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Friday, July 31, 2009

New rules may help killer whales, hurt watchers

Authorities in the U.S. and Canada are considering new rules that would keep whale-watching boats substantially further away from endangered killer whales on the British Columbia coast.

Federal authorities in the U.S. are thinking of doubling how far whale-watching boats must stay from the whales, also known as orcas, which live in the waters along the continent's west coast.

Whale-watchers in Canada and the U.S. are currently allowed to get within 91 metres of the giant mammals. The proposed rules would bar whale-watching boats from approaching within 180 metres.

At present 30 companies in the U.S. and Canada that run whale-watching tours to allow people to see the endangered mammals. Each year, an estimated 400,000 people, many from Canada, visit the Pacific ocean from Washington to the south of B.C. to see killer whales breach.

Now however, experts seem to have finally been able to convince Canadian and American Government officials that these beautiful endangered mammals deserve peace and quite!! It is well known that killer whales use solar to hunt and navigate and the motors from tour boats was interfering with the ability of the whales to use their sonar.

These new rules concerning watching killer whales also make it illegal to intercept or park in the path of a whale, and will establish an 800-metre-long path on the west side of San Juan Island in which boats will be prohibited from entering from May 1st-Sept 1st of each year.

According to research I have done ,Pacific killer whales were added to Canada's endangered species list in November of the year 2000. (source: At that time about 300 whales remained living in totality in this region of Canada.

In January of 2009 it was declared by Canadian Government officials that :

"Canada's killer whale population on the Pacific Coast remained at risk of extinction as its main food source continues to decline." At that time, the resident killer whales living along the U.S. border south of Vancouver Island were considered "endangered" and SADLY the population of these whales has dropped to 48 adult animals is expected to decline further, the panel said. A separate group of resident killer whales found on the northern end of Vancouver Island is doing slightly better, but they are also considered threatened, according the Committee on the the Status of Endangered Wildlife.

The whales. also known as orcas, have suffered because of declining stocks of chinook salmon, their principal prey, as well as pollution and acoustical disturbance in the busy waterways.


To may way of thinking it is about time that the Governments of Canada and the United States did something about the fact that these whales were being disturbed by tour boats. This should of happened a long time ago!! The rights of the whales must come first, before the rights of any human entrepreneurs or whale watchers!

Source of image:

Photographer: Minette Layne

Why should whale-watching tours be carefully watched to ensure they conform to these new guidelines you say?

Because, research has found that whale-watching may be responsible for damaging changes in the mammals' behaviour and could be putting them off feeding. A study of killer whales by researchers from the University of St Andrews in Scotland and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, has revealed that the approach of boats disturbed the animals to such an extent that they decreased their food intake by up to 18 per cent!!! How would the humans in these boats like to have their food intake decreased by 18 percent??? This study of killer whales also concluded that "all boat traffic within an average of 3 sq mi (5 sq km) disturbed the whales' behaviour."

"This study provides indirect evidence that feeding activity is disrupted by the presence of boats, which could lead to a substantial decrease in energy-gain opportunities. Overall, whales reduced their time spent feeding from 13 per cent to 10 per cent when boats were present. They showed not only a lower probability of continuing feeding, but also a lower probability of initiating a feeding bout."

"The study on killer whales off the coast of British Columbia over seven years revealed that pods were more likely to attempt to distance themselves from the boats when they came into the same area and stop social behaviour."

"Conservation groups believe that the effects of whale-watching boats on killer whales also apply to other whale populations. They fear that dwindling food stocks are forcing whales to spend more time searching for food and, if they are frightened away from a good feeding spot by whale-watching activity, they become weaker and could even starve."


Clearly there are other ways human beings can enjoy killer whales and all sea life,besides being in a boat right next to these species of animals! People can can change their ways of watching whales, whales cannot change their behavior or where their food sources are in the waterways of our World! When I read that some operators of killer whale tours are concerned about how fellow business tour operators are acting in the vicinity of these whales, then apparently some of these operators do not deserve to remain in business !!!(see the reference to understand what I am talking about).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

How much do you know about insects?

Do you think you know alot about insects and bugs? See if you know as much as you think you do by trying a quiz presently at the National Geographic website. To go to the quiz click on the following link and good luck, I hope you learn something about insects: I scored 8 out of 10 what did you score?

