Intense pressure from the whaling industry in the early 1900s saw the western South Atlantic population of humpbacks diminish to only 450 whales, after approximately 25,000 of the mammals were hunted within 12 years.
Protections were put in place in the 1960s after scientists noticed worldwide that populations were declining. In the mid-1980s, the International Whaling Commission issued a moratorium on all commercial whaling, offering further safeguards for the struggling population.
A new study co-authored by Grant Adams, John Best and André Punt from the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences revealed that the species’ population (Megaptera novaeangliae) has rebounded to 25,000. Researchers believe this new estimate is now close to pre-whaling numbers.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the comeback; previous studies hadn’t suggested that humpback whales in this region were doing this well,” Best told Good News Network in an email.
The study, published last month in the journal Royal Society Open Science, refutes a previous assessment conducted by the International Whaling Commission between 2006 and 2015 which indicated the population had only recovered to about 30% of its pre-exploitation numbers. Since that assessment was completed, new data has come to light, providing more accurate information on catches, genetics, and life-history.
“Accounting for pre-modern whaling and struck-and-lost rates where whales were shot or harpooned but escaped and later died, made us realize the population was more productive than we previously believed,” said Adams, a UW doctoral student who helped construct the new model.
The study incorporated detailed records from the whaling industry at the outset of commercial exploitation, while current population estimates are made from a combination of air- and ship-based surveys, along with advanced modeling techniques.
The authors anticipate that the model built for this study can be used to determine population recovery in other species in more detail as well.
“We believe that transparency in science is important,” said Adams. “The software we wrote for this project is available to the public and anyone can reproduce our findings.”
Lead author Alex Zerbini of the UW’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean stressed the importance of providing population assessments without biases, but says these findings come as good news— an example of how an endangered species can come back from near extinction.
“Wildlife populations can recover from exploitation if proper management is applied,” said Zerbini, who completed this work at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s Marine Mammal Laboratory.
The study also looks at how the revival of South Atlantic humpbacks may have ecosystem-wide impacts. Whales compete with other predators, like penguins and seals, for krill as their primary food source. Krill populations may further be impacted by warming waters due to climate changes, compressing their range closer to the poles.
Wild teaberry is excellent this time of year. The plant is loaded with essence.
Deadly coral disease has spread through Great Florida Reef
A disease killing stony coral in the Great Florida Reef now infects half the corals from Martin County to the Lower Keys, marine scientists reported this fall.
White spots on this coral reveal that its tissue is dying. Photo by Emma Doyle/Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute.
The Great Florida Reef is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States and one of the world’s largest.
Stony coral tissue loss disease, whose cause is not yet known, has spread to 96,000 acres of the reef tract and the myriad species of stony corals there, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Once infected, corals lose living tissue and turn white (not to be confused with coral bleaching caused by higher water temperatures). Colonies usually die in weeks or months, state and federal researchers say. The disease also is killing stony corals throughout the Caribbean.
An animation published by Florida DEP shows how stony coral tissue loss has spread exponentially from 2014 to this year, growing from a large patch (in red) offshore from Miami into a sweeping swath stretching from Martin County to areas beyond Key West.
Researchers and volunteers trying to fight the disease are taking tissue samples, monitoring water quality, weather and pollution, and studying how various species of coral respond to the disease.
Pointing to the potential that whole reefs could die off before treatments or cures are discovered, coral-rescue teams are removing specimens from the wild and isolating them in land-based nurseries to keep them disease-free.
If they survive in captivity, these corals could be reintroduced to the wild in hopes of establishing new reefs in the future.
N.J. forms panel to advise state government on offshore wind generation program
(Heribert Proepper/AP Photo) A newly established panel will provide guidance to New Jersey officials as they undertake a goal to power more than three million homes by offshore wind energy generation in 2035, state officials announced.
Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe established the New Jersey Environmental Resources Offshore Wind Working Group which will include representatives from commercial and recreational fishing industries, conservation organizations, maritime industry, and fisheries councils.
“The Working Group will ensure that interested parties have a seat at the table with government officials to help shape the Murphy administration’s offshore wind strategy and implementation,” McCabe said in a prepared state.
