Lori begins the show with worrisome events surrounding the ever-expanding offshore wind farm industry and its probable detrimental effect on whales. The recent alarming increase of the deaths of whales, mostly humpbacks, along the eastern shores of the US coincided with increased construction of wind farms and windf arm activity. There are many ways offshore wind farms can harm whales as outlined by the group Whale and Dolphin Conservation, an authority Lori trusts, and which is a strong advocate for whale protection. Lori explains that a conflict has developed between wind farms and whales. On one side is the powerful green energy industry, bolstered by government edicts, biased agencies and the promise of huge profits for industry. On the other side are the conservationists, the advocates for whales who hold that each whale life ended due to human interference is a tragedy. For now, the power lies with wind farm expansion, but Lori provides some hopeful words of encouragement and ideas for making our voices heard.
Then is a discussion about rabies, sparked by a story of an elderly man who recently died from the disease, which he evidently contracted from a bat. He refused treatment after the exposure, which would have been lifesaving. Any mammal can harbor rabies, with the most common affected animals being raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Public health measures to address rabies in dogs started in the 10940s and consisted of widespread vaccinations. Consequently, cases of rabies in dogs in the US are extremely rare. A common misconception about rabid animals is that they can be identified by observing their appearance and behavior but generally, one cannot tell if a given animal has rabies without testing. One important fact to remember is that often, the bite from a bat is so small that it will not leave evident marks on the skin. So, if one awakes, for instance, and observes a bat in the bedroom, he or she must act as if a bite has occurred, which means seeking medical care right away. And that care will include rabies post exposure prophylaxis, a dose of human rabies immune globulin and then 3 doses of the rabies vaccine. This treatment is highly effective in preventing the disease from taking hold and killing the victim, which otherwise occurs 99.9% of the time in untreated cases.
We cap off our episode with a fascinating look at some of nature’s most amazing adaptations. From the Alaskan wood frog’s freeze-thaw survival technique to the deadly venom of the stonefish, prepare to be astounded by Mother Nature’s creativity. Stay tuned as Peter wraps up with international animal news, including Britain’s innovative method to save drowning frogs and Sydney’s clever tactic to manage pesky seabirds.