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Alaska’s northern fur seal population for three decades has been classified as depleted, but the marine mammals are showing up in growing numbers at an unlikely location — a tiny island that forms the tip of an active undersea volcano.
Vents on Bogoslof Island continue to spew mud, steam and sulfurous gases two years after an eruption sent ash clouds into the path of jetliners passing over the Bering Sea. Still, northern fur seal moms find the remote island’s rocky beaches perfect for giving birth and mothering pups.
“The population growth of northern fur seals on Bogoslof has been extraordinary,” said Tom Gelatt, who leads a NOAA Fisheries group that studies northern fur seals. Federal scientists visited the island in August.
Geographically speaking, the island is not a particularly unusual place for the seals known for their thick coats to hang out. Most of the world’s roughly 1.1 million northern fur seals breed in the eastern Bering Sea. The animals live in the ocean from November to June and head for land in summer to breed and nurse pups.
But why the seals chose volatile Bogoslof over the dozens of other uninhabited Aleutian Islands is unclear.
“The surface is covered with these big, ballistic blocks, some as big as 10 meters [33 feet] in length that were exploded out of the vent,” said Chris Waythomas, a U.S. Geological Survey research geophysicist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory. “They litter the surface. It’s pretty wild.”
The eastern Bering Sea population of northern fur seals numbers about 635,000, with their main breeding ground on St. Paul Island, 240 miles (390 kilometers) northwest of Bogoslof. A California stock in the San Miguel, Channel and Farallon Islands is estimated at about 14,000 animals. Other northern fur seals live in Russian waters, though it’s unclear how many.
Fur seals were first spotted on Bogoslof in 1980, and NOAA researchers have since conducted periodic checks on the population. In 2015, biologists estimated an annual growth rate of just over 10% to approximately 28,000 pups on the island. The 2019 estimate likely will be more than 36,000 pups, Gelatt said. Food in the deep water near the island could be a factor.
The animals stay on beaches, but on Bogoslof — which is about a third the size of New York City’s Central Park — they are never far from signs of volcanic activity.
The center of the island supports a field of fumaroles, openings through which hot gases emerge. Some roar “like jet engines” and spurt mud geysers several meters high, Waythomas said. He has visited the last two summers.
“It was amazing, the sounds that were being produced,” he said.
Eruptions in 2016 and 2017 showered the landscape with rocks and killed all vegetation. They also shrank and grew the island. Explosions destroyed acres of Bogoslof only to have fragmented material blown from lava vents create new real estate. The island remains about 0.5 square miles (1.2 square kilometers).
Bogoslof is surrounded by deep water, and its seals eat squid and northern smoothtongue, a deep-water fish that looks like a smelt. Seals on St. Paul, the largest of the Pribilof Islands, forage on the shallow continental shelf for walleye pollock, a fish targeted by commercial fishermen.
Females with pups on Bogoslof return from foraging faster than Pribilof mothers, possibly allowing their pups to receive more meals and wean at a larger size, Gelatt said. Bogoslof also is closer to winter feeding grounds south of the Aleutians, possibly allowing pups to reach the grounds with less risk from Bering Sea storms.
Northern fur seals are distinct from harbor, ringed, bearded, ribbon and spotted seals in Alaska, which have no ear flaps. Northern fur seals, like sea lions, are eared seals. They were named for their concentrated fur: Fur seals have 350,000 hairs per square inch (60,000 hairs per square centimeter).
The animals have a prominent role in the history of colonized Alaska. After hunting sea otters to near-extinction, Russian traders turned to northern fur seals and relocated Aleuts to the Pribilofs to kill and process seals. When Emperor Alexander II needed cash and decided to sell Alaska to the United States in 1867, fur was one of the future state’s known assets.
But by 1988, four years after the commercial harvest ended on St. Paul, the northern fur seal population had declined by more than half from its 1950s estimated population of 2.1 million animals.
NOAA biologists don’t know why northern fur seals have not made a comeback.
“That’s the million-dollar question,” Gelatt said. Competition for prey from the commercial fishing fleet, predation by killer whales, disease and ecosystem changes affecting seal or prey behavior are possibilities.
Volcanic activity on Bogoslof has been relatively stable, but Gelatt’s crew chose not to camp there during their weeklong August expedition, fearing a recurrence of explosions that could shoot boulders like bottle rockets. They instead made day trips from an anchored boat.