State officials say they recognize the importance of community engagement in fulfilling the administration’s clean energy, economic development, and natural resource preservation goals.
“By working together with the fishing industry and conservation community in reaching this goal, we can effectively combat the harmful effects of sea-level rise and climate change while preserving critical aspects of our economy and natural resources,” McCabe said.
In June, state regulators approved the first application for a wind farm off the Jersey Shore, which is expected to start generating power in five years.
Murphy said increasing offshore wind capacity would also create opportunities to shift the state’s transportation sector — which produces nearly half of New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions — toward electrification.
According to officials, the offshore wind industry will create thousands of jobs across the state.
Well, duh! Of course New Jersey is the smartest state in the U.S., study shows
Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Maybe we should change the Garden State to the Genius State.
The study tabulated New Jersey as the smartest state with a score of 337.8, well ahead of second-place Utah, which checked in with 324 points.
A state’s score is calculated by number of college degrees, high school graduation rates, professional or advanced degrees and test scores, according to the company.
The study said 24.2 percent of New Jersey residents over 25 have completed a bachelor’s degree and 15.6 percent over 25 have a graduate or professional degree. The study also indicated 91 percent of New Jersey public high school students graduated in four years.
In addition, the median New Jersey SAT score for the 2018-29 school year was 1,090, while 64 percent of ACT takers in the state met subject benchmarks, the study found.
Utah was the second smartest state followed by Massachusetts (307.8 score). Last place was Idaho, with 79.5 points.
The formula for calculating states’ rankings wasn’t equally weighted, in order to “help adjust for differences in things like bias in standardized testing or availability of test prep,” the study said.
Rankings for bachelor and graduate degrees had double their value, high school graduation rates had 1.5 times value, SAT scores were weighted at half their value and ACT scores were one-quarter of their value.
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Education, the College Board and ACT, the study contained a disclaimer that acknowledged that data points are only part of someone’s intelligence.
“While we believe things like having high test scores and earning academic degrees represent one way of understanding and quantifying how smart someone is, we acknowledge that we’re not taking into account things like emotional intelligence or common sense,” the study read.
The analysis did not include reference to the authors or how the study was funded.
Click here to read the full study.
Tesla says its Cybertruck electric pickup truck is going to be ‘versatile’ and it is planing some different accessories, including a camper configuration.
Ever since the launch of the Model S back in 2012, some Tesla owners were willing to go camping with the luxury sedan as they figured out that a small mattress would fit in the back when the seats are down.
It was a fun experience, but you couldn’t let the climate control run for a long time when parked.
Some found workarounds, but it often results in lights staying on and other annoyances such as leaving your car unlocked.
In 2017, Tesla released a software update with the ability to keep Climate C... while the vehicle is parked.
Last year, Elon Musk said that Tesla is working on an official ‘party and camper mode’.
With the new Tesla Cybertruck, it sounds like this mode is going to be particularly useful with a camper configuration that Tesla unveiled on its website.
Musk didn’t talk about it during his presentation, but Tesla did release this picture and wrote on its website:
“From rugged to refined, Cybertruck is completely adaptable for your needs. Prepare for every experience with a versatile utilitarian design — including on-board power and compressed air.”
In a tweet today, the CEO confirmed that Tesla is going to sell the accessory.
It not only consists of a tent that can be attached to the back of the truck, but it also appears to have a bed platform for a mattress:
Underneath the bed platform, Tesla seems to have designed an accessory consisting of an extension with kitchen equipment that can slide out of the bed:
Rivian unveiled a similar camper configuration for its R1T electric pickup truck earlier this year.
As Tesla announced last night, the Tesla Cybertruck is going to be available in late 2021 and it start....
I thought it was cool when Rivian did it and I still think it’s cool now.
Accessories for pickup trucks are very popular and I can see Tesla making a bunch of different modular systems to fit inside the bed or “cyber vault”.
I can even see Tesla making its own trailer for the Cybertruck.
The longest-range version of the Cybertruck, which is rated at 500 miles, has a significant towing capacity and should still have a decent range when towing a decent-size trailer.
That’s something I’m going to keep my eye on. I bet we hear Elon talking about it within the next year.