August 22, 2004 |
On their last night in the Canadian arctic not long ago, Larry Niles and his research team huddled in tents, buffeted by 50-mile-an-hour winds and a raging summer blizzard. Not far away, at coordinates stored in a GPS unit, tiny shorebirds called red knots hunkered down in their nests. Niles, who heads the endangered-species program for the fish and wildlife division of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, figured that the birds would survive the storm. But for nearly a decade, he hasn't been sure they would survive mankind.
June 6, 2004 |
Larry Niles and an international cadre of shorebird researchers took up residence in a Delaware Bay beach house three weeks ago with a burning question: How many red knots - small, plump shorebirds whose numbers have been plummeting in recent years - would return to the bay this spring? They finally have their answer: not nearly enough. In fact, fewer than ever. After an intensive research effort counting birds, catching them, then weighing, measuring and banding them and collecting feathers for analysis, the mystery of the vanishing red knots has only deepened.
May 9, 2004 |
On a remote coastline not far from the end of the earth, Larry Niles is perched on a hump of dirt, peering through binoculars. In front of him, scrubby grasslands give way to tussocks of marsh, then vast mudflats, dimpled with bird prints. A tidal wash from the Strait of Magellan gurgles in. Against a swath of moonlight, Niles can just make out his gossamer nets, stretched across the flats. This is where he scans, searching for a small, plump, increasingly rare shorebird: the red knot.
June 6, 2003 |
For nearly a decade, scientists worldwide have been watching this marshy corner of the Delaware Bay, predicting an ecological nightmare. A tiny shorebird known as the red knot descends here every spring to feast upon iridescent green horseshoe crab eggs to fuel its long flight to mate in the Arctic. But in a vivid example of the precariousness of the food chain, as the numbers of helmet-shaped crabs have declined, so have the birds. This cold, unforgiving spring, researchers' worst fears have been confirmed: The red knot population on the bay has plummeted to 16,255, about half that of last year.
June 5, 2003 |
NO DOUBT the average Jersey Shore beach-goer has a limited amount of sympathy for horseshoe crabs. At midsummer, their hulking shells litter perfectly good wading areas, with the ones long dead smelling up the joint. But the secret is that the horseshoe crab, ugly and dull though it might seem, is one of the Shore's big life-savers. Endangered bird species may be saved from starvation by eating horseshoe crab eggs. Fishermen enhance their catch with horseshoe crab meat. And potential miracle drugs are tested with a compound from horseshoe crab blood.
June 22, 2002 |
Larry Niles is following the birds - again. And he's got his digital camera with him so you can track his progress. Niles, who heads the state Department of Environmental Protection's Endangered and Nongame Species Program, is deep in the Arctic tundra looking for an intriguing species known as the red knot, which just a few weeks ago had stopped at the Delaware Bay on the way from Antarctica to the Arctic. It is the fourth year that Niles and other researchers have ventured into the wild to look for the tiny aviary puffs that weigh just a few ounces.
September 15, 2000 |
Nelson Figueroa spun a four-hit shutout and scored the deciding run on Reggie Taylor's seventh-inning single as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons blanked the host Indianapolis Indians, 1-0, last night. The win evens the best-of-five Triple A Governor's Cup finals series at 2-2. Figueroa (2-0), who entered the game a winner in his last four starts of the regular season and first of the postseason, struck out nine and walked only one to register the win. Taylor followed Figueroa's one-out double, the pitcher's second hit of the game, with a one-out RBI single into centerfield off of Horacio Estrada, giving Scranton the only run it needed.