The Weekly Dive Vol. 77
A thriving coral reef is jeopardized in Cabo Pulmo, a Mexican city along the Gulf of California. A massive development project, “Cabo Dorado,” is in the works with plans to replace the beach with 20,000 hotel rooms. Such environmental upheaval directly threatens the surrounding tropical coral reef and integral desert landscape. This specific ecosystem is defined by its flourishing biodiversity. Essential habitat would be robbed from over 40 endangered organisms. As of now, the decision is in the hands of the Mexican government and will be determined by June 2014. “Cabo Dorado” may sound like a golden plan, but hopefully, rich biodiversity will win out.
An amputated green sea turtle swims again, thanks to prosthetic flippers. He lost his fins to a fishing net, left unable to come up for air. His new additions are modeled after F-22 Raptor fighter jet wings, designed by Israeli student, Shlomi Gez. Gez named the turtle “Hofesh,” which translates to “freedom” in English. Even with his snazzy jet wings, life in the wild is too risky. If his prosthetics were to come off, he wouldn’t survive. Green sea turtles are endangered, so Hofesh will contribute to his species’ preservation once he hits reproductive age. Until then, he’s gliding with style.
Polar Bears' high fat diet explained. Fatty foods are everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure. Lucky for the polar bear, high-fat foods don’t carry the health risks that they do for humans. Scientists took a closer look into the genetics of how polar bears can have body fat percentages up to 50%, yet not face cardiovascular disease. They compared polar bears to brown bears, their closest relative. They discovered specific adaptations in the polar bear genome that could account for their high-fat health. While they can’t avoid high levels of “bad cholesterol,” APOB, a gene responsible for removing cholesterol from the bloodstream, is very active in the polar bear. Don’t we all may wish we could guiltlessly indulge like the polar bear!
Caviar without the casualities. The food of kings and queens may be getting less expensive while becoming cruelty-free. New methods for extracting caviar have been developed to keep the female sturgeon alive. Rather than cutting the sturgeon, ultrasound followed by an injection of protein induces a harvest of the prized eggs. The cost of caviar and the sturgeons’ risk of extinction are both projected to decrease, removing guilt from those who enjoy a caviar treat.
A separate subspecies of Humpback whale has been identified. North Pacific, North Atlantic and Southern Hemisphere whale populations differ from each other more considerably than previously thought. For example, northern whales exhibit coloring much darker than their southern counterparts. Though whales migrate vast distances, the independent evolution that has been noted between these subspecies suggests they do not often cross paths. These findings shed an interesting light on migration patterns.
Accents differ even between dolphins, eh? White-beaked dolphins use clicks and whistles to communicate and locate their prey. However, the specific clicking technique varies on location. This is thought to mirror the differences in prey that dolphins on either coast consume.
Photos by John Markos O'Neil, P. Lindgren, via Wikimedia Commons, THOR via Flickr, Creative Commons, and MacGillivray Freeman Films