Picture of the week: Spotlight on the lionfish

Taken with E-PL5 en Zuiko 8mm, dual DS 161 strobes, 4 inch Precision dome. Northern Red Sea near Tiran island.

Highlighted: Sharkfin trade is still booming in China

Shark fin trade is still booming in Hong Kong. The recent seizure of the biggest shipment of illegal fins in Hong Kong history shows the taste for shark is still going strong, despite the international protests against the massive killing and finning practice for human consumption. In May, customs officials discovered  26 tonnes of fins, contained in two shipping containers from Ecuador, cut from the bodies of 38,500 endangered sharks.

Highlighted: The playfull sea lions of Isla Lobos

At the northern tip of the chain of islands in Baja California north of La Paz, just beyond an island called Isla Partida, is a small outcrop called Los Islotes, or Isla Lobos. At this small island off the Baja coast where few people have access, lives a large colony playful sea lions behaving like ‘dogs’; even playing ‘fetch’ with rocks or other underwater objects.

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News: The Covid-19 lock-down: effects on shark territories

The famous diving locations in the world have practically been deserted during the lockdown. Backpacker  Ian Melvin from the UK who found himself stranded on the Galapagos Islands when the coronavirus lockdown came into force declared  “No one will get the opportunity to experience the Galapagos so quiet. ‘The swimming here’s amazing, the sea lions come right up to your face. Marine iguanas swim next to you and penguins peck your feet'  (see inset). In the Mediterranean,  National park rangers have observed greater biodiversity as manifested in an increase of groups of dolphins, floating groups of puffins, gannets, tuna hunting and gray heron passing by.

The lockdown down also had positive effects on wildlife in National Parcs in Africa and the US. What about the creatures that live under the waterline?  In Cape Town South Africa the lifting of shark nets paired with drumlines for the duration of the lockdown allow the sharks to move a little more freely.   The bad news is that the long line  fishing of hundreds of sharks a day is being allowed off Cape shores during the lockdown, even though the industry provides relatively few jobs, harms marine biodiversity and offers no food security. White shark expert and naturalist Chris Fallows says: “It is a disgrace that a fishery which is, according to scientific evidence, unsustainably killing already collapsed shark stocks, is allowed to continue. When this is done under the banner of an essential service it becomes a tragedy."

Underwater creatures that enjoyed many visitors may become restless and even distressed by their absence. Like, for example,  in the Sealife aquarium In Blackpool where the staff is keeping their stingrays, sharks, and fish calm during the coronavirus lockdown by playing music and singing to them. Perhaps the same might happen at the famous shark baiting sites in the Bahamas. Emma, Patches, or other top sharkish predators missing their regular bait providers and visitors. It looks like that in the  Bahamas that sofar has suffered little under the spread of the virus, health officials are hoping to return to normal life, including the more distant islands visited by shark tourists. Finally, the most significant spin-off of the lockdown seems that the number of unprovoked  shark attacks  at some notorious  beaches in the  USA has sunk to dramatic lows, likely a side effect of closed beaches and widespread quarantines 

 

Highlighted: Jane Goodall's theory

Photograph: Alessandro della Valle/AP

Jane Goodall blames the emergence of Covid-19 on the over-exploitation of the natural world, which has seen forests cut down, species made extinct and natural habitats destroyed. The coronavirus is thought to have made the jump from animals to humans late last year, possibly originating in a meat market in Wuhan, China.“If we do not do things differently, we are finished,” she said. “We can’t go on very much longer like this.” Jane Goodall's statement is corroborated by world virology experts like Marion Koopmans, focusing on modes of transmission of viruses among animals and between animals and humans.

 

E-book

Highlighted: E-book update

This ‘E-book’  contains an updated collection of around 80  blog articles from the last three years.  I here provide two separate content lists, a list in which the articles are ordered according to the five most often recurring themes, and a chronological list. A simple click on the title will hopefully guide you to the article of your choice. For download,  click  next to the  PDF icon below