Elephant Seals Took Over a Beach During the Shutdown and They’re Not Giving it Back

1548875538594 42675183472 36deb959c3 hElephant seals lounging on Drakes Beach.

’During the government shutdown, while nobody was looking, a herd of elephant seals took over a popular California beach and forced authorities to close the area to visitors.

The opportunistic animals are iconic residents of Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County near San Francisco, where they can usually be seen lounging on the sand from afar.

But with National Park Service employees furloughed, and no one around to wrangle them, 50 to 60 seals moved into Drakes Beach, known by locals for its expansive shoreline and pristine views.

Had the shutdown not occurred, “we probably would have tried to move the seals further away from the parking area,” John Dell’Osso, chief of interpretation and resource education at Point Reyes National Seashore, told Motherboard in an email.

“This would be done by a standard practice of using tarps and waving them at the seals to the point where they turn around and go further down the beach,” Dell’Osso explained.

A mid-January storm, coupled with extreme tides called “king tides,” drove the seals away from Chimney Rock, a secluded point on the peninsula where the animals tend to congregate, Dell’Osso theorized.…’

Via Motherboard

Warmer Temperatures and Disease Decimated This West Coast Starfish in Two Years

1548872516731 Sunflower seastar’The sunflower sea star, one of the largest starfish species in the world, has been practically wiped out along the west coast of North America, putting ecosystems at risk, according to a study published Wednesday in Science Advances.

Led by Drew Harvell, a Cornell University professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, the authors found that a recent outbreak of sea star wasting disease reduced the population by 80 to 100 percent across 3,000 kilometers of its territory.…’

Via Motherboard

We may finally know what causes Alzheimer’s – and how to stop it

B2201418 oral bacteria tem’If you bled when you brushed your teeth this morning, you might want to get that seen to. We may finally have found the long-elusive cause of Alzheimer’s disease: Porphyromonas gingivalis, the key bacteria in chronic gum disease.

That’s bad, as gum disease affects around a third of all people. But the good news is that a drug that blocks the main toxins of P. gingivalis is entering major clinical trials this year, and research published today shows it might stop and even reverse Alzheimer’s. There could even be a vaccine.

Alzheimer’s is one of the biggest mysteries in medicine. As populations have aged, dementia has skyrocketed to become the fifth biggest cause of death worldwide. Alzheimer’s constitutes some 70 per cent of these cases and yet, we don’t know what causes it.…’

Via New Scientist

Nearly 200 cognitive biases rule our everyday thinking – Big Think

980x’Buster Benson (a marketing manager at Slack) decided to organize 175 known biases into a giant codex… Benson (with help from illustrations by John Manoogian III), sorted biases for duplicates and grouped them into four larger categories, each called a “conundrum” or “problem”. All four of these limit our intelligence but are actually trying to be helpful. According to Benson, “Every cognitive bias is there for a reason — primarily to save our brains time or energy.” But the end result of utilizing such mental shortcuts, which are often useful, is that they also introduce errors into our thinking. By becoming aware of how our minds make decisions, we can be mindful of the inherent inaccuracies and fallacies and hopefully act with more fairness and grace.…’

Via Big Think