Archive for July, 2003

“No Sting Too Painful” for “Bug Attack” Scientist

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 31, 2003   View Article

They swim through swamps, crawl over logs, buzz through the air, and burrow under skin. They sting and bite, spread disease, and devour rotting flesh. Without them, life as we know it would cease to exist.

In a statement promoting a documentary film on the Earth’s most impressive and interesting insects, Phil DeVries said, “It is hardly a secret that insects make the world a safer, homier place.” DeVries is director of the Center for Biodiversity Studies at the Milwaukee Public Museum and an entomologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Froghopper Bug Crowned “World’s Greatest Leaper”

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 30, 2003   View Article

A sap-sucking bug that coats plants with wads of foamy spit has been crowned the insect world’s greatest leaper. It has more jumping prowess than fleas, out hops the springiest grasshoppers, and clears the high bar more quickly than bush crickets.

Philaenus spumarius, commonly known as a froghopper or spittle bug, is a mere 0.2 inches (6 millimeters) long, but employs a novel catapult mechanism to launch itself upwards of 28 inches (70 centimeters) into the air.

Cousteau Finds “Horrifying” Trash on Desert Islands

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 28, 2003   View Article

Derelict fishing nets, plastic bottles, cigarette lighters, television tubes, spray cans, broken toys, and thousands of other pieces of plastic and non-biodegradable junk converge on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands every year, scarring a seascape nearly void of people with tons of human waste.

“It’s absolutely horrifying the scope of seeing it uncontained out here and definitely impacting the environment,” said Jean-Michel Cousteau in an e-mail to National Geographic News sent from the Searcher. “Every time we go ashore, we are startled and shocked by the amount of debris that systematically litters the coastlines and reefs.”

Caribbean Corals in Dire Trouble, Study Finds

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 22, 2003   View Article

Corals are rapidly disappearing from reefs in the Caribbean and unless conservation actions are taken immediately the trend may prove irreversible, according to British scientists who performed the first ever basin-wide survey of coral reef decline.

“We all knew it was bad, but not this bad,” said Isabelle Côté, a biologist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.

Cousteau, Hawaiians Set Sail to Raise Awareness

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 21, 2003   View Article

On board a modern research vessel laden with cutting-edge scuba gear and high-definition video cameras, Jean-Michel Cousteau is documenting a 1,200-mile (2,000-kilometer) long chain of remote islands and coral reefs in the tropical Pacific Ocean to raise awareness of its uniqueness and the need for its protection.

Hot on Cousteau’s trail a group of native Hawaiians will sail from Kauai in the main Hawaiian Islands to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in a traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe on a mission to restore the Hawaiian concept of malama—caring—to the land and sea to ensure a balance among all forms of life.

Sonar Device May Prevent Manatee-Boat Collisions

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 17, 2003   View Article

Researchers are developing a sonar system to help boaters steer off a collision course with the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus Linneaus). The technology could be the difference between population growth and decline in the endangered species.

In 2002, 95 of the 305 recorded manatee deaths resulted from boat collisions, making it the leading cause of death for the slow-moving animals. The remaining manatee population is estimated to be less than 3,300, according to conservation groups.

Scientists Discovery Mystery Krill Killer

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 17, 2003   View Article

Scientists have discovered a tiny, one-celled parasite that causes a grisly and fatal infection in krill. Masses of the parasite grow inside the krill, eat its organs, divide, and then burst out of their host’s dead body in search of new victims.

The discovery sheds more light on a key player in ocean’s food chain. Scientists previously thought most animals like krill were either eaten by larger predators or simply starved to death. The find shows that parasites also play an important role.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach