The largest freshwater lake in Florida, which is a draw for fishing and boating in the summer months, likely won't see many faces this year.
That's because Lake Okeechobee is already half-full with a bright green, toxic algae that researchers say will only grow as algae season continues on through the summer. The algae can cause several health complications, including lung infections, organ damage, and neurological disorders, The New York Times reports.
Experts told the Times the severity of this year's bloom is, in large part, due to the warming climate that has resulted in increased rainfall and rising levels of carbon dioxide, which the algae feeds on. The algae also thrives among the fertilizer and manure that runs into the lake from nearby crops.
This is not a new problem for Florida. In 2018, former Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency across seven counties in an effort to combat the same toxic algae in Lake Okeechobee that was also inundating a nearby river.
Finding a solution to this toxic bloom has been a challenge.
Florida plans to build a reservoir to stop the algae from flowing out of the lake and into other bodies of water — though the Times reports that the reservoir would fill to capacity after depleting Okeechobee by only six inches.
Environmentalists are also calling on the state of Florida to implement rules limiting the run-off of pollutants from nearby crops that feed the algae, the Times reports.
This policy would take decades to make a large impact, thanks to the phosphorous-rich sediment already present in the lake.
A former U.S. Air Force officer is facing federal charges for funding and creating crush videos that show monkeys being sexually mutilated, tortured, and killed. The man identified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon is 48-year-old David Christopher Noble; the ring leader of an online animal abuse group.
The press release outlines the charges Noble is facing: conspiring to engage in animal crushing and creating and distributing animal crush videos, creating animal crush videos, and illegally possessing a firearm as a dishonorably discharged person.
As a group administrator, Noble paid for the creation of and celebrated videos depicting the torture, sexually-sadistic mutilation, and murder of adult and juvenile monkeys.
For those unfamiliar with “crush videos,” they are a highly disturbing and illegal form of animal cruelty that involves the torture and killing of small animals. The videos often depict individuals, commonly referred to as “crush fetishists,” intentionally crushing the animals with their feet or other objects, leading to their suffering and death. The primary purpose of crush videos is to cater to the perverse fetishes of certain individuals who derive pleasure or sexual gratification from witnessing the suffering and destruction of small creatures.
Suffice it to say, crush videos are extraordinarily vile, and anyone who creates and funds them must be held accountable for their sadistic behavior, and removed from society for as long as legally possible. If you are appalled by David Christopher Noble’s involvement in the torture and sexually-sadistic mutilation of monkeys, please add your name to the petition today located at www.animalvictory.org! Noble is dangerous – anyone who can intentionally be this cruel to an innocent animal poses a threat to people as well.
Noble could face up to seven years in federal prison and three years of supervised release. Additionally, illegally possessing a firearm as a dishonorably discharged person is punishable by up to 15 years in federal prison and three years of supervised release.
Individuals are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law. Animal Victory relies upon the authorities and the court system to determine guilt or innocence.
A lonely stray cat set her sights on a young delivery driver…jumping onto his leg and refusing to let go. The skinny white cat was obviously in need of help – little did she know that the young man she targeted was not a cat person.
But sometimes persistence pays off. The “not cat people” driver was swayed by the little cat’s determination.
The sweet feline was clearly happy to have a friend and she made herself comfortable while deliveries were being made.
The sweet encounter was posted to TikTok, with the boy’s mother explaining what happened…and how she could not resist when her son said that he was bringing a cat home.
The heartwarming video has garnered nearly 3 million views.
And follow-up videos reveal that the cat is no longer a stray, no longer lonely, and no longer nameless (she is now known as Venus). Sometimes reaching out to a stranger works out for the best. Enjoy your spoiled new life, Venus!
In Ontario, Canada hearts are breaking for a special needs dog who has been returned to a Canadian shelter by her adoptive owner. The dog, named Amerika, was returned to the Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary, which wrote:
These are the hardest moments. The surrenders, the returns. Amerika has been brought back to Dog Tales ?
It’s impossible for her heart to comprehend, which breaks ours.
The animal welfare agency explains that Amerika is incontinent because she was hit by a car, and expressed understanding that her special needs can make finding her the perfect home more difficult. They said they know that it can be a “challenge” to find her the right home, but they are determined to stick with her until the right home is found.
But understanding the challenging situation does not lessen the hurt for Amerika, who does not know why she lost her home.
The rescue group said:
It takes serious consideration to adopt a dog with special needs. Amerika is a survivor and her spirit is strong. Amerika can be a little jumpy when excited, so older children would be most appropriate. She loves playing with other dogs and is so loving and affectionate. She is so, so worth it. All of it ?
