Will little penguins survive climate change?


This video from Australia is called Little Penguins Return to the Open Ocean.

From Wildlife Extra:

Penguins‘ personalities could help them cope with climate change

According to a new study, the individual personalities of birds could be one of the key factors that improve its chances of coping with environmental stressors, especially in times of rapid weather changes due to climate change.

John Cockrem from the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedial Sciences at Massey University in New Zealand was behind the study. He studied differences in levels of the stress hormone corticosterone in Little Penguins when they were exposed to stressful stimulus. He found that there was ‘considerable individual variation in corticosterone responses’.

“Corticosterone responses and behavioural responses to environmental stimuli are together determined by individual characteristics called personality,” Cockrem explains. “Birds with low corticosterone responses and proactive personalities are likely to be more successful (have greater fitness) in constant or predictable conditions, whilst birds with reactive personalities and high corticosterone responses will be more successful in changing or unpredictable conditions.”

Birds are thought to be particularly at risk from the effects of climate change, and these findings could be helpful in predicting the adaptability of species of birds as they face a ‘new normal’.

Australia’s crimson rosella parrots, beauty and disease


This video says about itself:

This morning’s delegation of Crimson Rosellas (Platycercus elegans) at Banksia Cottage, one of the Bunjaree Cottages near Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains, 100km west of Sydney, Australia.

From Wildlife Extra:

Colours of the Crimson Rosella parrot reveal a deadly secret

The crimson rosella parrot are [sic] immune to Beak and Feather Disease

The vibrant colours of Australia’s Crimson Rosella parrot might not in fact be quite as they seem. The colours covering its feathers could be the result of a virus that is known to kill other species.

A research team from Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) and School of Medicine carried out an eight-year study of the Crimson Rosella and subspecies across New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.

The Beak and Feather Disease Virus that the Crimson Rosella carry around so proudly in the colour of their feathers is surprisingly deadly in other parrot species. As such, the Australian Government have listed the Beak and Feather Disease Virus as a key threat to biodiversity under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Justin Eastwood, Deakin CIE PhD student who worked on the project, explains: “The virus is only found in parrots; it’s no danger to humans, but the danger it presents to parrots seems to vary from species to species and it can be pretty nasty.”

The results, which were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA journal, could have important implications for managing disease in Australia’s unique wildlife. Project author and CIE researcher Dr Mathew Berg explains, “Our research results are not only good news for Crimson Rosellas, but we now have a good model species with which to study the disease, which is extremely important if we are to minimise its impact on the world’s parrot population.”

The research team aim to better understanding how disease and wildlife interact and co-evolve, and will be working with Zoos Victoria, the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Disease, Charles Sturt University and Biosecurity Victoria to investigate disease ecology and conservation in Australian parrots.

See also here.

Australian civil liberties attacked under ‘terrorism’ pretext


This video from Australia is called Civil Liberties Australia Jim Collier speaking at Wikileaks Rally in Launceston.

By Glenn Greenwald:

Abbott exploits terrorism to seize new powers

Saturday, September 27, 2014

If you’re an Australian citizen, you have a greater chance of being killed by the following causes than you do by a terrorist attack: slipping in the bathtub and hitting your head; contracting a lethal intestinal illness from the next dinner you eat at a restaurant; being struck by lightning.

In the post-9/11 era, there has been no terrorist attack carried out on Australian soil: not one. The attack that most affected Australians was the 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali which killed 88 of its citizens; that was 12 years ago.

Despite all that, Australia’s political class is in the midst of an increasingly unhinged fear-mongering orgy over terrorism. The campaign has two prongs: ISIS (needless to say: it’s now an all-purpose, global source of fear-manufacturing), and the weekend arrest of 15 people on charges that they planned to behead an unknown, random individual based on exhortations from an Australian member of ISIS.

The Australian government wasted no time at all exploiting this event to demand “broad new security powers to combat what it says is a rising threat from militant Islamists.”

Even by the warped standards of the West’s 9/11 era liberty abridgments, these powers are extreme, including making it “a crime for an Australian citizen to travel to any area overseas once the government has declared it off limits.”

Already pending is a proposal by the attorney-general to make it a criminal offence “punishable by five years in jail for ‘any person who disclosed information relating to ‘special intelligence operations’”; the bill is clearly intended to outright criminalise WikiLeaks- and Snowden-type reporting, and the government thus expressly refuses to exempt journalists.

This morning, Australia’s Liberal Party Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, delivered a speech to the nation’s parliament that is a perfect distillation of the key post-9/11 pathologies of Western democracies. It was a master class in how politicians shamelessly exploit terrorism fears to seize greater power.

Abbott assumed the grave demeanor and resolute tone that politicians in these situations don to convince others that they’re the modern incarnation of Winston Churchill: purposeful, unyielding, and courageously ready for the fight.

