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What About The Animals? UK Floods Have Devastating Impact On Nature

What About The Animals? UK Floods Have Devastating Impact On Nature

LONDON — The storms and flooding in the UK over the past few weeks hasn’t just damaged homes and cars, but also wildlife and ecosystems too.

Bumblebees, beetles and caterpillars are at risk of dying at greatly elevated rates through drowning and disturbed hibernations, while earthworms, snails and beetles along the River Thames will be “decimated,” Matt Shardlow, head of the Buglife insect charity, told The Independent.

The negative impact on earthworms could be particularly problematic for the food chain, reducing the food supply for song thrushes and blackbirds in the spring and summer.

Reports of seabirds washing ashore have come in from all over the country as they become exhausted trying to battle the more than 120-kilometer winds and rains. The waves push the birds’ prey into deeper waters where they’re harder to catch, says Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre Officer Marc Smith.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has issued guidelines for people who find either live or dead seabirds washed up, recommending that the public neither touch nor attempt to rescue them. Instead, they advise the public to contact the RSPCA or RSPB.

Kittiwakes, cormorants and smaller seabirds such as oystercatchers and turnstones are among the birds found, but the BBC also reports that many puffins have also washed up, leaving volunteers cleaning up beaches over the weekend visibly upset.

According to the Cornish Wildlife Trust, 29 birds, 14 seals and 9 dolphins have been recorded dead on the shores of Cornwall in the last four weeks.

“The high tides and stormy conditions have meant that many of the beaches the seals use to rest and recoup are covered with water, and there have been reports from around the county of young seals being washed into ridiculous places, up cliffs, into harbours and even into people’s gardens,” the Cornwall Seal Group’s Sue Sayer said.

Hedgehogs, badgers and voles are also being found and rescued, but until the water levels subside, the scale of the impact cannot be fully determined. “Some setts will almost certainly have been damaged or flooded out completely, meaning that whole badger families could be disturbed,” said Mark Jones from Humane Society International. “There will be cubs in those setts right now, and it’s possible that some cubs will have drowned too.”

On Monday 10 cows were rescued after being marooned on an island in a Berkshire field, while in Leicester a Facebook page was created to highlight the conditions of stranded horses. Farrier Mark Johnson created the page after driving past the field where a dead horse was surrounded by others dying. “It was a horrendous sight. I first saw what I thought was a horse lying down in the field, which was very strange because they would normally try to stay on their feet when it is so wet.”

The owner claimed that the horses were “fine,” and the police have said there was no intentional animal neglect.

It will take some time for the waters to recede, but it will take even longer for a full assessment of the true cost of flooding on wildlife and the environment.

Main photo: The ducks in Henley-on-Thames swimming in their extended pond — parttimepriest via Instagram.

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Influencer Union? The Next Labor Rights Battle May Be For Social Media Creators

With the end of the Hollywood writers and actors strikes, the creator economy is the next frontier for organized labor.

​photograph of a smartphone on a selfie stick

Smartphone on a selfie stick

Steve Gale/Unsplash
David Craig and Stuart Cunningham

Hollywood writers and actors recently proved that they could go toe-to-toe with powerful media conglomerates. After going on strike in the summer of 2023, they secured better pay, more transparency from streaming services and safeguards from having their work exploited or replaced by artificial intelligence.

But the future of entertainment extends well beyond Hollywood. Social media creators – otherwise known as influencers, YouTubers, TikTokers, vloggers and live streamers – entertain and inform a vast portion of the planet.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

For the past decade, we’ve mapped the contours and dimensions of the global social media entertainment industry. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, these creators struggle to be seen as entertainers worthy of basic labor protections.

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