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Thread: Nature out of Balance: Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning ‘Life out of Balance.”

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    Nature out of Balance: Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning ‘Life out of Balance.”

    Nature out of Balance: Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning ‘Life out of Balance.”

    Giant snakes taking over Florida everglades

    In July of 2009, an 8-foot long pet Burmese python, one of the world's longest snakes, escaped from its terrarium and crawled into the Florida bedroom of a 2-year-old baby, then bit and strangled the little girl, killing her. The Burmese python's owner, Charles Darnell, discovered the snake missing from its container and found it wrapped around the child. After stabbing the python several times to get it to loosen its grip, Darnell found the 2-year-old baby girl, Shaiunna Hare, already dead.

    Approximately 112,000 of these exotic Asian snakes have been imported into the United States since 1990. The Burmese python can reach a length of 26 feet and a weight of more than 200 pounds. The largest Burmese python captured in the Everglades was 16 feet long and weighed 150 pounds. Unlike boa constrictors, pythons lay eggs- lots of them. A female Burmese python may lay 50-100 eggs and will wrap its body around the clutch to keep it warm and to defend the eggs against predators. Dozens of the snakes escaped from pet shops during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The snakes have spread through the Everglade national park and now number more than 150,000. The snakes are now severely threatening the stability and life of Florida's unique eco-system, according to the Independent. Now scientists say this invasive species is silently slithering northward and could easily adapt to new habitats in about a third of the United States.

    It has to be an unsettling situation for parents of small children and owners of small pets in South Florida, where thousands of Burmese pythons are slithering amok. A state-sanctioned pilot hunting program aimed at determining location and formulating an eradication plan ended on November 7, 2009 with 37 of the invasive reptiles being killed. "This was more about finding where they are and seeing if we can contain their expansion,'' Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the Miami Herald. Florida legislators are trying to pass a law that will make the trade of these exotic snakes illegal in the state of Florida but admits the problem in the wild may already be beyond anyone’s ability to control. There has never been a successful eradication program of an invading snake population over such an extensive area and, experts say, it’s already too late to stem the Burmese python explosion in South Florida

    They’re calling it Snake-pocalypse:The invasion of habitual areas by a larger more aggressive new breed of snakes. During Everglades python roundups, several African rock pythons – including a breeding female – have been found. Per the Orlando Sentinel, the snake is among the largest in Africa, and eats goats, wart hogs and crocodiles. The Miami Herald says “You couldn’t get a worse python to become established… these things will lunge at you.” In fact, a 10-year-old boy was killed and eaten by an African rock python in 2002 in South Africa, and in 1999, a pet African rock python in Centralia, Ill., slipped out of its enclosure and strangled a 3-year-old boy. Scientists fear the possibility also that African rock pythons will cross-breed in the Everglades with Burmese pythons, leading to a fearsome new invasive species.

    Everglades bedeviled by new pythons, fear 'super snake'

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    Re: Nature out of Balance: Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning ‘Life out of Balance.

    Feds Plan to Ban Import, Transport of Giant Constrictor Snakes

    WASHINGTON, DC, January 20, 2010 (ENS) -

    The Burmese python and eight other large constrictor snakes that threaten the Everglades and other sensitive ecosystems could be classified as "injurious wildlife" under the Lacey Act, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today.

    The Burmese python, which can reach a length of 19 feet, and these other alien snakes are destroying some of our nation's most treasured and fragile ecosystems, the secretary said.

    Many large constrictor snakes are popular as pets and there is a large domestic and international trade in the animals. When released into the wild by disenchanted pet owners, the snakes find warm, wet Florida ecosystems to be comfortable habitats.

    The nine species proposed for listing as injurious are: the Burmese python, northern African python, southern African python, reticulated python, green anaconda, yellow anaconda, Beni or Bolivian anaconda, DeSchauensee's anaconda, and boa constrictor.

    Over the past 30 years, about a million snakes of these nine species have been imported into the United States, and current domestic production of some species may exceed import levels, wildlife officials estimate.
    An American alligator fights an invasive Burmese python in Everglades National Park. (Photo by Lori Oberhofer courtesy National Park Service)

    The Interior Department and states such as Florida are taking action to control and eliminate wild populations of these snakes, but it is difficult in ecosystems where they have no natural predators. Burmese pythons and other large constrictor snakes adapt easily to new environments and are opportunistic in expanding their geographic range, wildlife officials warn.

    For successful control, officials have concluded that the importation of these snakes and interstate commerce and transportation of them must be stopped.

    U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, today praised Secretary Salazar for the listing proposal.

    "Invasive species like these pose serious threats to native species across the country and can have a severe impact on America's natural ecosystems, as well as our agriculture, economy and human health," Senator Cardin said.

    Senator Cardin chaired a legislative hearing in December and a more extensive hearing in July to examine the threats of invasive species that he says heard "dramatic testimony and evidence ... on the dangers these snakes pose."

