A black-browed albatross caring for itschick. Albatrosses are attentive parents, with breeding behaviour adapted to empty and safe islands. They therefore have no evolutionary defence against insidious new threats, introduced by people, such as predatory mice. While mice eat their chicks alive, the albatross parents sit by with no sense of their chicks’ plight. (Image: Save the Albatross Campaign) A northern royal albatross in flight near its colony in Taiaroa Head, New Zealand. Albatrosses range over huge areas of ocean, spending over half their lives in flight and regularly circling the globe. (Image: Wikimedia) An infant albatross with deep wounds inflicted by mice. Gough Island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean has a population of some 1-million mice, with devastating effects for the large ocean birds that breed there. (Image strictly copyright Ross Wanless. This image may not be republished or redistributed in any way.) A mouse on Gough Island with the remains of its much larger prey, a petrel chick. (Image strictly copyright Ross Wanless. This image may not be republished or redistributed in any way.)Jennifer SternWith a wingspan greater than the height of the tallest man and over half their lives spent in flight over the seas, albatrosses have a special place in the human imagination. But these great birds, evolved to fill a unique evolutionary niche, are under threat from both huge fishing fleets and the smallest of predators.Albatrosses wander the southern seas skimming the ocean rollers for years at a time. They occasionally land on the water to sleep but, it is thought, can actually catch a few winks while flying. No-one knows for sure, but scientists think that on long flights they may, like dolphins, transport themselves using one hemisphere of their brain, while sleeping with the other.On their long flights albatrosses feed on marine carrion, as well as krill and other sea-surface creatures. Their eyesight is good, but not much use for finding food over the featureless ocean – at least not until they’re almost on top of their lunch. They also dip their feet into the sea to test the temperature and somehow use the information to find out whether there’s a meal in the vicinity.Their most effective sense is smell, as most of their food is dead and floating on the surface. Albatrosses fly enormous distances to find small patches of food scattered over a vast area. This may be the remains of a dead whale, a patch of krill associated with upwelling, a plankton bloom, or even a spawning event.Animals such as squid all spawn together over a short period and then, conveniently for the albatrosses, die en masse, floating to the surface. The albatrosses’ food-finding instincts have served the bird well for millennia, but in the last hundred years or so things have changed.Deadly baitThe last century has seen a revolution in commercial fishing. Refrigeration now allows huge fleets to travel far across the sea, catching and processing enormous numbers of fish. The once-empty southern oceans are now densely populated with trawlers and long-line fishing boats. Unfortunately, these almost exactly replicate the feeding conditions of albatrosses, and other sea feeders such as petrels.Long-line boats lay enormously long fishing lines with baited hooks out the back of the vessel. The lines and bait, which is not exactly at its freshest, float on the surface, sending out deliciously attractive olfactory signals to passing albatrosses.The birds fly down and, as they have done for thousands of years, snatch the morsel from the sea surface. But that morsel is attached to a hook, so the bird is snared, dragged behind the boat, and drowned.It’s estimated that long-line fishing kills more than 100 000 albatrosses a year. That’s one every five minutes. Two albatrosses will have been dragged to a cold and lonely death by the time you have finished reading this article.Fishing trawlers are also deadly to the birds. Trawling nets are enormous – about 50m in length and filled with up to 20 tons of fish on a successful drag. As the net surfaces it is pulled to the boat, and the catch comes within reach of albatrosses and other birds – a veritable feast. The birds may survive a nibble or two, but eventually they get tangled in the net, dragged underwater, and drowned.The upshot is that the great bird’s numbers are declining at an alarming rate, with 19 of the 22 species of albatross listed in the Red Data Book, a global compendium of threatened and endangered species of plants and animals, compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.Safe on land?But it’s not only at sea that albatrosses are threatened. They breed almost exclusively on empty oceanic islands, so they have evolved in an unthreatening environment. They are totally safe in the air and, before commercial fishing, were virtually unthreatened in the water – although they could get nabbed by an opportunistic seal or shark.In 2001 a group of ornithologists spent a year on Gough Island, a cold volcanic island rising from the South Atlantic Ocean at a midpoint between the southern tips of Africa and South America and the northern coast of Antarctica. They made it a priority to find out how well the albatrosses were breeding, given the birds’ severe mortality at sea.The scientists counted the pairs of incubating adults in January and, after hatching, in September counted the surviving chicks. The figures were frightening.Expecting a 60% to 70% breeding success, they were horrified to find it was closer to 30%. More than half the chicks had died. And they had no idea why – although they had a few suspicions.Ross Wanless, a PhD candidate from South Africa’s University of Cape Town, spent a year on Gough from October 2003 to September 