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New Whales for the New Year

Seeing young whales being born and thriving is a dream for many biologists and conservationists. And 2023 is turning out already to be a year that many of the endangered whale types may see a positive boost from. So far, just at the turn of 2023, three new baby whales have been born, and together to boot. The news was announced from the New England Aquarium, right on New Year’s Eve as the new year was rung in.

The particular species that now enjoys three new additions is the North Atlantic Right Whales. The particular pod was spotted by the Clearwater Aquarium’s staff off the coast of Florida. The news was spread among the whale community quickly, especially given the fact that the given species only has 340 known animals alive now.

The winter season has always been tracked as a calving season in whale studies. Many of the pregnant whales showcase their new young off the Southeastern shore of the U.S. once born, and this holiday season was no exception. For the North Atlantic Right Whales, any growth in their numbers is good news. The species was hunted for years, being viable as a commercial ocean harvesting target, and then additional casualties were lost due to collisions with ships as well as being unintended victims in fishing nets.

As it turns out, the current season has been particularly strong in terms of new calves. A total of eight new whales have been spotted in the last few weeks. Each whale is identified as an individual based on the callosities or scars on the heads of the Right Whales. Some have been around for many years, giving birth to new calves year after year. One particular whale, an older one aging at least 33 years so far, is known for sure to have birthed four calves and lost a fifth in 2019.

Unfortunately, calf mortality is high among whales for a variety of reasons, and humans don’t help for the most part. Worse, the adult whales are calving less and less frequently, now longer than the 3 to 4 year average.

One of the mothers of the recent calves is well known; Aphrodite has been around at least 36 years and has had scarring or violent interactions recorded with human boats at least 28 times in that lifespan. However, she has managed to birth yet another new whale this year. As a result, hopes are high that her new young will make it to adulthood if it has its mother’s tenacity.

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Southern California Business Developed A Genius Way To Reuse Water

Shannon Jackson

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For many years, California has been suffering from severe drought, with water shortages becoming a common issue for residents and businesses alike. To combat the drought, one Southern California company has developed a revolutionary system for reusing water.


The Water Recycling System (WRS) captures and purifies greywater from sources such as sinks, showers, and laundry machines. This treated water is then stored in tanks before being reused for irrigation, toilet flushing, and other non-potable purposes.


According to the company, their system can save up to 50% of a building’s total water usage, which is significant given that the average American household uses about 300 gallons of water per day. The system is versatile in that it can be installed in both residential and commercial buildings, making it a viable option for both homeowners and business owners.


According to the company’s owner, the system is simple to install and maintain, and it can pay for itself in a matter of years through water savings. The system costs $5,000 to $20,000 to install, depending on the size of the building, and the company offers financing options for those who cannot afford the upfront cost.


The system not only helps to conserve water, but it also helps to reduce the carbon footprint of a building by reducing the amount of water that must be pumped from treatment plants and delivered to the building. The system can also help to alleviate the strain on sewer and septic systems, which can become overburdened during times of drought.

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Corals Being 3-D Printed Tiles Used for Coral Restoration Thanks to Hong Kong Startup

Kevin Wells

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At least one entity is using creative measures as a means to help save the planet, more specifically, coral reefs. It has long been known that corals across the globe have been deteriorating rapidly due to natural and manmade causes.

With its creative utilization of 3D printing and terracotta, a Hong Kong business is attempting to aid coral in adapting to the issues brought by people.

Hong Kong’s subtropical waters support more coral species than the Caribbean, although the South China Sea region once had even more breathtaking scenery.

According to the University of Hong Kong’s coral ecologist David Baker, “We think that this location was a coral heaven.” The World War II era members who are still living will tell you that the coral was abundant and the water was clear.

However, drainage and pollution seeped into the seas as Hong Kong industrialized.

To restore the “paradise lost,” Baker co-founded the eco-engineering business Archireef.

In a first for the world, his team 3D printed terracotta tiles that resemble artificial reefs. They are biodegradable as well as non-toxic. The tiles were planted with living coral by the team on the sand bottom of a sheltered harbor, and 95% of them have survived for the past couple of years.

Baker responded, “I just considered to myself one night, why not tile the ocean bottom like we’d tile a bathroom or kitchen floor,” when asked how the idea came to him.

The tiles may be used all over the world to help corals adapt, which would be advantageous for both people and marine life. Reefs deflect storm-generated waves away from buildings to safeguard them. Coral supports more than a billion people and is crucial to aquaculture, tourism, and now even healthcare.

In the next two decades, 70 percent to 90 percent of coral worldwide is expected to perish, according to scientists.

In Abu Dhabi, where it also has a modern manufacturing 3D printer, Archireef has expanded.

Vriko Yu, the other co-founder of Archireef, stated, “We utilize our eco-engineering center.”

Yu recently relocated from Hong Kong and wants to aid coral with their relocation. The water temperature in the Persian Gulf can reach 118 degrees; higher temperatures are lethal.

We can enable corals to migrate so they can relocate to deeper waters, Yu added.

Reef tiles could also aid in reunifying isolated coral ecosystems that have been split apart by the massive die-offs brought on by climate change.

