Monday December 18, 2017
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Disaster continues: BP oil spill killing dolphins at an alarming rate

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

After the 2010 BP oil spill, Dolphins swimming in the oil-contaminated waters of the Gulf of Mexico have suffered from lung lesions and are dying at high rates because of petroleum pollution, as per a recent study.

More than 1,300 bottlenose dolphins have stranded themselves in the northern Gulf of Mexico since early 2010. The recent research links this unusual mortality event to the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The rise in the death toll of dolphin began shortly before the spill in April 2010, when 4.9 million barrels of oil was spilled into the ocean, and the scientists have struggled to understand whether the two events are related. According to a report of PLOS ONE, all the underwater animals found dead had lung and adrenal-gland lesions that are consistent with exposure to petroleum compounds.

Stephanie Venn-Watson, a veterinary epidemiologist at the National Marine Mammal Foundation said, “Dolphins take big, deep breaths right at the surface of the water, where oil sheens are most concentrated, and where there is a good chance of inhaling oil itself.”

According to the research which compared autopsies of 46 dolphins that were found dead in the spill area had lesions in the lungs and adrenal glands, which regulate hormones and stress response. That’s when researchers came to know that something is wrong with the dolphins.

Kathleen Colegrove, pathologist at the University of Illinois said, “We found that dolphins that died after the oil spill had distinct adrenal gland and lung lesions that were not present in the stranded dolphins from other areas.”

One out of three stranded dolphins in the spill area had a thinned adrenal gland cortex, a rate that was significantly higher than the reference population of stranded dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Florida, in which one in 10 had such a condition.

Colegrove told reporters during a conference call to discuss the findings, “The thinning of the adrenal gland cortex was a very unusual abnormality for us that has not been previously reported in dolphins in the literature. This is something which is latest in a series of research papers on dolphin health in the region after the spill.”

Other differences were also apparent. More than one in five dolphins from the mass-death group had bacterial pneumonia, a serious lung disease that was severe enough to cause or contribute to the animals’ deaths.

Venn-Watson described that inhaling oil can cause adrenal dysfunction, lung disease and bacterial pneumonia, which is one of the most common outcomes of chemical inhalation injury in other animals. Whereas other diseases like brucellosis and morbillivirus are also responsible for increase in the number of deaths.

A 2013 study on cetaceans in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, found that dolphins were losing their teeth, had lung lesions and high pervasiveness of disease after the worst oil spill in US history.

Venn-Watson added, “Combination of live and dead dolphin analyses, including the latest study, have provided a strong body of evidence. We feel that this study is a critical link in the chain.”

According to figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), minimum 1.300 dolphins have washed up in the area of the Gulf of Mexico since the spill. An additional 114 were stranded from February, two months prior to the spill, until April 20.

Geoff Morell, BP senior vice president for US communications and external affairs said, “This new paper fails to show that the illnesses observed in some dolphins were caused by exposure to Macondo oil.” After BP took the issue to the scientific findings.

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For the First Time in USA, 53-year-old convict Mark Asay was Executed using Etomidate in Lethal Injection

Etomidate is the drug which was used for Mark Asay's execution

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Mark Asay was executed using Etomidate
Mark Asay was executed using Etomidate. Pixabay
  • Etomidate was invented by scientists from Janssen Pharmaceuticals 
  • The reason behind conviction of Mark Asay last year was that in 1988 he racially motivated killing of 2 men in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Before he shot Booker, he called him a racial epithet

Florida (USA), August 25, 2017: A 53-year-old convict Mark Asay was executed using a new drug called Etomidate for lethal injection on 24 August 2017. This drug has not been used before in the US.

Mark Asay was executed reportedly and one of the three drugs used for lethal injection was etomidate. It’s the first time that in execution they used the drug etomidate.

Earlier midazolam was used for executions but now it is harder to get this drug as some drug manufacturers didn’t want it to be used for executions. Now, Etomidate is a substitution for midazolam.

According to CNN report, Greg Panico, spokesman for the company said, “Etomidate, an intravenous anesthetic, was invented by scientists from Janssen Pharmaceuticals in the 1960s

According to WJAX report, “This month, the Florida Supreme Court rejected arguments from Mark Asay’s attorneys that the new drug would cause too much pain.”  Florida’s highest court said that the inmate Mark Asay had not shown that it would result in more pain and dismissed a motion to block the execution.

The reason behind conviction of Mark Asay last year was that in 1988 he racially motivated killing of 2 men in Jacksonville, Florida.