The crew tallied seals and assessed whether aerial images taken from unmanned aircraft could be used in future counts. As fewer seals breed on St. Paul Island, the growth on Bogoslof is significant.
“Barring other future catastrophic eruptions that could dramatically change the geography of the island, there is plenty of room for a lot more seals on Bogoslof,” Gelatt said. (VOA)
The city of Delhi has seen it all; from sultanate rule, to dynasties, and to colonial rule. From monarchy to democracy, Delhi has gone through its phases. But, in order to know and explore the nuances of Delhi, you must read these beautiful books.
1. City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple
This book was written while Dalrymple was still flirting with his love for the Medieval India. The author writes, "Moreover the city- so I soon discovered- possessed a bottomless seam of stories: tales receding far beyond history, deep into the cavernous chambers of myth and legend," and just like this, Dalrymple takes you in a tour to discover Discover Delhi.
2. Delhi by Heart: Impressions of a Pakistani Traveller by Raza Rumi
This book explores how the author explores his identity as a South Asian Muslim and how his city of Lahore is a mirror image of Delhi. Rumi, in this book, tries to co-relate the past with the present by comparing its festivals, streets, and markets.
3. Delirious Delhi: Inside India's Incredible Capital by DavePrager
This book is quite interesting. The story of this book revolves around the lives of Dave and Jenny who have recently moved to Delhi when their firm began to go down. The city of Delhi in this book is shown through their eyes as they try to make their way in the city that holds together a very large population.
4. The Heart has its Reasons by Krishna Sobti, Translated by Reema Anand, Meenakshi Swami
The original title of this book is "Dil - o - Danish". This book tells the reader about the streets of Old Delhi and almost transport the reader back in the past. This book is basically set in the 1920's, and tells the tale of a man's extramarital affair, his children out of wedlock, black magic, and Chandni Chowk's rich culture of sweets and the perils of being a widow. Interestingly, many have compared the author of this book to Jane Austen.
5. Delhi: A Novel by Khushwant Singh
Who would talk about Delhi and not remember Khushwant Singh? This amazing book is just like a narrative of the author's fulfilled love affair with the city and with a eunuch. The narrator in this book is an aging man who is trying to discover the city. This book is truly a masterpiece, where it takes the readers on the history of Delhi glimpsing at what makes the city what it is– simply beautiful.
There are some of the Indian cities which are older than time. Therefore, we must know which cities are they, and what has been their history!
1. Varanasi (1200 BC–)
Varanasi is one of the oldest cities of India, and has been a center of religious and cultural activity since the Bronze Age. In fact, this city might have been in existence from a very long time, since it finds mention in the Rig Veda. It is believed that the city of Varanasi was thriving for more than 1600 years before the fall of the Roman Empire in Europe. This city is one of the holiest places for Hindus and Jains, and even Lord Buddha gave his very first sermon here in 528 BC. In Hinduism, it is believed that dying in Varanasi brings salvation, which is the reason why the city is always brimming with pilgrims.
2. Ujjain (700/600 BC–)
Ujjain was once considered as one of the most prominent cities in the Middle India. In fact, the name of this city is repeatedly mentioned in the literature of that period, i.e. in the works of stalwarts like Kālidāsa. This city has seen the rise and fall of numerous empires, from the Mauryas to the Avantis, Nandas, and even the Guptas. This city, just like Varanasi, is also considered as one of the holiest cities in India, and hosts one of the officially recognized Kumbh melas, the Ujjain Simhastha Kumbh, in which people across the world take place.
3. Madurai (500 BC–)
Madurai been a major center of culture and trade for more than 2500 years. In fact, the name of this city has been mentioned in the writings of the great traveler, Megasthenes, and has been ruled by several empires from the Pandyas and the Cholas to the Karnata, and finally the British. Interestingly, ‘'Koodal,' was one of its ancient name which means 'a congregation of learned men'. There is no doubt that Madurai was an epicenter of scholars and religious teachers in the southern part of India.
4. Thanjavur (300 BC–)
Thanjavur was formerly known as Tanjore. This city is pretty famous for its Tanjore style of painting, which is a traditional style that is characterised by the use of gold foil, religious imagery, and simple compositions. This city is best known for being the home of the Great Living Chola Temples, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Till date, people across the world visit this place in order to experience its rich history and heritage.
By- Digital Hub
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Require a Wig
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Human hair wigs on display at a store Image source: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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