Another Animal Dies at SeaWorld Bringing Death Toll to 4 Large Mammals in Just 4 Months
It’s business as usual for SeaWorld.
Yet another animal has died under SeaWorld’s watch, bringing the embattled theme park’s death toll to four large marine mammals in just four months. Three of the deaths occurred at SeaWorld San Antonio. Dart, a male dolphin, was the latest to die while kept in captivity.
R.I.P., Dart: Died February 2016
BREAKING: Pacific white-sided dolphin named Dart has just died at #SeaWorld San Antonio. He was only 12-years-old. https://t.co/0gEJnj8cJh— PETA (@PETA)1454872202.0
This dolphin is the fourth cetacean to die prematurely at SeaWorld San Antonio since July. Just like many of the dolphins, orcas, belugas and walruses who died before him, he never knew the world outside SeaWorld’s tiny concrete tanks, never had the chance to swim freely with his family pod and never got to feel the ocean currents.
R.I.P., Betsy: Died January 2016
Betsy was 1 of 12 Commerson's dolphins captured from the wild in 1983. Half were dead within a year, some within days. #SeaWorld— PETA (@PETA)1453749001.0
Though Betsy lived to a mature age for a Commerson’s dolphin—an anomaly for an animal held at SeaWorld, which has a history wrought with premature animal deaths—the circumstances surrounding her death are troubling. Days before she died, she was transferred from SeaWorld San Diego to SeaWorld Orlando, a transport that was undoubtedly hard on the older animal. Betsy was reportedly stolen from her ocean home in 1983, along with 12 other Commerson’s dolphins, half of whom died within a year of captivity. SeaWorld recently announced that it will no longer keep Commerson’s dolphins in captivity, but 20 have reportedly already died in its care over the last 30 years. Hopefully, the remaining Commerson’s dolphins at SeaWorld will be the last to experience the abusement park’s concrete tanks.
R.I.P., Unna: Died December 2015
BREAKING: Young orca, Unna, has just died at #SeaWorld after suffering from a fungal infection for months. https://t.co/sKEalGJ5ax— PETA (@PETA)1450744443.0
Unna, an 18-year-old orca imprisoned at SeaWorld San Antonio, died after prolonged suffering caused by the fungal infection candida. She was the 38th orca held by SeaWorld to die far short of her maximum life expectancy, which can be more than 100 years for female orcas in the wild. Her “life” in captivity consisted of being taken away from her mother just before her sixth birthday, being impregnated when she was only 8 years old, giving birth to a stillborn calf and being so deprived of enrichment and opportunities to engage in natural behavior that she obsessively picked at the paint on the bottom of SeaWorld’s show-pool floor until her face became badly injured.
R.I.P., Stella: Died November 2015
BREAKING: She was only two years old & could have lived DECADES longer. This isn't the first young beluga SeaWorld lost this year. http://peta.vg/1o3d
Posted by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) on Monday, November 16, 2015
Stella died at SeaWorld San Antonio at just 2 years old, well short of a beluga’s natural life expectancy of up to 50 years. Her death added to a tally of at least 58 beluga deaths at SeaWorld locations. SeaWorld and other aquariums have proved again and again that belugas cannot be bred successfully in tiny concrete tanks, where they’re denied everything that is natural and important to them.
Disturbing Pattern in Captivity
Thirty-eight orcas and at least 58 belugas have died on SeaWorld’s watch, along with more than a hundred dolphins. Reports indicate that another dolphin at SeaWorld San Antonio named Betty is currently being treated for a possible infection.
Though SeaWorld’s website claims that “there are no apparent connections” between the recent deaths at its San Antonio facility, the high number of premature and unusual deaths there and at the other SeaWorld locations points to a serious common denominator: captivity.
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Material Revolutions: Shirts Made from Shellfish, Biodegradable Rum Bottles and Reusable Fast Food Containers
In the age of consumption, sustainability innovations can help shift cultural habits and protect dwindling natural resources. Improvements in source materials, product durability and end-of-life disposal procedures can create consumer products that are better for the Earth throughout their lifecycles. Three recent advancements hope to make a difference.
1. Allbirds Shirts Made From Shellfish<p>Sustainable sneaker start-up <a href="https://www.allbirds.com/pages/apparel" target="_blank">Allbirds</a> is known for its thoughtfulness for consumers and the environment. The four-year-old shoe company has become hugely popular by creating comfortable shoes made from responsibly sourced materials like tencel and wool, reported <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90565358/allbirds-new-clothing-line-includes-t-shirts-made-from-discarded-crab-shells" target="_blank">Fast Company</a>.</p><p>Recently, Allbirds launched its debut apparel line with garments for men and women made with eco-friendly materials that have a low carbon footprint, the report said.</p><p>Introduced along with the line is a new t-shirt material called "TrinoXO," which is made from wool and discarded snow crab shells from Canada's seafood industry, reported <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/20/sustainable-sneaker-start-up-allbirds-is-selling-sweaters-t-shirts.html" target="_blank">CNBC</a> and <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/20/business/allbirds-sustainable-apparel/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">CNN</a>. The shells are the "number two discarded resource on earth," Allbirds claims, reported <a href="https://www.menshealth.com/style/a34427585/allbirds-apparel-clothing-line-review/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Men's Health</a>.</p><p>"Discarded material is the holy grail when it comes to sustainable fibers," Jad Finck, Allbirds head of innovation and sustainability, told Fast Company. "It's far better for the environment than getting raw materials from scratch."</p><p>The shells have antimicrobial properties that keep clothes fresh even after hours of wear, without the need to add "extractive" materials like zinc or silver, Men's Health reported. This allows for longer periods of wear between washes, reducing clothes' environmental footprint.</p><p>"We knew we wanted to be a real brand, and had this vision that we'd be an innovation company first, and a product company second," co-founder Joey Zwillinger told <a href="https://www.vogue.com/article/allbirds-launches-clothing" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Vogue</a>. "And our products would solve problems for people in a natural way, and show the world that you don't have to compromise on the planet for amazing products."</p>
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The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
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