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Pic of the Day

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Stunning!

Great White more threatened than tigers!!

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Great White Shark, taken off Gansbaai, SouthAfrica. Amazing shot! I am hoping to do a cage dive soon. Will let you know how it went of course. Damn! I am looking forward to it. 
The one thing that really scares me is not the multiple rows of around 3000 teeth. Not at all. The thing that really terrifies me is the fact that these apex predators from the ocean are more threatened than tigers! Yup, you read that correctly. More threatened than tigers!
Like tigers, great whites are a top predator and, like tigers, they have suffered in recent years from habitat destruction and hunting. But unlike tigers, great white sharks get little public sympathy, said Dr Ronald O’Dor, senior scientist at the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year study into ocean wildlife.
An article in The Guardian mentions that the number of Great White sharks has dropped to an alarming 3500. This is really frightening, especially when one considers that the demand for shark fin soup has risen steeply over the last few years. Popular movies, such as Peter Benchley’s “Jaws” where these creatures are portrayed as villains don’t help one iota. 
We need to take drastic action. Seriously. Boycott all restaurants selling shark-fin soup. The damn dish has no nutritional value at all and is not doing the environment any good.
On a more positive note, the USA have taken a step in the right direction, and are now at the forefront of shark conservation. The US Senate recently passed the Shark Conservation Act, which bolsters the prohibition of shark-finning in US waters. If you would like to know more about this you can click HERE 

The Future of Humpback Whales

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This BBC clip taken from the documentary “Planet Earth” Narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Incredible footage of Humpback Whales. Thumbs up to BBC and particularly the various organizations involved in the conservation of these majestic animals.

Today, 2 December 2010, marks the day Paul Watson and the three Sea Shepherd ships depart for the Southern Atlantic in their annual campaign against the Japanese whaling fleet. It is also, coincidentally, Paul Watson’s birthday. Happy Birthday to you, sir!

Chuck Swift

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Chuck Swift from “Whale Wars” is the Bob Barker Captain and a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the Animal Planet reality docu-drama.

Born and raised in Southern California, Chuck Swift has a history of involvement in conservation and animal welfare issues spanning the last 20 years.

Captain Chuck (“Whale Wars”) began volunteering for Sea Shepherd in 1990 and remained involved for nearly a decade. Captain Chuck Swift’s campaign roster includes the 1994 Whales Forever campaign in which Sea Shepherd was violently attacked by the Norwegian Coast Guard, multiple seal campaigns including the explosive 1996 confrontation in the Magdalene Islands, and a variety of other campaigns before and after.

During his absence from Sea Shepherd, Captain Chuck (“Whale Wars”) worked in various professions, earned a degree in Business Administration, a professional certificate in Change Leadership from Cornell University, and as time permits, he continues his studies toward a Masters in Communication and Leadership. Since his return to Sea Shepherd in early 2009, Captain Chuck Swift has functioned as Sea Shepherd’s Deputy CEO, positively influencing both the administrative and ship operations sides of organization—most notably helping to secretly acquire, refit and then ultimately captain Sea Shepherd’s newest ship the Bob Barker during Operation Waltzing Matilda.
Captain Chuck (“Whale Wars”) believes that the time for talking is over, and prefers a direct action approach on behalf of Sea Shepherd’s customers (“the salty ones”) currently threatened by societal greed and exploitation. While serious about his dedication to the protection of marine and other ecosystems, Captain Swift maintains that a good sense of humor and positive attitude are critical to the success of any movement. Captain Chuck (“Whale Wars”) has been heard to say, “We should take our mission seriously, but never ourselves.”

Barbaric. Utterly Disgusting.

