Blanding’s turtles, nearing extinction, find help in NS zoo

Our local zoo, Oaklawn Farm, has reportedly taken on and hatched some hundred Blanding’s turtle eggs, a breed of Nova Scotia turtle that’s on the endangered species list. Oaklawn Farm Zoo is the former home to the largest African lion in captivity in North America, Rutledge, who died of old age recently.

Blanding turtle hatchlings in a tank

In June, more than 100 Blanding’s turtle eggs were moved from Kejimkujik National Park — in the southern half of the province — to the Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Aylesford.

They’ve since hatched and the tiny turtles are quickly getting stronger and bigger on a steady diet of trout pellets and mealworms.

“There is a very high predation rate and it’s estimated that only about one per cent of these hatchlings survive naturally,” said Duncan Smith, a biologist with Parks Canada.

“That’s why we’re seeing if we can bolster that with this incubation and headstarting program.”

Blanding’s turtles are medium-sized freshwater turtles. Adults have dark-green, high-domed shells with yellow flecks and are easily identified by their distinctive yellow throats and undersides.

The Nova Scotia population of the Blanding’s turtle is listed as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, while the provincial Endangered Species Act lists them as endangered.

The original story at CBC has some absolutely adorable video of the hatchlings.

It is good that the Zoo is taking on these new challenges, with how clean and safe and expansive the habitats are (in my estimation) for their charges. Every time I’ve visited, I’ve gotten the sense that the animals are taken care of very well, with plenty of roaming room and appropriate habitats for each species. It warms my heart that the endangered turtle species is being given a second chance by these great folks. If it weren’t nearing the end of the zoo season, I’d take a run down just to see them.

That reminds me, I have yet to post my recent visit to the Halifax Natural History Museum and the pics I took of Gus and some other turtles. Now that I’ve remembered once, I’ll surely forget again. Remind me again sometime, will you?

Halifax NSIS talk: GIRLS and Science

Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal will be presenting the following talk at the Halifax Natural History Museum auditorium, 1747 Summer St., on Oct. 1st, 7:30pm:

GIRLS and Science: Why it’s Important and How You can Support Them

October 1, 2012

Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal
Mount St. Vincent University

The NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (Atlantic Region) describes how she became a biologist specializing in craniofacial development and evolution. She will outline why it’s important to encourage girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and medical (STEM) careers.

Hat tip to Shawn Wilson of CFI-NS.

More information and more upcoming NSIS events available in this PDF.

Our local canadate

So there’s evidently a local election going on that I wasn’t aware of. It’s probably something at the town level, or I would have seen signs driving about. Want to know how I found out about this election? Well, it’s a funny story actually. I came home from work a few days ago, and Jodi says, “We got the most ridiculous note in the mail today.”


“I can’t even explain… just read it. It’s on the counter.”

I pick it up. It is folded in half.

Your Canadate [Local Politician] 2012
Ohhhh, this has promise, thought I.
[Read more…]

Canadian families richer than American families — thanks, socialism!

A perhaps startling, but perfectly heartening piece of pro-Canada propaganda err, news from Bloomberg:

According to data from Environics Analytics WealthScapes published in the Globe and Mail, the net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202, while the average American household’s net worth was $319,970.

[Read more…]

Scientists protest death of evidence on Parliament Hill

Canadian scientists marched on Parliament Hill this past Tuesday to protest the ongoing campaign by the Harper government to squelch any and all science whose results go against party lines on topics like (and especially) the environment.

Evoking images of the Grim Reaper, protesters held a mock funeral procession through the streets of Ottawa before ending up at the House of Commons.

They chanted: No Science, No Evidence, No Truth, No Democracy.

[Read more…]

Ashu Solo increases pressure on Saskatoon prayer-mayor

I’ve covered previously Ashu Solo’s complaints to the mayor of Saskatoon for one of their councillors’ prayers during a volunteer appreciation dinner, and the CCLA asking them to stop it.

It appears that several days ago, Solo contacted me to let me know that he’s built a blog post regarding the media’s coverage of this ongoing issue, and of Atchison’s and Donauer’s odious and religiously-privileged responses. (My email has been inundated lately though, so it kinda got buried, and I’m only getting around to posting this now.)

That post is here, and includes an open letter to the pair that documents where they’ve doubled down publicly.
[Read more…]

“And he looks at me and says ‘So what?'”

Watch this trailer for a series of short films by Jeff Feuerzeig called “Together”. My title’s quote actually teared me up.

The series is here, presented by Pride Toronto. I’ll be watching some or all of these tonight after work, I expect. It looks like it’ll be pretty much entirely happy-making, even where it’ll obviously get poignant. I think some of us need some of that right about now.

Memo to Americans: Canadians exist, Bigfoot doesn’t

A shocking and horrible poll published by Angus Reid declares, “Americans more likely to believe in Bigfoot than Canadians”.

I know you folks might never see us very often — we haven’t had a war with you in a very long time, and I can understand why you might be inclined to forget about us given our cultural contributions have included Celine Dion and Justin Bieber. But I’m telling you, we exist. We don’t even have flip-top heads, like your Sunday night educational programming “South Park” might lead you to believe. Hockey was invented here. We make good beer.

Wait, what? That’s not what the survey says? Hang on. Knew I shoulda read it before starting this post. *grumble grumble*
[Read more…]

Labatt almost sues Montreal Gazette over dismemberer’s photo

They wisely backed off after a Twitter campaign to remind them of the Streissand Effect, but the makers of the least complicated beer in Canada very nearly sued the Montreal Gazette over publishing this photo from Luka Magnotta’s Facebook feed.

What’s the big deal though? It’s a picture of the killer in a club or something, holding a Labatt Blue. Surely even serial killers and snuff film makers who send dismembered body parts to political parties need to wind down too, after a long hard day with the bonesaw!

I’d covered this sicko when news broke, and I’m happy to report that Magnotta was caught after fleeing to Berlin and will not fight extradition back to Canada. Normally I’d be careful to say “alleged” killer, but the evidence is pretty iron-clad, and he’s admitted he “can’t stop killing”, so… yeah.

The victim whose body parts got sent to the Liberals and Conservatives was Jun Lin, a Chinese engineering student. The kid apparently had a promising career ahead of him before Magnotta made him famous. Bloody shame.

But seriously, who drinks Labatt anyway? It’s trying to be a less-offensive Coors Light or something, and failing miserably.