    In December, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a bill authored by Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, to ban the nine species of giant constrictor snakes. The measure now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

    Nelson says he introduced the bill last February at the request of federal park officials concerned about the number of pet snakes being abandoned in places like the Florida Everglades.

    While Cardin is working with Nelson to pass the legislation he says it is important that the Department of Interior continue its traditional listing process "so that we can be sure our communities and wild places will receive the protection they deserve."

    On the House side, Congressman Kendrick Meek, a Florida Democrat, has filed a bill similar to Nelson's.

    The U.S. Geological Survey issued a risk assessment report last October that highlighted the threats posed by these snakes to Florida ecosystems.

    The USGS assessment found three of the nine species are reproducing in the wild in Florida, with population estimates for Burmese pythons in the tens of thousands spread across thousands of square miles in south Florida.
    Burmese pythons are not native to Florida but have been released into the wild there. (Photo courtesy FWC)

    Burmese pythons threaten rare species and other wildlife. For instance, two Burmese pythons were found near Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and the remains of three endangered Key Largo wood rats were found in their stomachs.

    A population of boa constrictors is established south of Miami and wildlife officials say recent evidence suggests a reproducing population of northern African pythons on the western boundaries of Miami.

    "This report clearly reveals that these giant snakes threaten to destabilize some of our most precious ecosystems and parks, primarily through predation on vulnerable native species," said Dr. Robert Reed, a coauthor of the risk assessment and a USGS invasive species scientist and herpetologist.

    Of the nine large constrictors assessed, five were shown to pose a high risk to the health of the ecosystem, including the Burmese python, northern African python, southern African python, yellow anaconda, and boa constrictor.

    The remaining four large constrictors - the reticulated python, green anaconda, Beni or Bolivian anaconda, and DeSchauensee's anaconda - were shown to pose a medium risk.

    More than 1,200 of the snakes have been removed from Everglades National Park since 2000, with others having been removed from the Florida Keys, along Florida's west coast, and farther north along the Florida peninsula.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to class the nine snake species as "injurious" will be open to public comment before a final decision is made. If adopted, the listing would prohibit importation and interstate transportation of all nine species.

    Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2010. All rights reserved.

    Feds Plan to Ban Import, Transport of Giant Constrictor Snakes

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    Re: Nature out of Balance: Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning ‘Life out of Balance.

    Cross-species mutations: Grolars- new hybrid grizzly-polar bears stun scientists (November 2009)

    Climate change spawning whole new species of animals

    In nature, cause and effect are accelerating. The effect of the human foot-print in the ecological system is amplifying at a dizzing speed. Perhaps we don’t realize yet what new world we’re creating but near the Arctic, in the wake of melting ice, the effects are becoming clearly visible. Polar bears face a new threat besides melting ice — male grizzly bears are moving into their territories, competing for food and are even mating with their females. Scientists have already discovered one case of a hybrid “grolar” bear and are circulating requests to hunters and polar tour operators to look out for more. One possible explanation for closer interaction between the species is climate change, which has allowed grizzlies to move north into areas that were once too cold for them.

    “The two species are likely to interact in a variety of ways, including competing for food and places to build dens, as well as possible mating pactices,” said Professor Robert Rockwell, of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Grizzly bears have traditionally been found in Alaska, western Canada and northwestern American states, including Idaho and Montana. They are thought to number about 60,000. However, Rockwell will soon publish research showing how grizzlies are moving into Wapusk National Park on the edge of Hudson Bay in eastern Canada, an area previously dominated by polar bears. “They were never seen here until recently but this year we have had several sightings already,” he said. Grizzlies have also been found hundreds of miles further north on the remote Canadian Arctic islands. In 2006 Jim Martell, a hunter, shot what he thought was a polar bear on Banks Island, but was threatened with prosecution for shooting a grizzly. It had the long claws and hump back typical of grizzlies but genetic tests revealed that it was a hybrid with a grizzly father and polar bear mother.

    On nearby Victoria Island, an invading grizzly ate two polar bear cubs. Such encounters seem likely to become increasingly common. Professor John England, a geologist at Alberta University in Canada, recently photographed newly arrived grizzlies on Melville Island, 1,000 miles north of the Arctic Circle — the most northerly sighting ever recorded. They would have had to cross 60 miles of sea ice to get there. The contradictory behavior of the two species — sometimes mating and sometimes fighting — may reflect their uncertainty towards each other. Polar and grizzly bears are actually closely related. Genetic studies suggest polar bears evolved from a population of grizzlies that became cut off in a remote part of Alaska during an ice age about 200,000 years ago — a short period of time in evolutionary terms. Scientists suggest that the white coat of polar bears evolved because paler creatures would have had an advantage in hunting seals. In genetic terms, however, such differences are superficial. In captivity polar bears and grizzlies can interbreed, with their offspring also being fertile — a sign that their DNA is similar. Rockwell said: “When female polar bears have their cubs the young will be in great danger of being eaten by the grizzlies. On the other hand, male polar bears can weigh up to 1,200lb — twice the size of a female grizzly. They could mate with the female or eat her or perhaps both. Things could get very different for both species.”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle6926954.ece

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    Re: Nature out of Balance: Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning ‘Life out of Balance.