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I have been criticized as being a bit “over the top” with regards to my love and passion for wildlife, nature and the creatures I share the planet with. I have resigned from my crappy poor paying job in the corporate world. It may be good for some people, but sitting behind a counter, shuffling paper back and forth and dealing with a chain of incompetent useless idiots… well it brought me not one iota of happiness. It was Ghandi, I think, who said “Our future depends on what we do in the present.” And this IS the present. So what AM I doing? I am raising awareness, sharing ideas and fighting rampant cruelty as best as I can. I have joined up with Sea Shepherd. Some of you groaning “those lunatics!” Yes. Sea Shepherd. Lunatics? Watch this clip and decide for yourself before you condemn the folks who actually have the balls to do something about protecting the marine environment.

My attempts may be in vain, after all saving the life of one animal will not change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal. At the end of the day, when all is said and done… will you have said more than you have done? Thanks Gina for these wise words. For one so young and yet so aware, you are an inspiration. You are already the voice that animals do not have.

Who rules the roost?

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Pic of the Day

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Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as “non-human persons”.
Studies into dolphin behaviour have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence.
The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year.
“Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size,” said Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who has used magnetic resonance imaging scans to map the brains of dolphin species and compare them with those of primates. 
“The neuroanatomy suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins and has profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions,” she added.
Dolphins have long been recognised as among the most intelligent of animals but many researchers had placed them below chimps, which some studies have found can reach the intelligence levels of three-year-old children. Recently, however, a series of behavioural studies has suggested that dolphins, especially species such as the bottlenose, could be the brighter of the two. The studies show how dolphins have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self and can think about the future.

It has also become clear that they are “cultural” animals, meaning that new types of behaviour can quickly be picked up by one dolphin from another.
In one study, Diana Reiss, professor of psychology at Hunter College, City University of New York, showed that bottlenose dolphins could recognise themselves in a mirror and use it to inspect various parts of their bodies, an ability that had been thought limited to humans and great apes.
In another, she found that captive animals also had the ability to learn a rudimentary symbol-based language.

Other research has shown dolphins can solve difficult problems, while those living in the wild co-operate in ways that imply complex social structures and a high level of emotional sophistication.

In one recent case, a dolphin rescued from the wild was taught to tail-walk while recuperating for three weeks in a dolphinarium in Australia.

After she was released, scientists were astonished to see the trick spreading among wild dolphins who had learnt it from the former captive.

There are many similar examples, such as the way dolphins living off Western Australia learnt to hold sponges over their snouts to protect themselves when searching for spiny fish on the ocean floor.
Such observations, along with others showing, for example, how dolphins could co-operate with military precision to round up shoals of fish to eat, have prompted questions about the brain structures that must underlie them.
Size is only one factor. Researchers have found that brain size varies hugely from around 7oz for smaller cetacean species such as the Ganges River dolphin to more than 19lb for sperm whales, whose brains are the largest on the planet. Human brains, by contrast, range from 2lb-4lb, while a chimp’s brain is about 12oz.
When it comes to intelligence, however, brain size is less important than its size relative to the body.
What Marino and her colleagues found was that the cerebral cortex and neocortex of bottlenose dolphins were so large that “the anatomical ratios that assess cognitive capacity place it second only to the human brain”. They also found that the brain cortex of dolphins such as the bottlenose had the same convoluted folds that are strongly linked with human intelligence.
Such folds increase the volume of the cortex and the ability of brain cells to interconnect with each other. “Despite evolving along a different neuroanatomical trajectory to humans, cetacean brains have several features that are correlated with complex intelligence,” Marino said.

Marino and Reiss will present their findings at a conference in San Diego, California, next month, concluding that the new evidence about dolphin intelligence makes it morally repugnant to mistreat them.
Thomas White, professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, who has written a series of academic studies suggesting dolphins should have rights, will speak at the same conference.
“The scientific research . . . suggests that dolphins are ‘non-human persons’ who qualify for moral standing as individuals,” he said.

In the Womb

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3-dimensional ultra sound scan of an dolphin foetus taken by Peter Chan for National Geographic.
  3-dimensional ultra sound scan of an elephant foetus taken by Peter Chan for National Geographic.

Amazing Waves

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