Sub-Arctic timebomb: warming speeds CO2 release from soil

"Climate change is speeding up the release of carbon dioxide from frigid peatlands in the sub-Arctic, fuelling a vicious circle of global warming, according to a study to be published Thursday.
An increase of just 1.0 degree Celsius over current average temperatures would more than double the CO2 escaping from the peatlands.
Northern peatlands contain one-third of the planet's soil-bound organic carbon, the equivalent of half of all the CO2 in the atmosphere.
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation found in wetlands or peatlands, which cover between two and three per cent of the global land mass. While present in all climate zones, the vast majority of peatlands are found in sub-Arctic regions.
A team of European researchers led by Ellen Dorrepaal of the University of Amsterdam artificially warmed natural peatlands in Abisko, in northern Sweden, by 1.0 C over a period of eight years.
The experimental plots exhaled and extra 60 per cent of CO2 in Spring and 52 per cent in Summer over the entire period, reported the study, published in the British journal Nature.
"Climate warming therefore accelerates respiration of the extensive, subsurface carbon reservoir in peatlands to a much larger extent than previously thought," the authors conclude.
The findings highlight the extreme sensitivity of northern peatland carbon reservoirs to climate change, and the danger of a self-reinforcing "positive feedback" in which the CO2 released adds to global warming.
And unlike the boreal forests in Canada, Russia and Northern Europe, very little of the extra carbon was absorbed by additional vegetation spurred by the warmer temperatures.
The researchers warn that annual surplus CO2 released by peatlands with a 1.0 C increase -- between 38 and 100 million tonnes -- could cancel out the European Union objective of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 92 million tonnes per year.
In another study released last month, the Global Carbon Project based in Australia found that the amount of carbon stored in the Arctic and boreal regions of the world is some 1.5 trillion tonnes, more than double previous estimates."
Source of article:
Source of image:

New Panda Preserves Suggested

"The magnitude 7.9 earthquake that killed more than 70,000 people in
 Sichuan Province in China last year also struck the world’s remaining wild
 populations of giant pandas. Scientists knew the impact on the animals’ habitat was
 severe, but most of the attention was on the immediate damage at one protected area,
the Wolong National Nature Reserve, which is home to about 150 of the country’s
roughly 1,500 pandas as well as a breeding center."
"Now a study using satellite imagery has put some hard numbers on the
 quake’s long-term impact. In one of the hardest hit areas, the southern
 part of the Minshan Mountains, about one-quarter of the panda habitat, or
135 square miles, was destroyed by mudflows and landslides. The flows also
 had the effect of fragmenting much of the remaining habitat into smaller patches."
"In a paper in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Weihua Xu and
colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences detail the destruction in
South Minshan, which is home to about 35 pandas and contains four reserves.
 They suggest that several new protected areas be created in the region, and
that new corridors between fragmented areas be established “to ensure the
long-term sustainability of the giant panda population and habitat.”
"Dr. Xu and his colleagues used satellite images from before the quake,
 supplemented by fieldwork, to identify areas of suitable panda habitat —
forested, not-too-steep mountain land at elevations between 3,300 and 12,500
 feet, with plenty of pandas’ staple food, bamboo. Then they compared
 post-quake satellite images to determine where mud- and landslides had obliterated the
 habitat. They found that habitat in the region was reduced from about 590 square miles to 455."

"The researchers recommended that three new protected areas, totaling about
120 square miles of habitat, be established, along with two small corridors to
 allow pandas to move between the old and new reserves. They also suggested
 that because most of the intact panda habitat is now at lower elevations,
where the possibilities of human disturbance are greater, that the government
consider relocating some people who live in scattered plots throughout the protected areas."

