THE GREEN PLANET BLOG - Our World and Environment...

All about conservation, ecology, the environment, climate change, global warming, earth- watch, and new technologies etc.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A global truth - the experts debate global warming...

A global truth - the experts debate global warming...

They may not agree on all things pertaining to the problem, but most would say that there is global warming beyond all doubt. Is it a natural phenomenon, or is it man-made? That is the cause for debate; what has caused it and what should we do to rectify the situation, if we can? Or is it too late and que sera sera!

Are the ominous predictions about Earth's climate from 10-20 years ago finally coming true - are the chickens coming home to roost? Are we entering a greenhouse century of rising seas, shrivelled crops, animal extinction and intense heat waves?

It is completely certain that Planet Earth is experiencing some degree of ongoing global warming. You would have to be a complete fool to dispute that fact. But to what degree, is the question you might ask?

When averaged over the entire planet for individual years, it is claimed the temperature of surface air has increased by about one degree Celcius since 1910.

Approximately half of this warming has allegedly occurred during 1970-2000. A recent computer model simulations reported showed conclusively that almost all of the 1970-2000 warming would not have occured without strong simultaneous atmospheric greenhouse gas increase. The reasons for this warming is claimed to be as certain as the fact of the warming. They have a strong case.

The same computer model suggests that the warming will increase by a further 2C to 4C by 2090-2100, depending on the rate of greenhouse gas emission increase due to human activity.

So the debate will continue...and continue!

Read Here

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rare meteorite impact crater found in Australia...

Arthur Hickman's discovery on Google Earth of what is almost certainly a rare meteorite impact crater in remote Western Australia has earned him both bragging and naming rights.

Measuring 260 metres wide and up to 30 metres deep, the divot is thought to be between 10,000 and 100,000 years old and was stumbled upon in the rich, rust coloured landscape of the Hamersley Ranges in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

If confirmed, the Hickman Crater will become just the 30th officially-verified meteorite impact crater in Australia and the first such discovery since 2005.

According to the Earth Impact Database, a resource maintained by the Geological Survey of Canada and University of New Brunswick, only 173 such impact craters have been discovered in the world.

Read full story here
The find will likely deliver a lifetime of peer group kudos to Dr Hickman, a government geologist with the Geological Survey of Western Australia.

"I wasn't looking for it," Dr Hickman recalled in a telephone interview. "I was high up in Google Earth [the free program that enables users to scour the Earth using stitched together aerial and satellite images] when I spotted this little circular structure which struck me as odd."

Dr Hickman, who heads his organisation's Pilbara Craton Mapping Project, says he made the discovery last July while he was looking for possible sites of channel iron deposits - highly sought after alluvial deposits from which the ore can be extracted very cheaply.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hopes Rotorua lakes will glisten like greenstone in future years...

Hopes Rotorua lakes will "glisten like greenstone" in future years...

Te Arawa iwi says it's looking forward to Rotorua lakes in the Eastern Bay of Plenty in the North Island of New Zealand being returned to their pristine conditions, as a $144 million clean up plan is announced

Rotorua iwi Te Arawa has welcomed an announcement the Government will pour $72 million into a project to clean up lakes in the region.

The total cost of the restoration programme is $144 million over the next decade. The Government will meet half that cost, with the remainder to be paid by Rotorua District Council and Environment Bay of Plenty. EBOP chairman John Cronin says he is delighted that the Prime Minister has recognised the importance of the lakes to the country.

Te Arawa spokesman Toby Curtis says the future will be much better now.

"We all look forward to the day when our lakes are returned to their pristine conditions. May our waters glisten like greenstone and may the shimmer of summer dance across our iconic lakes."

Another tribal elder, Anaru Rangiheuea, says the announcement has made both his day and Te Arawa's day.

Rotorua mayor Kevin Winters has praised the Prime Minister for sticking to her word. He says six years of discussions is now reality.

One would hope that this restoration program will just the beginning in the conservation of our lakes and waterways.

Clean up the Rotorua Lakes

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Read about Didymosphenia Geminata or "Didymo" for short - a freshwater exotic algae contaminating South Island, New Zealand, rivers...

Didymosphenia Germinata, or "Didymo" for short - also known as rocksnot - a freshwater exotic algae contaminating South Island, New Zealand, rivers...

