Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Killer Whales like to surf in New Zealand

Awesome article and great pictures brought to you by GrindTV.com! Check out their site they consistently have cool articles up. Full article posted because it's that cool. So if you were in the water surfing and ran into these guys would you carry on or exit the water???

New Zealand orcas join surfers in search for the perfect wave

By: Pete Thomas, GrindTV.com

When the latest big swell arrived at Sandy Bay in northern New Zealand, it wasn't the waves making headlines, but the sleek black-and-white surfers who rode them.

Orcas, or killer whales, positioned themselves prominently and made it clear they were the realexperts -- and that no mere human on a surfboard was going to deny them whatever waves they wanted.

"They knew what they were doing," Michael Cunningham, aNorthern Advocate photographer and witness, told the newspaper. "They looked like they'd done it before."

New Zealand's orcas, unlike those in other parts of the world, are known to occasionally embark on surfing forays, but rarely is someone on the beach ready with a camera. Cunningham had been bodysurfing when the orcas arrived Friday, but quickly swam ashore to grab his camera. His images, which show orcas charging through the waves, remain in high demand.

Ingrid Visser, founder of the Orca Research Trust near Sandy Bay, said few sharp images of this phenomenon exist and that Cunningham's photos could be used in a research paper on the island nation's surfing orcas.

Visser, a foremost authority on orcas, said she does not know of anywhere else on earth where orcas spend a significant amount of time riding waves. She and a research crew had observed the same orcas surfing at different beaches the day before and after their now-famous session at Sandy Bay, which is north of Auckland.

Because Visser spends so much time studying orcas she has witnessed them surfing many times, but always from a boat behind the breaking waves.

However, that's also a sight to behold because their kick-outs, as the waves close out or get too close to land, are far more dramatic than those of ordinary surfers.

"They'll often come right out of the back of the wave and breach out into the trough that follows behind," Visser said in a Monday interview. "And that's really exciting to see as well." She said New Zealand orcas are a distinct population and that playfully riding waves, the way dolphins ride waves in many places throughout the world, is part of their culture.

However, since orcas can weigh up to eight tons and are atop the food chain, surfing alongside them can be unsettling, to say the least. "Some of the surfers, like the orca, just go for it and have an absolute buzz," Visser said. "And then other surfers freak out and tell people how it was a life-threatening situation, so you get both extremes."

New Zealand's orcas prey largely on rays and small sharks and have never been implicated in attacks on humans.

Cunningham said foreign tourists were the first out of the water when the orcas appeared Friday. He had been swimming for about an hour before they arrived, and after catching a wave in he looked back and saw several orcas, including a calf, riding a large wave shoreward. Had he been holding a camera then, it would have been quite the family snapshot.

-- Top two images are courtesy of Michael Cunningham / Northern Advocate. Bottom image is courtesy of Ingrid Visser / Orca Research Trust

Monday, November 22, 2010

80-year-old shark sent to breeding program

Check out this cool 80 year old shark entering a breeding program! The reporter

After about 19 years at the park, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's only sawfish, which is believed to be about 80 years old, has been shipped to New Orleans for a breeding program, officials said.

Buzz's species is believed to have a life span of more than 200 years, "so he's not the old man we thought he was," park Animal Care Director Michael Muraco said.

Buzz lived among five or six shark species at the park's Shark Experience until late Friday when he headed for his new home, Curator of Fish John Shultz said.

"We all feel this is good for Buzz and good for the species, which is endangered," Shultz said.

Muraco said the process that led to Buzz's departure started during a regular "blue sky" meeting where ideas are discussed.

"This led to a conversation with the Autobahn Aquarium in New Orleans, and they mentioned there are only a handful of these animals left in United States and that they're at risk in the wild and they asked how we'd feel about a cooperative breeding program," Muraco said.

This left park officials with "a moral dilemma," he said.

Discovery Kingdom lacks the space for a breeding program for animals as large as this, so if Buzz were going to be involved, he'd have to go there, Muraco said.

"As much as we loved having Buzz here, we did the right thing," and sent him there, he said.

Buzz was caught by two fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico in 1968, park spokeswoman Nancy Chan said.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tens of thousands of jellyfish like a 'cobblestone walkway ' washed up on a San Francisco beach

Watch out for the Jellies! Mail Online

Tens of thousands of jellyfish have been found washed up on Ocean Beach, San Francisco.

Jellyfish packed a section of beach stretching about three miles long and 20 feet wide.

Likening the event to 'a huge, cobblestone walkway made of jellyfish' National Park Service spokesman George Durgerian said he had never seen anything quite like it before.

Cobblestone jellyfish: One of the thousands of moon jellyfish that washed up on San Francisco's Ocean Beach on Nov. 13, 2010.

Cobblestone jellyfish: Tens of thousands of moon jellyfish that were washed up on San Francisco's Ocean Beach over the weekend

Durgerian who reported the find to the Ocean Beach Bulletin added that the amazing sight could be seen by many San Francisco residents from Pacheco to Lawton streets.

