North Atlantic Right Whales Are Dying in Horrific Ways

North Atlantic Right Whales Are Dying in Horrific Ways

SOURCE: The Atlantic DATE: June 27, 2019 SNIP: She was called Punctuation, after the small scars on her head that looked like commas and dashes. She was a North Atlantic right whale, one of an estimated 411 left in the world. She was one of just 100 reproductively active females left. She was mother to at least eight calves, and a grandmother to at least two grand-calves. She was about 40 years old when her body was found floating in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on June 20, 2019. Preliminary results from a necropsy suggest that she likely died after being hit by a ship. It had been a galling month for the many people who care about North Atlantic right whales. Wolverine, a 9-year-old male named after the three propeller scars on his tail, was found dead in the same waters on June 4. The body of Comet, a 34-year-old grandfather named after the long scar on his flank, was discovered dead on Tuesday night, alongside an unnamed 11-year-old female, who was just about to become sexually mature. A fifth whale, found near Anticosti Island, in Quebec, and still unidentified, was confirmed dead yesterday. A sixth was spotted off the Gaspé Peninsula, also in Quebec, on a surveillance flight today. That’s more than 1 percent of the estimated total population, dead in less than a month. “Honestly, I don’t have the words,” says Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation North America, who has studied these animals since 1990. “It’s devastating. There’s now more people working on right whales than there are right whales left.” How...
An appetite for dried seahorse in China could spell the marine animal’s demise

An appetite for dried seahorse in China could spell the marine animal’s demise

SOURCE: DW DATE: June 26, 2019 SNIP: Although there are no specific estimates for Senegal, the number of seahorses traded in West Africa has risen dramatically over the past few years, reaching about 600,000 animals exported last year, according to the marine conservation charity Project Seahorse. “There are essentially two avenues for trafficking, both linked to seafood trade with Asia, particularly China,” said Andres Cisneros, a researcher who carried out fieldwork in Senegal for the NGO in 2015. The black market for illegal wildlife products, such as seahorses, is worth up to €18 billion ($20 billion) per year, with poaching continuing to grow and pushing many species to the brink of extinction, according to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). A report by the leading wildlife charity Traffic found that seahorses made up 24.4% of the total marine products confiscated from traffickers in the air transport sector between 2009 and 2017 globally. A single seizure could contain up to 20,000 seahorses valued at more than €8.8 each. “All but three of the marine product trafficking instances originating in Africa (that were analyzed as part of the report) were destined for China and Vietnam,” it said. Researchers believe that demand from China is behind the increasing trade in seahorses and other vulnerable species. They are valued in traditional Chinese medicine as a source of virility and are believed to cure a wide spectrum of ailments including asthma, insomnia and heart disease. Seahorses are often dried and ground into a powder, and added by Chinese consumers to rice wine, tea or soup. The country’s billion-strong population means a national appetite for...
Trump EPA OKs ‘Emergency’ Use of Bee-Killing Pesticide on 13.9 Million Acres

Trump EPA OKs ‘Emergency’ Use of Bee-Killing Pesticide on 13.9 Million Acres

SOURCE: EcoWatch DATE: June 25, 2019 SNIP: More than 40 percent of insects could go extinct globally in the next few decades. So why did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week OK the ’emergency’ use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on 13.9 million acres? EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out why. Environmental Health Director and Senior Attorney Lori Ann Burd explained how there is a loophole in the The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act under section 18, “that allows for entities and states to request emergency exemptions to spraying pesticides where they otherwise wouldn’t be allowed to spray.” In a press release sent to EcoWatch, the Center for Biological Diversity stated: The approval includes 2019 crops of cotton and sorghum in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Ten of the 11 states have been granted the approvals for at least four consecutive years for the same “emergency.” Five have been given approvals for at least six consecutive years. If an occurrence is happening six years in a row, does that justify an emergency? “This administration has been grossly abusing this exemption to allow the use of this one pesticide called sulfoxaflor on a vast acreage year after year,” said Burd. Our biodiversity is at serious risk. For example, in Texas — where 5.8 million acres got emergency exemption to spray — more than 800 native bee species and eight species of bumblebees reside. It is also an important migration route for monarch butterflies. “Monarch butterflies and eight species of bumblebees...
Which animals should live or die on Australia’s long list of threatened species?

Which animals should live or die on Australia’s long list of threatened species?

SOURCE: ABC News (Australia) DATE: June 23, 2019 SNIP: Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinctions in the world and is the fourth worst for animal extinctions globally. There are more than 1,800 plants and animals on Australia’s threatened species list, including more than 500 animals. By analysing state and federal budgets, scientists from the government-funded Threatened Species Recovery Hub research group have found Australian governments are spending a fraction of what is needed to conserve all the wildlife on the list. Research hub director Professor Brendan Wintle said Australia was already “picking winners and losers”. “We’re currently spending about a tenth of what we need to spend,” he said. “By not funding all species to the level that’s required to keep them in the game, we’re essentially allowing quite a lot of species to fail.” The Federal Government says it has invested more than $400 million in threatened species recovery efforts, but Professor Wintle said analysis showed targeted spending by the federal and state governments totalled only about $121 million. “Unfortunately, our legislation falls down in the sense that it doesn’t mandate spending of a sufficient magnitude to actually avoid extinctions,” he said. Professor Wintle said a third of Australia’s threatened species were not being monitored. “We could be losing them and we wouldn’t know,” he said. “If we want it to stop, we’re going to have to do a lot more than we’re currently...
Activists lose last legal battle to protect rare Miami forest from Walmart development

Activists lose last legal battle to protect rare Miami forest from Walmart development

SOURCE: Miami Herald DATE: June 19, 2019 SNIP: Activists fighting to preserve a slice of one of the world’s rarest forests lost what was likely the last legal battle to stop the imperiled ecosystem from turning into a Walmart-anchored development. One of the last remnants in Miami-Dade of pine rockland, a forest that is home to the endangered Miami tiger beetle and more than 20 protected species of animals and plants found no place else, is being reduced to two small preserves within Coral Reef Commons, a mixed-use project spread across about 140 acres next to Zoo Miami. A 2017 lawsuit challenging the project’s zoning process was struck down last week, clearing the way for the big-box store to replace plants like the deltoid spurge, a tiny endangered herb that is only found at that spot. The legal hearing was too late to save much of the forest anyway. Bulldozers have already cleared much of the ground, and the concrete foundation of a strip mall can be seen from Coral Reef Drive, near the entrance of the site. One morning this week, workers were laying the roof on dozens of three-story buildings that seem near completion. For years, environmentalists and private citizens have tried to protect the shrinking ecosystem that exists only in south Miami-Dade. The Richmond pine rockland, a sparse forest dotted with slash pines, is inhabited by more than 20 protected plants and animals. One of its endangered residents, the iridescent Miami tiger beetle, is so rare it hadn’t been seen for decades until it was rediscovered on the site in 2007. The forest once covered much...