When did the dinosaurs roam Earth?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

Science

When did the dinosaurs roam Earth?

The age of the dinosaurs has fascinated the modern imagination for centuries. Often, we are tempted to think of the era as an ancient time when all our favorite dinosaurs squared off against one another in a battle of survival.

However, dinosaurs ruled Earth for a period spanning hundreds of millions of years, during which world-ending events occurred, and the planet changed in ways that are almost difficult to imagine. Here is a guide to the different time periods during which the dinosaurs roamed the planet.

Mesozoic Era

Illustration of dinosaurs during the Mesozoic Era
Credit: CoreyFord/ iStock

The overall time period in which the dinosaurs lived was known as the Mesozoic Era. The Mesozoic Era lasted 180 million years, from 248 million years ago to 65 million years ago. It was preceded by the Paleozoic era, during which life began to take shape, and was followed by the Cenozoic Era, in which we live.

The Mesozoic Era is divided into three distinct time periods:

  • The Triassic Period – 248 million to 206 million years ago
  • The Jurassic Period – 206 million to 146 million years ago
  • The Cretaceous Period – 146 million to 65 million years ago

During the Mesozoic Era, mountains rose, climates shifted, and life reshaped itself multiple times.

Triassic period

Fossil of a pterosaur
Credit: AKKHARAT JARUSILAWONG/ Shutterstock

The first period of the Mesozoic era was the Triassic period. During this time, all the continents were still connected in one giant super continent, known as Pangaea. Temperatures were warmer and there were no polar ice caps.

The oceans teemed with life during this period. Turtles and fish were common, and the corals developed alongside mollusks and ammonites. Large marine reptiles were present as well, such as the plesiosaurus and ichthyosaurus.

On land, early dinosaurs and mammals evolved, and the first flying reptiles, the pterosaurs, took to the skies. There were no flowering plants or grass present during the Triassic period, but cycads, ferns and ginkgoes grew near water sources such as rivers or streams. Small forests of conifers grew in some parts of Pangaea, but for the most part, inland areas were arid deserts with little or no plant or animal life.

Jurassic period

Illustration of Brachiosaurs
Credit: Orla/ iStock

The Triassic period came to an end with a mass extinction that wiped out over 90 percent of the species on Earth. The animals that survived this event began to repopulate the planet and usher in the Jurassic period.

The Jurassic period was marked by the slow break-up of Pangaea into two smaller landmasses known as Laurasia and Gondwana. When the supercontinent split, new mountains arose in the sea, pushing the sea level up and creating a much wetter, more humid environment.

Ferns and mosses covered much of the ground while the small coniferous forest of the Triassic period expanded to cover wide swaths of the two continents.

Giant dinosaurs ruled the land, the largest of which was the plant-eating Brachiosaurs, which scientists believe could grow to be 80 feet long and 50 feet tall. These large herbivores were hunted by massive carnivores such as the Allosaurus.

The Jurassic period also saw the first birds diverge from the reptile family, and the Archaeopteryx flew above these massive dinosaurs.

Cretaceous period

Skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex
Credit: DavidHCoder/ iStock

During the Cretaceous period, the continents continued to drift apart and end in the locations that we know them today. The climate became both wetter and cooler, resulting in the emergence of the polar ice caps and setting the stage for the glaciers that covered large parts of North America, Europe, and Asia in the following era.

The drifting continents resulted in increased specialization and many new types of dinosaurs. Triceratops and Iguanodon traveled in herds, feasting on the ancestors of the flowers, herbs and broad-leaved trees that populate Earth today.

These massive plant-eating animals were hunted by the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex. Snakes first developed during this time period, as well as crocodiles and turtles. Insects and pterosaurs flew in the air, and the first mammals scurried across the ground.

Despite the proliferation of life during this period, another mass extinction followed a natural disaster at the end of the Cretaceous period. While both reptiles and mammals survived in small numbers, the age of the dinosaurs came to an end.

What’s next?

Earth as viewed from space
Credit: dem10/ iStock

In light of this vast history, do you ever wonder what lies ahead for both Earth and us?

