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Mexican Scientist Warns: If Bumblebees Go Extinct, Say Goodbye to Chilis and Tomatoes

The threat to bumblebees could radically alter the traditional Mexican diet.

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(TMU) — While the role played by honeybees and wild bees as important pollinators is well known, the bumblebee also plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and viability of crops such as chili peppers and tomatoes.

And now, researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) are sounding the alarm that bumblebees are also at risk of extinction—and their disappearance could also mean the disappearance of vegetables that form a crucial staple in the country’s diet.

Adriana Correa, the head of UNAM’s Department of Medicine and Zootechnics of Bees, Rabbits and Aquatic Organisms, notes that while many people are afraid of the big, fuzzy and loud insects, bumblebees are crucial for the preservation of a range of plant species.

Correa also notes that bumblebees, which are dispersed in “practically all” of the 32 states in the Mexican Republic, play a key role in the reproduction of the two native vegetables that form the backbone of Mexico’s celebrated national cuisine: chili and tomatoes.

And while Mexican food was recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010, the threat to bumblebees could radically alter the traditional Mexican diet.

In other words, those delicious enchiladas, chilaquiles, and the salsas we pour all over our tacos may become a thing of the past.

Correa noted that if bumblebees go extinct, “we may not starve in four years, but our eating habits will change dramatically.”

And if those vegetables disappear, the effect on the food chain would be devastating for those animals who feed on the plant—rendering them extinct as well. According to Correa, half of all plant species and 75 percent of the products consumed by human populations, including meat, could disappear.

Various studies from across the world have linked the overuse of pesticides such as neonicotinoids, to the decline of indispensable pollinators like bees and butterflies, as well as birds, aquatic life, various insect species, and even some small mammals.

In the Midwest and East Coast of the U.S., the rusty patched bumble bee has disappeared from 87 percent of its historic range spanning 28 states and declined in population size by over 90 percent since the 1990s, according to scientists. The once-common pollinator wasn’t given protection until 2017 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally designated the species endangered.

U.S. government agencies like the EPA and the general scientific community have sounded the alarm over Colony Collapse Disorder afflicting bee populations across the globe. Correa has pointed to five key factors in the health of bee colonies: climate change, pesticides, diseases and parasites, agricultural conditions, and the need for beekeepers to maintain healthy bee colonies.

The professor noted that the food industry’s over-reliance on pesticides and other agro-industrial chemicals continue to pose a deadly threat to native plants and animals in Mexico.

Not only are birds, mammals, and insects bearing the brunt of the food industry’s addiction to bee-killing pesticides but “everything that is beautiful on our planet” is also threatened, she added.

If people want to directly help bumblebees and wild bees survive as a species, Correa recommends that we return to smaller-scale agriculture and gardening that isn’t laden with the toxic chemicals and insecticides driving pollinator declines.

Correa noted:

“We have a lot to do: we can plant potted plants and even tend our own gardens, because these activities also help us to have healthier, more nutritional quality foods.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years

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Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region, when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.

Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.

The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.

Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.

It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.

“I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”

Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.

Some fear that the return of the massive sea mammals is a sign of global warming.

“I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.

“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”

Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.

“It is true that the data we have points to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.

Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.

“In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”

In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.

Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.

A typical blue whale is 20-24 metres long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 metres and 170 tonnes have been found.

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