Diving beetle mating, new research

This video says about itself:

Spotted Diving Beetles, Victoria Bug Zoo, March 2013

Spotted diving beetles, also known as sunburst diving beetles, sometimes carry their own oxygen supply in air bubbles when they dive. Their bright yellow spots also supposedly warn other animals that they taste bad. Their natural habitat is in fresh water pools around Mexico and the southwestern US.

From the BBC:

11 June 2014 Last updated at 02:05 GMT

Diving beetle‘s sticky underwater mating secret

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

Scientists in Taiwan have revealed how a diving beetle hangs on to its mate underwater.

The micro-scale study revealed how bristles on male beetles’ legs attach to females.

Tiny suckers on these bristles stick to the females’ bodies.

As well as shedding light on evolution at the very tiny scale, understanding this could inspire the design of devices for underwater attachment in engineering.

The results are published in the Royal Society journal Interface.

The team, led by Dr Kai-Jung Chi from National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan, directly measured the gripping force of the “attachment devices” on the leg bristles of two diving beetle species.

Microscopic images reveal that one of the species they studied – a more primitive insect – has a spatula-like attachment.

The other has evolved circular suckers on the end of each leg bristle, which look like a microscopic plungers.

While these tiny plungers created a stronger attachment, the more primitive bristles had some sticky, aquatic secrets.

Tiny channels between the hairs in the more primitive beetle appear to produce a sort of glue.

And, as grisly as it may sound, the fact that these bristles form a weaker attachment and can move around on the female’s body more freely means that the male beetle is able to “resist the female’s erratic swimming movements”, which she may employ to dislodge an unwanted suitor.

The researchers conclude that their mechanical experiments show that the “later-evolved suction-cup-shaped circular” bristles give male diving beetles a mating advantage.

And all of this detailed insight into aquatic copulation may inspire a future “underwater Velcro“.

New humpback dolphin sanctuary in Taiwan

This video says about itself:

First Film of Rare Humpback Dolphins with Bottlenose Dolphins in Watamu, Kenya

Thanks to Alex Simpson who edited the original footage with dolphin research photos to produce this video. Watamu Marine Association c/o Lynne Elson took this first ever footage of rare and elusive humpback dolphins on 10th April 2012. This family pod of 6-7 were associating with a pod of Bottlenose dolphins more commonly seen in Watamu Marine Reserve.

From Wildlife Extra:

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin sanctuary set up in Taiwan

A dwindling population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins will be protected with the creation of Taiwan’s first marine wildlife sanctuary. Dolphin numbers have dropped by around 50 per cent according to local conservation groups, because of habitat degradation, industrial expansion and pollution.

Tsai Chia-yang, head of the Chuanghua Environmental Protection Union, said: “Indo-Pacific dolphin population is a key index to measure the health of the maritime environment.”

The Council of Agriculture confirmed the sanctuary, which will be off the west coast of the country, will cover a large area of 76,300 hectare (188,461 acres).

Normal fishing in the area will be unaffected, as the government said a total ban was not feasible as the success of the sanctuary depends on the cooperation of local fishermen, but guidelines have been tightened for operators in the region and there will be tough punishments for illegal fishing of the endangered species. Dredge fishing has also been banned.

In a further step, officials announced that any development projects in the area will require government approval.

Anyone caught poaching the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin could face up to two years in jail and will be fined Tw$500,000 (US$16,530), and anyone caught seriously damaging the habitat could end up with a five years’ prison sentence.

“Illegal fishing has seriously ruined the coastal ecological environment, threatening the endangered dolphins,” said Kuan, referring to the fact that the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins eat mullet among other fish.

In 2011, President Ma Ying-jeou ruled an end to a controversial plan to build a massive oil refinery and more than 20 related petrochemical plants in western Taiwan. This was in reaction to a series of protests for the endangered humpback dolphins.

He said there was a need for Taiwan to balance economic development with environmental protection. The setting up of this sanctuary for Indo-pacific humpback dolphins is a big step forward for the species.

Scientists name new species of cetacean: The Australian humpback dolphin: here.

