Why you really should check your rear-view mirror with great frequency ... Somebody had to pull up next to him all, "Hey, buddy, you know that boat you're hauling, well, I'm not being nosy or anything, but ...
Tuesday, February 04, 2020: How about these 60s? How can I not continue to point out that there are barely any subfreezing night temps forecast well into the future, looking as far as two weeks ahead? WTF!? right?
It should softly be mentioned that we’re oddly low in stormage. The lack of northern steering current seemed to indicate any winter storms would thrive in the milder often unstable air in the lower 48. And that would likely happen if there were any lurking lows. Instead, systems have been hoofing speedily past, not real tapping into the explosive potential of an oceanic super charge.
This low-stormage winter flies in the face of global warming ideology, though more fanatical warmists will always find a way to attribute any weather to atmospheric anomalies caused by mankind. This winter is becoming one for the mild-side books. Which reminds me that the return of Larson’s “Far Side” can be found at: https://www.thefarside.com/
BE COY: I now have three observations and yard cam photo of one coywolfing around the north end of the Island. The most recent was a road-crossing, seen this past weekend.
Last fall, I had written in my blog (fishlbi.com) about possible coywolf images taken by a backyard cam in High Bar Harbor and the gnarl BL vicinity. That locale makes sense in a wild canine way. It hosts the only natural areas north of the Bonnet Islands -- and the only undeveloped Island acreage north of the Holgate refuge. It is also home to foxes galore.
How long this brazen coywolf can survive here is anyone’s guess. It’s an untraveled road for this form of wildlife. One dead-end would be the Barnegat Light State Park area, where it will most likely be ignobly ousted, like the resident mink that had once settled on the South Jetty. For the sake of rare and endangered birdlife in the park, the state employs professional trappers to snare any shorebird predators.
What the High Bar ‘yote has been dining on during its stay is a mystery. There is next to no roadkill this time of year. What’s more, there isn’t all that much bird traffic, though gulls, ducks and geese are constantly hanging around. Of course, there’s always the seemingly self-filling porch dishes of food and water put out by tons of feral cat feeders -- who inadvertently underwrite the lives and times of Island possums, raccoon, foxes, otters, minks … and possibly an Island coywolf.
I was asked if this LBI coywolf might be feeding upon felines? One would think so, though such dining leaves a real mess, as I’ve seen during mainland walkabouts. I’ve yet to see or hear about any cat parts strewn about The Dike area of High Bar, where this coywolf likely retreats during the day.
Possums as prey? Possibly. We have a goodly number in the system – the sewer system. Since I like possums, I hate noting that they present a load of tasty slow-moving meat to predators. They’re so edible, there would be a minimum of leftover indicators in the wake of a coyote’s possum feast.
By the by, I cannot see a coyote eating any of the many LBI foxes. In fact, if anything, the foxes will show the newbie where to find foodstuff. “Hey, dude, you gotta come check out this back porch. The lady there puts out the Fancy Feast! Nah, those cats won’t hurt ya.”
FLASH MASKING: Switching to way-worldly matters, who could have imagined making a mint by investing in … surgical masks? Hey, they’re currently sold out in many stores – and we’re a solid 12,000 miles from Huanggang, China … from whence cometh the need.
The “Beer” virus, better known as the CoronavirusB, already has folks shaking in their pandemic-fearing boots. As we speak, a rush to stock up on fabric mouth coverings, like surgical masks and dust masks, might just be the tip of a masked iceberg. If you have stock in Facemasks ‘r’ Us – I’m not sure what stock ticker symbol that trades under – you might be on your way to any early retirement … just in time for end times. Just kidding. You surely have a few more months.
In case you hadn’t guessed, mass media has been deluged with facemask matters – in the face of Asians wearing them by the cityload.
Might the mask-buying marathon be, in fact, the result of huge doses of media hype about a very low risk threat to America? It’s absolutely hype, even to a nonsensical degree -- he says, after going Amazon to see if there are any masks left anywhere.