To read the remainder of this article please go
Here are some facts about Giant Pandas:
1.The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca, literally 
meaning "cat-foot black-and-white") is a bear native to 
central-western and southwestern China ] The Giant 
Panda was previously thought to be a member of the 
Procyonidae (raccoon) family. It is easily recognized by its large
, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and
 across its round body. Though belonging to the order Carnivora ,
 the Giant Panda has a diet which is 99%bamboo. The Giant Panda
 may eat other foods such as honey,eggs,fish,yams,shrub leaves, 
oranges and bananas when available.
2.The Giant Panda lives in a few mountain ranges in 
central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces.
 It once lived in lowland areas, but farming, forest clearing,
 and other development now restrict the Giant Panda to the mountains.
3.The Giant Panda is a conservation reliant endangered 
species. This means Giant Pandas
are endangered or threatened with extinction and require 
continuing species specific wildlife management intervention 
 to survive even when self-sustaining population recovery 
goals are achieved.

4.According to the latest report, China has 239 Giant Pandas 
in captivity and another 27 living outside the country. It also 
estimated that around 1,590 pandas are currently living in the 
wild. However, a 2006 study, via DNA analysis, estimated that 
there might be as many as 2,000 to 3,000 Giant Pandas in the wild
. Though reports show that the numbers of wild pandas are on 
the rise, the International Union for Conservation of Nature believes
 there is not enough certainty to remove the Giant Panda from the
 endangered animal list.The International Union for Conservation
 of Nature and Natural Resources(IUCN) is an international
 organization dedicated to natural resource conservation. 
 in 1948, its headquarters is located in the Lake Geneva area 
in Gland, Switzerland . The IUCN brings together 83 states, 
108 government agencies, 766 Non-governmental organizations
 and 81 international organizations and about 10,000 experts 
and scientists from countries around the world. IUCN's mission
 is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the
 world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to 
ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and 
ecologically sustainable.

Source of information found in 1,2,3,4 is:

Other information about Giant Pandas:

(5)About the size of an American black bear, giant
 pandas stand between two and three feet tall at the
 shoulder (on all four legs), and reach four to six feet 
long. Males are larger than females, weighing up to
 250 pounds in the wild. Females rarely reach 220 pounds.

(6)Scientists aren't sure how long giant pandas live in
 the wild, but they are sure it's shorter than lifespans 
in zoos. Chinese scientists have reported zoo pandas 
as old as 35. The National Zoo's Hsing-Hsing died at
 age 28 in 1999.

(7)Adult giant pandas are generally solitary, but they
 do communicate periodically through scent marks, calls,
 and Giant pandas At birth, the cub is helpless, and it 
takes considerable effort on the mother’s part to raise it.
 A newborn cub weighs three to five ounces and is about 
the size of a stick of butter. Pink, hairless, and blind, the 
cub is 1/900th the size of its mother. Except for a
 marsupial (such as the kangaroo or opossum), a giant
 panda baby is the smallest mammal newborn relative
 to its mother's size.
Cubs do not open their eyes until they are six to eight
 weeks of age and are not mobile until three months.
 A cub may nurse for eight to nine months. A cub is 
nutritionally weaned at one year, but not socially weaned
 for up to two years. breeding maturity between four and 
eight years of age. They may be reproductive until about
 age 20. Female pandas ovulate only once a year, in the 
spring. A short period of two to three days around 
ovulation is the only time she is able to conceive. Calls
 and scents draw males and females to each other.
Female giant pandas give birth between 95 and 160 
days after mating. Although females may give birth to
 two young, usually only one survives. Giant panda cubs
 may stay with their mothers for up to three years before
 striking out on their own. This means a wild female, at
 best, can produce young only every other year; in her
 lifetime, she may successfully raise only five to eight 
cubs. The giant pandas’ naturally slow breeding rate 
prevents a population from recovering quickly from 
illegal hunting, habitat loss, and other human-related
 causes of mortality. meetings. Offspring stay with
 their mothers from one and a half to three years.
(8)The giant panda has lived in bamboo forests 
for several million years. It is a highly specialized 
animal, with unique adaptations.
(9)A wild panda spends much of its day resting,
 feeding, and seeking food. Unlike other bears from 
temperate climates, giant pandas do not hibernate.
 Until recently, scientists thought giant pandas spent
 most of their lives alone, with males and females 
meeting only during the breeding season. Recent studies
 paint a different picture, in which small groups of 
pandas share a large territory and sometimes meet 
outside the breeding season. Much remains to be learned 
about the secret lives of these elusive animals, and 
every new discovery helps scientists in their battle to 
save this species.

