Japanese nuclear disaster continues


This video says about itself:

As officials and technicians in Japan battle to prevent reactor meltdowns, the debate over nuclear power has been reopened.

Al Jazeera speaks with Jan Beranek of Greenpeace.

Police in disaster-hit Fukushima prefecture in Japan warned today that the struggle to clear the dead from the area was being impeded by radiation alarms: here.

Japan Nuclear Leak: Radioactive Water Continues Pouring Into The Sea: here.

Lake Eyre flooding makes rare Australian bird paradise


This video from Australia is called Lake Eyre Comes Alive.

From Wildlife Extra:

Lake Eyre floods for the third year in a row.

World’s Largest Salt Lake Comes Back to Life in South Australia

March 2011. Following last year’s spectacular sight as floodwaters filled the once dormant Lake Eyre in South Australia, the remarkable natural phenomenon is occurring for a (potentially unprecedented in recent times) third consecutive year. Visitors can marvel at the reborn lake with scenic flights and expeditions.

At 15 metres below sea level and Australia’s lowest point, Lake Eyre has only filled to the brim three times in the last 150 years. In 2000 the world’s largest salt lake became half full, a rare wonder which was mirrored in 2009 when floodwaters flowed along the normally dormant creeks and rivers to breathe life into the dry lake once more. The 2009 Lake Eyre flood peaked at 1.5 metres deep in late May, a quarter of its maximum recorded depth of 6 metres.

Heavy rains in Queensland and New South Wales over Christmas 2009 and New Year 2010 coupled with good summer rains in the South Australian Outback led to a repeat of the impressive phenomenon in 2010.

2011

After the well documented major floods in Queensland in December 2010, many Queensland rivers and streams have been carrying the water slowly southwards. The usually dry Outback is also looking surprisingly verdant and green. It takes several months for the water to reach Lake Eyre, and it is predicted that water levels in the lake will peak around Easter. It is thought that it may well be the largest flood since 1969. Visit between now and September to catch the spectacle before floodwaters recede.

Birding paradise

One result of this extraordinary event is prolific birdlife returning to the vast inland sea, making it a veritable birding paradise. With a lot of water on the ground it is not uncommon to see red-necked avocets, grey teals and black-tailed native hens. Other birds taking advantage of the conditions in varying habitats are brown songlarks, inland dotterels (with chicks), orange and crimson chats and red-backed kingfishers, which are all being seen readily within the area.

New South American plant genus discovered


This video from Ecuador is called Yasuni National Park Documentary (in English).

From ScienceDaily:

Rare Discovery of Plant Genus

(Mar. 30, 2011) — The Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) has played a significant role in identifying a new genus, Yasunia, with two confirmed species from Ecuador and Peru, Y. quadrata and Y. sessiliflora.

New species are often found among the samples that are gifted to the Missouri Botanical Garden for identification. While hundreds of new plant species are identified each year, new genera are extremely uncommon, and being coupled with the two new species makes Yasunia very distinctive.

Henk van der Werff is the Head of Monographic Studies Department at the Missouri Botanical Garden. He explains, “There are many new species found mostly in the tropics each year. Typically, new species differ in minor characteristics from their close relatives. New genera differ in major characteristics from their relatives and such a find is truly a matter of luck and perseverance.”

In 1993, MBG staff member David Neill collected the first sample in the Amazon lowlands of Ecuador, yet it remained an undetermined specimen due to the lack of detail, particularly of the flower which is needed for identification. Local staff conducting floristic inventory in the Yasuni National Park collected additional specimens from a tagged tree, ensuring that the information necessary for identification would become available. From these samples, it was determined that the characteristics present in the new specimens did not fit into any of the recognized Neotropical genera of Lauraceae.

In 2003 the collection of the second species was located in the upper Rio Utiquinia in Ucayali (Peru) near the border of Brazil. In minor details, it is very different from the Ecuadorian species.

DNA of the two Yasunia species and their related analysis may ultimately result in changes of the classification of the plant family.

“This is an extremely rare and exciting scenario. The two new species that were collected did not belong in a known genus, so what we suddenly had were both two new species and new genus. Usually, when a new genus is discovered, it is associated with only one species. It is very unusual to find two new species belonging to the same new genus. Yasunia with two new species is one of those very rare cases,” said Van der Werff.

Yasuni national park in Ecuador is the most biodiverse region on Earth. Here is a selection of some of the weird and wonderful species, photographed and explained by Kelly Swing, founding director of the Tiputini biodiversity station.

Neotropical plant evolution: assembling the big picture: here.

Brazil’s lower parliament has passed a batch of reforms to the existing forest code, which BirdLife Partner SAVE Brazil has called “a monster which will have significant impact over deforestation for the next 50 years”: here.

Adder mating season dance video


This video was made by Jan and Annie Rocks in the Bargerveen nature reserve near Emmen in Drenthe province, the Netherlands, on 29 March 2011.

It shows two male adders, in a dance during the mating season of this species. The best dancer will be able to mate with a female.

Black melanistic adder in Kent: here.

May 2011: The family of a nine-year-old girl who made the headlines recently after being bitten by an adder in Hampshire has spoken up in support of snakes. Tylar Butcher, who was holidaying in the New Forest, was rushed to hospital after being bitten while walking with her family: here.

March 2012. Researchers want to find out if decreasing numbers of adders in the North East has led to inbreeding among colonies of the UK’s only venomous snake: here.