Endangered Whales Get Protected Area off Alaska

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 7, 2006   View Article

The U.S. government Thursday designated thousands of square miles off Alaska as critical habitat for the North Pacific right whale, one of the rarest whales in the world.

The designation of the 36,750 square miles (95,200 square kilometers) in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska was based on right whale sightings in the regions between 1996 and 2003.

Alien Species Invading Antarctica, Experts Warn

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 6, 2006   View Article

Golf in Antarctica, anyone?

You can’t set a tee time just yet, but a type of grass favored for putting greens—annual bluegrass—has taken root on King George Island, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the icy continent.

Scientists are not amused.

“Sooner or later, invasive species do become a big problem,” said Maj de Poorter, an invasive-species researcher at Auckland University in New Zealand.

Mail Order Chickens: USPS Ships Live Birds by the Thousands

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 25, 2006   View Article

Some people want fresh eggs or poultry, others just want a quirky pet. Whatever the reason, just about any U.S. resident can get live young chickens in the mail.

“If you have a zip code, we can get them there,” said Murray McMurray, owner of the McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, Iowa.

Humans Are Birdbrained When Learning Speech, Study Hints

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 17, 2006   View Article

Hummingbirds are well known for their ability to flap their wings at an eye-blurring 75 beats or more per second. Less known, perhaps, is the fact that they can learn to sing the hummingbird equivalent of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

Like parrots and sparrows, whales and dolphins, and bats and humans, hummingbirds are part of a select group of animals that possess the ability to imitate and learn sounds—a process known as vocal learning.

Sea Otter Recovery Threatened by Pollution, Researchers Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 5, 2006   View Article

Disease-causing agents and toxic chemicals running off the U.S. West Coast may be killing hundreds of southern sea otters each year in the prime of their lives, scientists say.

Sea otters normally live for about 15 years, but large numbers of dead breeding-age animals have been reported.

Some scientists believe the contaminants suppress sea otters’ immune systems, making the creatures more susceptible to infectious diseases.

Poison Frog Uses Less Toxic Look To Survive, Study Finds

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 8, 2006   View Article

Many animals avoid being eaten by copying the appearance of their poisonous neighbors. But when it comes to deciding whose looks to mimic, an Amazonian poison frog is teaching biologists a new lesson about this evolutionary trick.

Instead of copying its most poisonous and numerous neighbors, a nontoxic species of poison frog in Ecuador has been found to get better protection from predators by looking like a less abundant frog that packs a less toxic punch.

Rare “Barking” Bird Spurs Conservation Effort in Ecuador

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 3, 2006   View Article

To protect some of the rarest birds in the world, a private foundation is creating new nature reserves spanning thousands of acres of South American bird habitat.

The seed for this unique conservation effort was the surprise 1997 discovery of a new bird species in southern Ecuador.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach