Henderson Island in the south Pacific Ocean has always been known for its remarkable biological diversity and untouched ecology. Now, the remote UNESCO World Heritage site that lies 3,100 miles (5,000 km) from the closest human settlement, can also lay claim to being one of the most polluted places on Earth.
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Every ocean lover knows the perils of getting caught in a rip current. Experienced swimmers know it is relatively easy to escape the narrow channel of fast moving water by floating and allowing it to drag you further into the ocean or by swimming alongside the shore. However, novice beachgoers often panic, and try to swim to land, placing themselves at risk of drowning due to fatigue. According to the US National Ocean Service, the currents kill about 100 Americans each year and account for 80% of all lifeguard rescues. These scary statistics may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to Clever GIRL (Global Intelligent Rip Locator), a smart buoy that alerts swimmers of the presence of deadly rip currents.
Some fortunate visitors to the Chicago Botanic Garden recently witnessed the rare opening of not one, but two, titan arums. Better known as corpse flowers due to their pungent odor that resembles decaying flesh, the massive plants bloom once every ten years, and that too, for only a few hours. However, that may be a good thing given that when the petals unfurl, the stench emanated is so foul that it has earned the titan arum the title of the “world's smelliest flower.”
Every winter, hundreds of humpback whales migrate long distances from their high latitude feeding grounds in the Arctic and Antarctic to warmer tropical regions to breed and give birth. The newborn calves, which consume over 52 gallons of milk on a daily basis, have only a few months to pack on the body fat needed to survive the long trek back to cooler waters in summer. How the babies signal hunger and avoid predators during these formative months has always been a mystery to scientists.
The city-state of Dubai that is home to the world’s tallest building, manmade islands shaped like palm trees, drone taxis, and jetpack wielding firefighters, is fast cementing its reputation as the city of the future. On May 22, Dubai officials added to their list of futuristic accomplishments with the introduction of the world’s first operational robot police officer.
While U.S. President Donald Trump, who pulled out of the Paris climate agreement on June 1, is convinced global warming is a “hoax,” the deteriorating condition of the world’s coral reefs seems to suggest otherwise. Often called “rainforests of the sea,” the incredible ecosystems that occupy less than 0.1 percent of ocean’s surface are home to almost 25 percent of all marine species. Unfortunately, the rising ocean temperatures caused by global warming are wreaking havoc on these fragile organisms.
Thailand’s free-roaming monkeys are a huge tourist draw. The primates, mostly macaques, are known to boldly visit with tourists who lure them with food. One of these monkeys, in particular, has recently become a worldwide sensation for both its gargantuan size and unique social status among his peers.
Though plastic shopping bags are incredibly cheap and useful, their disposal causes widespread pollution. That's because the non-biodegradable polyethylene takes centuries to decompose and is also detrimental to wildlife who often mistake the colorful debris for food. Now, we may have an unlikely ally to help clean up our trash – a small wax worm bred primarily for use as premium fish bait.