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 on: Today at 09:54 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Beloved Alaskan bear livestream up and running once again

June 28, 2015

Bear lovers can rejoice: Katmai National Park’s livestreaming video of Brooks Falls, most commonly referred to as the "bearcam" because the location is known for its brown bears, is operating again.

At any time, an average of about 15,000 people around the world are tuned in to the bearcam, which has captured thousands of hours of Alaska’s bears frolicking, eating and napping. In one particularly unusual instance, a bear adoption was documented on video.

Humans are so enthralled with digital bear watching that had to purchase more servers to maintain the livefeed.

The bearcam was first set up in July 2012 by employees of the park. There are six bearcams altogether, broadcasting to one primary feed to show Brooks Falls from different angles. Though the cameras are meant to operate year round, they tend to succumb to Alaska's elements in late November. Come summer, park staff work to get the cameras operational once again.

    Lucky catch on #bearcam! Snap by Giz:

    — (@exploreorg) June 27, 2015

Late June to late July is the best time to watch bears at Brooks Falls, as that’s when they frequent the river to feed and gain weight for winter. The bearcam broadcast resumed Thursday, just in time for feeding season. The park plans to offer a few tweaks over the next few weeks, like getting the picture quality up to HD for an ideal bear-watching experience.

For the most part, the bears keep to themselves and don’t know the cameras are there. There’s only been one instance of a bear tampering with a camera. "When we were installing the camera, we were really worried that bears would pay extra attention to them. They make a little noise and they’re new. Bears explore everything and the cameras are technically edible," Roy Wood, chief of interpretation at the park and caretaker of the bearcam, told Newsweek. "So far, we have been lucky, the bears have only bent the post of one underwater camera but didn’t break the camera itself. Most of the cameras are about 10 feet high, just out of their reach."

The underwater camera captures salmon, the preferred snack of bears. An adult male bear can catch upwards of 30 salmon a day.

    Welcome back to #BearCam season! The bears are live from @KatmaiNPS:

    — (@exploreorg) June 25, 2015

Many cam viewers enjoy watching the bears feed and share screenshots of them chomping down on the fish. Frequent cam watchers get to know the bears well and can often identify them by name, as well as recognize family units.

One loyal viewer helped Katmai researchers to investigate a very rare instance in the bear world: an adoption.

"One of our females, for whatever reason, abandoned a year-old cub. The cub wandered in and out of view of the camera for about a month then disappeared. We feared the worst," Wood explained. "Then a bearcam viewer who was here on vacation photographed some bears and thought they looked familiar.... She forwarded the photo to us and we knew immediately who it was. It was Holly, a frequent bear, her spring cub and this unrelated bear cub who she adopted."

Bear adoption is so rare, only one other instance has been recorded. The adopted bear family is still together; they were last spotted on the bearcam this past Friday.

    Sighting of Holly & her cubs on the Lower River #bearcam:

    — (@exploreorg) June 26, 2015

The Katmai staff are a bit baffled about why, exactly, their bearcam is so popular but Wood has one hypothesis: recognition.

"Our bears here at Brooks Camp are fairly easy to recognize, so I think people can recognize them and we can share what we know about them. We can tell people a lot about the bears, where their scars came from, who their parents are. That leads people to identify the individuals and pick up on their personalities and physical differences," Wood said. "They aren’t a faceless, nameless bear. People are able to connect with them on an individual level and, hopefully, that extends to wanting to protect the specifies as a whole."

Click here:

 on: Today at 09:43 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Kristin
Hi Rad,

I love this new thread ~ thank you!!!


 on: Today at 07:20 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Mystery bird: New Zealand bellbird, Anthornis melanura

This small New Zealand mystery bird is known for its ringing voice and many dialects (includes video and audio!!)


New Zealand bellbird, Anthornis melanura, Sparrman, 1786 (protonym, Certhia melanura), also known as the bellbird and by its Māori names, korimako or makomako, photographed at Tiritiri Matangi Island, the restored island in the Hauraki Gulf close to Auckland, New Zealand.

Question: This small New Zealand mystery bird is known for its stunning duets. Can you identify this bird's taxonomic family and species? Can you identify this bird's gender? Can you tell me more about this bird's song?

