The teacher protecting marine turtles in the Seychelles

(CNN)The first time Vanessa Didon saw a turtle, she was blown away.

“Every encounter is like my first one,” Didion says. “I go a little bit crazy and then I remember I need to measure the turtle, watch out for what she is doing, so every encounter is like the first one for me.”
Four years ago, she left her job as a science and maths teacher to start a family. Along the way she discovered an unexpected passion for marine conservation. Through a warm smile, she admits that while teaching she’d use any excuse to get her science students outside, encouraging them to play in the dirt and explore.
    “It’s always been in me, the environment had been calling me for some time,” she says.
    The Seychelles archipelago hosts one of the largest remaining global populations of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, and significant populations of the endangered green turtle.
    In 1994 the Seychellois government made it illegal to harm, kill, or be in possession of sea turtles, including their meat and their eggs. The penalty is up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $37,000.
    But despite the strict laws, Didon says poaching is still a major issue because of the country’s traditional appetite for turtle meat.
    “Some people would say it’s in the culture, but in terms of population we know that the turtle population had gone down, and the human population has gone up, so of course there is going to be some sort of problem there,” Didon says.
    October marks the beginning of the nesting season in the Seychelles, when female hawksbill and green turtles emerge out of the comfort of the Indian Ocean to lay their eggs on the very beaches where they hatched.
    During the nesting season, Didon and her colleagues can be seen patrolling the beaches where they know turtles might come to nest. If there are no turtles on the beach, they look for tracks and the tell-tale signs that a female has laid her eggs.
    “Sometimes it’s very apparent that the turtle has nested,” she says. “You can see sand thrown around, but sometimes if you are not too sure, it’s quite good to just feel the sand and if you feel loose sand, this gives you an indication that there is a nest there.”
    If a nest is found, its precise location is recorded using GPS, to monitor its status until the hatchlings appear after a two-month incubation period.
    Despite no longer teaching in a classroom, Didon says a big part of her job is educating others about the plight of sea turtles and other local marine wildlife. During the off season, she visits schools and hotels to host awareness programs and presentations.
    “I want future generations to be able to see all these lovely things that we have, like the wildlife,” she says.
    “People have kids, I have kids, and I would want them to grow up maybe doing the same job that I’m doing.”

    Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

    Puppy walks again with prosthetics after neighbour cuts its legs off with a sword

    A 9-month-old puppy in Bangkok, Thailand, whose front legs were cruelly hacked off by a neighbour with a sword, has been given a new lease on life.

    On Friday, Thai animal welfare group Soi Dog Foundation (SDF) posted a video of the dog, Cola, rocking his brand new prosthetics a few months after the horrific incident.

    According to an earlier post by the SDF, Cola was brought to their attention in May of this year. The puppy was apparently caught chewing on a neighbour’s shoes and despite Cola’s owner’s offers to compensate the man, he wasn’t satisfied.

    The man returned to Cola’s owner’s house later at night with a sword and attacked the dog. He later threatened the owner that if she was to complain, he’d kill her other dogs.

    Cola’s owner contacted the SDF as well the local authorities, and the neighbour was detained. He was sentenced to one month’s detention under the Animal Welfare Law.

    Following the attack, Cola was taken to SDF’s headquarters in Phuket to recover. The foundation’s co-founder, John Dalley, told the ABC that Cola is adapting well to the prosthetics.

    Although SDF has received a flood of offers to adopt Cola, the furry fighter has found a new family with the Dalleys. Dalley’s wife, Gill, is a double amputee herself.

    “Gill and Cola bonded immediately, so he won’t be going anywhere now,” John said.

    Source: http://mashable.com/

    Brent Joins U.S. Crude in Bear Market Amid Oversupply Anxiety

    Brent crude entered a bear market, plunging below $45 a barrel for the first time since November as skepticism that a supply glut will ease worsens.

    A decline in U.S. stockpiles wasn’t enough to dispel the pessimism that struck the market this month as American supplies remain stubbornly above their seasonal average and production keeps rising. The global benchmark closed more than 20 percent below the year’s peak settlement, meeting the common definition of a bear market. The same happened with West Texas Intermediate on Tuesday.

    "There’s a sea of negativity," said Maxwell Gold, director of investment strategy at ETF Securities LLC. "This is much more a story of sentiment weighing on the markets."

    Oil has returned to levels last seen before the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia decided in November to cut production to drain a global glut. Relentless drilling in U.S. shale fields and renewed output from Libya are putting that effort in jeopardy.

    Brent for August delivery settled $1.20 lower at $44.82, down 22 percent from its January peak. WTI fell 98 cents to close at $42.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after dipping to the lowest since August.

    American crude stockpiles fell by 2.45 million barrels last week and gasoline supplies slid by 577,999 barrels, according to an Energy Information Administration report Wednesday. Meanwhile, oil production rose to 9.35 million barrels a day, the highest level in almost two years.

    "I don’t think one report by itself is enough to dispel the fears," said Gene McGillian, manager for market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. "I would be surprised if this is the beginning of a turnaround."

    A joint OPEC, non-OPEC committee concluded on Tuesday that the market won’t rebalance until the second quarter of 2018, beyond the current expiration of the group’s output agreement.

    Potentially bullish factors failed to lift prices, including Tropical Storm Cindy halting service at a major oil terminal in the Gulf of Mexico, a shake-up in the Saudi royal family, and Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh saying on state radio that OPEC may decide to make deeper cuts.

    “There is no bullish catalyst for oil to be seen at the moment and thus it is drifting lower,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB AB in Oslo. “It will be hard for Saudi and Russia to keep cutting production in the face of a strong rise in U.S. crude production and output in Libya.”

    Oil-market news:

    • Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman replaced his cousin as heir to the throne, a shock announcement that consolidates the 31-year-old leader’s power in the world’s biggest oil exporter. He is expected to continue the kingdom’s current oil policies.
    • Short-term floating storage economics are “close to breakeven, assuming a VLCC hiring cost of $16,500,” JBC Energy said in a research note.
    • Mexico is expected to increase gasoline imports from the U.S. with Pemex’s biggest refinery out of service for at least two weeks.
    • Oil companies risk wasting $2.3 trillion of investments should demand peak in the next decade as the world works toward its goal of limiting global warming, according to a report from Carbon Tracker.

      Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

      Why in the world is this puppy green?

      (CNN)Look at this good dog! This is Rio, and Rio recently had a litter of puppies. Among the freshly-minted additions, one looked a little, well, mintier than the rest.

      “It was all hands on deck, but then as the puppies started to arrive,” Sutherland told the Daily Mail, “we noticed that one of the puppies had green fur! We couldn’t believe it.”
      Sutherland named the little gem Forest.
        The rare phenomenon is thought to happen when light-colored puppies come in contact with biliverdin, a green pigment found in bile. It’s the same pigment you can see when bruises turn green. It essentially dyes their fur in the womb, and the color fades over time.
        In fact, Sutherland told CNN that Forest’s unusual verdigris has already faded significantly. Here’s little Forest a week after birth:
        And here’s Forest now. Sutherland says he still has a little tint when sidled up next to his brothers and sisters, but she expects Forest will be completely de-greened soon.
        Sadly, one of the nine puppies passed away after birth, but Sutherland says the rest of the brood, including little Forest, are doing well.

        Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

        Bollywood star Salman Khan acquitted of poaching endangered animals

        Image: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

        An Indian court has acquitted Bollywood star Salman Khan in an 18-year-old case involving the poaching of an endangered gazelle species in the state of Rajasthan, overturning earlier verdicts that had sentenced him to prison.

        Khan was accused of hunting chinkaras (Indian gazelles) in two separate cases in 1998, while shooting for his film Hum Saath Saath Hain. His co-stars Saif Ali Khan and Sonali Bendre were also accused in the case. Chinkaras are a protected species in India and hunting them is a punishable offence.

        In its verdict, the Rajasthan High Court said that there was no evidence that the pellets found on the dead animals had been shot from Khan’s licensed gun. The driver of the jeep that the Khan and his co-stars were in, had also gone missing. Khan had appealed against a lower court’s verdict, which convicted and sentenced him to one year’s prison term in the blackbuck case and five years of imprisonment in the chinkara case. The 50-year-old actor had spent only six days in a jail in Jodhpur in 2007, before being released on bail.

        Khan still faces two cases of poaching blackbucks or Indian antelopes on the outskirts of the city of Jodhpur in 1998 and using unlicensed firearms. Like chinkaras, blackbucks are an endangered and protected species. The original case on the hunting of blackbucks was filed by Rajasthan’s Bishnoi community, who worship blackbucks.

        One of Bollywood’s biggest stars, Khan is no stranger to controversy. Last year, Khan was acquitted of all charges in a long-running hit-and-run case, in which he had been accused on running over a homeless man in 2002. The state government of Maharashtra has challenged the acquittal. More recently, Khan caused an uproar after he said that the felt like a “raped woman” after a gruelling film shoot. The actor was asked to apologise for his statement, but has so far declined to do so.

        Many Twitter users reacted to the news with cynicism.

        Source: http://mashable.com/

        Saudi cleric is very clear that taking selfies with cats is banned

        Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fazwan appeared on TV in mid-April.
        Image: MEMRI/Screengrab

        Stop it with the selfies.

        That’s the message from a prominent Saudi cleric who was asked about the “new trend” of people taking photos with cats in order to “be like the Westerners.”

        Saleh bin Fawzan al-Fawzan, a member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, made the statments during a TV appearance posted in mid-April and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

        Asked several times about a “new trend of taking pictures with cats” that has been spreading among people, the cleric replies “What?!” before saying, “What do you mean pictures with cats? Taking pictures is prohibited.”

        Fawzan’s stance isn’t specific to cats themselves, but ratherstems from an ultra-conservative, Wahhabi interpretation of Islam which considers photography blasphemous for depicting human or animal images.

        The cats dont matter here, he said. Taking pictures is prohibited if not for a necessity, not with cats, not with dogs, not with wolves, not with anything.

        A similar pronouncement was issued earlier in May, when another Saudi cleric, Nasser al-Omar, called on the faithful to stop using filters on Snapchat. He claimed they are “sinful” as they are “distorting the image of the human face and the creation of God just to make people laugh.”

        However, selfies and photographs are extremely popular in the Gulf kingdom and unlikely to be banned for real, despite the opposition of some hardline clerics.

        Muslim pilgrims even take selfies during the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that is a mandatory religious duty for all Muslims at least once in a lifetime:

        #tbt #saudiarabia #mecca #haram #kaaba #sothankful

        A photo posted by Mohammed Sufyan Feroz (@sufyanferoz) on

        Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

        Source: http://mashable.com/

        Bad kitty! Royal Mail warns family after cat attacks

        (CNN)Bella the cat’s family says she’s always been a sweet and loving pet, but the kitty has apparently become a menace to the British postal service.

        Matthew Sampson of Patchway, United Kingdom, said he got a letter from the Royal Mail warning that it had done a risk assessment and would stop delivering mail to their house in 14 days unless they did something to restrain their cat.
          It turns out Bella attacks letters as they slide through the door’s mail slot. In the process, she nips and scratches the fingers of unsuspecting postmen and women.
          Sampson said he has had Bella for about three years and only discovered the problem recently when their postman mentioned it to his partner, Laura Lowe.

          Bella

          “She’s a really nice cat and hasn’t bitten anybody,” Sampson told CNN.
          It’s unclear if Bella hates the mail, or if she really, really likes the mail, but either way, something had to be done.
          Fortunately, a amicable solution was reached in time.
          Sampson is buying a new external mailbox. He said the Royal Mail offered to pay for it and apologized for the hassle.
          “I didn’t expect an apology because at the end of the day, if my cat is injuring them, they are within their rights,” he said.
          A spokesman for the Royal Mail says incidents involving cats are pretty rare, but animal attacks are a real risk for postal carriers. There were about 3,000 dog attacks on U.K. mail carriers between 2014 and 2015.
          For now, the postal carriers of Pathway can breathe a little easier, and Bella will have to find something else to do with her days.

          Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

          Rare drone footage enlightens scientists on feeding behavior of blue whales

          One small flight for drones has the potential to be one giant step for science … just ask researchers at Oregon State University.

          A group of scientists at the university recently captured rare footage of blue whales feeding in the Southern Ocean off New Zealand via drone.

          The stunning footage, narrated by Leigh G. Torres, expedition leader and principal investigator with the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State, provides a great deal of insight into what whales eat and how they decide what food is worthy of their time.

          In a press release, Torres explained the footage clearly shows the blue whales’ “lunge-feeding” process of suddenly lunging forward to eat a massive pack of krill.

          “Our footage shows this [lunge-feeding theory] in action,” said Torres. “We can see the whale making choices, which is really extraordinary because aerial observations of blue whales feeding on krill are rare. The whale bypasses certain krill patches presumably because the nutritional payoff isnt sufficient and targets other krill patches that are more lucrative.”

          “We think this is because blue whales are so big, and stopping to lunge-feed and then speeding up again is so energy-intensive, that they try to maximize their effort,” Torres continued.

          As for the unique perspective, the investigator gave a big thumbs up to drone usage, explaining they’re a “great way to film [the whales’] behavior without disturbing their behavior at all, unlike other aerial methods like a helicopter or a plane, which cant hover or make a lot of noise.”

          Source: http://mashable.com/

          These birds are choking on a plastic ocean

          Midway Atoll (CNN)Shock, combined with a little wonder at the unnatural. That’s how I feel as I watch the knife slice through the sternum of a dead Laysan albatross.

          Inside its ribcage: a sickening array of plastic.
          A red bottle top from a well-known soft drink brand. A cigarette lighter. Or two. Long thin items I couldn’t begin to identify.
          It looked like the bird had swallowed the contents of an entire trash can whole.
          Yet this wasn’t because it dined on a refuse site. I was on Midway Island, in the remote Pacific Ocean, at least 1,500 miles from the nearest one of those. This disgusting and otherworldly sight exists because we’re throwing the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic into the oceans every minute. By 2050, a number of researchers expect the world’s oceans to contain more plastic than fish, by weight.

