Mother Nature has always had a way to make even a twig fascinating. The residents of a North Carolina city have had the change of witnessing a breathtaking display of biological prestidigitation – frozen alligators. Of course, the strange spectacle has been immortalized on tape, and needless to say that the clip became an instant hit on the Internet.
Frozen Alligators Seen Throughout the Swamp Park
Ocean Isle Beach, a quaint little town from North Carolina, winner of the Best Restored Beach award of 2008 and not to mention the home of the Shallotte River Park Swamp, where alligators are as common as dandelions on a field.
Perhaps the sight of a big lizard swimming in the swap might not be something your grandchildren about, but what happens when you see a couple of gator nostrils and mouths coming out of a frozen swamp?
The recent cold wave that swept across the state gave Mother Nature a chance to hit us with yet another surprise – frozen alligators sticking their snouts out of the ice.
According to local wildlife specialists, this type of behavior is not that uncommon in large species of reptiles such as the alligators. As far as the scientific explanation goes, alligators being cold-blooded animals, need to store as much heat as possible to survive.
During the cold months of winter, when their environment becomes a frost prison, the gators employ a rather unusual tactic – they stick their noses out of the water, open their mouths and wait for the water to freeze around them.
After the frost encloses them completely, except for their yappers, the alligators would slow down their metabolisms to conserve heat and energy. Once the ice melts away, the gator will start regulating their body heat again.
According to the wildlife specialists, the frozen alligators are not in any danger and are quite alive and kicking. As for the public safety concerns, they’ve said that anyone can go traipsing around them without the fear of being attacked since the gators are more concerned with surviving than biting.
Image source: Pixabay
A team of researchers from the University of Hamburg and the Queensland Museum made an interesting discovery as the coastline of the state withdrew a few miles towards the land. This phenomenon exposed a strange population of spiders adapted to living underwater, which got named after Bob Marley.
The spiders have been discovered during low tide in Queensland
The spiders struck the scientists with their characteristics, which revealed the species had been unknown to scientists until then. Therefore, before starting the study, researchers first had to find a name for the creatures. Their unique discovery was an inspiration while choosing the name, as it reminded scientists of Bob Marley’s song, “High Tide or Low Tide”. This convinced them to call the species Desis bobmarleyi.
Researchers developed a study on this new species of spiders, published in the journal Evolutionary Systematics. Also, they managed to identify two of its relatives, which have also been quite unknown to science, and produced more information on them.
The intertidal spiders are marine creatures
These creatures have been called intertidal spiders, given by the fact that they live exclusively underwater. They evolved special features to survive a marine life after they kept hiding in seashells and corals when high tide came. By building silk bubbles around them, they created an environment where they could breathe. Then, as soon as water receded, they remained roaming around the surroundings revealed by the low tide.
You can easily spot these intertidal spiders by their bodies colored in red and brown, and their orange-brown legs. Also, they are covered in long grey hairs. The bigger specimen is the female, measuring about 9 mm, while the male is only 6 mm long. Researchers couldn’t tell where the species lives, as they only spotted it around north-eastern Queensland, populating the Great Barrier Reef.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Researchers performed an analysis on the state of cheetah populations, and discovered the situation wasn’t bright at all. The big felines are the fastest land species on Earth, reaching speeds of over 70 mph, but they might lose their status if they are not quickly added on the Endangered Species List.
The cheetah populations keep declining
At the moment, the cheetah is listed as vulnerable. However, the situation of the populations in Southern Africa is quite serious, as their numbers have greatly decreased. This made the researchers think it was a warning that the species should go down one level on the Endangered scale.
Researchers kept a close look on the cheetah populations over an area of 800,000 square kilometers, for a period of six years. This area contained countries like Botswana, Namibia, or South Africa, and was selected on purpose, since this is where the most free-ranging cheetahs are roaming. After collecting all the results, they gathered them all in a study published in the journal Peer J.
The cheetah needs to be downgraded to the ‘endangered’ status
Within this area, they found only 3,577 animals, and 55 percent of them were gathered only across two habitats. This is quite worrying. The results represent only estimates, but they are 19 percent lower than the actual assessment of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This should work as a warning that the cheetah populations need a lot more protection than we thought.
These low numbers might also mean that cheetahs might still be living in some areas, but they just haven’t been spotted roaming around. Even so, this means that researchers need to improve their monitoring systems, and constantly be aware of the state of the cheetah populations. Also, they need to add a larger region within the area of protection.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
There might still be hope for the Great Barrier Reef. Researchers were able to successfully take a coral transplant from a part of the barrier reef to another. Australian scientists are glad to know that this transplantation was successful. They believe such a move could help damaged ecosystems from all around the world return to the shape they were in before pollution and other factors ruined them.
The Coral Transplant and Its Effects
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most affected underwater natural reserves in the world. This reef was once a spectacular ecosystem but is now suffering from extensive bleaching. Because of pollution, climate change is showing its effects on various places in the world. Now, researchers believe that several coral transplants might help this ecosystem recover in just a few years.
Scientists conducted a trial to test a coral transplant and see if it is useful. They collected considerable amounts of eggs and coral spawn last year. These were grown into larvae and transplanted into some of the most damaged parts of the reef. Eight months later, the researchers were amazed to see that the coral survived. Not only that, but it also seems to have been growing.
“The success of this new research not only applies to the Great Barrier Reef but has potential global significance,” mentioned Peter Harrison, the lead researcher.
When taking measures for restoring damaged coral reef, there is another thing that needs to be taken into consideration. People need to make some changes to protect the reefs because the restoration work will be in vain when the corals are damaged again.
The warming sea temperatures brought the most damage to the corals. Year after year, the Great Barrier Reef is even more affected by coral bleaching. The study team mentioned that it is looking to take coral transplants to a bigger scale. In doing so, they are looking to help the reef go back to its previous beauty.
Image Source: Wikimedia