The Toronto Zoo is asking visitors to help limit screen time for certain primates by refraining from showing cellphone videos to the facility's gorillas.
The zoo posted signs outside the gorilla enclosure asking visitors not to use their phones to show photos or videos to the gorillas "as some content can be upsetting and affect their relationships and behavior within their family."
Hollie Ross, behavioral husbandry supervisor at the zoo, said keepers have not yet noticed any significant behavioral changes in the primates, but officials want to ensure the animals' lives remain as natural as possible.
"We just want the gorillas to be able to be gorillas," Hollie Ross, behavioral husbandry supervisor at the zoo, told CP24. "And when our guests come to the zoo, we want them to be able to see gorillas in a very natural state, and what they would be doing naturally -- to sort of connect with them on that level."
Officials said gorilla named Nassir has been seen showing a particular interest in the videos on visitors' phones.
Nassir, born in 2009, is "fascinated by videos and screen time would dominate his life if he had his way," the zoo's website states.
"We've had a lot of members and guests that actually will put their phones up to the glass and show him videos," Maria Franke, the zoo's director of wildlife conservation and welfare, told The Toronto Star. "And Nassir is so into those videos. It was causing him to be distracted and not interacting with the other gorillas, and you know, being a gorilla. He was just so enthralled with gadgets and phones and the videos."
Ross said Nassir and his fellow gorillas are already allowed to watch videos including nature documentaries under controlled circumstances.
"We just want to make sure that we know the content. Very much like managing an account for a child or something, you want to make sure that your parental controls are on, and that you're in control of what the content is that they're seeing," she said.
The American Kennel Club (AKC®), a not-for-profit organization, the world’s largest purebred dog registry and leading advocate for dogs, is excited to announce the AKC/USA Agility World Team members and the alternates. The team will travel to the Czech Republic to compete in the FCI Agility World Championship taking place October 4-8, 2023. The AKC/USA World Agility Team is proudly sponsored by YuMOVE. “We are thrilled to have these excellent canine athletes and their handlers represent the United States at the FCI Agility World Championship,” said Carrie DeYoung, Director of Agility. “This year’s team is top notch, and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish in October.” “We are incredibly proud to be the official dog joint supplement for the American Kennel Club and the remarkable and talented USA World Agility Team,” said Jennifer Pratt, VP of Marketing and Product for YuMOVE US. “We can’t wait to support the entire team on their journey to the Czech Republic.” Coached by Nancy Gyes and Assistant Coach John Nys, the team members and alternates are as follows:
Diane Patterson & Happy (Shetland Sheepdog)
Marco Giavoni & Bet (Shetland Sheepdog)
Han Yu & Skye (Poodle)
Sarah Rutland & Primo (Papillon)
Jen Pinder & Wicca – Alternate (Shetland Sheepdog)
Sarah Baker & Skeptic (English Cocker Spaniel)
Jennifer Crank & Bee (Shetland Sheepdog)
Abbey Beasley & Swindle (Shetland Sheepdog)
Deb Schulman & Trek (Poodle)
Byron Dail & Dodger – Alternate (Miniature American Shepherd)
Emily Klarman & Vanish (Border Collie)
Casey Keller & Liri (Border Collie)
Bob Daigle & Blew Bayou (Border Collie)
Chris Tucci & Serengeti (Border Collie)
Kris Seiter & Naavdanya – Alternate (Border Collie)
Roma Hunter & Sapphire (Border Collie)
Megan Miller & Maeraki (Border Collie)
Perry DeWitt & Wit (Border Collie)
Jessica Ajoux & Hallelujah (Border Collie)
Sally Connell & Kit – Alternate (Border Collie)
For more information about the team, visit https://www.akc.org/sports/agility/events/usa-world-agility-team/.
Florida’s coral reefs are facing what could be an unprecedented threat from a marine heat wave that is warming the Gulf of Mexico, pushing water temperatures into the 90s. The biggest concern for coral isn’t just the current sea surface temperatures in the Florida Keys, even though they are the hottest on record. The daily average surface temperature off the Keys on Monday was just over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.4 Celsius), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The real worry, scientists say, is that it’s only July. Corals typically experience the most heat stress in August and September. “We’re entering uncharted territories,” said Derek Manzello, an ecologist and the coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program. Coral reefs are natural wonders that support myriad species and blunt damage from storms. In the United States, reefs generate economic benefits to the tune of $3.4 billion annually for fisheries, tourism and coastal protection, according to NOAA.
