmental protection a mandatory part of every California state and local agency’s decision making process, it has become a model for environmental protection laws in other states, but it has also become the basis for numerous lawsuits concerning public and private projects.
Settling lawsuits filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, late last week Walmart agreed to install three 250-kilowatt rooftop solar facilities and incorporate cutting-edge efficiency measures in constructing two new Supercenters stores in Perris and Yucca Valley, as well as to start a refrigerant audit and improvement program to reduce emissions at certain existing California Walmart stores. Walmart will also contribute $120,000 to the Mojave Desert Land Trust for land-conservation purposes. The big-box chain agreed to employ similar CO2-reduction measures for a proposed Supercenter in Riverside.
The California Environmental Quality Act’s goal is to improve new development, reduce greenhouse gas pollution, save energy, save money, and promote a vibrant green economy.

This type of environmental protection act needs to be enacted in every state.

You have a choice.

Congratulations to the the Center for Biological Diversity and its partners for all your hard work and dedication. Please donate today to help them keep up the good fight.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of   Center for Biological Diversity.org

Excerpts courtesy of   http://bit.ly/cruPKf

Image courtesy of   http://bit.ly/aI5bgA

“Coral reefs are the world’s underwater rainforests”


Coral are the rainforest of the ocean. Its reefs quickly create new species. The biodiversity of life on the reef is comparable to the multiplicity of life forms in the rainforests. There are 30 of 34 known animal phyla living on the reef. About 2800 species of fish are known to live in the reef region. Of the 500 or so species of reef building corals found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans, about 350 are known to be on the Barrier Reef. It could be decades before scientists have a complete list of all the plants and animals found on any one reef. Many species are still to be identified and named. Preserving and nurturing the coral will protect the entire food chain and our web of life as we know it.

In the richest of all regions of coral reef development (central Indo-Pacific), a single acre of coral reef habitat may harbor many types of marine algae, hundreds of brightly hued fish species, and thousands of different kinds of invertebrate animals. Coral reefs are the largest living structure on the planet.

500 million years ago the first coral reef grew. Now the world’s coral reefs are in crisis

The economic importance of maintaining a healthy coral and pollution free coastal shoreline cannot be under estimated:

1. Coral reefs cover are home to 25% of all marine fish species.
2. 500 million people rely on coral reefs for their food and livelihoods.
3. Coral reefs form natural barriers that protect nearby shorelines from the eroding forces of the sea, thereby protecting coastal dwellings, agricultural land and beaches.
4. Coral reefs, protect parts of Florida from be submerged.
5. Medicines made coral have been used in the treatment of cancer, HIV, cardiovascular diseases and ulcers.
6. Corals’ porous limestone skeletons have been used for human bone grafts.
7. It is estimated that coral reefs provide $375 billion per year around the world in goods and services.

Threats to the world’s coral reefs include:
1. Pollution -waste products from gasoline and oil, trash, plastic, cans, bottles, cosmetics, human carelessness, agriculture waste run off
2. Disease – bacterial, white pox, band and rapid wasting disease, coral bleaching, shedding – a sick environment equals sick coral
3. Over-fishing -destroying the food chain by taking all the largest fish and other sea creatures
4. Dynamite and cyanide fishing  especially in the Far East -Indonesia, Phillipines, Malasia, China, Japan
5. Sedimentation – muddy freshwater enters the sea by realizing that gaps in continuous fringing and offshore reefs faced the river mouths.
6. Bleaching caused by rising ocean temperatures from global warming

Healthy coral

If the present rate of destruction continues:

a. 70% of the world’s coral reefs will be destroyed by the year 2050.
b.  25% of coral reefs have already disappeared and an estimated two-thirds of all coral reefs are at risk today.1
c. 88% of the reefs in Southeast Asia – the most species rich reefs on earth – are at risk.
d. Since 1975, more than 90% of the reefs in the Florida Keys have lost their living coral cover.

Only we can change this destruction

  1. Take care and help clean up the our streams, shores, ocean and all waterways.
  2. Decreasing our carbon footprint
  3. When diving being respectful of the environment and staying off the coral.
  4. Take pictures of coral for souvenirs.
  5. Refusing to buy fish that are harvested by in long lines, dynamiting or cynanide poisoning ( the last two methods are from the Far East).
  6. Recycle, reuse and take trash home for proper discard on land, lake , stream, the seashore or ocean.

Support organizations that are helping protect the coral reef and sealife. Get involved.

Coral reefs are a world treasure. Our economic and health depend on them staying healthy.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of  http://www.terradaily.com//Coral_reefs_quickly_create.html

Excerpts courtesy of  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeast_Asian_coral_reefs

Excerpts courtesy of  http://www.barrierreefaustralia.com/great-barrier-reef-info2.html

Excerpts courtesy of   http://www.nature.org/joinanddonate/rescuereef/explore/facts.html

Image courtesy of  http://images.google.com/foodweb

Image courtesy of  http://www.uncwil.edu/bio/images/JRPBahamasspongesandcoral.jpg

“The stork cometh and baby does live!”


The African Shoebill storks are first time parents! Congratulations to everyone involved!

On December 25, 2009, in Tampa Florida at the Lowry Park Zoo the first baby African Shoebill stork was

The Stork cometh!

hatched. Thus Lowry became the first wildlife institution in the North America to hatch a rare African shoebill stork chick, and just the second institution worldwide.
So far the parent birds are involved parents who are sharing in the brooding responsibilities.  Aviary zoo keepers have conducted “dawn to dusk” watches to document feeding by the parent birds and response by the chick. It is thought that the chick will remain in the nest for about 120 days.

