- Massive Typhoon Headed for Fukushima and Tokyo
- Invasive Sea Lampreys May Be Controlled with Their Own Pheromones
- Impact of Research Equipment on Marine Animals Under Study
Even as reports of radioactive leaks from Japan’s nuclear power plant Fukushima keep rolling in, a massive typhoon dubbed Wipha is headed straight for the beleaguered nation, with not only the power plant in its sights, but Tokyo as well, with a metro population of 36 million people.
The storm peaked a few days ago as a category 4 typhoon, which entails sustained winds of 130-156 mph, but weakened in the following days with wind speeds hovering around 55 mph. The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a warning for Tokyo and the Fukushima coastline for 12 hours of high winds, heavy rain, and storm surge.
Caretakers of the Fukushima reactors have taken special measures to ensure radioactive rainwater runoff doesn’t flow into the Pacific. An earlier typhoon in September forced the hasty construction of holding tanks for contaminated rainwater, which began leaking shortly thereafter. The nuclear oversight panel of Japan has recently approved of allowing “lightly contaminated” rainwater to drain into the sea.
The invasion of the sea lamprey into the Great Lakes has many researchers worried, as the voracious appetite of the lamprey is endangering several fisheries. However, a predilection for bile salts, created in the livers of sea lampreys and a highly effective pheromone, is leading scientists to a solution that will not harm native creatures.
Sea lampreys were first documented in Lake Erie in 1921, and by 1938, it had populated all the Great Lakes. It severely impacted local fisheries by attacking rainbow trout, salmon, whitefish, laketrout, and catfish, prompting officials to employ several methods to rid the lakes of the destructive sea lamprey.
Lampricide was used in 1955, but it had negative impacts on other populations of the Great Lakes, so other methods were explored. A scientific paper published in 1995 identified the bile salts of the male sea lamprey functioning also as a migratory pheromone that draws females upstream to mate. Native lampreys were not affected by the “mating call” of the sea lamprey, as the native silver lamprey female mates in groups with many males, but the sea lamprey female mates with just one male, hence the need for competition with pheromones.
Research is all about researching everything relative to your subject, even including the way you conduct your research, which is why researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) are conducting studies with dolphins in Oahu on how the research equipment they use impacts the animal.
How tags or other tracking equipment affect the animal’s movement and behavior is on the docket, as well as monitoring the dolphins before and after they follow a remote controlled boat for a few minutes. The results of the four-year study will tell scientists if any changes need to be made in the way they conduct research using live animals.