          Plastic

          This vital time of year is called fledging. The young birds must learn to spread their wings and fly, or else they cannot feed on the ocean, and they’ll starve. Parents do what they can to feed the birds in their beginning stages, usually passing digested food from their stomachs, directly, beak to beak, into those of their chicks. Yet today, that parental assistance is often harmful. Plastic cannot be digested. Indeed, nearly every piece of plastic ever made still exists on planet Earth.
          How could we expect a fledgling digestive system to do what nature cannot?
          And so, on the island, the chain of life, death and plastic is evident to behold. The birds swoop into the mulch of the ocean, pass the “food” on to their young, and then, around the island, slowly, the birds die off.
          True, about a third of the birds are meant to die off as part of the survival of the fittest, according to local scientists. Yet, many oceanographers and wildlife researchers remain baffled as to why, in a refuge as tailor-made as this, the birds are not doing better. It doesn’t take a PhD to realize that having half your stomach full of plastic may have something to do with it.
          This gracious bird, fluent in the air with its 6-foot wingspan and able to soar above the mess man has made, is seeing its one remaining sanctuary slowly swallowed up, covered in a thin layer of man’s casual indifference to the future.

          Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

          People are outraged that a zoo’s skeletal sun bears are starving and begging for food

          Image: scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group/ youtube

          Warning: This post contains graphic and upsetting videos.

          Gaunt sun bears in an Indonesia zoo, so hungry they’ve taken to begging visitors for food and eating their own faeces, have been captured on video by animal rights activists.

          Footage shot by the Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group showed several emaciated bears at a zoo in the Indonesian city of Bandung.

          While bears in enclosures very rarely beg for food, you can see the bears rushing for pieces of fruit thrown in, and begging visitors for more.

          Another video also showed a bear eating its own faeces.

          “The bears are kept in a concrete cage and no grass. [There is] nothing natural, it is all very cruel”, Marison Guciano, senior investigator of the Scorpion Foundation told Mashable.

          The group has been sending investigators down to the zoo from mid-last year to monitor the bears’ habitat.

          Guciano added: “[It is] one of the worst zoos in all of Indonesia. Maybe it would be best if this place was closed down now, before more animals die a painful and avoidable death.”

          The Bandung zoo was also implicated in an alleged case of neglect last year, when its endangered Sumatran elephant died after it fell ill.

          After the bears’ videos went viral, a petition looking to shut the zoo down was started, and has reached over 200,000 signatures.

          A sun bear at Sydney’s Taronga zoo

          Image: Getty Images

          Visitors have left numerous critical comments on the zoo’s TripAdvisor page, with many accusing the zoo of neglect.

          “I could not believe how disgusting and unclean this place was,” said a commenter. “The animals are poorly maintained, underfed and generally ignored.”

          “Rusty cages, dirty place and really neglected animals. Some of them are very thin. Hell on earth for all these poor animals”, said another review.

          Sun bears as typically found in forest habitats in Southeast Asia and have been classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

          The Bandung zoo is not the first in Indonesia to be called out for its poor conditions, with another zoo in the city of Surabaya having been dubbed the “Zoo of Death”.

          BONUS: NBD, just a massive alligator out for a stroll

          Source: http://mashable.com/

          Prehistoric egg hoard helps reveal the early life of flying reptiles

          A hoard of fossilized pterosaur eggs discovered in China is helping scientists gain a rare insight into the extinct flying reptiles.

          Newly released research into over 200 eggs and 16 embryos from the pterosaur Hamipterus, including the first computed tomography (CT) scans, eclipses what was previously known about these cousins of the dinosaurs.
          In particular, they provide new evidence for the debate about whether pterosaurs could fly as soon as they hatched.
            Relatively few pterosaur fossils are preserved because of the animal’s fragile, thin-walled bones. Even more rare are fossils of young hatchlings, eggs and embryos, making it difficult to understand how different species grew.
            The first pterosaur embryo was found in China in 2004, but the egg and embryo were flattened, and exactly what type of pterosaur it was was unclear. The first three-dimensionally preserved pterosaur egg came from Argentina from an animal called Pterodaustro, previously known from several specimens and eggs that are mostly crushed.
            But in 2014, Chinese palaeontologists discovered hundreds of bones and eggs of the pterosaur Hamipterus, which lived in the early Cretaceous period, approximately 120 million years ago. Amazingly, the site where the fossils were found contained eight separate geological layers with bones, four of which also had eggs.
            Researchers think this means it was a nesting site that was hit by high-energy storms that transported the pterosaurs and their eggs to a calm lake where they were then turned into fossils.
            Palaeontologists have found other sites with lots of pterosaur bones before, suggesting they were social animals. But this is the first find that indicates pterosaurs nested together as well.

            Inside the eggs

            A team of Chinese and Brazilian palaeontologists led by Xiaolin Wang have now examined these eggs in more detail, using CT scanning and the study of microstructures of the bone to understand how the animal grew.
            The CT scans meant the researchers could use X-rays to see inside the eggs and embryos without destroying them, the first time this has been done with pterosaur eggs (although dinosaur eggs have been studied like this before).
            Among the 16 embryos, the researchers found an assortment of preserved bones, mainly from the wings and legs. Unlike other pterosaur embryos from China or Argentina, very little material from the skull appeared in the embryos, with only a single lower jaw preserved.
            Unfortunately, the embryos are all incomplete and disarticulated, meaning the bones have been jumbled during fossilisation rather than preserved in a nice jointed skeleton.
            This means that we don’t have a complete picture of what an embryonic Hamipterus would have looked like. But the researchers were able to make some observations on growth because the large number of fossils with individuals of different sizes meant they could look at different stages of development.
            All the long bones from the wings and legs showed signs of ossification, the process of laying down the minerals to form bones, but the ends of wing bones were not fully formed or mineralized. This suggests that the areas for major muscle attachments, and therefore the muscles themselves, weren’t developed in embryos.
            The areas for muscle attachment of important flight muscles were either small or nonexistent in the unhatched animals, while the legs appeared to be more complete. The researchers suggest this means that Hamipterus hatchlings were incapable of flight, contradicting the common idea of “flaplings”, that the youngest pterosaurs could fly immediately.

            No teeth

            Unsurprisingly, the bone of these embryos appears to have grown extremely fast, with large vascular canals (that carry blood vessels through bones) and other bone structures typical of young animals that are laying down bone extremely quickly.
            A surprising discovery, or indeed a lack of discovery, was in the teeth. Despite the fact that teeth normally preserve well in fossils, no teeth were found in any of the embryos.
            Since at least some other pterosaur embryos possess teeth, this might indicate that the Hamipterus embryos are of an earlier developmental stage, before tooth development. The lack of other skull bones suggests the skull developed later than other bones in the skeleton.
            This find adds to recent discoveries of soft Darwinopterus pterosaur eggs and hundreds of Caiuajara pterosaur fossils. Thanks to the hard work of palaeontologists, we are starting to develop a good understanding of the entire life history, from before hatching to death, of these fascinating creatures.

            This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

            Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

            33 rescued circus lions getting a new home in Africa

            (CNN)Zeus, Shakira, Ricardo and their fellow felines are ready to embark on a trip of a lifetime.

            The 33 lions, many of them in poor health, were rescued from circuses in Peru and Colombia and are being taken to their homeland to live in an animal sanctuary in Africa.
              The “largest lion airlift” will take place on Friday, organized by Animal Defenders International. The non-profit has worked with the Peruvian and Colombian governments to pass bans on wild animals in circuses.
              “These lions have endured hell on earth and now they are heading home to paradise. This is the world for which nature intended these animals for,” said ADI President Jan Creamer.
              The rescued lions were found in poor conditions. Many of them had their claws removed and had broken teeth, according to ADI. One, Ricardo, is missing an eye and another is nearly blind.
              Twenty-four of the lions were rescued in surprise raids on a circus in Peru, where they were living in cages on the backs of trucks. Nine lions were voluntarily handed over from a circus in Colombia.
              The pack of big cats is heading to the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Limpopo, South Africa.
              “There are awesome sanctuaries all over the world who take care of lions in a magnificent way, but it’s good to have the lions back in Africa where they belong,” Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary co-founder Minunette Heuser told CNN. “The temperature and climate here is the best thing for them.”
              The private sanctuary is on land owned by the Heuser family. The sanctuary is currently home to six lions and two Siberian tigers, but there’s plenty of room for the new lions to make their homes, Heuser said.
              Transporting the lions requires one big plane. A McDonnell Douglas MD-11 cargo aircraft will pick up nine lions in Bogota and then head to Lima for the other 24 lions. A team will be on the plane to monitor the cats during the flight.
              “The animals have to be in travel crates of a certain specification for international travel,” ADI Executive Manager Angie Greenaway told CNN. The lions will not be sedated when they are being moved or while they’re in flight, she said.
              “We group the animals there in social and family groups so they are by one another on the flight,” Greenaway said.
              The mission will mark the largest lion lift ever, Greenaway said. The previous record airlift took place in 2011, when ADI rescued 25 lions from circuses in Bolivia and relocated them to a sanctuary in Colorado.
              The transport wouldn’t have been possible without an online crowdfunding campaign by ADI and GreaterGood.com, which raised about half the cost of the airfare. Almost 200,000 miles of the 230,000-mile journey had been funded as of Wednesday morning.
              Major donations from other animal-welfare groups, including Bob Barker’s DJ & T Foundation, helped launch the effort to start raiding circuses in Peru.
              Although several South American countries have passed legislation in recent years banning wild animals in circuses, enforcing the laws is tough, said Greenaway.
              “It’s quite a common issue,” she said. “A lot of the circuses had animals because the legislation wasn’t being enforced. That’s why we stepped in and helped the government with that.”

              Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

              My Smart Beta ETF Premised on Cats Rang Up an 849,751% Return

              I was rich. Right?

              I mean, that’s what my Bloomberg said. I’d just entered in an index built from companies with “cat” in their names — yes, the furry felines — hit a button and watched it back-test to an 849,751 percent return. Forget the internet, I thought. Cats are about to take over smart beta.

              This is the story of the time I designed my own factor fund as a way of learning about one of Wall Street’s hottest trends — and its pitfalls. There are already ETFs that focus on themes, such as "biblically responsible" companies or ones popular with millennials. Quants have hundreds of style tilts, and their exploding popularity has created a gold rush for creators. I wanted in.

              I notified Andrew Ang, head of factor investing strategies at BlackRock Inc. Everything in my program was by the book, I assured him. It was rules-based, equal-weighted and premised on a simple story — that people love cats.

              “I love cats, too, and obviously cats are superior, so this is a great investment strategy,” Ang said, as I began to plot my career as a quant. Then he said, “I’m joking, of course.”

              Alas, though decades of research back up the idea that you can sort stocks by traits like volatility and momentum and beat the market, Ang saw a far less glorious future for my Abyssinian anomaly. Actually, it failed virtually every conceptual test he could think of, a lesson for anyone convinced she’s found the key to riches in statistical engineering.

              “The No. 1 thing is that it lacks an economic foundation,” Ang said.

              Pitfall 1: Economic Intuition

              So how, exactly, did I go about investing in cats? Factor funds rely on formulas, preset criteria that tell you which stocks to include and which to chuck out. It’s the idea behind things like value ETFs, which gather groups of shares that share the common characteristic of cheapness. The idea is that put together, they’ll beat the wider market.

              My model buys any U.S. company with “cat” in it, like CATerpillar, or when “communiCATion” is in the name. It rebalances quarterly to keep trading costs low. That’s important for when Vanguard or BlackRock license it and charge a competitively low fee.

              Full disclosure, I’m a dog person, and believe a company runs better when its spirit animal takes a labradoodle form. But building a dog factor portfolio leaves you with penny stocks like Junkiedog.com Inc., offered at $5 in 2013 and now trading at less than 2 cents.

              It just so happens that when I ran the study with cats, it returned nearly 850,000 percent on a six-year backtest. That led me to ex-post facto assign an economic rationale to the benefit of cat-containing names. And although keyboard cat is an internet star, I’m told by Goldman Sachs Asset Management this isn’t a real economic story that would lead to robust returns over time. 

              "It’s very curious, and I appreciate the effort,” said Nicholas Chan, portfolio manager in the firm’s Quantitative Investment Strategies group. “But you came up with an investment idea that doesn’t have economic intuition. When we come up with an investment hypotheses, we’re economists first and statisticians second.”

              BlackRock and Goldman build strategies around factors like value and low volatility because there’s a clear explanation for why they might work: investors under-price boring stocks, for example. By coming up with a thesis only after the results were known, I’ve data snooped my way into an unreliable factor. Unfortunately for me, there’s little evidence that investors are pulled towards catty stocks.

              Pitfall 2: P-Hacking

              Because of my stubborn desire to produce claw-some returns, I took my thesis and ran with it. Fine, so my first few trials didn’t spit out exactly what I wanted. No biggie, I’ve got the statistical resources of Bloomberg LP at my fingertips — so I tinkered with the data until it did.

              At first, I only invested in companies beginning with C – A – T to capture the essence of my investment thesis. But that backtest spit out this:

              Not great. But expand the data-set a little, CAT anywhere, and the returns look stellar, making my hypothesis look better. In the scientific community, this is called p-hacking, and it got me into trouble with Ang.

              “We’re after broad and consistent sources of returns,” he said. “Since you’ve tweaked it so much, that gives me less confidence that there’s underlying economics in the source.”

              If tweaking one minor parameter causes the model to fail, it likely isn’t robust enough to stand the test of time, Ang said. For example, the value factor works no matter if you use price-to-book or price-to-earnings. By overfitting my cat model, I probably picked up on a random past occurrence that’s unlikely to repeat itself.

              Pitfall 3: Equal weighting

              Smart beta has its roots in the idea that indexes like the S&P 500, weighted by market capitalization, are a dumb idea. To honor its forebears, my portfolio became equal weight. This, as it turns out, gave me a false signal.

              A few penny stocks with scant liquidity but big returns dominated. Ang told me that the source of a factor’s returns should be diversified, but the cat factor’s returns were hijacked by the basically untradeable Catskill Litigation Trust, which gained 79,000 percent this year (to trade at one penny).

              Similarly, researchers from Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati academics found that most anomalies were imaginary, because their discoverers had used too broad a universe of stocks. Trading edges work best when they’re used on large caps, and all but evaporate on microcaps when trading costs come into play, the academics wrote in a recent paper.

              Pitfall 4: The Backtest

              My backtest did not hold up to Goldman’s standards.

              The real sustainability test comes from whether a factor looks good outside of the original time frame it was run on. Before pitching my factor to Chan, I hadn’t set the cats loose on different periods or other markets to confirm the validity of my anomaly.

              “The more you can check off on the list of robustness, the more confidence you can give us. Like time periods, or does it work across large-cap and small-cap stocks, regions and countries,” he said.

              Taking Chan’s advice to heart, I turned to Europe. Picking European stocks that contain “gat” (which I figured captured most European translations like the Spanish "gato" and Italian “gatto”), my model underperforms the Stoxx Europe 600 index by 10 percentage points in the five years through January. Hiss.

