shapeofthings: (Default)
Two Sea Shepherd boats - Steve Irwin and Bob Barker - arrived in Hobart this morning. That means the Japanese whaling season is about to kick off, within the "whale sanctuary" of the southern ocean. I used to be a fan of what Sea Shepherd does, but after the deliberate scuttling of the Ady Gil last summer, I'm no longer quite so convinced about them.


I think that in order to stop Japanese whaling we need to educate the average Japanese person about whales and whaling. Take them out to watch the humpbacks migrating, then show them footage of a whale being harpooned, undergoing a slow, painful death, for the sake of "tradition". The Japanese are, in general, fine people. But challenging them publically seems to be a poor strategy for a nation where the greatest shame is the loss of face.


That said, I have a much bigger problem with Japanese tuna fishing, with stocks of blue-fin and Altantic tuna now on the brink of collapse. A few years ago the International Fisheries Commission reduced Japan's tuna quota. In response, the Japanese government announced a new "scientific fishing" quota that restored the total catch to Japan's requested quota. But then the state of most fisheries is depressingly dismal.

Sea Shepherd2

Anyhoo, here are a few photos of the Steve Irwin from the summer before last, when in docked in Hobart for emergency repairs after a collision with a whaling vessel.
shapeofthings: (Geek)
I had a rather lovely day today, as far as Mondays go. I got to hide in the lab almost all day, playing with bugs. I even managed to nab the swanky 'scope with the camera for a couple of hours this afternoon. SO of course I had to take a few happy-snaps of the little critters I'd been identifying. Yes, I know, geek.


Aquatic macroinvertebrates. Larval and adult insects found in freshwater habitats, visible to the naked eye (but only just in many cases). Occasionally it's my job to sort through samples and classify the little buggers to Family level (that's before you get to Genus and Species - the really nerdy people do that). The one above here is a fairly big one, maybe 15mm. It's the larva of a type of mayfly. They're predators, these guys, towards the top of the waterbug food chain.


This guy's another predator, even closer to the top of the food chain. It's a dragonfly larvae. He was about 20mm, though some species of dragonfly larvae will get up 50mm - the big cats of the bug world. They're fearsome hunters with funky hinged mouth-parts that they can swing out to grab onto their prey. Yet they grow into such lovely adults!

More bugs, including a close-up of that dragonfly jaw on the other side of the cut! )
shapeofthings: (bloop!)


Water in braids and tumbles, shells of spray,
heaves of clear glass and solemn geeneyes pools,
eel-tails and quick-meanders, goes its way
fretting this savaged basalt with its tools.

Where from the hot rick-edge I drop my hands
and see their bones spread out like tugging weed,
each finger double-winged with ampersands
that stand above the current's talking speed.

Such sentences, such cadences of speech
the tongjing water stutters in its race
as may have set us talking each to each
before our language found its proper pace;

since we are chanelled by its running stream.
A skin of water glitters on your eye,
and 'round your skull a halo of faint steam
breathes up to join the spindrift in the sky

Judith Wright


Mapleton Falls, Mapleton Falls National Park, Blackall Ranges, Queensland, Australia

shapeofthings: (Default)
The following article was published today in major newspapers.

I am saddened and disgusted and call upon anyone with a sense of ethics and decency to boycott any stores selling this product.
iPond . . . The gift they are trying to ban.

iPond . . . The gift they are trying to ban.
Photo: Rebecca Hallas

Reid Sexton and Daniel Dasey
December 16, 2007

A TINY fish tank that doubles as a music speaker has sparked outrage among animal activists and aquarists.

The iPond - up to 15 times smaller than the recommended tank size for the fish it contains - is proving a hit with Christmas shoppers.

One Sydney store has sold out of the $70 device and other outlets are reporting brisk sales.

But the RSPCA has called on the device to be banned because it is too small to provide fish with adequate oxygen supplies and a clean environment.

The iPond is sold nationally by the Pets Paradise and Pet Goods Direct chains. Users can play their iPods through a speaker built into the bottom of the brick-shaped tank.

The tank's water capacity is about 650millilitres once rocks are placed in it.

Pets Paradise is selling Siamese fighting fish with the iPond.

The fighting fish are native to South-East Asia and have a "labyrinth lung" that allows them to take in oxygen from air. Typically they live in puddles and rice paddies.

A Melbourne Aquarium spokesman said Siamese fighting fish required a minimum tank size of 10 litres - dramatically more than the iPond provides.

Animal Liberation Victoria's Noah Mark said he was disgusted by the invention.

