Eurasian perch genome assembled

This 2009 video is about a young perch fed in an aquarium.

From the Estonian Research Council:

Eurasian perch genome assembled

October 30, 2018

In a study published recently in the scientific journal G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics, researchers from Estonian University of Life Sciences in collaboration with colleagues from University of Turku assembled Eurasian perch (Latin name, Perca fluviatilis) genome, which is three times smaller than the human genome, yet contains about a billion nucleotides and more than 23,000 genes. The investigated perch originated from the dark waters of lake Loosalu in the midst of the bogs of Rapla county. The results of the research enable scientists all over the world to better understand the effect of natural selection on genome.

The Eurasian perch is a very common fish species in Estonia and Eurasia. Its habitat ranges from the British Isles to the Russian Far East. The species can live and successfully reproduce in extreme environmental conditions. Therefore, we can find the perch in oligotrophic clear-water lakes, the brackish waters of the Baltic Sea and acidic dark-water bog lakes where other fish species cannot survive. However, it is not known yet what kind of genetic mechanisms have helped the perch adapt to so different living conditions.

The perch is an important link in the food chain of the water bodies. It was discovered recently that the striped fish has a huge impact on the methane cycle of lakes. The perch can namely reduce methane emissions to lakes almost tenfold by changes in food chain. As methane is a much more effective greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, the perch plays an important role in the reduction of global warming. “This is why it is especially important to understand the adaptation mechanisms of the perch in bog lakes poor in oxygen (and rich in humic substances) where methane emission is the highest and the perch is often the sole fish species”, said the ichthyologist Anti Vasemägi, professor at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and senior researcher at Estonian University of Life Sciences, who led the research.

According to Vasemägi, the assembled genome is a significant milestone both in Estonian and international context. “Compared to the previously studied fish species, the genome sequenced by us is of high value as we used innovative methodology based on separate marking of long DNA molecules and determining the sequence of the short ones”, Vasemägi described. The scientist said that the applied methodology allows sequencing even large genomes quickly, comparatively cheaply and precisely, during which the exceedingly difficult task of matching the genome together is divided into millions of lesser puzzles. Due to this, it is finally possible to conduct studies covering the whole genome of different fish species. Vasemägi added that the easiest way for grasping the size of the genome is by converting its measurements understandably to humans. “If you imagine that the length of one base pair is one millimetre, the perch genome can reach from Tartu to Berlin”, he denoted, adding that the next task for the research group is mapping genome regions, or kilometre posts on the route from Tartu to Berlin that contain traces of natural selection.”

What’s more, the perch is an important commercially exploited fish species and also a very popular target among recreational fishermen. Due to its delicious taste, its farming has started in many locations in Europe. “Sequencing the perch genome enables scientists to map the regions of the genome that affect the fish’s growth rate, time of reaching sexual maturity, resistance to diseases, and other important aquacultural characteristics”, explained professor Riho Gross, the chair of the Chair of Aquaculture at Estonian University of Life Sciences. Sequencing perch genome will simplify similar studies in North America where a close relative of our perch, the yellow perch (Latin name Perca flavescens) is widespread. Sequencing perch genome is just the first step towards understanding which evolutionary mechanisms have made the perch one of the most successful and widespread fish species in temperate Eurasia, Vasemägi concluded.

The conducted research was supported by Estonian Research Council (IUT8-2) and the Academy of Finland.

Anti-Semitic vandalism in Estonia, Russia

This video says about itself:

17 September 2015

Members of the Estonian parliament received parcels containing an edition of a speech on homosexuality delivered by Heinrich Himmler. The booklets were distributed by a neo-Nazi group, with Tallinn set to recognize same-sex unions in several months.

On Wednesday, the book with Himmler’s speech about homosexuality was delivered to the mailboxes of Estonian parliament (Riigikogu) members along with a pen with ‘’ written on it, Delfi news website reports. is the website of a Neo-Nazi group MTU La Colonia. The organization is a non-profit association headed by notorious Estonian national socialist Risto Teinonen, a Finnish national and one of the leaders of the far-right Estonian Independence Party (Eesti Iseseisvuspartei, EIP).

The EIP is currently not represented in the parliament.

The website advertised the mailout, writing “We hope that lawmakers are going to find time and get familiar with this work.”

According to Delfi, the book was printed at the print shop of Haamer publishing house registered in the city of Tartu. Nationalist Risto Teinonen is known for being a member of the board at Haamer.

The incident comes as in the near future the Estonian parliament has to pass implementing acts to the law that will legally recognize same-sex unions from January 1, 2016.

In October 2014, Estonia became the first former Soviet state to recognize same-sex partnerships after passing the Cohabitation Act.

