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  • Pepijn's Livingroom Urban Research Program (PLURP)

    Antarctica, Conservation, Science

    By now most people have taken notice of the grand news: After a measly 20 years of lethal sampling, Japanese scientists managed to get a decent, and somewhat insightful article, of their commercial whale culling enterprise highly scientific whaling programme in a proper publication. Hurrah for science!

    The publication is the culmination of 18 years worth of lethal sampling in the Southern Ocean. Contents of over 4500 Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) slaughtered since the late 1980s reveal the animals have lost significant amounts of blubber and are getting thinner at a worrying speed.

    The Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research has made it known they are shocked by this worrying state of the animals and, in a move to conserve the remaining whale-burgers, will refrain from more lethal research. (update: oh no, it seems someone made that up, instead 1000 lethal samples will be taken next year)

    Research Programmes

    As the Southern Ocean whaling programme has much going for it, similar research programmes are undertaken by organisations all across the world. Using the scientific approach promoted by the Japanese I am actually research director of one of these programmes myself. PLURP, or Pepijn's Livingroom Urban Research Programme, is a multi year undertaking in localised Cat (Felis catus) research. Intended goal is to acquire more data needed to properly managed cat stocks in the Pepijn's Livingroom Urban Management Area (PLUMA).

    Local stock is thriving with a 100% population increase this year alone

    Major discoveries of PLURP
    The key and single major discovery of PLURP-I is that lethal sampling will be needed to achieve an incentive for PLURP-III. This discovery will form a solid scientific base for the PLURP-II research outline. PLURP-II starts in the 2009-2010 season and will closely follow the ethical guidelines as developed for JARPA.

    Research highlights
    Unlike JARPA (Japan's Antarctic Research Programme) and JARPA II (same thing, more samples), PLURP for now has focussed on non-lethal research observations. While greatly satisfactory in determining both feeding habits and hunting behaviour this has left a grand feeling of emptiness with our harpoonist. Focussing on our specimens we already observed an increase in meowing before securing meals. This has led us to believe our specimens are seriously underfed.

    Typical hunting behaviour shown by observation specimen #1 'Periko'

    Countless hours of observation and listing to obnoxious meowing have led us to believe that we should create some sort of hypothesis. Doing so we can conclude that, just like our hypothesis states, the impact of centralised heating is indeed of key influence in perceived food scarcity among the population.

    Observation specimen #1 'Periko' is relaying an image of perceived food scarcity

    When key food sources (image left) are inaccessible the animals turn to alternative food sources (image right) for their nutrient intake

    The future will surely bring many exciting discoveries to the advancement of felid research. With the transition into PLURP-II, lethal research will however become a necessity. For 2009-2010 a research quota has been proposed for 1000 lethal samples (pregnant specimens are counted as one). Also seven Golden retrievers will be included. This should answer the question whether current food supplies are adequate to maintain the current population number of one (42% confidence interval).

    (run cat, run!)

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  • By Pepijn on 28 08 08 - 23:10 | five comments |

  • Fish & Chips vs. Africans

    Africa, Conservation, Fisheries, Tourism

    The South African newspaper Cape Argus has an article about "rich eco-tourists" (seriously, this is eco?!) who, after diving with sharks off a place called Miller's Point, are up in arms after being confronted by the sight of fishermen offloading tons of dead sharks from boats awash with blood. (no photo?) I'm sure many of them would be much happier if the offloading happened out of sight.

    Another interesting article is found in the Guardian where George Monbiot tries to convince us that rich countries once used gunboats to seize food, and now fishermen and EU officials use trade deals and dodgy private agreements to do the same thing in countries like Senegal. He's pushing it a bit with the "crops being transported out of fortified farms as hungry locals look on" but his point is clear for everyone with a bit of knowledge of the EU 3rd country access agreements.

    Just two articles that show how our western consumption (fish for European consumers, the SA shark for Australian fish & chips) and entertainment (the SA eco-tourism) is still having a big impact on the worlds poor. Even if we hide it in multiple layers of "equal partnership", "sustainable tourism" or "development aid".

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  • By Pepijn on 26 08 08 - 11:29 | one comment |

  • Fish from Hell, a deep-sea fishing adventure!

    Weird and Funny

    In this violent world decent men kill every fish they meet. But that's okay, because fish are evil and deserve to die. DIE I tell you! A manta ray gets a harpoon in its skull because it's a "devil fish," and a "terror of the deep." An octopus barely escapes with its life, even though it's a "slimy, death-dealing monster" and a "black-hearted scoundrel." Even porpoises are slandered, being derisively referred to as "clowns" and "good for lubricating oil."

    Behold the greatest movie ever made. An epic tale of Man vs. The Sea vs. Stock Footage! Meet Mr. Wilfred Lucas in his role as narrator of this docudrama, this grand production from the good year 1945. Straight from the Prelinger Archives presents: Fish from Hell! (a Marine Pictures Production)

    Fish from Hell (Part I) - Getting to know the characters..

