Ring-necked parakeet and buzzard

This is a shelduck video.

Today, again to the nature reserve.

A white stork sitting on the nest all the time; probably on eggs.

In a tree opposite the reserve, a ring-necked parakeet.

A buzzard flying between the forest trees.

Great spotted woodpecker and green woodpecker sounds.

In the meadow: six shelducks, oystercatchers, northern lapwings, black-tailed godwits, Egyptian geese, grey lagged geese. And a hare.

Moorhens and great crested grebes in the castle pond.


Colossal squid investigation at New Zealand museum

This is a colossal squid video.

From AFP news agency:

Colossal squid specimen is relative minnow

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

WELLINGTON: The biggest squid ever caught – which is 10 metres long and boasts a fearsome beak and razor-sharp hooks – may be small compared to others still lurking in the depths, experts in New Zealand said today.

The colossal squid has begun a two-day thaw at The Museum of New Zealand in Wellington before it is examined in more detail on Wednesday by an international team of scientists.

It weighs 495 kg, has eyes the size of dinner plates and is estimated at up to 10 metres long.

Eyes the size of dinner plates

But that may be relatively small, scientists said after initial examination, suggesting other colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) under the chilly Antarctic waters might grow much larger.

On a museum blog following the progress of the thaw, Chris Paulin – who is projects manager at the museum, which is also known as Te Papa Tongarewa – said Tuesday that the beak of the colossal squid has been exposed as the flesh defrosts.

The size of the lower beak, used to chop prey into bite sized pieces, is around 43 to 45 mm long. However, colossal squid lower beaks previously found in the stomachs of sperm whales have been as long as 49 mm.

Extrapolating the relationship between the length of the beak and body size from another smaller specimen being examined suggests the species could grow much bigger, Paulin said.

“Can we assume that this species reaches three quarters of a tonne in weight?” he asked.

“Gelatinous blob with seriously evil arms”

One of the scientists leading the examination, Auckland University of Technology squid expert Steve O’Shea, said it was difficult to say how much bigger the monster squid could grow.

“What we know from that one measurement is that the beak of this animal from the stomachs of sperm whales are considerably larger,” O’Shea told Radio New Zealand. “We make the leap to say that the colossal squid grows considerably larger than the 495 kg one we are currently defrosting.”

O’Shea has previously described the colossal squid, which has razor-sharp swivelling hooks at the end of its tentacles, as “a nasty aggressive sort of squid… a gelatinous blob with seriously evil arms on it.”

If the new specimen was cut into squid rings, they would be size of tractor tyres, and would taste of ammonia.

The specimen was caught as it ate an Antarctic toothfish hooked on a fishing boat’s long line in Antarctic waters in February last year (See, Colossal squid dwarfs giants, Cosmos Online). After being snap frozen, it was given to the museum, which has since been deliberating over the best way to defrost, examine and display it.

Tanked up

Suggestions such as using a giant microwave to defrost it were discarded, and on Monday the squid was placed in a tank filled with cold salty water to ensure it defrosts slowly without decomposing. The squid is so large that there was a risk the outside flesh would start to rot before the inside had thawed.

Defrosting is due to finish Wednesday when scientists will learn as much as they can before the squid is preserved in formalin to go on show in a massive tank at the museum later this year.

Watch the thawing progress live via webcams on the museum’s website.

See video here.

Colossal Squid Dissection Reveals Toothfish Diet: here.

Update August 2008: here. And here.

Protect The Colossal Squid: here.

Scientists See Squid Attack Squid: here.

Discovery Animals: Giant Squid: How Do You Film One? Here.

Giant Squid Eye (in a jar!): here.

Colossal and giant squid both have eyes that can measure 27cm (11in) across – much bigger than any fish. Scientists found that huge eyes offer no advantages in the murky ocean depths other than making it easier to spot enormous shapes – such as sperm whales: here.

Nautiloids: here.

New sponge species discovered in Bering Sea

This Greenpeace video is about the discovery of a new sponge species in the Bering Sea.

From Greenpeace:

Aaptos kanuux, New Species of Sponge Discovered

April 28, 2008

It may look slimy and slightly alien, but this newly discovered species of sponge is an ambassador for undiscovered critters living in the nooks and crannies of our magnificent planet. Damaging human activities, like bottom trawling in the oceans, are decimating ecosystems and wiping out creatures before we even know they exist.

The new sponge species, Aaptos kanuux, is named for the Aleut word for “heart” and was discovered in the deep underwater canyons of the Bering Sea. It was named by Greenpeace campaigner George Pletnikoff and St. George Eco-Office Director Andrew Malavansky, to emphasize that the canyons represent the heart of the Bering Sea. The sponge was collected by Kenneth Lowyck of Greenpeace Canada with a Deep Worker submarine at a depth of 700 feet in Pribilof Canyon. This is the first record of the genus for the Bering Sea.

Greenpeace journeyed to the Bering Sea in 2007 to document previously unexplored canyon habitats in hopes of strengthening the case to protect these important areas. Half of the fourteen species of corals and two-thirds of the twenty species of sponge we collected were previously unknown to live in the Bering Sea. These findings underscore the unique nature of these canyons, as well as how little is known about the deep sea in general.

With these new discoveries and documented evidence of habitat damage due to bottom trawling in these sensitive areas, Greenpeace is pushing forward with efforts to establish marine reserves in the Bering Sea. Of the 900,000 square miles of ocean managed by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, almost none is protected from all fishing.

Hares, butterflies, and geese

This is a video of a speckled wood butterfly.

Today, to the nature reserve.

The white storks are still on their nest.

The grey herons in the forest as well.

Sounds of buzzard, green woodpecker.

On the eastern meadow: five hares, northern lapwings, a shelduck.

Several butterflies, including small white.

Green-veined white. And two speckled wood, Pararge aegeria, in courtship flight.

On the castle pond: coots and great crested grebes. On the log in the water where sometimes, the turtle used to be, there a now two grey lagged geese.

Refugees don’t want to go back to Bush’s dangerous ‘new’ Iraq

This video is called The refugee crisis in Iraq.

From Dutch NOS TV:

90% of the Iraqi refugees in Syria do not want to go back. Many of them say that that would mean direct personal danger to them, others think that the general situation is not safe enough to return. There are about 2 million Iraqis in Syria.

Former Head of Iraqi Anti-Corruption Agency Now an Undocumented Immigrant: here.