A blue lobster, an antique whale, disappearing birds and bees, stinky whales, fossil dinosaur, and a dead cat on a hill
It seems like a day for animals in the news. A rare blue lobster has been caught off the East Coast of the USA. Only about one in three million (people keep track?) lobsters is blue due to a rare genetic mutation. It’s a lucky thing for the lobster, because of its novelty value it will live out its days in an aquarium educating children.
Another lucky animal finally had its luck run out. A bowhead whale killed off Alaska had a harpoon in it that was over 100 years old. The whale obviously survived the first harpooning in the 1890s. Kind of sad really, it escaped a near lethal wound in the 19th century, lived through the 20th century, only to be killed by Alaskan natives in 2007. Some think these whales may live up to two hundred years, as late as the 1990s stone tools have been found embedded in them.
In fact it’s a bad day all around for animals in the news. Common songbirds are disappearing from America’s back yards. No one is sure exactly why, but numerous causes are likely to blame including habitat destruction, pollutants, invasive species, and global warming. Like the canaries in the coal mine, this should be a warning us all. Sadly the corporate world has done a really good job cleaning up visible pollution, and an even better job convincing people that the problem has been solved and anyone who is an environmentalist is some sort of whacko. While progress has been made, there are still terrible problems with the environment that are not being addressed. Sigh, fodder for a lot of blog posts here.
Moving right along, there appears to be some progress being made in the mysterious honeybee decline now under way. Early study results indicate it’s either a pathogen or pollutants. Well, that narrows it down, we know it’s not cell phones. (Since very few bees carry cell phones, some of us looked askance at that particular theory from day one.) And again, we are looking at what may very well be another indicator of widespread environmental decline.
In another possible sign or environmental decline (I swear, I’m not seeking these stories out!) scientists are investigating reports of “stinky whales” being caught by hunters in Russia and Alaska. The whales have a “chemical” smell are and basically inedible. The problem has been around since the sixties, but is apparently getting more common. And again, it is suspected that some sort of problem with the environment is forcing these whales to eat food they wouldn’t normally eat, rather than them being directly contaminated somehow.
In old news, fossils of the largest ever dinosaur like bird have been discovered in China. It weighed as much as 3,000 pounds and was over 20 feet long. And it may even have been a juvenile. Yikes. Another “thank goodness none of these are still around” discovery.
In sad local animal news, I buried one of the hill cats yesterday. It’s really hillcats, one word. They live on a hill. I guess that was obvious, but one never knows. We called her Satan, she was black and could be mean, but she was really a sweet little cat. Then she died, in her little spot where she would catch the afternoon sun. I buried her right there. The hill cats have it good, as far as cat lives go. They live on a sunny hill in a Mediterranean climate, lots of shelter, pretty reliable source of food. And even a good chance the Gods (that’s us) will provide miraculous medical care on occasion. When Nikolaus saw Smudge beset by raccoons, he emerged naked in the middle of the night to do battle with them. He prevailed, Smudge was rescued, and had many more good years in the sun.
I hope when I get old I can live out my days on a sunny hillside somewhere, there’s worse fates, that’s for sure. God bless and have a good weekend everyone.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is now being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. Credit: Milton Moore AP)