11-30-2021  4:30 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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Attorney General Rosenblum Says She Won’t Run for Governor

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on Monday put to rest rumors and officially said she will not enter Oregon’s crowded race for governor.

Portland’s Black Population Grew in the Last Decade, but That’s Not the Whole Story

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No. 25 Arkansas beats Missouri, caps best season since 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Sam Pittman grinned for almost the entirety of his postgame press conference Friday night. The Arkansas coach and his team had done something no others ever had. The No. 25 Razorbacks capped their regular season with a 34-17 victory over Missouri,...

Mizzou's Drinkwitz returning to Arkansas for rivalry game

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Just 45 miles of interstate highway separate Eli Drinkwitz from where he started and where he is now as Missouri's head football coach. Raised in the small Arkansas town of Alma, Drinkwitz will come full circle Friday when his Tigers visit No. 25...


State is Painting Lipstick on Its One-of-a-kind, Long-term-care Law

Starting in January, the unpopular law imposes a stiff new tax of 58 cents per 0 earned for every worker in the state ...

Giving Thanks

Just by being alive we can be sure of having moments of sadness as well as happiness. When you’re active in politics, you experience both wins and losses. Sometimes it can be hard to feel grateful. ...

Acting on Climate will Require an Emphasis on Environmental Justice

Climate change affects us all, but its effects aren’t distributed equally. ...

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Attorney: Potter will testify at trial; 4 jurors seated

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Black artist Josephine Baker honored at France's Pantheon

PARIS (AP) — Josephine Baker — the U.S.-born entertainer, anti-Nazi spy and civil rights activist — was inducted into France's Pantheon on Tuesday, becoming the first Black woman to receive the nation’s highest honor. Baker's voice resonated through streets of Paris'...

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Home of Marilyn Manson searched in sex assault investigation

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'The Lost Daughter' wins big at 31st Gotham Awards

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November delivers another hit to sinking consumer confidence

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence fell to a nine-month low in November, clipped by rising prices and...

Detective: Brothers detailed how Jussie Smollett staged hoax

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States: Sackler family members abusing bankruptcy process

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German prosecutors probe alleged tax evasion by tax advisers

German investigators searched offices of accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and the homes of current and...

EU draft pulled after Vatican complains Christmas 'canceled'

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Brazil sees 2 confirmed omicron cases, Latin America's 1st

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Jay Lindsay the Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) -- An ocean experiment that was accidentally conducted amid the shipping silence after Sept. 11 has shown the first link between underwater noise and stress in whales, researchers reported Wednesday.

The analysis indicated that a drop in a stress-related hormone found in the right whales was tied to a dip in ocean noise that followed a near-standstill in ship traffic, due to security concerns following the attacks.

The work indicates whales and other sea life that use sound to communicate and travel can be harmed by the noise. That could prompt more research and eventually influence future ocean traffic and development, said New England Aquarium scientist Rosalind Rolland, the report's lead author.

"This is definitely a very important piece in the puzzle that lends credence to the idea that, yes, we potentially have a problem out there and we need to learn a lot more about it," Rolland said.

The report combined data from two unrelated experiments in Canada's Bay of Fundy that happened to be occurring simultaneously. One involved acoustic recordings of right whales; the other the collection of whale feces samples, which contained stress-indicating hormones.

It wasn't until 2009 that Rolland realized the information existed for the analysis, published Wednesday in the British journal Proceedings of The Royal Society B.

"Here is the first solid piece of evidence that says there's a link between noise level and stress," said Christopher Clark, director of the bioacoustics research program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, who was not a paper co-author. Clark noted stress has long been tied to longevity, reproduction, disease and other key health indicators in whales.

There's no international standard for what ocean noise levels should be, and it's been tough to get at what kinds of problems it causes, Rolland said.

The use of military sonar at sea has been one source of tension between governments and conservationists, who claim that such sounds kill whales and other marine life.

The Bay of Fundy is bordered primarily by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Rolland was there in September 2001, taking right whale fecal samples in the midst of a study on the health and reproduction of the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

She remembered getting word at the waterfront of the terror attacks, then seeing her crew in tears as they watched the coverage. It was a brilliant day, and after a while, the crew decided to go on with their work, as a measure of defiance and also because the bay was "calming for the soul," Rolland said.

"It's like our cathedral," she said. "It's a beautiful place."

That day and those following were like a primal ocean scene, Rolland said. "There was nobody out there except for us and the whales."

Around the same time, another researcher, Susan Parks, was getting acoustic recordings on mothers and their calves for research on the social behavior of the whales.

The data didn't come together until late 2009, when Rolland started researching stress and underwater noise to prepare for a workshop organized by the Office of Naval Research. She realized Parks had four days of sound recordings from the bay, two days before and two days after Sept. 11, and she had five years of data on stress hormone levels for the whales that included that time.

A hunch, and then quick analysis by Rolland, showed a possible correlation between a drop in sound and the drop in whale stress hormone levels. The naval office eventually agreed to fund the work that led to Wednesday's paper, she said.

The more rigorous analysis showed a significant decrease in background noise in the bay post-Sept. 11, including a drop in the low frequency sounds that ships emit and which the whales use to communicate.

Scientists compared the stress hormone levels found in the whale feces during the five-year period and found them to be markedly lower only during the time when ship traffic was down immediately after Sept. 11.

Rolland said caveats come with any accidental study. A planned study would have had more acoustic and hormone data. This study obviously can't be repeated. And it's also unclear how much chronic stress from noise the whales can take before the population is affected, largely because it's impossible to conduct controlled experiments on 50 ton animals.

But even with the caveats, Rolland said, "It's pretty good evidence. We have no other explanation for these findings."

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