Scientists have identified what is likely one of the world's tallest trees, a 330.7-foot (100.8 meter) yellow meranti tree in the rainforest on the island of Borneo. They spotted the tree growing in the Malaysian state of Sabah during an aerial laser scan of the forest. The rainforest is protected yet Yellow meranti trees are are highly endangered because they're relentlessly chopped down in other parts of Borneo for construction use. To accurately measure the tree, arborist Unding Jami of the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership climbed it with a tape measure in hand. From National Geographic:
What was it like to climb?
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I knew it would feel very exposed [to climb], like you are just hanging in the air. There were really strong winds and a Colugo (flying lemur) nest! It was flying all around as we were trying to shoot the line up into the tree.
It took me 15 attempts to shoot that line 86 meters (282 feet) up to the lowermost branches. Honestly, I almost gave up. We were so lucky to be able to finally shoot the rope over the lower branch.
Once we had the rope up I took nearly an hour to climb up to 86 meters. And then another two hours from there to get to the top to take the final measurement. That last two hours the wind was very strong, and it rained, which slowed me down...
It’s not easy work to do. I climb up slowly, checking the trunk every meter for centipedes, snakes, and things.
Indonesia government officials are shutting down tourist visits to Komodo Island for 2020 because smugglers are stealing the fantastic Komodo dragons and selling them on the black market. All next year, conservationists will focus on boosting the dragon population and habitat preservation. From CNN:
Though plans to limit the number of Komodo visitors have been under discussion for months, Tempo reports the closure comes in response to the March bust of an alleged smuggling ring in which 41 Komodo lizards were taken from the island and sold abroad for 500 million rupiah each (about $35,000)...
Part of the UNESCO-listed Komodo National Park, Komodo Island has grown increasingly popular in recent years thanks to the addition of new flights and hotels in the nearby town of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores. The park currently receives an average of 10,000 visitors per month.
According to UNESCO figures, there are more than 5,000 dragons spread across the national park's islands of Komodo, Rinca, Gili Motong and some coastal regions of western and northern Flores.
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Watch marine biologist Ocean Ramsey (yes, Ocean is her first name!) swim with a 20-foot great white shark off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. First spotted off Guadalupe in 2014, this animal, nicknamed "Deep Blue," is thought to be the largest great white in the world. They're definitely going to need a bigger boat.
“We never would have imagined we would be fortunate enough to be graced with the presence of this massive, big, beautiful, female white shark," says Ramsey, who at the time was observing tiger sharks with her One Ocean Research team. “It fills my heart with joy and takes my breath away.”
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Beyond magic! Please #helpsavesharks !!!! Incredible swimming with “Deep Blue” one of the largest great white s for hour! Just using our @oneoceandiving boat as a scratching post, so mellow and beautiful. Help ban the purposeful killing of sharks and rays with @oneoceanconservation this year & in your local/international community ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ AHHHHHHMAZING!!!! #Beyondwords still out to sea/going back in 😍😍😍😍😍😍 vid shot by @oneoceandiving Shark specialist & my amazing #seaster @mermaid_kayleigh out with @juansharks @forrest.in.focus @camgrantphotography @oneoceanresearch
Champ, the lake monster that reportedly lives in Lake Champlain, may soon appear on Vermont license plates. Representative Dylan Giambatista (D-Essex Junction) introduced legislation to create the plate to raise money for the state's clean water fund and raise awareness about water conservation. From WCAX:
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"For me, it involves thinking out of the box about how are we gonna fund our challenges," (Giambista says). One way we could do it is to offer a license plate. I would call it a 'Be a Champ' water license plate..."
The bill creates a conservation plate -- several styles already exist that feature deer and loon. But Giambatista says it could also be a special issue plate. like the Vermont Strong ones issued after Tropical Storm Irene that helped raise a million dollars for recovery efforts.
"We would want to put Champ on it because we want folks to be a water champ and to focus the conversation about water quality in this state. We gotta go to what people know, so let's start with a beloved figure like Champ. Let's get the conversation started and let's raise money for a good cause," Giambatista said.
