Archive for June, 2009

Surge in Whale Births Breaks Record!

Monday, June 8th, 2009

     Great news about the North Atlantic Right Whale!  This spring a record 39  of them were born.  This beats the previous documented record of 31 and marks major improvement since 2000, when just one right whale was born.

     Each birth is important, since the entire population of North Atlantic Right Whales numbers only about 400.  They are among the most endangered of whale species.   

     Given their name long ago by whalers, right whales were the ‘right’ ones to hunt.  Slow swimmers, they were easier to pursue than other whales.  And they could be spotted more readily, since they live near the shore.   They were so ‘right,’ in fact, that they were hunted almost to extinction. 

     These mighty mammals, about 50 feet long, and weighing as much as 100 tons, spend the summer and fall in the cold waters off the east coast of Canada and the U.S..  They head south in the winter to warmer Florida and Georgia waters.  It is there that females give birth in the spring.  A mature female typically gives birth to a single calf just once every 3-5 years.  

     A baby right whale weighs about 2,400 pounds at birth and can double its weight in its first year.  A mother typically nurses her baby for about a year, with milk that is as rich as cream.  Such high-fat milk is no doubt needed by a baby who will gain more than a ton in its first year!  The mother, in turn, can lose about 30,000 pounds during the period when she is nursing her calf. 

     The right right whale is known for its acrobatics.  These whales frequently leap so high that they clear the ocean surface, and they slap the water with their tails. 

     Hooray for all the new baby right whales born in 2009!April Moore

A Sad Story

Friday, June 5th, 2009

     I thank my friend Gail Saul for sending me this sad, but touching story. 
     While I don’t know if the written commentary truly corresponds to what the bird was feeling, I am sure that the bird was indeed feeling emotional pain.
     I am heartened that this story was seen/read by millions of people because I think that we humans need to develop empathy for other species.  Many of them do have emotional lives, despite the widespread belief to the contrary.–April Moore 
A Picture Story On Swallows… Swallows.

Here his mate is injured and the condition is fatal.

She was hit by a car as she swooped low across the road.






Here he brought her food and attended to her with love and compassion.



He brought her food again but was shocked to find her dead. 
He tried to move her….a rarely-seen effort for swallows!


















Aware that his sweetheart is dead and will never come back to him again…

He cries with adoring love…




He stood beside her, saddened at her death… 








Finally aware that she would never return to him…

He stood beside her body with sadness and sorrow . 





  Millions of people cried after watching this picture in America and Europe and even in India.

It is said that the photographer sold these pictures for a nominal fee to the most famous

newspaper in France.

All copies of that newspaper were sold out on the day these pictures were published.

And many people think animals don’t have a brain or feelings?????




A Different Side of Nature

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

     As Earth Connection readers well know, I am wont to extol the beauties of nature.  But nature is far more than beauty.  It’s also important, I think, to remember that cruelty, even war, can be ‘natural.’   This excerpt, from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, was a shock to me when I first read it.  But it is also fascinating.–April Moore

     One day when I went out to my wood-pile, or rather my pile of stumps, I observed two large ants, the one red, the other much larger, nearly half an inch long, and black, fiercely contending with one another. Having once got hold they never let go, but struggled and wrestled and rolled on the chips

 Looking farther, I was surprised to find that the chips were covered with such combatants, that it was not a duellum, but a bellum, a war between two races of ants, the red always pitted against the black, and frequently two red ones to one black.The legions of these Myrmidons  covered all the hills and vales in my wood-yard, and the ground was already strewn with the dead and dying, both red and black.

     It was the only battle which I have ever witnessed, the only battle-field I ever trod while the battle was raging; internecine war; the red republicans on the one hand, and the black imperialists on the other. On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely.

     I watched a couple that were fast locked in each other’s embraces, in a little sunny valley amid the chips, now at noonday prepared to fight till the sun went down, or life went out. The smaller red champion had fastened himself like a vice to his adversary’s front, and through all the tumblings on that field never for an instant ceased to gnaw at one of his feelers near the root, having already caused the other to go by the board; while the stronger black one dashed him from side to side, and, as I saw on looking nearer, had already divested him of several of his members. They fought with more pertinacity than bulldogs. Neither manifested the least disposition to retreat. It was evident that their battle-cry was “Conquer or die.”

     In the meanwhile there came along a single red ant on the hillside of this valley, evidently full of excitement, who either had despatched his foe, or had not yet taken part in the battle; probably the latter, for he had lost none of his limbs; whose mother had charged him to return with his shield or upon it. Or perchance he was some Achilles, who had nourished his wrath apart, and had now come to avenge or rescue his Patroclus.

     He saw this unequal combat from afar — for the blacks were nearly twice the size of the red.  He drew near with rapid pace till he stood on his guard within half an inch of the combatants; then, watching his opportunity, he sprang upon the black warrior, and commenced his operations near the root of his right fore leg, leaving the foe to select among his own members; and so there were three united for life, as if a new kind of attraction had been invented which put all other locks and cements to shame.

     I should not have wondered by this time to find that they had their respective musical bands stationed on some eminent chip, and playing their national airs the while, to excite the slow and cheer the dying combatants.

     I was myself excited somewhat even as if they had been men. The more you think of it, the less the difference. And certainly there is not the fight recorded in Concord history, at least, if in the history of America, that will bear a moment’s comparison with this, whether for the numbers engaged in it, or for the patriotism and heroism displayed. For numbers and for carnage it was an Austerlitz or Dresden. Concord Fight! Two killed on the patriots’ side, and Luther Blanchard wounded!  Why here every ant was a Buttrick  “Fire! for God’s sake fire!” — and thousands shared the fate of Davis and Hosmer.

     There was not one hireling there. I have no doubt that it was a principle they fought for, as much as our ancestors, and not to avoid a three-penny tax on their tea; and the results of this battle will be as important and memorable to those whom it concerns as those of the battle of Bunker Hill, at least.

     I took up the chip on which the three I have particularly described were struggling, carried it into my house, and placed it under a tumbler on my window-sill, in order to see the issue. Holding a microscope to the first-mentioned red ant, I saw that, though he was assiduously gnawing at the near fore leg of his enemy, having severed his remaining feeler, his own breast was all torn away, exposing what vitals he had there to the jaws of the black warrior, whose breastplate was apparently too thick for him to pierce; and the dark carbuncles of the sufferer’s eyes shone with ferocity such as war only could excite.

     They struggled half an hour longer under the tumbler, and when I looked again the black soldier had severed the heads of his foes from their bodies, and the still living heads were hanging on either side of him like ghastly trophies at his saddle-bow, still apparently as firmly fastened as ever, and he was endeavoring with feeble struggles, being without feelers and with only the remnant of a leg, and I know not how many other wounds, to divest himself of them; which at length, after half an hour more, he accomplished.

     I raised the glass, and he went off over the window-sill in that crippled state. Whether he finally survived that combat, and spent the remainder of his days in some Hotel des Invalides, I do not know; but I thought that his industry would not be worth much thereafter. I never learned which party was victorious, nor the cause of the war; but I felt for the rest of that day as if I had had my feelings excited and harrowed by witnessing the struggle, the ferocity and carnage, of a human battle before my door.

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