Fukushima news update


This video from Japan about Fukushima says about itself:

March 11, 2013 2 year anniversary of man-made nuclear accident and tsunami

Hiroaki Koide, Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering, Assistant Professor at the Kyoto University Research Institute, Nuclear Waste Management & Safety Expert:

The cesium-137 that was released into the atmosphere by Units 1 through 3 was 168 times that of the Hiroshima bomb, according to the Japanese government report to the IAEA, an international organization which promotes nuclear power.

Very high levels of accumulated radioactive cesium have been detected in the mud of hundreds of reservoirs used to irrigate farmland in Fukushima Prefecture, where agriculture is a key industry: here.

”As if the hazards at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant needed to worsen, more highly radioactive water has leaked in one of the reactors. Wayne looks at growing international unease in the aftermath of the meltdown and the surrounding political winds. Colin follows up with Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear industry executive and now chief engineer at the Fairewinds organization“: here.

Fukushima disaster, USS Ronald Reagan sailors, and Alaskan ringed seals: here.

As the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake approaches, new studies of the ongoing effects of the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown show that the disaster is far from over: here.

Illegal nuclear dumping in Shiga raises alarms: Culprits not ID’d; 8,700 tons of cesium-tainted chips missing — The Japan Times: here.

U.S. Military personnel sickened after Fukushima face long recovery: here.

Three years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Japanese government is moving to restart the country’s nuclear plants, all of which remain shut down. A draft energy plan released late last month officially designates nuclear power as a long-term base power source, setting the stage for the resumption of nuclear plant operations: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Girl’s painting for grey seal


Lara bringing her painting, photo by Sytske Dijksen

Translated from Ecomare museum and seal rehabilitation center on Texel island, the Netherlands:

Painting for Annie – 06-01-14

Our gray seal Annie received a special gift from the 12-year-old Lara Cordes. Especially for Annie she had made a beautiful painting about a seal on the beach. Lara was with her family on holiday on Texel. After visiting Ecomare they decided to adopt Annie. A few days later she came to bring this painting, together with her aunt and cousin. Thank you Lara! We will find a nice spot for this in Ecomare.

Gray seal Annie

Enhanced by Zemanta

British grey seals in stormy weather


This video is about a newborn grey seal pup with its mother on a beach in Norfolk, UK.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Seal pups brave the storms

Saturday 14th December 2013

PETER FROST finds that extreme weather has hit seal rookeries hard – but many of this year’s young have survived after all

The recent severe storms and sea surge that hit so much of Britain’s coast caused all sorts of damage. The storm destroyed sea defences and coastal bungalows as well as flooding salt-marsh and agricultural land.

Wildlife too was hit hard, with many sea birds being storm tossed and disorientated and sea mammals, particularly grey seals, greatly affected.

The storms occurred precisely at the height of the grey seal pupping season. The terrible weather could not have come at a worse time. Bodies of fluffy white dead seal pups have littered beaches all along the east coast.

Thousands of seal pups were caught up in the storms and separated from their mothers. This was very serious as the pups were not yet mature enough to survive alone.

The young pups can’t swim or survive without their mother’s milk which is 60 per cent fat and the consistency of condensed milk.

Pups put on five pounds (2kg) of weight per day until they have shed their distinctive white fur.

The beach at Horsey, close to the northern waters of the Norfolk Broads, has always been a favourite place of mine to watch these white fluffy pups.

Normally in the weeks running up to Christmas you can watch 400-500 baby seals feeding from their mothers on the beach. The best viewing is from the dunes which means you are not disturbing the family groups.

After the recent storm there were worries that more than half of Horsey’s pups had disappeared.

Along the coast at Blakeney Point, normally home to about a thousand seals and pups, again many seals seemed to have been swallowed by the storm. Other locations in Lincolnshire and even as far afield as the Isle of Man were reporting dead seal pups and abandoned and lost baby seals.

But in fact it seems the news might not be as bad as at first feared. Some of the grey seals, mothers and pups, were far more resourceful than experts had expected.

Large numbers of adult seals and pups were able to reach higher ground in among the sand dunes and escape the worst of the sea surge and resultant flooding.

Many of the seals will still have been displaced from their normal homes with the colony. A large number of wildlife charities and seal sanctuaries as well as individuals have reported and rescued distressed seals.

