Turtle Update

Turtles at Coldwater Farm

Our turtle population is doing well. I photographed the Sonora Mud Turtle at top left in 2014 and the others today (March 18, 2017). Four of them were basking on one log, but I couldn’t get the shot–perhaps tomorrow.

The turtle at top right is also a Sonora Mud Turtle, but I’m not sure about the two below. All of them are too wary to approach closely. I made these shots with a Nikon Coolpix P510 with the 42x lens fully extended. I’ll update this post if I learn more.

Turtles at Coldwater Farm

Arizona has only six native turtle species and three recognized subspecies. A southern Arizona subspecies of the Sonora Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense longifemorale)  is of critical concern and may soon be added to the U. S. Endangered Species List (or not, sad). All of Arizona’s native and five introduced species are in danger from human activities. Full list with conservation status.

‘It’s very scary in the forest’: Should Finland’s wolves be culled?

alaska-wolf-yva-momatiuk-and-john-eastcott-national-geographic-creative

Alaska wolf Yva Momatiuk-national-geographic-creative

GR: How can 235 wolves be too many when Finland has 5,500,000 humans? Does nature hold no value in our eyes? E. O. Wilson’s recommendation that we dedicate half of the Earth to wildlife would insure that moose, wolves, ravens, and other wildlife would survive, and so would we. The tiny part of the ecosystem these far-north creatures represent is an essential part of the natural processes that allow humans and other creatures to live on Earth. The alternative of a farm-and-concrete-covered world just isn’t sustainable and it’s not at all attractive.

The following article becomes more of a report than a question if you compare wolf kills to automobile kills or if you would like to preserve nature on Earth.

Moose antlers emerge from a frozen lake. Photograph: Davide Monteleone for the Guardian

“The story of a kill is told in the snow. On the Finnish island of Porosaari, we find the first paw print. “That’s a male,” says Asko Kettunen, retired border guard, hunter and tracker. How can he be sure? “It’s big.”

“Five ravens rise from dark pines, croaking in the icy silence; they will scavenge anything caught by the wolves. We wade through knee-deep snow. There’s a spot of vivid blood and a tuft of moose hair, cleanly cut, which Kettunen deduces has been ripped from a living animal. This, he says, is the moment the wolves made contact. First they try to puncture the intestines; if they succeed, the moose may run on, but the damage is done.

“We find moose tracks, each hoof print far apart: the animal was running. Kettunen points to wolf prints on either side, to where a second and third wolf joined the chase. There are blood spots and more hair and a pine sapling snapped in two. “The moose collided with a tree, so it was not that well,” Kettunen says, with Finnish understatement.

“There are spots of blood by every moose print now. Finally, up the hill, is the kill zone. A young moose has been reduced to two front legs and a skin detached precisely from the body, intestines that spill like butcher’s sausages and a mound of freshly chewed grass where its stomach once was. Kettunen thinks that five wolves feasted here the previous night. We find faeces and a curved bed of snow where a contented wolf took a postprandial doze.

“Finland has a wolf problem. Five and a half million humans share the country with an estimated 235 wolves, and that’s too many, say rural Finns, whose livestock and hunting dogs are being killed. Some parents are scared that wolves will attack their children. “Before, wolves were afraid of people,” Kettunen tells me. “Now people are afraid of wolves.” For the past three years, the government has assuaged these fears with a wolf cull. Last winter, 43 wolves were killed in a “management hunt”, while total fatalities numbered 78, including “problem” wolves shot by police and road casualties.” –Patrick Barkham (Continue reading:  ‘It’s very scary in the forest’: should Finland’s wolves be culled? | World news | The Guardian.)

Act now before entire species are lost to global warming, say scientists

GR:  The top two threats to species are habitat loss due to human farming and construction and the spread of invasive plants and animals. We have expected climate to catch up, and here is clear evidence that this is so. What can we do? Simple, stop destroying habitat, ignoring invasive species, and burning coal, oil, and gas. Simple to say, that is, but probably impossible to do.

“The impact of climate change on threatened and endangered wildlife has been dramatically underreported, with scientists calling on policymakers to act urgently to slow its effects before entire species are lost for good.

“New analysis has found that nearly half (47%) of the mammals and nearly a quarter (24.4%) of the birds on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species are negatively impacted by climate change – a total of about 700 species. Previous assessments had said only 7% of listed mammals and 4% of birds were impacted.

“Many experts have got these climate assessments wrong – in some cases, massively so,” said Dr James Watson of the University of Queensland, who co-authored the paper with scientists in the UK, Italy and the US.

“Published in the Nature Climate Change journal, the analysis of 130 studies reported between 1990 and 2015 painted a grim picture of the impact of the changing climate on birds and mammals already under threat.” –Elle Hunt (More:  Act now before entire species are lost to global warming, say scientists | Environment | The Guardian.)

Yearly Coral Bleaching Will Not End

GR:  Again, let me say: climate change is happening now, and it will get worse.

“Despite La Nina, Ocean surfaces have not cooled enough to end the worst global coral bleaching event on record. What this means is that many reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, are again under a rising risk of bleaching and mortality for the coming months. This is unheard of. Never before has a mass coral bleaching event lasted for so long or extended through the period of natural variability related ocean surface cooling called La Nina. Perhaps more ominously, the global coral bleaching and die off that began in 2014 may now be a practically permanent ocean feature of the presently destabilized world climate system.

“Cool La Nina is Over. According to NOAA, the periodic cooling of ocean surfaces in the Pacific called La Nina is now over. And since La Nina brings with it a variable related low point of broader Earth surface temperatures, after a few months lag, we can expect the globe to start to warm up again.

The above map shows sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific Ocean on February 9 of 2017. Presently SSTs over the entire Pacific range from about -1.5 C below average to +5 C above average. And as you can see, the Ocean is considerably warmer than normal, despite La Nina. Over the next 1-2 years, this is likely the coolest the Pacific will get. In just one decade’s time, under human-forced warming, it will take a very strong La Nina and a strongly negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation to produce similar sea surface temperatures. Image source: Earth Nullschool.

“Problem is, the Earth is still ridiculously warm, despite La Nina. Temperatures, driven inexorably higher by fossil fuel burning, have probably bottomed out at about 1 degrees Celsius hotter than 1880s averages during December, January and February of 2016-2017.

“What this means is that the likely range for annual global temperatures over the next 5 years will be about 1 to 1.3 C above 1880s averages. These readings are so high (the warmest in 115,000 years) and have risen so much, in such a geologically short span of time, that many of the world’s more sensitive species are now being pushed out of their habitats and are undergoing considerable heat-related mortality events.

According to NOAA:

Multiple coral reef regions are already experiencing Alert Level 1 bleaching stress (associated with significant coral bleaching). Alert Level 2 bleaching stress (associated with widespread coral bleaching and significant mortality) is expected in the Northern Cook Islands, Southern Cook Islands, the Samoas, Wallis & Futuna, Northern Tonga, Southern Tonga, the Society Archipelago, and the Austral Islands in the next 1-4 weeks. Alert Level 1 bleaching conditions are also expected in the Tuamotu Archipelago in the next 1-4 weeks and in Tuvalu in the next 5-8 weeks.

–Robertscribbler (More: The Permanent Global Coral Bleaching Event | robertscribbler.)