Odds and Ends
Getting Those Damn Rats Out of Alaska
No, not those kind of rats. And not really the whole state…but still, it’s a victory. I’m talking about actual four-legged, snaggle-toothed, beady-eyed, bird-killin’ varmints. The ignominiously named “Rat Island” appears to now be completely rat free. I’ve been following this story for a while, so I was glad to hear that the latest news was good. The down side to the rat eradication is that the poisoned pellets used to kill them also killed gulls and bald eagles in the process.
Since Rat Island has been infested with rats for 230 years, it’s difficult to know exactly what its ecosystem was like before the rodent invasion. With no trees for nesting, and no other land-based mammals, the unwelcome rat refugees ate their way through the eggs and chicks of the ground-nesting seabirds.
Neighboring rat-free islands in the Aleutians have a more abundant and diverse seabird population, said Vernon Byrd, a senior biologist at the refuge. Those other islands have about a half-dozen more types of burrow-nesting seabirds, including horned puffins, Leach’s storm petrels and whiskered auklets.
Rats, particularly those of the Norway variety, have invaded an estimated 90 percent of islands worldwide. They may be responsible for an estimated 40 percent to 60 percent of all recorded bird and reptile extinctions on islands, according to Island Conservation, a California-based group that partnered with The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rid Rat Island of its namesake inhabitants.
Vernon Byrd? That’s almost poetic. All we need is a biologist with a competing view named Maynard Ratt, and we’d have a children’s book. Now about those other rats…
OK, Alaska’s got earthquakes, volcanoes, melting ice, endangered polar bears, coastal erosion, collapsing fisheries, and now this.
Now, a marine scientist says the state’s marine waters are turning acidic from absorbing greenhouse gases faster than tropical waters, potentially endangering Alaska’s $4.6 billion fishing industry.The same things that make Alaska’s marine waters among the most productive in the world — cold, shallow depths and abundant marine life — make them the most vulnerable to acidification, said Jeremy Mathis, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
“Ecosystems in Alaska are going to take a hit from ocean acidification,” he said. “Right now, we don’t know how they are going to respond.”
Escape from the Mudflats!
Before Ocean Depression really sinks in, there’s actually an endangered ocean animal stranded on the mudflats story with a happy ending!
About 20 beluga whales that became stranded in mud during a low tide over the weekend have apparently freed themselves, bringing relief to biologists who have been closely monitoring their plight.
“We saw a lot of alive belugas but we did not see any dead, floating or beached whales,” said Barbara Mahoney, a National Marine Fisheries Service biologist who went looking for the whales Monday morning.
The whales were spotted by a pilot Saturday afternoon wallowing in a large mud hole. They were spotted again, still stuck, a couple of hours later.
Pictures taken on Saturday indicated the whales dug a hole in the mud when they got stranded on mud flats off the Birchwood area north of Anchorage, Mahoney said. All the whales were in the mud hole, except one that was lying on hard mud.
The stranding occurred during an abnormally low tide. Mahoney thinks the whales were likely stuck for several hours or more.
Mahoney said it looks like the whales wiggled around in the mud before all the water was gone and were able to create a small pool for themselves. The water helps keep the animals cool, she said.
Oh, Dear God…
Yes, Palinbots….all this can be yours. For a mere $549, you can have Sarah Palin’s face plastered on your…posterior. As you walk, her eyes will alternately wink when the folds of the jeans… oh, never mind. You can read HERE for all the details.
Just a note of warning. If you do decide to part with the cash and pick yourself up a pair of these, do not be surprised if you acquire a following of little waddling over-50 conservative men who trail behind you like ducklings. So, if you’re into that, this may work for you.
A New Possibility for 2012???
What could possibly be more horrifying than Palin jeans? Palin – Prejean, of course. It seems as though the vapid beauty queen has an interest in politics, and so does the former Miss California.
“I don’t need to be Miss USA. I’m not going to little ribbon cuttings and things that aren’t meaningful to me,” she said. Prejean, who was the first runner-up at the 2008 Miss USA pageant, was later stripped of her state crown for reportedly failing to attend officially sanctioned Miss California USA events. Whatever God’s plan for Carrie Prejean may be, it apparently is politically focused. “I definitely have a high interest in politics,” she said on Saturday. “I love Sarah Palin. I think she’s amazing.”
Apparently that “I don’t need a title” thing appealed to her too.