Newly identified electric eel is the most powerful ever found, say scientists

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Newly identified electric eel is the most powerful ever found, say scientists

'Electrophorus voltai,' one of the two newly discovered electric eel species.

(CNN)A newly-identified eel living in the Amazon basin can deliver record-breaking electric jolts, according to a study published Tuesday.

Researchers at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History have identified two new species of electric eel in the Amazon rainforest, tripling the known number of electric eel species.
One of the new species — Electrophorus voltai — can discharge up to 860 volts of electricity, significantly more than the 650 volts generated by the known electric eel species, Electrophorus electricus, the study published in journal Nature Communications found.
These electric eels — which are actually a type of fish with an eel-like appearance — can grow to up to eight feet (2.4 meters) and highlight how much is yet to be discovered in the Amazon rainforest, study leader David de Santana, a research associate at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, said in a press release.
“They’re really conspicuous,” de Santana said. “If you can discover a new eight-foot-long fish after 250 years of scientific exploration, can you imagine what remains to be discovered in that region?”

What are electric eels?

For 250 years, scientists have known that electric eels live in the Amazon basin. They just haven’t known how many species were lurking there.
Scientists long thought the electric eels found in swamps, streams, creeks and rivers across South America were all the same species. The new study shows that the eels actually belong to three different species.
All three species look pretty much the same externally and use their electricity to navigate, communicate, hunt and for self-defense. But when scientists analyzed 107 samples, they found that the three species had different genetic material, unique skull shapes, and different levels of voltage.
Based on their research, de Santana and his team believe that the three species began to evolve from their common ancestor about 7.1 million years ago.
See electric eels' leaping shock attack

See electric eels’ leaping shock attack 01:05
The eels’ voltage may have been influenced by the conductivity of the waters they lived in, the research found. Electrophorus voltai, for instance, lived in the clear waters of the highlands which did not conduct electricity well. According to de Santana, the species’ stronger voltage may be an adaption to the poor conductivity of the water.
There are about 250 species of fish that are able to generate electricity, but electric eels are the only ones that use electricity to hunt and for self-defense.
In 1799, scientists used electric eels as the inspiration behind the first battery design, and have also inspired ideas about how to improve technology and treat disease.
The newly discovered electric eel species could have evolved unique systems to produce electricity — perhaps a different system than the first discovered species — which could lead to more discoveries, de Santana said.
“It could really have different enzymes, different compounds that could be used in medicine or could inspire new technology,” he said.

Voracious and Invasive Lionfish Is Taking Over the Atlantic. Here’s Why.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

The Voracious and Invasive Lionfish Is Taking Over the Atlantic. Here’s Why.

Lionfish are voracious eaters and can expand their stomachs 30 times their original volume to accommodate that appetite.

Lionfish are voracious eaters and can expand their stomachs 30 times their original volume to accommodate that appetite.
(Image: © Shutterstock)

One of the most notorious invasive species around, the lionfish, is known for its voracious appetite and can literally eat its competitors out of an ecosystem. And that’s what the striking fish is doing, feasting its way through waters that stretch from the Gulf of Mexico to the Eastern Seaboard.

Now, scientists and startups are crafting methods for capturing and killing the hungry invaders. But while these new ideas show promise, tried-and-true spearfishing seems to be the most effective way to eradicate lionfish, scientists told Live Science.

“It’s actually hard to describe how a lionfish eats because they do it in a split second,” said Kristen Dahl, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida. Lionfish use a complex series of tactics that no other fish in the world is known to employ. In the blink of an eye, a lionfish goes from silently hovering above its prey to flaring its fins, firing a disorienting jet of water from its mouth, unhinging its jaw and swallowing its meal whole, scientists reported in a study published in 2012 in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. The attacks happen so quickly that nearby fish don’t seem to notice.

“It’s actually nice when I’m looking at gut contents,” Dahl said, “because if something has been freshly eaten, it’s in immaculate condition.”

