Flights rerouted around Alaska beaches crowded with walrus climate refugees

Walrus, Odobenus rosmarus
Click to enlargeNOAA

The plight of thousands of walruses forced to crowd on to an Alaska beach because of disappearing sea ice has set off an all-out response from the US government to avoid a catastrophic stampede.

The Federal Aviation Authority has re-routed flights, and local communities have called on bush pilots to keep their distance in an effort to avoid setting off a panic that could see scores of walruses trampled to death…

Curiosity seekers and the media have also been asked to stay away.

An estimated 35,000 walruses were spotted on the barrier island in north-western Alaska on 27 September by scientists on an aerial survey flight.

The biggest immediate risk factor for the walruses now is a stampede – especially for baby walruses – but they have been facing a growing threat from climate change, the scientists said.

The extraordinary sighting – the biggest known exodus of walruses to dry land ever observed in the Arctic under US control – arrived as the summer sea ice fell to its sixth lowest in the satellite record last month.

“Those animals have essentially run out of offshore sea ice, and have no other choice but to come ashore,” said Chadwick Jay, a research ecologist in Alaska with the US Geological Survey.

Read the whole sad article.

The only animal that our politicians worry about is the bloodsuckers who fund their endless election campaigns.

Thanks, Mike

Pic of the Day


Click to enlargeHasan Ba lar/National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest

National Geographic’s annual Photo Contest is under way, which means it’s once again time to see some of the best travel photos that both amateur and professional photographers around the world have to offer.

The contest, which will wrap up at the end of the month, takes submissions in three simple categories – People, Places and Nature. The first-place winner in each category will win $2,500, and the grand-prize winner, in addition to first-place in their category, will receive $7,500 and a trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in National Geographic’s annual photo seminar.

All of the entries (the good and the bad) can currently be viewed on Nat Geo’s website, and they’re still taking submissions, so you can try your luck as well. Take a look!

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Why is this 1939 Dodge pickup so quiet?

One thing you can say about Al Gajda without much fear of contradiction: he has the quietest truck in Lexington, Kentucky.

Some trucks rattle your windows when they pass. Others are so loud that children cower in fear and brave dogs run for cover.

But even newborns sleep in perfect peace when Gajda drives past in his 1939 Dodge pickup. It makes hardly a whisper.

To a casual observer, the Dodge looks like nothing more than just an old truck that runs particularly smoothly. The secret lies underneath.

It’s an electric truck.

Electrical vehicles are catching on in dealer showrooms today as gasoline becomes ever more expensive and environmental concerns grow.

But Gajda, 74, didn’t buy his. He built it.

A mainly self-taught electronics wizard, he spent more than three years replacing the truck’s old six-cylinder flathead engine with a modern all-electric system built around a series wound direct current motor.

He’s driven the truck more than 5,000 miles since completing the work about a year ago.

“It’s my daily driver,” he said. “I take advantage of any excuse to drive it; just banging around town, errands, short runs on the interstate, delivering my granddaughter to school in the morning.”

Lots more about the truck in the article. Even more about Al Gajda. He’s led a heckuva interesting life, engineering and design in the world of technology – without ever getting round to latching onto a degree.

Portland retains zombie tubing title – Nice try, Asheville!

zombie float asheville
Click to enlargePhoto via Ben Wiggins’ Facebook page

The “Tube-ocalypse: Zombie Float and World Record Attempt!” was held…on the French Broad River in Asheville, North Carolina. The zombies did NOT break Portland’s Guinness World Record!

They had 548 people/zombies float the river. Portland set the record last year for having a 620-person chain of tubers float down the Willamette River. We maintain the record! Congratulations to the Zombie Float for a very strong attempt!

Ursarodinia and her peers are always civil to challengers