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50 Years Later – A Vietnam War Surgeon Meets A Previous Patient

Kelly Taylor

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Mayer Katz has seen a lot in the world, and the Vietnam War was no exception. Like many in his time, he found his medical training critical for not just healing wounds, Katz was also essential at saving lives as well. That initial service was captured in more than just actions, however. As it turned out, Katz’s work was also captured in photography.

The place was a city named Hue and the year was 1968. The location was a battlefield as U.S. marines were fighting a bloody battle to reverse the Tet Offensive and take back the city from the Viet Cong who had snuck in en masse the night before. It was ugly, house-to-house, close quarter fighting costing thousands of lives for every inch. Along with the soldiers, journalist photographers were risking their own lives capturing images. One of them turned out to be a wounded marine being given first aid on top of a tank, and the photograph was captioned as well, identifying the hurt soldier. As it turned out, however, Katz had worked on that particular marine.

Katz didn’t know it right away. In fact, it took 50 years later for Katz to realize the connection while going through a vivid history book with the same photographs taken back in Hue. And, on the bottom of the particular one with the wounded marine on the tank, Katz saw the name in the caption: A.B. Grantham. That name rang a bell, and Katz went back to his medical records, meticulously kept for every surgery he worked on. And there it was, A.B. Grantham’s surgery in the 22nd Surgical Hospital, at the Hue airbase on February 17 of the same year, 1968. Katz’s records also had all of the medical details, functioning as a logbook of the surgery, just like he did for every other one performed before and after.

Grantham remembered the wound he got in Hue. In his own words, the bullet went in him with the same sensation as a red-hot poker being stabbed in his chest. Grantham’s fortune was crafted by the fact that he had fellow marines right next to him that could drag Grantham to safety and first aid. Using whatever was available, cigarette wrappers, napkins and leftover bandages, they plugged the wound and kept Grantham’s critical blood flow in his body more than was leaking from the wound. That initial work kept Grantham alive long enough to get to the Hospital, and that’s where Katz did his magic. A captain at the time, Katz didn’t always save every soldier that came his way, but Grantham was going to be a point on the right side of the picture.

Katz also had the benefit that his patient was in top form and health too. That typically makes a difference in trauma recovery as well. It took hours, 10 blood units, and part of a lung, but Katz was able to save Grantham. The marine went on to live, get married, have kids, get divorced, get married again and start a business. And he survived PTSD as well from the war. Katz gave Grantham that chance to keep going.

Long story short, the photograph from 50 plus years earlier ended up connecting them again. Katz’s daughter reached out the photographer, who then connected Katz and Grantham. As the marine put it, Katz was finishing a surgery followup, just a few decades later. Today they give each other garbage about their favorite football teams, which is probably a lot better than trading bullets and bandages.

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Bottled Water Ranked: See Which Brands Are the Best

Renee Yates

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Bottled water is a handy and portable method to stay hydrated on the go, but with so many brands to choose from, it can be challenging to know which ones to choose. To determine which ranked among the best, we evaluated all the leading water brands and examined their sources. The following is a ranking of bottled water companies, from worst to best:

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Giant, Noisy Otters in Argentina

Kevin Wells

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Sea otters generally look about the size of a small dog, most similar to a Dachshund, or better known as a wiener dog. However, in Argentina, the locals are far more familiar with the Pteronura brasiliensis version of the species, a giant otter that easily reaches 1.7 meters in length. Essentially, this breed is the largest living otter species in the world, or close to it anyway.

For years, the Argentinian giant otter was thought to be extinct. A classic victim of hunting for its fur and development, destroying the otter’s habitat, wiping out its numbers in South America. The last pods were noted in the 1980s in northern Argentina, and further south the otter hadn’t been seen in more than 130 years.

However, in the beginning of summer 2021, a singular male otter was captured while a biologist, Sebastián Di Martino, was doing observations along a river in the El Impenetrable National Park. Lo and behold, this male species was huge, far bigger than any otter the researcher had ever seen or studied before. However, the otter got loose, and it got away before the researcher could take a photo of it for the record. He went back again and this time a photo was possible. The otter approached again, propped up out of the water for a clear view, and its white chest was distinct and visible outside of the water.

A typical giant otter can easily mass more than 65 lbs in body weight. Immediately dubbed “endangered,” the giant otter is a bit of an annoyance due to its diet. The animal goes after local fish voraciously, but it has a vulnerability in being playful and curious around humans. It’s one of the reasons why they were wiped out so easily. Their lack of fear of humans pretty much made the animal an easy target from boats, especially with rifles.

Given the discoveries, in 2018 Argentina’s government started and has made it a point to help boost the otter’s numbers, specifically in the Ibera wetland region. Now, given the presence of the male otter in the Impenetrable, efforts are also being made to reintroduce the giant otter in numbers to the same area as well. More than likely, the individual made his way in from Paraguay, providing proof that the animals use the waterways to stay connected to larger groups. The goal is to keep the male in the area, as well as introduce females, so that they together can create a new local Argentinian pod in the Impenetrable.

Using a female born in captivity, as well as cordoning off the Impenetrable once the male is confirmed inside, the expectation on efforts is that the pair will produce a new family of native giant otters for Argentina and repopulate the area once again with the species. If successful, it will effectively reverse the damage done by humans through the conservation work of humans.

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