Seal swimming fast, video


This video is about a harbour seal swimming fast in the Netherlands.

Ans Schukking made the video.

Fukushima news update


This video from Japan about Fukushima says about itself:

March 11, 2013 2 year anniversary of man-made nuclear accident and tsunami

Hiroaki Koide, Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering, Assistant Professor at the Kyoto University Research Institute, Nuclear Waste Management & Safety Expert:

The cesium-137 that was released into the atmosphere by Units 1 through 3 was 168 times that of the Hiroshima bomb, according to the Japanese government report to the IAEA, an international organization which promotes nuclear power.

Very high levels of accumulated radioactive cesium have been detected in the mud of hundreds of reservoirs used to irrigate farmland in Fukushima Prefecture, where agriculture is a key industry: here.

”As if the hazards at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant needed to worsen, more highly radioactive water has leaked in one of the reactors. Wayne looks at growing international unease in the aftermath of the meltdown and the surrounding political winds. Colin follows up with Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear industry executive and now chief engineer at the Fairewinds organization“: here.

Fukushima disaster, USS Ronald Reagan sailors, and Alaskan ringed seals: here.

As the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake approaches, new studies of the ongoing effects of the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown show that the disaster is far from over: here.

Illegal nuclear dumping in Shiga raises alarms: Culprits not ID’d; 8,700 tons of cesium-tainted chips missing — The Japan Times: here.

U.S. Military personnel sickened after Fukushima face long recovery: here.

Three years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Japanese government is moving to restart the country’s nuclear plants, all of which remain shut down. A draft energy plan released late last month officially designates nuclear power as a long-term base power source, setting the stage for the resumption of nuclear plant operations: here.

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Girl’s painting for grey seal


Lara bringing her painting, photo by Sytske Dijksen

Translated from Ecomare museum and seal rehabilitation center on Texel island, the Netherlands:

Painting for Annie – 06-01-14

Our gray seal Annie received a special gift from the 12-year-old Lara Cordes. Especially for Annie she had made a beautiful painting about a seal on the beach. Lara was with her family on holiday on Texel. After visiting Ecomare they decided to adopt Annie. A few days later she came to bring this painting, together with her aunt and cousin. Thank you Lara! We will find a nice spot for this in Ecomare.

Gray seal Annie

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British grey seals in stormy weather


This video is about a newborn grey seal pup with its mother on a beach in Norfolk, UK.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Seal pups brave the storms

Saturday 14th December 2013

PETER FROST finds that extreme weather has hit seal rookeries hard – but many of this year’s young have survived after all

The recent severe storms and sea surge that hit so much of Britain’s coast caused all sorts of damage. The storm destroyed sea defences and coastal bungalows as well as flooding salt-marsh and agricultural land.

Wildlife too was hit hard, with many sea birds being storm tossed and disorientated and sea mammals, particularly grey seals, greatly affected.

The storms occurred precisely at the height of the grey seal pupping season. The terrible weather could not have come at a worse time. Bodies of fluffy white dead seal pups have littered beaches all along the east coast.

Thousands of seal pups were caught up in the storms and separated from their mothers. This was very serious as the pups were not yet mature enough to survive alone.

The young pups can’t swim or survive without their mother’s milk which is 60 per cent fat and the consistency of condensed milk.

Pups put on five pounds (2kg) of weight per day until they have shed their distinctive white fur.

The beach at Horsey, close to the northern waters of the Norfolk Broads, has always been a favourite place of mine to watch these white fluffy pups.

Normally in the weeks running up to Christmas you can watch 400-500 baby seals feeding from their mothers on the beach. The best viewing is from the dunes which means you are not disturbing the family groups.

After the recent storm there were worries that more than half of Horsey’s pups had disappeared.

Along the coast at Blakeney Point, normally home to about a thousand seals and pups, again many seals seemed to have been swallowed by the storm. Other locations in Lincolnshire and even as far afield as the Isle of Man were reporting dead seal pups and abandoned and lost baby seals.

