People are all a buzz about the massive power outage that just hit Annapolis Maryland in Anne Arundel County. So far the total number of people without power in Maryland is up to 46,000 people. The specific timing of the power outage has people speculating and making jokes about the end of the world on December 21st, 2012 coming early to Maryland.
UPDATE: Baltimore Sun is now saying that the number is up to 70,000 homes and businesses in Maryland after a disruption to two main lines servicing the area.
Many people on Twitter are hashtagging their tweets as they talk about the Maryland transformer explosion with things like: #endoftheworld #itsstarting and more. While Twitter is sharing all the drastic and dramatic sides of the lights in the sky and the transformer explosion in Annapolis, official reports are more specific.
A radio station in Maryland WTOP 103.5 FM talked to Baltimore Gas & Electric and confirmed that it was, “two main feeders into Annapolis” that went down and that crews were en route to fix the problem. BGE didn’t confirm there were fires from the explosion.
If you think the flashing lights and dramatic social media statuses are all an “End of the World” Hoax for the Mayan 2012 day, YouTube videos show the explosions are definitely real. One video was listed by RideThaWave on YouTube and was simply titled, “Generators go outn Annapolis.” The explosion was quiet large and could be seen as red, blue, yellow and white flashes the lit up the entire sky until the entire city went pitch black into a dark cover. The men in the video showed people running after the explosion was over and commenting it wasn’t the end of the world from the Mayans but the New World Order.
Another video titled, “Annapolis, MD Explosion” shares some profanity as someone sees the explosion on the other side of their house. The people in the video start laughing about the end of the world. Many videos from around the Maryland area are being released in real-time through Twitter and YouTube. We’ll share the videos and some tweets that people are sending out below:
Generators go out in Annapolis
One comment on this specific video said, “Out here in Annapolis it was VERY bright…like daytime, red blue and yellow. All my neighbors drove away screaming. People were on their porches just staring in awe…being the eve of 12/21, I’m sure I can speak for many people when I say we had second thoughts like “wow, the world is really going to end!” LOL”
Another comment just a couple of minutes ago said, “Nice shot! I’m in West Annapolis and saw the sky glowing from this…apparently the substation across from Annapolis Mall “blew up.””
Annapolis, MD Explosion
Annapolis, MD: Crazy Lights in the sky.
Sky was flashing, and there’s a huge power outage on the night before December 21, 2012!
Apocalypse Near Annapolis
Crazy colors on the horizon. What the heck was that?
Tweets from the Annapolis Explosion:
BREAKING: Large power outage leaves customers in the dark from Crownsville to Annapolis. No word yet on the cause of the outage.
— 99.1 WNEW(@WNEWNews) December 21, 2012
— Victoria R Coley (@VictoriaRColey) December 21, 2012
Oh good all of Annapolis’ power is out due to giant flashing lights in the sky… That’s not terrifying at all.
— P.H. Beats (@phbeats) December 21, 2012
Confirmation from BGE’s Twitter Account on the Outage:
@traderboone At approx 9 p.m., we lost service to 2 main feeder lines into Annapolis area.
— BGE (@MyBGE) December 21, 2012
Look: France’s ‘Cat-Fox’ — The New Unidentified Specie
Recently, the team from France’s National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS) released the news of a formerly unknown species of wildcat called the Cat-Fox or “chat-renard” in French. At first, it was only believed to be part of the French Island of Corsica’ local legend as ghjattuvolpe, a nocturnal beast which attacks sheep and goats.
During an interview with AFP, the ONCFS chief environmental technician Pierre Benedetti stated that “We believe that it’s a wild natural species which was known but not scientifically identified because it’s an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habits,” Benedetti has been studying the species for more than ten years already.
How is it different from our pet cats?
These cats have black ringed tails that are fox-like, “highly developed” canine teeth, “very wide” ears, short whiskers. And they are bigger. Cat foxes can grow up to 90 centimeters (35 inches) from head to tail-tip, while normal cats usually grow up only to 76 centimeters. They are nocturnal (active/awake at night). Also, they have stripes on their front legs, “very-dark” hind legs and a russet-colored stomach. Their silky and thick coat is designed to repel ticks, fleas, and lice naturally.
Why is it called Cat fox?
It’s not a type of fox, neither, is it a combination of a cat and a fox. But it is believed to be a wild cat. “It’s their size and their tail that earned them the name ‘cat-fox’ across the island,” says Benedetti. Some experts stated that its ears and tail resemble a fox, but its fur and facial characteristics are somehow similar to a typical cat.