    Unexplained extinction: Could be an omen for a new crop of disease outbreaks

    What’s killing the bats?

    At least 1 million bats in the past three years have been wiped out by a puzzling, widespread disease dubbed “white-nose syndrome” in what preeminent US scientists are calling the most precipitous decline of North American wildlife in human history. If it isn’t slowed or stopped, they believe bats will continue disappearing from the landscape in huge numbers and that entire species could become extinct within a decade. It’s enough to make some wonder: Is the bat in the cave the new canary in the coal mine?

    “We’re at the vanguard of an environmental catastrophe,” says Tim King, a conservation geneticist with the US Geological Survey in West Virginia. “There’s very little definitive information available at this point. Everybody’s just scrambling, with very limited resources, to do whatever they can to help stop this.”

    The little brown bat, historically among the most common of North American bats, has been the hardest hit of the six species known to be afflicted with the baffling illness. The others are: the big brown bat, the Eastern small-footed bat, the Northern long-eared bat, the tri-colored bat (formerly known as the Eastern pipistrelle), and the Indiana bat. Scientists are alarmed that white-nose syndrome, unlike many wildlife diseases, is a multi-species killer, infecting nearly every cave-dwelling bat species in states where it has struck. It attacks the bats as they hibernate in caves and mines, typically from mid-October to mid-April. The bad news is a mysterious fungus known as white-nose syndrome appearing on bat noses and wings has killed 1.5 million bats in the Northeast. About 90 percent of the bats in northern New Jersey have died from the disease. The disappearance of bats holds dire consequences for the human species. Bats can consume about 3000 mosquitoes in one night. Without bats in the wild; mosquito populations could surge unexpectedly, especially during damp rainy seasons. Mosquitoes are notorious vectors for a number of deadly human diseases including: Malaria, Dengue fever, Rift Valley Fever, Yellow Fever, Arboviral Encephalitis, and the West Nile Virus.



    What’s killing the bats? - The Boston Globe

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    Re: Nature out of Balance: Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning ‘Life out of Balance.

    Unexplained Beaching: Second large starfish beaching in one month (Western Russian Shore, November 27, 2009)

    Warning sign from the oceans?

    Russia- Half a world away, more than 50,000 starfish washed up on the shores of Ireland around the first week of November. Scientists said it was an anomaly but considered it an isolated incident. "Now it's happened again in Russia. Animals do some really strange things, but the strangest thing that they do is intentionally kill themselves. Whales repeatedly beach themselves, dolphins turn violent, and in Russia, starfish have been beaching themselves by the hundreds along the Pacific coast. The resulting images are spectacular, but also kind of heartbreaking.

    The English Russia article doesn’t offer much in the way of details as to why they do this, but apparently this isn’t the first time that’s happened in Russia. I found a BBC article detailing a previous event in 2004, which also mentions events going back as far as 1990. While the White Sea is on the other side of the country, mass fish kills aren’t as rare as they once were. It might be a dumping of toxins in the ocean, some kind of seasonal thing, or just a random event. Nature is weird, and fish are the weirdest of all".

    Starfish Beach Popular Fidelity Images

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    Re: Nature out of Balance: Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning ‘Life out of Balance.

    invasion of the giant jellyfish in Japan

    http://www.abcnews.go.com/Nightline/gig ... id=9239264

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    Re: Nature out of Balance: Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning ‘Life out of Balance.

    Unexplained Beaching: Ten thousand starfish wash up on England’s shore (Norfolk Beach, UK December 5-7, 2009)

    Third incident of thousands of beached starfish

    Norkolk Coast, UK- Up to 10,000 of the sea creatures died after being washed up onto Holkham Beach in Norfolk by strong currents during recent storms. Experts believe that the starfish were pulled loose from the seabed, where they feed on mussels, and carried on to the beach in high tide. Nigel Croasdale from the local Hunstanton Sea Life Centre said that the creatures would only have survived a couple of hours out of water. "This type of thing can happen once a year depending on the weather," he said. "When the tide returns the bodies are usually washed back into the sea."

    Yet this is the third such incident to occur in 45 days

    A spokesman for the Environment Agency said that it suspected the starfish were caught out by the speed at which the tide receded, but would look into the causes of the deaths. Margaret Wright, 63, who discovered the "starfish graveyard" stretching quarter of a mile while talking along the beach with her husband, said: "It's a long stretch of beach and there were just thousands of them littering the shore line for as far you could see." Starfish are abundant in the Atlantic Ocean and mass strandings – which periodically occur on beaches around Britain – have negligible impact on their overall numbers. Holkham National Nature Reserve, which is partly owned by the Earl of Leicester, boasts miles of coastline, dunes and pastures.

    Shakespeare in Love beach becomes 'starfish graveyard' - Telegraph

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