But oceans have absorbed some 90% of the additional heat caused by humans as we burn fossil fuels and destroy forests. When sea temperatures rise too high, corals bleach, expelling the algae they need for sustenance. If waters don’t cool quickly enough, or if bleaching events happen in close succession, the corals die. For decades, scientists have been warning that climate change is an existential threat to coral reefs. Already, the world has lost a huge proportion of its coral reefs, perhaps half since 1950. “To be blunt, it can be very depressing,” Manzello said. “Unfortunately, I’m a scientist watching it happen.”
Marine heat isn’t just affecting the Gulf of Mexico. Globally, about 40% of the planet is experiencing a marine heat wave, according to Dillon Amaya, a physical scientist at NOAA who studies them. In part, that’s because the planet is entering a natural climate phenomenon known as El Niño, which typically brings warmer oceans. But now, El Niño is coming on top of long-term warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
While coral is especially vulnerable, heat waves harm untold species, and the effects are different around the world, as species are adapted to different temperature ranges. In general, fish need more oxygen when the water is warmer. That’s a problem, because warmer water holds less oxygen. “Large-scale fish kills are becoming more frequent as our climate changes,” said Martin Grosell, a professor of ichthyology at the University of Miami. Coral reefs are particularly important because so many species rely on them. About 25% of all marine life, including more than 4,000 kinds of fish, depend on reefs at some point in their lives, according to NOAA. While there aren’t yet reports of bleaching in Florida, it has already begun on reefs to the south, Manzello said, off Belize, Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Colombia.
Florida’s coral reef system stretches about 350 miles, from the St. Lucie inlet on the mainland south and west past the end of the Keys, and is frequented by sea turtles, manta rays, flounder and lobster. What happens in Florida will depend on conditions over the next few weeks. Storms, which churn up deeper, cooler water and reduce sunshine, could provide relief, scientists say. El Niño periods are typically associated with below-average Atlantic hurricane seasons, but that might not hold true this year.
Scientists are racing to come up with ways to help coral become more resilient to higher temperatures, for example by crossing Florida’s corals with varieties that seem to withstand more heat. But ultimately, the survival of corals and countless other species relies on the ability of humans to rein in climate change.
The coronavirus spread from deer to humans at least a few times based on an analysis of samples taken from the animal, according to a new study.
The analysis published Monday in the scientific journal Nature revealed that researchers found three possible cases of mutated variants of the virus from deer spreading to humans. Those cases appear to have originally stemmed from the virus spreading from humans to the deer and then mutating and spreading back to humans.
The researchers, several of whom work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Agriculture, collected 8,830 respiratory samples from free-ranging white-tailed deer from 26 states and Washington, D.C., between November 2021 and April 2022.
They identified 282 deer infected with COVID-19 and 34 different lineages of the virus in the samples collected, including those belonging to the alpha, gamma and delta variants that were more common earlier in the pandemic and the omicron variant that has dominated cases more recently.
An analysis showed that at least 109 individual spillover events happened in which humans spread the virus to deer. That subsequently led to at least 39 incidences of deer-to-deer transmission and three cases of deer-to-human transmission.
The delta and omicron variants were most commonly being reported among humans during the time that the researchers gathered the samples, but alpha and gamma were still being infrequently reported.
Researchers from Ohio State University had warned in January 2022 of the possibility of the virus spreading from deer to humans. They found at least three different strains of the virus in more than 35 percent of the 360 wild white-tailed deer they studied in northeastern Ohio between January and March 2021.
Two of the incidents of potential deer-to-human transmission occurred in North Carolina, and one happened in Massachusetts.
The investigators were able to track down the three people who had the infections, but none reported being near deer in the month prior to getting COVID-19. They also said they were not near a zoo where a few lions were infected with the mutated strain.
They concluded that the viruses circulating in the white-tailed deer population is coming from frequent spillover events from humans, and continued widespread surveillance of the deer population is needed to determine the evolution and distribution of the variants among deer.
Additional research will also help evaluate if the deer are possibly a reservoir for the virus and their role in the ecology of the virus.
Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz has been known as a “locals only” surf spot for decades. This summer there’s a new wave rider in the lineup who’s aggressive like locals, but also very cute and fuzzy. A wild sea otter has apparently discovered a pirate passion for commandeering surfboards from surfers on the westside. The otter has stolen half a dozen longboards in the water. “She’s one smart little otter,” local photographer Mark Woodward told KRON4. The female otter even caught a few waves after hopping on top of one board.