Studies proved fish had memories well beyond a few seconds and were social creatures that experienced pain and boredom, he said.

"The fish in this thing does not look like it has very long to live and it can barely move," he said.

"Even if it does live it's not [a] life worth living ... it's really just a torture box."

Acoustics expert Jason Gedamke said there was no doubt noise from the speaker would escape into the water.

"The speaker is directly coupled to the outside of the tank ... [so] you are going to have a small level of sound introduced," Mr Gedamke said.

"It's the same as putting a fish tank on a speaker."

RSPCA spokesman Hugh Wirth said despite the fighting fish's ability to breathe air from the surface, the tank was far too small for it to receive adequate oxygen. The small volume of water would lead to rapid temperature change and this meant the tropical fish would not live long, he said. The iPond should be banned, Dr Wirth said.

Marketing manager for the Pets Paradise and Pet Goods Direct chains, Alyse-Grace Robertson, said the tanks had gone on sale in September and were selling briskly.

The group that manages the stores had received one formal complaint about the product.

Customers sometimes asked questions about the welfare of fish in iPonds.

"A few people ask, 'is the fish OK?"' Ms Robertson said. The chains were satisfied that fish in iPonds did not suffer.

She said before selling the tanks the chains had consulted the Pet Industry Association of Australia.

Output from the speakers was small and fish in iPonds seemed to flourish, she said.

A spokesperson for Apple said the company was willing to comment on its own products, but not on accessories made by third parties.

Source: The Sun-Herald, The Age.
shapeofthings: (Eye)
Last night I dreamt I heard a koel.

When I woke, the dream was true.

They're back: summer's here.
shapeofthings: (beach)

So a few weeks ago now I went to Roma for a couple of days work. Roma, six hours west of Brisbane (being generous with the speed limit) and on the western edge of the Murray-Darling basin. It was my first time that far west, the previous farthest being Goondiwindi, where I went for a two-day workshop last year. Gundi surprised me: it was not the blow-through town I expected. Roma, however, was pretty much spot on.

a veritable field of (noxious) Mexican poppy, Maranoa River

Not that it's a bad thing, really, to be a sleepy little country town clinging on at the edge of the dust. Dependent on bore water, with a bowls club, a decent Chinese restaurant (highly unusual so far out) and a good bakery, she's all wide, flat streets and boab trees, a tiny green oasis. I knew it was going to be dry out there and oh it was. We didn't have the highest strike rate with finding water.

Weir pool, Balonne River

I like to go west now: the sky full of birds by day, and milky with stars at night. Wandering mobs of emus picking clean the struggling crops, competing with flock upon flock of galahs and sulphur-crested cockatoos. Grey kangaroos and wallabies grazing by the roadside on dusk (and far too many road-killed by the careless). No time, however, to pull out the camera and watch when there's work to be done. Only time for a few shots once each site is done. That was Roma.

shapeofthings: (Daisy)

The first of the summer storms rolled over the mountian yesterday, two months ahead of schedule. The first summer storm shook the jacarandas, braches heavy with buds, and the silky oaks, blazing yellow in the afternoon light. The crows bowed their heads for mercy: too early. We watched the clouds in earnest, willing for long, heavy rain but not the hail promised in her greeneyed hue.

She rolled in from the west, full of promise and lay close to the ground. She came in fast, with the wind before her and a strange striped front, as she crossed the mountain. The first summer storm looked like a doozy and carried a warning in her path. Silence struck before the winds swept in and the last lorikeets raced for shelter.

The first storm of the summer fizzled right before she hit; the city's heat stealing her thunder and turning her 'round to the north, leaving only desperate rain that the ground drank up and cool, blue skies that gently drifted into night.

shapeofthings: (Default)
"Available statistics reveal that the total net debt of society tends to be significantly larger than the magnitude of the money supply.”

“Our cities are heat islands, and poorly equipped to deal with extremes of rainfall and wind.”

“In absolute terms … capitalism is an obscene failure.”

“Buried in dry data spreadsheets cranked out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture lies a dramatic tale: At a time when small farmers are dying out across America, the number of farmers in Oregon is on the rise.”

Why does the economy run on dept? What does it matter that our cities are heat islands? Why is agriculture in the rise in Oregon, in contrast to global trends? Find out all about it in htis edition of the CSIRO Sustainability Network Newsletter!


Ok, so I’ve been meaning to share these newsletters for a while, cos I think they’re interesting. So here it goes.

September 2017

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