Wildlife

US Marines Airlift 1,100 Tortoises to New Home

The U.S. Marine Corps had an unusual mission this month: to airlift more than 1,000 desert tortoises across the Mojave Desert.

Desert tortoises are native to the southwestern desert, and a population of the reptiles had made their home near the U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California. However, plans to expand the Marines’ training grounds for large-scale exercises with live fire would have put the tortoises at risk, so the military took on the massive task of relocating approximately 1,100 desert tortoises.

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Vinegar offers hope in Barrier Reef starfish battle

Coral-munching crown-of-thorns starfish can be safely killed by common household vinegar, scientists revealed Thursday in a discovery that offers hope for Australia’s struggling Great Barrier Reef.

The predatory starfish is naturally-occurring but has proliferated due to pollution and run-off at the World Heritage-listed ecosystem, which is also reeling from two consecutive years of mass coral bleaching.

Until now other expensive chemicals such as bile salts have been used to try and eradicate the pest — which consumes coral faster than it can be regenerated — but they can harm other marine organisms.

Tests by James Cook University, in collaboration with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), showed vinegar was safe, effective and cheap.

Study head Lisa Bostrom-Einarsson said crown-of-thorns were injected with vinegar at four sites on the reef over six weeks, causing them to die within 48 hours with no impact on other life.

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