The otter committed its first longboard larceny on June 18 at Cowells, a popular and crowded surf spot for beginners. “I’m 60 and I’ve been in Santa Cruz my whole life. I’ve never seen an otter get close to a surfboard, let alone, get on it. It shocked me,” Woodward told KRON4. Woodward has spent this summer documenting the surfing sea otter on camera, as well as unfortunate surfers who struggled to get their boards back. The otter even worked its way up from targeting boards on small waves at Cowells, to mid-sized Indicators, to big wave Steamer Lane. Sea otters are an iconic species of the Monterey Bay. Otters have many adorable traits, such as floating on their backs, holding hands in rafts, cuddling with pups, and grooming their thick fur coats. Sea otters, which are distantly related to wolverines, also have sharp teeth.
On Tuesday, an official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted a warning sign on the cliffs above Steamer Lane reading, “Warning. Aggressive sea otter in this area. Enter the water at your own risk.” Woodward said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official monitored the water looking for the rogue sea otter. But the marine mammal, which has a tracker and tag on its fin, was too far out to sea.
Wildlife officials said they hope to capture the otter and bring it to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. A spokesperson for the Monterey Bay Aquarium told KRON4, “Our staff is supporting the effort to capture the sea otter. If she is recaptured, the aquarium will provide a health exam and care before she is moved to a long-term home.”
The otter’s strange behavior is likely due to the fact that she was born in captivity, the New York Times reported. After she was released into the wild, her fear of humans was not as strong as an otter that spent its whole life in the wild. Woodward said the otter is becoming more bold, and has approached surfers three separate times within the past six days. “The first time I didn’t see it biting anything. But the following encounters were totally frightening (for surfers). Every one of them was very scared,” Woodward said.
Over the weekend, Woodward saw the sea otter acting like a normal otter as it dove into the ocean and feasted on crabs using its tummy as a table. Then, “all of a sudden, she made a bee-line into the lineup,” and grabbed onto another board, the photographer said. Surfers who encountered the otter paddled out of the water with deep bite marks in their soft-top boards. Another surfer wasn’t able to reclaim his board until a nearby fishing boat crew bailed him out. And one man from San Jose had to return his rented surfboard with gashes in it. At first, the board rental store’s employees didn’t believe his story about why the board was damaged.
“But he showed them the video, and they let him off the hook,” Woodward said. It’s unknown how long the sea otter will be able to evade capture. As of Wednesday morning, the sea otter remained on the loose.
Morris Animal Foundation announced it is funding seven new studies focused on equid health, including pain management, vaccine development and foal sepsis.
“We are thrilled to be able to support these seven research projects, each focusing on major equid health issues,” said Dr. Kathy Tietje, Chief Program Officer at Morris Animal Foundation. “The Foundation continues to prioritize the health and welfare of horses through financial support for these innovative studies.”
The studies are slated to begin this year and will investigate a variety of equid health issues including:
- Dr. Nicholas Frank, Mississippi State University – Explore impact of cyproheptadine on blood variables and clinical signs of pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction in horses already receiving the drug pergolide.
- Dr. Noah Cohen, Texas A&M University – Develop an effective vaccine against strangles that can be administered intramuscularly to horses based on the “S” protein of Streptococcus equi subspecies equi (SEE) that can differentiate infected horses from vaccinated animals.
- Dr. Dianne McFarlane, University of Florida – Develop and apply a novel diagnostic test for equine pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction.
- Dr. Katarzyna Dembek, North Carolina State University – Increase understanding of foal sepsis and possible new treatment options.
- Dr. Canaan M. Whitfield-Cargile, University of Georgia – Examine the ability of a fecal-based test to aid in the diagnosis of gastric ulcers in horses.
- Dr. Hope Douglas, University of Pennsylvania – Study remote behavioral and physiologic monitoring to quantify and qualify changes in demonstrated equine discomfort behaviors and their association with epidural morphine administration.
- Dr. Constantinos Kurt Wibmer, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa – Investigate drugs that will target the non-structural protein 4 of African horse sickness.
A 79-year-old Florida man was bitten by a nearly 7-foot-long alligator Thursday morning at a golf course in Naples, according to local authorities.
The man told deputies he was on a walk at the Forest Glen and Golf Course community, where he lives, shortly after 5:00 a.m. Thursday when an alligator came up and bit him in the leg, according to a Facebook post from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. “I’m bleeding. I don’t know how bad it is. It’s profuse,” the man told a 911 dispatcher, according to an audio recording of the call. “There’s a lot of skin ripped off I can see, probably some muscle.”
