Climate surprise: Warming planet helps Florida mangroves conquer oysters
ORLANDO, Fla. — Within a coastal refuge of tiny islands and sea water saltier than the ocean is a climate battle among natural Florida’s titans. It’s happening in Central Florida’s remote and alluring Mosquito Lagoon, which nearly abuts Kennedy Space Center launch pads at the Atlantic Ocean. Reigning guardians of the lagoon are oysters. They assemble in fortresses of low mounds, or reefs that appear above water at low tide. Their closely clustered shells suggest an invincible bristle of daggers and shields. Invaders of Mosquito Lagoon are mangroves. Leafy and leggy, they are the only tree spec...
Wildfire smoke up is to 10 times more harmful to breathe than other air pollution, new study finds
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Choking smoke from record wildfires blanketed Northern California last summer and fall. It turned Bay Area skies an otherworldly orange, raising health concerns over a hazard that is increasing as temperatures continue to climb and poorly managed forests burn out of control each year across the West. With this winter being extraordinarily dry, the chances of another big wildfire year are high. But the flames may not pose the biggest danger to the most people: A new study published Friday found that tiny particles of soot from wildfires, which millions of Californians are bre...
The Mercury News
New exotic invasive snake is captured in Everglades National Park. It’s likely a released pet
MIAMI — Visitors hiking the Mahogany Hammock Trail in Everglades National Park earlier this month spotted an unfamiliar snake. It turned out to be a brand new invasive species. The hikers alerted park staff of the sighting. Park staff and biologists from the United States Geological Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center captured the snake, which was identified as a non-native Central American milk snake. It appears to be a solo snake, good news for a park and Everglades ecosystem overrun by exotic invasive reptiles. “This individual is thought to be a released pet because of its docile behavior...
Gray whales learn daring feeding strategy in Puget Sound: Digging for ghost shrimp at high tide
SEATTLE — Every spring, a small group of about a dozen gray whales pauses along an epic migration from calving lagoons in Baja California to their feeding grounds in the Arctic. They travel more than 170 miles off their coastal migration route, to stop off in northern Puget Sound. There, they linger from about March through May. Now scientists think they know why the Sounders, as this beloved group of regulars is known, likes to visit — and hang around. New research confirms these whales have figured out a brilliant feeding strategy. Combining drone photography with long-term data on the Sound...
The Seattle Times
Great white shark numbers up significantly in Monterey Bay
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Researchers have discovered a "dramatic increase" in the number of great white sharks swimming in Monterey Bay in recent years, including an area off Santa Cruz County where a surfer was killed last year, according to a new study published Tuesday. Juvenile great white sharks — younger animals that are between 5 and 9 feet long — that traditionally concentrated in warm waters off northern Mexico and Southern California have moved north since 2014 as water temperatures have warmed, the study found. Where once there were no juvenile white sharks spotted in the ocean between Ma...
The Mercury News
Dolphin man: For 50 years, biologist has studied bottlenose dolphins from a research center on Florida’s Gulf Coast
CHICAGO – Beginning his work in marine biology, Randy Wells thought he was a shark guy. But the teenager whose family had just moved from Peoria to Florida’s Gulf Coast volunteered to help a local researcher study the migration patterns of the bottlenose dolphins off of Sarasota. And now it’s 50 years later and Wells — a staff scientist at Brookfield Zoo in suburban Chicago since 1989 — heads the world’s longest running study of a marine mammal population in the wild, tracking the lives, loves and losses of some 170 Sarasota Bay dolphins and delivering globally significant insight into these c...
After a tough 2020 of small fish and COVID-19, North Pacific pollock fleet prepares for winter season
Skipper Kevin Ganley spent most of the summer and fall pulling a massive trawl net through the Bering Sea in a long slow search for pollock, a staple of McDonald's fish sandwiches. The fish proved very hard to find. "We just scratched and scratched and scratched," Ganley recalls. "It was survival mode." Ganley's boat is part of a fleet of largely Washington-based trawlers that have had a difficult year as they joined in North America's largest single-species seafood harvest. Their catch rates in 2020 during the five-month "B" season that ended Nov. 1 were well below long-term averages. They al...
The Seattle Times