Response: This is an adult male New Zealand bellbird, Anthornis melanura, an endemic of New Zealand that is a member of the Meliphagidae family of honeyeaters and Australian chats. This family is large and diverse, comprising a number of passerines that are most common in Australia and New Guinea. Their range also includes New Zealand, Wallacea and the Pacific islands, extending as far east as Samoa and Tonga. On the other hand, the island of Bali, just on the other side of Wallace's Line, has only one species.

When not provided with location data, it is easy to confuse the honeyeaters with the sunbirds (family: Nectariniidae), which are found in Africa and southern Asia. The unrelated meliphagids and nectarinids look and behave similarly, thanks to convergent evolution -- the result of their similar diets, habitats and habits.

The meliphagids feed on nectar, fruit and insects, and they feed their rapidly growing chicks primarily on insects. On many south Pacific islands, the meliphagids are important pollinators of native plant species.

This bird is named for its gorgeous song, which consists of three distinct sounds that resemble the chiming of distant bells. Bellbirds from different areas in New Zealand have identifiable regional dialects. Their songs may vary enormously even over short distances and over time. Further, some people report that males and females of this duetting species sing different songs, at least during some parts of the year. And of course, juvenile song is identifiable too, because they are still practicing their song.

Embedded below are two recordings of singing bellbirds, thanks to the talented recordists who freely share their work at Xeno-Canto. I think the first recording is simply stunning. It is 1:59 long:

Recorded on 15 December 2004 by Patrik Åberg on Te Anaua Downs, New Zealand [audio link].

Here's another recording, this one is 1:28 long, of a bellbird singing and chattering whilst foraging on flowering trees, courtesy of Xeno-Canto:

Recorded on 6 March 2010 by Daniel Lane at Heywood Terrace, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand (audio link):

Here's a video of singing male bellbird, recorded on Tiritiri Matangi Island (uploaded 21 August 2007):

Visit HenryFalkner's YouTube channel (video link):

You are invited to review all of the daily mystery birds by going to their dedicated graphic index page.

If you have bird images, video or mp3 files that you'd like to share with a large and (mostly) appreciative international audience here at The Guardian, feel free to contact me to learn more.

 on: Today at 07:13 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Blobfish voted world's ugliest animal

Deep-sea creature crowned winner of a competition to raise awareness of endangered and aesthetically challenged animals

Natalie Starkey

The blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus), a species that lives at great depths and is rarely seen but resembles a marine Jabba the Hut, has been voted the world's ugliest animal.

More than 3,000 votes were cast in the online competition, with 795 for the blobfish.

The campaign, run by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society to decide its new mascot, was set up to raise awareness for endangered and aesthetically challenged animals. With 200 species becoming extinct every day, it says ugly animals need more help because of their less than "pinup" appearance.

Simon Watt, the society's president, said: "We've needed an ugly face for endangered animals for a long time and I've been amazed by the public's reaction. For too long the cute and fluffy animals have taken the limelight, but now the blobfish will be a voice for the mingers who always get forgotten."

The other animals voted into the top six from 11 nominations were:

• the kakapo, a giant flightless parrot from New Zealand that is often in danger from predators because of its overly curious nature;

• the axolotl, a salamander that can regenerate its own limbs and is said to never grow up;

• the Titicaca water frog (Telmatobius culeus), named after the South American lake where it lives, dubbed the "aquatic scrotum frog";

• the proboscis monkey. With a rather large nose which is said to be attractive to its mates, it also has a very bloated and gassy stomach caused by its love of eating unripe fruit.

The campaign consisted of 11 "election" videos, with comedians championing each ugly species. Paul Foot, of Never Mind the Buzzcocks, supported the blobfish.

Click to watch:

The species, which lives off the coast of south-eastern Australia and Tasmania, is under significant threat from fishing trawlers that accidentally capture it in their nets. "Some would describe it as a bit ugly, but I think the sad face of the blobfish belies a kind and very wise little brain in there," said Foot.

The YouTube videos for the ugly animals have had around 88,000 views in total.

 on: Today at 06:27 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

You have rightly identified some of the possible traumas that could occur with these symbols, the reasoning you employed in these possibilities being quite accurate.