              If I change my model to only capture American cat stocks with a market cap larger than $10 million, my edge disappears again. Over the past five years, that strategy would have returned 42 percent, compared to the S&P 500’s total return of 105 percent.

              I presented this evidence to BlackRock’s Ang. His final assessment? “We would pass on the cat factor.” Me-ouch.

              Pitfall 5: Cats

              Like any enterprising quant, I decided to get another opinion. For this, I conferred with Cliff Asness, founder of AQR Capital Management and a pioneer of factor investing.

              “Everything you can sort on can be a factor, but not all factors are interesting. Factors need some economics, theory or intuition even, to be at all interesting to us. Thus the cat factor fails as we have no story for why it should matter at all,” Asness said. “Now, in contrast, we are active traders of the dog and parakeet factors, which are based on hard neo-classical economics married to behavioral finance and machine learning. But the cat factor is just silly.”

              He’s got a point. Seems like the tail risks here might be a little high.

              Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

              Scared seal hides on boat from killer whales

              (CNN)A seal narrowly escaped being eaten by some hungry killer whales on Monday.

              The mammal jumped onto the back of a tour boat to escape the swarming pod of orcas.
                Nick Templeman, who runs Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions, captured the moments after the seal took refuge on the boat.
                “Once he got a look at the boat, he made a straight beeline for us,” Templeman said.
                As if a seal jumping on your tour boat wasn’t exciting enough, things got even more interesting for this sightseeing group. About a dozen orcas started circling the boat trying to find their prey.
                “We had four or five orcas all at once sitting at the back of the boat straight up and down sort of looking at the seal,” said Templeman. “They would dive and they would all disappear — about 12 of them — and you can see shape after shape trying to come up from under the boat.”
                The tour group was boating off the coast of Vancouver Island, which is off Canada’s Pacific Coast. This area is known for it’s vast whale watching adventures.
                “The seal did get scared during the encounter,” said Templeman. “He would get in the water, swim back up and get back on the boat.”
                Templeman, who has been whale watching for 20 years, said he hasn’t seen an orca hunt this extreme.
                “This was not one family group but three or four family groups.”
                After about 30 minutes, the whales gave up and moved on.
                “The seal took a few minutes, went into the water, hesitated around the engines and then left,” said Templeman.

                Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

                Dozens of turtles migrate across the runway, delay flights at JFK

                Time to go to the airport.
                Image: Shutterstock / Lamnoi Manas

                Those flight delays might not actually be the result of inclement weather for some trying to leave New York this week, it was turtles.

                About 40 turtles caused delays at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Friday when they interrupted takeoffs while migrating for a nesting ritual aka turtle sexy time the New York Daily News reported.

                Apparently, this isn’t that unusual.

                JFK is near a bay where the turtles, diamondback terrapins, usually live. Migration time means some headaches on the runway.

                “Air traffic control,” indeed.

                Source: http://mashable.com/

                These dogs are helping rescuers find children trapped in earthquake rubble

                Leo and Sarotti have both pointed out people in the rubble.
                Image: facebooK

                In the days following Italy’s 6.2 magnitude earthquake, frantic rescue attempts have taken place in the towns hardest hit. Crews have been digging through the rubble of collapsed buildings trying to find survivors of the quake that has left at least 267 people dead.

                In one town, they’ve had a four-legged addition to the team to help them.

                Leo, the black labrador, helped locate an eight-year-old girl named Georgia under the rubble in Pescara del Tronto, a village that was destroyed by the quake. Georgia had been trapped for 16 hours in the ruins of her family home.

                In a video uploaded to Twitter two officers, Matteo and Liborio from Pescara, explained how the dog helped them. “This is Leo, the four-and-a-half-year-old labrador from the search and rescue team of Pescara who found little Georgia yesterday, Matteo said.

                “Yesterday we were given the information that under a two-story collapsed house in Pescara del Tronto there were two missing girls. Immediately we went to the location and Leo, in less than 40 seconds, gave us a strong signal. With our colleagues from the Reparto Mobile Senigallia and the firemen, we dug with our bare hands for nine hours, and at the end we were able to find the girl.”

                Leo isn’t the only helpful dog in Italy this week.

                A German Shepherd named Sarotti also helped rescuers find a 10-year-old girl in Amatrice, locating her in the rubble. Officers spotted her pajamas after digging in a spot indicated by the dog.

                More than 5,000 people are involved in the rescue effort following the earthquake, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has pledged 50 million ($56 million) in funds for rebuilding.

                Seach teams have asked locals to disable their Wi-Fi to help communications as they continue to search for survivors.

                Source: http://mashable.com/

                World’s Most Painful Short Just Gets Worse for Evergrande Bears

                China Evergrande Group’s astonishing share rally has resulted in the world’s most painful short trade this year. To add insult to injury, bearish investors are paying higher fees to get crushed.

                Fees to borrow shares of the Hong Kong-listed Chinese developer for shorting have surged by more than five times since January to about 10 percent and have doubled since Evergrande started buying back shares in late March, according to Simon Colvin, a London-based analyst at IHS Markit Ltd. Evergrande shares available for lending have “nearly all been spoken for,” Colvin wrote in an email, resulting in higher borrowing costs.

                Evergrande shares have more than tripled this year, hurting short-sellers and baffling even some of the most bullish stock analysts. Part of the sharp rally can be explained by Evergrande’s plan to raise money from strategic investors ahead of a planned backdoor listing on the mainland and speculation that the developer will benefit from rising home sales in smaller Chinese cities. A buyback spree has also propelled a 123 percent jump since late March — when short interest started climbing from a low point.

                "I wouldn’t recommend investors to short Evergrande because of the strong momentum. It’s too risky," Raymond Cheng, Hong Kong-based analyst at CIMB Securities Ltd., said by phone. “The momentum will remain strong until the backdoor listing is completed and after that there might be some share price correction.”

                Evergrande soared as much as 27 percent to an all-time high on Monday, while peers such as Country Garden Holdings Co. and Sunac China Holdings Ltd. advanced more than 10 percent. The acceleration in gains is raising questions, with JPMorgan Chase & Co. saying in a note received Friday that Evergrande’s business model isn’t sustainable.

                The pressures on short-sellers are mounting as investors are covering their bearish positions, said Citigroup Inc. analyst Oscar Choi, which could be contributing to higher demand for Evergrande shares. In a typical short sale, investors borrow shares and sell them with the expectation that the price will decline. In a successful trade, the investors later buy the shares back at a lower price to return to the lender, or cover the short, so they can pocket the difference.

                After Monday’s rally, Evergrande’s share price increase is the biggest among major short targets worldwide, which include companies with a market value of at least $1 billion and short interest tracked by Markit of at least 10 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The only other wager that has inflicted pain of a similar magnitude is a bearish trade on Applied Optoelectronics Inc., whose shares advanced 205 percent this year, the data show.

                Still optimistic

                Evergrande trades at a record 36 times reported earnings, more than double the valuations of Country Garden and Sunac, while Monday’s gain alone added $5.3 billion to its market value. Bearish bets accounted for 20.7 percent of its free float on May 25, according to IHS Market data, while its share price is 118 percent higher than consensus analyst estimates for the next 12 months.

                Some analysts are still optimistic. Morgan Stanley analyst John Lam, one of the most bullish analysts on Evergrande with an overweight rating on the shares, has a street high price target of HK$12, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Lam cited moves by Evergrande’s management to raise its second-round strategic investment target to 30 billion yuan from 15 billion yuan.

                Lam expects Evergrande to lower its net gearing to 237 percent by the end of this year, from 432 percent at the end of 2016, according to a May 23 note. Evergrande’s six-month financial results, which will be released in August, is another potential catalyst for the share price, according to Morgan Stanley.

                Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

                Hurricane Jose May Threaten New York, Norma Bears Down on Baja

                Hurricane Jose may threaten New York City and other areas of the East Coast by next week, according to the National Hurricane Center, while Norma is aiming for Mexico’s Baja California and a new system gathers strength in the Caribbean as a busy tropical weather season bores on.

                Jose was about 485 miles (775 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, after redeveloping into a Category 1 hurricane late Friday. Jose’s path could put it near New Jersey and New York by Wednesday morning, although it may weaken to a tropical storm again by then, the center said.

                The storm may add to an already devastating 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, coming just after Hurricane Harvey inundated Texas and Hurricane Irma raked Florida’s west coast, leaving dozens of people dead and upending energy and agriculture markets. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy created about $70 billion of damage after hitting the New York metropolitan region.

                As of 5 p.m. New York time, Jose was moving northwest at 6 miles an hour with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. Little change in strength is forecast during the next two days, the center said.

                Data from an Air Force Reserve aircraft indicate that Jose has increased in size, the NHC said. This widens the band of hurricane-force and tropical-storm-force winds extending toward the coast.

                Rip Currents

                Life-threatening rip currents are expected along parts of the U.S. East Coast, and tropical storm watches may be needed for portions of the area from North Carolina to New England during the next day or two, according to the advisory, the 46th so far about the long-lived weather system.

                Jose could affect five refineries along the East Coast that are able to process about 1.1 million barrels a day of oil, Bloomberg data showed.

                If it continues toward New York City, Jose could disrupt vessels carrying crude oil, petrochemicals and refined products along the Atlantic seaboard, “particularly those making deliveries to New York Harbor,” Shunondo Basu, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance meteorologist and natural gas analyst in New York, said on Friday.

                Still, some forecasters see Jose staying far enough offshore to avoid any major impact to the U.S. The hurricane center’s margin of error for a storm five days out is about 225 miles, on average.

                AccuWeather Inc. sees the storm tracking close enough to the coast — within 200 miles — to produce heavy seas and gusty winds, as well as to deliver rain to coastal areas early in the week.

                Landfall in New England during the middle of the week can’t be ruled out, senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said in a statement. If landfall were to occur, the most likely location would be far eastern Long Island or southeastern New England, especially Cape Cod.

                Beach Erosion

                There’s a 50 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds for Nantucket, Massachusetts, by Thursday, said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

                If Jose continues on its path, the most immediate impact could be high surf and considerable beach erosion along the shores of the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts, Masters said.

                Norma, meanwhile, has weakened to a tropical storm as it heads north toward Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. As of 5 p.m. the storm was about 220 miles south of the popular tourist designation, Cabo San Lucas. Tropical storm warnings and watches are in effect, with heavy rains likely and maximum sustained winds of about 65 mph.

                As the busy 2017 storm season continues, a depression in the Caribbean was elevated on Saturday to Tropical Storm Maria and could strengthen rapidly. Hurricane watches are in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat, with storm watches for several other islands.

                With conditions favorable, the storm “has the potential to be a hurricane by the time it passes through the Lesser Antilles Islands on Tuesday morning,” said Masters of Weather Underground.

                A depression west of the Cabo Verde Islands in the central Atlantic Ocean, meanwhile, strengthened into Tropical Storm Lee, the NHC said. Lee is forecast to drift slowly west or west-northwest for a few days and is not currently threatening land.

                  Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

                  Lions Gate CEO Gets $35.3 Million Pay Package After Starz Deal

                  Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer received $35.3 million in compensation last fiscal year after acquiring Starz LLC and signing an employment contract that keeps him on the job until May 2023.

                  Feltheimer, 65, got a $1.5 million salary and a $12 million in cash bonus for the year ended March 31, according to a regulatory filing Friday. He also received 2.3 million stock options with a grant-date value of $16.3 million. His package includes a $5.4 million award of restricted stock that was his bonus for the prior fiscal year.

                  Lions Gate stock jumped 22 percent in the 12 months ended March 31. The studio is riding high on the success of its December release “La La Land,” which generated $445 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

                  Half of the CEO’s options have a strike price that’s 25 percent higher than the closing price on the day the contracts were awarded. All of the award vests annually over five years, starting in May.

                  An executive at the Santa Monica, California-based company typically only receives an equity award in the year a new employment agreement is signed, the board said in the filing, indicating that Feltheimer’s compensation package will likely be smaller in the 12 months that will end March 31.

                  Of Feltheimer’s bonus, $7 million was tied to adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization and other goals. The remaining $5 million was a special payment after Lions Gate completed its acquisition of Starz in December.

                  Vice Chairman Michael Burns, who entered into a new job contract keeping him until October 2022, received a $26.9 million pay package.

                    Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

                    The teacher protecting marine turtles in the Seychelles

                    (CNN)The first time Vanessa Didon saw a turtle, she was blown away.

                    “Every encounter is like my first one,” Didion says. “I go a little bit crazy and then I remember I need to measure the turtle, watch out for what she is doing, so every encounter is like the first one for me.”
                    Four years ago, she left her job as a science and maths teacher to start a family. Along the way she discovered an unexpected passion for marine conservation. Through a warm smile, she admits that while teaching she’d use any excuse to get her science students outside, encouraging them to play in the dirt and explore.
                      “It’s always been in me, the environment had been calling me for some time,” she says.
                      The Seychelles archipelago hosts one of the largest remaining global populations of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, and significant populations of the endangered green turtle.
                      In 1994 the Seychellois government made it illegal to harm, kill, or be in possession of sea turtles, including their meat and their eggs. The penalty is up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $37,000.
                      But despite the strict laws, Didon says poaching is still a major issue because of the country’s traditional appetite for turtle meat.
                      “Some people would say it’s in the culture, but in terms of population we know that the turtle population had gone down, and the human population has gone up, so of course there is going to be some sort of problem there,” Didon says.
                      October marks the beginning of the nesting season in the Seychelles, when female hawksbill and green turtles emerge out of the comfort of the Indian Ocean to lay their eggs on the very beaches where they hatched.
                      During the nesting season, Didon and her colleagues can be seen patrolling the beaches where they know turtles might come to nest. If there are no turtles on the beach, they look for tracks and the tell-tale signs that a female has laid her eggs.
                      “Sometimes it’s very apparent that the turtle has nested,” she says. “You can see sand thrown around, but sometimes if you are not too sure, it’s quite good to just feel the sand and if you feel loose sand, this gives you an indication that there is a nest there.”
                      If a nest is found, its precise location is recorded using GPS, to monitor its status until the hatchlings appear after a two-month incubation period.
                      Despite no longer teaching in a classroom, Didon says a big part of her job is educating others about the plight of sea turtles and other local marine wildlife. During the off season, she visits schools and hotels to host awareness programs and presentations.
                      “I want future generations to be able to see all these lovely things that we have, like the wildlife,” she says.
                      “People have kids, I have kids, and I would want them to grow up maybe doing the same job that I’m doing.”