I’m sardonically kidding, kids. I don’t need no stinkin’ single-use facemasks. Hell, I still have a couple boxed Cold War facemasks, which render the wearer camera-ready for post-apocalyptic movie roles. I’m not sure of the expiration date of my Cold War headwear. I guess I should check.
As to what everyday facemasks might best keep out the evil 2019-nCoV, simplified to Corona-B, you might be surprised to find out those confidence-delivering stereotypical hospital surgical mask won’t stop squat, at least when efforting to stave off aggressive uninterpreted viruses.
This nCoV thing is still a baffler, as to its true nature, though we kinda know its intent. It is inconsistent with the evolution of viruses, watched closely by epidemiologists -- the folks who follow disease patterns. They’re baffled. Conspiratorial types quickly point out that China is currently a world leader in studying, i.e. developing, biological weapons. Don’t balk. A Duke University study reports, “The possibility of mass-producing infectious pathogens has become a terrifying reality in the past century with the potential for man-made pandemics looming ever darker.” The National Institutes of Health is putting large chunks of its hefty budget into bioweapons and biodefense research. OK, so I likely just gave too much ink to the paranoia side of things, but it all comes with reportage.
Back to covering mouths, the best facemask for battling nCov is the construction worker-approved N95 respirators, providing they’re worn snugly. From experience, I can assure they’re a pain when used for protracted periods. Facial skin holds their indentations for hours after they’re removed. “How’d you get those face scars, Jay.” Uh, it was during my Golden Gloves boxing years …
But do masks even work, virally? Yes, no, maybe.
William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville reports a surgical mask offers very modest protection, at best – at worst, no protection at all. “When doctors are treating patients who have a communicable disease, they wear a type of mask called an N95 respirator. Because this mask is sealed around the mouth and nose, it will block a virus. But using it requires special training, and it makes breathing harder and is uncomfortable to wear,” he said.
Speaking of N95 mask, Raina MacIntyre, head of biosecurity research at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, says, "Several studies, including research from my group, show that if worn properly, masks can protect people in the community from respiratory illness, especially [those] in close contact with sick people."
MacIntyre went on, “When infection is widespread, it may be useful. However, images from China show people wearing face masks that aren't likely to help.”
Should facemasks even be worn? Sure … if you don’t want to catch the flu or your death of pneumonia. On average, 36,000 Americans die of the flu … every year! That simply shows the disproportionate reaction to the danger of the Coronavirus while overlooking the viruses already in the henhouse.
If you want to maintain a healthy paranoia about the Coronavirus, here’s a decently objective website regarding the nuts and bolts of facemasks.: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spre....
Dr. Steve Cadrin, Professor at the School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and past President of the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists, has completed an evaluation and summary of the latest Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) Atlantic menhaden stock assessments.
Lower Menhaden Fishing Would Not Help Overfished Striped Bass
Dr. Cadrin’s evaluation and summary of the ecosystem-based assessment focuses in part on how it modeled the relationship between menhaden and striped bass. Most notably, he observes the assessment finds that, due to current overfishing and the overfished status of striped bass, decreasing the menhaden harvest would have little impact on striped bass stocks.
“At the current rate of fishing mortality on striped bass, there is little change in the long-term expectation for the striped bass stock from fishing menhaden at a lower rate than the single species target. Therefore, there appears to be negligible benefit to bass from fishing menhaden lower than the single species target,” Dr. Cadrin writes.
The assessments are the culmination of a two-year effort to gather and analyze available data for Atlantic menhaden from the fishery-independent sampling programs of the Atlantic states, commercial purse-seine reduction fishery, and commercial bait fishery. All those who worked on the single-species assessment and the ground-breaking ecosystem assessment – the SEDAR 69 Panel, the Atlantic Menhaden Technical Committee (TC), the Stock Assessment Subcommittee (SAS), the ASMFC Ecosystem Reference Points Work Group, the Center for Independent Experts (CIE), the technical reviewer and the review panel chair -- deserve credit for the completion of this task.
