Mysterious Antarctic sound turns out to be whales


This video is called Close Encounter with Minke Whale in Antarctica.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Scientists solve mystery of Southern Ocean ‘quacking’ sound

Noise heard in the Southern Ocean has been attributed to the underwater chatter of the Antarctic minke whale

Taku Dzimwasha

Wednesday 23 April 2014 15.05 BST

The mystery source of a strange quacking sound coming from the ocean has been discovered.

The so-called “bio-duck” noise, which occurs in the winter and spring in the Southern Ocean, had confused researchers for over 50 years.

Scientists have now attributed the sound to underwater chatter of the Antarctic minke whale.

Submarine crews first heard the quacking sound – a series of repetitive, low-pitched pulsing sounds – in the 1960s.

Lead researcher Denise Risch, from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration north-east fisheries science centre in Massachusetts, told the BBC: “Over the years there have been several suggestions, but no one was able to really show this species was producing the sound until now.”

The research team attached suction-cup sensor tags equipped with underwater microphones to a pair of minke whales off the western Antarctic peninsula in February last year, with the aim of monitoring their feeding behaviour and movements.

These were the first acoustic tags deployed on Antarctic minke whales, and the team compared their recordings with years worth of collected audio recordings to match the sounds. Researchers were able to identify the quacking noise, as well as downward-sweeping sounds previously linked to minke whales.

The sounds “can now be attributed unequivocally to the Antarctic minke whale,” Risch and her team wrote in a study published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Researchers are hoping to retrospectively analyse previous recordings to investigate “seasonal occurrence and migration patterns” of the whales.

Scientists remain puzzled as to why the whales produce the sound, but it is thought that the animals make the noise close to the surface before they make a deep dives to feed.

Risch added: “Identifying their sounds will allow us to use passive acoustic monitoring to study this species. That can give us the timing of their migration – the exact timing of when the animals appear in Antarctic waters and when they leave again – so we can learn about migratory patterns, about their relative abundance in different areas and their movement patterns between the areas.”

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Libyan artists in danger


This video says about itself:

Tadrart Acacus, UNESCO World Heritage Site

21 July 2009

Tadrart Acacus is a desert area in western Libya and is part of the Sahara. It is situated close to the Libyan city of Ghat. Tadrart means ‘mountain’ in the native language of the area (Tamahaq language). It has a particularly rich array of prehistoric rock art. The Acacus has a large variation of landscapes, from differently coloured sand dunes to arches, gorges, rocks and mountains. Major landmarks are the arches of Afzejare and Tin Khlega.

Although this area is one of the most arid of the Sahara, there is vegetation, such as the callotropis plant. The area is known for its rock-art and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of the importance of these paintings and carvings. The paintings date from 12,000 BC to 100 AD and reflect cultural and natural changes in the area. There are paintings and carvings of animals such as giraffes, elephants, ostriches and camels, but also of men and horses. Men are depicted in various daily life situations, for example while making music and dancing.

Now, four years after the making of this video, both this ancient Libyan art, and today’s Libyan art and its makers are in danger.

After George W Bush invaded Iraq, 90% of that country’s artists were killed or fled to other countries.

Something similar happens now as the consequence of another so-called ‘humanitarian’ war, the NATO war on Libya in 2011.

From Magharebia (Washington DC, USA):

Libya Chaos Impacts Artists

By Asmaa Elourfi, 17 April 2014

Interview

Benghazi — With Libya’s capital of culture facing daily bombings and assassinations, artists are left in a perilous position.

To get a handle on the situation, Magharebia met in Benghazi with Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi, a 42-year-old actor, playwright and songwriter. He began his theatre career in the ’90s, before later performing at events in Tunisia and Morocco.

As al-Obeidi explains, Benghazi’s “chaos and insecurity” is taking a toll on the city’s famed cultural and literary activities.

Magharebia: As an artist, how do you see the situation in Libya now?

Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi: Writers, poets and intellectuals fully realise the deteriorating security situation and have their own visions about it. They only wait for calm to prevail to present their ideas on how to deal with these issues.

This is because artists are the closest ones to the street; in my opinion, they are the real mirror of the street.

Magharebia: What’s keeping writers and actors from proceeding with their careers in Libya?

Al-Obeidi: There are many obstacles, but the fact that theatres are not fully prepared for theatrical troupes is the main obstacle.

