By Lynda V. Mapes Seattle Times environment reporter
July 27, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Updated July 27, 2020 at 6:00 pm
Tahlequah is pregnant again.
The mother orca raised worldwide concern when she carried her dead calf 17 days and more than 1,000 miles, almost exactly two years ago. Now, she has another chance at motherhood, scientists have learned.
The pregnancies are not unusual, so the scientists don’t usually announce them. But Tahlequah’s pregnancy carries a special meaning for a region that grieved the loss of the calf.
The southern residents are struggling to survive, and most pregnancies for these embattled whales are not successful. Tahlequah’s baby was the first for the whales in three years. The southern residents have since had two more calves, in J pod and L pod. Both are still alive.
Tahlequah’s baby is still a long way away, and like all the orca moms-to-be, Tahlequah, or J-35, will need every chance to bring her baby into the world — and keep it alive. The gestation period for orcas is typically 18 months, and families stick together for life.
Everyone on the water all over the region can help, Fearnbach and Durban said. All boaters of every type should be careful to respect the whales’ space and give them the peace and quiet they need, they said.
Whales use sound to hunt, and boat disturbance and underwater vessel noise is one of the three main threats to their survival, in addition to lack of adequate, available salmon and pollution.
Just as important as the number of salmon in the sea — especially chinook, the southern resident orcas’ preferred food — is the salmon that southern residents can readily access in their traditional fishing areas.
“Just like human fisherman that don’t just go drop a hook in the ocean,” Durban said. “They have their favorite places.
“They are amazing societies that pass culture down from generation to generation. They are creatures of habit.”
However, right where orcas hunt — the west side of San Juan Island, Swiftsure Bank, and other salmon hot spots in the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca — right now are busy with boaters, commercial ships and fishermen.
Down to a population of just 72 whales, every baby counts for southern resident orcas. And their chances for successful pregnancies are not good. About two-thirds of all southern resident pregnancies are typically lost, researcher Sam Wasser of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington has found. Stress from hunger due to lack of salmon is linked to the whales’ poor reproductive success, according to his research.
Several of the juveniles in the pods also are looking thin, Fearnbach said, including J-35’s living offspring, J-47.
“There are stressed whales out there, critically stressed,” she emphasized.
While doing their field work this year, both scientists said they have seen a lot of boat traffic on the water, too much of it moving too fast. The faster the boat, typically the louder it is.
It’s likely that Tahlequah will once again lose her calf, given the history. She lost another calf before the baby she gave birth to two years ago, which survived only one half-hour. She carried the more than 300-pound, 6-foot-long calf day after day, refusing to let it go.
Will her next calf live?
“We are concerned if she has a calf, will she be able to look after herself and the calf and J47, too?” Durban said. “There has been a lot of talk I am not sure a lot has changed for the whales.”
In their observation of the orcas this summer, the families are quite spread out as they travel in small groups, over miles of distance, Fearnbach said.
That is a sign of working hard to find enough to eat, with less resting and socializing.
The scientists will take another set of photos of the whales this fall and hope to see Tahlequah even rounder.
“People need to appreciate these are special whales in a special place at a vulnerable time,” Durban said. “These whales deserve a chance.”
Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2515 or email@example.com; on Twitter: @LyndaVMapes. Lynda specializes in coverage of the environment, natural history, and Native American tribes.
Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in a rich tomato sauce that has existed in Mediterranean cultures for centuries. This vegan shakshuka recipe uses potatoes and beans instead of eggs for a healthy and delicious breakfast, brunch, or dinner.
When Louise and I were working in Dublin—Ireland, shakshuka was one of our favourite dishes for our Sunday brunch. We would go to this tiny little place on Bath Ave called Juniors, and we would eat ourselves into an afternoon-long food coma. We weren’t vegan at the time, and so the shakshuka was with two large eggs in it.
Fast-forward a few years and we are both vegans. Sadly, we realized that it is not easy to find a good vegan shakshuka around. And so, a couple of weeks ago we made our own. The result was so delicious that we decided to make another one, but this time with potatoes and Italian spices instead. And it was a success!
For the ingredients, you’ll need tomatoes and small, yellow potatoes. If you live in a country with good tomatoes, then go for fresh, red, extra-ripe tomatoes. On the other hand, if you don’t have access to good tomatoes, then get some Italian canned whole peeled tomatoes. Add some tomato paste to give the sauce extra richness.
You’ll need fresh or canned white or cannellini beans. You can sub these with most other legumes such as chickpea, black-eyed beans, other beans, etc. Onion, celery, carrot, and garlic form the base for many Italian-inspired dishes. Chop them up and gently fry them in some olive oil to give max flavour to your dish (soffritto). Since this is an Italian version of shakshuka we use bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and chili flakes. You can sub these with the traditional shakshuka spices (cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, nutmeg).
Lastly, you’ll need extra virgin olive oil, a must in most Mediterranean recipes, flat-leaf parsley, and fresh spinach to add on top. Enjoy!
Vegan Mediterranean-Inspired Shakshuka With Potatoes and Beans
Peel the potatoes and set aside in bowl with cold water
In a cast iron pan or stainless steel pan, fry carrot, celery, onion and garlic in olive oil on medium heat for three minutes.
Add one cup of water, tomato paste, salt and chili flakes. Stir continuously to create a curry-like paste. Let cook this paste for two mins.
Turn the heat to medium-low and add the pelati tomatoes, crush the tomatoes gently with a wooden spatula and stir well.
Once tomatoes are crushed, add thyme, rosemary and bay leaves.
Add the peeled potatoes and three cups of water, let simmer for 30 minutes on low-medium heat.
Add the white beans and stir well, let simmer for another 15 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked and can be pierced with a fork.
Let cool ten minutes before serving, this will increase intensity of flavour.
Serve with a slice of thick sourdough bread or your favourite grain (rice, couscous, and buckwheat all go amazingly well with this dish).
If you enjoyed my vegan Shakshuka dish, try making this vegan Mediterranean risotto with chickpeas and a creamy cashew sauce. According to the recipe’s author, “this vegan risotto’s creaminess is accomplished using cashews, marinated artichokes, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic cloves.”
Audrey EnjoliSTAFF WRITER | LOS ANGELES, CA | CONTACTABLE VIA: AUDREY@LIVEKINDLY.COM 6-8 minutes
Colorful, iridescent betta fish are popular starter pets. Pet stores often market the vibrant swimmers as being easy to care for because they’re small—so they take up minimal space—and are inexpensive to care for.
But proper betta care is a bit more specialized than some pet stores lead on. And although they’re appearance may make them popular for display, they are actually one of the most exploited fish in the aquarium trade.There are more than 70 different species of betta fish.
What Is A Betta Fish?
Betta fish are small, freshwater fish. They are members of the Osphronemidae family and are native to Southeast Asia. They are relatively small, ranging anywhere from six to eight centimeters long.
There are more than 70 different species of betta fish in the wild. The fish live in shallow water, including ponds, flood plains, slow-moving streams, and marshes. They are carnivorous by nature. They have a wide-ranging diet that consists of small crustaceans, insects—including mosquito larvae, worms, and even smaller fish.
Store-bought betta splendens—also known as Siamese fighting fish—are one of the more popular species of betta fish because of their vibrant coloring.
However, these ray-finned fish look nothing like their wild counterparts. Wild betta fish typically have short fins and sport a dull grey coloring. The betta fish sold in pet stores are a product of selective breeding—the process of breeding animals to develop more desirable characteristics and traits, such as a particular color or size.
Store-bought betta fish have been bred to display a wide variety of colors. Betta fish sold in stores have also been bred to have different types of fins, such as a double tail, crowntail, delta, halfmoon, and more.Male bettas are highly territorial.
Why Do Betta Fish Fight?
Male betta fish are highly territorial, compared to their female counterparts. As such, they can become aggressive toward other male bettas when defending their territory. Male bettas will also attack similar-looking fish of other species of fish with flowing fins. When disturbed or threatened, they will often flare their fins in order to show aggression.
Male bettas are also fiercely protective of their offspring. They build bubble nests, which are formed by air bubbles that are coated with saliva in order to make them stronger, for their young. So they can also become aggressive when predators or other fish breach their territory.Betta fish are commonly kept in tiny containers in pet stores.
What’s Wrong With Buying Betta Fish?
A quick glance down the fish aisle at your local pet store will likely and you’ll likely see rows of small plastic containers filled with immobile bettas.
Some of these fish that are sold in U.S. pet stores are captured in the wild. But the vast majority are bred in countries like Thailand in Southeast Asia.
An investigation by the Asian branch of animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Asia exposed the ways in which bettas suffer in the global fish trade. The exposé highlighted Thailand’s betta fish industry. A video released with the investigation shows betta fish confined to small containers that were not filled with an adequate amount of water to cover their bodies.
PETA Asia’s undercover investigator visited ten different betta breeding factories and packing operations. Dead bettas were seen on the floor; some were seen left out of water for extended amounts of time while they were prepared for shipping.
Once shipped, it can take days for bettas to reach their destination. The investigation found tranquilizers are sometimes added to the bettas’ water to keep the fish from consuming their own tails out of distress. Some bettas are dead upon arrival. A company that supplies betta fish to Petco told the investigator that of the 100,000 bettas shipped per week to the U.S., up to 1,000 of them die before reaching distributors.Bettas require specialized care if kept in captivity.
What’s Wrong With Home Aquariums?
Bettas, and other fish, that are held in captivity in home aquariums can suffer from inadequate environments and lack of proper care.
Unlike some other types of fish, bettas require warm water and supple filtration. They must be fed and have their tanks cleaned on a regular basis. They also need environmental enrichment. This can be in the form of caves and plants that they can spend their time traversing. Too-small of a tank and poor water quality can impact bettas’ overall well-being.
Studies show captive bettas can suffer from a host of physical ailments. These include loss of color or appetite, listlessness, cloudy eyes, frayed fins, bloating, weight loss, labored reservations, and erratic swimming. They can also suffer from a number of other health issues like fin rot, bacterial infections, and fungus.
Similar to humans and other animals, bettas can suffer emotionally. They can experience boredom, depression, and stress due to being held in captivity. A 2017 study into the potential welfare issues impacting captive bettas found that most captive environments lack the complexities common to their natural habitat. This negatively impacts bettas’ wellbeing.
“We do know obviously that fish, in general, are more than what we thought they were, in a sense that their cognition is more developed than we previously thought and that they may even experience emotions, for example when in pain,” the study’s author, Christel P.H. Moons told the National Geographic.Bettas can suffer emotional and physical ailments in captivity.
Should You Have Pet Fish?
Although bettas may be regarded as easy to care for by some, they need highly specialized care. They also require an enriched environment similar to their natural habitats. This is in order to promote good health, both physically and emotionally.
Regardless—whether it be a dog, cat, rabbit, or fish—adding a pet to the family should be a decision that entails much consideration and deliberation. If you are dead set on keeping a pet fish, and already have an adequately-sized aquarium with a stimulating environment, see if anyone in your area is offering fish for adoption to avoid supporting the fish trade.
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