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The Spill: A Whale of a Tale

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By:  |  February 1, 2021  |    676 Words

(Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

A New Whale? Wow

Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe they have found a new whale species in the Gulf of Mexico after a dead whale washed up in Florida. They call them Rice’s whales, named for the marine mammal biologist Dale Rice, who first identified this new whale species.

Patricia Rosel, a research geneticist, explains the reason behind the excitement: “The first clue we had that there might be something unique, really more unique about them came from genetic data we collected in the mid-2000s, 15 years ago.”

When the whale washed up in Florida, Rosel and other researchers knew they had the opportunity to conduct the much-needed study. What tipped them off that it was a new species was the differences in the skull.

The new whale has already been registered as an endangered species. Things like oil spills and other pollutants, and marine traffic threaten the existence of such a small population of whales.

Joe Biden – What’s He Up To?

Once a president takes the oath of office, hundreds of things are prioritized for an incoming administration, and the new president needs to hit the ground running on day one. In Joe Biden’s case, once sworn in, he tackled a bunch of matters – both seemingly trivial and of the utmost importance.

Many Executive Orders, directives, and administrative actions have already been implemented. Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord and canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, which had an immediate effect on many American workers who lost their jobs. So far, Mr. Biden has used his power to govern with Executive Orders nearly forty times – more than his two immediate predecessors by this point in their presidencies.

In the first week of his presidency, the Biden administration reversed the immigration ban on several Muslim-majority countries. It issued a 100-day masking challenge to Americans who visited federal buildings or took road trips.

His intentions moving forward are in supporting communities of color, criminal justice reform, reinvigorating Obama Care, and relaxing deportations of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border from Mexico.

Mr. Biden has an aggressive list to complete in the first few months of his presidency. Perhaps having his trusty best and loyal pals – his two German Shepherd dogs – will help him accomplish his goals.

The Full Moon Keeps Us Awake

With or without the howling of dogs and wolves, a new sleep study confirms that the full moon keeps us awake at night. For thousands of years, people have blamed the big beautiful full moon for werewolves, insanity spikes, foul moods, and crazy accidents. And this study may put the blame for all kinds of full-moon shenanigans on the fact that people aren’t getting enough rest at this stage of the lunar cycle.

The study was conducted by the University of Washington In Seattle, and researchers say folks go to bed later than usual and do not rest soundly when the moon is full. Professor Horacio de la Iglesia studied the sleep patterns from people in large cities to very rural areas and reported the following study results:

“We see a clear lunar modulation of sleep, with sleep decreasing and later onset of sleep in the days preceding a full moon. And although the effect is more robust in communities without access to electricity, the effect is present in communities with electricity, including undergraduates at the University of Washington.”

Iglesia also found that sleep varied throughout the lunar cycle. For those study folks with access to electricity, their sleep was more disturbed by the moon. Iglesia says that’s because a persons’ innate circadian clock is off-kilter under electric light. “It makes us go to sleep later in the evening; it makes us sleep less. Generally, we don’t use artificial light to ‘advance’ the morning, at least not willingly. Those are the same patterns we observed here with the phases of the moon.”

Maybe that is why people who enjoy camping in the great outdoors say they sleep more soundly. That is, until the wolves begin to howl.

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