He credited the mass beaching of jellyfish to the tides.

'There was a large swell overnight that may have been responsible,' he said.

Durgerian said the jellyfish that washed up are a fairly common breed called moon jellyfish.

Slippery encounters of the jelly kind: One of the eerie looking Moon jellyfish washed up on Ocean Beach

'These were jellyfish like you think they look like -- large, circular, translucent and gelatinous,' he said.

The only other incident he saw involving jellyfish was about seven years ago on Ocean Beach which involved by-the-wind sailor jellyfish, also known as Valella jellyfish.

'They kind of look like a windsurfer,' Durgerian said.

Durgerian said he could not explain why the event over the weekend took place adding a park service biologist would begin to analyse some of the jellyfish.

He said there was no planned cleanup or rescue for the jellyfish with high tide set to take them back out to sea.

Friday, November 19, 2010

New large species of squid found

Check out this new species of Squid found! BBC

A new species of squid has been discovered by scientists during a research cruise in the southern Indian ocean.The 70cm-long specimen is a large member of the chiroteuthid family.Squid from this group are long and slender with light-producing organs, which act as lures to attract prey.It was found during analysis of 7,000 samples gathered during last year's Seamounts cruise led by the conservation group IUCN.

The project started a year ago when marine experts embarked on a six-week research expedition in the Indian Ocean.The aim of the cruise was to unveil the mysteries of seamounts - underwater mountains - in the southern Indian Ocean and to help improve conservation and management of marine resources in the area."For 10 days now 21 scientists armed with microscopes have been working through intimidating rows of jars containing fishes, squids, zooplankton and other interesting creatures," says Alex Rogers, of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford,"Many specimens look similar to each other and we have to use elaborate morphological features such as muscle orientation and gut length to differentiate between them."So far, more than 70 species of squid have been identified from the Seamounts cruise, representing more than 20% of the global squid biodiversity.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Great white shark freed from plastic noose

Thank You Very Much! Australian Geographic

GREAT WHITE SHARKS ARE usually feared for their threat to humans in the ocean, but one shark has found out how dangerous humans can be.

In late September, local divers spotted what seemed to be a subdued great white shark during an expedition about 50 km from Port Lincoln, South Australia. The 2.5 m great white (or white pointer) was being slowly choked by a ribbon of plastic strap encircling his torso. He was affectionally nicknamed Strappy because of his predicament.

Cutting into his flesh, the plastic had restricted use of Strappy's left fin, and had completely destroyed part of his gills, says Andrew Fox, part of the father-and-son team that runs dive tour operator Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions.

"From the look of the wounds I reckon he'd been suffering for a couple of months and [I thought] if we didn't do something, he would go downhill fast," Andrew says. "He probably wouldn't have lasted much more than another month."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

BP oil spill: 'mass hysteria on a par with the Dutch tulip bubble'

Bottom line, the BP oil spill was unacceptable and has impacted our Gulf in many ways! Telegraph

Some of the more hysterical members of the ecotard commentariat are still banging on about the BP Oil Spill as if it were the worst environmental disaster in the history of mankind. Right up there with Chernobyl, they’re saying. And in that comparison at least they’re absolutely right. Like Chernobyl, the BP Oil Spill was an accident far more terrifying in the press handouts of environmental lobbyists than it proved to be in real life. Just consider, for example, the latest reports from the Gulf of Mexico which show that fish stocks have rebounded with the kind of teeming piscine vigour that will give George Monbiot nightmares for months.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Heat Stress To Caribbean Corals In 2005 Worst On Record; Ecosystems May Not Survive Repeated Stress

Heat Stress is taking its toll on Corals! AP

SILVERSPRING, Maryland -- Coral reefs suffered record losses as a consequence of high ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean in 2005 according to the most comprehensive documentation of basin-scale bleaching to date. Collaborators from 22 countries report that more than 80 percent of surveyed corals bleached and over 40 percent of the total surveyed died, making this the most severe bleaching event ever recorded in the basin. The study appears in PLoS ONE, an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication.

Satellite-based tools from NOAA's Coral Reef Watch Program guided site selection for field observations conducted across the greater Caribbean region from June to October 2005. Field surveys of bleaching and mortality in this study surpass prior efforts in both detail and extent.

This study also substantially raised the standards for documenting the effects of bleaching and for testing satellite and forecast products. Coral bleaching occurs when stress causes corals to expel their symbiotic algae, or zooxanthellae. If prolonged or particularly severe, it may result in coral death.

"Heat stress during the 2005 event exceeded any observed in the Caribbean in the prior 20 years, and regionally-averaged temperatures were the warmest in at least 150 years," said C. Mark Eakin, Ph.D., coordinator of NOAA's Coral Reef Watch Program. "This severe, widespread bleaching and mortality will undoubtedly have long-term consequences for reef ecosystems, and events like this are likely to become more common as the climate warms."