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Rare Sea Turtles Are Smashing Nesting Records Across the US Southeast

The giant loggerhead sea turtle is shattering nesting records this summer across the southeastern U.S.

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Giant Loggerhead Sea Turtles
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(TMU) — This summer hasn’t been entirely filled with doom and gloom for ocean life, as it turns out.

Case-in-point: the giant loggerhead sea turtle, which is shattering nesting records this summer across the beaches of the southeastern U.S.

Researchers are saying that the turtles are laying eggs all along the coast of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, making about 12,200 nests—breaking through the previous record of 11,321 nests in 2016.

The rare turtles emerge from the Atlantic Ocean before crawling ashore to dig their nests in the sand along the southern Atlantic coast, laying around 100 pingpong-ball sized eggs at a time. The nesting season runs from May through August, with volunteers cataloging new nests and covering them with screens to protect them from predators. And the efforts have already seen the previously highest count outpaced in mid-July.

University of Georgia professor Joe Nairn, who studies adult female turtles using the DNA extracted from eggshell samples, told AP News:

“My laboratory is almost floor-to-ceiling in samples right now.

It’s pretty obvious to us that this is a big year.”

Giant loggerhead sea turtles were declared a threatened species in 1978, causing states in the region to take up measures to conserve the species and monitor and protect their nests. Since 1987, shrimp boats trawling coastal waters of the U.S. have been required to equip their nets with escape hatches.

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Now, three decades later, the measures are bearing fruit in large part because female loggerheads don’t become fully mature and begin nesting until they reach the age of about 30.

The nest counts have been a crucial tool indicating the overall health of the loggerhead population. Female loggerheads typically lay eggs only every three to four years, so nest counts tend to fluctuate. Yet scientists are excited about the leap in total nests over the last fifteen years.

In Georgia, over 3,500 loggerhead nests have been recorded—surpassing the previous record of 3,289 in 2016. State biologist Mark Dodd, who heads the Georgia sea turtle recovery program, believes that the final count could reach 4,000 by the end of August.

Loggerhead nesting along the 100-mile coastline of Georgia plummeted to less than 400 nests in 2004. Dodd sees the rebound as the result of conservation measures taken decades ago.

Michelle Pate, who leads the sea turtle program for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said:

“They’ve been able to survive to maturity and reproduce and come back to lay eggs.

It’s been a long haul, but I think we’re finally seeing it pay off.”

This year in South Carolina alone, over 7,100 nests were counted on its beaches—over 600 more nests than the previous record from 2016. In the meantime, North Carolina has reached a nest count of over 1,640. “Based on what we’ve seen so far, we are confident in saying that Florida is having a robust season,” Beth Mongiovi, a sea turtle researcher for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, said by email. “As to this being a record year for loggerheads, it is too early to say.”

Florida has seen such abundant sea turtle nesting that the state doesn’t even keep a survey during the nesting season, with final tallies being completed typically during the fall.

Beth Mongiovi, a sea turtle researcher for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, commented:

“Based on what we’ve seen so far, we are confident in saying that Florida is having a robust season … As to this being a record year for loggerheads, it is too early to say.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animals

Scientists Catch a Glimpse of a Ultra-Rare Giant Phantom Jelly, With Bizarre Ribbon-Like Arms

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Researchers have seen a large deep-sea jellyfish with the assistance of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) named Doc Ricketts off the coast of California, in an extremely rare sighting. The footage revealed the creature’s unique and exquisite features.

The uncommon encounter was documented in November this year, 990 meters (3,200 ft) deep in Monterey Bay, according to a report issued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

Youtube Screenshot

The enigmatic phantom jellyfish was initially discovered in 1899, but scientists did not recognize it as a distinct species until 1960. Scientists still know very little about this creature.

The specimen of the huge phantom jelly has only been seen 110 times in 110 years across the world. According to the MBARI research, despite thousands of dives, their ROVs have only observed this amazing species nine times.

The huge phantom jellyfish has the following characteristics:

The bell of this deep-sea denizen is more than one meter (3.3 feet) broad, with four ribbon-like oral (or mouth) arms that can grow to be more than 10 meters (33 feet) long, according to an MBARI report.

Youtube Screenshot

The species is said to inhabit anywhere between the surface and 21,900 feet in depth. It does, however, remain in the twilight zone, which is just beyond the reach of sunlight.

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The organism, formally known as ‘Stygiomedusa gigantea’, is found all across the planet except in the Arctic Ocean, according to the experts.

Youtube Screenshot

It’s worth noting that, in the past, scientists depended on trawl-nets to examine deep-sea species; but, the jellies, which transform into a viscous goo in trawl nets, were difficult to research using this outdated method. Fish, crabs, and squids are among the only creatures that can be effectively studied from nets.

Researchers may now examine these creatures in their native habitat with high-definition footage thanks to the robot cams. I, personally, prefer this “no-touch” approach.

Watch the mesmerizing video here:

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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.

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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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Animals

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.

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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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