Dutch child abuse scandals bishop Gijsen dies

Gijsen as a bishop in Iceland

Translated from Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad:

June 24, 2013, 13:45

Former bishop Gijsen (80) dies

by Pim van den Dool

Jo Gijsen, the bishop of Roermond from 1972 to 1993, has died. The diocese announced that this afternoon. Gijsen was 80 years old. He had been seriously ill for some time.

During his tenure in Roermond Gijsen was controversial because of his conservative views. He made controversial statements about homosexuality. He said that was against nature and should be rejected under all circumstances.

Gijsen was the highest Dutch church leader who was charged with child abuse. According to a complaint lodged against him Gijsen, when he was a parochial vicar in Valkenburg, did extensive sexual acts with the 10-year-old son of a parishioner in 1958. The now 64-year-old man filed his complaint about this in 2009, before the abuse scandal in the Netherlands was revealed.

The complaint against Gijsen eventually was declared not proven for lack of supporting evidence. The committee for complaints of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church did say that this “certainly did not mean that the facts stated by the complainant would not be true.”

Gijsen often discredited

It was not the first time that Gijsen was associated with sexual abuse. In 2011 the complaints committee called it “unseemly” that Gijsen in 1959, as a dormitory supervisor of the minor seminary Rolduc, spied on a masturbating boy in his chambrette. This complaint was declared inadmissible because Peeping Tom behaviour does not meet the definition of sexual abuse. Gijsen said he had never been in the dormitory, despite witness statements stating the contrary.

From 1996 to 2007, Gijsen was bishop of the Diocese of Reykjavik in Iceland. Last year an Icelandic commission which examined the child abuse in the church there, ruled that Gijsen had acted negligently as bishop by destroying a letter from a victim of sexual abuse.

Gijsen departure came as a surprise in 1993

The departure of Gijsen as a bishop in January 1993 came as a surprise. From one day to another he went to a convent in Austria. According to the diocese for health reasons. Shortly before he left, Gijsen had problems at the seminary in Rolduc, for which he was responsible as a bishop. The deputy head of the seminary turned out to have sex with students. Gijsen knew about it, but did not act decisively. Before the Vatican would report on the issue Gijsen wrote his letter of resignation to Pope John Paul II.

Northern light video

, who made this video, writes:

More details about the “making of” on newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/18/how-a-stunning-aurora-video-was-made/.

The soft light of the arctic regions attracted me magically so that I decided to dedicate a project to it. Around the polar circle light occupies a very important role, especially in winter. During the freezing months the sun creeps only along the horizon providing thus long hours of this tender twilight that occurs before sunrise and after sunset. But the nights are even longer and then another special light brights up the sky: the aurora borealis. In this film I wanted to show how individual the northern lights are: they may dance very fast in a frenetic rhythm or explode in a red-purple firework or they may just glow greenish over the starry sky vaguely distinguishable by the human eye. Every night there is a different night show – if the polar lights appear as they use to be very shy divas.

As a non resident of the Arctic regions it was very difficult for me to hunt the northern lights. I travelled different times to the distant regions at the polar circle. It was not easy enduring the freezing temperatures and the darkness and sleeping in the tent or in the car when the harsh wind was shaking it too strong. But after a year I had the incredible luck to gather enough video material for this film project. Especially on my last trip to Tromsö in february 2013 I experienced incredible beautiful aurora borealis.

The footage was captured in Greenland, Norway (on the Lofoten islands and in the Troms region), Iceland and Finland.

The surreal atmosphere of the landscapes is emphasized thanks to the wonderful music of the talented and creative composer Pablo Garmón vimeo.com/pablojgarmon.

Arctic foxes poisoned by mercury

This video is called The Life Of An Arctic Fox.

From Wildlife Extra:

Arctic foxes being poisoned by mercury – If they live on the coast

You are what (and where) you eat – mercury pollution threatens Arctic foxes

May 2013. New scientific results show that arctic foxes accumulate dangerous levels of mercury if they live in coastal habitats and feed on prey which lives in the ocean. Mercury is usually transferred across the food chain, so the researchers checked which items were the main source of food and measured mercury levels in the main prey of Arctic foxes.

3 fox populations studied

The scientists compared three fox populations in different environments. Foxes on the small Russian Commander Island of Mednyi fed almost exclusively on sea birds, with some foxes eating seal carcasses. In Iceland, foxes living on the coast ate sea birds whereas those living inland ate non-marine birds and rodents.

In all three environments different levels of mercury were present in their hair. Foxes living in coastal habitats such as Iceland and Mednyi Island exhibited high levels of mercury.

Long exposure

What does this mean for the foxes? Using museum skin samples from the Commander Islands, the researchers could show that the foxes have suffered exposure to mercury for a long time. The researchers confirmed that the source of contamination was their food, as they measured high mercury levels in the prey of foxes such as seals and sea birds.

Inland foxes much healthier

However, the inland Arctic fox populations of Iceland had low mercury levels. Thus, living inland and eating non-marine birds and rodents instead of eating prey that feeds from the sea protected the inland foxes from mercury exposure. This may have health and conservation implications. The Mednyi Island foxes are almost an opposite example to the inland Icelandic fox population. They live on a small island with no rodents or alternative food source to seals or sea birds. They suffered a tremendous population crash and while the population is currently stable, it is very small and juvenile foxes in particular show high mortality rates. Foxes of all ages exhibit low body weight and have poor coat condition.

