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Belugas Are Dying Off In Alaska And Oil And Gas Operations Are To Blame, Says Lawsuit

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Photo Credit: EcoWatch

Jordan Davidson, EcoWatch

Two environmental groups made a formal announcement that they will file a lawsuit to protect endangered beluga whales whose numbers have plummeted recently, as the AP reported.

The suit aims to void permits allowed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that opened up oil and gas exploration in Cook Inlet in southern Alaska. The suit alleges that NOAA violated the Endangered Species Act by issuing the permits without protecting Cook Island belugas. The law requires the formal 60-day notice before the agency can be sued, according to The Associated Press.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Cook Inletkeeper teamed up to send notice that they will sue NOAA.

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released a disturbing new population estimate last week that showed whale numbers are far lower than previous estimates and their numbers are dropping rapidly, as Reuters reported.

The NMFS report estimated that only 279 beluga whales remain in Cook Inlet, a steep decline from the nearly 1,300 that lived there in 1979. The population decline has accelerated to an annual rate of 2.3% over the last decade, which is four times faster than previous estimates, according to NMFS, as Reuters reported.

Cook Inlet runs almost 200 miles from Anchorage to the Gulf of Alaska. It supplies energy for the south-central part of the state. The industrial activities there threaten beluga whales, which swim there and feast on salmon and other fish, according to The Independent.

The Center for Biological Diversity said these “daunting” numbers mean exploration planned by Hillcorp Alaska needs to stop immediately, as The Independent reported.

The plaintiffs are demanding a new assessment of oil and gas exploration since the Trump administration used higher, inaccurate beluga whale numbers when it gave a permit to Hillcorp Alaska. The permit allows the petroleum company to “take” beluga whales as part of its operations. “Take” is a nebulous term that allows the company to harass and harm whales. The environmental groups want a guarantee that Cook Inlet belugas can recover from any of Hillcorp Alaska’s operations, according to The Associated Press.

“Since we pressed for listing the Cook Inlet Beluga whale as endangered in 2008, the drive for corporate profits and complacent government bureaucrats have conspired to stifle progress for this dwindling stock,” said Bob Shavelson, advocacy director for Cook Inletkeeper, in a statement. “Hilcorp should do the right thing and abandon its plans for new drilling in Cook Inlet.”

Last summer, the Trump administration loosened environmental regulations that allowed for new mining, oil and gas drilling where protected species live, according to The Independent.

The tragic decline of these lovely little whales spotlights the risk of allowing oil exploration in their habitat,” said Julie Teel Simmonds, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “If we’re going to save these belugas, the Trump administration must cancel permission for the oil industry to use seismic blasting and pile driving in Cook Inlet. These animals are hanging on by a thread, and we can’t let them be hurt even more.”

The groups said that seismic blasting used in exploration and deep-sea mining causes blasts heard miles away. The blasts can register up to 250 decibels. For reference, standing next to a jackhammer is 100 decibels. Those underwater blasts can cause hearing loss in marine mammals, severely disrupt communication between pods, disturb feeding and breeding grounds, and reduce their ability to catch fish, according to the environmental groups, as The Associated Press reported.

By Jordan Davidson | Creative Commons | EcoWatch

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Man Builds An Adorably Tiny Picnic Table For Squirrels In His Yard

“I appreciate them and they appreciate me.’’

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https://www.collective-spark.xyz/homeless-people-ticketed-for-being-outside-and-violating-social-distancing-orders/
Photo Credit: Pexels/Natalija Mislevicha

(TMU) — Squirrels would be happy living anywhere where nut trees are plentiful like in natural forests. And clever as they are, it is doubtful they dreamed of one day moving into the city or living in suburbia, yet here they are, through no fault of their own, where they are adored by many but also seen as a nuisance and likened to pests such as rats and pigeons.

Squirrels are quite harmless and have been living close to humans for a long time. They’re very curious, entertaining to watch, and don’t muck about in garbage bins, although they do fancy nesting in attics and stealing birdseed from their feathered neighbours.

Rick Kalinkwski is a fine example of a human that enjoys and appreciates the squirrels that see his yard. To show his appreciation, Rick decided to create a special spot for his wild friends to enjoy their meals. Using some left over wood he created a tiny picnic table for them and attached it to the fence in the back yard.

Once he finished the project and had it secured to the fence, Rick laid the table with a feast of nuts for his furry friends. Pretty soon after the first guest arrived, sat on the bench, and started sampling the feast.

Although the squirrels often visit Rick’s table twice a day and never leave a tip for the bringer of treats, it warms Rick’s heart seeing the table enjoyed. It has become part of their daily routine.

