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A combined team of researchers from Durham University and Sea Search Research and Conservation NPC, has found that a gray whale spotted off the coast of Namibia traveled halfway around the globe to get there. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes collecting a tissue sample from the whale and comparing its DNA with other whales in other parts of the world. Back in 2013, fishermen reported seeing a gray whale swimming around in Walvis Bay off the coast of Namibia—a very unusual sight since gray whales had not been seen in these waters before. Eventually, the reports made their way to oceanographers and zoologists and a team of researchers was formed to find out more about the whale. A research vessel was sent and the team aboard managed to obtain a small tissue sample from the 40-foot whale. Back in their lab, the researchers conducted a DNA analysis of the sample and then compared it with other whale samples held in biotechnology databases. They found a match—the gray whale swimming in Walvis Bay was directly related to a western population of gray whales that normally live in the North Pacific. Western gray whales are endangered; researchers believe that there are only 200 left in the world. Thus, sightings have been few—most have occurred off the coasts of Alaska and Russia. Once the whale's original home had been found, the researchers began looking at different routes it might have taken to make it to a southwest part of Africa. They found it could have taken a Canadian route through the Northwest Passage. But it also could have swum down and around South America or even across the Indian Ocean. Also unclear is why the whale made such a long journey—whichever route it took would have taken it halfway across the planet, a trip that marks a record travel length for a mammal. The researchers suggest it could have been responding to warming temperatures in its natural home or it could simply have become lost. https://phys.org/news/2021-06-gray-whale-coast-namibia-swam.html
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A team of researchers from Oklahoma State University, the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Arkansas has found that the mere sight of sick birds of their own kind is enough to set off an immune response in healthy canaries. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes experiments they conducted with caged birds in their lab. Prior research has shown that many animals, humans included, tend to avoid others of their kind when they show signs of illness. But for some species, doing so might be more problematic than risking getting sick. Birds that rely on safety in numbers, for example, may need another strategy for dealing with ailments. In this new effort, the researchers found that for at least one species of bird, simply seeing others of its kind become sick was enough to kick off an immune response. The experiments by the researchers involved setting groups of cages with canaries in them across from one another and then infecting one of the groups with a mild bacterial infection. Symptoms of the infection become obvious as infected birds become lethargic after developing conjunctivitis. The researchers note that such infections make the birds look very sick. In their experiment, the researchers were careful to place the uninfected birds far enough away from sick birds to keep them from getting infected. They also set up an identical scenario in a distant part of the lab as a control—neither group was infected with the bacteria. The researchers then monitored what happened over the course of a month, collecting blood samples and making notes regarding how sick birds looked and how easily a well bird could see a sick bird. They found that as the infected birds started to look sick, the immune systems of the healthy birds began to stir. CH50 measurements showed a rise in all of the healthy birds and rose even more in those birds who had the best view of the sickest birds. The researchers also found white blood cell counts rose. Notably, cytokine levels did not change. https://phys.org/news/2021-06-canaries-sight-sick-birds-immune.html
54 views · Jun 9th
The coronavirus variant driving India's devastating COVID-19 second wave is the most infectious to emerge so far. Doctors now want to know if it's also more severe. Hearing impairment, severe gastric upsets and blood clots leading to gangrene, symptoms not typically seen in COVID-19 patients, have been linked by doctors in India to the so-called delta variant. In England and Scotland, early evidence suggests the strain — which is also now dominant there — carries a higher risk of hospitalization. Delta, also known as B.1.617.2, has spread to more than 60 countries over the past six months and triggered travel curbs from Australia to the U.S. A spike in infections, fueled by the delta variant, has forced the U.K. to reconsider its plans for reopening later this month, with a local report saying it may be pushed back by two weeks. Higher rates of transmission and a reduction in the effectiveness of vaccines have made understanding the strain's effects especially critical. Comment: Without more data it's unclear what effect the experimental mass vaccination campaign has had on these variants, because in the UK outbreaks are correlated with an increase in vaccinations: Death rate in England is lowest since records began 20 years ago "We need more scientific research to analyze if these newer clinical presentations are linked to B.1.617 or not," said Abdul Ghafur, an infectious disease physician at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, southern India's largest city. Ghafur said he is seeing more COVID-19 patients with diarrhea now than in the initial wave of the pandemic. 'New enemy' "Last year, we thought we had learned about our new enemy, but it changed," Ghafur said. "This virus has become so, so unpredictable." https://www.sott.net/article/453894-Gangrene-gastric-problems-and-hearing-loss-reported-in-delta-variant-of-coronavirus-from-India-may-carry-higher-risk-of-hospitalization