He depicted his fight as one of Pure Good v. Pure Evil, and vehemently denied that his nation’s 10-year support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq plays any role whatsoever in animosity toward his country in that region (perish the thought!) (“It’s our acceptance that people can live and worship in the way they choose that bothers them, not our foreign policy”).

And, most impressively, he just came right out and candidly acknowledged his real purpose: to exploit the emotions surrounding the terrorist arrests to erode liberty and increase state power, telling citizens that they will die if they do not meekly acquiesce.

“Regrettably, for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we’re used to, and more inconvenience than we’d like,” he said.

“Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift.

“There may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protections for others. After all, the most basic freedom of all is the freedom to walk the streets unharmed and to sleep safe in our beds at night.”

With those scary premises in place, Abbott proceeded to rattle off a laundry list of new legal powers and restraints on freedom that he craves. It begins with “creating new offences that are harder to beat on a technicality”, which he said is “a small price to pay for saving lives.” It includes brand new crimes and detention powers (“Legislation to create new terrorist offences and to extend existing powers to monitor or to detain terror suspects will be introduced this week”).

There’s also this: “it will be an offence to be in a designated area, for example Raqqa in Syria, without a good reason.”

His Christmas list also (of course) entails vastly increased spending on security (“the government committed an additional $630 million to the Australian Federal Police, Customs and Border Protection, the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service and the Office of National Assessments … biometric screening will start to be introduced at international airports within 12 months”).

And the government — already a member of the sprawling Five Eyes spying alliance — will vest itself with greater surveillance powers (“as well, legislation requiring telecommunications providers to keep the metadata they already create and to continue to make it available to police and security agencies will be introduced soon”).

The ease with which terrorism is exploited by Western governments — a full 13 years after 9/11 — is stunning. Americans now overwhelmingly favour military action against a group which, three months ago, almost none of them even knew existed, notwithstanding admissions that the group poses no threat to the “homeland.”

When I was in New Zealand last week for a national debate over mass surveillance, the frequency with which the government and its supporters invoked the scary spectre of the Muslim Terrorist to justify all of that was remarkable: It’s New Zealand. And now the Liberal Party’s prime minister in Australia barely bats an eye as he overtly squeezes every drop of fear he can to justify a wide array of new powers and spending splurges in the name of a risk that, mathematically speaking, is trivial to the average citizen.

Political leaders love nothing more than when populations are put in fear of external threats. In that regard, these Western leaders share exactly the same goal as ISIS: to terrorise their nation’s citizens by grossly exaggerating its power and reach. Any museum exhibit on the degradation of Western behaviour in the post-9/11 era would be well-advised to put Abbott’s full speech on the wall, as it illustrates the fear-mongering games and propagandistic tactics that have led to all of that.

AUSTRALIA dramatically extended secret police powers yesterday in a move condemned by free speech campaigners: here.

Abu Dhabi dolphins research


This video says about itself:

Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins at Tin Can Bay, Queensland, Australia

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, also known as Chinese white dolphins, are a common sight around the northern parts of Australia. In Australia, you can interact with these cool cetaceans at Tin Can Bay, and if you want, you can even feed them for $5.

In Abu Dhabi, like in Bahrain, there are human rights violations.

However, like beautiful dolphins swim off Bahrain, dolphins swim off Abu Dhabi as well.

From Wildlife Extra:

Results from Abu Dhabi dolphin survey revealed

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) recently undertook the first vessel-based survey of dolphins in coastal waters of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as part of its new Dolphin Conservation Programme, which has the goal of monitoring the Emirate’s dolphin population and supporting their long-term conservation.

The survey identified two species; the Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphin, and the Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphin. In total, 77 bottlenose were recorded, of which 19 were calves, and 61 humpback, of which 10 were calves. The team also sighted two new born calves, which could indicate that dolphin calving season might occur late spring to early summer in Abu Dhabi.

The 15-day survey – which was conducted in partnership with the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute in Spain – was carried out using a custom-made 45-foot boat fitted with an observation platform, and covered 2,000km of Abu Dhabi’s coastal waters, extending from Sila Peninsula in the west to the border of Dubai in east.

The team used photo-identification, taking high-definition images from cameras mounted on drones, in order to identify and track individual dolphins by looking at the unique markings on their dorsal fins. From this they were able to determine the population size.

Results revealed that there were regional differences in which species of dolphin was most dominant: around EAD’s Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins were more prevalent, while bottlenose were the most common from Al Dhabbaiya to Ras Ghanadah, and between Al Sila and Sir Bani Yas Island.

Commenting on the survey, Director of Marine Biodiversity at EAD Ayesha Yousef Al Blooshi said: “The data collected from the survey will support us in further developing our conservation initiatives for our marine biodiversity, as well as helping us conserve the natural heritage of Abu Dhabi for future generations.”

Dolphin populations might be seeing better days ahead in Jamaica as the Government aims to implement new regulations on the use of the animals for tourism purposes, addressing the trading of dolphins and their use for attractions: here.