New coral reefs film


By Sarah Simpson:

Coral Rekindling Venus

Fri Jun 8, 2012 02:39 PM ET

Art and oceans. Science and music. Solar systems and sustainability. They all join forces in a new art film showcasing coral reefs and rare marine life most threatened by climate change.

The project’s mastermind, Australian artist Lynette Wallworth, designed the film, Coral Rekindling Venus, for projection in digital planetariums, and she invited the New York City band Antony and the Johnsons to write the song that accompanies this trailer.

Both the artist and the musicians are known for their evocative lamentations about humanity’s impact on nature. Five years in the making with the help of an Emmy-winning underwater cinematographer, the ambitious film is “a call to action,” Wallworth told The Guardian.

New Hope For Corals? Here.

Marsh tit and bat share nestbox

Marsh tit sharing nestbox with bat

The Dutch Mammal Society reports something unusual about a nestbox in Crailo forest this year.

That nestbox is built for coal tits.

However, this spring marsh tits built their nest and laid eggs in the box. The first time that this species was recorded in nestboxes in that area.

In the same box, a common noctule bat rests regularly.

The animals do not seem to mind each other.

English tern flies again after African injury

This video from England is called Common and Arctic terns returning to Coquet Island (whimsical).

From the RSPB in Britain:

Olympic Tern at RSPB Cliffe Pools

Last modified: 08 June 2012

As London prepares to receive visitors from across the globe for the 2012 Olympics, RSPB Cliffe Pools expects to welcome back its very own athlete of Olympic proportions. The nature reserve is an important home to wintering wildfowl and waders but also a summer breeding ground for migratory birds such as the common tern.

This sleek seabird of pure white, with a blood-red bill, black crest and swallow tail, has nested on the islands created by the flooding of the old cement works since they closed in 1970. As the world looked forward to the Seoul Olympics, back in July 1987, Roger Kiddie, a science and math teacher from Gravesend, rowed out to the tern colony at Cliffe Pools with Cliff Sharr, a local villager and renowned ornithologist on the north Kent marshes. The men spent the afternoon ringing the common tern chicks under a relentless attack from the adults. Common terns defend their nests aggressively, attacking more furiously those they recognise as repeat offenders. The chicks leave the nest almost immediately after hatching, so time was against the men.

Roger said, “Common terns spend their winter off the west coast of Africa, indeed, most of their life is spent at sea, so the chances of recapturing a ringed tern is always slight; but in the 1980’s ringing still presented the best opportunity for us to learn where these birds migrate to. We now know that common terns return each year to the colony from which they hatched, for Cliffe Pools that means an annual round trip of about 10,000 miles.”

The average lifespan of a common tern is 12 years so they rack-up a lot of sea miles, ably assisted by the Trade Winds and the unusual ability to replace worn-out flight feathers twice in a year.

In December 2011, a fisherman from Guinea Bissau, on the west coast of Africa, found a tern on his decks with an injured leg. Terns are known as sea swallows, their graceful appearance and dainty build affords them a different respect than the raucous gulls. The fisherman attended to the bird and returned it to the ocean in good health, but not before noting the details of a ring on its other leg.

How very much better this, presumably poor, African fisherman acted towards this fish-eating bird than rich European commercial fishing fat cats lobbying for killing fish-eating birds.

From this information, just received by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), we know that this tern was one of those chicks ringed by Cliff and Roger 25 years ago.

Roger has since retired, but continues to ring birds for the BTO. In the tern’s lifetime the Olympics have been to Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing, and with a little more luck, it is now wheeling around the Thames Estuary looking down onto the London Olympics. In its own feat of Olympic proportions this little bird (equal in weight to a tin of sardines and with a wingspan of just one human arm’s length), has flown the same distance as from the Earth to the Moon!

Roger Kiddie said, “This has to be one of the highlights of my 40 years bird ringing experience, it is truly remarkable.”

Skylark and spoonbill

On 2 June 2012, after the young barn owls were ringed, we went to the Eempolder nature reserve not far away.

A black-tailed godwit sitting on a pole along the road.

A skylark sings, flying.

This is a video of a skylark singing while sitting.

Hares in the meadow.

A northern lapwing drives away a marsh harrier.

A bit further, a spoonbill stands on a ditch bank.

Redshanks flying and running on muddy banks.

A pied wagtail.

A male gadwall duck swimming.

Also on the Eempolder: here.

Bahrain dictatorship persecutes 11-year-old child

Ali Hasan Alqudaihi

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

Bahrain: Ongoing detention of 11 year old child without a crime

07 June 2012

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses grave concern over the continued targeting of children with arrest and detention, even those below the age of 15.