                      Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

                      Now your pets can pledge unwavering loyalty to you with samurai armor

                      Image: Samurai Age

                      If you’re looking for a way to instill a sense of loyalty in your pet, we have the perfect solution.

                      Novelty retailer Samurai Age is making suits of armor inspired by the warriors of medieval Japan for your feline or canine friend.

                      The company which has also created samurai-themed bottle covers, armor for dolls, and samurai helmets has released a line of samurai armor for your pet to pledge their loyalty to you.

                      Samurai Age sells both ready-made armor for cats, smaller dogs, and children, but you’ll have to place a custom-made order for larger dogs.

                      A post shared by SAMURAI AGE (@samurai_age) on

                      # # #2017 # #samuraiage #cat #petarmor #

                      A post shared by SAMURAI AGE (@samurai_age) on

                      The red armor inspired by the armor of famed 16th century samurai Sanada Yukimura will definitely give your pet that Kurosawa feel.

                      A post shared by SAMURAI AGE (@samurai_age) on

                      # # # #samuraiage # #cat #samuraiarmor

                      A post shared by SAMURAI AGE (@samurai_age) on

                      The armor, which is made out of foam and resin, comes in red, black, silver, or gold, and is priced between 14,040 yen ($128) to 16,416 yen ($148.79).

                      If you’re into samurai helmets, they’ll cost between 7,020 yen ($63.63) to 14,256 yen ($129).

                      She loves it. I swear. – #samuraiage #samuraicap #bostonterrier #bostonterriersofinstagram

                      A post shared by Roman Cortez (@romancortez) on

                      It’s not the first time Japan has become obsessed with samurai pet armor wanko kacchu, or doggy armor, was first made available to rent from pet supply store Kandaya in 2015.

                      Samurai Age ships overseas. You can buy their armor here, and their helmets here. To make a custom order, you can click here.

                      (h/tGrapee.jp)

                      Source: http://mashable.com/

                      Bomb-Sniffing Dogs, Scanners Pushed to Avoid Airline Laptop Ban

                      The U.S. should expand the use of bomb-sniffing dogs and screening technology to avoid a sweeping ban on electronic devices that would pummel business travel, an airline group said.

                      Sensing an openness to alternatives, the International Air Transport Association is pushing administration officials to rethink expanding the restrictions beyond 10 Middle East and North Africa airports. The U.S. has held talks with airlines and European officials on keeping the devices out of cabins on trans-Atlantic flights.

                      “The U.S. government is in much more of a listening mode than it was when it implemented the first ban,” IATA Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac said in a call with reporters Thursday morning. “We will see.”

                      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security hasn’t decided whether to expand the ban, a spokesman said Thursday, and no new talks with European officials or industry groups are scheduled. Secretary John Kelly has kept his options open, the spokesman said.

                      De Juniac said an expanded ban would be “ineffective.” Storing masses of laptop computers in the cargo holds of airplanes would create its own security risk, because of the risk the lithium ion batteries inside could cause a fire, he said in a talk ahead of IATA’s annual general meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

                      “It is not a good way to be able to protect passengers and crew against the threat that has been pointed by U.S. and U.K. authorities,” de Juniac said.

                      Middle Eastern airlines saw their traffic on routes to the U.S. fall 2.8 percent in March from a year earlier, IATA said Thursday. It was the first annual decline on those routes in at least seven years, the group said.

                      Aside from the electronics ban, de Juniac also cautioned against Trump’s campaign pledge to pull out of the landmark climate accord reached in Paris.

                      “Any decision to withdraw by the U.S. is not sending a good signal,” the former Air France-KLM CEO said, adding that the move could spill over and threaten a deal to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint.

                      Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

                      Volunteers document race to save surviving whales after 400 stranded

                      New Zealand has suffered one of its worst whale strandings in history.
                      Image: Tim Cuff/New Zealand Herald via AP

                      416 pilot whales have been stranded on a New Zealand beach Friday morning, in one of the worst incidences of its kind in the country’s history.

                      The whales are located at Farewell Spit near the city of Nelson, with volunteers doing what they can to help save the surviving 100 whales. 250 to 300 are already dead, according to the Department of Conservation.

                      “It can be really quite distressing seeing so many dead whales,” Kath Inwood, a ranger with the Department of Conservation, told AP. “People need to be resilient and handle that and then get on with what needs to be done.”

                      There are 300 volunteers working onsite alongside staff from the Department of Conservation and organisation Project Jonah, with some people coming across the country to help. Inwood said that volunteers refloated the whales at high tide, forming a chain to stop them from swimming back onshore.

                      The area seems to confuse whales, as it’s been the site of previous mass strandings.

                      Earlier, volunteers had tried to keep the surviving whales damp and cool by placing blankets over them, as well as throwing buckets of water on them while waiting for high tide to come.

                      There was only one opportunity on Friday to float the whales at high tide, as no work will be done overnight due to the risk to people. According to Newshub, half of the 100 whales have been re-stranded after they were refloated.

                      While strandings have occurred before at Farewell Spit, the incident has shocked locals due to its magnitude.

                      There are various theories as to why whales strand, with reasons including old age, injury, navigational errors.

                      Associated Press contributed reporting.

                      Source: http://mashable.com/

                      Rescuers are looking for a dolphin trapped in a t-shirt

                      The dolphin is now at extreme risk of having the shirt block its blowhole.
                      Image: Department Of Parks And Wildlife/Facebook

                      Evidently, it’s not enough that people keep killing dolphins by yanking them out of the water for selfies. Now some rubbish human has put human clothing on one.

                      A dolphin was spotted swimming around Koombana Bay in Western Australia Monday, wrapped up in a tank top or t-shirt.

                      The image, captured by a member of the public, was quickly picked up by both the Dolphin Discovery Centre and the Department Of Parks And Wildlife, with the latter organisation requesting more information via their Facebook page.

                      Clarifying the statement in an interview with the ABC, the department’s Pia Courtis explained that it would be “unusual” if the dolphin had just swum into the clothing all by itself.

                      That means it’s likely someone put the bottle nosed dolphin in the shirt intentionally, potentially endangering its life in the process.

                      “Thankfully for it, it’s on the other side of its blowhole and its pectoral fins are out so it can still swim,” she said.

                      Humans, huh.

                      Source: http://mashable.com/

                      Meet the Superman saving the sun bears of Malaysia

                      Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia (CNN)With his wire-rimmed glasses and mild manner, Siew Te Wong could be described as a Malaysian Clark Kent.

                      This wildlife biologist is a Superman of sorts — a tireless defender of the world’s smallest bear species: the sun bear.
                      “I often call the sun bear a forgotten species,” Wong said. “When I first started, 20 years ago, no one has ever studied sun bears. Most people do not know that they even exist.”
                        As he studied the animal and realized the threats it faced from deforestation and hunting/poaching, he knew the bears were in serious trouble.
                        “The more I learn about them, the more I care. The more I care, the more I worry,” he said. “I have to help them.”
                        Today, Wong’s nonprofit, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, is the only sun bear sanctuary in the world.
                        Wong — known as “Papa Bear” — and his team have rehabilitated and cared for 55 rescued sun bears since 2008. The group now also educates the public about these animals.
                        Sun bears are found in the rainforests of south Asia, and the small bears play a big role in keeping these woodlands healthy. Many plants and animals depend on them to spread seeds, create nesting sites and control the termite population — functions that keep the ecosystems in balance. Healthy rainforests provide clean air and water to the entire world.
                        But the sun bear population has decreased by 30% during the last three decades. In 2007, the bear was officially classified as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
                        Currently, 44 sun bears live at Wong’s center — all of them were orphaned by poachers or rescued from captivity. The center has also become one of the leading tourist destinations in the area, helping to raise awareness about the sun bear’s plight.
                        “They can see how special the sun bear is and learn about how their survival (is) important to ours,” Wong said, “so they can take some action when they go back to home.”
                        For Wong, this work is simply his responsibility.
                        “Sun bears became part of my family. When they’re endangered, I care for them. When they are in trouble, I speak for them,” he said. “I want to be the voice for the sun bear, to fight for the sun bear, to ensure the survival of the sun bear.”
                        “But my ultimate goal is to save the entire forest ecosystem … that is so important to the survival of mankind.”
                        CNN spoke with Wong about his work. Below is an edited version of the conversation.
                        CNN: How did you get involved with the sun bear?
                        Siew Te Wong: I grew up keeping different pets and rescuing birds that fell from nests. I always wanted to be an animal expert or a veterinarian. After high school, I went to Taiwan to study veterinary science, and that’s where I got involved with studying wildlife. In 1994, I came to the University of Montana to study wildlife biology and I met a professor, Christopher Servheen. He was looking for a Malaysian student to do a study on sun bears. I said, “I’m your man!”
                        CNN: Tell me more about the threats these animals face.
                        Wong: Over the last 50 years, many of the tropical forests in this region have been cleared, and with deforestation, sun bears have lost their habitat. And even though sun bears are a protected species, they are hunted for their meat and their body parts, which are used in traditional Asian medicines. This is literally wiping out local populations.
                        Their babies are also kept as illegal pets. Their cubs are really cute, but people don’t realize that this baby bear will turn into a destructive beast. In the end, they will either kill the bears or lock (them) in small cages. We are doing lots of educational awareness to make sure that people don’t keep bears anymore.
                        CNN: How do the animals spend their time at the center?
                        Wong: Every day after breakfast, we release the bears into the forest enclosure. This is where they learn to forage, climb trees, build nests and socialize. All of those activities help them get ready to be released and survive in the forest.

                          CNN Hero Siew Te Wong: Sun bears are not pets

                        At 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., we give the bears different fruits, and at 4pm, the bears come back and have dinner in the bear house. We keep them inside at night because this level of bear density in the forest is not natural. We also want to monitor their well-being. However, there are a few bears left out for the night, which is good. One day, they will live there all the time.
                        CNN: How many bears have you been able to release?
                        Wong: We have released two bears so far, and this year we plan to release four more. There are many bears that we cannot release because they were in captivity for a long time. They lost their instinct to find food, they’re habituated to people, and many that were rescued as adults cannot climb trees. There are also bears who (were) malnourished or who had their claws chopped off. They don’t have the skills to survive in the forest, so they have to stay here for the rest of their lives.
                        Hopefully in the future, there’ll be more bears ready to be released. I want bears to live in the forest and not in captivity. (That) is where they belong. It is their home.
                        Want to get involved? Check out the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre website and see how to help.
                        To donate to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, click the CrowdRise widget below.
                        Donations are accepted through LEAP (or their full name, Land Empowerment Animals People), a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

                        Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

                        This disturbing dolphin selfie trend is an all-time low for humanity

                        Image: screengrab/youtube

                        Could people please stop dragging dolphins from the water in order to take selfies with them?

                        Another baby dolphin has died in Argentina after tourists ripped it from the ocean and mobbed it to touch it and take snaps with it.

                        A YouTube video shows beachgoers in San Bernardo, about 200 miles south of Buenos Aires, standing and kneeling to pet the small animal.

                        “They let it die,” Claudia, one observer quoted in the newspaper La Capital told C5N news channel. “It was young and came to the shore. They could have returned it to the water, in fact, it was breathing, but everyone started taking photos and touching it. They said it was already dead.”

                        It’s the second such incident in Argentina over the past year. A similar episode happened last year when a young dolphin was mobbed and left for dead in the resort of Santa Teresita.

                        h/t National Geographic

                        Source: http://mashable.com/

                        Sea lion grabs girl and pulls her into water

                        (CNN)Some tourists in British Columbia got a bit of a scare when a sea lion grabbed a little girl and dragged her into the water.

                        Michael Fujiwara was sitting on a dock at the Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf in Richmond, British Columbia on Saturday, when the California sea lion popped its head out of the water.
                        Fujiwara grabbed his phone and started shooting video.
                          He says the animal attracted a lot of attention and the girl and her family came to the edge of the dock.
                          “Her family started feeding the animal and the sea lion started to become comfortable,” Fujiwara said. In the video, you can hear people laughing and whistling at sea lion and holding their hands over the water, as if they were holding a treat.
                          At one point, the sea lion lunges within inches of the little girl’s face. It seems like a friendly move, and the girl cackles with delight.
                          That glee turns to terror a few seconds later, when the seal lunges again — grabbing the girl and yanking her backwards into the water.
                          A man, who Fujiwara thinks was a relative, jumps in after her and bystanders pull them to safety.
                          “After being pulled back onto the dock, the family quickly walked away from the area without saying much,” Fujiwara said. “They were probably very shaken up and just wanted to get away from the sea lion as fast as possible.”
                          Bob Baziuk, the general manager of the Steveston Harbour Authority, told CNN that the girl and her rescuer were not hurt, and that he is trying to get more information about the incident.
                          He says the harbor is on the sea lions’ migratory route and that males sometimes swim into the area looking for free food.
                          Baziuk says that they’ve been warning visitors not to feed the animals for years.
                          “It’s not Sea World, it’s a place where you buy fish,” Baziuk said. “If you feed the animals like this you’re asking for trouble.

                          Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

                          Taiwan outlaws euthanizing stray animals in shelters

                          Image: Santana/AP/REX/Shutterstock

                          Taiwan has now banned euthanising stray animals in shelters, despite fears that the move will lead to overcrowding and more abandoning their pets.

                          The law came into effect on Saturday, two years after it was first passed by parliament.

                          The issue of putting down strays was plunged into the spotlight last year, after a shelter vet committed suicide after becoming overwhelmed by the number of animals she had to put down.

                          Chien Chih-cheng ended her life by ingesting animal euthanasia drugs. She said in a TV interview prior to her death that she had put down over 700 dogs over the course of two years.

                          Chien Chih-cheng took her own life with euthanasia drugs

                          Image: weibo

                          “I hope my departure will let all of you know stray animals are also life. I hope the government knows the importance of controlling the source of the problem,” she had said in a suicide letter.

                          “Please value life.”

                          Overcrowding at shelters

                          Chien’s death sparked more criticism over animal euthanasia, but several animal welfare bodies have warned that ending the practice may not be all that good for the animals, either.

                          Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture says the ban could lead to a decrease in the quality of shelters, due to animal overcrowding.

                          The new law could also lead to more people abandoning their pets on the streets, knowing that they will not be put down, according to secretary-general Huang Ching-jung of the Animal Protection Association.

                          It costs up to $125 to abandon a pet at a shelter under the new law.

                          Taiwan saw an increase in stray dogs in the 1980s, when there was an increase in pet dogs following an economic boom in the country.

