Two-headed sharks, terns, green jobs and bear cubs: This week in environmental news

By Annie Perry, MNA Intern

Each Friday, MNA highlights recent environmental stories from around the state and country. Here are six of this week’s stories on science and the environment:

Michigan State study discovers world’s first recorded two-headed bull shark (MLive): A group of scientists led by Michigan State University confirmed the discovery of the world’s first-ever two-headed bull shark. The creature was found on April 7, 2011, and was confirmed by the study to be a single shark with two heads, not conjoined twins. Michael Wagner, assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife at MSU, said scientists need to find many more instances of two-headed sharks before they can draw any conclusions about what caused it.

Common tern

A common tern. Photo by Andreas Trepte. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

A Tern for the Better: The Detroit River Comeback (Metromode): Two common tern chicks hatched on Belle Isle last summer, marking the return of the bird after 50 years. A recreated nesting habitat was created and monitored by Greg Norwood and other environmental scientists working with the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the only international environmental collaboration in North America. Norwood and the other scientists celebrated the tern’s return for a variety of reasons: Terns are indicators of environmental health, and collect contaminants in their fat tissue from the fish they eat that can be used to identify concentrations of contaminants like PCBs in the water. In addition, the re-establishment of the tern and other bird and fish species shows the refuge’s ability to create habitat that nurtures threatened species.

Green jobs grow again after dip (Great Lakes Echo): Michigan became one of the fastest-growing states for environmental employment in 2012, even after losing 3 percent of its green jobs the year before. According to Environmental Entrepreneurs, Michigan was among the top 10 states for environmental job growth last year, as the state added 19 projects and about 3,700 jobs. Manufacturing is the largest green sector in Michigan’s economy, followed by construction and administrative and waste services. The other top 10 states in 2012 were California, North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Connecticut, Arizona, New York, Texas and Oregon.

CSI: Invasives (Great Lakes Echo): Researchers in the Great Lakes region are using new DNA techniques to track down and control the spread of invasive species. The researchers search for DNA of an invader in the environment using techniques that may help them understand how these species enter the Great Lakes basin. Many of these recent studies are funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and aim to refine already existing environmental DNA technology so new techniques and applications can be made.

Bear cub petting is back: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signs bill to benefit Upper Peninsula ranch (MLive): Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation that amends Michigan’s Large Carnivore Act to allow public contact with bears up to 90 pounds and 36 weeks old. This new law benefits Oswald’s Bear Ranch in the Upper Peninsula, which previously financed its bear rescue operation by allowing paying customers to sit with cubs in a staging area and take photographs of the interaction. Several organizations opposed the legislation, saying that bears of any size or age can pose a threat to humans. Dean Oswald, who owns Oswald’s Bear Ranch with his wife, said that he has operated for 15 years without a serious customer injury.