Rick positioned the squirrel table outside a window which gives him a perfect view from where he joins them for breakfast enjoying his morning coffee.

Rick’s table was his way of giving back and a way of thanking the squirrels for the endless joy he gets from watching them play in his yard. Of course, seeing his furry friends enjoy his effort and happy to have full tummies throughout the year is more than enough thanks for Rick, who said simply:

“I appreciate them and they appreciate me.’’

Someone else who appreciates squirrels is wildlife rehabilitation specialist, Christy Hargrove, who in 2001 created National Squirrel Appreciation Day in Asheville, North Carolina.

Christy’s aim for creating this day was simply to encourage people to be kind towards their bushy tailed neighbours with simple gestures like putting out food and water and perhaps even allowing them to play with the bird-feeder.

Not necessarily by choice or intention, squirrels are beneficial to the environment since they plant the seeds of future trees wherever they live. When living in urban areas, squirrels assist parks to remain beautiful and lush. About 74% of the nuts they bury for lean times are never found and eventually grow into new trees for all to enjoy.

National Squirrel Day has been officially held on January 21 since 2011. Christy says:

’Make of it what you want, so long as it’s in the name of squirrel positivity!’’

By Jade Small | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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While Hiking In Norway, Photographer Captures Extremely Rare White Baby Reindeer

“He came very close to me, and we looked at each other straight in the eyes.”

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While Hiking In Norway, Photographer Captures Extremely Rare White Baby Reindeer
Photo Credit: Getty

Jade Small, The Mind Unleashed

If it’s a snowy wonderland you’re after, the Nordics in winter are indeed spectacular and blessed with magnificent scenery. And if you’re lucky, you might spot some interesting and sometimes rare wildlife.

During a hike near Oslo in Norway, wildlife enthusiast photographer Mads Nordsveen was fortunate to have an unusual experience with a rare animal two winters ago.

Nordsveen explained:

“I was walking in the mountains looking for nice landscapes for my travel photography when out of nowhere I saw this adorable animal.”

The adorable animal happened to be a very well camouflaged baby deer, as white as the snow surrounding it. According to Nordsveen it made no attempt to hide and even seemed to pose for some pictures.

It seems both Nordsveen and little deer were surprised and curious about the strange creature they encountered.

The photographer was also delighted to meet the little one:

“He came very close to me, and we looked at each other straight in the eyes,” he recalled, “After some minutes the mother of the white deer came out of trees just behind. It walked around for some minutes before running back to its mother. It was very magical and a fairy tale moment.”

People have been captivated by white deer, probably since the first one was spotted likely millennia ago. These mysterious, ghostly creatures were featured in folklore, myths, and superstition and are considered to be sacred.

One persistent legend warns that a hunter killing a white deer will have bad luck for a long time and this idea appears to be universal among hunting cultures. In his book, Kudu, writer Peter Flack notes that hunters across Africa believe misfortune, perhaps even death, will befall any hunter who kills a white antelope, while those who see the mysterious white deer would be blessed with luck.

According to Dr Nicholas Tyler, from the Centre for Saami Studies at the University of Tromso in Norway, white reindeer are rare but easy to spot in summer, when most photographs of them are taken. While white reindeer have an uncommon genetic mutation that strips their fur of pigment giving them great camouflage in the snow, they have dark pigmentation in their eyes and antlers and as such are not classified as albino.

On the other hand, Jerry Haigh, a professor of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada has spent time studying the reindeer herds of Northern Mongolia. Haigh discovered that white reindeer are ‘’quite common’’ in the herds cared for by the nomadic Dukha community.

In recent years, with advanced technology enabling surveillance in areas difficult to access, more examples of wild species’ babies born without pigment have been found, although many seldom survive in the wild due to either being an easy target for predators or being rejected by the mother or herd.

One animal being born with white fur in a species whose fur is usually not white is often incorrectly referred to as albino when they likely have a different condition.

More Info: Instagram | Website 

By Jade Small | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animal World

Photographer Captures One In A Million Photo, But Doesn’t Realize It Until He Gets Home

Daniel Biber, a wildlife photographer from Germany, happened to be in the right place at the right time.

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Photographer Captures One In A Million Photo, But Doesn’t Realize It Until He Gets Home
Photo Credit: Daniel Biber

Jade Small, The Mind Unleashed

Just taking a walk in nature can be enough to wash away stress. Nature is never stagnant and those with a keen eye may discover something delightful or observe something awesome that will bring back the sparkle in their eyes.