Both assessments will be discussed at this week’s ASMFC meeting.
Ørsted Hosting Open House to Update Residents on Ocean Wind
Representatives from offshore wind developer Orsted will host an open house to update area residents on the progress of its Ocean Wind project on Wednesday, Feb. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Holiday Beach Club on Lighthouse Drive, Waretown. Free parking will be available.
Attendees will have the opportunity to visit and interact with Orsted employees, who will be on-hand to discuss specific aspects of the company’s plans to build a 1,100-megawatt offshore wind farm that will power more than half a million New Jersey homes. Ocean Wind will be located 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. Construction is expected to commence in the early 2020s, with the wind farm operational in 2024.
Ocean Wind will contribute significantly to the state’s ambitious renewable energy goal of supplying more than 3.2 million New Jersey homes with offshore wind power by 2035. At 1,100 megawatts, Ocean Wind is expected to create over 3,000 direct jobs annually through development and a three-year construction cycle. Ocean Wind will also have 69 full-time jobs in its operations and maintenance facility to service the turbines during the lifetime of the wind farm.
“We look forward to engaging and connecting with local residents again about how Ocean Wind is progressing,” said Kris Ohleth, senior stakeholder relations manager for Orsted. “This is a new American industry and New Jersey is poised to be a key player within offshore wind, so we expect and welcome questions and comments. We remain open and eager to speak with the local community and share how offshore wind will spur economic opportunities across the region.” -P.J.
It was just a matter of time. Local San Diego high school hired a new bus driver recently and he got on the wrong exit and ended up on MCRD (a Marine Corp road).
Having just finished his first cycle as a Drill Instructor, Staff Sgt (Redacted), was pretty amped up. "I just love Making Marines, I lost my bearing a little, I guess" He entered that bus with the intensity of a freight train. One student tried to explain they were lost and obviously was greeted firmly with agreement. "No S*** You're F****** Lost!!!! But now you're found, and you belong to ME!" An onslaught of beratement continued for another 15 minutes continued until another Drill Instructor, who had been sitting outside the bus listening and laughing finally felt the children had enough, walked in and dismissed the Drill Instructor.
Scientists found the head of a 330-million-year-old shark in a Kentucky cave NATACHA LARNAUD
Researchers were "stunned" when they discovered the remnants of a huge, fossilized shark head in the walls of a cave in Kentucky. The remains of the ancient animal were found in Mammoth Cave National Park, which according to the National Park Service is the world's longest cave system.
The shark fossil, which was discovered by scientists who were investigating the cave system, is thought to be up to about 330 million years old, according to John-Paul Hodnett, a paleontologist and program coordinator at Dinosaur Park in Maryland.
The scientists sent Hodnett photos of the findings so he could help identify them. He was able to identify most of the fossils, but what got him "really excited" was to see a number of shark teeth associated with large sections of fossilized cartilage.
- "This was kind of a big deal," he said. "It suggested there might have been a shark skeleton in the cave."
Shark skeletons are made of cartilage, which does not fossilize as well as bone — so it is rarely preserved. Preserved cartilage can only be found in a few select locations around the world.
Shark teeth, on the other hand, are among the most common fossils found around the planet since they are replaced throughout the animal's life.
Hodnett eventually visited the park to examine the fossils, and while he did not uncover a full skeleton, he found parts of a head that belonged to a prehistoric shark, which he said was the size of a modern great white shark.
Based on what was exposed in the cave wall, he identified a 2 ½-foot-long lower jaw, teeth, and other cartilage belonging to this one large shark and around 100 extremely detailed teeth of other shark species.
"What we saw in the cave was amazing because just from the shape of the jaw we'll be able to find out more about how this species lived and we'll be able to fit it in the shark family tree more accurately," Hodnett said.
