strange behaviors

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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Starfish are Keystone Killers

Posted by Richard Conniff on August 5, 2013

(Photo: James Pauls/Getty)

(Photo: James Pauls/Getty)

This is the time of year for wandering the beaches and studying what washes up, and starfish often figure prominently in what we find, and in our memories of summer. It’s partly because they are so strangely symmetrical—often with their hundreds of small, tube-like legs still wriggling underneath. And it’s also because they seem so vulnerable caught out in the sun, even though in their own world, beneath the waves, they are in fact great predators.

But you will probably not be seeing any starfish this summer on the U.S. East Coast. Some unknown killer has devastated populations from New Jersey to Maine. Caitlin del Sesto, a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, was one of the first to notice it, when starfish she had collected for a study began to develop white lesions and then melt away in her aquarium. Some of the sick ones actually shed all their limbs in response to the stress.

Other researchers have since reported the same disturbing phenomenon. Divers from the Marine Biological Laboratory on Cape Cod are also finding that concentrations of starfish—or sea stars, as scientists prefer to call them—have been  … to read the rest of this item, click here.

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