Didymo is a member of a group of single celled aquatic plants(freshwater algae)known as diatoms. Didymo is an exotic( non-native)organism to New Zealand, and has legally been declared an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

Didymo was first detected in the lower Waiau and Mararoa Rivers in Southland in October 2004.Since then Didymo has been found in the Tasman District, the Otago region and additional rivers in Southland.In December 2006 Didymo was detected for the first time in Fiordland National Park.

It is likely that Didymo will have an impact on the numberof recreational and commercial activities in New Zealand, and as well as cultural values and biodiversity. As the man said, it is a bit of a worry!

Read more about Didymo: Google or search on other search engines.

Why is Didymo a pest plant? How do I identify it?

Didymo - also known as 'rock snot' - is a freshwater diatom (a type of algae.) It can form massive blooms on the bottom of streams, rivers and lakes, and its spread is highly undesirable.

This microscopic pest can be spread by a single drop of water. Even if you can't see it, you could be spreading it.

The alga is a native of northern Europe and North America, and was first reported in New Zealand in 2004. Biosecurity New Zealand has since declared the entire South Island an Outbreak Control Area for didymo. This means rivers and lakes remain open to angling, boating and other recreational activities, but all gear should be cleaned before going from one waterway to another.

In Otago, didymo is found in Lake Dunstan, and the Clutha, Hawea, Von, Fraser, Makarora, Wilkin, Motatapu and Matukituki rivers, and possibly their tributaries.

How do I identify Didymo?

The alga attaches itself to the streambed by stalks and can form a thick brown layer that smothers rocks, submerged plants and other materials. It forms flowing 'rats tails' that can turn white at their ends and look similar to tissue paper.

Pictures of Didymo, mats and tails above.

In Otago, Didymo has been found in Lake Dunstan, the Clutha, Hawea and Von rivers, and possibly their tributaries. It has also been identified in a number of other rivers in the South Island.

Suggested ways to avoid spreading didymo:

All river users are urged to take care not to spread the alga from one waterway to another.

Before you leave any river or lake:

Check - remove all visible threads or clumps of weed and algae from gear and clothing.

Clean - soak or scrub all items of equipment for at least one minute with either:

hot (60 degrees C) water, or
2% solution of household bleach, or
5% solution of salt or nappy cleaner, or
5% solution of dishwashing detergent, or
5% solution of antiseptic hand cleaner.
Dry - after cleaning equipment, or if cleaning is not practical (e.g. animals), dry until touch dry then leave for a further 48 hours before entering another waterway.

A number of cleaning stations have been set up in the Upper Clutha area for the summer, to help stop the spread of didymo. The unmanned stations will be identified with signage. People can pull in there to wash and disinfect boats and fishing gear that may have come into contact with infected waters.

If you come across any suspicious looking algae in Otago rivers, please contact:

Otago Regional Council on 0800 800 033, or
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries on 0800 809 966.
Remember to check, clean and dry all equipment, before you leave any lake, stream or river.

It has not yet contaminated North Island rivers.
Read more about Didymo on Google and other search engines.

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Blue whale haunt found off Chilean mainland - includes nursing and feeding group...

A recent survey found a new hangout of Blue whales - the largest mammals on the planet - in the Gulf of Corcovada, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean between the southern Chilean mainland and the largest of the Chilean islands.

In 2007, 47 Blue whale groups, some including mothers and youngsters, were sighted in the above area. This was received as great news and a positive sign of an improvement in the numbers of the southern hemisphere blue whale population.

It was reported that during the first 60 years of last century commercial whaling had wiped out 97% of the southern hemisphere Blue whale population.This was noted by Rodrigo Hucke- Gaete of the Southern University of Chile in Valdidia and his survey team.

As of 2000, the International Whaling Commission(IWC) estimated that 700-1400 Blue whales remain in the southern hemisphere.It is the IWC that has been battling the Japanese whaling industry in recent months.

Read here

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posted by Unknown @ 6:51 PM 0 Comments

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Silly old Arapara goats have to go...

Silly old Arapara goats have to go...

An international effort has to be mounted to save rare goats marked for death on an island in the Marlborough Sounds in the northern South Island of New Zealand.

Rare breed enthusiasts from New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom have joined forces to raise money to rescue some of the Arapara goats before the official cull starts soon on the island.

The goats are believed to have descended from a few left by Captain Cook in 1773 and 1777, and are believed to be a rare species.

But the Conservation Department said these goats are ravaging unique plant species on the island and the goat numbers needed to be controlled.

