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New giant rat species discovered

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Scientists have discovered a new species of giant rat in a remote rainforest in Papua New Guinea.

Measuring 82 centimeters (32.2 inches) from nose to tail and weighing around 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds), the species is thought to be one of the largest rats ever to be found.
The discovery was made by a team from the BBC Natural History Unit inside the crater of Mount Bosavi -- an extinct volcano in the Southern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea.
"This is one of the world's largest rats. It's a true rat, the same kind you find in the city sewers," said Kristofer Helgen, a biologist from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, who was part of the expedition team.
Initial examinations of the rat -- provisionally named the Bosavi woolly rat -- suggest that it belongs to the Mallomys -- a genus of rodents in the muridae family which are the largest living species of rodent.
In 2007, a similar species of giant rat was found in Foja Mountains in Papua New Guinea's Mamberamo Basin.

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Experts can't explain B.C. salmon collapse

Wildlife News

Sep. 6 2009

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER -- Millions of Fraser River sockeye have gone missing and Canada doesn't have the research to help answer why, critics say.

This year was supposed to be bumper year for the fish, but instead of more than 10 million swimming up the Fraser River, scientists with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans now believe just over one million will return.

Scott Hinch, a salmon ecologist at the University of British Columbia, says successive federal governments have cut back on research and now, too little is known about what happens to the fish after they spawn and before they return.

Hinch says it's not clear how changing water temperatures are affecting the salmon's food supply in the ocean, or what new predators could be targeting salmon or competing for food.

More to story:

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Pink salmon making major comeback in Nanaimo harbour

Wildlife News

September 2, 2009
After being rendered virtually extinct in the Nanaimo harbour since the 1950s, pink salmon are now returning to the area by the thousands.
Brian Banks, co-manager of the Nanaimo River Hatchery, said more than 20,000 pink salmon are expected to return to the harbour and adjacent rivers by mid-September, the best numbers since the hatchery joined up with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Nanaimo Fish and Game Protective Association and other organizations to begin a program to reintroduce the species to local waterways earlier this decade.
The partners have been hatching pink salmon eggs taken from Campbell River at the Nanaimo River Hatchery and transferring them to three holding pens in the harbour at the Newcastle Island ferry slip, Duke Point and the Pacific Biological Station in increasing numbers since the program began in 2001.
The young salmon are held in the pens for about a month for imprinting until they are about one gram in weight. Then they are released with the hope many will return to spawn in the area at the end of their two-year lifecycles.
Of the one million released early in 2008, 13,000 have already been counted at the mouth of the Nanaimo River, while other schools have been spotted at the mouth of the Millstone River and other areas of the harbour so far this year and expectations are for thousands more to arrive by the middle of September.
"We began this program as an effort to restart a pink salmon food fishery for First Nations in the area and to provide sports fishermen an opportunity to fish for pink salmon in the harbour once again," said Banks. "This year has seen the best returns yet in the program and we've been pleased to see people lining the banks along the harbour to try their luck at catching some of them. It seems the ocean survival rates for pink salmon around Vancouver Island have been very good this year."


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Seal pulls 5-year-old from dock

Wildlife News

A harbour seal leapt from the water and dragged a five-year-old girl off a dock at a marina in West Vancouver on Tuesday, according to the child's father.
Mike Cunning said he was cleaning fish at the Thunderbird Marina on Marine Drive, just east of Horseshoe Bay, when he heard a splash.
"And I looked over and my daughter had disappeared, and I thought, well, Caleigh has fallen into the water. She has her life jacket on, so she'll just pop back up to the surface," Cunning said.
But it was few seconds before his daughter surfaced about two metres from where she fell in.
"When she popped to the surface, she said, 'Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, the seal!' and I said, 'What?'" he said.
A neighbour on a nearby boat then told Cunning a seal had jumped out of the water and pulled Caleigh from the dock.
"This thing must have taken a running start to be able to launch itself four feet out of the water, grab a 50-pound five-year-old and then drag her underneath the water with a life-jacket on," Cunning said.

He initially thought his daughter's hand was broken because it was badly swollen and bleeding with four large puncture wounds at the base of her wrist.
The little girl was traumatized and taken to the hospital to be treated for the puncture wounds, but is otherwise OK, Cunning said.
Caleigh had been feeding the seals at the fish cleaning station earlier in the day, and Cunning said that's why he suspects it attacked his daughter.
After the incident, she told her father she thought it was very rude of the seal not to ask if she wanted to go for a swim, and she doesn't want to feed the seal or be its friend anymore.
Cunning said he has heard of seals attacking small dogs on leashes and dragging them into the water to eat them, but never attacking a child.

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Disastrous sockeye run flops to a finish

Wildlife News

The Fraser River sockeye run is winding up and millions of missing salmon still haven't shown up.


The Pacific Salmon Commission estimates the run size at 1.37 million sockeye – the worst on record and significantly below the last two dismal years, which fishermen had hoped would not be repeated.

Observers see the result as a sign of ecological catastrophe.

And there's little hope more of the forecast run of 10.5 million sockeye will materialize.

"The migration through Juan de Fuca Strait has virtually dried up to zero," said Department of Fisheries and Oceans area director and Fraser panel chair Barry Rosenberger.

Small numbers of sockeye have continued to come around Vancouver Island through Johnstone Strait, but he said those won't significantly change run size estimates.

If there's a glimmer of good news for sockeye it's that the Fraser River's water temperatures have cooled from dangerously high levels in late July and early August.

Rosenberger said low water flow conditions due to a summer with little rain remains an ongoing challenge for migrating salmon.

Sockeye fishing has been banned for commercial, sport and aboriginal sectors.


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