Owls in Sweden, videos

This video shows a great grey owl in Sweden.

This video shows a female great grey owl in Sweden feeding her youngsters.

This video shows a northern hawk-owl in January 2011 in Sweden.


Hammerhead shark swimming, new research

This 2013 video is called Bonnethead sharks in slow motion.

From Florida Atlantic University in the USA:

Size doesn’t matter, at least for hammerheads and swimming performance

October 10, 2017

Different head shapes and different body sizes of hammerhead sharks should result in differences in their swimming performance right? Researchers have conducted the first study to examine the whole body shape and swimming kinematics of two closely related yet very different hammerhead sharks, with some unexpected results.

Sharks come in all shapes and sizes and perhaps the most unusual is the hammerhead shark, easily recognized by its oddly shaped head. Most research on hammerheads has focused specifically on their laterally expanded heads, or cephalofoil, and how they use it to see and smell as well as its effects on hydrodynamics and sensory efficiency. There are about nine known species of hammerhead sharks with dramatic differences in their body shape including the shape and size of their heads. While much is known about the variations in their electroreception, olfaction and vision, very little is known about whether or not their shape differences affect their swimming performance.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have conducted the first study to examine the whole body shape and swimming kinematics of two closely related yet very different hammerhead species: the Bonnethead and the Scalloped hammerhead, with some unexpected results.

Adult Bonnetheads are about 2 to 3 feet long and their head width makes up about 18 percent of their body length; adult Scalloped hammerheads are closer to 12 feet long and their head width makes up about 30 percent of their body length. Despite these differences, results of this new study, featured on the cover of the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology, find that in the end, size or shape really doesn’t matter, at least when it comes to swimming.

Using an interdisciplinary approach in the Biomechanics Laboratory in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science under the direction of Marianne E. Porter, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences and co-author of the study, the researchers set out to test their hypothesis. Different head shapes and different body sizes of hammerhead sharks should result in differences in their swimming performance.

Prior to starting the study, Porter, Sarah L. Hoffmann, lead author and a Ph.D. student of biological sciences, and Steven Matthew Warren, co-author and a senior in the Department of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, reviewed CT scans of both species of hammerhead sharks. Because sharks are made up entirely of cartilage that is heavily mineralized, they were able see the marked differences in the two species of the sharks’ physiology from these scans.

To test their hypothesis, they focused on undulation, which is how a shark moves its body and tail from side-to-side to propel itself forward. The goal: to figure out if the movement of the body changes between these two species with very different head shapes.

Beginning in 2015, they viewed hours of video of Scalloped hammerheads and Bonnetheads swimming. They looked at tail beat frequency and tail beat amplitude. They analyzed video sequentially to select clips in which sharks completed at least three full tail beat cycles of straight, steady swimming. Warren analyzed and then condensed the videos into a minute-long segment to enable the research team to use the measurements to compare swimming mechanics between the two species. They were able to get all of the measurements they needed from that condensed one minute of video footage.

“One of the more unique aspects of our study is that we were able to observe these sharks swimming in large tanks moving around naturally,” said Porter. “Most studies place sharks in flumes, which are basically underwater treadmills that force them to move. We are interested in learning how these animals move in and of themselves for both conservation efforts and real world applications such as bioinspired engineering.”

Results of the study revealed that the Bonnetheads swing their bodies further in and out and therefore have a larger amplitude of undulation. On the other hand, Scalloped hammerheads bend faster and have a higher frequency of undulation.

“When we corrected for their body size, we discovered that they actually swam at the same speed to get to points A and B, but did so in different ways,” said Hoffmann. “Even though they are different, they get to the same destination at the same time; they’re just using different body mechanics.”

A key finding from their study is that in both species the head is moving at a different rate than the rest of the body. In fact, it is actually moving back and forth a lot faster than the rest of the body. Similar to sturgeons, a species of fish, the researchers discovered that these hammerheads have a double oscillating system. They speculate that it is because of an increased ability for sensory perception.

“There is no way that we could have anticipated the double oscillation system in this species,” said Hoffmann. “The head movement being different than the rest of the body movement is something that’s almost impossible to see with the naked eye.”

