Megafauna

And they say Whale Oil is bad for you?

Want to reverse the ageing process?

It seems that you may need a daily dose of whale oil…or some such product.

Bowhead whales are most likely the longest-living mammals on the planet. There’s evidence – some of it in the form of Victorian-era harpoons embedded in blubber – that they can live as long as 200 years. And there are humans who’d like to get a little slice of that longevity for themselves.

This week, some of them took the first step to stealing the bowhead whale’s secrets: they sequenced its genome. Their results  have now been published  in biomedical research journal Cell.

“I think that having the genome sequence of the bowhead whale will allow researchers to study basic molecular processes and identify maintenance mechanisms that help preserve life, avoid entropy and repair molecular damage,” said corresponding author Joao Pedro de Magalhaes of the University of Liverpool.   Read more »

Good for whales, bad for Labour

Mike Williams, affectionately known as "Fat Tony"

Mike Williams, affectionately known as “Fat Tony”

Apparently, some Labour sources tell me that there was a lazy hundred grand offered to Labour prior to the election.

Tim Barnett failed to pick it up when Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams jacked it up doesn’t need to go on the whales.

With Labour getting 98% of their 2011 vote a spare hundy might have helped out.

Fat Tony apparently got the shits with Tim for not turning up when the meeting was organised for the cheque collection and so the donor decided to give the money to saving the whales.

Which on the face of it looks like a more sensible investment.

The number of blue whales in the northeastern Pacific appears to have returned to near-historic levels thanks to a 48-year international ban on commercial or subsistence whaling for this species and allied laws enacted at national levels.

The current population of blue whales off the US West Coast is about 2,200, or 97 percent of their levels at the beginning of the 20th century, according to a study published Friday in the journal Marine Mammal Science.   Read more »

Things must be getting desperate in Hutt South, Mallard is still musing about Moas

You have to give Trevor Mallard some credit…when he latches onto a cunning stunt he really gives it his all.

Last election he wasted 6 months training his heart out to beat a fat lazy blogger in race around the streets of East Auckland, in a sport that consumes his every waking moment in between stints at his part time job in parliament as an MP.

He lacked the courage to have a crack at a sport of my choosing…boxing or Sporting Clays…he took the easy win and then shut up.

This time his brilliant campaign strategy is to repeatedly and vociferously advocate for the resurrection of a long dead bird…and I’m not talking about his political career here…rather he wants to investigate in saving and extinct bird, the moa.

Trevor Mallard just can’t let go of his fascination with resurrecting the moa.

Yesterday Inglewood, a town long associated with the extinct flightless bird, came to the attention of the Labour MP.

He was in Taranaki yesterday to talk about sport and recreation, but was fascinated to learn Inglewood was briefly known as Moatown in the mid-1870s.   Read more »

Claire Trevett on Mallard’s moa

Claire Trevett has a lash at Trevor Mallard’s moa malarkey:

Taika Waititi recently said of his movie What We Do in the Shadows that everybody needs a bit of silly in their lives. Labour’s Trevor Mallard immediately took his advice.

He gave a speech to the Wainiuomata Business Development breakfast. It began well. A lifelong Wainuiomartian, Mr Mallard spoke of his links to the valley, over the hill from the Hutt Valley. He made a good joke about being in the under 7s cricket team, which was all out for six runs against arch rivals Riverside. “We took our name too literally.”

He spoke of the joys of the valley’s microclimate, its community spirit, its need to attract more people and the low property prices, getting in a jab at the value to loan requirements making it harder for young families in the area to buy first homes “as a side effect of targeting Auckland house prices”.

So far, so on message. Then he revealed he’d been spending quite a bit of time on Google and he had discovered the solution to Wainuiomata’s problem.

He had discovered the science of de-extinction. He wanted the moa back in the bush around Wainuiomata.

Mallard’s enthusiasm was such that he took a journey around the Press Gallery to deliver the speech in person, along with photos of himself cuddling a kiwi, and illustrations of the Spanish bucardo ibex and the gastric-brooding frog in Australia.

Attempts had already been made to bring these two species back from the dead, although one did die again rather swiftly and the other never resulted in viable foetuses.

Read more »

Armstrong on Mallard’s moa delusion

John Armstrong muses about the rationale behind Trevor Mallard’s moa media stunt.

Trevor Mallard’s mind-boggling suggestion to harness science to bring the moa back to life will likely end up being much-a-dodo about nothing.

And won’t David Cunliffe be relieved. Trying to breathe life of its own into his faltering leadership, Cunliffe had recently promised that Labour henceforth would be focusing on “the things that matter”.

Mallard may have misunderstood his leader, but it is unlikely that the “matter” Cunliffe was referring to was recovered DNA from moa egg shells.

Along with his front-bench colleagues, Cunliffe had to grin through gritted teeth as they were lampooned mercilessly by Government MPs for much of Parliament’s afternoon hour-long question-time and beyond.

Never one to look a gift moa in the mouth, National’s Steven Joyce kicked off the mass ribbing by manipulating his forearm and hand to resemble the neck and head of a moa and then waved the ensemble at arriving Labour MPs — a pantomime act so polished that Joyce must have devoted all but a few moments of his lunchtime to perfecting it.