2004 to find out what was happening to the chicks. The potential suspects included some kind of disease, poor feeding conditions, the high mortality of adults at sea – causing abandonment of the chicks – or, perhaps, predation by mice.Mice are not indigenous to Gough. Albatrosses evolved to breed on land entirely free of terrestrial predators so, with no natural land enemies, they have no natural land defences. The odd skua may drop in to steal eggs or chicks but the albatrosses could deal with that. They’d see them flying in and, with a good deal of squawking and wing flapping, see them off in a typically avian fashion.For thousands of years there were no mammals – and certainly no humans – on the birds’ breeding islands. But everything changed with the arrival of people.People came with passengers, small companions that had a huge impact on the delicate ecosystems of the southern islands. In 1949 five domestic cats were brought to Marion Island to deal with a mouse problem at the meteorological station. But the cats found burrowing petrels tastier than mice, and their numbers exploded. By 1977 there were 3 400 cats on the island, threatening to drive the birds to extinction. The resulting eradication programme, started in 1982, only managed to remove all cats from Marion by the early 1990s.Gough Island is home to an estimated 1-million mice. Cute, harmless little creatures, one would think.Wanless found otherwise. Like his predecessors, he counted the incubating adult pairs as a basis from which to measure breeding success. But about a month after the chicks had hatched, he began to find bloodied, dead and dying little albatross fluffballs.The mice were, literally, eating the chicks alive, sometimes taking up to a week to finish one off. And all the while the parents would sit there, unaware that their chicks needed help. They had no evolutionary reference for that kind of threat.Save the Albatross CampaignIts lifetime of lonely voyaging makes the albatross resonate in human culture. It’s an agent of karma in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and, even, material for Monty Python. The opened wings of the great albatrosses are the widest of any bird, extending over 3.4 metres (11 feet) – a span far larger than the height of the tallest man. They are magnificent birds, and something had to be done.The Save the Albatross Campaign (STAC) is an international organisation set up to find ways to end the breeding and feeding threats to the great bird. One of its priorities is vermin control, with the mice of Gough Island soon to go the way of the cats of Marion Island.The campaign also works with the fishing industry to find an answer to the problem of “by-catch” – a euphemism for animals inadvertently killed in the efficient process of commercial fishing.The solutions are win-win because fishing boats actually do want to only catch fish, not albatrosses, which have no commercial value. Stopping albatrosses from taking bait will reduce fishing companies’ wastage, and improve their bottom line. STAC works at the levels of both the big fishing commissions, or Regional Fishing Management Organisations (RFMOs), and individual crews and fishing companies.On the big scale, the campaign’s objective is to get RFMOs to acknowledge the problem, and take action. There has been good progress. The next step is the mandatory inclusion of mitigation measures in long-line and trawling fleets. These would include setting lines at night when albatrosses don’t feed, making the long-line bait sink quickly so the birds can’t get to it, and bird-scaring lines. The last are, in effect, marine scarecrows – long lines with scary, noisy, fluttering streamers set out before the lines or nets are laid. The birds find them terrifying, and keep away.Scaring lines are another win-win part of the campaign. With STAC’s help, previously unemployed people in Ocean View in Cape Town have started small businesses to make the bird-scaring lines. STAC then buys the lines, and gives them to the fishing boats for free.Unlike dolphin-friendly labelling on tuna tins, there is currently no labelling system for albatross-friendly seafood. But if you want to help save the albatross, look out for the logo of the Marine Stewardship Council on any seafood you buy. This organisation certifies responsible fisheries, with bird-friendliness one of its criteria.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.Related articlesBoulders penguins’ promised landLooking out for South Africa’s sea life Saving our vulnerable sharksUseful linksSave the Albatross Campaign Birdlife South AfricaInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Southern African Sustainable Seafood initiativeMarine Stewardship Council
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Livestock producers need to take extra care when creating and maintaining stored silage piles to not only ensure they produce quality animal feed but also to lessen the risk of injury or even death from suffocation caused by an accidental silage avalanche.Creating safe and nutritional silage piles starts with making sure the height is never higher than what your loading or unloading equipment can safely reach, which is typically 12 to14 feet above the silage floor, said Rory Lewandowski, an Ohio State University Extension agriculture and natural resources educator.While that may sound intuitive, Lewandowski said, numerous silage avalanches have occurred nationwide in recent years that have resulted in several deaths, according to data compiled by Ruthie and Keith Bolsen, nationally known silage safety experts.