Also Read: Women-Centric Drug Rehabilitation Centers in Hyderabad is Saving Young Girls from Recreational Drugs like LSD

The two men whom the jury found him guilty of murdering were Robert Lee Booker, who was black and Robert McDowell.  “Before he shot Booker, he called him a racial epithet. Prosecutors say he killed McDowell, who was dressed as a woman, after saying he would pay him for sex,” mentions WJAX report.

“The execution marks Florida’s first since The US Supreme Court ruling temporarily halted the practice in early 2016, saying the state’s sentencing process was unconstitutional because it gave judges, rather than juries, too much power in deciding whether to execute an inmate,” mentions CNN report.

On 24 August 2017, US Supreme Court denied a stay for execution request in Asay’s case and it was scheduled that he would die by injection after 6 p.m. EST. It was also revealed that Asay didn’t have any pending petitions along with the Florida Supreme Court.

In 1979, the death penalty was reinstituted by the state and since then, Mark James Asay is the first white man to be sentenced for the death penalty in Florida for killing a black man.


 

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Living Fossil in Illinois Waterways: Disappeared from 1990’s Water, Fish “Alligator Gar” is back in US Rivers

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Illinois' Powerton Lake was stocked with alligator gar in 2011, to re-establish a population and offer a challenge to sport fishermen. VOA
  • The Alligator gar is considered to be the second largest freshwater fish in North America
  • The origin of the fish dates back to Early Cretaceous period, over a 100 million years ago
  • Biologist Randy Sauer believes that with the return of the Alligator gar in Illinois waterways, post a long disappearance since the 1990s, will restore the ecosystem

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reintroducing a living fossil into its waterways. The alligator gar is a fish so old, it’s thought to have evolved during the Early Cretaceous period, more than a 100 million years ago.

Alligator gar are the second largest freshwater fish in North America. Illinois fisheries biologist Randy Sauer says they disappeared from the state’s waterways in the 1990s, although they continued to thrive in southern U.S. rivers.

“We want to restore the ecosystem because it is important to have top predators to balance the species below them in order to keep a check on some more abundant species,” he said.

“It was pretty much extirpated out of its range because of misconceptions about it eating sport fish,” he said. “People would target it and put bounties on it.”

Everything is on the menu

The alligator gar is an opportunistic feeder, meaning it will eat whatever it encounters — from an occasional turtle or small duck to invasive species such as Asian and silver carp. Sauer hopes the re-introduction program will help the state’s efforts to control the carp.

Alligator gar fingerlings about to be released into an Illinois river.

Because gar can live up to 60 years, this program is going to take decades to fully expand.

“The (female) alligator gar does not sexually mature until 11 years, and the male not till 6 or 7 years,” Sauer said, “so at the outset of this project we’re probably going to stock more heavily than 10 or 20 years down the road when hopefully these fish will find each other and start doing the job on their own.”

The transponders scientists use to track the released gars are just a little bigger than a grain of rice.

To date, 7,000 alligator gar fingerlings have been fitted with tiny transponder tags so that they can be tracked and then released into Illinois waterways. As it rains and floods, biologists expect some of the fish to follow the rivers all the way down to join other populations in Louisiana and Texas. (VOA)

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Disney unveils First Look of the Star Wars Theme Parks

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Star Wars theme parks first look shared
Walt Disney unveil the first look of Star Wars theme parks. Wikimedia
  • Disney shares the first look of the Star Wars theme parks in physical model
  • Star Wars land (unofficial name) was announced by CEO Bob Iger back in 2015
  • The two parks are set to open in 2019

New Delhi, July 15, 2017: Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has unveiled the first look of the Disney’s Star Wars theme parks, not in the form of a hologram, but in a 50ft physical model, giving a fine idea as to what visitors can expect.

The model of the project was revealed at D23 Expo, the ongoing mega fan event in Anaheim, California. The location is described as a “never-before-seen planet” and a “remote trading port and one of the last stops before Wild Space, where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.”

CEO Bob Iger, in 2015, announced that the plan for a ‘Star Wars land’ has taken hold and promised “a jaw dropping new world” that would be the biggest single theme park ever created, populated by “humanoids, aliens and droids”.

Disney has revealed that visitors will control the Millennium Falcon on a customized secret mission as part of one signature attraction, while the other main attraction will land visitors “in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”

ALSO READ: Star Wars and Hinduism: 5 Hindu tenets that define Star Wars saga.

“It’s really about living in a story”, said Bob Chapek, the chairman of Disney’s parks and resorts. He added that the hope of the imagineers to create the sense of “total immersion” will involve visitors making choices right from the arrival.

“The model will remain on display at the pavilion throughout the weekend” says the PTI report.

These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will open in 2019 – along with the release of Star Wars: Episode |X, the final installment of the current film trilogy.

 prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter: goel_samiksha