See also here.
Northern lights on Terschelling island: here.
This video is about Látrabjarg seabird colony in western Iceland.
Great step forward for seabirds in Spain
By Elodie Cantaloube, Tue, 22/07/2014 – 16:17
Spanish landmark legislation increases 20-fold marine protected areas
Spain has officially established 39 new marine protection areas. The new sites are ‘Special Protection Areas for Birds’ (SPAs), designated under the European Birds Directive. The SPAs will offer protection to seabirds whilst they are at sea, complementing the existing network of sites on land.
Spain, with its Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines and islands, is extremely important for European seabirds. This includes Europe’s most threatened seabird – Balearic Shearwater, and other species endemic to the Mediterranean, such as the Yelkouan Shearwater and Audouin’s Gull.
The announcement is the culmination of many years of hard work by BirdLife’s Spanish Partner SEO/BirdLife, who has played a major role in this process: each of the 39 sites closely mirrors the Marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas identified by the organisation, following nearly a decade of scientific research.
Previously, Spain’s network of protected sites for seabirds was made up mostly of small sites at colonies and along coasts and islands. These sites mostly protect seabirds whilst on land, but do not protect them in the environment where they spend the majority of their time: out at sea. These new sites, many of which are large in size, and include areas offshore, will add an additional 50,000km2 to Spain’s protected area network for birds, a whopping 20-fold increase.
“The announcement is extremely important”, said Asunción Ruiz, Director of SEO/BirdLife “Now seabirds can be protected when they venture away from the Spanish coast. Carefully managed, these sites could make a real difference to the recovery of our threatened seabirds.”
The ground work carried out by SEO/BirdLife to identify these sites, involved many years of research tracking seabirds and understanding their behaviour at sea. The information on Marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas is collated on BirdLife’s Marine E-Atlas. Across Europe, these sites act as a ‘shadow list’ of sites which should be protected under EU law.
“It is extremely promising that Spain has moved to designate offshore sites and it is imperative for seabird conservation that other countries in Europe follow their example”, added Marguerite Tarzia, European Marine Conservation Officer at BirdLife “the addition of these sites means that Spain has gone from lagging behind other EU countries, to being one of the regional leaders in seabird protection at sea. It is important that the next steps include strong and effective management of sites, to ensure that the positive gains made today are followed through for real conservation outcomes.”
This video is about puffins in Iceland.
From daily The Guardian in Britain:
Scotland’s threatened puffins have successful breeding season
After years of poor summers, birds have had good season and pufflings are ready to take wing, say experts
Sunday 13 July 2014 15.35 BST
After several poor summers for Scotland‘s puffins, the “clowns of the sea” are gearing up to leave the country after a good breeding season, experts have said.
Changes to habitat and food brought on by climate change have created difficult conditions for breeding puffins in recent years, but early indications show that Scotland has enjoyed a positive breeding season, according to the Scottish Seabird Centre.
With pufflings now hatched and ready to take wing, visitors to Scotland have only a few weeks left before the birds – who come to Scottish islands including May, Craigleith, Fidre and Shetland – leave Britain’s northern shores in August, said the chief executive, Tom Brock.
The brightly beaked birds – which stay with the same breeding partner for life and return year upon year to the same nests – arrive in Scotland from mid-March to breed. After mating the female puffin lays one egg which is incubated by both the male and female. Pufflings are strong enough to leave the burrow after four or five weeks, and will take flight with the rest of their colony in August.
“It looks like it has been a good breeding season for puffins,” said Brock. “They have had lots of problems in the last few years with climate change, lack of food and winter storms but early indications are that it’s going to be a good breeding season for them.”
This video is called Massive Protests Greet German Prime Minister Merkel To Greece.
We are pleased to announce a lecture by Michael Herzfeld (Professor of Anthropology and Curator of European Ethnology in the Peabody Museum at Harvard University). Professor Herzfeld is advisor to the IIAS on critical heritage studies and urban renewal projects.
Crypto-Colonial Fantasies in Europe and Asia
Date & time: 26 May 2014, 15:00 – 16:30 hrs
Venue: Leiden University. Gravensteen, room 111, Pieterskerkhof 6, Leiden
Using the twin cases of Greece and Thailand, and alluding to the even more improbable pair of Iran and Iceland, professor Herzfeld will address the predicament of countries – mostly in Asia and Europe – that have escaped the formal control of colonial power but are still subjected to it in hidden but pernicious ways. In particular, he will address the ways in which claims of political independence and autonomous culture ironically reflect precisely that concealed dependence, and will examine some of the self-imaginations that spring from the largely illusory premise and promise of national independence.