“The biggest concern is that we can have these silage avalanches where silage will break off the face of the pile that you are drawing feed from, burying anyone beneath it,” he said. “These avalanches or pileups can occur in a second, creating a silent burial for anything that happens to be near, resulting in injury or death.”Maintaining silage piles is also key to preventing feed spoilage or silage quality degradation, Lewandowski said. Once silage is exposed to air, its quality begins to decline, he said.“Yeast begins to grow in the presence of oxygen and those yeast metabolize the lactic acid that was formed during silage fermentation,” he said. “As yeast metabolizes the lactic acid, silage pH begins to increase and this allows fungi and bacteria to grow, which results in silage quality degradation.”To better ensure nutritional silage, the goal should be to create sound silage piles and remove an adequate amount of silage each day from the bunker so that the face of the silage remains fresh and silage quality is maintained, Lewandowski said.“Producers should use equipment that allows for the silage pile to maintain a smooth face to try to minimize the penetration of air into the new silo face as silage is removed,” he said. “Silage face shavers, defacers and silage rakes are good tools to use for this purpose.”Other safety and management tips to follow when creating or maintaining silage piles include:• Never work in or near a bunker or pile alone. Suffocation is a major concern in the event of a silage avalanche and the minutes saved in a rescue attempt when not working alone could mean the difference between life and death.• Use proper removal and unloading techniques. Never dig the bucket of a loader into the bottom of the silage. Do not undercut the silage face. Shave the silage from the top down on the silage face and maintain a smooth silage face.• When collecting a silage sample for quality analysis, do not sample from the silage face. Collect silage in a loader bucket and sample from that loader bucket after it has been moved a safe distance from the silage face.• Post signs indicating pileup or suffocation warnings around the perimeter of bunkers and piles.“And remember, never stand closer to the silage face than three times its height,” Lewandowski said. “When a silage avalanche occurs, the silage falls down and runs out away from the silage face, potentially leaving you buried alive in seconds.“Silage safety is important in all seasons but needs to be stressed during winter months when cold working conditions may lessen awareness of potential hazards or lead to the temptation to take shortcuts that are not safe.”
Tags:#Apple#web audrey watters “We think users are going to love this innovative new way to discover and buy their favorite apps,” says Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Developers may love the new app store too, as arguably it gives them better exposure. Developers will share the same 70%-30% split with Apple that they do for iPhone and iPad apps. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts Apple has opened the new Mac App Store for business this morning. At launch, the store features more than 1000 free and paid apps.The store brings the iTunes app sales model to Mac apps, an effort to make it as easy to find, buy, and install apps on your Mac as it is for your Apple mobile devices. The store is available to Snow Leopard users through a software update as part of Mac OS x v10.6.6. Apps are available in the categories already familiar to iPhone and iPad users: Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity, Utilities. Well-known Apple titles are available – iMovie and GarageBand, for example, are available for $14.99, and Pages, Keynote, and Numbers are $19.99 each. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
After the death of a retired government doctor due to swine flu here, the Rajasthan government’s Medical and Health Department has geared up to check the spread of the disease and issued alert in the State capital.Flu-like symptomsAll government dispensaries, satellite hospitals and other government health centres were asked to pay special attention to patients with swine flu-like symptoms. V.D. Bohra, who retired from Sawai Man Singh Government Hospital here, had visited Hyderabad and some other cities in the southern States, where he felt unwell. His condition deteriorated when he came back to Jaipur last week.Dr. Bohra was admitted to a private hospital, which sent his swab samples to Ahmedabad for swine flu test. After he tested positive, he suffered multiple organ failure and was declared dead on Wednesday.Medical and Health Minister Kali Charan Saraf has instructed doctors and para-medical staff to remain alert to the symptoms of swine flu among the patients of cough, cold, catarrh and high fever and immediately start their treatment.According to the official sources, the Minister asked the Chief Medical and Health Officers in all districts to ensure collection of samples, availability of medicines, referral to specialists and prompt services of intensive care units and isolation wards
Indian discus thrower Krishna Poonia finished a creditable seventh in the women’s discus throw while the gold medal was won by Sandra Perkovic of Croatia in the 2012 London Games at the Olympic Stadium here on Saturday.Sandra took the gold with throw of 69.11 metres, a national record, while the silver medal was taken by Darya Pishchalnikova of Russia with 67.56 m and Li Yanfeng of China settled for the bronze medal at 67.22m.Poonia’s best effort of 63.62 m came in her fifth and penultimate attempt. The Commonwealth Games gold medallist had 62.42 m in the first attempt and 61.61 in the third and 61.31 in the sixth and the final throw. She had two no-throws in the second and the fourth attempt.Poonia’s efforts here were nowhere near her personal best of 64.76 m that she achieved three months back in Hawaii.