Its existence was first popularly known last 2008 when a single cat-fox was caught by accident in a hen house at Olcani in Cap Corse.
Last 2012, to get and determine the golden stripped creature’s DNA, the team created traps with wooden sticks that have an irresistible smell to cats. As a result, they were able to get its fur, when the cats rubbed their bodies against the sticks.
After some analysis, they discovered through its DNA, that it is somehow related (but can be differentiated) from the European wildcat, Felis silvestris. It’s closely related to the African forest cat, F. silvestris lybica. However, it’s “exact identity is still to be determined,” Benedetti added.
The first cat was captured in 2016 using modernized photographic traps. Afterward, the team was able to catch 12 of the 16 total cats that they’ve seen using non-violent methods.
According to an ONCFS field agent, Carlu-Antone Cecchini, the cats were found in a location where “water and plant cover offering protection against its main predator, the golden eagle.” After examining and tagging the cats with electronic chips to track their adventures, the ONCFS releases them to the wild unharmed. One of the cats they’ve captured is a male cat with a one golden and one brown eye — a result of a cat fight.
The cat-fox may turn out like the mysterious wolf-like dog found in Montana last May 2018. It was revealed that it’s just an old type of wolf.
Today, it is still uncertain whether the cat-fox is new species or an old species that hasn’t been formally recognized. But some people argue that this may be a new species which is a combination of two types of species (species hybridisation). This hybridization is possible since a new bird species was discovered in the Galapagos.
The answer behind the lineage of these cats is one of the mysteries that are yet to be known. It’s diet, and ways of reproduction, are however to be discovered and learned in the future. Also, Benedetti has a theory that these cats may have been living on the French island of Corsica since 6,500 years BC.
He added that farmers might have brought these cats in the island. Meanwhile, Scientists believe that the cat could have originated from Africa or the Middle East.
According to CNN, the wildlife rangers from ONCFS expect that by catching, studying and tagging the cat foxes, they can somehow help these cute furry friends to be known and protected shortly, hopefully in two to four years.
Look: Exotic Pets Turned Invasive Pests
A recent study published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a journal from the Ecological Society of America, documented how researchers gain more awareness in the dynamics of the exotic pet trade and the role it plays in introducing nonlocal and invasive vertebrates worldwide.
As exotic pets become more popular, we need to have a clearer understanding of the factors that affect the trade to minimize the threat of having a pet-to-pests invasion soon.
Lockwood, the lead author of the study, said that since the 1970s, the market for exotic pets is continuously growing and the amount of vertebrate animals that are traded globally is surprising, even to the experienced biologists. Over the past decades, the population of reptiles and marine fish significantly increased — caused by their viral popularity as exotic pets.
Researchers take a closer look at the socioeconomic and socioecological factors that affect the exotic pet trade of vertebrates (animals with the backbone; namely fishes, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles). The mentioned factors depend on the unique economic, social, regulatory, and cultural contexts of a particular country. There is an increasing and widespread demand for exotic pets worldwide, but it occurs mainly in developing countries like South America and Asia. In the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, more than half of all households have at least one pet.
What are exotic pets?
In the study, it is defined as “species without a long history of domestication that are legally captured from their native range or bred within facilities and sold to consumers as household companions,” and are kept for non-utilitarian reasons (characterized by or aiming at beauty or ornament rather than utility).
Lockwood explains that species of goldfish or monk parakeets are considered as common pets for decades. Other species appear in the market for only one or two years; after that, they disappear.
The reason for this dynamic is not yet known, but researchers noted that this might be because of some species are easy to take care and breed well in captivity (which makes them cost cheaper). She added that thousands of different species are sold yearly. If a small percentage will escape or be free, they are capable of forming wild populations.
Is it really bad if our former pets decided to form a big family in the wild?
Lockwood and her team said that invasive reptiles and amphibians could force local species into extinction.
For example, the red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) are turtles popularly kept as pets in the United States. It is native to the south-central region of the US, but it has created non-native populations in other parts of the country. These turtles are the real-life counterparts of the Famous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The reasons why owners release exotic pet is not widely documented. But it includes difficulty in taking care of large, old, aggressive, or sick animals. Cute little animals don’t always stay the same; sometimes, they grow and live longer than the pet owners had expected. Most countries don’t have the proper documentation of imported pet species. Also, there are challenges in monitoring and regulating them; some animals are usually recorded as “unidentified” or wrongly identified.