The team determined the shark belonged to a species called Saivodus striatus, which lived during the Late Mississippian geological period, more than 330 million years ago.he majority of the shark fossils discovered by the researchers come from a layer of rock that extends from Missouri to Virginia. However, this is the first time the presence of sharks has been documented.
"Mammoth Cave has a rich fossil shark record and there's still much more to uncover," Hodnett said.
- For the second time in history, the derby will not include striped bass, out of concern for dwindling stocks.
Martha’s Vineyard Derby Will Remove Striped Bass From Competition
- Will Sennott
- The Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby will eliminate striped bass from the competition this year, derby leaders announced Monday.
The committee voted unanimously at a meeting Jan. 30 to eliminate stripers from the upcoming 75th annual tournament in September and October, a press release said.
“It’s no secret the bass are struggling,” said Joe El-Deiry, chairman of the derby committee, speaking to the Gazette by phone Monday. “Striped bass are probably the most important fish that swim in these waters. It was the responsible thing to do.”
The decision caps months of internal debate within the 36-member derby committee and comes amid wide-ranging concern about declining stocks. New slot regulations adopted this year by federal regulators will restrict the size of stripers that can be taken, effectively prohibiting the taking of large fish.
The derby, which is widely recognized up and down the East Coast as a premiere saltwater fishing competition, offers prizes for the largest fish caught in four species categories: striped bass, bluefish, false albacore and bonito.
But Mr. El-Deiry said the decision to remove stripers from the derby did not stem directly from the new regulations.
“It’s not about that,” he said. “It’s about being leaders in encouraging a healthy stock for the future. We have always prided ourselves in our conservation efforts.”
This marks the second time in history that the derby has eliminated striped bass from the competition. The last time was from 1985 to 1993, when striped bass stocks had hit a historic low. The decision was controversial at the outset, but what was seen at first as a symbolic gesture was followed by a statewide moratorium on the taking of stripers. In 1990 stocks rebounded.
Today the stripers are in trouble again, and a swell of scientific, regulatory and conservationist efforts are aimed at restoring the dwindling population — which last year was found to have dropped well below the threshold considered sustainable by federal regulators.
The new slot limits adopted last October by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will require the release of any striped bass measuring less than 28 inches or more than 35 inches.
Mr. El-Deiry said in the end the decision came down to the simplest terms. “If the stripers are in trouble, we should be removing them,” he said. “We shouldn’t be figuring out the best ways to keep them in our tournament. It’s about being leaders in encouraging a healthy stock for the future. We have always prided ourselves in our conservation efforts.”
In the press release Monday, the committee explained its decision. “Because of the obvious significance of striped bass — to the recreational fishing community and to the derby — we strongly believe that the responsible decision is to completely remove it as an eligible species in the 2020 derby, including any catch-and-release component,” it said in part. “The derby committee will continue to partner with fisheries scientists and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries in an effort to thoughtfully and responsibly consider the role of striped bass in the derby . . . we encourage anglers and derby participants to continue to think about striped bass, even if not fishing for them.” It concludes:
“While it is disappointing to not include striped bass in the 2020 derby, we recognize it as a necessary decision, just as the committee did in 1985. We hope it again will be part of a larger effort that is successful in realizing the recovery of striped bass.”
Home page picture by Albert O. Fischer 3rd.
EPA Finds Neonics Are Risky Business—but Plans to Approve Anyway
These toxic pesticides are a leading cause of bee declines, a grave threat to aquatic life, and a possible threat to human health.
After a lengthy and long-delayed review of neonicotinoid insecticides, or neonics, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its findings this week, acknowledging that it had previously underestimated the serious risks these highly insect-toxic pesticides pose not only to bees but also to aquatic ecosystems, birds, other wildlife, and even human health.