                          Adopt, don’t buy

                          The nation had over 60,000 animals in public shelters in 2016, of which 12 percent were euthanised, reported AFP.

                          The government has moved to invest over $5 million dollars to increasing shelter capacity, though many see it only as a short-term solution.

                          “This is just a temporary solution. It’s people’s attitudes towards stray dogs that must be changed. Adoption needs to be encouraged,” said one Taiwanese user on Facebook.

                          “Taiwan needs to implement more rigorous standards, for example educate pet-owners so they know the responsibilities they have, or make it more difficult for people to buy pets. Only then will the problems end,” another Taiwanese netizen added.

                          BONUS: Science confirms you’ve been right all along: Your dog can actually understand you

                          Source: http://mashable.com/

                          Oil Bears Are Back as Prices Fall and Driller Shares Take a Hit

                          Shale producers risk drowning in their own surplus — again.

                          On Tuesday, oil slid into its first bear market in 10 months, falling 21 percent from its high for the year. The swoon dragged down driller shares amid concern that unceasing production from U.S. shale fields is overwhelming OPEC efforts to ease a global supply glut. 

                          Explorers who came of age at a time when ever-increasing production was rewarded with ever-higher prices are now having a bit of a déjà vu from their fall from grace in 2014.

                          The S&P 500 Energy Index has lost 14 percent this year, while West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, has fallen 19 percent. Buoyed by prices that hit $54.45 a barrel in February, U.S. explorers have boosted the number of rigs drilling for oil to the highest since mid-2015, and expanded their production to 9.33 million barrels a day.

                          “A lot of faith and hope and belief was put into” the deal by OPEC, Russia and other exporters to cut their production as a way to balance the market, said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund. But “it’s proven ineffectual.”

                          The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries failed to impress investors with a deal to extend output curbs in May as it didn’t include deeper cuts, additional allies or an exit plan for when the limits expire in March. American supplies of crude and fuel that remain high even as the summer driving season kicks in are proving the skeptics right.

                          The rout worsened with recent reports that Libya is pumping the most crude in four years, while the amount of oil stored in tankers reached a 2017 high earlier this month.

                          Crude futures declined 2.2 percent in New York on Tuesday, closing at $43.23 a barrel, the lowest since mid-September.

                          A report on a decline in American inventories wasn’t enough to improve the mood. While the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute was said to report that U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 2.72 million barrels last week, gasoline supplies rose by 346,000 barrels. The U.S. Energy Information Administration is set to report government data on Wednesday.

                          If we don’t see a crude draw in this week’s U.S. inventory report, “we’ll probably start kissing $40 pretty quick,” James Williams, an economist at London, Arkansas-based energy-research firm WTRG Economics, said in a telephone interview.

                          Brent for August settlement, meanwhile, slipped 89 cents to settle at $46.02 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $2.51 to August WTI.

                          “People are getting a little fatigued waiting for the production cuts to have effect,” Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts, said by telephone. Traders are “very nervous about the near-term prospects.”

                          Another factor feeding trader angst is a rise in the number of drilled-but-uncompleted wells in U.S. oilfields. At the end of May, there were 5,946 wells in this category, the most in at least three years, according to estimates by the EIA. In the last month alone, explorers drilled 125 more wells in the Permian Basin than they would open, meaning production could surge when they turn on the spigots.

                          “We still have a lot of oil,” Tariq Zahir, a New York-based commodity fund manager at Tyche Capital Advisors, said by telephone. “Libya is coming on a little bit more than people expected. And the bottom line is that the glut that’s here in the United States doesn’t look to be” slowing anytime soon, he said.

                            Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

                            Rare drone footage enlightens scientists on feeding behavior of blue whales

                            One small flight for drones has the potential to be one giant step for science … just ask researchers at Oregon State University.

                            A group of scientists at the university recently captured rare footage of blue whales feeding in the Southern Ocean off New Zealand via drone.

                            The stunning footage, narrated by Leigh G. Torres, expedition leader and principal investigator with the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State, provides a great deal of insight into what whales eat and how they decide what food is worthy of their time.

                            In a press release, Torres explained the footage clearly shows the blue whales’ “lunge-feeding” process of suddenly lunging forward to eat a massive pack of krill.

                            “Our footage shows this [lunge-feeding theory] in action,” said Torres. “We can see the whale making choices, which is really extraordinary because aerial observations of blue whales feeding on krill are rare. The whale bypasses certain krill patches presumably because the nutritional payoff isnt sufficient and targets other krill patches that are more lucrative.”

                            “We think this is because blue whales are so big, and stopping to lunge-feed and then speeding up again is so energy-intensive, that they try to maximize their effort,” Torres continued.

                            As for the unique perspective, the investigator gave a big thumbs up to drone usage, explaining they’re a “great way to film [the whales’] behavior without disturbing their behavior at all, unlike other aerial methods like a helicopter or a plane, which cant hover or make a lot of noise.”

                            Source: http://mashable.com/

                            Turtle that ate nearly 1,000 coins has died after surgery complications

                            The Thai sea turtle that lived in a wishing pond and ate nearly 1,000 coins over the years has died.

                            The 25-year-old turtle, named Omsin (Thai for “bank”) was found with an engorged stomach full of coins back in February. She had a reportedly successful seven-hour surgery, but went into a coma later due to complications, the vet who operated on her said on Facebook.

                            Omsin died on Tuesday morning.

                            She lived in Si Racha, a town on the east coast of Thailand. The coins were thrown into the wishing pond for good luck by visitors.

                            After the coins were removed, she developed blood poisoning and serious intestinal problems. Her vet, Nantarika Chansue, said her intestines had twisted around itself in an effort to adjust to the empty space that was originally occupied by the coins, causing what is termed a “volvulus.”

                            An emergency corrective operation was conducted but Omsin slipped into a coma after, she said.

                            The coins also caused the turtle’s blood to have a heavy metal concentration at 200 times the normal rate, which led to slow recovery.

                            They had stuck in Omsin’s belly as a 20 x 23 x 30 cm (7.8 x 9 x 11 in.) lump, which was pressing down on her other organs and preventing her from diving, breathing or eating properly.

                            Image: NantarikA Chansue/Facebook

                            The turtle had been scheduled to be returned to a turtle pond managed by the Royal Thai Navy on March 23.

                            “We did our best, but it was not good enough,” Nantarika wrote. “Thank you for being my friend, Bank.”

                            Source: http://mashable.com/

                            Boeing Delivers First 737 Max to Lion Group

                            Boeing Co. delivered the first 737 Max to the jetliner’s largest customer, Lion Mentari Airlines PT, a step toward reaping a cash bounty from the best-selling aircraft in company history.

                            The Tuesday hand-off in Seattle to Lion’s Malaysia affiliate, Malindo Airways, was only one day later than first scheduled after the U.S. planemaker quickly recovered from a possible engine manufacturing defect, which had grounded the fledgling Max fleet last week. Before that hiccup, the upgraded 737 had coasted through development and flight-testing months ahead of schedule — a rarity in an industry where delays are common.

                            The 737 and Airbus SE’s A320 family are the sturdy workhorses for budget carriers worldwide, built to withstand multiple short flights a day. And thanks to manufacturing scale and processes honed over decades, they are the biggest profit generators for the planemakers, one reason why investors have closely watched the progress of the latest Boeing single-aisle jet so closely.

                            The Max “is the most important program at Boeing both now and in the future,” said George Ferguson, senior air transport analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “It is the cash generator and they can’t screw it up.”

                            Boeing is counting on smooth sailing for the 737 Max, the newest member of the jet family dating back about fifty years. That is essential if the Chicago-based company is to make good on the cash it has promised to return to investors as production slows for the 777, the second-largest source of profit, ahead of a transition to a new model.

                            Net Orders

                            The Max family had netted 3,714 orders through the end of April, with the bulk of sales coming from the midsize -8. That jet, the first to debut, promises 8 percent lower operating costs than Airbus’s A320neo jets from upgrades that include new fuel-efficient engines and winglets.

                            To convert that order backlog to cash, Boeing is speeding output at the Renton, Washington, factory where the jets are manufactured by 12 percent this year to a 47-jet monthly pace. Additional step-ups are planned for 2018 and 2019.

                            If all goes to plan, current-generation 737 planes and the Max will generate about $25 billion in revenue this year, about 27 percent of the company total, according to Ferguson. He estimates Boeing will reap about $4 billion in operating profit from the single-aisle jets in 2017, 43 percent of its total.

                            “This airline will change the face of the single-aisle market,” Kevin McAllister, chief executive officer of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division, said in a statement Tuesday.

                            The manufacturer plans to roll out three other models in addition to the Max 8 headed to Malindo at a pace of about one a year. And the company’s salesforce is working to find customers for a possible stretched model, the Max 10, ahead of a possible debut in Paris next month.

                            Malindo, whose name is derived from the country names of Malaysia and Indonesia, will be the first airline to fly the 737 Max commercially. The carrier is owned by Malaysia’s National Aerospace and Defence Industries and Lion Air. Its Indonesia-based parent announced a 201-plane order for the Max in early 2012.

                            Southwest Airlines, which placed the initial order for the newest 737 in late 2011, is due to take its first delivery in July, about two months earlier than expected. The Dallas-based carrier plans to start commercial flights with the Max on Oct. 1, after retiring the oldest planes in its fleet.

                            Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

                            Image of baby sea turtle surrounded by coal stirs environmental fears

                            A turtle hatchling on East Point beach, surrounded by coal.
                            Image: Lance Payne

                            Scientists and environmental advocates are up in arms after lumps of coal were found washed up on beaches around Australia’s Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

                            Showing what’s at stake for vulnerable marine life, a local found a turtle hatchling next to a lump of coal on East Point Beach in Mackay, Queensland and shared the pictures.

                            Lance Payne spotted the hatchling while wandering the beach early this week. Though he’s not part of any environmental group, he felt compelled to share what he saw with authorities. He says the beach is covered in bits of coal and what he believes to be fine black coal dust.

                            “It’s very alarming,” he said. “There’s coal, potential coal dust and plastic pollution from the streets. “All these awful things happening on the one beach.”

                            While its effect on turtles is not known, scientists regard coal as potentially having a detrimental affect on some marine plants and animals.

                            Kathryn Berry, a PhD candidate at James Cook University in Queensland, has studied the effects of small coal particles on tropical organisms, including corals, fish and seagrass, in aquarium environments. A 2015 report was published in Nature.

                            She said that contamination by small coal particles can lower coral survivorship as well as fish and seagrass growth rates.

                            “There are different ways that coal can cause harm to plants and animals,” she explained. “The direct physical effects include smothering and abrasion of plant and animal tissues. When small coal particles are suspended in the water, light levels can be reduced, meaning there is less light reaching plants that require it to photosynthesize.”

                            Image: Lance Payne

                            Measuring the potential impact of coal contamination is complex, she added, because it depends on the amount of coal spilled and the size of the coal particles. Around the Reef, in particular, there is little data on how much coal is entering the water and where it is going.

                            “It is simply not good enough for coal to be washing up on beaches in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area,” WWF Australia head of oceans Richard Leck said in a statement. “Coal is a potentially toxic material for marine life and must be managed in a way that stops it ending up in Reef waters.”

                            The WFF is calling for a government investigation into the matter, as well as infrastructure changes to prevent coal spillages at nearby mining ports.

                            Payne’s photo comes as the Queensland government found a coal spillage at a mining port in waters near the Reef, ABC reported. The coal appears to have spilled from one of the ship loaders at Hay Point Coal port, as well as spillages from trestles carrying the coal to ship loaders.

                            The WWF said coal has washed up at East Point Beach and Louisa Creek Beach, not far from the Hay Point Coal port. Environment Minister Steven Miles told the ABC it was not yet possible to say whether Hay Point was the source of the coal.

                            The federal and Queensland state governments have given the go-ahead to a number of coal ports close by the Reef, including the Abbot Point coal terminal. The terminal will serve the Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, which will be one of the world’s largest if completed.

                            Image: Lance Payne

                            A coal spillage near a World Heritage-listed marine park is always unwelcome, but parts of the Reef are also recovering from a global coral bleaching event.

                            When stressed by environmental factors such as rising water temperatures and pollution, coral can expel the algae that lives in its tissues, providing it colour and nutrients. Exposing its white skeleton, bleaching leaves coral more vulnerable to disease.

                            In November, it was announced that the Reef had suffered its largest die-off on record. Its northern section was estimated to lose 67 percent of its shallow water corals. Coral can recover from bleaching, provided it’s not exposed to further stresses.

                            The bleaching event was caused by global warming and an El Nio event, but additional pollutants near the Great Barrier Reef are unwelcome under any circumstances.

                            “Beginning your first moments as a hatchling beside a lump of coal is not the best start to life,” Leck said.

                            UPDATE: Feb. 9, 2017, 5:12 p.m. AEDT Comment added from Kathryn Berry.

                            Source: http://mashable.com/

                            This ill sea turtle has been eating coins thrown into her pond by tourists

                            Image: Nantarika Chansue/Facebook

                            Years of eating coins dropped at the bottom of a pond has rendered a sea turtle in pain, and headed to the surgery ward.

                            The 25-year-old Thai sea turtle was discovered living in a pond in Si Racha, a town on the east coast of Thailand, according to the Bangkok Post.

                            Vets conducted a CT scan and discovered a lump of coins measuring an alarming 20 x 23 x 30 cm (7.8 x 9 x 11 in.) in the turtle’s body, pressing down on its ventral shell (or the turtle’s belly), causing it to be cracked, swollen and infected. Scans also showed a fish hook in her intestine.

                            A CT scan of the turtle shows the mass of coins

                            Image: Nantarika chansue/Facebook

                            Image: Nantarika Chansue/Facebook

                            The turtle was brought to Chulalongkorn University by the Royal Thai Naval Air and Coastal Defence Command, where they found roughly 2,000 baht ($57.37) worth of coins in its tummy, the Metro reported.

                            The turtle, nicknamed Bank, was also suffering from a severe lung infection, which was preventing it from diving, breathing and eating properly.

                            Vets hope that they can operate on her to remove the coins in two weeks, after her overall health condition improves under care.

                            Nantarika Chansue, the associate professor at Chulalongkorn University spearheading Bank’s recovery, told Metro that the weight of the coins was making her move more sluggishly. “The pain was slowly torturing the poor creature,” she added.

                            Bank would have died if not for the immediate intervention, Nantarika told the Bangkok Post. Fortunately, she adds, donors have already raised 15,000 baht towards the cost of performing a CT scan on her.

