The White Whale, coal terminal controversy, biomimicry for kids, and feeding the world, Buffett-style

Four great recent headlines from Fellows! From Craig Welch, environment reporter with the Seattle Times, a look at the mysterious white orca that is haunting the northern Pacific.

Rare white orca seen off Russia may have been Alaska visitor, too

On a sparkling summer morning in 2010, a group of Russian scientists working near the Kamchatka Peninsula spied a giant swimming ghost: an exceedingly rare, all-white killer whale, diving and surfacing as part of an ordinary orca pod.

"It was startling to see this 2-meter-high white dorsal fin shooting up among the other killer whales," said Erich Hoyt, who oversees the Russian whale-research group that announced the 2-year-old sighting this week by releasing photographs and video. "It takes your breath away."

But it wasn't the first time such a creature made waves. In 2000, a University of Washington seabird ecologist trailed and photographed an all-white adult orca for a half-hour off Alaska's central Aleutian Islands. Eight years later, a whale biologist photographed the same animal, identifying it by a shark-bite scar and telltale ripples on its fin... Read more.


From Stephan Michaels, also appearing in the Seattle Times, an interview with Governor Gregoire and look at a proposed coal terminal in Bellingham, WA:

Gregoire needs to weigh in on proposed coal-terminal

IT was a privilege to speak with Gov. Chris Gregoire recently on the KCTS-TV program, "Ask the Governor." I asked about her thoughts on the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) north of Bellingham. For anyone unfamiliar, Seattle-based SSA Marine wants to build the largest export terminal on the continent, so it can ship up to 48 million tons of coal to China each year.

"... [W]e're going to put it through the environmental-review process," Gregoire replied. "And I am not going to get involved in it ... . I have never taken a position for or against it."... Read more.


Sharon Oosthoek has an article in Science News for Kids. And don't be misled by the "for kids" part of the title. This article is far more interesting and informative than most things I read in publications intended "for grown-ups"!

Cool jobs: Like Mother Nature

Imagine a tape so strong it can hold your weight and be peeled off thousands of times without losing its stickiness.

Stanislav Gorb, a professor of zoology at the University of Kiel in Germany, figured out how to make such a tape last year. His creation was made possible by biomimicry, the science of looking to nature for inspiration in designing new technology.

Over the course of billions of years, living things have evolved through a process of trial and error. Many scientists now believe that research in the lab can benefit from studying what does and doesn’t work in nature... Read more.


And finally, John Flesher with the AP talks with Howard Buffett (son of Warren) about  how to fight hunger in rural America:

Howard Buffett helps start rural feeding program

Farmer and philanthropist Howard G. Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, wants to enlist fellow food producers in a new campaign to fight hunger in rural America.

Buffett and other organizers planned to announce the "Invest an Acre" initiative Thursday. It will encourage farmers around the nation to donate profits from the sale of 1 acre's crop to the charity Feeding America, which will use the money to support food banks in rural communities where advocates say malnutrition is a serious — if often overlooked — scourge.

"Poverty and hunger in rural America is very much out of sight, out of mind," said Howard Buffett, who in 1999 established a foundation to help the world's needy. "It doesn't jump out at you. It's not like the brazen images of starving children in Ethiopia ... but that doesn't mean it isn't just as devastating to people who are hungry."... Read more.