The researchers point out that with the double oscillation system, the shark’s head is moving at a much quicker rate than the rest of their body essentially to scan more of the substrate of their environment.

“Think of it like a metal detector as you move it back and forth,” said Hoffmann. “They’re going to be covering more territory for electroreception and olfaction and they need to be able to do that at a greater rate than the rest of their body.”

British folk-punk Lily Gaskell on music and politics

This music video from England is called Lily Gaskell entertaining guests at Hannah & Rob Blake’s Wedding Party. Brooklands Museum, Saturday 1st August, 2015.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

In tune with the times

Tuesday 10th October 2017

Folk-punk artist LILY GASKELL talks to Felicity Collier about how the changing political landscape impacts on her work

FROM early on in her career, when she played Rock against Racism nights, folk-punk artist Lily Gaskell’s work has been infused with a socialist attitude to music-making.

Along with like-minded people who shared her views to this and other local issues, she developed “a sense of responsibility to stand up for people and share their message,” she tells me.

Lily hails from Thatcher‘s hometown of Stamford and, if further proof were needed that the latter was responsible for millions of children’s misery, the singer tells me that aged 13 she had to clean cobwebs off the iron lady‘s clothes during her work experience at the town’s museum.

“There’s no cleaning that amount of mess off though,” she quips.

When she’s not rollerskating, the professionally trained musician tours around co-operatively run venues such as Bradford’s 1 in 12 club and Sumac in Nottingham.

She performs covers in pubs as a means of income but says that she has had to turn venues down in the past “if their political values are way off mine.”

Music is in Lily’s blood. She grew up in a musical house and both her parents — who still play — were in a band together.

“My dad got me my first electric guitar when I was 11,” she recalls.

“I couldn’t play a single chord until I started going to an after-school group and it quickly became all-consuming.

“I was gigging regularly from the age of 12, playing bass in a few bands. But I didn’t start writing or singing until I was around 14 and became more confident in myself.”

Hugely inspired by songwriter Jeff Buckley, she tried to mimic his intricacy and style. Pearl Jam, Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins have all been influences, along with The Clash, Rancid, Black Flag, Bad Religion and Misfits.

Currently, she draws inspiration from promoters like Loud Women, who encourage all-female line-ups at their gigs.

“It’s very necessary and totally awesome,” she says. “In our patriarchal society women need to reclaim space and feel safe doing so.

“While it’s great to have all-female line-ups, it’s just as much about the people who attend the gigs. The atmosphere and safe space these events create makes it more accessible and in turn will get more women involved in music. Girls to the front!”

And she’s inspired by the changing political landscape. The Tories —“every one of their sentences crawls with lies” — are on their way out, “no doubt,” and she found the June election empowering but emotionally draining.

“It woke up the youth and showed they can make a difference. We showed everyone that the Labour Party is a viable alternative and it was the start of something really significant.

This Lily Gaskell music video says about itself:

18 September 2015

A song for Jeremy Corbyn; adapted from a poem by Ian Everett.

The article continues:

“I helped my parents’ campaign in Skegness, where my dad ran as the Labour Party candidate.

“We drove around in his bright red ‘Corbyn Camper,’ with my Mum doing hilarious Thatcher impressions through a megaphone down Skeggy high street.”

No doubt Lily will make a similarly storming appearance at the London fundraiser for the Morning Star on Saturday. Don’t miss!

Lily Gaskell and rap/spoken-word artist Potent Whisper are appearing at the Constitution pub, 42 St Pancras Way, London NW1 on Saturday October 14. The event starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available from maryado2000@yahoo.co.uk, eventbrite.co.uk or on the door.

Chernobyl disaster radioactivity in Swedish wild boars

This video from the USA says about itself:

14 March 2017

In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, boars populations have skyrocketed. Cenk Uygur, John Iadarola, and Jordan Chariton, the hosts of The Young Turks, give you updates on the Fukushima disaster.

“Six years after an earthquake and tsunami led to three nuclear reactors melting down, Japan is still generating and struggling with staggering amounts of radioactive waste.

