While the Trump administration is currently trying very hard to undo the protection measurements in its Arctic areas, Canada goes the other way. Last year, on December 21, the Federal government announced the establishment of seven new marine refuges along the coast of Nunavut and Newfoundland. Altogether, the marine refuges will be more than 145’000 km2 of ocean and will increase add another 2.53 percent to the Canadian protected areas.
Penguins are iconic birds for the Antarctic. However, more than half of all species have always lived outside of the Antarctic boundaries for millions of years. Thus, fossils of these special birds are found in many un-penguin-like places like Australia, Chile or New Zealand. Here, scientists have unearthed another previously unknown early penguin species, Kumimanu, Maori for “monster bird”.
Researchers from the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County have identified remains of a 3.5-million-year-old bear from a fossil-rich site in Canada's High Arctic. Their study shows not only that the animal is a close relative of the ancestor of modern bears -- tracing its ancestry to extinct bears of similar age from East Asia -- but that it also had a sweet tooth, as determined by cavities in the teeth.
POLARNEWS WISHES A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR
Narwhals are very elusive and mysterious marine mammals. Scientists only know little about their lifestyles and behaviors due to their geographical range. As true ice loving mammals, narwhals spend most of their time around the edge of the Arctic pack ice. Only in certain times, they swim along shorelines. Now, a team of researchers has found an astonishing and seemingly contradictive behavior. When escaping from humans, narwhals don’t just freeze or flee. They do both.
Since 2011, the largest eradication program against invasive species takes place on the Subantarctic island of South Georgia. Thousands of square kilometers had been baited in an attempt to get rid of rats and mice, which had caused massive havoc among the bird population. Now, the program steps into its final phase with surveying the island for traces of any remaining rodents. With any luck, the island soon will be declared rodent-free.
Microbes, second round: Although the Arctic and Antarctic regions are at opposite ends of Earth, they have a similar diversity of bacteria and other microscopic life. These are the findings of an international team of researchers headed by the University of Tübingen, the EMBL Heidelberg and the University of Konstanz. In their study, the team collated data from numerous studies and locations in order to make a direct comparison of the microbial diversity in these two distant regions for the first time.
Life in Antarctica consists of more than penguins and seals. A rich microbial community exists on the ice, the fresh water ponds and in the soil. However, it was unclear how these organisms thrive in their habitat. Now, a team of scientists led by the University of New South Wales Sydney has discovered that microbes have a previously unknown ability to scavenge trace gases from the air to stay alive in these extreme conditions.
Bowhead whales are one of the most elusive and mysterious whale species in the Arctic, despite its size. Hunted almost to extinction, these huge baleen whales have made a tremendous comeback and are found now in many Arctic areas close to the ice edge. Now, researcher from the University of British Columbia have found a new and surprising behavior of bowheads in Nunavut, Canada.
Seventy years ago on November 28, the maiden expedition of Australia’s Antarctic Program set sail from Western Australia, establishing the first of the nation’s research stations in the polar region. Nowadays, Australia is considered a key player in Antarctic affairs and holds the largest segment of Antarctica.