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Giant yellow duck explodes in Taiwan

British daily The Guardian says about this video today:

A giant yellow duck designed by Dutch artist Florentjin Hofman has exploded for the second time, eleven days after it went on display in a northern Taiwan port. The 18m-tall duck was supposed to be the star attraction for local New Year’s Eve celebrations but instead burst without explanation to the surprise of onlookers.

Taiwan conscript abused to death

This video is called Taiwan protests sparked over soldier’s death.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Ma mobbed at funeral for abused conscript

Sunday 04 August 2013

Taiwan President Ma Ying Jeou was mobbed by hundreds of angry mourners today at the funeral service for a young conscript who died after being abused by his officers.

Protesters shouted: “We want the truth” as Mr Ma, flanked by security guards, made his way to the funeral at the soldier’s home in Taichung.

More than 100,000 people had taken to the streets of the capital Taipei on Saturday following the death of Corporal Hung Chung Chiu.

He died after days of a rigorous punishment regime of push-ups, sit-ups and other exercises in sweltering heat.

He was just three days short of completing his 20-month service at the time.

Eighteen officers and NCOs have been indicted on charges ranging from abuse leading to death and involuntary manslaughter to imposing illegal punishments.

Mr Ma has already apologised and the minister of defence has resigned.

Saving Chinese crested terns

Chinese crested tern

From BirdLife:

Restoring a breeding colony for Chinese Crested Tern

Thu, Mar 21, 2013

Chinese Crested Tern is China’s rarest bird

In early March, an international workshop in Xiangshan, Zhejiang Province, China, marked the start of an ambitious plan to restore a network of breeding sites for the Critically Endangered Chinese Crested Tern Sterna bernsteini, probably the world’s most threatened seabird.

After more than half a century with no breeding records, four adults and four chicks were discovered in 2000 on the Mazu Islands (administered by Taipei) off the coast of China’s Fujian Province. In 2004 another colony was found in the Jiushan Islands, off Zhejiang Province, but breeding failed after two typhoons hit the islands. No breeding birds were seen in the Jiushans until 2007, when eight Chinese Crested Terns and about 2,000 Greater Crested Terns returned. But the colony was raided by egg poachers, and terns have not nested there since.

In 2008 a new colony, believed to be the birds that nested earlier on the Jiushans, was discovered in the Wuzhishan Islands, 80 km to the north. They have returned to nest on the Wuzhishans annually, but nesting space has become limited, and the terns have started using less favourable sites. News of the terns has spread, increasing the risk of disturbance from photographers.

Following the poaching incident on the Jiushans, BirdLife International and the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (BirdLife Partner) have been working with the Zhejiang Wild Bird Society on conservation education in Xiangshan. Teams of student volunteers have promoted tern conservation and persuaded their friends and families not to collect, buy or consume seabird eggs. Education programmes at schools and public events have raised awareness of the tern’s plight, and seabird egg poaching has been greatly reduced.

In July 2010, an international forum on seabird conservation, the first of its kind in China, was convened in Xiangshan. Inspired by a presentation on the restoration of tern colonies in the USA, (initiated by Dr. Stephen Kress of the National Audubon Society, BirdLife in the USA), the Xiangshan government and the Jiushan Islands National Nature Reserve provided more resources to prevent poaching.

The latest workshop included representatives of Zhejiang Province’s Ocean and Fishery, Forestry, and Environmental Protection departments. Leading Chinese research institutions contributed technical advice, and overseas experts presented their experience, including Caspian Tern restoration projects by Oregon State University (which will support the Jiushan Islands restoration programme), and translocation of Short-tailed Albatrosses by the Yamashina Institute of Ornithology, Japan.

The Wild Bird Society of Taipei reported on their preliminary success in using Greater Crested Tern decoys to attract Chinese Crested Terns on the Mazu Islands.

A small island in the Jiushans, close to the island used in 2004 and 2007, has been chosen as the restoration site. Nesting habitat will be improved and expanded, and tern decoys and audio playback systems will be deployed from early May. It is hoped that Greater Crested Terns will attempt to nest, and that Chinese Crested Tern will eventually join their colony. The island will be occupied by researchers 24 hours a day during the breeding season.

The project is sponsored by the Japan Fund for Global Environment and the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (Hong Kong), with logistical support from the Xiangshan Ocean and Fishery Bureau and Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, and a small grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Chinese Crested Tern is one of the species benefiting from the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.