While we often marvel at the amazing photographs and videos taken by professional wildlife photographers in particular, in addition to having cool equipment and a good eye, they are usually extremely patient and prepared to travel to remote locations and wait, and wait some more for what could truly be that “once in a lifetime” shot.

Daniel Biber, a professional wildlife photographer from Hilzingen in Germany, happened to be in the right place at the right time all thanks to his patience and commitment to returning day after day to the scene where he had witnessed a natural phenomenon but had failed to capture that special shot he was aiming for every time.

The place was Spain’s Costa Brava in the north-eastern part of the country and the phenomenon was the gathering of an unbelievably large flock of starlings. Just before sunset they would start shape-shifting as they flew. Murmuration, as it is called, is in itself not an unusual occurrence but the exceptionally large number of birds over the Costa Brava at that time, moving and twisting in what seemed like a coordinated, single organism, morphing from one shape into another in a matter of seconds, was indeed extraordinary.

…if you look closely at this photo… underneath the bird’s head there is a woman’s head !! What an amazing photo!…

Clare Ennew paylaştı: 21 Mart 2020 Cumartesi

The startling’s shape-shifting swirling and twisting are most likely a natural tactic to confuse predators such as falcons and hawks looking for an easy meal before nightfall. Biber described the event as almost supernatural as the birds turned themselves into shapes resembling a giant bird—apparently thumbing their beaks at the predator as if indicating ‘’we are bigger than you.’’

Biber’s patience had indeed paid off on this day. He had tried for several days and failed to capture the starlings in full flow.

“I’ve tried to photograph the starlings but it never worked out as well as I hoped for,” he said. “I eventually drove to the spot every day for four days in a row in order to capture them. I picked a spot where I thought they would turn up and picked a matching foreground and backdrop in order to put them in a scene.”

Photo Credit: Daniel Biber

Mind Bending Nature paylaştı: 21 Şubat 2020 Cuma

The unique photo earned Biber a prize in an international photography competition. Although at the time, he had no idea that just how unique the shots he captured were. “Only when I checked the pictures on the computer later, I realized what formation the starlings had created,” he told the Daily Mail“I was so concentrated on taking pictures at the time that I hadn’t realized that the starling murmuration had created a giant bird in the sky.”

It is definitely worth the wait to experience the surprising and amazing sights nature reveals, often when we least expect them. Whether your adventures into nature are short of more leisurely, enjoy every minute and remember, keep an eye open for those delightful surprises.

By Jade Small | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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With India On Lockdown, Endangered Sea Turtles On Course To Lay SIXTY MILLION Eggs This Year

The global pandemic has had some positive effects on the environment.

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Mummified Woman Found Buried In Siberia Wearing Foal-Skin Stockings And Copper Cross
Photo Credit: Mint Press News

Elias Marat, The Mind Unleashed

While the coronavirus may have sparked one of the biggest crises seen by the planet in modern times, the global pandemic has had some positive effects on the environment.

In India, along the coast of the eastern state Odisha, over 475,000 endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles have come ashore to a roughly 3.75-mile (6-km.) Rushikulya beach to dig their nests and lay eggs.

However, restrictions in place due to the CoViD-19 threat has allowed for hundreds of thousands of endangered turtles to be protected from any human presence—especially the presence of tourists—resulting in what may be their most successful mass nesting in years.

According to the forest service, well over 250,000 mother turtles have taken part in the daytime nesting activity within the past week alone, reports Down to Earth.

Typically, the event would attract hordes of tourists eager to see the miraculous event, straining members of the Forest Department who struggled to keep the crowds at bay. Crows and jackals would also attack the turtles, while local poachers would come afterward to rob turtle eggs and sell them at local village markets.

However, the coronavirus lockdown has prevented any such disturbance of this year’s mass nesting, reports the Hindu, allowing the 25 forest guards and researchers to focus on guarding the turtles.

With another successful mass nesting having taken place at Gahirmatha Beach, which also lies along the Bay of Bengal in Odisha, authorities estimate that roughly 60,000,000 eggs will be laid this year in total.

While thousands of the eggs were destroyed by the mass of mother turtles laying eggs atop nests, such is the norm in the mass nesting’s where each mother lays an average of 80 to 100 eggs each. The eggs should take 45 days to hatch, after which the little hatchlings emerge to make their way out to sea.

It’s a stunning reversal of fortune for the Olive Ridleys who had skipped the beach last year, baffling researchers.

The Forest Department claimed that this year saw the highest number of turtles taking part in the event. They explained:

“Every alternate year is either a bad year or a good year. However, in the last two years we have seen a phenomenal increase in nesting numbers. This year we have estimated that at least 4.75 lakh [475,000] turtles came on to nest on Rushikulya beach.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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