“When going into this project we thought that an introduced pathogen would explain the poor condition of the foxes and their high mortality but after extensive screening, we did not find anything”, says Alex Greenwood, principal investigator of the study. Instead, the researchers began to suspect that something else was at play. “If pathogens were not the cause, we thought perhaps pollutants could be involved. We thought of mercury because it has been reported in high concentration in other Arctic vertebrates also in remote areas and mercury intoxication is known to increase mortality in mammals. As mercury can have negative effects on overall health, particularly in young individuals, and as we knew that Mednyi foxes were exclusively feeding on potentially contaminated sources, we wanted to see whether contamination with mercury depended on feeding ecology and hence might have been the crucial factor for the population decline on Mednyi Island”, comments Gabriele Treu, one of the lead authors of the study.

As it turned out, the observed high mercury demonstrated a tight association with feeding ecology and geographical distribution of the foxes.

Mercury pollution must be stopped

In terms of conservation and long term population health for the entire arctic food chain of carnivores, mercury pollution must be stopped.

Researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Moscow State University and the University of Iceland just published their discovery in the science online journal PLOS ONE.

Icelandic Slavonian grebe dies in Scotland

This video says about itself:

Slavonian (Horned) Grebe (Podiceps auritus) incubation shift

In Harstad, Northern Norway, a pair of Slavonian Grebes are sharing their responsibility for incubating their eggs. At least 4 eggs are present in the floating nest.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare Slavonian grebe found dead in Inverness came from Iceland

“Dead duck” turns out be a scarce visitor from Iceland

January 2013. Local RSPB staff have collected a rare Slavonian grebe which was found dead in Inverness town centre. The bird is believed to have collided with an overhead wire. RSPB conservation manager Stuart Benn said, “We received a call from a traffic warden who said that he had found a dead duck in the town. His attention had been attracted by a ring that was present on the bird’s leg. When we arrived we discovered that the bird was, in fact, a Slavonian grebe, a very rare breeding bird in Scotland. However when we checked the ring we found that the bird had been ringed in Iceland.

“This is an interesting discovery as it confirms that some birds from the Icelandic population spend the winter in Scottish waters and that the Moray Firth is important for these grebes as they are for many other species of marine birds.”

Found in town centre

The bird was found by the River Ness near the pedestrian bridge that links Kenneth Street to the town centre. Mr Benn said, “Judging by its injuries I suspect the grebe must have flown into an overhead wire or cable. They are beautiful birds and it is very sad to see it in this state.”

Mr Benn added, “The Slavonian grebe is a very rare breeding bird in Scotland and found only in a handful of lochs in the Highlands. Unfortunately the numbers are going down and the RSPB is making strenuous attempts to discover why this is the case and to try to prevent this very special bird from becoming extinct.

“One theory for the decline is that climate change is having an impact and our Scottish breeding population is slowly migrating north to Iceland which is the closest breeding colony to Scotland.

We have spent some time in trying to improve the birds’ breeding habitat at our Loch Ruthven nature reserve near Farr which is still the best place in Scotland to see Slavonian grebes during the breeding season. Let’s hope the birds manage to hang on and continue to delight the thousands of nature lovers who visit the reserve every year to see these Highland jewels.””

The discovery of the bird has also attracted interest in Iceland. Thorkell Lindberg Thorarinsson, the director of the North East Iceland Nature Center commented, “The bird was ringed in the summer of 2011 as an adult on it´s nest at Lake Vikingavatn, in North East Iceland. The ringing was a part of on-going study on the wintering distribution of Slavonian Grebes breeding in Iceland, which started in 2009. Preliminary results from the study suggest Icelandic grebes share wintering grounds with the other two North Atlantic populations, namely the Scottish and the Norwegian. A group of researchers have recently started a joint study on the population dynamics of those three Slavonian grebe populations.”

Good English whooper swan news

This video about Japan is called The Coolest Stuff on the Planet- The Whooper Swans of Hokkaido.

From Wildlife Extra:

Record numbers of Whooper swans at WWT Martin Mere

Nearly 2500 whooper swans counted at Martin Mere

December 2012. A count of whooper swans confirmed a record number of 2,480 birds at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre.

Whooper swans spend the summer in Iceland and winter in the UK. Approximately 7% of the population of whooper swans visit Martin Mere over the winter offering spectacular displays that we call ‘Swan Spectacular’. Everyday, the swans are fed at 10.30am and 3pm from Swan Link hide and at 10.45am and 3.30pm from Raines Observatory. The 3.30pm feed also includes a warden’s talk to learn all about these amazing animals.

Probably more on the way

Centre Manager, Andy Wooldridge, said: “We usually get peak numbers of whooper swans in mid to late December so I still think numbers will continue to rise. The highest previous count was 2,100 in 2010 which also coincided with a cold snap. The recent cold weather has certainly encouraged birds which roost elsewhere to visit Martin Mere allowing us to offer a fantastic spectacle during the swan feeds.”

WWT Martin Mere is open every day from 9.30am to 5pm and parking is free of charge. Situated off the A59, it is signposted from the M61, M58 and M6. The Centre is also accessible via the Southport to Manchester and the Liverpool to Preston line by train from Burscough Rail Stations.