Around half of the world’s population of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) are found around the British coast. That Latin name translates as hook-nosed sea pig.

Adult grey seals are one of Britain’s largest wild mammals but are still vulnerable to disturbance by humans, dogs and bad weather during the pupping season.

Grey seals come ashore to breeding sites known as a rookery or haul-out.

The females, known as cows, arrive at the breeding sites before the bull seals and will usually give birth within a day or so of coming ashore.

They feed their pups on milk for three weeks, keeping the pup close in a well-defended territory. Over the next few weeks the pup will moult its soft white birth coat. It grows a mottled waterproof replacement.

The pup doesn’t feed during the moult and relies on the fat it has built up from mother’s milk. Eventually hunger drives it to the sea where it will learn to hunt and fish for itself.

Even in a good year with everything in its favour only half the pups will survive.

With the present pressure on the seals, wildlife and seal charities are asking people to keep away from wild seals and the pupping sites. Please put off your seal spotting expeditions until our seals have got over the trauma of the storms.

However, many of the seal sanctuaries are opening for public viewing of the rescued and orphaned unbelievably cute fluffy pups. Admission charges and collections will help them in their valuable work to ensure our wonderful seal populations survive.

The far less common but less shy so more often spotted common or harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) pups later in the spring and hasn’t been so disturbed by the storms. Common seal populations are declining drastically for reasons that are still not fully understood.

Seal pups and storm in the Netherlands: here.

Killer whales, new research


This video is called BBC Natural World: The Woman Who Swims With Killer Whales.

From Wildlife Extra:

Killer whales found to eavesdrop on prey

December 2013: UK Scientists have found evidence that marine-mammal-eating killer whales rely on acoustic clues to locate their prey.

While biologists had evidence that the whales do not echolocate while hunting, due to the excellent hearing of the seals, porpoises and other animals the whales hunt, they were still unsure exactly how the animals do find their prey in the murky northern waters off the west coast of North America.

However, a two-year study by Volker Deecke, a researcher at the Centre for Wildlife Conservation at the University of Cumbria, UK has revealed that killer whales can successfully locate prey even in near-complete darkness. Deecke notes that this new evidence of night-time hunting rules out visual cues as the only means of prey detection.

“We now suspect that mammal-eating killer whales are primarily eavesdropping on sounds generated by their prey to find food,” he said.

Deecke and his colleagues traveled to Alaska to conduct the study, analysing huge quantities of data gathered from acoustic recording tags placed on 13 killer whales. The tags, which are about the size of a cell phone, were attached to the whales with four suction cups and could stay on for up to 16 hours.

The tags’ accelerometers, compass, depth sensor, and hydrophone recorded data on the animals’ movements and any sounds it heard or made. Deecke and his colleagues were able to identify predation events by the characteristic sound of a whale dispatching its prey with a hit from its tail fluke.

Deecke said of one unfortunate seal’s demise: “As soon as we put one of the tags on, it started to record seal roars, which are part of the display that male harbor seals use to attract females. Over the next half hour the roars got louder and louder, then there are a sequence of three quite loud roars that suggest the seal is within a few hundred meters of the killer whale. Twenty-seven seconds later there are the sounds of a predation event, and then no more roars.”

Deecke notes that such a story is compelling but does not provide direct evidence that killer whales are tuning in to the sounds of their prey. Going forward, he hopes to use playback experiments to test killer whales’ responses to recorded seal roars and porpoise echolocation clicks.

Rare dolphins near English Farne Islands


This video from England says about itself:

Dolphins swimming off the Farne Islands.

Filmed from Glad Tidings VI on the 16th November 2013.

Wow!

These are bottlenose dolphins.

This video from England says about itself:

2 Common Dolphins at the Farne Islands on November 17th 2013 playing with the bow of the boat and then following other boats all the way into Seahouses harbour.

And this video from England says about itself:

2 Common Dolphins in the harbour of Seahouses on Nov 17th 2013. Filmed from Serenity II.

From the Serenity blog in England (with photos there):

Common Dolphins 17/11/2013

This blog should have been out a week ago but I suppose it better late than ever.

Anyway last Sunday (17th) I was on a 1.5 hour trip around the Farne Islands when my friend Ron gave me a shout saying that he had seen 2 dolphins at the Blue Caps.