Michael Herzfeld is Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, where has taught since 1991. The author of ten books — including The Poetics of Manhood (1985), Cultural Intimacy (1997), The Body Impolitic (2004), and Evicted from Eternity (2009) — and numerous articles and reviews, he has also produced two ethnographic films (Monti Moments  and Roman Restaurant Rhythms ). His honors include the J.I. Staley Prize and the Rivers Memorial Medal (both in 1994) and honorary doctorates from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (2005), the University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki (2011), and the University of Crete (2013), and an honorary professorship at Shandong University, Jinan (2013-18).
He is Senior Advisor to the Critical Heritage Studies Initiative of the International Institute for Asian Studies (Leiden). He has served as editor of American Ethnologist (1995-98) and is currently editor-at-large (responsible for “Polyglot Perspectives”) at Anthropological Quarterly. He is also a member of the editorial boards of several journals, including International Journal of Heritage Studies, Anthropology Today, and South East Asia Research. His most research in Greece, Italy, and Thailand has addressed, inter alia, the social and political impact of historic conservation and gentrification, the discourses and practices of crypto-colonialism, social poetics, the dynamics of nationalism and bureaucracy, and the ethnography of knowledge among artisans and intellectuals.
Please address all enquiries to: Ms Heleen van der Minne at email@example.com
Troika demands further austerity in Greece: here.
Corruption still alive and well in post-bailout Greece. Brush with bankruptcy was meant to end country’s culture of deceit, but malfeasance and mistrust remain widespread: here.
This video says about itself:
17 November 2011
Iceland reportedly removed whale meat from sale at Keflavik airport after undercover investigators found a shop assistant allegedly saying it was fine to take it out of the country. Video includes pictures of whale hunts that some may find disturbing. Report by Mark Morris.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Japan whale meat imports attacked by environmentalists
Friday 9th May 2014
ENVIRONMENTALISTS hit out at Japan today after the country imported 2,000 tons of frozen whale meat from Iceland.
The ship left Iceland in March carrying a cargo equivalent to almost all the whale meat exports for the last six years.
Greenpeace said it was puzzled by the size of the cargo, accounting for about two-thirds of annual consumption.
“We don’t know why Japan had to import such a huge volume of whale meat,” Mr Sato said.
“No matter what, we oppose such shipments.”
Critics claim the country already has large stocks of frozen whale meat from its own hunts that it cannot sell.
In December, Iceland said it had increased its 2014 quotas for whaling.
Icelanders eat little whale meat and most of the catch is sent to the Japanese market.
In March, a UN court ruled that the annual foray into the Southern Ocean by Japanese whalers was a commercial hunt masquerading as science.
Tokyo said there would be no hunting in the Southern Ocean in the 2014-15 season, but vessels would carry out “non-lethal research.”
Critics say Tokyo’s position is based on support for vested interests in the whaling industry rather efforts than to protect a source of food.
The newly created Japan Whale and Dolphin Watching Council will promote marine mammal eco-tourism, offering a lucrative alternative as Japan loses its taste for hunting wild cetaceans. Read more here.
This video is called Albino Sperm Whales (Documentary).
By Peter Frost in Britain:
UN court exposes Japan‘s false pretence
Friday 4th April 2014
The worldwide campaign to stop the bloody slaughter of some of our largest and most intelligent ocean creatures has secured a major victory but the struggle to save the whale must go on.
The UN court has declared that, despite long-term claims from Tokyo that the hunt was for scientific purposes, the true purpose was the commercial harvesting of whale meat for food and thus illegal under the 1986 International Moratorium on Whaling to which Japan is a signatory.
The case was brought to the court by the government of Australia, which argued that the programme was not for scientific research as claimed by Japan.
The Australians have been monitoring the Japanese whaling fleet and their actions using long-range recognisance aircraft.
Japan has reluctantly agreed to abide by the court’s decision but says that it regrets and is deeply disappointed by the decision.
Organisations like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd had harassed the Japanese fleet in international waters with heroic actions that saw volunteers putting themselves between the Japanese harpooners and the whales.
These actions played a massive part in winning world opinion to opposing the Japanese whaling deceit and its so-called scientific research claims.
The Australian legal argument was simple – Japan’s slaughter had nothing to do with environmental research and was commercial whaling in disguise.
Japan counter argued that the suit brought by Australia was an attempt to impose its cultural norms on Japan.
Announcing his judgement UN Judge Peter Tomka said the court had decided – by 12 votes to four – that Japan should withdraw all permits and licences for its whaling ships in the Antarctic and not issue any new ones.
Since 2005 Japan had slaughtered some 3,600 minke whales as well as other species. Only tiny tissue samples went to laboratories. Most of the meat ended up in expensive Japanese restaurants.
Some was exported to other whale-eating countries. On a visit to Iceland I was offered imported Japanese sei whale meat as a restaurant delicacy and in 2010 a restaurant in San Francisco, US, was prosecuted and shut down for selling illegally imported Japanese sei whale meat.
The Japanese fleet have been killing up to 50 magnificent sei whales each year.
The sei is the third biggest of whales and has declined following large-scale commercial whaling during the late 19th and t20th centuries, when over 255,000 whales were taken.