Factors such as the popularity of owning exotic animals, the ease of buying exotic pets from websites, and the lack of adequately implemented regulations — made it possible for the species to spread not only in their original locations but also in other parts of the globe.
This increase the possibility of having invasions in the future. To avoid or minimize the chances of having an exotic pet invasion, we need to have a better understanding of the forces that affect the worldwide trade of exotic pets.
In conclusion, Lockwood said that first “we need to know the reasons why certain species are in the trade, or what factors lead them to escape or be released,” so that we can make the right policies. These policies should be able to make both sides happy. Some people are still free to love their exotic pets while minimizing the probability of invasion.
Baby Tiger Sharks Munch On Land Birds
Tiger sharks can eat anything — from dolphins, other sharks, sea turtles to rubber tires and other ocean trash, hence, nicknamed as the garbage cans of the sea. But recently, scientists discovered by analyzing the DNA of a shark’s barf that baby tiger sharks have a different diet. They documented that baby tiger sharks eat songbirds (such as sparrows, woodpeckers, and doves), and not the usual sea birds (seagulls or pelicans).
Kevin Feldheim, one of the co-authors of the study and led to the DNA analysis of the shark’s diet, said that “if these sharks with their tigerlike stripes see an easy target or meal, they will undoubtedly go for it.” But, he was shocked to learn that they’re eating songbirds. He added that this is one of the awesome projects since the discovery of DNA profiling.
Researchers from Mississippi State University studied the tiger sharks’ diet. They wrassle the 3 foot long sharks onto a boat, pump the shark’s stomachs, and examine the sample of its stomach contents. Don’t worry; no sharks are harmed in the process and were released afterward. Shockingly, out of the 105 sharks they’ve examined, 41 had bird remains in their stomachs.
However, it was difficult for scientists to determine what bird species the tiger sharks’ digested. As a solution, the team sought assistance with the Field Museum’s Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution to analyze its DNA.
The team took the bird remains and used chemicals to break them down their primary molecular components. Then, they analyzed the DNA sequences found in the bird’s tissues. Afterward, they compared them to the available databases of bird’s DNA to know what species they are.
“We found out that none of them were seagulls, pelicans, cormorants, or other types of marine birds. They were all terrestrial birds that usually live in our backyards,” said Marcus Drymon, the paper’s lead author.
Moreover, this is not the first time that tiger sharks are known to eat birds. In Hawaii, some adult tiger sharks haunt baby albatrosses who are just learning to fly, says Feldheim. But this is the first time that we acquired scientific evidence that tiger sharks eat songbirds that usually live on land.
Feldheim added that the sharks hunt on songbirds since its easy to prey due to the species’ difficulties in traveling over the ocean. During migration, they’re exhausted, and sometimes they fall into the sea during a typhoon. Also, terrestrial birds are more appealing than seabirds because seabirds can handle themselves better in the water compared to songbirds.
What is the impact of this study?
It proves the importance of having DNA databases, which should be available for scientists. DNA can tell something that observation cannot.
Also, this study gives us a better understanding of tigers sharks. This information can somehow help us to protect them. According to Feldheim, all sharks currently facing some severe problems. We still don’t know how industrialized fishing affected them, but most of the top predator populations are continuously declining.
Although tiger sharks are notorious for being man-eaters, we humans pose a more significant threat. Based on National Geographic, most populations of tiger sharks are harvested for their fins, skin, and flesh. Their livers are a good source of vitamin A, and usually, it is processed into vitamin oils. In general, sharks take a long time to mature sexually and have low birth rates. Their population may also suffer due to overfishing. As of today, they are included in the near-threatened list of species.
Sharks are known to be the top predators, and they are essential in keeping the oceans in balance. They prey on the weak and prevent the potentially harmful fish populations from taking over a particular ecosystem. They are at risk of accumulating too many toxins from the prey they eat.
For example, plastics break down into microplastics — which are eaten by small fish. But these microplastics further break down into toxins that stay in the fishes’ system. This can cause sufficient harm to sharks if they’ve eaten it over time.
What can we do to help save sharks?
We need to stop buying shark products. We need to raise awareness that just like us, sharks are just living their own lives. They are acting like police offers, regulating the rules set by Mother Nature.
If sharks disappear in the world’s oceans, there will be negative consequences. Without them, at the top of the food chain, some population of aquatic creatures may also decline and suffocating algae blooms will increase. These algae blooms create toxins and can ruin coral reefs. We must do our part to save these creatures from extinction.
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