Photo credit: Inky the octopus left without even saying goodbye. National Aquarium of New Zealand
Sneaky Octopus Makes Daring Escape Through Aquarium’s Drain Pipe Into Pacific Ocean
Everyone loves a good prison break story. “Escape from Alcatraz.” “The Shawshank Redemption.” “The Great Escape.” They imbue within us a sense of hope, daring, and adventure.
Now, a new tale of derring-do in New Zealand of a real-life prison escape may be added to this pantheon of greats: An octopus has outwitted its human captors and is now on the run in the Pacific Ocean. Considering the size of said ocean, it’s unlikely he’ll ever be recaptured.
As reported by BBC News, the National Aquarium in the coastal settlement of Napier was once home to Inky the octopus, but no more. This particularly crafty, aquatic fellow managed to squeeze through a small gap in his enclosure left behind after some routine maintenance work, before sliding across the floor looking for an escape route.
“He managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean and off he went,” said aquarium manager Rob Yarrall, as reported by Radio New Zealand. “He didn’t even leave us a message.” Staff were shocked to arrive at the scene to find no Inky and a trail of octopus tracks left behind by the former captive.
The staff should have realized long ago not to underestimate the power of these highly intelligent cephalopods; after all, they can escape from anything – even the inside a locked jar.
Rather sadly, Inky left behind his tank-mate, another octopus, which the staff say they’ll be monitoring extremely closely from now on.
Lenca indigenous women protest against the murder of Honduran enviromnentalist Berta Caceres, in front of the Public Ministry in Tegucigalpa on April 5, 2016. Photograph: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images.
Since her mother’s murder a month ago, Bertha Isabel Zuniga Cáceres has scarcely had time to grieve. The 25-year-old student is adamant that her mother, Berta Cáceres Flores, will not become just one more Honduran environmental activist whose work was cut short by their assassination.
“Development in Honduras cannot continue happen at the expense of indigenous peoples and human rights,” says Zuñiga Cáceres, who met today with members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and Honduran officials in Washington DC to call for an independent investigation into her mother’s killing. She also requested greater protection for her family and members of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, the human rights group her mother co-founded.
A growing chorus of voices, from civil society groups to members of the US Congress, have reiterated the need for reform in Honduras in the month since Cáceres was shot dead by assassins in her home. Cáceres, founder of the nonprofit watchdog group National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), died less than a week after opposing a major new hydroelectric project. Her death was followed two weeks later by that of her colleague Nelson García. While a suspect has been identified in García’s death, local activists are accusing the government of a cover-up.
A well known leader from the Lenca indigenous community, Cáceres received international recognition – and threats – for her efforts to halt the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the sacred Gualcarque River. Last year, she was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her work to uphold indigenous rights.
A deadly place for environmentalists
Honduras now has the highest murder rate for environmental activists in the world, and conflict over land rights is the primary driver. Rampant inequality, a weak judicial system, cozy relationships between political and business elites and near total impunity for crimes against human rights defenders have contributed to 101 murders of environmental activists between 2010 and 2014, according to the British NGO Global Witness.
“The environment is the new battleground for human rights, and disputes over land form the backdrop to almost all the killings,” says Kyte.
The Global North’s “rapacious demand” for natural resources is fueling conflict on indigenous lands throughout the developing world, says Kyte. But in Honduras, corruption, organized crime, political instability and increasingly militarized policing have created a particularly acute crisis.
Since the 2009 coup that ousted democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya, the right wing Honduran government has aggressively promoted investment and development in mining, agri-business and large scale energy infrastructure projects. It has privatized land and water resources and removed barriers to large scale development projects, often at the expense of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities and small scale campesino farmers.
In large part to meet the mining industry’s enormous demand for energy, the government has granted dozens of hydroelectric dam concessions. Global Witness found that the developers often disregard the land rights of indigenous communities, which become targets of threats and violence. Powerful drug trafficking gangs are also known to use mining and agri-business projects for money laundering.
Honduras is a signatory to the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, which requires the free, prior consultation and consent of indigenous communities for projects that impact their traditional territories. But the country has a poor track record when it comes to upholding those rights, according to George Redman, Honduras country director for Oxfam.
A worker at L.A.’s Hyperion sewage treatment facility removes trash that has been separated from incoming wastewater. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)
very day Southern California hospitals unleash millions of gallons of raw sewage into municipal sewers.
The malodorous muck flows miles to one of the region’s sewage plants, where it is treated with the rest of the area’s waste and then released as clear water into a stream or directly to the Pacific.
Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced they had discovered a lethal superbug — the same one that caused outbreaks at UCLA and two other Los Angeles-area hospitals — in sewage at one of those plants. They declined to name the facility.