The subsequent deluge of puns and wisecracks became progressively more lame from thereon — with one exception. When Winston Peters got to his feet, National backbencher Scott Simpson interjected: “A live moa!”.

Trevor Mallard must have done this on purpose. To cause a day of distraction for Labour, unfortunately it also distracted from anything positive that DAvid Cunliffe had to say about anything and ended up sidetracking the leader.  Read more »

Dressed in black, bloated with gas & stinks

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Did Kim Dotcom die and wash ashore in Canada?

But I digress. Actually three rotting whale carcasses need disposing of and the Canadians are stuck in a bit of a conundrum as to how to get rid of them.

One man’s trash may be another man’s treasure, but a community leader says the hassle of dealing with rotting blue whales on Newfoundland’s west coast is a bigger problem than people may realize.

Two blue whale carcasses washed ashore on the coast of Rocky Harbour and Trout River, both located near Gros Morne National Park. A sperm whale carcass also washed ashore in the Cape St. George area.

The animals died after getting caught in severe ice conditions off the island’s coast this winter.

Maurice Budgell, chair of the King’s Point Heritage Society, which operates the town’s Whale Pavilion, said when his community took on the task of getting the flesh off a humpback whale carcass, it was a bigger job than anyone bargained for, and they’re not interested in doing it again.

“With all of the problems that we had with the one that we have here now, it would be a monstrous job to take on something else like that,” said Budgell.   Read more »

I wonder what the green taliban will say about this

full-attack

Orca whales are awesome…especially when they carve up useless gray whales.

Nature’s truth and tragedy unfolded in a dramatic scene on Monterey Bay last week when a pack of 20 orcas attacked a mother gray whale and its calf.

The fight lasted more than two hours, witnessed and photographed by field scout Bart Selby, and dozens aboard whale watching boats that cruised at top speeds to the periphery of the scene and cut their engines.

[…]

Selby, a kayaker, wildlife expert and photographer, heard about the whales and headed straight to Monterey. In 2011, Selby paddled a kayak solo 25 miles from Santa Cruz to Monterey, and two weeks ago, reported sighting a mother gray whale and its calf lounging on the inshore waters at Whaler’s Cove at Pigeon Point near Pescadero.

Selby boarded the Point Sur Clipper with Monterey’s champion whale specialist, Nancy Black, and they quickly found the orcas, more than 20 in all, on the hunt.

Orcas find gray whales

At mid-afternoon, the orcas found a mother gray whale with a calf.

“They came in waves, like attacking swarms of hockey players,” Selby said. “When one group got tired, then the entire line would rotate out and orbit the center ring while a new swarm of orcas pressed the attack.”

Just as a pack of coyotes will try to separate a fawn from its protective mother, the orcas tried to pry the calf away from its mother as well.   Read more »

Can’t blame this on the whitey, but they’ll try

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New evidence suggests, conclusively, that Maori slaughtered the moa to extinction, in stark contrast to the modern myth that they were the original conservationists.

For millions of years, nine species of large, flightless birds known as moas (Dinornithiformes) thrived in New Zealand. Then, about 600 years ago, they abruptly went extinct. Their die-off coincided with the arrival of the first humans on the islands in the late 13th century, and scientists have long wondered what role hunting by Homo sapiens played in the moas’ decline. Did we alone drive the giant birds over the brink, or were they already on their way out thanks to disease and volcanic eruptions? Now, a new genetic study of moa fossils points to humankind as the sole perpetrator of the birds’ extinction. The study adds to an ongoing debate about whether past peoples lived and hunted animals in a sustainable manner or were largely to blame for the extermination of numerous species.

“The paper presents a very convincing case of extinction due to humans,” says Carles Lalueza-Fox, an evolutionary biologist at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain, who was not involved in the research. “It’s not because of a long, natural decline.”

When they say humankind they are avoiding upsetting the real culprits, the tangata whenua.

Archaeologists know that the Polynesians who first settled New Zealand ate moas of all ages, as well as the birds’ eggs. With moa species ranging in size from 12 to 250 kilograms, the birds—which had never seen a terrestrial mammal before people arrived—offered sizable meals. “You see heaps and heaps of the birds’ bones in archaeological sites,” Allentoft says. “If you hunt animals at all their life stages, they will never have a chance.”  Read more »

The unbelievable stench of rotting whale

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A dead whale is transported on the back of a lorry on the A2 near Canterbury in Kent

Ok, so you are never going to get a smell off a blog post, despite what my detractors say.

You can however read about it.

Motorists were left sickened after seeing a 50ft rotting whale being driven along a busy dual carriageway.

The giant sperm whale died when it became stranded on the Kent coast near Seasalter more than a week ago.  Read more »

For the lair

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I am starting to make a list of items that are needed for the lair…you know cool stuff like  a Polar Bear, Grizzly Bear rug, a Lion, a Cougar, Moose, Elk, that kind of thing.

Toys are also on the list of things for the lair.

I like this one…has the Whale theme going and looks like a whole heap of fun.

Is it a plane? Well, it steers like one. Is it a boat? Legally, yes. Is it a submarine? Kind of … and then it leaps out of the water and breaches just like a whale.

The Seabreacher could be described as a fast-planing raceboat, or alternately as a fully sealed jet-ski-engined sea missile that can plunge two people under the water at 60km/h and then hurl them into the sky.  Read more »