Sunday, 21 September 2008

“The whale is endangered, while the ant continues to do just fine”

The title of today's blog is a quote from American author Bill Vaughn, an obvious statement it may be, but it brings about a very important question - what about the whales?
For years we have seen 'save the whale' slogans everywhere; car stickers, t-shirts, banners, but these mostly seem to adorn televisions geeks and hippies - so who really is trying to 'save the whale'? And more importantly, why are they still having to try?

Long hunted for its oil, bone and blubber, the whale is a valuable part of our lives. We use them, eat them, watch them and read about them, but the Whale mostly remains an intriguing mystery. Over time, the Whale has changed in our perception. Once, he was feared, Leviathan the Beast, until the whale became a resource and finally was viewed as many see him today; a great big softie, even the Killer whale (thanks to Willy) is often ooh-ed and ahh-ed.
Sadly, however, like many natural things, the human race has used and abused the whale, which now faces extinction. Long used for oil, soap, carved-bone ornaments, meat, lubricants, in margerines and cosmetics, and to make crayons, pencils, and candles. Although many companies have stopped the use of whales in their products, there are lots that still do and there remains a big trade for whale in Norway and Japan, whom consider the meat a delicacy. Not only this, but it is acceptable in many places to keep cetaceans in zoos and use them in shows; cruel treatment for an animals that naturally travel hundreds and thousands of miles.

There have been many whaling laws put in place over the years (you can view the international lists here: but those who are still whaling get around it. The japanese justify their use of whale products by claiming research into sustainable whaling. Alot can be read from the ear canal of a dead whale, so the Japanese are using this to continue their slaughter of the animal - research needed therefore whales have to die - but why waste the carcuss? This is an awful excuse with which to continue whaling but it cannot be stopped as animal murder is often excused for research.

So, do your bit, support Save the Whales, sign those petitions and check your products before you buy them, because as Melville said:
"All men live enveloped in whale-lines - all are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever present perils of life."
Herman Melville, Author of Moby Dick.

Be that hippie, join Save the Whales -

Australian Reef Photos

Some photos of various species from Australia's Reefs:

Monday, 15 September 2008

Introducing.....The Blobfish!

This post is simply to post up one of the most comely of marine creatures - The Blobfish! It really does look like a drawing from a childrens book with a very amusing face and covered in slime but it really is simply adorable. The Blobfish, Psychrolutes marcidus, is a deep water fish mostly found off the coast of Australia. Because of the depths they live at, the Blobfish are mostly made up of a gelatinous substance and have a density less than water meaning they can float above the sea floor without using too much energy. The Blowfish survives on bits of food which float past its mouth and does not appear to have any predator/prey adaptations like the angler or hatchet fish have.
The Blobfish is only one extremely weird marine species out there. Sunfish, Japanese Crabs, Goblin Sharks, Cookie Cutter Sharks, Frilled sharks, Angler Fish and Box Fish are all example of strange fish with incredible features and adaptations to their habitats.
Visit here to see more pictures! -

Beautiful Britain

When people think of underwater images - diving, snorkelling and marine creatures, most think of blue tropical waters packed with their brightly coloured and exotic fish. Think of the British coast however, and most think of cold green or grey water and the British holiday maker - the classic postcard view of ice cream, deck chairs and masses of seaweed. In fact, it is said that if you dive in UK waters, with its low temperatures and bad visibility, you can dive anywhere.

But dive in Britain is something you really want to do. Britains Coasts have so much more to offer and the life which dwells within our seas is fascinating, stunning, breathtakingly beautiful - and in danger. It has only been in the last 50 years that exploration of Britains UK waters has really begun and some of the discoveries are amazing. Due to our positioning and shallow coastal waters, we get a huge range of different types of species. Many are unexpected permanent residents such as leatherback turtle, Basking Sharks and the Blue Whale. We have many weird and wonderful species from Rainbow Wrasse to Jewel Anemones, Various Starfish to our (extremely cute) Grey Seal. Even Coral Reefs, which have always been thought to be warm water habitats, have been discovered off Scotland.

It is not just underwater either. With stunning coastlines and aquamarine waters, the British beach should no longer be related to arcades and sleepy old towns.

1. Shore Crab
2. Jewel Anemones
3. Grey Seal
4. Tintagel Coast, Cornwall.

For further information and pictures of beautiful British Marine Species and Coastal Areas: (click on images)

Save Our Seas - Support the Marine Bill - Read more -

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Climate change - Mixing it up in the British waters

Over the last few years there has been changes in our local waters, with more exotic species venturing to our land and many of our locals coming under threat.

There are many main UK species which could be in danger as our climate changes. Tha Atlantic Cod is an important fish in British waters as it is a valued food source. But stocks of the species are depleting. This is mostly due to over fishing but Atlantic Cod are also unsuccessful at adaptation and ocean warming may force the Cod further North causing a large drop in numbers. Food source is also an issue for these fish as Plankton will be affected by climate issues too. One type of plankton that are suffering are Calanus Zooplankton, shrimp-like Copepods which used to be abundant in the Atlantic. However, since the 1940's there has been a 60% drop in Calanus Zooplankton overall, and studies have shown that numbers of colder species of Zooplankton such as Calanus finmarchicus have decreased and warmer species such as Calanus helgolandicus have increased.

Sandeels are also under threat due to sea change. They are important to the Atlantic waters as they feature heavily in the food web. Numbers of sandeels is declining and there is an obvious relationship between this reduction and positive oscillation, with egg and larval numbers lower than ever. Low sandeel numbers may also explain why there has been less sea bird nesting and breeding across the coast.

On the other side of the coin, as the seas temperatures rise we have seen many more organisms lose their way and turn up off our coasts - causing new concerns. Jellyfish have been the most frequent new visitors to our usually chilly shores, with many exotic, tropical and poisonous species being spotted. The Portuguese Man of War, a siphonophore often referred to as a Jellyfish, has been the highest recorded species to be found in UK seas but The Compass Jellyfish, Mauve Stinger, Blue Jellyfish, Moon Jellyfish, Lion's Mane and The Amazon Jellyfish are all examples of poisonous Jellyfish which have raised alarm with UK scientists and coast guards. These are unknown species to many UK beach-goers, as their presence is so unusual here, and some have life threatening stings.

But it is not just Jellyfish that have been making appearences. A nine foot Blue Marlin was recently found off the coast of Wales. The Swordfish is usually found on the other side of the Atlantic, but turned up dead off a Bay in Pembrokeshire. Although its cause of death is unknown, the Marlin is reported to being particularly thin and it is thought to have been struggling to find appropriate food in our cooler climate. The fish's appearence is under debate - some claim the it is not the victim of climate, just a 'straggler' who lost its way, but others believe that this is unlikely and the fish would have been lured over by increased temperatures and it is a warning as to what will happen if our seas continue to get warmer.

As temperatures increase it seems we will lose many of our usual species in favour for new ones; possibly causing a complete overhaul to the delicate balance of our oceans. There will be new predators and new pray, and sadly, from previous research we already know that 'invasive' species always have a negative effect.