Reichsführer of the SS (Schutzstaffel) Heinrich Luitpold Himmler, one of the senior leaders of the Third Reich and Germany’s Nazi Party, delivered his anti-gay speech to high-ranking SS officers back in 1937.

From the Jewish Telegraph Agency:

Holocaust monuments defaced in Russia, Estonia

Swastikas painted near Tallinn, memorial to hundreds of murdered Jews in Pskov smashed

September 2, 2016, 2:07 pm

MOSCOW — Unidentified individuals vandalized Holocaust monuments in Russia and Estonia.

The Baltic country’s Jewish community last week reported the drawing of swastikas on the Holocaust monument of the city of Kalevi-Liiva, which lies 10 miles east of the Estonian capital of Tallinn.

“It is sad that such incidents are taking place in our country. It is hoped that this will not happen again,” the community wrote about the incident, which was discovered after Estonian National Day celebrations on August 20.

Separately, a monument built near a mass grave of Jews murdered by Nazis in the Holocaust was smashed in the Russian district of Pskov, situated some 200 miles southeast of Kalevi-Liiva.

In January 1942, hundreds of Jews were shot to death by Germans at the site.

According to a report Thursday by the Russian news agency Interfax, the desecration in Pskov occurred sometimes between August 14 and August 29.

Police are investigating both incidents.

Dutch orchid research

This orchid video from Estonia says about itself:

28 October 2014

Hand pollination project of red helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra).

Translated from the Dutch botanists of the Werkgroep Europese Orchideeën:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In 2014, some members of the European Working Group Orchids did research into the occurrence of Cephalantheras, a rare group of orchids with dainty flowers, found mainly in South Limburg. Of Cephalanthera damasonium quite a few plants were found. Cephalanthera longifolia was found only at a few places. Disappointing was that Cephalanthera rubra was not found anywhere.

Counting Dutch orchids in winter: here.

German spotted eagles’ migration to Africa tracked

This video is called Farewell Estonian Lesser Spotted Eagles 2011.

From Wildlife Extra:

Spotted eagles tracked from Germany on migration to Africa

Spotted eagles fitted with satellite transmitters

September 2013. Twelve Spotted eagles, fitted with GPS transmitters in Germany, are being tracked on their migration to Africa.

Only about 100 pairs of rare Spotted eagles breed in Germany, and this number is declining every year. For years Germany’s Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) has been fighting to save the last habitats of this elusive bird of prey; buying the land where they breed and protecting its feeding areas. Nevertheless they are threatened whilst on migration, particularly by hunters, and many young birds die before they mature and return to their German breeding grounds.

Help NABU protect the spotted eagle with a donation.

To investigate the migratory behaviour, the 30 gram backpack transmitters were mounted on the back of the spotted eagles; they report regularly the exact position, altitude and speed of the eagles.

Courtesy of Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union.

The article is about lesser spotted eagles.

Free public transport in Estonia

This 2019 video says Free transport was rolled out to 11 of Estonia’s 15 counties on Sunday.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Car use plummets amid free travel fever in Tallinn

Thursday 04 April 2013

Three months after launching a free travel initiative, city officials in Estonia‘s capital Tallinn declared the experiment a success today.

Earlier this year Tallinn became the world’s first capital to introduce free public transport for its residents.

All that’s required is a transit pass showing you’re a resident.

The scheme is designed to reduce congestion and pollution while alleviating expenses for the city’s poor.

Deputy Mayor Taavi Aas says the experiment, which will cost the city about €12 million (£10m) annually, has surpassed expectations.

Passenger numbers are up 10 per cent while the number of cars on the streets has fallen by 15 per cent.

The programme is expected to boost Tallinn’s tax revenue because the registration requirement is winning the city more taxable residents.

More than 5,000 new Tallinn residents have been registered since January 1.

With 1,000 new residents paying €1m (£851,0000) in city taxes, current registration rates should offset the programme’s costs, said Mr Aas.

Trafigura pollution scandal continues

This video is called Probo Koala trailer (Côte d’Ivoire toxic waste spill).

By Marietta Harjono:

How one company is getting away with a human and environmental tragedy

September 25, 2012 at 11:00

Six years ago a multinational company bought large amounts of unrefined gasoline in the US and refined it through an industrial process called caustic washing onboard a ship, the Probo Koala, in the Mediterranean Sea.

During one night in August 2006, this waste was later dumped in at least 18 different places around Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire, close to houses, workplaces, schools and fields of crops. Abidjan, a vibrant city of more than 3.5 million people, was engulfed in a terrible smell that witnesses have described as thick, suffocating, akin to a mix of rotten eggs, garlic, gas and petroleum.

Probo Koala

Health centres and hospitals were soon overwhelmed. Over 100,000 people received medical care, according to official records. National authorities reported that between 15 and 17 people died.

