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Celebrate World Oceans Day From Home With the UN This Monday

Oceans
Celebrate World Oceans Day From Home With the UN This Monday
UN World Oceans Day is usually an invite-only affair at the UN headquarters in New York, but this year anyone can join in by following the live stream on the UNWOD website from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. https://unworldoceansday.org/

Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?


Luckily, the UN has you covered with a fascinating lineup of talks focusing on the theme of "innovation for a sustainable ocean." UN World Oceans Day (UNWOD) is usually an invite-only affair at the UN headquarters in New York, but this year anyone can join in by following the live stream on the UNWOD website from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

The event is a partnership with solutions-focused non-profit Oceanic Global.

"It's an honor to partner with the United Nations on World Oceans Day 2020," the group's founder and executive director Lea d'Auriol said in a statement. "As an organization, Oceanic Global focuses on industry and individual solutions that engage new audiences in ocean conservation. This year's World Oceans Day theme, 'Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean' ties perfectly into our mission as we are always seeking new paths forward to further support ocean health as well as amplify the voices within the ocean community."

Here is a selection of some of the voices you will get a chance to hear by tuning in:

1. Cara Delevingne: Delevingne is an actress and musician who also launched EcoResolution to encourage people to take action on the climate crisis. She will deliver the opening remarks, focusing on how we are connected to the ocean and the importance of protecting it.

When: 10 a.m.

2. Francis Zoet: Zoet developed the Great Bubble Barrier to stop some of the eight billion kilos of plastic that enter the oceans every year. Zoet's barrier stops plastic from entering the ocean from rivers or canals while allowing fish and ships to pass through. She will explain the barrier and how it could be scaled up on a panel with other innovators called "Spotlight Solutions" for the Ocean.

When: 11 a.m.

3. Jean-Michel, Céline and Fabien Cousteau: The family of explorers and conservationists will speak on how their family has used technology to increase our understanding of the ocean over time and therefore of what needs protecting and how.

When: 12 p.m.

4. Lilly Platt: Platt has cleaned up more than 100 thousand pieces of plastic since launching Lilly's Plastic Pickup in 2015, when she was just seven years old. She will speak on her experience of youth environmental activism along with other young ocean advocates on a panel called Youth Driving Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.

When: 3 p.m.

5. A Concert for the Ocean: The day will wrap up with live performances from musicians around the world, including Fatoumata Diawara, Vieux Farka Touré and Alice Phoebe Lou.

When: 4 p.m.

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Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

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.

Hoy agreed.

"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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