Related: See Photos of Lionfish & Other Weird-Looking Fish

Lionfish ambush their prey and sometimes use their lengthy pectoral fins to “corner” them, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lionfish ambush their prey and sometimes use their lengthy pectoral fins to “corner” them, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

(Image credit: Rich Carey/Shutterstock)

New fish on the block

Lionfish (Pterois volitans) are one of the most notorious invasive species in the United States. Their bold colors and frilly fins make lionfish popular in the aquarium trade; over the past 25 years or so, it seems aquarium fish owners have sometimes dumped unwanted lionfish — which are native to the Indo-Pacific region — into the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Their popularity in the aquarium trade has also spurred several breeding programs.

Lionfish are fast and powerful, but their biggest advantage is novelty. Atlantic prey fish simply don’t know what’s going on. Biologists call this phenomenon prey naivete, and they believe it is largely responsible for the lionfish’s dramatic success as an invader.

Since the first breeding populations were spotted off the coast of North Carolina in 2000, lionfish have rapidly overtaken coastal environments in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

“Sightings increased rapidly in 2004 along the Atlantic seaboard of the United States,” according to Pam Schofield, research fishery biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Lionfish sightings quickly spread throughout the Caribbean and then the Gulf of Mexico,” Schofield, who tracks non-native marine fish in U.S. waters, told Live Science. There are now breeding populations in the coastal waters of Venezuela, throughout the coastal Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. On the Eastern Seaboard, breeding populations extend into North Carolina, and stray individuals are seen as far north as Massachusetts, Schofield said. Reports of lionfish sightings have tapered off since their peak in 2010, but that’s probably not because their populations have decreased — lionfish are so pervasive that spotting one is no longer noteworthy.

Managing an invasion

A spear fisherman catches invasive lionfish in the Caribbean.

A spear fisherman catches invasive lionfish in the Caribbean.

(Image credit: Shane Gross/Shutterstock)

Lionfish aren’t easily caught when traditional fishing techniques are used, so a number of research groups and startup companies are developing novel tools for managing the invasion. These include specially designed traps that lure in lionfish while sparing native species, remotely operated vehicles that allow a human pilot to remotely spear lionfish and autonomous hunting vehicles that use artificial intelligence to find the fish themselves. While some progress has been made in new technologies, spear guns used by scuba divers still seem to be the tool that’s most effective tool at killing them, Dahl said.

Related: Alien Invaders: Photos of Destructive Invasive Species

Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a leader in lionfish management, has a number of incentive programs to entice recreational and commercial scuba divers to harvest lionfish, according to the FWC. The lionfish derby is one of the most successful management tools being used today. At a derby, spearfishing divers spend a day working together to remove as many lionfish as they can. At the larger derbies, organizers award prizes to the teams or individuals who catch the biggest, smallest or most lionfish. “The derbies are a good opportunity to educate people about the lionfish and about the danger of releasing aquarium fish into the wild,” Dahl said. She’s worked and volunteered at dozens of derbies. “If enough people learn about this invasion, maybe there won’t be another ‘lionfish.'”

Culling lionfish one by one will never eliminate the species from the Atlantic, but it can help mitigate their effects. While a single lionfish can eat a lot of native fauna, lionfish wreak havoc on a reef only after their populations reach a certain density, researchers reported in 2014 in the journal Ecological Applications. And the incentives seem to be working. At a handful of popular dive sites in the Florida Keys, recreational divers are so diligent in culling invasive lionfish that it is unusual to see a single one, according to several dive tour operators.

Scientists knew from the start that population growth would eventually taper off as lionfish populations reach the point at which there’s no more food or habitat to support additional individuals. But the number of lionfish in parts of the Gulf of Mexico where Dahl and her colleagues have tracked their populations for several years have actually declined. It’s too early to say what’s behind the change, but Dahl points to a poorly understood parasitic skin lesion that “has put a dent in their population.”

Now, less than two decades since the invasion began, ecologists are still trying to learn enough about lionfish to manage the new invasion.

“We’re not sure if [the population decline] is going to last or if it’s a boom-bust population cycle,” Dahl said. “It could be a little bit of both. We aren’t really sure.”

Originally published on Live Science.