                            Nantarika hopes that people will stop throwing coins into ponds with aquatic life, writing in a Facebook post: “It is a serious sin.”

                            Source: http://mashable.com/

                            Indonesian zoo insists its skeletal sun bears are ‘not unhealthy’

                            Image: SCORPION WILDLIFE TRADE MONITORING GROUP

                            Warning: Disturbing video footage.

                            An Indonesian zoo which has come under heavy criticism after videos emerged of its shockingly gaunt sun bears has defended itself, saying that thin animals are not necessarily unhealthy.

                            Many demanded the closure of the zoo after footage emerged from an animal wildlife group. In the disturbing videos, the starving bears in spartan concrete enclosures were seen begging visitors for fruit and even eating their own faeces.

                            Yet the Bandung zoo has defended the animals’ living conditions.

                            “Does being thin mean being unhealthy or not having enough food?” said Sudaryo, a spokesman for Yayasan Margasatwa Tamansari, the zoo’s operator.

                            “On the other hand, looking fat does not mean an animal is healthy,” he added.

                            Sudaryo also maintained that the sun bears had adequate food.

                            “The animals here have enough food supplies, if you want to help, get in touch with us directly,” he said.

                            Some commenters are livid.

                            “How about you try to starve and see if you can still call yourself healthy?” said one commenter on the Jakarta Post.

                            “Thin to the point of showing ribs is definitely unhealthy. Sudaryo’s defense line was so ridiculous that for a moment, I thought it was from a politician,” said another.

                            Allegations of animal neglect are not new to Bandung’s zoo, with its endangered Sumatran elephant (warning: disturbing photo) photographed chained up and seeminglycryinghours before it died.

                            The zoo operator has hired two in-house vets, after the Forestry and Environment Ministry had in July threatened to revoke its license.

                            The secretary general of Indonesia’s Zoo Association said on Wednesday that he had visited the Bandung zoo and found that the animals were healthy.

                            “The carnivores are even too fat,” said Tony Sumampau.

                            He added that he had in May seen a sun bear that looked thin, but “it was an old bear. I visited again recently and did not see [it].”

                            A petition looking to shut down the zoo has now reached almost 400,000 signatures.

                            Sun bears as typically found in forest habitats in Southeast Asia and have been classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

                            The Bandung zoo is not the first in Indonesia to be called out for its poor conditions; another zoo in the city of Surabaya having been dubbed the “Zoo of Death”.

                            BONUS: This bear somehow got stuck inside a car

                            Source: http://mashable.com/

                            One of Wall Street’s Biggest Stock Bears Ratchets Up His Bitcoin Forecast to $6,000

                            Thomas J. Lee, one of the most bearish stock strategists on Wall Street, is feeling a lot more optimistic about the prospects for bitcoin.

                            The cryptocurrency could reach $6,000 by the middle of 2018, according to a note Friday from Lee, the Fundstrat Global Advisors co-founder and former chief U.S. equity strategist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. He said user accounts are likely to rise 50 percent and usage per account to climb 30 percent.

                            • Every 10% increase in user accounts adds $222 to bitcoin’s value, and each 10% rise in activity per account adds $274, Lee said
                            • Lee still expects bitcoin to reach about $25,000 by 2022 amid institutional sponsorship, better transaction platforms and increasing public adoption
                            • Traders should watch out for "another volatile consolidation period" into the end of August since bitcoin is getting close to resistance levels with short-term momentum becoming overbought; Fundstrat sees $4,500-$4,800 as the next resistance range
                            • NOTE: July 7, Biggest S&P 500 Bear Says Bitcoin May Hit $55,000 on Low Supply
                            • NOTE: June 23, Tom Lee, Wall Street’s Biggest Bear, Cuts S&P 500 EPS Estimates

                              Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

                              Video captures terrifying moment massive lion pounces at toddler at the zoo

                              A terrifying encounter between a 180kg lion and a two-year-old toddler at a zoo in Chiba, Japan, was captured on video and posted online over the weekend.

                              In the video, the boy who was reported to be visiting the zoo with his family, was staring at the lion through a glass panel, until he broke eye contact and turned his back on the big cat.

                              The lion, which was crouching on all fours in the background suddenly leapt into the air towards the boy. Its approach was halted by a glass panel that divided the animal from its audience.

                              The audible crash startled the boy, who momentarily lost his balance from the ledge he was standing on and quickly turned to find the lion pawing at the glass panel. He continued to rub his head in confusion while watching the lion warily until it stopped its advances.

                              Since the video went viral, netizens have started weighing in on whether the lion was trying to attack or play.

                              According to The Metro, zookeepers at the Chiba Zoological Park have come out to say that the lion meant no harm and only wanted to play with the toddler.

                              However, Adam Roberts, the chief executive of Born Free USA, a non-profit national animal advocacy group, disagreed, telling The Dodo that it was a blessing that the glass divider held up against the lion’s attack.

                              “Lions are natural wild predators and the child in this video, especially when turning his back to the massive feline, becomes prey in the animal’s eyes,” said Roberts. “The firm glass wall held the lion inside his enclosure, surely frustrating his innate instincts. But luckily for the family, if the barrier had not held the consequences could have been catastrophic.”

                              This incident comes just weeks after the Cincinnati Zoo controversy, where a gorilla was fatally shot when a boy fell into its enclosure.

                              Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

                              Source: http://mashable.com/

                              Scientists rescued from polar bears in Arctic

                              (CNN)Five Russian meteorologists who were trapped on a tiny island by 10 polar bears for two weeks have finally been rescued after dogs and flares scared the bears away.

                              The drama began at the Arctic weather station on Troynoy Island on August 31, when a polar bear killed one of the two dogs there, according to Vadim Plotnikov, head of the station.
                                Plotnikov told Tass, the Russian state news agency, Monday: “A female bear has been sleeping under the station’s windows since Saturday night. It’s dangerous to go out as we have run short of any means to scare off the predators.
                                “We had to stop some of the meteorological observations.”
                                CNN Map
                                Plotnikov said 10 adult bears, including four females with cubs, were spotted around the station.
                                Sergey Donskoy, Russia’s minister of natural resources and environment, instructed the country’s federal weather-watching service to ensure the security of the Troynoy island personnel, according to Tass.
                                Five people, two married couples among them, work there.
                                Help finally arrived Wednesday, reported the agency, when dogs and flares delivered to the station by helicopter scared the bears away.
                                Vassiliy Shevchenko, the head of the Sevgidromet State Monitoring Network, which owns the station, told Tass: “A helicopter that took off from the Akademik Treshnikov expedition vessel of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring has delivered three puppies and pyrotechnical devices to the station to scare the bears away.”
                                The vessel’s crew members reported that they helped to frighten away the bears away.
                                Meteorological operations have now started back up, Plotnikov told Tass.
                                Polar bears are registered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and in the Red Book of Russia as an endangered species. Hunting of them has been banned in Russia since 1956.

                                Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

                                Prehistoric egg hoard helps reveal the early life of flying reptiles

                                A hoard of fossilized pterosaur eggs discovered in China is helping scientists gain a rare insight into the extinct flying reptiles.

                                Newly released research into over 200 eggs and 16 embryos from the pterosaur Hamipterus, including the first computed tomography (CT) scans, eclipses what was previously known about these cousins of the dinosaurs.
                                In particular, they provide new evidence for the debate about whether pterosaurs could fly as soon as they hatched.
                                  Relatively few pterosaur fossils are preserved because of the animal’s fragile, thin-walled bones. Even more rare are fossils of young hatchlings, eggs and embryos, making it difficult to understand how different species grew.
                                  The first pterosaur embryo was found in China in 2004, but the egg and embryo were flattened, and exactly what type of pterosaur it was was unclear. The first three-dimensionally preserved pterosaur egg came from Argentina from an animal called Pterodaustro, previously known from several specimens and eggs that are mostly crushed.
                                  But in 2014, Chinese palaeontologists discovered hundreds of bones and eggs of the pterosaur Hamipterus, which lived in the early Cretaceous period, approximately 120 million years ago. Amazingly, the site where the fossils were found contained eight separate geological layers with bones, four of which also had eggs.
                                  Researchers think this means it was a nesting site that was hit by high-energy storms that transported the pterosaurs and their eggs to a calm lake where they were then turned into fossils.
                                  Palaeontologists have found other sites with lots of pterosaur bones before, suggesting they were social animals. But this is the first find that indicates pterosaurs nested together as well.

                                  Inside the eggs

                                  A team of Chinese and Brazilian palaeontologists led by Xiaolin Wang have now examined these eggs in more detail, using CT scanning and the study of microstructures of the bone to understand how the animal grew.
                                  The CT scans meant the researchers could use X-rays to see inside the eggs and embryos without destroying them, the first time this has been done with pterosaur eggs (although dinosaur eggs have been studied like this before).
                                  Among the 16 embryos, the researchers found an assortment of preserved bones, mainly from the wings and legs. Unlike other pterosaur embryos from China or Argentina, very little material from the skull appeared in the embryos, with only a single lower jaw preserved.
                                  Unfortunately, the embryos are all incomplete and disarticulated, meaning the bones have been jumbled during fossilisation rather than preserved in a nice jointed skeleton.
                                  This means that we don’t have a complete picture of what an embryonic Hamipterus would have looked like. But the researchers were able to make some observations on growth because the large number of fossils with individuals of different sizes meant they could look at different stages of development.
                                  All the long bones from the wings and legs showed signs of ossification, the process of laying down the minerals to form bones, but the ends of wing bones were not fully formed or mineralized. This suggests that the areas for major muscle attachments, and therefore the muscles themselves, weren’t developed in embryos.
                                  The areas for muscle attachment of important flight muscles were either small or nonexistent in the unhatched animals, while the legs appeared to be more complete. The researchers suggest this means that Hamipterus hatchlings were incapable of flight, contradicting the common idea of “flaplings”, that the youngest pterosaurs could fly immediately.

                                  No teeth

                                  Unsurprisingly, the bone of these embryos appears to have grown extremely fast, with large vascular canals (that carry blood vessels through bones) and other bone structures typical of young animals that are laying down bone extremely quickly.
                                  A surprising discovery, or indeed a lack of discovery, was in the teeth. Despite the fact that teeth normally preserve well in fossils, no teeth were found in any of the embryos.
                                  Since at least some other pterosaur embryos possess teeth, this might indicate that the Hamipterus embryos are of an earlier developmental stage, before tooth development. The lack of other skull bones suggests the skull developed later than other bones in the skeleton.
                                  This find adds to recent discoveries of soft Darwinopterus pterosaur eggs and hundreds of Caiuajara pterosaur fossils. Thanks to the hard work of palaeontologists, we are starting to develop a good understanding of the entire life history, from before hatching to death, of these fascinating creatures.

                                  This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

                                  Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

                                  My Smart Beta ETF Premised on Cats Rang Up an 849,751% Return

                                  I was rich. Right?

                                  I mean, that’s what my Bloomberg said. I’d just entered in an index built from companies with “cat” in their names — yes, the furry felines — hit a button and watched it back-test to an 849,751 percent return. Forget the internet, I thought. Cats are about to take over smart beta.

                                  This is the story of the time I designed my own factor fund as a way of learning about one of Wall Street’s hottest trends — and its pitfalls. There are already ETFs that focus on themes, such as "biblically responsible" companies or ones popular with millennials. Quants have hundreds of style tilts, and their exploding popularity has created a gold rush for creators. I wanted in.

                                  I notified Andrew Ang, head of factor investing strategies at BlackRock Inc. Everything in my program was by the book, I assured him. It was rules-based, equal-weighted and premised on a simple story — that people love cats.

                                  “I love cats, too, and obviously cats are superior, so this is a great investment strategy,” Ang said, as I began to plot my career as a quant. Then he said, “I’m joking, of course.”

                                  Alas, though decades of research back up the idea that you can sort stocks by traits like volatility and momentum and beat the market, Ang saw a far less glorious future for my Abyssinian anomaly. Actually, it failed virtually every conceptual test he could think of, a lesson for anyone convinced she’s found the key to riches in statistical engineering.

                                  “The No. 1 thing is that it lacks an economic foundation,” Ang said.

                                  Pitfall 1: Economic Intuition

                                  So how, exactly, did I go about investing in cats? Factor funds rely on formulas, preset criteria that tell you which stocks to include and which to chuck out. It’s the idea behind things like value ETFs, which gather groups of shares that share the common characteristic of cheapness. The idea is that put together, they’ll beat the wider market.

                                  My model buys any U.S. company with “cat” in it, like CATerpillar, or when “communiCATion” is in the name. It rebalances quarterly to keep trading costs low. That’s important for when Vanguard or BlackRock license it and charge a competitively low fee.

                                  Full disclosure, I’m a dog person, and believe a company runs better when its spirit animal takes a labradoodle form. But building a dog factor portfolio leaves you with penny stocks like Junkiedog.com Inc., offered at $5 in 2013 and now trading at less than 2 cents.

                                  It just so happens that when I ran the study with cats, it returned nearly 850,000 percent on a six-year backtest. That led me to ex-post facto assign an economic rationale to the benefit of cat-containing names. And although keyboard cat is an internet star, I’m told by Goldman Sachs Asset Management this isn’t a real economic story that would lead to robust returns over time. 

                                  "It’s very curious, and I appreciate the effort,” said Nicholas Chan, portfolio manager in the firm’s Quantitative Investment Strategies group. “But you came up with an investment idea that doesn’t have economic intuition. When we come up with an investment hypotheses, we’re economists first and statisticians second.”

                                  BlackRock and Goldman build strategies around factors like value and low volatility because there’s a clear explanation for why they might work: investors under-price boring stocks, for example. By coming up with a thesis only after the results were known, I’ve data snooped my way into an unreliable factor. Unfortunately for me, there’s little evidence that investors are pulled towards catty stocks.

                                  Pitfall 2: P-Hacking

                                  Because of my stubborn desire to produce claw-some returns, I took my thesis and ran with it. Fine, so my first few trials didn’t spit out exactly what I wanted. No biggie, I’ve got the statistical resources of Bloomberg LP at my fingertips — so I tinkered with the data until it did.

                                  At first, I only invested in companies beginning with C – A – T to capture the essence of my investment thesis. But that backtest spit out this:

                                  Not great. But expand the data-set a little, CAT anywhere, and the returns look stellar, making my hypothesis look better. In the scientific community, this is called p-hacking, and it got me into trouble with Ang.

                                  “We’re after broad and consistent sources of returns,” he said. “Since you’ve tweaked it so much, that gives me less confidence that there’s underlying economics in the source.”