The sei whale is now internationally protected – its worldwide population was calculated in 2008 to be down down to about 80,000.
Japan signed up to the International moratorium on whaling in 1986, but continued whaling in the north and south Pacific hiding under the dubious excuse of provisions that allowed for limited scientific research.
In 2012 South Korea announced it would follow Japan’s lead and start scientific whaling again. A huge world-wide campaign forced them to change their mind.
In Japan the meat from the slaughtered whales is sold commercially despite more and more Japanese finding the slaughter and the consumption of whale meat unacceptable. Recently we have seen some whale meat used to make expensive edible chewing toys for Japan’s many lap-dogs.
Japan has clashed repeatedly with Australia and other countries, which strongly oppose whaling on conservation grounds arguing that minke whales and a number of other species are plentiful and that its whale hunting activities are sustainable. However, few other experts agree with that view.
Greenpeace UK’s Willie MacKenzie welcomed the ICJ’s decision. He told us: “The myth that this hunt was in any way scientific can now be dismissed once and for all.”
Sadly this new court ruling will not end whaling worldwide. Japan still has a fleet in the eastern Pacific and in northern waters Iceland, Norway and the Danish Faroe Islands defy world opinion and continue the bloody murder of some of the largest and most intelligent examples of life on our blue planet.
Japan said today that it has decided to continue whaling in the Pacific Ocean, despite losing a court case on its other “research” hunt in the Antarctic: here.
Japanese town marks start of whaling season by carving up animal in front of a crowd of school children: here.
April 2014: The president of the United States Barack Obama has announced that additional diplomatic sanctions should now be imposed on Iceland for undermining international agreements and the International Whaling Commission’s global ban on commercial whaling: here.
This video says about itself:
29 January 2009
By Peter Frost in Britain:
The accidental death of a seaside entertainer
Friday 28th February 2014
The recent, unprecedentedly violent, sea storms decimated the population of the lovable puffin, writes PETER FROST
Some of the worst sea storms for decades have wreaked havoc among our coastal wildlife. I reported on the way our seal population had been hit some weeks ago and now it is becoming clear that sea birds too have suffered huge losses in the storms.
This striking bird with its large brightly coloured bill is sometims known as the sea parrot.
Thousands of puffins are feared to have been killed in the recent storms that have hammered Britain for the last month. Dead puffins, as well as the corpses of many other seabirds such as razorbills and guillemots, have been found along many beaches.
Reports have also come in from further afield. The British Trust for Ornithology said it has received record numbers of reports of puffins being washed up dead on the coasts of France and Spain.
These are mostly ringed birds and their unique-numbered leg rings indicate they are from Britain.
Puffins venture far out to sea in winter as they hunt their favourite food, sand eels. Most will fly out to locations in the North Sea but many travel as far as the wild Atlantic Bay of Biscay.
In a normal winter very few dead puffins would be found all along the Bay coast from Brittany to northern Spain. This year, however, the body count has been as much as 10 times higher than normal.
Puffin populations have long been a cause for concern. The large-scale commercial dredging of sand eels – a key part of their diet – for fish farm food and fertiliser has been one major reason of their decline.
Native puffins which head out into the Atlantic for the winter months usually ride out the worst that the weather can throw at them.
Later some head back into the Bay of Biscay before returning home to the same breeding cliff-top burrows they used the previous summer.
The puffin is not a parrot despite its nickname. It is in fact an auk. Other British members of the auk family include razorbills and guillemots and small auks.
Ungainly on land, once at sea they swim well. Puffin feed mainly on small fish, which they catch by diving underwater, using their wings for speedy yet graceful propulsion.
Adult male and female puffins are identical except that the male is usually slightly larger. They nest in cliff-top colonies, digging a burrow in which a single white egg is laid.
The birds are often seen returning with their huge and colourful bills full of wriggling silver fish and sand eels which the chick swallows whole. It is a familiar but always thrilling sight for seaside bird-watchers.
The squarking puffin chick grows fast on such diet. Nest burrows and young chicks are at risk of attacks from other sea birds including gulls and skuas.
Skuas, in particular, have discovered they can easily steal a beakful of fishy food from a puffin just about to feed their chick.
After just six weeks the young puffin is fully fledged. Amazingly, one night it will abruptly swim out to sea and not return to land, or its parents, for several years.
Despite the terrible losses this winter our comical friend the puffin will be back breeding on Britain’s cliffs this summer I have no doubt.
We will expect the adults to arrive back at their breeding colonies in March and April and they will be gone again by mid-August.
Here are a few good places to see puffins. There are impressive breeding colonies at Bempton Cliffs in North Yorkshire; South Stack on Anglesey; on the Farne Islands and Coquet Island off Northumberland; the Isle of May off the Fife coast; and my own personal favourite puffins in Shetland and the Orkney Islands.
Death puffin on Texel beach: here.