Writers have their own very profound imaginations, but the entities concerned with writers are not playing their roles as they should. For example, Benghazi, which is the cultural capital, has its own literary experiences and elements, and is known for its art, creation and culture, but its literary production is very modest.

Magharebia: What are your latest works?

Al-Obeidi: I’m now writing another play titled “I’m without Address”, a monodrama depicting the condition of Arab citizens following the revolutions, the ambiguity they live in, the concepts that have changed and the schizophrenia they live. The play is being rehearsed now by al-Mashhad al-Masrahi theatrical troupe in Morocco. I’ve also released, at my own expense, my first collection of lyrics and popular poetry.

Magharebia: What do you see for your country’s future?

Al-Obeidi: Building Libya is not an impossible wish. We have to reach national reconciliation and put aside hatreds and clean our hearts before we can talk about building the state or institutions.

We as Libyans are Arabs, and we depend too much on traditions, habits and tribes, and this is a double-edged weapon.

If we can utilise all of these capabilities, we’ll reach the shore of safety and the country and future generations will rest. However, if we proceed with retaliations, hatred and double standard policies, we’ll continue in this dark tunnel.

Magharebia: What part does an artist play in this?

Al-Obeidi: Their role is important and vital. They have to work day and night to get their ideas across using all peaceful means. They have to embody their visions through their works of art because the street is now looking for an alternative to solve the crisis, and here comes the role of the pioneering artist who can reach all categories of society with his/her distinguished style.

This is because the artist is loved by all, and stands at the same distance from all; therefore, the artist shouldn’t deal lightly with his assigned role in society, as he is responsible before history.

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Ancient underwater forest discovery in Gulf of Mexico


This video from the USA is called Alabama‘s Underwater Forest.

From the Houston Chronicle in the USA:

Divers collecting funds to film ancient, hidden forest discovered in Gulf

By Carol Christian

April 17, 2014 | Updated: April 18, 2014 1:12am

A team of scuba divers is trying to raise $15,000 to make a documentary about a hidden, ancient underwater forest in the Gulf of Mexico.

To enlist the public’s help, they turned to Kickstarter.com, a popular platform for crowd-source fundraising.

By early Thursday afternoon, just one week into the campaign, they had raised more than $10,000. Under Kickstarter rules, they must meet their goal by their own deadline — in this case May 1 — or they get nothing.

The forest is a half-mile-square area of 50,000-year-old cypress stumps perfectly preserved under the ocean floor off the coast of Alabama. When the wood is cut, it has a “cypressy” smell, and sap oozes out of it, Raines said.

“That’s 50,000-year-old sap coming out of these trees,” said team member Ben Raines, a former reporter for the Mobile Press Reporter who is now executive director of the Weeks Bay Foundation in Fairhope, Ala.

Rewards offered by the team to Kickstarter donors range from access to high resolution photos, for a $10 contribution, to a chance to dive at the site, for a $2,000 pledge.

“We got our first taker today,” Raines said Thursday of the $2,000 donation.

Money raised beyond the goal will allow the team to do more filming and prepare special graphics, Raines said.

Others behind the documentary proposal are Chas Broughton, owner of Underwater Works in Fairhope, Ala., and Eric Lowe, the photographer for above-water shots. Raines is the underwater photographer.

The forest’s existence has generated intense interest around the world since its discovery was announced a couple years ago, Raines said.

Its exact location, about 15 miles off the coast, has been kept secret to prevent harmful disruption to the site, including commercial salvaging of the stumps, he said.

The Weeks Bay Foundation is working on a federal designation as a marine sanctuary for the ancient forest that divers have described as a “magical fairy land,” Raines said.

Those who have seen it now believe the forest was uncovered in September 2004, when Hurricane Ivan hit Alabama after pounding the Caribbean, Raines said.

“Ivan had 90-foot waves associated with it, the largest waves ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “We think they scoured the bottom. Waves have as much power underwater as above the water.”

Now that the cypress stumps have been exposed to oxygen, they are starting to decay but fortunately, Raines said, cypress wood decays slowly.

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New fungi discoveries in the Netherlands


This video says about itself:

A short description of Gyromitra esculenta, another false morel. This mushroom is still being eaten by some people who think it’s safe. It’s not!

The Dutch Mycological Society reports about research in the Horsterwold nature reserve in Flevoland province this spring.