In November, the Japanese government said cleanup and compensation costs for the March 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster would be an unprecedented 20 trillion yen ($180 billion) — double the previous estimate. Nuclear safety may not come cheap for an industry that is increasingly noncompetitive nationally and globally, but lack of safety is very costly indeed.

Soaring costs and accumulating waste aren’t Fukushima’s only problems. While the government wants to start lifting evacuation orders on some towns within the 12-mile exclusion zone, potential returnees have to deal with hundreds of radioactive wild boars roaming the streets. Reuters reports that some boars have “levels of radioactive material 130 times above Japan’s safety standards.”

“After people left, their ecosystem changed,” explained one local hunter hired to deal with the boars. “They began coming down from the mountains and now they aren’t going back. They found plenty of food, and no one will come after them. This is their new home now.” More than 13,000 boars have been hunted so far.”

Read more here.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant:

30 years after the Chernobyl disaster, radioactive wild boar suddenly turn up in Sweden

Swine eat truffles containing radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986

More than thirty years after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, radioactive wild boar suddenly show up in Sweden. This is because the Swedish boar now comes to places in nature where they did not dare until recently.

By Eric Van Den Outenaar October 9, 2017, 19:06

Nature areas in the middle and north of Sweden received a big radioactive cloud during the spring of 1986 from Ukraine. As a result, no berries and mushrooms were allowed to be picked for a long time. Most plants and animals have recovered.

For the wild boars, however, things go from bad to worse. …

The highest measured radioactivity in a wild boar so far is 16 thousand becquerel per 1,000 grams of pork, reported the Swedish public broadcaster SVT. At 10 thousand becquerel per 1,000 grams, the Swedish Food and Food Authority considers the eating of wild pork irresponsible.

“More than 30 years after the Chernobyl disaster, people are still routinely exposed to radioactive caesium when consuming locally produced staple foods, including milk, in Chernobyl-affected areas of Ukraine,” said Dr Iryna Labunska, of Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter: here.

Pygmy right whales, new discoveries

This video says about itself:

Walvis Bay, Namibia (14.2.2013) Very few people have ever seen a pygmy right whale. This kind of whale belongs to the smallest whales and can reach about 6 meters in length and 3,500 kg and lives only in the southern hemisphere.

This one was a young female of about 4 meters and 500 kg. Many people were involved in this rescue. Thanks to Antonie Potgieter and colleagues at the saltworks, who stood by until the rest of the rescue-team like Naude Dreyer & Nico Robberts, three tourists (Lionel Husser, Peter Poller and Marc Vogt) from France, Namibia and Switzerland and the Namibian Dolphin Project Team arrived and helped the poor fellow to bring it back to the sea. We will never forget this unbelievable moment in our life.

From Science News:

Ancient whale turns up on wrong side of the world

The rarely seen pygmy right whale may once have cruised northern waters

by Laurel Hamers

12:00pm, October 9, 2017

A new discovery is turning the hemispheric history of a mysterious whale species upside-down. Two fossils recently unearthed in Italy and Japan suggest that a southern whale was briefly a denizen of northern waters more than half a million years ago.

Until now, all available evidence suggested that the pygmy right whale, Caperea marginata, and its ancestors have been steadfast Southern Hemisphere residents for the past 10 million years.

Pygmy right whales are so rarely sighted that scientists know very little about their lifestyle, and the fossil record is sparse, too. The new Northern Hemisphere fossils both closely resemble other confirmed specimens of the whales, researchers report October 9 in Current Biology. The fossils include a fragmented skull with ear bones dating to 0.5 to 0.9 million years ago, and a bone containing parts of the middle and inner ear that’s 1.7 million to 1.9 million years old.

Glaciation near the South Pole during the Pleistocene Ice Age may have temporarily pushed Caperea further north, the researchers propose. Then, as the glaciers melted, the whale migrated south again. Because the new fossils are separated in age by about a million years, it’s hard to say whether the whales crossed the equator multiple times or briefly established a longer-term population in the Northern Hemisphere.

Researchers show that right whales, already an endangered species, may face a dim future: here.