Wildlife

Ruby Seadragons – First Sighting in the Wild

Ruby seadragon

An elusive ruby seadragon that was previously known only from museum specimens has been spotted alive in its natural habitat for the first time.

The scarlet-colored fish (Phyllopteryx dewysea) was first discovered as a distinct species in 2015, when researchers uncovered a misidentified preserved specimen while studying the two known species of seadragons — the orange-tinted leafy seadragon and the yellow-and-purple common seadragon.

Beyond its distinctive red color, the ruby seadragon differs from the other two types of seadragons because it lacks leaf-like appendages. Before witnessing the fish in the wild, researchers were unsure if the ruby seadragon specimens in museums had lost their appendages over time while in collection.

Given that the ruby seadragon’s habitat is deeper and more barren than that of its cousins’, the ruby seadragon likely lost its leaf-like appendages through evolution, according to the researchers. Its ruby colour is probably an evolutionary trait, as camouflage in the deeper, dimly lit waters, they added.

The scientists also discovered that the fish has a prehensile, or curled tail, similar to that of the seahorse and unlike the other seadragon species.

EPA’s bee decisions sting Environmentalists

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency backed away from tough restrictions on how pesticides can be used while honeybees are pollinating crops, and it declared that three of the pesticides most closely associated with bee deaths are safe in most applications.

The assessments, released late Thursday, conclude that clothianidin, thiamethoxam and dinotefuran can kill bees and their larvae individually, but that in “most approved uses” they “do not pose significant risks to bee colonies” at the exposure levels expected to be found on fields.

Those conclusions are likely to allow growers to keep using the chemicals — which are ingredients in dozens of products — to protect millions of acres of soybeans, corn, cotton, vegetables, fruit and nuts, including 439,000 acres in California.

But the documents were a double disappointment to environmentalists, who say scientific studies support bans or at least enforceable restrictions on the chemicals’ use.

These decisions came as the EPA prepares for its transition to the Trump administration where the EPA expects to be headed by a rabid anti-environmentalist.

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