I was nearly at Staple Island and I was praying that they would wait for us to arrive. By the time I got there they had been around all the boats and even a diver of Toby’s boat said that one of them swam straight past him.

As I got closer I could see about 6/7 Seals playing on the surface and then the 2 Dolphins came jumping out of the water.

I could not believe what I was witnessing and in my wildest dreams I never thought dolphins and seals would play together, but it looked like they were having so much fun until I turned up.

The pair left the seals and started to bow ride the boat. At first they were way ahead of the boat so I went a little faster and they seemed to enjoy it a bit more. They were really showing off so I went a little bit faster until I was doing 20 knots and they kept up with the boat. Now that is some speed and I don’t know how fast they can go but whatever the speed is 20 knots is very impressive.

They stayed with us for a while and then disappeared, so we turned around and headed over towards the seals.

Once we arrived back at the harbour I was praying that they would still be there for our next guests and as we steamed out of the harbour I noticed my cousin pointing at the bow of his boat. As I looked to see what he was meaning the dolphins jumped out of the water. They had followed him all the way back to the harbour and as I stopped they just followed him into the harbour. I could not believe they were actually in the harbour.

Another boat turned up and then another and at one stage we had 4 boats viewing the 2 dolphins swimming around us all.

I have never in my life seen dolphins in the harbour and to make it even better it was Common Dolphins, which have never been seen in Northumberland since 1989 and a first for the Farne Islands.

As I finished my last trip of the day and they were still outside the harbour until dark. A great record for the Farne Islands and hopefully not the last.

Sorry as all my pictures were taken on a mobile as I left my camera at home.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Porpoise beached alive on Texel island


This video is called Harbour Porpoise Species Identification.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Porpoise stranded alive – 28 August 2013

In the rolling waves near beach pole 15 on Texel last night a living porpoise was found. Fishermen saw the small toothed whale and called Ecomare. The animal caregivers Saskia and Silke lifted the porpoise out of water. The male was very thin and had a few superficial wounds. It is always stressful and a big rush, but they managed to catch the ferry in time to bring the porpoise quickly to SOS Dolphin on the continent.

Care

Half an hour before midnight the harbor porpoise arrived in the rehabilitation center in Harderwijk. What’s wrong with him must become apparent in the coming days. He is weak and therefore he is continuously supported in the water. Yet he sometimes tries to swim a bit. The porpoise is now getting moisture, fish and medicines to recuperate. The next few days will be critical; but staff and volunteers of the SOS Dolphin Foundation are busy day and night to give the animal all care it needs.

This porpoise is 140cm, weighing about 34 kilogram.

Britain: October 2013. WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation has called on the government to take immediate action after the release of more evidence linking the deaths of large numbers of healthy seals and harbour porpoises to injuries consistent with impact by ducted propellers used by a range of shipping vessels: here.

Arctic seal fossil on Dutch beach


This video is about a harp seal pup.

Recently, Arthur Oosterbaan of Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands found a bone.

He found it on the beach of the Hors, the southern part of Texel. It was a fossil seal’s tibia. Probably, 10,000 to 100,000 years old; so, from the last Ice Age.

Then, much of what is now the North Sea was land. But some parts were sea, and seals lived there. Probably, the fossil bone belonged to a harp seal. This is an Arctic species now. However, in the Pleistocene age it was the most common North Sea seal.

In and around the North Sea, fossil bones of walruses, beluga whales and grey seals have been found as well.

700 seals in the Thames, England


This video is called Scotland’s Big 5 – Harbour Seal.

From Wildlife Extra:

New survey reveals more than 700 seals in the Thames

Thames is a hotspot for seals – Who knew?

August 2013. An astounding 708 seals have been spotted in the Thames Estuary in the first ever count by air, land and sea, carried out by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Conservationists and volunteers jumped into boats to help tally the number of grey and harbour seals along the Thames, whilst others took to the air for a bird’s eye view of the coast, or stuck to solid ground to investigate small creeks and rivers.

Scottish seal decline

ZSL’s conservation scientist Joanna Barker says: “Recently, we have seen drastic declines in numbers of harbour seals across Scotland, with populations almost disappearing in some areas. Reasons behind the decline are unclear, but other seal populations may also be vulnerable. This broad approach will produce the first complete count of harbour seals in the Thames and south-east coast, so that we can accurately monitor the species to better understand and protect them,” Joanna added.