But in fact it seems the news might not be as bad as at first feared. Some of the grey seals, mothers and pups, were far more resourceful than experts had expected.

Large numbers of adult seals and pups were able to reach higher ground in among the sand dunes and escape the worst of the sea surge and resultant flooding.

Many of the seals will still have been displaced from their normal homes with the colony. A large number of wildlife charities and seal sanctuaries as well as individuals have reported and rescued distressed seals.

Around half of the world’s population of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) are found around the British coast. That Latin name translates as hook-nosed sea pig.

Adult grey seals are one of Britain’s largest wild mammals but are still vulnerable to disturbance by humans, dogs and bad weather during the pupping season.

Grey seals come ashore to breeding sites known as a rookery or haul-out.

The females, known as cows, arrive at the breeding sites before the bull seals and will usually give birth within a day or so of coming ashore.

They feed their pups on milk for three weeks, keeping the pup close in a well-defended territory. Over the next few weeks the pup will moult its soft white birth coat. It grows a mottled waterproof replacement.

The pup doesn’t feed during the moult and relies on the fat it has built up from mother’s milk. Eventually hunger drives it to the sea where it will learn to hunt and fish for itself.

Even in a good year with everything in its favour only half the pups will survive.

With the present pressure on the seals, wildlife and seal charities are asking people to keep away from wild seals and the pupping sites. Please put off your seal spotting expeditions until our seals have got over the trauma of the storms.

However, many of the seal sanctuaries are opening for public viewing of the rescued and orphaned unbelievably cute fluffy pups. Admission charges and collections will help them in their valuable work to ensure our wonderful seal populations survive.

The far less common but less shy so more often spotted common or harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) pups later in the spring and hasn’t been so disturbed by the storms. Common seal populations are declining drastically for reasons that are still not fully understood.

Those found guilty of harassing a seal in Scotland could face a jail sentence of up to six months, or a fine of up £5,000, under new rules designed to protect the seals once they come ashore: here.

Seal pups and storm in the Netherlands: here.

Killer whales, new research


This video is called BBC Natural World: The Woman Who Swims With Killer Whales.

From Wildlife Extra:

Killer whales found to eavesdrop on prey

December 2013: UK Scientists have found evidence that marine-mammal-eating killer whales rely on acoustic clues to locate their prey.

While biologists had evidence that the whales do not echolocate while hunting, due to the excellent hearing of the seals, porpoises and other animals the whales hunt, they were still unsure exactly how the animals do find their prey in the murky northern waters off the west coast of North America.

However, a two-year study by Volker Deecke, a researcher at the Centre for Wildlife Conservation at the University of Cumbria, UK has revealed that killer whales can successfully locate prey even in near-complete darkness. Deecke notes that this new evidence of night-time hunting rules out visual cues as the only means of prey detection.

“We now suspect that mammal-eating killer whales are primarily eavesdropping on sounds generated by their prey to find food,” he said.

Deecke and his colleagues traveled to Alaska to conduct the study, analysing huge quantities of data gathered from acoustic recording tags placed on 13 killer whales. The tags, which are about the size of a cell phone, were attached to the whales with four suction cups and could stay on for up to 16 hours.

The tags’ accelerometers, compass, depth sensor, and hydrophone recorded data on the animals’ movements and any sounds it heard or made. Deecke and his colleagues were able to identify predation events by the characteristic sound of a whale dispatching its prey with a hit from its tail fluke.

Deecke said of one unfortunate seal’s demise: “As soon as we put one of the tags on, it started to record seal roars, which are part of the display that male harbor seals use to attract females. Over the next half hour the roars got louder and louder, then there are a sequence of three quite loud roars that suggest the seal is within a few hundred meters of the killer whale. Twenty-seven seconds later there are the sounds of a predation event, and then no more roars.”

Deecke notes that such a story is compelling but does not provide direct evidence that killer whales are tuning in to the sounds of their prey. Going forward, he hopes to use playback experiments to test killer whales’ responses to recorded seal roars and porpoise echolocation clicks.