                                  If tweaking one minor parameter causes the model to fail, it likely isn’t robust enough to stand the test of time, Ang said. For example, the value factor works no matter if you use price-to-book or price-to-earnings. By overfitting my cat model, I probably picked up on a random past occurrence that’s unlikely to repeat itself.

                                  Pitfall 3: Equal weighting

                                  Smart beta has its roots in the idea that indexes like the S&P 500, weighted by market capitalization, are a dumb idea. To honor its forebears, my portfolio became equal weight. This, as it turns out, gave me a false signal.

                                  A few penny stocks with scant liquidity but big returns dominated. Ang told me that the source of a factor’s returns should be diversified, but the cat factor’s returns were hijacked by the basically untradeable Catskill Litigation Trust, which gained 79,000 percent this year (to trade at one penny).

                                  Similarly, researchers from Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati academics found that most anomalies were imaginary, because their discoverers had used too broad a universe of stocks. Trading edges work best when they’re used on large caps, and all but evaporate on microcaps when trading costs come into play, the academics wrote in a recent paper.

                                  Pitfall 4: The Backtest

                                  My backtest did not hold up to Goldman’s standards.

                                  The real sustainability test comes from whether a factor looks good outside of the original time frame it was run on. Before pitching my factor to Chan, I hadn’t set the cats loose on different periods or other markets to confirm the validity of my anomaly.

                                  “The more you can check off on the list of robustness, the more confidence you can give us. Like time periods, or does it work across large-cap and small-cap stocks, regions and countries,” he said.

                                  Taking Chan’s advice to heart, I turned to Europe. Picking European stocks that contain “gat” (which I figured captured most European translations like the Spanish "gato" and Italian “gatto”), my model underperforms the Stoxx Europe 600 index by 10 percentage points in the five years through January. Hiss.

                                  If I change my model to only capture American cat stocks with a market cap larger than $10 million, my edge disappears again. Over the past five years, that strategy would have returned 42 percent, compared to the S&P 500’s total return of 105 percent.

                                  I presented this evidence to BlackRock’s Ang. His final assessment? “We would pass on the cat factor.” Me-ouch.

                                  Pitfall 5: Cats

                                  Like any enterprising quant, I decided to get another opinion. For this, I conferred with Cliff Asness, founder of AQR Capital Management and a pioneer of factor investing.

                                  “Everything you can sort on can be a factor, but not all factors are interesting. Factors need some economics, theory or intuition even, to be at all interesting to us. Thus the cat factor fails as we have no story for why it should matter at all,” Asness said. “Now, in contrast, we are active traders of the dog and parakeet factors, which are based on hard neo-classical economics married to behavioral finance and machine learning. But the cat factor is just silly.”

                                  He’s got a point. Seems like the tail risks here might be a little high.

                                  Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

                                  Brent Joins U.S. Crude in Bear Market Amid Oversupply Anxiety

                                  Brent crude entered a bear market, plunging below $45 a barrel for the first time since November as skepticism that a supply glut will ease worsens.

                                  A decline in U.S. stockpiles wasn’t enough to dispel the pessimism that struck the market this month as American supplies remain stubbornly above their seasonal average and production keeps rising. The global benchmark closed more than 20 percent below the year’s peak settlement, meeting the common definition of a bear market. The same happened with West Texas Intermediate on Tuesday.

                                  "There’s a sea of negativity," said Maxwell Gold, director of investment strategy at ETF Securities LLC. "This is much more a story of sentiment weighing on the markets."

                                  Oil has returned to levels last seen before the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia decided in November to cut production to drain a global glut. Relentless drilling in U.S. shale fields and renewed output from Libya are putting that effort in jeopardy.

                                  Brent for August delivery settled $1.20 lower at $44.82, down 22 percent from its January peak. WTI fell 98 cents to close at $42.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after dipping to the lowest since August.

                                  American crude stockpiles fell by 2.45 million barrels last week and gasoline supplies slid by 577,999 barrels, according to an Energy Information Administration report Wednesday. Meanwhile, oil production rose to 9.35 million barrels a day, the highest level in almost two years.

                                  "I don’t think one report by itself is enough to dispel the fears," said Gene McGillian, manager for market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. "I would be surprised if this is the beginning of a turnaround."

                                  A joint OPEC, non-OPEC committee concluded on Tuesday that the market won’t rebalance until the second quarter of 2018, beyond the current expiration of the group’s output agreement.

                                  Potentially bullish factors failed to lift prices, including Tropical Storm Cindy halting service at a major oil terminal in the Gulf of Mexico, a shake-up in the Saudi royal family, and Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh saying on state radio that OPEC may decide to make deeper cuts.

                                  “There is no bullish catalyst for oil to be seen at the moment and thus it is drifting lower,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB AB in Oslo. “It will be hard for Saudi and Russia to keep cutting production in the face of a strong rise in U.S. crude production and output in Libya.”

                                  Oil-market news:

                                  • Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman replaced his cousin as heir to the throne, a shock announcement that consolidates the 31-year-old leader’s power in the world’s biggest oil exporter. He is expected to continue the kingdom’s current oil policies.
                                  • Short-term floating storage economics are “close to breakeven, assuming a VLCC hiring cost of $16,500,” JBC Energy said in a research note.
                                  • Mexico is expected to increase gasoline imports from the U.S. with Pemex’s biggest refinery out of service for at least two weeks.
                                  • Oil companies risk wasting $2.3 trillion of investments should demand peak in the next decade as the world works toward its goal of limiting global warming, according to a report from Carbon Tracker.

                                    Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

                                    How Istanbul’s abandoned street dogs end up in America

                                    Istanbul (CNN)In an unassuming home in a tidy neighborhood of Istanbul, you can hear the occupants long before you see them.

                                    They greet you with more warmth and affection than you can take in. Except for one very tiny fellow, who greets strangers by baring teeth and barking until you stop looking into his eyes.

                                    Ultimately they all want two things.

                                    “They cannot talk. They don’t steal. They just want food and affection.”

                                    Yasemin Baban knows exactly what they want, because she has spent the last decade rescuing them from the streets and forests of Istanbul. Baban has made it her mission to find homes for stray dogs, no matter where it takes her or the animals.

                                      “I have dedicated my life to saving dogs and cats and domesticated animals here,” Baban said.

                                      In a strange twist of fate, she has found homes for dozens of the dogs nearly 6,000 miles from Istanbul — in the United States. Specifically, Atlanta.

                                      “It’s amazing. It feels like a dream,” Baban said.

                                      Residents

                                      Not as healthy as they look

                                      But many end up in the forested areas surrounding Istanbul. Just because many look relatively well-fed and are not aggressive toward people, all is not well. Baban is trying to get that message across to those who think she is running some sort of dog racket or has ulterior motives.

                                      “From the dogs we rescued that flew to America last, about 40% had broken teeth with nerves out in their mouth. Imagine how much pain they are in,” Baban said. “A dog cannot speak and the people believe they are in good condition. But they are not. They have no chance to be medically checked in foster (homes) or in shelters here.”

                                      That’s where Adopt a Golden Atlanta comes in. In Turkey, Baban and her volunteers make sure the dogs have a microchip for identification, are spayed or neutered, and have a good enough bill of health to be shipped in crates and flown to America.

                                      Once they get to AGA, they are given whatever medical attention they need, which can be quite expensive. The charitable organization relies on donors to keep afloat, and you can follow a dog’s progress online.

                                      “I can’t thank them enough, as well as the … American people who take them in,” Baban said.

                                      Trying to help other breeds too

                                      The program has become so popular that other golden retriever rescues in the United States are also taking in “Turkey dogs.” So far, more than 200 have been sent over from Istanbul.

                                      At the “doggy hotel” in Istanbul, more have arrived from the streets and forests. And they are just some of the dogs brought in from the streets.

                                      “They are very lovely and social dogs, and if we can save them now, why not?” Baban said.

                                      She is also trying to find homes for other breeds that are abandoned in high numbers, like German shepherds and a variety of dogs used for hunting. She knows her work will likely never be done.

                                      It is not lost on Baban that there are human beings, namely Syrian refugees, who are also gathering in large numbers on the borders and in the streets of her country, who also would love a chance at going to the United States. It is simply beyond her power to singlehandedly change that. But she says helping abandoned animals is not.

                                      “A dog cannot talk and cannot say what he is suffering from. A dog doesn’t know to beg. A human, worst-case scenario, can at least steal to stay alive. They can explain themselves. A dog has no chances in a city like this,” Baban said.

                                      Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

                                      A polar bear is being kept in a Chinese mall for selfies

                                      Hearts all over the internet are breaking for a captive polar bear living in a mall in China.

                                      An online petition was filed back in March by non-profit group Animals Asia, appealing for a white polar bear that’s being kept in Guangzhou, China, to be freed. The makeshift zoo enclosure is also home to another polar bear, six belugas, five walrus calves and a wolf.

                                      These animals are being locked up in the Grandview Shopping Centre in an attraction called the Grandview Aquarium for visitors to take selfies with.

                                      The white polar bear has become the centre of the controversy, after online videos and pictures, meant to draw attention to what’s going on at the mall, went viral. The once magnificent creature is reportedly looking miserable and dejected as visitors consistently knock on its glass cage to get its attention for pictures.

                                      Animals Asia animal welfare director Dave Neale said in a statement: There is no excuse for any animal to be trapped this way.”

                                      Animal rights activists are angered that these animals are being taken out of their natural habitats and caution that it will have detrimental effects on the animals’ health.

                                      Neale added: “‘Taking animals from their natural environments can never be defended, but when they’re re-homed in conditions like we’re seeing at the Grandview Aquarium it’s the worst possible situation.”

                                      Animals Asia’s online petition for the closure and boycott of Grandview Aquarium has gathered over 150,000 signatures since it went up in March.

                                      Just two weeks ago, another captive polar bear at the Argentine zoo died. Dubbed “the world’s saddest polar bear,” Arturo had been living alone for four years since experts say he developed depression-like symptoms after his partner passed away from cancer.

                                      Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

                                      Source: http://mashable.com/

                                      The teacher protecting marine turtles in the Seychelles

                                      (CNN)The first time Vanessa Didon saw a turtle, she was blown away.

                                      “Every encounter is like my first one,” Didion says. “I go a little bit crazy and then I remember I need to measure the turtle, watch out for what she is doing, so every encounter is like the first one for me.”
                                      Four years ago, she left her job as a science and maths teacher to start a family. Along the way she discovered an unexpected passion for marine conservation. Through a warm smile, she admits that while teaching she’d use any excuse to get her science students outside, encouraging them to play in the dirt and explore.
                                        “It’s always been in me, the environment had been calling me for some time,” she says.
                                        The Seychelles archipelago hosts one of the largest remaining global populations of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, and significant populations of the endangered green turtle.
                                        In 1994 the Seychellois government made it illegal to harm, kill, or be in possession of sea turtles, including their meat and their eggs. The penalty is up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $37,000.
                                        But despite the strict laws, Didon says poaching is still a major issue because of the country’s traditional appetite for turtle meat.
                                        “Some people would say it’s in the culture, but in terms of population we know that the turtle population had gone down, and the human population has gone up, so of course there is going to be some sort of problem there,” Didon says.
                                        October marks the beginning of the nesting season in the Seychelles, when female hawksbill and green turtles emerge out of the comfort of the Indian Ocean to lay their eggs on the very beaches where they hatched.
                                        During the nesting season, Didon and her colleagues can be seen patrolling the beaches where they know turtles might come to nest. If there are no turtles on the beach, they look for tracks and the tell-tale signs that a female has laid her eggs.
                                        “Sometimes it’s very apparent that the turtle has nested,” she says. “You can see sand thrown around, but sometimes if you are not too sure, it’s quite good to just feel the sand and if you feel loose sand, this gives you an indication that there is a nest there.”
                                        If a nest is found, its precise location is recorded using GPS, to monitor its status until the hatchlings appear after a two-month incubation period.
                                        Despite no longer teaching in a classroom, Didon says a big part of her job is educating others about the plight of sea turtles and other local marine wildlife. During the off season, she visits schools and hotels to host awareness programs and presentations.
                                        “I want future generations to be able to see all these lovely things that we have, like the wildlife,” she says.
                                        “People have kids, I have kids, and I would want them to grow up maybe doing the same job that I’m doing.”

                                        Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

                                        Japan kills 333 minke whales

                                        (CNN)Japan’s whaling fleet has returned with more than 300 whales harvested from Antarctic waters, according to the country’s Fisheries Agency.

                                        A four-ship fleet from Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research traveled to the Antarctic Ocean and killed 333 minke whales. Some 230 were female; about 90% of these were pregnant, according to the report.
                                          The research was conducted as part of an effort to understand the minke whale populations in the Antarctic Ocean, the Japanese Ministry of Fisheries said in a statement on its website. The purpose was to study the best methods for managing minke populations, the ministry said. It said there were no incidents with anti-whaling activists.
                                          In the past, opponents, including New Zealand and Australia, have raised concerns about the legitimacy of the scientific research contention. In 2014, the United Nation’s International Court of Justice ordered Japan to halt its whaling program, over concerns of its whaling activities in the Antarctic region.
                                          On social media, Greenpeace, a longtime opponent of Japan’s whaling program, stated in a tweet: “The Japanese whaling fleet defies the UN and kills 333 whales, including 200 pregnant mothers.”
                                          Japan has continued to reject international orders to stop its program, alleging that its whaling activities are vital to a larger body of research, as opposed to commercial purposes.
                                          Scientific research gets exemption from the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling. But the International Court of Justice rejected Japan’s scientific claims and ordered an end to its JARPA II research, which claims to study the maintenance and improvement of the minke whale population and the effects of environmental changes on the whale’s food supply, according to its website.
                                          Japan launched a new research program after the court ruling in 2014 that says 333 whales could be killed annually, according to Japan’s Fisheries Agency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
                                          The four vessels left the port of Shimonoseki, southwest of Tokyo on December 2015, returning more than a year later with their quota.The 2015 expedition is part of a 12-year program that will capture 4,000 minke whales.

                                          Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

                                          Now your pets can pledge unwavering loyalty to you with samurai armor

                                          Image: Samurai Age

                                          If you’re looking for a way to instill a sense of loyalty in your pet, we have the perfect solution.

                                          Novelty retailer Samurai Age is making suits of armor inspired by the warriors of medieval Japan for your feline or canine friend.

                                          The company which has also created samurai-themed bottle covers, armor for dolls, and samurai helmets has released a line of samurai armor for your pet to pledge their loyalty to you.

