Jellyfish or Jellymonsters?

Jellyfish or Jellymonsters?

Imagine a creature older than dinosaurs themselves, with lips pulled back in an endless scream, trailed by a ghoulish bunch of tentacles laced with poison. You guessed it, cnidarians, more commonly known as jellyfish.Before I tell you more about these graceful aliens of the sea, I would like you to first know that there are approximately 50 million jellyfish stings each year, which equates to around 411,000 stings each day, 17,000 stings per hour or 4-5 stings every second.So, by the time you have read this sentence (depending on how quickly you read) 105 people across the world will have been stung by a jellyfish. I would like you to keep that in mind while you read this blog.Did you know that jellyfish are older than dinosaurs? This means that they have been pulsing through Earth's waters for at least 600 million years! So, by my calculations, if all of the time that jellyfish have lived on Earth was...
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Making the Coronavirus Wildlife Trade Ban Permanent

Making the Coronavirus Wildlife Trade Ban Permanent

The coronavirus. Where to start? Well, the coronavirus started in the city of Wuhan, China and has spread to several countries across the world within a matter of weeks. To date, 43,104 cases have been reported, of which 38,043 people are currently infected, 7,345 are in a serious or critical condition and 1,018 have died. The total number of people who have recovered from the virus currently stands at 4,043 people.The name ‘corona’ refers to the virus’s distinct wreath-like shape. It is common in mammals and birds and in rare cases can spread to humans like it has done. Researchers believe that SARS-CoV-2, newly named Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), originated from an animal in a seafood and animal market in Wuhan. Identification of this animal is key to controlling the current outbreak and gauging its threat going forward.It is estimated that 70% of emerging infections have come from wild animals and strong evidence now indicates that Covid-19 originated from...
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The Pablo Escobar of Eggs

The Pablo Escobar of Eggs

Jeffery Lendrum, an ex-special forces officer, was caught at Heathrow airport on June 26th, 2018 after arriving from South Africa with illegal cargo.The self-proclaimed “Pablo Escobar of the falcon egg trade” strapped eggs from endangered birds of prey, including vultures, eagles, hawks and kites to his body in hopes of achieving financial gain. The Telegraph reported that the value of his cargo was estimated to be worth around £100,000 [1].That day, eagle eyed officers noticed something unusual about Lendrum. Unfortunately for him, a heavy jacket wasn’t going to conceal his contraband but expose him like a scarlet macaw (Ara macao) in a flock of pigeons (Columba livia domestica). Because who wears a thick jacket in hot weather in a stuffy airport?The government’s news story details that officers asked him whether he had anything to declare and he admitted to carrying “fish eagle” and “kestrel” eggs [2]. Yet the full extent of his egg smuggling mission was not unveiled until officers performed a full body search. Shockingly, a body belt...
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Tree Killing Beetles

Tree Killing Beetles

Did you know that elm trees were nearly wiped out by a fungal disease carried by beetles?Before elm was disseminated by beetles carrying a microfungi, it was the second most important broad leaf timber in Britain to oak. Like oak, it was of great landscape importance and formed an important component of our native woodland, supporting a wide range of fauna and flora.Elm hosts around 80 species of invertebrates such as the rare White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) and in spring, its early pollen is sought after by many insects including honey bees. Elms are also a very important food source for songbirds, game birds and squirrels as their seeds develop long before many other seeds are available.Over the past century there have been two pandemics of Dutch Elm Disease (DEM) caused by two separate but related species of Asian microfungi, Ophiostoma ulmi and O. novo-ulmi. The non-native microfungi are dispersed by bark beetles of the genera Scolytus and Hylurgopinus. These beetles are no larger...
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Britain’s Beavers

Britain’s Beavers

The Eurasian beaver (Castor fibre) is native to the UK and used to be widespread across England, Scotland and Wales. Beavers became extinct here in the 16th century, because of hunting for their pelt, meat and a secretion called castoreum which they use to mark their territory. The latter was once highly prized for use in perfumes, food and medicine.Over the past decade major efforts have been underway to reintroduce beavers into the British countryside. As a result, the Eurasian beaver has shown good recovery across much of its range.The National Trust recently announced that two pairs of beaver will be released in the south of England next spring, after their plans were approved by Natural England. These releases are part of the National Trust's wider plan to restore 25,000 hectares of "wildlife-rich" habitats by 2025.One pair is to be released into a fenced woodland in Holnicote near Exmoor in Somerset. The other pair is to be...
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Insect Declines Matter!

Insect Declines Matter!

We are witnessing the largest extinction event on earth since the late Permian… in other words, 250 million years ago.Over the past 50 years we have reduced Earths wildlife abundance dramatically and many of the species that were once prevalent are now few and far between. Much of our attention is given to large charismatic animals and little is given to the smaller, some say, less attractive animals.There are around one million known insect species, 41% of which are threatened with extinction. Staggeringly, there are estimated to be another four million insect species that we have yet to discover [1]. Although we are decades away from cataloguing the insect diversity of this planet, it is likely that many species will be lost before we ever recognised they existed.More recently, evidence suggests that insect abundance has fallen by more than 50% since 1970, yet most people are unaware and have not even noticed that anything has changed....
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