Then, they found the rare mushroom species Gyromitra esculenta. It was the first time ever for Flevoland.

They also found Caloscypha fulgens; a fungus species, which, before this, had been known only from three spots in the Netherlands. Also a first for the province.

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Save British botanical gardens scientific work


This video is about Kew Gardens in London, England.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Campaign and petitions launched to save botanical garden jobs

Saturday 19th April 2014

London’s Kew and Wakehurst Place in Sussex are threatened by government cuts

A national campaign has been launched to save vital conservation and scientific work at two botanical gardens where 120 jobs are under threat.

General union GMB said on Thursday that jobs are under threat at Kew in London and Wakehurst Place in Sussex due to government cuts.

Kew Gardens is a world leader in its field with over 250 years experience, but has announced a £5 million deficit.

The campaign includes a petition and early day motion in Parliament.

Naturalist Sir David Attenborough is backing the campaign.

GMB regional officer Paul Grafton said “The aim is to save globally important conservation and science under threat.

“Never before has Kew faced such a significant threat to its future. It now needs public support to ensure its globally-important plant and fungal collections can continue to be used to support plant and fungal science and conservation around the world.”

The petition can be found here.

This video is called WAKEHURST PLACE, MANSION & GARDENS, WEST SUSSEX, UK.

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Curaçao sea turtle conservation


This video is about a sea turtle swimming near Curaçao.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA):

Six species of sea turtles are found in the waters surrounding the Dutch Caribbean islands with regular nesting activity occurring annually on the sandy beaches of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten. Because sea turtles undertake remarkably long transboundary migrations and because they are slow to reach sexual maturity (20 – 30 years), they require significant international cooperation and long-term monitoring in order to best understand their population trends.

Once amazingly abundant, Caribbean sea turtles have seen a rapid decline since the time of European expansion in the Americas. Scientists estimate that in the 1600s, over 90 million Green Turtles were present the Caribbean seas. Today the number is estimated at a mere 300,000. Hawksbills have plunged 99.7% from 11 million to 30,000. Fishing gear entanglement, illegal harvesting, coastal development, marine pollution and climate change still remain serious threats to the recovery of global sea turtle populations.

Having been involved with sea turtle conservation for more than two decades, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) has gained important knowledge and understanding not only of sea turtles ecology and biology, but also of best practices for conducting scientific research. STCB staff and volunteers are well-experienced in catching, measuring and weighing the animals while causing the least amount of stress, they know when and where to do beach patrols and they know how best to protect sea turtle nests.

After becoming an established organisation on Bonaire and widely respected within the regional sea turtle conservation community, STCB is actively sharing its knowledge in an attempt to strengthen and support sea turtle monitoring and conservation efforts on the other Dutch Caribbean islands. In addition to leading workshops on Bonaire with several visiting island conservation organisations, STCB recently visited St. Maarten to conduct an assessment of potential sea turtle feeding areas, providing important information to support the St. Maarten Nature Foundation in implementing appropriate and effective in-water monitoring efforts.

On Curaçao, 2013 brought increased sea turtle conservation and protection on the island with the establishment of four new Ramsar sites and the legal ban on destructive gillnet practices, which will come into effect in May 2014. Additionally, a dialogue between STCB and CARMABI began with the idea of developing and implementing a sea turtle nest monitoring programme on Curaçao using Bonaire as a model. In February 2014, Curaçao has officially taken the next step in the protection of the island’s charismatic and threatened sea turtles. Recent discussions between the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC), the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, STCB, the Curaçaoan Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as CARMABI and Uniek Curaçao have led to a collaborative agreement to develop a monitoring programme to asses the health and status of Curaçao’s sea turtle populations. The aim is to initiate a beach patrol programme to monitor nesting activity of sea turtles on the Shete Boka beaches throughout the nesting season (May – December) and perform head count surveys of feeding sea turtles in one of the key feeding areas on Curaçao – Boka Ascension. The data collected will not only be used to determine the presence and species composition of sea turtles in Curaçao and identify trends over time, but will also contribute to a regional dataset that monitors Caribbean-wide sea turtle population trends and will allow Curaçao to properly manage this precious endangered species.

To learn more about or get involved with sea turtle conservation on Curaçao, contact the Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature, CARMABI or Uniek Curaçao.

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