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Climate change forces Arctic animals to shift feeding habits: study

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Seals and whales in the Arctic are shifting their feeding patterns as climate change alters their habitats, and the way they do so may determine whether they survive, a new study has found.

Researchers harnessed datasets spanning two decades to examine how two species of Arctic wildlife — beluga whales, also known as white whales, and ringed seals — are adapting to their changing homes.

Both species traditionally hunt for food in areas with sea ice and particularly at so-called tidal glacier fronts, where glaciers meet the ocean.

But with climate change melting sea ice and prompting glaciers to retreat, researchers in Norway decided to look at whether and how animals in the affected areas were adapting.

“The Arctic is the bellwether of climate change,” the researchers wrote.

“With the rapid pace of change rendering genetic adaptation unfeasible,” they reasoned that behavioural and dietary changes “will likely be the first observable responses within ecosystems”.

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                                        AFP/File / Fact file on beluga whales

They compared datasets produced by trackers attached to seals and whales over two sets of time periods.

For the seals, they compared tracker data from 28 individuals between 1996-2003 and then 2010-2016, and for the whales they looked at data from 18 animals between 1995-2001 and 16 animals from 2013-2016.

The data showed that two decades ago, both species spent around half their time foraging at glacier fronts and eating a diet dominated by polar cod.

But ringed seals now spend “significantly higher proportions of time near tidal glacier fronts” while the white whales had the opposite response and had moved elsewhere to look for food.

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“Tidal glacier fronts appear to be serving as Arctic ‘refugia’ for RS (ringed seals), explaining why this species has increased the amount of time spent near glaciers,” the study published Wednesday in the Royal Society Biology Letters journal said.

White whales meanwhile now “have larger home ranges and spent less time near glacier fronts and more time in the centre of fjords”.

The researchers, from the Norwegian Polar Institute and the University of Tromso, speculated that whales have shifted their diet, taking advantage of the fact that climate change is allowing new fish species to move further north as waters warm.

Seals in contrast stuck with their old diet, but appeared to spend more time searching for the food at the glacier fronts.

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AFP/File / DMITRY KOSTYUKOV The “flexible” response apparently shown by whales in their feeding patterns as climate change alters their Arctic habitats “improves their chances of adapting to warming conditions,” researchers say

“WW (white whales) tend to be dietary generalists, in contrast with RS (ringed seals) that are more commonly individual specialists,” the study says.

The “flexible” response apparently shown by the whales “improves their chances of adapting to warming conditions”, the researchers added.

By contrast, the apparent doubling down by the ringed seals on their traditional hunting grounds despite the shifting climate “reflects limited adaptability and resilience”.

And that could be bad news for the seals in a changing world, the study warns.

“Species and subpopulations that are not able to make such changes are almost certain to decline, perhaps to extinction where refugial areas become too limiting for species survival,” it said.

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Melania Trump ripped for bragging about helping children while her husband runs concentration camps for kids

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Melania Trump was ripped on Monday for pushing her signature "Be Best" campaign against bullying while her husband, President Donald Trump, runs concentration camps for children along the southern border.

"Looking forward to collaborating with all of our #BeBest Ambassadors. Delighted to be working alongside so many people both inside and outside of government to better the lives of children everywhere!" Melania Trump tweeted Monday.

The response was some of the harshest since she wore an "I Don't Care" jacked to visit the border.

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Border Patrol blocking Americans from donating toothbrushes and diapers for detained children

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Donald Trump on the US-Mexico Border

On Sunday, Austin Savage and five of his friends huddled into an SUV and went to an El Paso Target, loading up on diapers, wipes, soaps and toys.

About $340 later, the group headed to a Border Patrol facility holding migrant children in nearby Clint with the goal of donating their goods. Savage said he and his friends had read an article from The New York Times detailing chaos, sickness and filth in the overcrowded facility, and they wanted to help.

But when they arrived, they found that the lobby was closed. The few Border Patrol agents — Savage said there were between eight and 10 of them — moving in and out of a parking facility ignored them.

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Michael Flynn’s legal team is making bizarre moves — signaling he’s still hoping for a Trump pardon

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When disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn recently hired a new firebrand lawyer, Sidney Powell, it suggested he could be maneuvering to change his legal strategy.

And on Monday, new signs emerged that his legal team is looking to shake things up. Flynn had another status hearing on Monday before Judge Emmet Sullivan as he awaits sentencing for charges brought by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

In the hearing on Monday, Powell, who had been publicly critical of the Russia investigation before joining Flynn’s team, requested a security clearance to review documents in the case. This was a surprising move, because the government said that there was no classified information in the documents it had turned over to the defense.

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