God Bless, Rad 

 on: Today at 06:24 AM 
Started by Skywalker - Last post by Rad
Hi Skywalker,

Most Souls have have other Souls that are not incarnate helping them in one way or the other. These Souls can be anyone from former intimates, family members, friends, etc to highly evolved Souls that most consider to the 'spirit guides'. Each Soul has their own unique 'constellation' of such Souls in the astral realms in this way.

God Bless, Rad

 on: Today at 06:20 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Why does this Neptune-like exoplanet have a tail?

June 24, 2015
Chuck Bednar for – @BednarChuck

A red dwarf star is causing a giant cloud of hydrogen gas to escape from a warm, Neptune-mass world, causing the exoplanet to have a massive comet-like tail, astronomers at the University of Warwick in the UK report in the latest edition of the journal Nature.

According to the university, the phenomenon was depicted in an image by Dr. Mark Garlick, and the discovery seems to indicate that low mass exoplanets orbiting close to their host stars may have had a percentage of their atmospheres burned off due to extreme irradiation from the star.

The planet in question is Gliese 436b (also known as GJ 436b), which was discovered in August 2004 by R. Paul Butler from the Carnegie Institute of Washington and Geoffrey Marcy from the University of California, Berkeley using the radial velocity method. At the time, it was one of the smallest known transiting planets in terms of mass and radius.

First confident detection of atmosphere loss in Neptune-sizes exoplanets

According to co-author Dr. Peter Wheatley of the Warwick Astronomy and Astrophysics Group, a large cloud of hydrogen gas was seen absorbing light from its parent red dwarf star. The cloud is created as a result of x-ray emissions from the star burning off the planet’s upper atmosphere.

“We knew that some Jupiter-mass planets are gradually evaporating due to irradiation by their parent stars, and we set out to use the Hubble Space Telescope to try to detect absorption by hydrogen gas escaping from the Neptune-sized planet GJ 436b,” Dr. Wheatley told redOrbit via email. “We were amazed by the strength of the absorption we found.”

“Usually signals of planetary atmospheres are very subtle, but here we see a very extended comet-like tail from the planet that covers more than half of the star!” he added. “This is the first time anyone has made a confident detection of the atmosphere escaping from a Neptune-sized exoplanet. With such a strong signal, future measurements can probe the composition of the planetary atmosphere – and for other small planets as well.”

In fact, Dr. Wheatley and his colleagues believe that not only are such processes occurring on other exoplanets, but that they could be strong enough to result in the evaporation of the planet’s entire atmosphere.

 on: Today at 06:19 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Blue auroras may greet first people on Mars

June 25, 2015
Chuck Bednar for – @BednarChuck

When astronauts first arrive on Mars, they may be greeted by a stunning blue-colored aurora in the southern hemisphere of the Red Planet, researchers from Aalto University in Finland and an international team of colleagues report in a recently-published study.

According to, while previous research confirmed there were southern auroras on Mars, the new Planetary and Space Science paper marks the first time a team of scientists has predicted that the phenomenon will actually be visible to the human eye.

“The study indicates that the strongest color in the Martian aurorae is deep blue,” author Cyril Simon Wedlund Aalto University’s Department of Radio Science and Engineering explained in a statement. “An astronaut looking up while walking on the red Martian soil would be able, after intense solar eruptions, to see the phenomena with the naked eye.”

The findings indicate that the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet may be closer in nature to that of Earth’s than previously believed. Even though Mars no longer has a global magnetic field, the planet still sporadically has smaller fields appear, particularly in the southern hemisphere, which can excite atmospheric atoms and molecules and cause them to produce light emission.

Creating simulated auroral displays

The presence of aurorae on Mars were originally confirmed by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft and NASA’s MAVEN mission, according to However, neither of those missions could tell for sure whether or not the phenomenon would be visible to humans.

In their new study, Wedlund’s team used a sphere known as a Planeterella, in which magnetic fields and charged particles produced simulated auroral displays. In their experiment, they filled the Planeterella with carbon dioxide (the dominant component of the atmosphere on Mars) and watched as an electrical discharge was created in the simulated upper atmosphere.

This discharge created a blue glow following the magnetic field structure, said, and the study shows that aurorae on Mars occur in the visible range. Furthermore, the findings may help scientists better understand the physics, mass, and evolution of the Martian atmosphere.

 on: Today at 06:18 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Are there active volcanoes on Venus?