55 views · Jun 9th
Two large rural Arizona fires have scorched more than 138,000 acres and forced thousands of residents from their homes. Firefighters in the eastern part of the state are tackling the Telegraph Fire, which has burned 71,756 acres and the Mescal Fire that has charred 66,913 acres. Authorities say that the Telegraph Fire has burned since last week but is zero per cent contained, while the Mescal Fire is 23 per cent contained. At least 2,500 homes in Gila County have been evacuated, said Carl Melford, the county emergency manager. And he estimated that there was twice as many households with bags packed just in case they have to leave quickly. https://www.sott.net/article/453890-Thousands-flee-as-two-massive-wildfires-sweep-Arizona
60 views · Jun 9th

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A team of researchers from Oklahoma State University, the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Arkansas has found that the mere sight of sick birds of their own kind is enough to set off an immune response in healthy canaries. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes experiments they conducted with caged birds in their lab. Prior research has shown that many animals, humans included, tend to avoid others of their kind when they show signs of illness. But for some species, doing so might be more problematic than risking getting sick. Birds that rely on safety in numbers, for example, may need another strategy for dealing with ailments. In this new effort, the researchers found that for at least one species of bird, simply seeing others of its kind become sick was enough to kick off an immune response. The experiments by the researchers involved setting groups of cages with canaries in them across from one another and then infecting one of the groups with a mild bacterial infection. Symptoms of the infection become obvious as infected birds become lethargic after developing conjunctivitis. The researchers note that such infections make the birds look very sick. In their experiment, the researchers were careful to place the uninfected birds far enough away from sick birds to keep them from getting infected. They also set up an identical scenario in a distant part of the lab as a control—neither group was infected with the bacteria. The researchers then monitored what happened over the course of a month, collecting blood samples and making notes regarding how sick birds looked and how easily a well bird could see a sick bird. They found that as the infected birds started to look sick, the immune systems of the healthy birds began to stir. CH50 measurements showed a rise in all of the healthy birds and rose even more in those birds who had the best view of the sickest birds. The researchers also found white blood cell counts rose. Notably, cytokine levels did not change. https://phys.org/news/2021-06-canaries-sight-sick-birds-immune.html
54 views · Jun 9th
The coronavirus variant driving India's devastating COVID-19 second wave is the most infectious to emerge so far. Doctors now want to know if it's also more severe. Hearing impairment, severe gastric upsets and blood clots leading to gangrene, symptoms not typically seen in COVID-19 patients, have been linked by doctors in India to the so-called delta variant. In England and Scotland, early evidence suggests the strain — which is also now dominant there — carries a higher risk of hospitalization. Delta, also known as B.1.617.2, has spread to more than 60 countries over the past six months and triggered travel curbs from Australia to the U.S. A spike in infections, fueled by the delta variant, has forced the U.K. to reconsider its plans for reopening later this month, with a local report saying it may be pushed back by two weeks. Higher rates of transmission and a reduction in the effectiveness of vaccines have made understanding the strain's effects especially critical. Comment: Without more data it's unclear what effect the experimental mass vaccination campaign has had on these variants, because in the UK outbreaks are correlated with an increase in vaccinations: Death rate in England is lowest since records began 20 years ago "We need more scientific research to analyze if these newer clinical presentations are linked to B.1.617 or not," said Abdul Ghafur, an infectious disease physician at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, southern India's largest city. Ghafur said he is seeing more COVID-19 patients with diarrhea now than in the initial wave of the pandemic. 'New enemy' "Last year, we thought we had learned about our new enemy, but it changed," Ghafur said. "This virus has become so, so unpredictable." https://www.sott.net/article/453894-Gangrene-gastric-problems-and-hearing-loss-reported-in-delta-variant-of-coronavirus-from-India-may-carry-higher-risk-of-hospitalization
55 views · Jun 9th
Two large rural Arizona fires have scorched more than 138,000 acres and forced thousands of residents from their homes. Firefighters in the eastern part of the state are tackling the Telegraph Fire, which has burned 71,756 acres and the Mescal Fire that has charred 66,913 acres. Authorities say that the Telegraph Fire has burned since last week but is zero per cent contained, while the Mescal Fire is 23 per cent contained. At least 2,500 homes in Gila County have been evacuated, said Carl Melford, the county emergency manager. And he estimated that there was twice as many households with bags packed just in case they have to leave quickly. https://www.sott.net/article/453890-Thousands-flee-as-two-massive-wildfires-sweep-Arizona
60 views · Jun 9th