What If There Were No Sharks?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

What If There Were No Sharks?

A school of scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) swims in the Galapagos.

A school of scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) swims in the Galapagos. In the Galapagos Marine Reserve, these sharks gather in groups of up to several hundred individuals.
(Image: © Shutterstock)

Sharks are magnificent predators that represent an impressive evolutionary success story. They’ve swum the oceans for more than 400 million years, diversifying over time to inhabit rivers and lakes as well. About 500 known species are alive today, and there are likely even more yet to be discovered.

Sharks can be huge, like the massive whale shark (Rhincodon typus); or human-hand-size, like the pocket shark (Mollisquama parini). However, it’s the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) that typically commands the public’s imagination. These sharks have a reputation for aggressiveness toward people, shaped by decades of terrifying portrayals in movies. In fact, these fearful pop-culture portraits of great whites are so pervasive that they might lead some people to wonder if the world would be better off with no sharks at all.

But what might the oceans look like if all of the sharks disappeared?

Related: 7 Unanswered Questions About Sharks

Sharks make their homes in ecosystems around the world, including shallow mangrove habitats, tropical coral reefs, frigid Arctic waters and the vastness of the open ocean. Regardless of where sharks live or how big they are, all of them are predators and, therefore, are vitally important to the health of their habitats, said Jenny Bortoluzzi, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Zoology at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland.

Fish-hunting sharks weed out weak and sick individuals, ensuring that the fish population remains healthy and at a size that the habitat’s resources can support. These fearsome predators can even help to preserve their ecosystems through their presence alone, Bortoluzzi told Live Science in an email. For example, tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) that live in seagrass meadows scare away turtles and keep them from overgrazing the vegetation, she explained.

Sharks also play a role in regulating oxygen production in the ocean, by feeding on fish that devour oxygen-generating plankton, Victoria Vásquez, a doctoral candidate with Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California, told Live Science in an email.

Lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) live primarily in shallow coastal habitats such as mangroves, bays and coral reefs.

Lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) live primarily in shallow coastal habitats such as mangroves, bays and coral reefs.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Coral reef environments are another good example of sharks’ importance for overall biodiversity and ecosystem health, said Toby Daly-Engel, an assistant professor in the marine science department and director of the Shark Conservation Lab at Florida Tech.

“If the sharks disappear, the little fish explode in population, because nothing’s eating them,” Daly-Engel told Live Science. “Pretty soon, their food — plankton, microorganisms, little shrimps — all of that is gone, so all the little fish ultimately starve.”

When that happens, algae and bacteria move into the reef, covering the coral so that it can’t photosynthesize. “The coral will die, leaving just its skeleton behind, which eventually turns into limestone,” Daly-Engel said. “Then, in come the animals like starfishes and sea urchins; we call those grazers. So instead of a bunch of different species — sharks, bony fishes, invertebrates and mollusks — you end up with a reef with four to five species in it, tops. That’s a dead reef.”

Sharks serve another important role in ocean food webs: They are food for marine carnivores. Dead great white sharks that washed up on South African beaches without their livers were thought to have been victims of orca attacks. And video footage recently showed a dogfish shark (Squalus clarkae) feeding frenzy on the bottom of the Atlantic that ended with a grouper swallowing one of the sharks whole. Even octopuses are known to feed on sharks, as demonstrated in a video that National Geographic posted to YouTube in 2009.

Migrating sharks, such as the gray reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos), also provide nourishment for organisms in multiple locations in the ocean, by leaving behind generous helpings of their nitrogen-rich poo, marine biologist Melissa Cristina Márquez wrote in Forbes earlier this year. Márquez is the founder of The Fins United Initiative, which provides educational resources about sharks and their close relatives skates and rays.

In fact, gray reef shark forays between coastal waters and the deep sea in the Pacific Ocean’s Palmyra Atoll bring the reef more than 200 lbs. (95 kilograms) of nutritious nitrogen per day, Márquez wrote.

A murky future

Approximately 25% of all shark, skate and ray species are currently threatened with extinction, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Ocean Portal. Because sharks have few babies and are slow to mature, their numbers aren’t replenishing quickly enough to keep up with losses from commercial fishing, Daly-Engel said.