June 25, 2015
Chuck Bednar for – @BednarChuck

Despite its demise last December, the ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft is still providing data, and research based on evidence collected by the fallen orbiter has found that volcanoes on the Earth’s sister planet may still be actively spewing lava.

According to Discovery News, lava flows were reported on Venus as recently as 2010. However, the new findings appear to indicate that the planet’s volcanoes remain active. Reported this week by National Geographic, the volcanoes are producing eruptions responsible for spiking temperatures to more than 1500 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the planet.

Led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and published in the May edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the study reported that the ESA orbiter’s Venus Monitoring Camera revealed transient bright spots that are “consistent with the extrusion of lava flows” and cause surface temperature spikes.

The correlation of these transient bright spots with the extremely young Ganiki Chasma (a group of rift zones on the surface of Venus) and their similarity to regions of rift-associated volcanism on Earth combine to provide strong evidence that they are volcanic in origin and that Venus “is currently geodynamically active” – a discovery which co-author and Brown University planetary scientist James Head told Nat Geo was “really exciting.”

The past, present, and future of Venus volcano research

Venus’s history of volcanic activity is well known. In the early 1990s, the Magellan orbiter’s cloud-penetrating radar revealed that the surface of the planet was filled with mountains resembling volcanoes on Earth. Five years ago, Magellan’s data was compared to that from the Venus Express probe, and found minerals abundant in lava on Earth in some areas.

Also in 2010, Venus Express detected excess heat coming from three spots on the surface, suggesting that lava had flowed on the planet as recently as 2.5 million years ago. Then, in 2012, the orbiter recorded a sudden rise in atmospheric sulfur dioxide followed by a gradual decrease in the gas, commonly spewed from volcanoes.

That detection “provided even more evidence that the volcanoes are awake,” Discovery News said, and National Geographic added that these newly identified hotspots “are about as close as you could get to a smoking gun” in terms of evidence of ongoing volcanic activity. Furthermore, Suzanne Smrekar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California called the findings “very significant.”

Learning more about volcanoes on Venus “will likely require another long-term mission, but unfortunately there is nothing firmed up yet,” Discovery News said. One proposed US mission, the Venus In Situ Explorer, would be able to examine the planet’s atmospheric composition in search of more details about its interior, and the website added that there may still be yet more data in the Venus Express archive that could help scientists glean new insights.

 on: Today at 06:17 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Three crescent moons imaged around Saturn

June 26, 2015
Chuck Bednar for – @BednarChuck

A new image captured by NASA’s Cassini orbiter and released by the US space agency earlier this week shows not just one or two, but three of Saturn’s moons as crescents.

According to the Washington Post, the picture was taken on March 25. While it captures the moons Mimas, Rhea, and Titan “striking the same interstellar pose” (so to speak), the image also emphasizes just how different each of these three moons are from one another.

Experts at the Cassini Imaging Team and the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS) explained that the view shown in the image is looking toward the Titan’s anti-Saturn hemisphere, and was captured using the spacecraft’s narrow-angle camera instrument.

The image was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.2 million miles from Titan. The scale of the image at Titan is 75 miles per pixel, CICLOPS noted. Mimas was 1.9 million miles away with an image scale of 11.4 miles per pixel, and Rhea was 2.2 million miles away with an image scale of 13.1 miles per pixel, officials at the imaging team added.

About the moons

Mimas, at just 246 miles across, is the smallest of the three and is made primarily of ice. It has a rough, cratered surface, and has a large one that making it resemble the Death Star of Star Wars fame, the newspaper said. That crater, known as the Herschel Crater, is 88 miles wide, has walls about three miles high, and is up to six miles deep in spots, according to NASA.

Rhea, the second largest moon of Saturn, has a diameter of 949 miles and is described by the US space agency as “a small, cold, airless body” with temperatures reaching as low as -364 degrees Fahrenheit in the shaded areas. It also has high reflectivity, suggesting it’s largely made out of water ice, and its surface contains subsidence fractures that make canyons.

The third object in the image, Titan, is Saturn’s largest moon with a diameter of roughly 3,200 miles across. It is also one of the most Earth-like worlds found to date, according to NASA, and has a thick atmosphere and organic-rich chemistry reminiscent of a frozen version of our planet. It appears to be fuzzy in the picture due to its dense atmosphere scattering the light.

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