Sunday, December 8, 2013
The Dark Knight trilogy is over. Batman prevailed, good triumphed over evil and the future for Gotham City looks bright.
This baby brown bat, like its foraging parents, helps mankind by devouring insects. But the species “could face extinction in the near future,” a reader says.
The Associated Press
Another bat story is unfolding here in Maine. This story takes place in your own backyard. Look up into the evening sky; besides a few stars, what do you see? My guess is very little.
That's the story: A night sky that once teemed with brown bats is now virtually empty. Brown bats have been dying at an alarming rate and could face extinction in the near future.
The culprit is an insidious fungus (Geomyces destructans) that causes a lethal disease called white nose syndrome. Since the disease was discovered in 2006, more than 5.7 million bats have died in the U.S.
You may find bats annoying and distasteful. Regardless, bats consume 50 percent of their body weight each evening. This translates into an average nightly total of 1,500 mosquitoes per bat. All told, bats provide a staggering $3.7 billion a year in pest control services.
It's hard to believe that the tiny bat darting around in your backyard could have such a significant impact. Don't be fooled.
Despite its silence and small size, it is calling our attention to a much greater and more harrowing story: Leading biologists the world over are warning us that the Earth is facing a mass species extinction on a scale not seen since the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
If current trends continue, 50 percent of the planet's species will be extinct in less than 100 years. This is not a comic book story line but a real-world prediction.
The heroes in this case need to be you and me taking decisive action to avert disaster and save the day. Get involved, be the superhero you always dreamt of being. Start here: news.mongabay.com; www.biologicaldiversity.org, and www.fws.gov/WhiteNoseSyndrome.
David C. Reece
Story inspires memories of nights on 'Old Ironsides'
In Saturday's Press Herald ("USS Constitution to set sail again," Aug. 18), you had a story and picture on the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides," also the USF, or United States Frigate, Constitution), which triggered an interesting and rather unusual story relating to this "grand old lady of the seas"!
I was a young naval officer during World War II, had command of a small sub chaser and ended up at a secret base in the Aleutian Islands where I turned over my vessel to the Russian government. My next assignment was to the Boston Naval Shipyard as their operations officer.
My parents' home was just south of Boston in a small town where I was residing at the time, but many evenings, due to the nature of my position and Boston's horrendous traffic, I ended up staying at the bachelor officers quarters at the Naval Shipyard.
However, there were times that I was unable to obtain a room at the BOQ, and would you believe, I used to spend the night on board the Constitution in what would have been the "Captain's Great Cabin" during her active sailing days.
The commanding officer of the Constitution at the time was a young Navy lieutenant, who was married with a family in the local area, a good friend and always happy to have me stay on board,
The Great Cabin itself had been modernized and was quite comfortable. It had served as a flagship during the war years and was returned to its original status following the war.
commander, U.S. Navy (retired); captain, Maine Maritime Academy (retired)
Bicyclists need to respect drivers, heed road rules
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