“Go figure. Out for a walk to stay healthy,” the 79-year-old joked.
A responding police officer gave the man first aid and he was flown to a local hospital via medical helicopter for treatment, according to the Facebook post.
A second responding deputy spotted the alligator leaving the scene and kept watch on the reptile, which was later trapped and removed from the golf course community. According to the sheriff’s office, the alligator is a 6 foot 9 inch female.
The office urged residents to be cautious around bodies of water and vegetation where alligators may nest, as it is currently alligator mating season. “Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn, so plan accordingly to reduce the chances of running into them,” the sheriff’s office said.
Florida is home to around 1.3 million alligators across all of the state’s 67 counties, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. So-called “nuisance alligators” – those that are over 4 feet in length and believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property – are removed and killed by contracted trappers.
In 2022, there were 11 recorded alligator bites on humans in the state, with nine classified as “major” bites and two classified as “minor,” according to the commission. None were fatal.
A family in Adams County, Colorado said a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver took their cat, and they have security camera video to prove it.
The family’s neighbors got a pizza and they were left with grief after going over the video of the driver with their cat “Pinto” last Saturday.
“He got in the middle of the street when he saw someone pull up,” Jennifer Chumil, the mother of the family, said.
In the video, Pinto, one of several family cats, is seen running toward a Domino’s delivery car.
“She petted him and then a few minutes go by and he’s in the car with her and they’re driving off,” Chumil said. “They were delivering pizza to my neighbor across the street.”
You can see the cat approach the car, and the delivery driver interact with Pinto. Another angle, Chumil said, shows Pinto already in the car with the driver.
Shortly after, the video appears to show the Domino’s employee driving off.
The family is left wondering where their cat was taken.
“Taken advantage of just cause he got out,” Chumil said. “It happens, people lose their pets but it’s nice if someone returned them or not to ask if it belonged to you.”
Chumil said she called several locations around her neighborhood near 92nd Avenue and Federal Boulevard.
She spoke with the manager of a nearby location, provided the video evidence and said she was contacted by the driver herself.
“The driver tells me — you’re accusing me of this and I didn’t do it,” Chumil said. “And I was like ‘well, I have video that you did,’ and she just basically says ‘it wasn’t me, you’re mistaken’ and hung up.”
The Problem Solvers contacted the store but the manager would not comment.
The family reached out to officials with Adams County Sheriff’s Office but FOX31 was told it is a civil matter.
Adams County told FOX31 they are looking into the matter.
Scientists have discovered an anomalous blob of heat on the far side of the moon.
This mysterious hotspot has a strange origin: It's likely caused by the natural radiation emanating from a huge buried mass of granite, which is rarely found in large quantities outside of Earth, according to new research. On the moon, a dead volcano that hasn't erupted for 3.5 billion years is likely the source of this unusual hunk of granite.
"This is more Earth-like than we had imagined can be produced on the Moon, which lacks the water and plate tectonics that help granites form on Earth," lead study author Matt Siegler of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, said in a statement.
Siegler and his colleague Rita Economos of Southern Methodist University discovered the heat with a new method using microwaves to measure subsurface temperatures via the Chinese lunar orbiters Chang'E 1 and 2. They also used data from NASA's Lunar Prospector and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiters.
What they found was an area about 31 miles (50 kilometers) across where the temperature is about 18 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) warmer than the surroundings. This region was below a 12.4 mile (20 km) diameter spot on the surface that is rich in silicon and that is thought to be a collapsed volcanic crater. The dead volcano last erupted 3.5 billion years ago, but magma from its plumbing system is likely still sitting below the surface, giving off radiation.
"This find is a 50 km-wide batholith; a batholith is a type of volcanic rock that forms when lava rises into the Earth's crust but does not erupt onto the surface," Economos said in the statement. "El Capitan and Half Dome, in Yosemite in California are examples of similar granite rocks which have risen to the surface."
The researchers reported their initial findings in the journal Nature on July 5 and presented additional details July 12 at the Goldschmidt Conference on geochemistry in Lyon, France.
The findings are "incredibly interesting," Stephen M. Elardo, a geochemist at the University of Florida who was not involved in the study, said in the statement. Granite is extremely common on Earth, but not elsewhere in the solar system, added Elardo.
"People don’t think twice about having a granite countertop in their kitchen," he said. "But geologically-speaking, it’s quite hard to make granite without water and plate tectonics, which is why we really don’t see that type of rock on other planets. So if this finding by Siegler and colleagues holds up, it’s going to be massively important for how we think about the internal workings of other rocky bodies in the Solar System."