In recent decades, some shark populations have declined by up to 90%, reflecting an unsustainable trend of overexploitation in ocean habitats, according to Bortoluzzi.

“Many species also face the loss of habitats, with refuge areas such as mangroves being destroyed to accommodate our growing human population, and habitats such as seabeds and reefs being damaged by destructive fishing methods such as trawling,” Bortolozzi said.

Related: On the Brink: A Gallery of Wild Sharks

What does the future hold for sharks? Federal legislation and international treaties such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora can help to protect vulnerable populations. But many shark species are poorly understood, which can hinder conservation efforts, said Michael Scholl, CEO of the nonprofit Save Our Seas Foundation.

“Government institutions must have validated information to support significant decline in populations, for example,” Scholl told Live Science in an email. To that end, Save Our Seas works alongside marine researchers to gather shark data that can inform much-needed protective measures; the nonprofit also works to raise public awareness of shark diversity and its importance to their marine ecosystems, Scholl said.

But sharks may be running out of time. And if they were to disappear, the repercussions on ocean food webs would ultimately affect humans, too.

“Fisheries may collapse, with artisanal fishers being the likely most affected, and popular tourism destinations which rely on sharks to attract tourists will also suffer greatly,” Bortoluzzi said.

“It’s important to understand that as much as our oceans need sharks, so do we,” she added.

Editor’s note: The article was updated on Sept. 9 to correct the species of dogfish shark that was swallowed by a grouper in a YouTube video: Squalus clarkae, not Squalus acanthias.

Georgia kayaker chased by 360-pound gator: ‘I just paddled’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

Georgia kayaker chased by 360-pound gator: ‘I just paddled’

ABCNews.com
WATCH News headlines today: Aug. 30, 2019

A Georgia kayaker says he could only think of paddling faster after realizing he wasn’t alone in a pond.

Bo Storey told WRDW-TV , “I just paddled and paddled. …” on Monday to get away from a 10-foot, 360 pound (163.29 kilogram) alligator that got as close as 5 feet (1.52 meters) from the back of his kayak.

News outlets report Richmond County deputies received a call from Storey saying he was being chased by the behemoth. Storey was practicing for a bass fishing tournament. Deputies arrived on the scene and wrestled the massive gator with help from hunter Trey Durant and his friend Robby Amerson.

The alligator was clearly not afraid of humans and was deemed a nuisance so it was legally killed by Durant.

Florida panthers and bobcats are walking weird Wildlife officials can’t figure out why

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Florida panthers and bobcats are walking weird. Wildlife officials can’t figure out why.

Experts have ruled out “numerous diseases and possible causes” that might explain why the cats are having extreme difficulty walking.

(Alpha Wolf/Poem) Within My Gaze

Within My Gaze

(FIRST PUBLISHED 11-8-16)

What is it that your feeble mind thinks I am

I can see my picture as I walk your yard

Upon your T-Shirts, paintings and plates

Displayed proudly upon your walls

 

You think me to be cuddly

Domesticated easily like a lap dog hound

Yet it is only to the giant bear

Have I have ever backed down

 

You come to my home

To sleep, laugh, and play

When was the last time that you ever

Seen me strolling into your home

 

More ignorant than the lamb I had this morning

My belly is grumbling as the dark is setting in

Now do you think I am so cute and cuddly

As I back you down

Your eyes glued, within my gaze

Alligator attacks woman walking her dog in South Carolina

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Alligator attacks woman walking her dog in South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, S.C. — A South Carolina woman is recovering after being bitten by an alligator near her home in Hilton Head Island. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources spokesman David Lucas tells news outlets that it happened in the Sun City retirement community on Monday night.

Lucas says a 68-year-old woman was walking her dog about 10 p.m. near her house, which is also near several ponds. He says the 8-to-9-foot-long gator bit the woman on the wrist and leg. She was treated at the scene and later transported to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia.

The dog ran way during the attack and was not harmed. An alligator control agent was called in and the gator was captured and euthanized.

The attack comes almost exactly one year after an alligator killed a woman trying to protect her dog on Hilton Head Island. Cassandra Cline, 45, was walking the dog along a residential area of Sea Pines Resort when she was attacked.

In June, a man was found dead on nearby Kiawah Island after apparently being bitten by an alligator.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cuba

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cuba

When many people think about Cuba, their mind goes to rum, cigars and Fidel Castro. But there is so much more to this Caribbean island than that! It is an interesting and exciting place, and it is only within the last five years that U.S. citizens have been able to legally travel there. Here are five things about Cuba that you probably didn’t know.

Christmas Was Once Banned in Cuba

Credit: Millenius/Shutterstock

When The Grinch – ehem, I mean, Fidel Castro – came to power, he went right to work banning things that everyone loves, like Monopoly and, yes, even Christmas. He declared the entire country atheist and abolished Christmas and the paid work holiday that went with it because he wanted people to work on harvesting sugar instead of celebrating and giving gifts. After 30 long, sad years for the people of Cuba, whose population is truly largely a Catholic one, the Pope visited Havana and convinced Castro to reinstate Christmas. Even though it was January at the time, Cuban citizens ran right out to buy the Christmas trees and religious statues they weren’t allowed to have before. It is unclear whether Castro’s heart grew three sizes that day, but it seems unlikely.

Cubans Only Recently Got the Right to Buy a New Car

Credit: Suzanne Tenuto/Shutterstock

If you have ever wondered why Cuba is full of so many classic, 1950s-style cars, the answer might make you a bit sad. Beginning in 1959, Cubans were not allowed to buy a new car, so there were no cars on the streets newer than the 1959 models. In 2013, though, the laws changed, and citizens were able to start buying new cars without getting special permission from the state. The only problem? These cars are marked up by 400 percent, with prices running between $91,000 and $262,000. The average monthly earnings for a citizen of Cuba is equivalent to between 20 and 30 U.S. dollars, making owning a new car an impossible dream for most.

Cuba Once Had a Toilet Paper Shortage

Credit: dersigne/Shutterstock

In 2009, Cuba faced a crisis that no one else wants to think about: a shortage of toilet paper. While this seems a bit preposterous for a country like the U.S., keep in mind that Cuba produces some of its own toilet paper but has to import the rest. In 2009, the country did not have enough natural resources to make its own toilet paper and was also facing an economic crisis. Luckily the country eventually recovered enough to allow people to stock up on this bathroom essential, but it was surely a tough few months.

Cuba Is Home to the Largest Colony of Flamingos

Credit: GUDKOV ANDREY/Shutterstock

Cuba is home to many beautiful and rare species of birds, including the bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. The birds stay here because the habitat is both perfect for their needs and located within protected areas. Flamingos are no exception, with the largest colony in the Western Hemisphere nesting in Cuba’s wetlands. In Humedal Rio Maximo-Caguey in particular, nearly 70,000 nesting flamingos have given birth to more than 50,000 chicks. That is one big feathery family!

Hardly Anyone in Cuba Can Access the Internet

Credit: xtock/Shutterstock

While travelers can usually buy a scratch-off card that allows them to use the internet, as a rule, internet is hard to come by in Cuba. In 2011, a study reported that only around five percent of the population was able to access the worldwide web instead of just a government-created intranet that didn’t let them view anything that their leader didn’t want them to see. It was only in 2008 that Cubans were allowed to start buying computers at all, even if the prices were ridiculously high. The number of internet users has surely increased as technology has advanced, but it is highly likely that our friends in Cuba won’t be reading this article.

Droves of Blacktip Sharks Are Summering in Long Island for the First Time

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

Droves of Blacktip Sharks Are Summering in Long Island for the First Time

Thousands of blacktip sharks swarm near the shore of Palm Beach, Florida.

Thousands of blacktip sharks swarm near the shore of Palm Beach, Florida.
(Image: © Steve Kajiura, Florida Atlantic University)

 

Sharks making their annual northward migration from Florida have a new summer vacation destination: Long Island.

Blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus), which range from 4 to 8 feet (1.2 to 2.4 meters) long, spend much of the year in Florida before heading north to cooler waters. In the past, the Carolinas were the sharks’ destination of choice. But not anymore. Because of climate change, the waters off North and South Carolina are no longer cool enough in the summer. So blacktips are seeking waters farther north — and Long Island fits the bill. And just like the New Yorkers eager to spend the last weeks of summer in the Hamptons, these finned beachgoers are traveling in droves.

“These blacktips are going way the heck up to Long Island in big numbers — not just a few, but 25, 30 percent of the population,” Stephen Kajiura, a shark expert at Florida Atlantic University, told Live Science. “It blows your mind when you see it.”

Related: On the Brink: A Gallery of Wild Sharks

Nearly every year since 2011, Kajiura has surveyed the coast of Florida in a plane to see these sharks make their great trek north. There are often so many sharks that, from the sky, it’s hard to distinguish the individual sharks. Thousands aggregate in dark clumps. “There are just so many of them,” Kajiura said.

Many of these sharks are tagged with devices that allow scientists to track their locations. But it wasn’t until 2016 that scientists noticed that many of the tagged sharks’ had new migration pattern. At first, it seemed like a fluke, but it’s happened every summer since then — including this one, Kajiura said. Kajiura was blown away by the change.

There are two possible reasons blacktips might choose the Hamptons over the Carolinas, according to Kajiura. It might be that the Carolina waters are getting too hot for them; most sharks, including blacktips, are ectotherms, so they can’t cool down their bodies like mammals can. Even a small change in ocean temperature can cause them to overheat. Or, it could be that it’s the fish the sharks eat, not the sharks themselves, that are moving due to warming waters —  and the sharks are simply following them, Kajiura said. Either way, there’s no question about this: Temperatures along the Atlantic Seaboard are changing rapidly. Since 1960, the temperatures of the waters between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and the Gulf of Maine have shot up by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), National Geographic reported.

“Whether they’re moving themselves, or whether they’re moving because their prey are moving, either way, it’s a temperature-driven phenomenon,” Kajiura said. “The end result is the same.”

For now, blacktip sharks may be adapting.There is no evidence that populations of this species are declining overall, according to Kajiura, just that they’re edging farther north during the summers. For humans (especially New York humans), the end result might not be as bright.

“You have the potential for more bites on humans than you ever had before,” Kajiura said.

Long Island is much more packed with humans than blacktips’ former habitat. That means more encounters between sharks and humans are probable, Kajiura said. Although blacktips don’t have the same reputation for aggression as their better-known cousins, great whites, these small sharks are responsible for the majority of bites in the US, Kajiura said. That’s because blacktips are shallow-water species; they hang out where people swim.

People don’t usually die from blacktip bites, Kajiura said. These encounters are typically exploratory “hit-and-runs” where the shark is just as surprised to get a mouthful of human as the human is to feel a shark chomping on their leg. But that doesn’t mean people walk away unscathed.

“You’re not going to lose a limb, but it’s nasty,” Kajiura said. “You’ll still have a mangled hand or foot.”

Most likely, it’s not just blacktips that are expanding their range, Kajiura said. It just so happens that scientists have the data for blacktips, and because they hug the coast more than other shark species do, people are more likely to notice them in places where they didn’t swim before.

“We can use blacktips as an indicator,” Kajiura said. “It’s a changing world. It’s exciting. But in a way, it’s terrifying.”

Originally published on Live Science.

TEJIENDO LAS PALABRAS

CON LOS HILOS INVISIBLES DEL ALMA

स्पंदन

मराठी मन, मराठी स्पंदन..

Out Here in Paradise

Life in all its glorious aspects

Blue Mood Café

Sharing My Eclectic Reading

Vive ut Vivas

Live so that you may live

Sometimes Leelynn Reads

Resident Mermaid since May 2019

Guam Christian Blog

Lifting up God’s people

Gareth Roberts

Unorthodox Marketing & Strategy

Aninagin

Personal Notes

I Run Like A Girl

Just try and keep up

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