The timing of the survey coincides with the annual seal moult, when harbour seals shuffle onto sandbanks to shed their coat and grow a new layer in time for colder winter months. Seals on land are easier to spot, providing the ideal opportunity to count them. ZSL’s interactive Seal Map at zsl.org/sealmap shows the results from this survey.

Report sightings of seals, whales and dolphins

Stephen Mowat, ZSL’s Thames Projects Manager says: “The harbour seal population in south-east England is the least understood in the country. As well as the survey, we are urging members of the public to report sightings of seals and other marine mammals to us.”

It is hoped that this public appeal to report marine mammals in the Thames will allow ZSL to learn more about the threats that these charismatic species face in UK waters. Information on seals and other marine mammals seen in the Thames can be reported at www.zsl.org/inthethames.

USA: Thriving in Cape Cod’s Waters, Gray Seals Draw Fans and Foes: here.

October 2013. The Court of Justice of the European Union has preserved the European Union’s ban on commercial seal product trade by dismissing an appeal by commercial sealing and fur trade interests and some Inuit representatives. The appeal sought to overturn the European General Court’s 2011 decision that the applicants’ action against the EU ban was inadmissible. Humane Society International‘s EU director, Joanna Swabe, issued the following statement: here.

Good South African sea bird news


This video is about Marion island, one of South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands.

This video says about itself:

King Penguins and Fur Seals – BBC Planet Earth

Between South Africa and the South Pole on Marion Island, returning king penguins bring food for their young. However, in order to reach them, they must brave repeated attacks from angry fur seals. In an ongoing battle of face-offs both the seals and the penguins know the dangers of the fight.

From BirdLife:

Massive Marine Protected Area announced in the Southern Indian Ocean

Thu, Apr 18, 2013

Using Marine Protected Areas (MPA) is a core strategy that national governments can employ for protecting the oceans and ensuring sustainable use within territorial waters. BirdLife South Africa applauds the Department of Environmental Affairs for their announcement that South Africa’s sub-Antarctic territory, the Prince Edward Islands, has had an enormous MPA declared. BirdLife congratulates both departmental officials, independent scientists and others who were involved in the work to define and declare this MPA. At around 18 million ha, it’s a gigantic protected area and one of the largest MPAs in the world.

“Many of the world’s most important areas for seabirds remain unprotected, so the news of the Prince Edward Islands MPA is very welcome as it will safeguard one of the “crown jewels” for seabirds in the southern oceans. The MPA includes many of the critical feeding areas for the vast seabird colonies the island supports”, said Ben Lascelles, BirdLife’s Marine IBA Programme Officer.

The site had been identified as a priority for seabird conservation in BirdLife’s new marine e-atlas. The e-Atlas has been designed to give governments the data they need to make these momentous decisions. Protection of the sites within the e-atlas will help them to achieve the target of protecting 10% of marine and coastal areas by 2020 that was agreed to through the Convention on Biological Diversity”.

The islands are internationally renowned for their important seabird colonies, including holding nearly half of the global population of Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans, 13% of the world’s King Penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus, and one of the highest numbers of breeding seabird species (26) of any island in the world. BirdLife International lists the islands as an Important Bird Area in recognition of its irreplaceable biodiversity value. BirdLife is also working at identifying marine Important Bird Areas across the world’s oceans, and the new MPA overlaps with several proposed marine IBAs. The establishment of the multi-zoned MPA will afford protection for many of the breeding seabirds (and other marine life).

For example, the establishment of a 12 nautical mile no-take zone around both islands will help to ensure that seabird species such as Gentoo Penguins Pygoscelis papua and the Crozet Island subspecies of Imperial Shag Phalacrocorax (atriceps) purpurascens, which feed exclusively within this area and which have suffered large decreases in recent times, will not face additional pressures from new activities in their feeding ranges.

Dr Ross Wanless, Seabird Division Manager at BirdLife South Africa, commented “This declaration represents the culmination of a lot of work by many dedicated scientists and conservationists over many years. Marine Protected Areas have great potential to protect seabirds and other marine biodiversity, and the scale and nature of the Prince Edward Islands MPA is impressive.”

See also here.