What’s more, the company was long aware that the waste that they created onboard the Probo Koala was hazardous… and expensive to dispose of.

That company is Trafigura.

Today, Greenpeace and Amnesty International are releasing the most in-depth report into the incident ever concluded. We are calling for the UK government to begin a criminal investigation into Trafigura’s actions, for the victims to receive justice and international action to make sure this never happens again.

The Toxic Truth is the result of a three-year investigation and looks at the tragic litany of failures that created a medical, political and environmental disaster. It is a story of corporate crime, human rights abuse and governments’ failure to protect people and the environment. It is a story that exposes how systems for enforcing international law have failed to keep up with companies that operate trans-nationally, and how one company has been able to take full advantage of legal uncertainties and jurisdictional loopholes, with devastating consquences.

With medical treatment and time, the symptoms have abated, but for many the fear remains. Six years on, the people of Cote d’Ivoire still do not know what was in the waste. It had been illegally exported from Europe, illegally brought into Abidjan, and illegally dumped there. Numerous laws – both national and international – had been ignored.

In the Netherlands, Trafigura was prosecuted in relation to the illegal export of waste to Africa. This case was initiated by Greenpeace. Not only does Trafigura have an office there, this was also where it first tried to have the waste treated – and where the price tag rose after it became evident the content of the waste wasn’t what it had said. They were found guilty.

In September 2006, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise barred the Probo Koala from leaving port when it docked in Estonia. Back then we demanded that the Estonian authorities investigate the ship, and the European Commission, to ensure this never happens again.

Greenpeace has followed this from the start and will not rest until Trafigura is held to account.

Trafigura has spent over US$300 million using every scheming technique available to a multibillion dollar company to evade justice after the dumping. For that amount it could have paid for the proper disposal of the toxic waste almost five hundred times over.

And it could have saved a human and environmental tragedy of an unimaginable scale.

Find out what Greenpeace is doing to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Marietta Harjono is a Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner

See also here.

Sea eagles back in Ireland after a century

This video from Estonia is called White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), close up view.

From the RSPB in Britain:

White-tailed sea eagles nest for the first time in 100 years

Last modified: 30 April 2012

The Golden Eagle Trust has today announced that a pair of White-tailed Eagles has been confirmed nesting near Mountshannon in County Clare – the first documented nesting attempt for the species in Ireland in over 100 years. Although the nest has not been examined for eggs to avoid any unnecessary disturbance, the behaviour of the birds indicates that they have nested. The re-introduction programme, which is funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in partnership with Golden Eagle trust, began in 2007 with the birds in question having been transported from Norway in 2008 and 2009.

This is a huge achievement for the organisation and a big step forward for bird conservation in Ireland, and we at the RSPB would like to offer our congratulations! We’ll keep you up to date on the arrival of any chicks.

To read more on this story, visit the Golden Eagle Trust’s website.

Estonian teachers fight for their rights

This video is called Estonia’s Teachers Will Strike, March 7th-9th, 2012.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Estonian teachers in national strike push for pay

Wednesday 07 March 2012

Sixteen thousand teachers kicked off a three-day national strike today in support of their demand for a 20 per cent pay rise this year and 15 per cent in 2013 and 2014.

The Estonian Education Personnel Union (EEPU) says that some teachers earn a monthly wage of just €608 (£507), which is far behind the state’s average of €865 (£722).

The government says it will consider increasing teachers’ minimum wage to €700 (£584) in 2013.

The Nordic Teachers Council (NLS), an umbrella organisation representing 18 education unions in northern Europe, has voiced its support for the action, saying education is “the most powerful way to make a nation prosperous.

“The NLS wishes to express its solidarity, sympathy and support for the EEPU’s struggle for reasonable and competitive salaries and working conditions,” it said.

Estonian sea eagles webcam

Photo of a juvenile sea eagle, by Eugenius Kavaliauskas

From Wings over Wetlands:

New webcam helps spot eagles at WOW Demonstration Site in Estonia

Not even aware of their own success, the eagles in the “Haapsalu-Noarootsi Bays” are the new movie stars in a recently launched camera project in Estonia. This winter the live camera project started to watch the White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) in their feeding place. So far 7 different White-tailed Eagles have been observed.

Every day these magnificent birds visit the feeding place for a couple of minutes, not knowing they are being featuring in a large camera project being implemented by a range of different partners (Internet portal; Eenet, local NGOs such as Läänemaa Bird Club, Silma Märgala, Kotkaklubi and a number of private persons).

Under good weather conditions you can also try to spot the eagles live at:


Latvian Ornithological Society wins award: here.

Sooma national park in Estonia: here.