December 4, 2013

A pilot whale.     Photo: NOAA/Wikimedia

Pilot Whales Stranded in Everglades

Whales beached on Gulf Coast

09:51 a.m. December 5

NOAA reported that there were 51 whales stranded in the area. As of Wednesday afternoon Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator from NOAA fisheries Blair Mase told CBS Miami that 41 whales remain in free-swimming in the area. Vets determined that four were in extremely poor health and were euthanized, the others died when beached onshore. 

The pod remains in shallow water off the coast of the Everglades, and wildlife officials will attempt to heard the whales back to deep water, some 20 miles off the coast.

10:30 a.m. December 4

A pod of pilot whales is stranded in a remote area of Everglades National Park. Between 20 and 30 whales are beached on Highland Beach or in the shallow water offshore. At least four whales have already been confirmed dead.

The whales were initially spotted yesterday afternoon, and a rescue operation composed of Everglades rangers and workers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are currently working to get the whales back into the Gulf of Mexico. Rescue crews will attempt to keep the whales alive during the low tide today and prode the animals back into the ocean during high tide. According to NOAA, the tide is expected to peak at 3.6 feet at approximately 2:56 p.m. EST.

Raw video from NBC Miami

However, getting all the whales back to sea will be extremely difficult.

"Euthanasia might be the most humane option. The animals could be compromised," NOAA marine mammal scientist Blair Mase told NBC Miami. In November, a whale beached sperm whale off the coast of Tampa was euthanized.

Follow Outside on Twitter (@outsidemagazine) for updates.

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A memorial for the 2013 Boston Bombing victims.     Photo: ShadowstarCyran / Flickr

Runners Pay Anything for a Boston Bib

Unprecedented number of applicants ups charity fundraising minimums

For runners who don't fall into the 10 percent of marathoners able to meet the qualifying standard for the Boston Marathon, representing a charity is the only way to get a bib. This year, in response to the April bombing, charities associated with the the race are receiving unprecedented numbers of applicants and upping the fundraising minimum requirements.

"After what we here in Boston—and really everyone around the world—experienced on April 15, 2013, there has been a strong desire to respond," Executive Director Tom Grilk of the Boston Athletic Association said in a Boston Marathon Registration News report, "to show strength, to show resilience, to show that people won't give in."

The demand for bib slots for the 2014 marathon began almost immediately after the bombing and remains on the rise. Interest in joining Team Red Cross started the day of the attack and applications for 35 slots reached 190—up 115 from last year. The Boston Athletic Association has already increased the field size of the 2014 race by 9,000 slots to 36,000 to accommodate the spike—3,000 of which will run for charity.

The 138 official charities associated with the race are asking runners to raise more than the $4,000 and $5,000 fund-raising minimums set by the Boston Athletic Association and sponsor John Hancock , respectively, the Boston Globe reports. The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary won't blink at an applicant who can't commit to raising $7,500 or more. Special Olympics Massachusetts is asking runners to raise $10,000 with a whopping $7,500 commitment fee up front—A $2,500 increase from last year's race.

Would-be runners are sending out applications to multiple charities. To weed out the competition, many are pledging to raise more than the required minimum. The creativity of the applicants shows no bounds, Susan Hurley, the founder of CharityTeams, a group that helps charities select and train runners, told the Globe.

“Someone took a screen shot of the scene on TV when the bombs went off and circled a picture of herself right there and wrote ‘Me,’ Hurley says. "Someone sent in a picture of a black collie mix with a sign in its mouth: ‘Mom wants to run.’ ”

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Microsoft developing new ‘smart bra’ (not pictured) to alert you of mood changes.     Photo: Maridav/Thinkstock

Can Underwear Make You More Fit?

Microsoft creates mood-sensing technology in, yes, brassieres to help women eat more sensibly

Microsoft is developing a smart bra to help women stop binge eating when stressed.

Yes, we’re serious.

The bra is fitted with sensors designed to detect changing moods, then it alerts the user via a mobile device, reports FOX News.

Recent studies that show up to half of the U.S. population, especially women, eats more when they are stressed, according to reports from Discovery News. Although Microsoft’s new bra can’t actually stop you from eating, it hopes that being alerted of your mood will make you more conscious of what you're eating. One participant from an early trial study said:

“I was eating without being aware of it, but by having to log both my eating habits and my emotions, I became aware of triggers for emotional eating, and also more aware of the health (or lack thereof) in my diet.” 

The bra is still far from production lines, battling issues such as battery life, and consumers not wanting to look like they are wearing an EKG all day.

However, don’t be surprised if products like these begin to appear in stores. "We conclude that building a wearable, physiological system (to combat overeating) is feasible,” a researcher explained.

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

New Light Rail Threatens Endangered Shrimp

Proposed route runs through the Hay's Spring amphipod's only home

Construction of a new light rail track in Maryland might stall as a species of endangered shrimp takes a stand against humanity.

The Hay's Spring amphipod, listed as a federally endangered species, is endemic to Rock Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River, and is currently found directly in the path of the proposed purple line that will run between Chevy Chase and New Carrollton.

“The purple line will entail a fair amount of construction," says Chevy Chase attorney John Fitzgerald. "Digging up a line along 16 miles, including a hazardous waste site very near here.”

The tiny anthropods, which measure just 10 millimeters in length, have long been threatened by the presence of urban development, with heavy metals and other pollutants being detected in the area.

Fitzgerald believes that not enough study has been done on the impact of the light rail, and fears that the run-off from the construction process could spell doom for the shrimp. “If they can do this right, they can have the line and the species too. But they haven’t shown they can do it right yet,” he says.

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Although female koalas are also known to bellow at low frequencies, it is a much more common practice for males.     Photo: Andras Deak/Thinkstock

Koala Bellowing Explained

Elephant-size voice comes from extra vocal organ

Next time you're watching Jurassic Park and a T. rex roars, remember that what you're hearing could include the call of a male koala—along with the seemingly more appropriate sounds of tigers and elephants. In fact, the koala's bellow would make more sense coming from an elephant: The deep, gravelly noise is 20 times lower than it should be considering the marsupial's size.

How does this disarming creature manage such vocal depth? The answer is a newly discovered vocal organ—essentially a second set of vocal folds outside of the koala's larynx—discovered by researchers at the University of Sussex.

These extra vocal folds, called the "velar vocal folds" in a study published Monday by the journal Current Biology, are more than three times longer and roughly 700 times heavier than the vocal folds previously discovered on the koala's larynx.

"Larger structures can oscillate at lower frequencies," Benjamin D. Charlton, the researcher who led the study, told BBC News. "Just think of a guitar string—as you shorten the string by placing a finger on the fret board, you raise the frequency of the sound produced, and the thickest strings produce the lowest frequencies."

For male koalas, the velar vocal folds are crucial, as female koalas are attracted to a deep voice.

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