There are few Shoebills in captivity. Only 12 adult shoebills live in North American wildlife institutions, four of which are housed at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The population of wild Shoebills is thought to number 8,000-10,000 with the species listed as vulnerable.  “The shoebill population is uncommon in the wild, and rarely seen in zoos.

“Congratulations on this historic achievement in conserving  this rare species.” -Mother Nature

The African Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex)or Whalehead belongs to the pelican family.

Known as one of the great bird species of Africa, the Shoebill is a very large bird. The adult is 115-150 cm (45-64 in) tall,  230-260 cm (91-125 in) across the wings and weighs 4 to 7 kg (8.8-15.5 lbs). The adult is mainly grey while the juveniles are browner. It lives in tropical east Africa in large swamps from Sudan to Zambia. darkly colored birds (blue-grey) with unusually large bills up to 12 inches long and 5 inches wide that resemble the shape of a wooden shoe. A broad wingspan and long, strong legs give this rare bird a stork-like appearance.
Common names for Shoebills include shoe-billed stork, whale-headed stork or bog bird, because they are known to nest on the ground near water where they forage in shallow, aquatic environments. preying on fish, frogs, reptiles, such as baby crocodiles, insects and small mammals. They lay 2 eggs in their undisturbed papyrus reed beds in highly vegetated areas.

A unique adaptation for hunting

A shoebill stork will often live in waters that are poorly oxygenated so the fish their prey will have to go to the surface more often for oxygen. This increases their higher chance of getting pleny of fish to eat.
The population is estimated at between 5,000 and 8,000 individuals, the majority of which live in Sudan. BirdLife International have classified it as Vulnerable with the main threats being habitat destruction, disturbance and hunting.

Resources


Excerpts
courtesy of  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoebill_stork

Excerpts courtesy of  http://www.zandavisitor.com/forumtopicdetail-29-Tampa_Lowry_Park_Zoo

Image 1 and 2. courtesy of   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balaeniceps_rex_-San_Diego_Zoo.jpg

“Tortoise and friends vs solar giant can both win?”


So many battles to tend with big oil, other corporate giants, federal agencies, golf courses, housing tracts and casinos all seemingly bent on destroying our natural resouces, environment, endangered animals and plants.  Now the environmentalists must protect endangered tortoises, their land and other threatened species from one of our own??
Is there something wrong with this picture?

Mojave Desert Tortoise

Two dozen rare Mojave Desert tortoises Gopherus agassizii could lose their homeland on protected federal lands from a growing solar-energy company.  Oakland, Calif.-based BrightSource Energy would sacrifice a 6 square miles of habitat needed for the threatened desert tortoise to put up 400,000 mirrors on the site to gather the sun’s energy to power construct three solar power plants on the site that together would generate power for 142,000 homes annually. There must be a way to do both.

The clean power is needed, but we must work together to save the environment and life as we know it on this earth.

The project is good, but poorly placed.

We all must care enough to find a peaceful solution without years of wasted money on court battles.

Preserving the pristine home for rare plants and wildlife, including the protected tortoise, the Western burrowing owl and bighorn sheep is vital.
It could become the first project of its kind on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property, leaving a footprint for others to follow on vast stretches of public land across the West. The stakes are high.

Let BrightSourceEnergy and the Sierra Club know you want them to come to an out of court agreement with the envoronmental groups that is good for both.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of   http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100101/ap_on_bi_ge/us_solar_showdown

Image courtesy of  http://geochange.er.usgs.gov/sw/impacts/biology/tortoise1/tort124.gif

“Record number of nearly frozen sea turtles wash ashore”


Sea turtles were freezing and washed ashore  on Cape Code shoreline this past week. Until last weekend the waters off the Eastern seaboard were warm. When this first winter storms blew through water temperatures off shore plummeted below the turtle’s optimum activity temperature of 50 degrees.

Saving freezing turtles

On December 7, 2009 a record number of sea turtles, twenty four were washed ashore. Their body temperatures registered as low as 30 and 40 degrees when found.

All were endangered. Most were Kemp’s Ridley the smallest endangered turtle, 1 loggerhead and some green sea turtles made up the rescued population. Turtles are cold blooded but this decrease in water temperature threw their bodies into shock. They became too sluggish to swim and they float ashore with the prevailing winds. There will be many more to save over these next few months.

Washed ashore freezing and dying

There are three groups  helping save marine creatures in Cape Code area. They are The National Marine Life Center (who are opening a sea turtle ward to save  severely debilitated sea animals),  MassAudubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (who are authorized and trained volunteer beach respondants) and the New England Aquarium (they are the trained medical authorized intensive care facility).

The National Marine Life Center is in desperate need of your support to finish their new care facility. The donations to date have been generous, but they still need significant contributions to finish the rehabilitation facility.

Will you help save a turtle this holiday season? Give the gift that keeps giving for years to come. This facility can save thousands with your help.

Click here.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of  http://nmlc.org/2009/12/record-number-of-sea-turtle-strandings

Excerpts courtesy of https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=14079

Image 1. courtesy of  http://nmlc.org/2009/12/record-number-of-sea-turtle-strandings

Image 2. courtesy of  http://www.turtlejournal.com/wp-content/.jpg


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