Gannets share food, new study


Gannet colonies in Britain, Ireland and France

From the University of Leeds in England:

Gannets don’t eat off each other’s plates

Published Thursday 6 June 2013

Colonies of gannets maintain vast exclusive fishing ranges despite doing nothing to defend their territory from rival colonies, scientists have discovered.

A team of researchers led by the University of Leeds and the University of Exeter observed that northern gannets, which can fly hundreds of kilometres on a single fishing trip, avoided visiting the fishing grounds of gannets from neighbouring colonies.

The findings, published in the journal Science, could transform our understanding of animals’ foraging patterns because individual gannets do nothing to enforce this territory or communicate its boundaries when out at sea. A bird entering from a neighbouring colony would be free to fly and fish unhindered.

Co-lead author Dr Ewan Wakefield, postdoctoral researcher in the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences, said: “The accepted view is that exclusive foraging territories are associated with species such as ants, which aggressively defend the feeding areas around their colonies, but this opens the door to a completely new way of thinking about territory. We found the gannet colonies also had neatly abutting and clearly defined feeding areas. Gannets may be a byword for gluttony but, clearly, they don’t eat off each other’s plates.”

This 2014 video is called Torpedo Gannet Diving! – Nature’s Great Events w/ David Attenborough – BBC.

Researchers from more than 14 institutions in the UK, Ireland and France tracked the flights of nearly 200 northern gannets flying from 12 colonies around the British Isles.

Rather than seeing criss-crossing flight paths as the birds headed out from their colonies, they found themselves plotting a strictly segregated map. The most striking example was seen off the west coast of Ireland where gannets from two colonies, Bull Rock and Little Skellig, are within sight of each other yet head off in different directions.

The explanation has nothing to do with territorial behaviour, but instead seems to be a matter of mathematics reinforced by the culture of colonies.

Dr Thomas Bodey, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter and joint-lead author of the study, explained: “Gannets get their chance when shoals of fish are forced to the surface, often by predatory whales and dolphins, but when the gannets start plunging into the water and feeding on a shoal, the fish start diving. You have to be one of the first gannets to get there and that is where the maths comes in: if you go into an area that is being used by birds from a closer colony, there is a higher chance that individuals from that colony will be there first.”

The same applies when waste is being thrown off the backs off trawlers, another key feeding opportunity for gannets.

Cultural transmission within the colonies then seems to reinforce the geographical calculus.

“Gannets readily follow each other when at sea. Finding such separation between colonies, even when visible from each other, indicates that competition for food cannot be the only explanation and suggests cultural differences between colonies may be important. As with humans, birds have favoured routes to travel, and if new arrivals at a colony follow experienced old hands then these patterns can quickly become fixed, even if other opportunities potentially exist,” Dr Bodey said.

The northern gannet is Europe’s largest seabird, with a wingspan of around 2m, and nests on steep cliffs and rocky islands. Attaching the matchbox-sized satellite transmitters and GPS loggers used to track the birds was sometimes a major challenge. At the biggest mainland UK colony at Bempton Cliffs in East Yorkshire, a military abseiling team from the Joint Services Mountain Training Wing was called in to help.

The UK supports 60-70 per cent of the world’s northern gannets and the discovery that colonies depend on particular sea areas has implications for the location of marine protected areas and offshore energy development.

The research also has wide ranging implications for our understanding of animal behaviour. Co-author Dr Keith Hamer, Reader in Animal Ecology in the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences, said: “We knew that species like ants that forage over short distances show segregation, but now we find that segregation not only occurs in gannets but that it is there just as strongly as in ants. That immediately opens the door to asking how many other species that we assumed would not show segregation actually do. There is no reason to believe that gannets are unique.”

Professor Stuart Bearhop, Professor of Animal Ecology at the University of Exeter, said: “We understand an awful lot about what these seabirds do on land, but until recently we knew shockingly little about what they do at sea. The technology is now allowing us to leave the coast with them and we are discovering more and more of these amazing and unexpected patterns.”

The work was funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Centre National de la RechercheScientifique, the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, the Alderney Commission for Renewable Energy, the Beaufort Marine Research Award and the European Union. It involved the Universities of Leeds, Exeter, Plymouth, Liverpool, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork, as well as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France.

Spanish Armada cannons discovery off Ireland


This video says about itself:

17 June 2015

Rare cannons from Spanish Armada discovered in seabed after wreckage from ship washed ashore by storms

From the Irish Times:

Relics from Spanish Armada discovered in Sligo

Artefacts more than 425 years old from merchant vessel found off Streedagh

Wed, Jun 17, 2015, 16:41

Severe winter storms over the last two years are believed to have led to the recent discovery of relics from the Spanish Armada off the Irish coast.

A number of cannons from the merchant vessel La Juliana have been found in sands off Streedagh in Co Sligo since timbers from the exposed wreck began washing ashore in April.

The guns date back to 1588 but are said to be in excellent condition.

Two have been taken off the seabed with archaeologists discovering that one bears a dedication to and depiction of St Matrona, a saint particularly venerated by the people of Catalonia.

It is also dated 1570, the year La Juliana was built, putting the identity of the ship beyond doubt, the Government said.

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, visited the wreck site and saw the archaeological work first hand.

“We have uncovered a wealth of fascinating and highly significant material, which is more than 425 years old,” she said.

“This material is obviously very historically and archaeologically significant.”

Two other vessels from the Armada sank in violent storms in the area in September 1588, La Lavia and Santa Maria de Vision, with more than 1,000 soldiers and mariners drowning when they went down.

