2

Grassland birds have a lot to contend with in the wild. Besides the natural issues of predators, disease, and hazardous weather, many of them now face human-based issues such as croplands taking over their habitats, introductions of invasive species, and pesticide usage on possible food sources. Many grassland species, such as this Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna), are pretty darn tough. They have enough flexibility in their habitat range and lifestyle that they’re able to survive many problems, though they still need our help to protect their homes. Luckily, researchers across North and South America are working to protect this species, and others worldwide continue to learn more about how grassland species live and survive in various circumstances. Here’s to good science helping us make excellent choices!

Photo credit: Ash Boudrie

9

closely related to sharks but with long, flat bodies and wing-like pectoral fins, mobula rays are ideally suited to swooping through the water - here off the gulf of california - yet seem equally at home in the air, so much so that they have earned the name “flying rays”. mobula rays can reach heights of more than two metres, remaining airborne for several seconds. 

mobula rays are quite elusive and difficult to study, so biologists are not quite sure why they jump out of the water. theories vary from a means of communication, to a mating ritual (though both males and females jump), or as a way to shed themselves of parasites. they could also be jumping as a way of better corralling their pray, as seen with them swimming in a circular formation. 

what is known about mobula rays is that they reach sexual maturity late and their investment in their offspring is more akin to mammals than other fishes, usually producing just a single pup after long pregnancies, all of which makes them extremely vulnerable to commercial fishing, especially as a species that likes to come together in large groups.

sciencealert.com
Scientists need your help looking at photos of adorable penguins. Seriously
"We can't do this work on our own."
By Fiona MacDonald

Guys, this is not a drill. Antarctic scientists need you to study photos of penguins to help them figure out how climate change is affecting these stumpy little flightless birds.

Scientists from the UK have installed a series of 75 cameras near penguin territories in Antarctica and its surrounding islands to figure out what’s happening with local populations. But with each of those cameras taking hourly photos, they simply can’t get through all the adorable images without your help.

“We can’t do this work on our own,” lead researcher Tom Hart from the University of Oxford told the BBC, “and every penguin that people click on and count on the website - that’s all information that tells us what’s happening at each nest, and what’s happening over time.”

The citizen science project is pretty simple - known as PenguinWatch 2.0, all you need to do is log on, look at photos, and identify adult penguins, chicks, and eggs in each image. Each photo requires just a few clicks to identify, and you can chat about your results in the website’s ‘Discuss’ page with other volunteers.

Continue Reading.

2

The Okeanos Explorer has discovered a very cute octopus at a depth of 4,290 metres.

This is the deepest an octopus of this particular sub order of octopus has ever been seen. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted this is a completely unsubscribed species and perhaps not belonging to any specific genus. Highlighting how little we still know about the creatures in the depths of our oceans.

(Ocean Explorer)

6

photos by matt smith from the Illawarra coast in new south wales of bluebottles. despite its resemblance to the jellyfish, the bluebottle is more closely related to coral. known as a zooid, the bluebottle (or portugese man of war) is a colonial animal composed of many highly specialized and physiologically integrated individual organisms incapable of independent survival.

notes matt, “despite their potentially dangerous sting, the bluebottle is an amazingly beautiful creature. with strong winds, hundreds of these cnidaria are blown into the bays around my home town and trapped overnight.” this allows him to capture the above shots, which he creates with use of a fluorescent tube in his strobe light and a homemade waterproof lens dome.

10

When Scientists Get Accidentally Artsy

A new exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History lies right at the intersection of art and science, showcasing the inherent beauty of skeletons — that is, fish skeletons.