    Fish from Hell (Part II) - "The Killing Fields"?

    In 60 years we sure have come a long way from feeling threatened by everything to at least having a bit of respect for the critters filling up out habitat. No? ;) Anyway, the videos use the embedded flash player. Part I should be playing automatically, part II shouldn't. I recommend the full-screen experience, just grab some popcorn, hit the second to right button on the bottom of the player, and enjoy!

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  • By Pepijn on 21 08 08 - 23:29 | three comments |

  • The Small African Fellowship for Conservation in Kenya

    Africa, Conservation

    Sometimes something worthwhile doesn't have to cost millions. When blogger and avid twitcher Charlie posted some photos of an endangered Kenyan bird (Sharpe's Longclaw) he was contacted by Nature Kenya, a BirdLife International partner. After some emailing back and forth it was decided to raise money for a local conservation programme aiming to conduct surveys to find suitable longclaw habitat, and take an education/awareness programme about the longclaw and the need to conserve its habitat to local schools.

    Dominic Kamau Kimani, the field assistant on the receiving end of the donations, has drafted an education proposal and -together with other volunteers- will perform large parts of the surveys.

    Money! This is where we come in. Even with dedicated people like Dominic one still needs money to run the programme in a country as large as Kenya. Fortunately it seems that an American Dollar goes a long way in Kenya. A couple of thousand dollars is all that's needed to lift this programme of the ground and help not only the endangered Sharpe's Longclaw but also have a direct impact on the life of a fellow conservationalist / scientist / nature lover, researcher or treehugger (select what applies to you).

    Over at the 10.000 Birds website an extensive page has been created describing the goals, methods and needs of Small African Fellowship for Conservation project. Their current goal is 2000 dollar. And yes that still is a fair bit of money, but if you split it over 400 people it's only five dollar each; barely noticeable and all goes to the project. Donate one dollar or a hundred, every bit helps and every donation is appreciated.

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  • By Pepijn on 20 08 08 - 13:32 | thirteen comments |

  • Africa!


    Africa is an interesting place.. it must be, it's the second largest continent on the world, populated by a billion humans, and surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and finally the Atlantic Ocean. And it includes Madagascar, they got Coelacanths!

    Over the next couple of months I will try to sneak in as much posts about this large and diverse continent as I can. They'll be labelled under Africa.

    Note: The closest the author of this blog has ever been to the African continent was the archipelago of Malta (on the edge of the African tectonic plate, yay!). Anyone in need of a Livingstone? :D

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  • By Pepijn on 20 08 08 - 10:59 | two comments |

  • Difficulties with the RSS feed


    Public Service Announcement

    One of you reader-peeps wrote (thanks!) to tell that whenever an article is edited (updated) after its first creation the publication date & time in the RSS feed will change as well. The date & time below the article do not change. As this apparently causes problems (disappearing feed, showing all items as unread) with some feed readers I'll see if I can fix this.

    Mind the gap ... mind the gap ... mind the gap

    This concludes the Public Service Announcement

  • By Pepijn on 15 08 08 - 09:31 | nine comments |

  • Our Brave New Oceans and the Rise of Slime


    Jeremy B. C. Jackson's paper 'Ecological extinction and evolution in the brave new ocean' just made me sad. I'm afraid it will do the same to you. To guarantee this I'm including Table 1 ('percent decline (biomass, catch, percent cover) for fauna and flora from various marine environments.') in this post.

    Clearly the table just nails it. The full article, however, is very informative. The US National Academy of Sciences has a PDF version available online.

    Scripps News has a press release. ''The purpose of the talk and the paper is to make clear just how dire the situation is and how rapidly things are getting worse," said Jackson. "It's a lot like the issue of climate change that we had ignored for so long. If anything, the situation in the oceans could be worse because we are so close to the precipice in many ways."

    Even if you're not the preacher type of person this might be the one piece of info to spread to your extended family, policy makers and friends.

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  • By Pepijn on 14 08 08 - 13:46 | two comments |

  • If only MacGyver was into tofu and beans

    Conservation, Fisheries, Marine Reserves

    With a string of fishing line, an anchor, two trawl beams and a flounder sized cod-end our interpret hero would only need 25 minutes to construct one hell of a marine reserve. The sea critters would be in there, the fishing non-violent, and all would be fine.

    Unfortunately we have to make do with the lesser -and unlikely if you just look at the name- heroes of the United States Department of Commerce. But boy! Did they come up with a great name for their reserve! To top it the managers of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (seriously, awesome! this beats any Welsh train station) are using all the proper buzz words. There's for example ecosystem approach to management and effective regulatory framework, but also response and restoration and, well, many more. Ocean Conservation 2.0 for sure. Did I mention it's the "single largest conservation area under US flag"?

    All might be lost without a real life MacGyver

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  • By Pepijn on 11 08 08 - 23:08 | six comments | - About overfishing.