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Jelly Creatures That Swim In Corkscrews | Keeping Wind Turbines Safe For Birds

Science Friday

27-05-2024 • 20 mins

For the first time, scientists have recorded how salps form chains and swim in corkscrews to reach the ocean’s surface each night. Also, a wind utility company in Wyoming is trying to make wind turbines more visible to birds by painting just one blade black.

The Small Jelly Creatures That Link Up And Swim in Corkscrews

Salps are small, transparent barrel-shaped jelly creatures. They are sometimes confused with jellyfish, but they are so much more complex. Salps have nervous, circulatory, and digestive systems that include a brain, heart, and intestines.

Salps are known to link themselves together in long chains. And each night they journey from the depths of the ocean to the surface to feast on algae. New research shows that the key to their efficiency is swimming in corkscrews.

Ira talks with Dr. Kelly Sutherland, associate professor of biology at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Oregon, about her work studying salp swimming patterns.

Painting Wind Turbine Blades To Prevent Bird Collisions

Wind energy is expected to be a big part of the transition away from fossil fuels. But that comes with consequences, including the potential for more deadly collisions between turbines and birds and bats. One experiment underway in Wyoming is studying a potentially game-changing—and simple—solution to this problem.

In the Mountain West, large and iconic avian species—such as owls, turkey vultures and golden eagles—are consistently colliding with the human world. At the Teton Raptor Center in Wilson, Wyo., veterinarians, avian scientists and volunteers often treat birds for lead poisoning, crashes into infrastructure, gunshot wounds or other injuries.

For the center’s conservation director, Bryan Bedrosian, his work is about preserving the wildlife that makes Wyoming special.

“We should be proud of the fact that we in Wyoming have some of the best wild natural spaces and some of the best wildlife populations,” he said. I think, unfortunately, it comes with a higher degree of responsibility.”

Wyoming is a critical habitat area for many species, especially golden eagles. Tens of thousands live here year-round and the state is also a huge migration corridor between Alaska and Mexico. Unlike its cousin the bald eagle, the golden eagle population is stable at best and could potentially decline in parts of the U.S. Bedrosian said wind energy growth is a threat for a species that has always been “at the top of the food chain.”

Read the full story at sciencefriday.com.

Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com.

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