Tuesday's uplifting bundle of good news nuggets.
A new study reveals the role whales play in boosting biodiversity – offering further incentive to increase their numbers. Researchers at Stanford University, California, found that baleen whales (which includes humpbacks, minke and blue) eat three times more krill than previously thought. “This new higher estimate is important,” Stanford University’s Matthew Savoca told New Scientist. “By consuming even more prey than previously thought… they are also pooping more, and that poop is actually marine fertiliser.” Marine fertiliser helps promote the growth of phytoplankton, which, in a virtuous circle, feeds the krill that whales eat.
A coterie of the best-known faces in art has returned to the banks of the Thames in London. Paul Cézanne’s card players have been in Norway, while a bandaged Vincent van Gogh has been visiting Amsterdam. Claude Monet’s image of a sun-drenched tree on a beach in Antibes took a summer trip to Hull. Now back home together, they are hanging in the Courtauld Gallery in Somerset House, after a three-year refurbishment that has let in light and created space. The building work, estimated to have cost about £57m, has brought the large first-floor Great Room, the setting for Britain’s first Royal Academy summer exhibitions, between 1780 and 1836, back to its original stately grandeur.
There are approximately 200 Arabian leopards left in the wild in the vast wilderness of Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, the Arabian Leopard Breeding Center in Taif welcomed the birth of a female cub, fuelling hope for the survival of one of the world’s most critically endangered animals. The cub is now one of 16 born in their captive-breeding programme which aims to bring the animal back from near extinction, and the centre is gradually rewilding the animals back into the mountains of Al-'Ula. To support their endeavours, the Royal Commission for Al-'Ula is transforming 80 percent of the area into a nature reserve with habitats specifically designed for the Arabian leopard.
‘Extraordinarily rare’: intact 1,200-year-old canoe (15ft / 4.5m) recovered from Wisconsin lake after two divers stumbled across it. “This is the first time this thing has been out of the water in 1,200 years,” said state archaeologist Jim Skibo. Ancestors of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Native Americans, known as People of the Big Water, built dugout canoes in the area by burning the inside of logs and skillfully scraping them out with stone tools over hundreds of hours, reports The Guardian. The vessel will undergo several years of preservation treatment and may end up in a proposed Wisconsin Historical Society museum in Madison. “I’m an archaeologist who tells stories from artefacts,” Skibo said. “And this is a great one.”
The state of Massachusetts is set to trial the great idea of installing the first-ever solar-powered roadside sound barrier. Designed by a local company called Ko-Solar, this innovative system will replace old regular barrier panels with solar ones. Basically, it's making good use of what would otherwise be wasted space and, in time, could power hundreds or, if widely adopted elsewhere, thousands of homes.
The HPV vaccine has reduced cases of cervical cancer by nearly 90 percent among women who received the jab when they were 12 or 13 years old, bringing hope to thousands and indicating a major step forward in cervical cancer prevention.
Act of kindness: Scott Mills, the owner of Toyworld in Bendigo, Australia, said two grandparents walked into his store last week, wanting to give back. "They told us a story about how they were in hardship when they were younger and struggled to pay their bills ahead of Christmas," Mills said. "They always swore that if they ever found themselves in a position where they could help, they would." They then paid off the bills of 82 families. Manager Debra Delves said she was given the "best job ever" to call the 82 families who were chosen at random and tell them the good news. "You don't realize how much of an effect the last 12 months has had on these families," she told the Daily Mail Australia.
Looking for a different kind of advent calendar this year? More than 20 environmental, health and social justice organisations have come together to launch the Injustice Advent Calendar. The free online calendar suggests 24 positive actions that people can take in the run-up to Christmas. “At its heart, Christmas is about connection and compassion – and the calendar helps us do that, while taking a stand against mass consumerism,” said Charlotte Timson, CEO of Traidcraft Exchange, the development charity behind the initiative.
Quote of the day: The power and majesty of the nature of the universe at every turn lacks credence if one’s mind embraces parts of it only and not the whole. Pliny the Elder.
Dive in Deeper
The Birds of Paradise Project
After 8 years and 18 expeditions to New Guinea, Australia, and nearby islands, Cornell Lab scientists succeed in capturing images of all 39 species in the bird-of-paradise family for the first time ever.