The BCHR has received information that the authorities have detained an 11 year-old child Ali Hasan Alqudaihi for more than 20 days now on charges of “illegal gathering”. He is currently the youngest detainee in the prisons of Bahrain.

On 13 May 2012, 11 year old Ali Hasan Alqudaihi was arrested on the street in his hometown Bilad Alqadeem by security officials in civilian clothing and driving a civilian car; he was taken to the Nabeeh Saleh police station. The eleven year-old stated that he was beaten and humiliated at the time of his arrest. He was charged with “illegal gathering” and detained at the juvenile detention centre as per an order from the juvenile court’s judge, who has extended the detention period into its 3rd week on 4 June 2012. The child has not yet been found guilty of the alleged crime, but he has been already been detained for over 20 days now, and kept away from his home and school during the period of the final exams.

Last month, the BCHR has reported another 2 cases of detention and ill-treatment of children below the age of 15 at police custody. Records show that over 60 children under the age of 18 are currently held by the authorities. At least three of these minors received very harsh sentences of up to 15 years in prison. These sentences were handed down by a military court which has been criticized for its general incompetence, conducting trials with insufficient grounds for prosecution, and a wilful ignorance of the torture allegations brought forth by the defendants.

Minors below the age of 15 are not criminally responsible in the eyes of the law in Bahrain, however, they are often being arrested from areas of protests and can be detained for several weeks.

The detention and ill-treatment of a child without an immediate and good cause, in the absence of a conviction of crime, and against his interest as a student in the period of final exams is in contrary with several articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which includes Art(3): “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” , Art(37): “States Parties shall ensure that: (b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;”

The BCHR demands the immediate release of 11 year-old Ali Hasan Alqudaihi and all other detained children who were arrested during the on-going protests in Bahrain, and to drop all falsified charges against them. We appeal to children’s rights organizations and the international community to call on the Bahraini authorities to stop violating children’s rights.

Bahrain: Arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of Nabeel Rajab: here.

Scholars Group Calls for Bahrain Medics Release: here.

Music inspired by animals

This video says about itself:

From the album Songs For Unusual Creatures by Michael Hearst

Chinese Giant Salamander” written, recorded, performed, and filmed by Michael Hearst with additional camera work by Kelly Eudailey. Also featuring Maddie the cat.

From Discover magazine:

Unusual Creatures, Beautiful Sounds: Composer Michael Hearst’s New Album

An album of songs inspired by animals doesn’t sound immediately promising. It brings to mind certain cassette tapes from my youth, featuring bearded men singing earnest ballads about the banana slug (not a joke; I actually had that tape).

But Songs for Unusual Creatures, by composer Michael Hearst, is a beast of a different color. If you popped it into your player without any context at all, you’d hear a catchy, rhythmic cross between classical music and jazz, threaded with eerie theremin solos and digeridoo bass lines. It’s the kind of music you might play on endless loop while you study, work out, or write (ahem). Lots of syncopation and kooky instruments, as well as clear melodies, keep the sonic landscape interesting. (You can see Hearst perform one of the songs above.)

But it’s not just pretty sounds. Each track on the CD draws its inspiration from one of 15 unusual creatures, the kind of evolution-honed weirdoes that readers of this blog and science writers like myself enjoy so much, like the blue-footed booby, the Chinese giant salamander, the honey badger, and the humpback anglerfish. Each of these animals is profoundly odd—the tardigrade (track 11), for example, is one of the few creatures that can survive the vacuum of space—and their eponymous songs are also distinctively strange. “Dugong,” about the cigar-shaped, seagrass-grazing marine mammals, is a spacey, blue little tune. ”Tardigrade” sounds like the love child of a Gypsy circus band and a jazz quartet.

Rare lizard orchid on Dutch island

Lizard orchid

Ecomare museum in the Netherlands reports that a rare orchid species has been discovered on Terschelling island recently.

This newly discovered spot along a footpath is the most northern place where this flowering plant, the lizard orchid, grows.

Earlier, the few places in the Netherlands where one could find lizard orchids were all in the southern half of the country.

Another rare orchid on Terschelling: here. And here.

Texel island orchids: here. And here. And here. And here.

Krimbos in Texel: here.

More Texel flowers: here.

Evolution and Biogeography of the Slipper Orchids: Eocene Vicariance of the Conduplicate Genera in the Old and New World Tropics: here.

PHOTOS: Orchids of Latin America: here.

Ancestral deceit and labile evolution of nectar production in the African orchid genus Disa: here.