EPA scientists did not test treated wastewater flowing out of the plant to determine whether it still contained CRE, or carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae.
But a growing number of studies show sewage plants can’t kill the superbugs. Instead the facilities serve as “a luxury hotel” for drug-resistant bacteria, a place where they thrive and grow stronger, said Pedro Alvarez, a professor of environmental engineering at Rice University, one of the scientists studying the problem.
Alvarez and other researchers say the failure of sewage plants to eliminate the dangerous bacteria is one way they may be spreading from hospitals to the environment.
“Chlorine is just not doing it,” Alvarez said of the treatment used by most plants.
The fear is that healthy people otherwise not at risk from the bacteria — including swimmers at the beach — could be infected.
Already officials are worried about the surprising number of people sickened with CRE who have not recently visited a medical facility: 8%, according to an October study.
Hospitals are not breaking laws by releasing the sewage. Laws regulate the overall level of disease-causing bacteria in the nation’s surface waters, but there is no specific regulation of bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Deemed the “nightmare bacteria” by federal officials, CRE survives nearly all antibiotics. It kills as many as half its victims.
Government officials, including those at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say they are monitoring the wastewater studies but have so far made no recommendations to hospitals about the treatment of sewage that may harbor CRE.
“The prevention and control of CRE is an evolving process,” said Melissa Brower, an agency spokeswoman. “CDC will continue to assess the appropriateness of this as new information becomes available.”
California’s giant trees are showing unprecedented die-back, and land managers who are already battling drought, warming and fire are racing to save them.
Los Padres National Forest firefighters watch a controlled burn on the so-called “rough fire” in the Sequoia National Forest in California. New research indicates the drought is hitting these ancient trees particularly hard. Photograph: Max Whittaker/Reuters.
Last September, US Geological Survey ecologist Nate Stephenson hiked into Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest to look for dying seedlings. California was suffering through its third year of severe drought, and trees were dying in the park in greater numbers than usual. The roadside leading up to Giant Forest was pin cushioned with trees faded brown – dead oaks, sugar pine, fir, incense cedar. But the forest’s namesake trees, which are among the world’s oldest and largest, were faring better. They’re tough – they have to be to live for thousands of years – and tend to grow in the wettest parts of the landscape.
I started out in college majoring in Biology. It wasn’t until I was finishing my Associate’s degree that I gave up science. I had just gone through a divorce and was raising two children on my own, with little to no financial assistance from the ex. My dream of moving to California to finish a degree in Marine Biology was crushed by the reality of single parent poverty. Looking back, I wonder if there had been someone in my life at that time to provide a little encouragement, would I have continued a degree in a different area of Biology? Instead, I walked away completely from science, beginning new majors in History and Spanish.
Many years have passed. In what I believe is a bit of good karma, I find myself working temporarily in the college’s Biology department where I once worked years ago as a student. With the Department’s support, I was able to achieve something amazing this past year. Together, we collaborated with Western New Mexico University to create a new transfer pathway for our Biotechnology students. Starting this fall, 24 students will begin Bachelors degrees in Cell and Molecular Biology right here on our community college campus. The degree is a highly innovative, collaborative, affordable and rigorous program that I am proud to have helped shape. Best of all, I believe this program brings opportunity for students who might be struggling like I did all those years ago. Having a good quality pathway on campus that is accessible and affordable will make it easier for students who need a little encouragement to follow their dreams in science. It completes a circle for me too. I finally did get my degree in Biology, after all.
Applications are now being accepted for 24 students to begin this fall! For more information on the new degree in Cell and Molecular Biology, visit this link: http://natsci.wnmu.edu/glendale/
Supertrawlers wreak havoc on marine life, coral reef habitats, and the sea bed. Banning them from Australian waters is a start, we need to continue the trend and ban them worldwide. Here is some more information provided by the Guardian,
San Francisco initiating a sales ban on plastic water bottles that hold 21 oz. or less. Personally, I know I need to stop buying water by the case.
Every time I buy a case of water, I have this guilty conscience looming over me for as long as I can remember.
I tried making the adjustment of refilling gallon water jugs at the water dispensary for a quarter a gallon, it never seemed to stick because my family likes the individual portion and not having to wash dishes; it’s just more convenient.
Not exactly convenient for the environment.
I’m glad San Francisco initiated this ban. I can only hope other cities will follow the same trend.
Compare this to the replacement of plastic grocery bags to reusable grocery bags, that trend hasn’t completely swept the nation.
Still, a small majority of states continue the ban of plastic bags or charge a few cents for every plastic bag used.
All I can hope for, is we all make small changes daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
This is one of the few recent changes I made in my life, I started keeping glass jars and using them as cups and water bottles, great for holding soup to take to lunch or food storage containers, they are multipurpose.