Global environmental challenges
There are no small parts, only small actors, or so the old show-biz saying goes. Now there are big stars — Matt Damon and Brad Pitt — playing two of the smallest parts ever. In a far cry from “Ocean’s Eleven” (and 12 and 13) they’re lending their voices to a pair of krill, small shrimp-like creatures that form the base of the Antarctic food web.
Pitt and Damon play Will and Bill, the krill, in “Happy Feet Two,” the sequel to the 2006 dancing-penguins animated feature. Both films have conservation themes. The latest movie opens in mid-November.
These Hollywood names might help shine a spotlight on krill at a time when the species is under pressure, according to the Pew Environment Group. An international meeting under way now in Hobart, Tasmania, is expected to consider more protection for these tiny animals, which penguins, seals and whales depend on to survive.
Increasing demand for krill as feed for industrially farmed fish and for nutritional supplements has pushed the krill fishery beyond a sustainable level, the conservation group said in a statement. Krill fishing in some areas could outpace efforts to protect the well-known animals that rely on it.
It was a cold night with the wind chill reaching -18.4 degrees Celsius. By 5.00 a.m. I’d had enough of being cold and weather beaten by the Katabatic wind smashing the side of my tent and bouncing off my head so I decided to make my way to our base, the Sorensen Hut, for a warm cup of tea and read a couple of pages of my book.
I should have known we were in for bad weather as my neighbours the Adelie penguin colony were no where to be seen or heard this morning.
Penguins’ chatter outside my tent woke me to Christmas Day in Antarctica, but instead of Santa’s sleigh there was just the usual run to ensure our human waste doesn’t permanently become part of this frozen wilderness.
With 24 hours of daylight it was, needless to say, very different from the traditional Christmas most of the ten members of the Mawson’s Huts Foundation living in East Antarctica are familiar with.
Should the world celebrate the 200th anniversary today of the birth of English naturalist Charles Darwin by working to limit the number of tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands or Antarctica to protect their spectacular wildlife?
Would that help elephant seals like this one above on the Antarctic Peninsula slumber more peacefully? And would it cause less disruption for marine iguanas, below right, on Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos?
Many people hope to come back from a wildlife safari with close-up pictures of lions or elephants – this picture below is my best attempt from a search for the largest land animals in Antarctica.
If you look hard you can see a reddish blob at the tip of the thumb — it’s Antarctica’s most aggressive land predator, an eight-legged mite known as Rhagidia.
Even veteran Antarctic visitors say there’s something special every time they see the continent — after all, Antarctica was only first spotted in 1820 — Fabian von Bellingshausen, a Estonian who was a captain in the Russian navy, usually gets the credit.
A yellow robot submarine will dive under an ice shelf in Antarctica to seek clues to world ocean level rises in one of the most inaccessible places on earth, reports our environment correspondent Alister Doyle. You can see his story here.
The 7-meter (22 ft) submarine, to be launched from a U.S. research vessel, will probe the underside of the ice at the end of the Pine Island glacier, which is moving faster than any other in Antarctica and already brings more water to the oceans than Europe’s Rhine River.
New research shows that both Antarctica and the Arctic are getting less icy – and the best explanation is mankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases.
But will that convert anyone who doubts that global warming is caused by human activities, led by burning fossil fuels?
Ice getting bigger hardly sounds like a sign of global warming but that’s apparently what is happening in the seas around Antarctica.
Leading climate scientists say that a tiny trend towards bigger ice in winter floating on the oceans around the frozen continent since the late 1970s — the maximum extent is around now, in September — is consistent with models of climate change that predict harsher winds and less warmer water at the surface.
It’s almost creepy watching this video of a colossal squid slowly thawing out in a giant tub at the Museum of New Zealand. If this were a horror movie, after all, it would suddenly start flailing around with its monstrous tentacles.
Researchers say that the squid, weighing 495 kg (1,090 lb) and caught off Antarctica in 2007, will be unfolded for study on Wednesday after it is defrosted. It is expected to be 6-8 metres long.