August 31, 2018
Florida’s ‘Red Tide’ Leaves Tourism High, Dry
The Washington Post
Photo by Rick Schwartz/flickr
Even as she sat under the brilliant Florida sun, her toes covered in sugar-white sand, Alex McShane wasn’t exactly enjoying her summer vacation. Florida’s worst red tide in more than a decade had turned the aqua-blue surf to a rusty dull brown.

And then there were the lifeguards. They were wearing gas masks.

With no mask of her own, McShane, 24, wore a frown. Her eyes itched, she coughed, and the stench was giving her a headache — all telltale symptoms of the monster algal bloom spanning the southern Gulf Coast. It is killing untold numbers of marine animals from Bradenton to Naples, where rotting fish still lay scattered on a beach behind  Gov. Rick Scott’s  seaside mansion, even after a cleanup.

As the outbreak nears the year mark, with no sign of easing, it’s no longer a threat to just marine life. Business owners in the hardest-hit counties report they have lost nearly $90 million and have laid off about 300 workers because of the red tide and a separate freshwater algal bloom in the state’s largest lake. Together, the two blooms have caused a sharp drop in tourism.
Wild Dolphins Can Learn From Captive Kin
By Lucinda Cameron/The Independent
Photo by William Warby/flickr
Wild  dolphins  have learned how to walk on water by copying tricks developed by captive  animals , a 30-year study found.

Scientists in  Australia  observed that dolphins in Adelaide learned tail-walking – when the animal rises vertically out of the water and moves forward or backwards across it – from a dolphin called Billie which had spent time in a dolphinarium.

Dolphins rarely do this in the wild but it is a standard part of the routine in almost all dolphinaria.

Billie learned tail-walking by observing the performing dolphins and, when released, began performing the trick regularly in the wild.
What Do Diving Ducks Hear Underwater?
By James Gorman/The New York Times
Photo by Fyn Kynd/flickr
It’s not easy to help ducks. Ask Kate McGrew, a masters student in wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware.

Over two seasons, 2016 and 2017, she spent months raising and working with more than two dozen hatchlings from three different species, all to determine what they hear underwater.

This was no frivolous inquiry. Sea ducks, like the ones she trained, dive to catch their prey in oceans around the world and are often caught unintentionally in fish nets and killed.

Christopher Williams, a professor at the university who is Ms. McGrew’s adviser, said one estimate puts the number of ducks killed at sea at 400,000 a year, although he said the numbers are hard to pin down.
War Halted Hunting. The Wolves Came Back.
By Jere Longman/The New York Times
Photo by Tom/flickr
Aleksandr Podlesnyi saw the lunge before he recognized the shape as a wolf.

His first thought was, Where did you come from?

As the wolf clamped onto his left arm, his second thought was, I will kill him or he will kill me.

Mr. Podlesnyi, 41, had emerged from his outhouse early on Dec. 9, intending to feed his chickens and ducks. Instead, he found himself becoming an extreme example of the unintended consequences of a war that has simmered for four years in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.

Hunting is prohibited in areas extending as far as 40 miles from the front line to minimize confusion about who is shooting at what target. As a result, prey like pheasants and hares are proliferating. And predators like foxes and wolves are appearing in greater numbers and coming into closer contact with humans, pets and barnyard animals in rural areas.
The Bewitching Light of Afghanistan
By Paul Salopek/National Geographic
Photo by Aya Okawa/flickr
Can color intoxicate? Is it possible to become drunk on light?

Once in the Arctic I awoke after a blizzard to a vast plain of cloudlike snow. The Earth looked as vaporous, as insubstantial, as gas. The actual clouds above seemed far denser, more solid—a Himalaya of rumpled white peaks, ridges, canyons, valleys. I felt giddy: like I was walking upside down, my feet planted in the sky, looking up at the surface of the material world. Light bewitches like this. In Umbria. In New Mexico. In the  Congo rain forests . These are places famous for their luminosity. But none holds a photon to the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan. 

The gray cargo donkey is named Khayr Barakat—meaning goodness, welfare, happiness—or Blessing. The charcoal donkey is called Shar Barakat—meaning wickedness, depravity—or Curse. Shar bites Khayr. Shar chases every other donkey in the Hindu Kush. Shar brays like a foghorn a hundred times a day: announcing us to every Wakhi farm, to each nomad camp, to all the golden mountains of Afghanistan, to the universe. I am walking across the world. Camels, horses, mules, donkeys—great animal spirits—have made my long journey possible.
 “Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.”

- Fred Bear

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