Science writer Ed Yong has an amazing whodunit at The Atlantic on how genetic science can help stop elephant poaching. Read the rest
Conservationist, entomologist, and photographer Phil Torres recorded this enchanting slow-motion video of hummingbirds in the cloud forest of Sumaco, Ecuador. He used Moment lenses Read the rest
The Mary River Turtle (Elusor macrurus)
, seen in this marvelous photo by Chris Van Wyk, calls Queensland, Australia its home. It's a fantastic creature with a green mohwawk of algae strands. The Mary River Turtle can stay underwater for up to 72 hours as it breathes through glands in its reproductive organs. Unfortunately, it's also one of the latest animals that the Zoological Society of London's EDGE conservation group added to its list of endangered species
. From National Geographic
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The Mary river turtle waddled its way on the list for a number of reasons: it's the only member of its genius, and according to EGDE's website, it became evolutionarily distinct 40 million years ago. Forty million years of Earth's changes, however, wasn't enough to prepare them for 100 years of human intervention.
Their habitat... has been disrupted from dam construction, and the species was widely bought and sold in the pet trade.
Today it's protected by the Australian government, and conservation groups are working to make sure its habitat is preserved.
A Polish entomologist has observed and recorded footage of a bee-like moth called the Oriental blue clearwing. Read the rest
Indiana’s Yellowwood State Forest is a scenic forest that Indiana's Department of Natural Resources put up for sale. But after conservationists gathered $150,000 to preserve the forest for another 100 years, the government sold it to a local logging company for $108,785. Read the rest
Vaquita CPR is the international effort to save the "pandas of the sea," critically endangered and super-cute vaquitas, the earth's smallest species of porpoises. Only 30 are believed to live in their range in the northern Gulf of California. Read the rest
I can't wait to see Jane, the new National Geographic documentary about the inspiring primatologist Jane Goodall who famously lived with chimpanzees in Tanzania for decades and has worked tireless on conservation and animal welfare issues her entire adult life. The film, containing unseen footage of Jane in the jungle, was directed by Brett Morgen (Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck) with music by minimalist master Philip Glass!
This photo below of Jane Goodall observing chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, taken by her mother Vanne Morris-Goodall, was encoded on the Voyager Golden Record launched into space 40 years ago:
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Researchers from the Antarctic Heritage Trust turned up this 100-year-old fruitcake in a Cape Adare hut. From their report:
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Buoy and Canoe were in bad shape when they were rescued, but they bounced back thanks to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Watch this heartwarming footage of the pair getting released back into the ocean. Read the rest
Indian conservation group Wildlife SOS has a team of knitters that could put your grandma's afghan-making skills to shame. They create these colorful knitted sweaters for elephants in their care. Read the rest
Pangolin scales, like rhinoceros horns, are just made of keratin, but that doesn't stop traditional medicine practitioners from claiming they cure cancer and what-not. It's why pangolins are the most trafficked animals in the world. China stopped a shipment worth around $2 million that required killing around 7,500 of the cure little anteaters. Read the rest
In 1977, the US Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service published a fascinating document asking what the government would do if Bigfoot or something like the Loch Ness Monster were to be found? The paper goes on to explain the laws and regulations in place to deal with such a discovery, and also mentions 20th century discoveries like the Komodo dragon and cryptozoology's darling, the coelacanth. From the document:
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Finding a Loch Ness monster or Bigfoot is still a possibility, and the discovery would be one of the most important in modern history. As items of scientific and public interest they would surely command more attention than the moon rocks. Millions of curiosity seekers”and thou- sands of zoologists and anthropologists throughout the world would be eager to “get at” the creatures to examine, protect, capture, or just look at them....
Under U.S. Law, the Secretary of the Interior is empowered to list as threatened or endangered a species for 120 days on an emergency basis. For endangered species in the United States, the Secretary can also desig- nate habitat that is critical to their survival. No Federal agency could then authorize, fund, or carry out any activities which would adversely modify that habitat.
So long-term Federal protection of Nessie or Bigfoot would basically be a matter of following the same regulatory mechanisms already used in protecting whooping cranes and tigers.
“Under normal situations,” said Keith Schreiner, then Associate Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “we must know a great deal about a species before we list it.
During his visit to Washington last month, China's President Xi Jinping vowed to stop the commercial trade in ivory in his nation, but didn't say much about when or how. Read the rest