Unfortunately, protective measures proposed by the EPA fall far short of the desperately needed actions taken by its sister environmental agencies in Europe and Canada and supported by the overwhelming weight of independent scientific evidence. The agency has greenlighted continued widespread use of the pesticides on a huge variety of crops, lawns, homes, gardens, and just about any other place you can imagine—all across the country—even as other countries move to ban most outdoor uses.
As a new NRDC report shows, the EPA’s plan isn’t just bad news for bees and the enormous number of crops that depend on them for pollination; it’s also bad for whole ecosystems—birds, bats, fish, deer, other aquatic life, and, quite possibly, people. The decision isn’t final yet—the public has 60 days to weigh in—and NRDC will be pushing the EPA every step of the way to make sure the agency does its job right.
A Critical Chance to Correct Course—With the EPA Still Pointed in the Wrong Direction
Under federal law, the EPA is required to review all registered pesticides every 15 years to make sure they don’t unreasonably harm the environment or risk public health. For about a decade, the agency has been reviewing the five registered neonic pesticides under this process. Although many of the risks brought upon by neonics were unknown when the EPA first approved the chemicals, we now know that they are a leading cause of bee declines, a grave threat to aquatic ecosystems, and a possible threat to human health.
The EPA should respond to this with real protections for pollinators and other wildlife, such as banning or heavily restricting dangerous neonic uses. Today’s decisions, however, show that instead of taking the opportunity to correct course on neonics, the agency is unwilling to take the actions needed to protect our environment—and ourselves—from neonics. If the agency doesn’t correct course now, there is no scheduled plan to revisit the issue for another 15 years.
Failing to Respond to the Science
The EPA’s decision to continue allowing widespread neonic use simply doesn’t add up. Comprehensive worldwide assessments, independent literature reviews, and even industry-funded field studies established years ago the dire threats neonics pose to pollinator populations. In fact, the EPA’s own pollinator assessments confirm many of these risks.
Increasingly, science is showing that the impacts of neonics are not just a bee issue but also a major player in the broader biodiversity crisis. Neonics are highly ecologically toxic, persistent, and all over the environment. The popular pesticides have been linked to harms to native pollinators and insects, fish, birds, deer, bats, aquatic ecosystems, and other wildlife, as well as widespread soil and water contamination. The EPA’s own risk assessments also recognize that neonics contaminate our nation’s rivers, lakes, and wetlands at levels harmful to aquatic ecosystems. But the decision does little to address these risks.
Moreover, the EPA’s decisions acknowledge that people, not just wildlife, have more to fear from neonics than once thought. The agency even proposes several measures to address unsafe uses of these pesticides. But had the EPA applied the appropriate safety factors as required by law to protect children and pregnant women, it would have identified many more uses of brain-toxic neonic products that are unsafe.
The EPA also disregards or downplays non-industry science that links neonic exposure with neurological and developmental harm in wildlife and people. These findings are consistent with industry laboratory studies showing that neonics are especially harmful to brain development. Human health experts have also raised red flags regarding their potential to harm people.
The agency’s report also ignores independent research showing that neonics could break down into other, potentially more toxic chemicals in the environment, including waterways and other habitat that is critical to wildlife, including endangered species.
The EPA’s proposal amounts to shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. Continued widespread use of these highly toxic insecticides is already being blamed for harm to aquatic species, pollinators including honeybees and wild bees, and other wildlife. The EPA has offered up a teaspoon of regulations against a tempest of harm.
Time to Make Your Voice Heard
As mentioned, this isn’t over yet. Today’s proposals will kick off a 60-day public comment period once they are officially published in the Federal Register. Anyone who cares about bees, birds, butterflies, aquatic life, or their own health should tell the agency to take stronger protective actions against rampant neonic use now.
The EPA needs to hear your voice. Our bees, birds, ecosystems, clean water, and health depend on it. Stayed tuned for further instructions on how to comment once the comment period officially starts.