                                          Samurai Age sells both ready-made armor for cats, smaller dogs, and children, but you’ll have to place a custom-made order for larger dogs.

                                          A post shared by SAMURAI AGE (@samurai_age) on

                                          # # #2017 # #samuraiage #cat #petarmor #

                                          A post shared by SAMURAI AGE (@samurai_age) on

                                          The red armor inspired by the armor of famed 16th century samurai Sanada Yukimura will definitely give your pet that Kurosawa feel.

                                          A post shared by SAMURAI AGE (@samurai_age) on

                                          # # # #samuraiage # #cat #samuraiarmor

                                          A post shared by SAMURAI AGE (@samurai_age) on

                                          The armor, which is made out of foam and resin, comes in red, black, silver, or gold, and is priced between 14,040 yen ($128) to 16,416 yen ($148.79).

                                          If you’re into samurai helmets, they’ll cost between 7,020 yen ($63.63) to 14,256 yen ($129).

                                          She loves it. I swear. – #samuraiage #samuraicap #bostonterrier #bostonterriersofinstagram

                                          A post shared by Roman Cortez (@romancortez) on

                                          It’s not the first time Japan has become obsessed with samurai pet armor wanko kacchu, or doggy armor, was first made available to rent from pet supply store Kandaya in 2015.

                                          Samurai Age ships overseas. You can buy their armor here, and their helmets here. To make a custom order, you can click here.

                                          (h/tGrapee.jp)

                                          Source: http://mashable.com/

                                          Hurricane Jose May Threaten New York, Norma Bears Down on Baja

                                          Hurricane Jose may threaten New York City and other areas of the East Coast by next week, according to the National Hurricane Center, while Norma is aiming for Mexico’s Baja California and a new system gathers strength in the Caribbean as a busy tropical weather season bores on.

                                          Jose was about 485 miles (775 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, after redeveloping into a Category 1 hurricane late Friday. Jose’s path could put it near New Jersey and New York by Wednesday morning, although it may weaken to a tropical storm again by then, the center said.

                                          The storm may add to an already devastating 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, coming just after Hurricane Harvey inundated Texas and Hurricane Irma raked Florida’s west coast, leaving dozens of people dead and upending energy and agriculture markets. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy created about $70 billion of damage after hitting the New York metropolitan region.

                                          As of 5 p.m. New York time, Jose was moving northwest at 6 miles an hour with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. Little change in strength is forecast during the next two days, the center said.

                                          Data from an Air Force Reserve aircraft indicate that Jose has increased in size, the NHC said. This widens the band of hurricane-force and tropical-storm-force winds extending toward the coast.

                                          Rip Currents

                                          Life-threatening rip currents are expected along parts of the U.S. East Coast, and tropical storm watches may be needed for portions of the area from North Carolina to New England during the next day or two, according to the advisory, the 46th so far about the long-lived weather system.

                                          Jose could affect five refineries along the East Coast that are able to process about 1.1 million barrels a day of oil, Bloomberg data showed.

                                          If it continues toward New York City, Jose could disrupt vessels carrying crude oil, petrochemicals and refined products along the Atlantic seaboard, “particularly those making deliveries to New York Harbor,” Shunondo Basu, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance meteorologist and natural gas analyst in New York, said on Friday.

                                          Still, some forecasters see Jose staying far enough offshore to avoid any major impact to the U.S. The hurricane center’s margin of error for a storm five days out is about 225 miles, on average.

                                          AccuWeather Inc. sees the storm tracking close enough to the coast — within 200 miles — to produce heavy seas and gusty winds, as well as to deliver rain to coastal areas early in the week.

                                          Landfall in New England during the middle of the week can’t be ruled out, senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said in a statement. If landfall were to occur, the most likely location would be far eastern Long Island or southeastern New England, especially Cape Cod.

                                          Beach Erosion

                                          There’s a 50 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds for Nantucket, Massachusetts, by Thursday, said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

                                          If Jose continues on its path, the most immediate impact could be high surf and considerable beach erosion along the shores of the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts, Masters said.

                                          Norma, meanwhile, has weakened to a tropical storm as it heads north toward Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. As of 5 p.m. the storm was about 220 miles south of the popular tourist designation, Cabo San Lucas. Tropical storm warnings and watches are in effect, with heavy rains likely and maximum sustained winds of about 65 mph.

                                          As the busy 2017 storm season continues, a depression in the Caribbean was elevated on Saturday to Tropical Storm Maria and could strengthen rapidly. Hurricane watches are in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat, with storm watches for several other islands.

                                          With conditions favorable, the storm “has the potential to be a hurricane by the time it passes through the Lesser Antilles Islands on Tuesday morning,” said Masters of Weather Underground.

                                          A depression west of the Cabo Verde Islands in the central Atlantic Ocean, meanwhile, strengthened into Tropical Storm Lee, the NHC said. Lee is forecast to drift slowly west or west-northwest for a few days and is not currently threatening land.

                                            Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

                                            Rescuers are looking for a dolphin trapped in a t-shirt

                                            The dolphin is now at extreme risk of having the shirt block its blowhole.
                                            Image: Department Of Parks And Wildlife/Facebook

                                            Evidently, it’s not enough that people keep killing dolphins by yanking them out of the water for selfies. Now some rubbish human has put human clothing on one.

                                            A dolphin was spotted swimming around Koombana Bay in Western Australia Monday, wrapped up in a tank top or t-shirt.

                                            The image, captured by a member of the public, was quickly picked up by both the Dolphin Discovery Centre and the Department Of Parks And Wildlife, with the latter organisation requesting more information via their Facebook page.

                                            Clarifying the statement in an interview with the ABC, the department’s Pia Courtis explained that it would be “unusual” if the dolphin had just swum into the clothing all by itself.

                                            That means it’s likely someone put the bottle nosed dolphin in the shirt intentionally, potentially endangering its life in the process.

                                            “Thankfully for it, it’s on the other side of its blowhole and its pectoral fins are out so it can still swim,” she said.

                                            Humans, huh.

                                            Source: http://mashable.com/

                                            Meet the Superman saving the sun bears of Malaysia

                                            Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia (CNN)With his wire-rimmed glasses and mild manner, Siew Te Wong could be described as a Malaysian Clark Kent.

                                            This wildlife biologist is a Superman of sorts — a tireless defender of the world’s smallest bear species: the sun bear.
                                            “I often call the sun bear a forgotten species,” Wong said. “When I first started, 20 years ago, no one has ever studied sun bears. Most people do not know that they even exist.”
                                              As he studied the animal and realized the threats it faced from deforestation and hunting/poaching, he knew the bears were in serious trouble.
                                              “The more I learn about them, the more I care. The more I care, the more I worry,” he said. “I have to help them.”
                                              Today, Wong’s nonprofit, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, is the only sun bear sanctuary in the world.
                                              Wong — known as “Papa Bear” — and his team have rehabilitated and cared for 55 rescued sun bears since 2008. The group now also educates the public about these animals.
                                              Sun bears are found in the rainforests of south Asia, and the small bears play a big role in keeping these woodlands healthy. Many plants and animals depend on them to spread seeds, create nesting sites and control the termite population — functions that keep the ecosystems in balance. Healthy rainforests provide clean air and water to the entire world.
                                              But the sun bear population has decreased by 30% during the last three decades. In 2007, the bear was officially classified as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
                                              Currently, 44 sun bears live at Wong’s center — all of them were orphaned by poachers or rescued from captivity. The center has also become one of the leading tourist destinations in the area, helping to raise awareness about the sun bear’s plight.
                                              “They can see how special the sun bear is and learn about how their survival (is) important to ours,” Wong said, “so they can take some action when they go back to home.”
                                              For Wong, this work is simply his responsibility.
                                              “Sun bears became part of my family. When they’re endangered, I care for them. When they are in trouble, I speak for them,” he said. “I want to be the voice for the sun bear, to fight for the sun bear, to ensure the survival of the sun bear.”
                                              “But my ultimate goal is to save the entire forest ecosystem … that is so important to the survival of mankind.”
                                              CNN spoke with Wong about his work. Below is an edited version of the conversation.
                                              CNN: How did you get involved with the sun bear?
                                              Siew Te Wong: I grew up keeping different pets and rescuing birds that fell from nests. I always wanted to be an animal expert or a veterinarian. After high school, I went to Taiwan to study veterinary science, and that’s where I got involved with studying wildlife. In 1994, I came to the University of Montana to study wildlife biology and I met a professor, Christopher Servheen. He was looking for a Malaysian student to do a study on sun bears. I said, “I’m your man!”
                                              CNN: Tell me more about the threats these animals face.
                                              Wong: Over the last 50 years, many of the tropical forests in this region have been cleared, and with deforestation, sun bears have lost their habitat. And even though sun bears are a protected species, they are hunted for their meat and their body parts, which are used in traditional Asian medicines. This is literally wiping out local populations.
                                              Their babies are also kept as illegal pets. Their cubs are really cute, but people don’t realize that this baby bear will turn into a destructive beast. In the end, they will either kill the bears or lock (them) in small cages. We are doing lots of educational awareness to make sure that people don’t keep bears anymore.
                                              CNN: How do the animals spend their time at the center?
                                              Wong: Every day after breakfast, we release the bears into the forest enclosure. This is where they learn to forage, climb trees, build nests and socialize. All of those activities help them get ready to be released and survive in the forest.

                                                CNN Hero Siew Te Wong: Sun bears are not pets

                                              At 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., we give the bears different fruits, and at 4pm, the bears come back and have dinner in the bear house. We keep them inside at night because this level of bear density in the forest is not natural. We also want to monitor their well-being. However, there are a few bears left out for the night, which is good. One day, they will live there all the time.
                                              CNN: How many bears have you been able to release?
                                              Wong: We have released two bears so far, and this year we plan to release four more. There are many bears that we cannot release because they were in captivity for a long time. They lost their instinct to find food, they’re habituated to people, and many that were rescued as adults cannot climb trees. There are also bears who (were) malnourished or who had their claws chopped off. They don’t have the skills to survive in the forest, so they have to stay here for the rest of their lives.
                                              Hopefully in the future, there’ll be more bears ready to be released. I want bears to live in the forest and not in captivity. (That) is where they belong. It is their home.
                                              Want to get involved? Check out the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre website and see how to help.
                                              To donate to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, click the CrowdRise widget below.
                                              Donations are accepted through LEAP (or their full name, Land Empowerment Animals People), a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

                                              Source: http://edition.cnn.com/

                                              People are outraged that a zoo’s skeletal sun bears are starving and begging for food

                                              Image: scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group/ youtube

                                              Warning: This post contains graphic and upsetting videos.

                                              Gaunt sun bears in an Indonesia zoo, so hungry they’ve taken to begging visitors for food and eating their own faeces, have been captured on video by animal rights activists.

                                              Footage shot by the Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group showed several emaciated bears at a zoo in the Indonesian city of Bandung.

                                              While bears in enclosures very rarely beg for food, you can see the bears rushing for pieces of fruit thrown in, and begging visitors for more.

                                              Another video also showed a bear eating its own faeces.

                                              “The bears are kept in a concrete cage and no grass. [There is] nothing natural, it is all very cruel”, Marison Guciano, senior investigator of the Scorpion Foundation told Mashable.

                                              The group has been sending investigators down to the zoo from mid-last year to monitor the bears’ habitat.

                                              Guciano added: “[It is] one of the worst zoos in all of Indonesia. Maybe it would be best if this place was closed down now, before more animals die a painful and avoidable death.”

                                              The Bandung zoo was also implicated in an alleged case of neglect last year, when its endangered Sumatran elephant died after it fell ill.

                                              After the bears’ videos went viral, a petition looking to shut the zoo down was started, and has reached over 200,000 signatures.

                                              A sun bear at Sydney’s Taronga zoo

                                              Image: Getty Images

                                              Visitors have left numerous critical comments on the zoo’s TripAdvisor page, with many accusing the zoo of neglect.

                                              “I could not believe how disgusting and unclean this place was,” said a commenter. “The animals are poorly maintained, underfed and generally ignored.”

                                              “Rusty cages, dirty place and really neglected animals. Some of them are very thin. Hell on earth for all these poor animals”, said another review.

                                              Sun bears as typically found in forest habitats in Southeast Asia and have been classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

                                              The Bandung zoo is not the first in Indonesia to be called out for its poor conditions, with another zoo in the city of Surabaya having been dubbed the “Zoo of Death”.

                                              BONUS: NBD, just a massive alligator out for a stroll

                                              Source: http://mashable.com/

                                              Scientists use an interesting method to catch turtles in the sea

                                              Turtles are excellent at finding their way home.
                                              Image: JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY

                                              Turtles have an excellent sense of direction, and how they manage to find their way home time after time has long been a source of fascination for scientists.

                                              While it’s believed turtles use the Earth’s magnetic fields to navigate when migrating long distances, researchers think sunrises might be a factor in helping them pinpoint their final destination.

                                              The findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology by researcher Takahiro Shimada from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia.

                                              To find out how the turtles found their way home, Shimada and a team caught and tagged 22 sea turtles between 2008 and 2014.

                                              Takahiro Shimada and a sea turtle tagged with a satellite tracker.

                                              Image: james cook university

                                              They then brought each turtle between 8 to 28 kilometres (4.9 to 17.3 miles) away from their usual home in different sites along Queensland, from Moreton Bay to Torres Strait.

                                              To catch and tag these sea turtles, they used the rather intense sounding “rodeo method” to get the job done.

                                              “On a speed boat, we usually have a skipper and a few jumpers/helpers. Once we spot a turtle, we get close to them and jump on a turtle if the turtle is not moving,” Shimada told Mashable.

                                              “But in most cases, turtles would notice us as we approach, so we would chase them as they swim away. We aim to drive the boat parallel to a turtle and once we get to jumping range (let’s say about a metre or so), a jumper takes a leap toward the turtle and grabs it on the carapace (shell).”

                                              “Once the turtle is captured, we put the turtle on the speed boat and take it back to base station to get some biological data and samples, and to deploy a satellite tag.”

                                              Scientists kept watch on the turtle’s travel patterns, and were struck at how the turtles changed their direction when the sunrise hit.

                                              “This is the first time turtles were observed to make directional correction at a particular time of the day,” Shimada explained.

                                              But his team however remain cautious about concluding whether the turtles do indeed use the sunrise to orientate themselves.

                                              “It warrants further investigation whether sunrise is the key or turtles use some other cues that occur during the time of sunrise,” he said.

                                              BONUS: NBD, just a massive alligator out for a stroll

                                              Source: http://mashable.com/