They are believed to remain concealed and protected by layers of sand which did not shift in storms over the last two years.

La Juliana traded between Spain and Italy until King Philip II commandeered it for the Armada fleet of 130 ships to invade England and take Queen Elizabeth I’s throne.

The vessel was large, weighed 860 tonnes, carried 32 guns, 325 soldiers and had a crew of 70.

Recovery of the rest of the guns, relics and materials from the sandy seabed off Sligo is expected to last a number of weeks.

Northern Irish pro-marriage equality campaign


This music video from Ireland says about itself:

Bronagh Gallagher – Love Will Find You

19 February 2013

Bronagh Gallagher (aka Derry‘s daughter) with her amazing band absolutely stormed the Glassworks with a blistering set.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Gallagher: Spread joy of same-sex marriage

Friday 12th June 2015

SINGER and actress Bronagh Gallagher has called for same-sex marriage to be legalised in Northern Ireland ahead of her performance at a Belfast marriage equality rally on Saturday.

Ms Gallagher will be supported on stage by Quire, a 30-strong choir of LGBT singers.

The rally in front of Belfast City Hall will follow a march through the city being organised by Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Rainbow Project.

“I was a big supporter of the Yes campaign in the Republic and now I want to see that joy spread to Northern Ireland,” said Ms Gallagher.

“For me, this is dead simple. I think everyone is equal and the law should treat them as equal. No more and no less than that.”

Northern Ireland left behind on gay marriage issue, say Belfast marchers. Thousands join demonstration calling for an end to province’s status as ‘last bastion of discrimination against gay people in these islands’: here.

ABOUT 20,000 gay rights supporters marched through Belfast city centre on Saturday to demand that the legal recognition of same-sex marriage be extended to Northern Ireland: here.

Irish people vote for equal marriage rights


This video from Ireland says about itself:

Vote YES to Marriage Equality

8 May 2015

Sinn Féin video featuring Gerry Adams TD, Councillor Emma Murphy and Mayor of Dublin South, Fintan Warfield calling on people to vote Yes to Marriage Equality on May 22nd.

Irish marriage equality supporters rejoice today

From RTÉ News in Ireland:

Ireland says Yes to same-sex marriage

Saturday 23 May 2015 18.32

Ireland has voted Yes to same-sex marriage, with just a handful of constituencies yet to declare results.

Large crowds have been gathering at Dublin Castle to hear the final official result, which is expected about 6pm.

A number of campaigners against the marriage referendum congratulated the Yes side on its campaign early today.

The first official constituency result was declared in Sligo-North Leitrim with 53.57% there voting Yes and 46.43% voting No.

The highest Yes vote so far, at almost 75%, has been declared in Dublin South East.

One constituency has voted No; the result in Roscommon-South Leitrim saw over 51% of voters there reject the marriage referendum proposal. …

Former Labour party leader Eamon Gilmore stood over his comments made in mid-2012, that gay marriage was “the civil rights issue of a generation”.

He said this referendum “was a moment where Irish people expressed their decency and their generosity”. …

Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland Mary Cunningham praised a new generation of voters for making a difference.

“It represents a victory not only for the Yes side, but also for Irish society, Irish democracy and the young people of Ireland,” she said.

“This result sends a strong message to young people across Ireland that they are valued equally; and that we want to promote respect and eliminate homophobia.”

Yes Equality spokesperson Grainne Healy said: “It’s an extraordinary day.

“We were going out not telling people to vote Yes, we were going out saying I am voting yes and I’d like to tell you why. That’s how the campaign started and that’s how it has worked.”…

Church needs a reality check – Archbishop

Speaking to RTÉ News, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said that the Catholic Church [which had campaigned for a No vote] needs “to have a reality check across the board”.

He said that he appreciates how gay and lesbian people feel.

“This is a social revolution that did not begin today”, he said, adding that it had been going for quite a while.

Archbishop Martin said that the church has a huge task in getting its message out to young people.

“The church needs to ask itself if it has completely drifted away from young people,” he said.

He added that most people who voted Yes went to Catholic schools for 12 years, so “there is a big challenge for us to get the message of the Catholic church across”.

Also from RTÉ News in Ireland today:

18:30

Anti Austerity Alliance TDs Joe Higgins, Ruth Coppinger and Paul Murphy have welcomed the result of the same-sex marriage referendum.

Mr Higgins said: “Today is a historic day for [the] LGBTQ community in Ireland and internationally. Today’s victory is the culmination of decades of struggle which has forced this government and conservative elements in the establishment to hold this referendum.”

Ruth Coppinger said “We must now fight as a society for the full separation of church and state. Today’s result shows that the church’s massive control of health and education is out of kilter with the consciousness of the majority in society.”

Paul Murphy said “One of the key characteristics from this referendum has been the massive votes delivered by working class communities, and young people. Many people in working class areas who have never voted have become politicised over the last few years of austerity and turned out in massive numbers to vote for equality.”

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands, which interviwed a mother of a gay son in Dublin, Ireland:

“My son is 38 years old. Only five years he dared to come out as gay. In that atmosphere he had grown up, thanks to the church,” said a female voter.

The church has lost a lot of credit because of the abuse scandals in recent years. “I want my son to be happy,” said the woman. “He does not harm anyone and he is not a pedophile. Not everyone in the church can say that.”

Don’t be blinded by the Yes vote: Ireland is still oppressing its LGBT population. Equal marriage is too often conflated with absolute LGBT equality but the reality continues to be alarming: here.