Source of information found in 5,6,7,8 and 9 is
(10) A panda may eat 12-38 kg. of bamboo a day.
(11) Pandas are good tree climbers.
(12) When breeding, pandas require 30 square kilometers
to support them over the short term.
(13) Adult pandas have very few natural enemies. The few animals
 that will prey on pandas are: jackals,leopards and the 
yellow-throated marten ( a relative of the weasel that 
sometimes eats panda cubs.

Source of information found in 10,11,12 and 13

(14) The giant panda is the rarest member of the bear
family and is among the world's most threatened animals.

(15) Today, the giant panda's future remains uncertain.
As China's economy continues rapidly developing, this
member of the bear family faces a number of threats. 
Its forest habitat, in the mountainous areas of southwest 
is increasingly fragmented by roads and railroads. Habitat 
loss continues to occur outside of protected areas,
while poaching
remains an ever-present threat.

Source of information found in 14 and 15 is

Source of image of Giant Panda:

Global warming played a role in Incas' rise, report says

According to an article written by Thomas H. Maugh II in the Los Angeles Times,entitled:
"Global Warming Played a Role in the Incan's Rise,report says":

"A 400-year warm spell in South America fueled the Incas' rise, British archaeologists reported Monday, helping them build the largest empire that ever ruled the continent."

"A several-degree increase in temperature allowed the Incas to move higher into the Andes mountains, opening up new farmland and providing a water source through the gradual melting of glaciers at the top of those mountains, paleoecologist Alex Chepstow-Lusty of the French Institute of Andean Studies in Lima reported online Monday in the journal Climate of the Past ."

Other experts are not as convinced concerning the role global warming played in the Incan empire....states one such expert, "The premise that the Incan expansion was driven by climate change is quite revolutionary," said archaeologist Mark Bush of the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne.

"The Incan empire ended after the arrival of the Spanish, who inadvertently brought diseases that devastated the population, allowing the invaders to conquer the survivors and push them to the highest altitudes, where they are still marginalized economically."

"The story has a powerful moral for today, Chepstow-Lusty said. Peru is one of the countries most threatened by global warming, and the glaciers that provide much of the water for the capital, Lima, are rapidly melting and are expected to be gone in 20 years. The terraces that previously trapped water for agriculture have fallen into disuse, and the predominant tree in the region is the eucalyptus, which saps what water remains in the soil and deposits resins that poison other plant life."


Image:Inca city ruins along the Urabamba River. Photographer: John T. Everett source of image:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Astronomers catch new views of superstar

It has been announced at several news and astronomy websites (such as: that scientists have been able to use a very large telescope to get new views of the second-brightest star in the constellation of Orion,a star named Betelgeuse.

As large as our own sun is, Betelgeuse is 1,000 times larger that that.Betelgeuse is so huge that, if it replaced the Sun at the center of our Solar System, its outer atmosphere would extend past the orbit of Jupiter.According to
the, "Betelgeusese is a a semiregular variable star located approximately 640 light-years away from Earth. ( A light-year or light year (symbol: ly) is a unit of length, equal to just under 1013 kilometres. As defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a light-year is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one Julian year.) A semiregular variable star is a star which is a giant or a supergiant with a large radius and luminosity."

Astronomers believe Betelgeuse is only a few million years old. (source: name Betelgeuse is a corruption of the Arabic "yad al jauza," which means the "hand of al-jauza," al-jauza the ancient Arabs' "Central One," a mysterious woman. (source:

Betelgeuse is the 12th brightest star in the sky, however it appears to have decreased its diameter by more than 15 percent since 1993.It is now estimated to be located around 430 +/- 100 light-years from Sol.It lies in the northeastern part (5:55:10.3+7:24:25.4, ICRS 2000) of Constellation Orion.Like many of the stars of Orion, it was probably formed a few million years ago from the molecular clouds observed in Orion but has evolved rapidly due to its unusually high mass. Betelgeuse is surrounded by shells of dust and gas that it has already blown off through a very strong stellar wind. (source:

The image of Betelgeuse used in this blog entry was taken by the Hubble Telescope.

Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:

Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:
Chess needs more women and girl participants and administrators!

Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.