Wild goats are described as browsers, rather than grazers. They allegedly cause considerable damage to understory vegetation up to two metres above ground, damaging young trees in exotic forests and along replanted soil-conservation areas.The effects of goats destroying undergrowth and the effects of possums browsing the canopies, results in significant and possible permanent damage to the native population.

As a consequence the Conservation Department is forced into controlling wild goat populations, and the intended cull of the Arapara goat population is part of this population control. It is sad but necessary!

Wild Goats

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posted by Unknown @ 5:17 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay - and Mount Everest...

On 29th May, 1953, Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay stepped onto the peak of Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain. Led by Colonel John Hunt, this was the tenth British expedition to Everest and the first to result in a successful ascent. News of the event reached London four days later, on the morning of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Hillary, a New Zealander, was later knighted by the Queen in recognition of the acheivement.

Fifty years later, 3D computer graphics techniques and satellite imagery enable anyone to make a virtual visit to the highest peaks of the Himalayas to check out the view...

From left:
(1) Profile from the west showing approximately the route taken and the positions of the nine camps established by the 1953 expedition.
(2) View from the east, along the valley of the Kangshung Glacier.
(3) Overview from the southeast, with Lhotse in the foreground.
(4) View from the summit, looking east down the Kangshung Valley.

Computer graphic views generated using a digital terrain model derived from stereo MOMS satellite images. Imagery and terrain data provided by the German Aerospace Centre, DLR .

The Hillary Story

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posted by Unknown @ 5:18 PM 0 Comments

Monday, March 10, 2008

Endangered whale species should be supported...

Endangered whale species should be supported...

A blogging friend from another site posted a story about the problems being experienced by endangered species around the globe. Certain species of whales and dolphins are, indeed, endangered. Where possible I think we should be rallying to the call to support the various organisations involved in taking action to prevent these mammals from becoming extinct.

Greenpeace, for example is taking direct action to protest against the killing of whales by Japanese interests, allegedly in the name of science

Please read the following article about one of the most endangered whale species, the Southern Right Whale:

Eubalaena australis
(Desmoilins 1822)

DERIVATION: from the Latin australis for southern.

At a recent marine mammal conference, it was demonstrated how the use of technology is enhancing whale research. During a 6-week-period, a right whale mother and her calf were documented 2 times in the Bay of Fundy. In years past, it would have been assumed that they had remained in the bay for that time period. Since the mother was tagged and the pair tracked by satellite, researchers discovered that the twosome had not remained in the Bay of Fundy, but instead had traveled 2,500 miles.

It is speculated that the reason for this enormous journey is that the mother is making a parental investment and showing her calf feeding grounds. The breeding mothers, for unknown reasons, have different feeding ground imprints. If these mothers were killed, there would be a cultural extinction of that right whale feeding ground. While the Southern population of whales is growing, the Northern population remains at 350. However, not all of these 350 animals are breeding.

At the same conference, Dr. Charles "Stormy" Mayo said that the scientific community cannot wait until every item of a study has been analyzed. Scientists must take an active role with regard to the species they are studying. He was referring to Boston's plan to send sewage to Stellwagen Banks, a critical whale feeding ground.

Inconclusive studies have been done to determine how much food a right whale needs and how sewage will affect copepods (mainstay of their diet). Dr. Mayo warned that the need for answers is immediate and desperate. Scientists speculate sewage will have a significant impact on whale feeding grounds. Feeding right whales depend on grouping of copepods. Sewage could block sunlight diminishing copepods' food source (plankton) and cause copepods to scatter. If they scatter, the whales will starve.

In the case of right whales, any errors or accidents could mean extinction.

By: Maris Sidenstecker

Read Here

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posted by Unknown @ 9:47 PM 0 Comments

Are stingrays really harmless creatures...

Another story about those 'harmless creatures' - the stingray - are they really harmless...

We keep reading about these sea creatures who have attacked a number of humans, some fatally over the years.

The latest occurred in recent days in New Zealand. A Dannevirke, North Island, man in his 40's was dragging a net at Herbertville Beach in the southern Hawkes Bay, when he was attacked.

One of the stings went into one side of his leg and out the other, breaking off the barb.

He was treated at the scene by ambulance officers and then taken by rescue helicopter to Palmerston North hospital. An ambulance spokesman said he had been in considerable pain.

It is well over a year since since Australian television celebrity and iconic crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin, was fatally stabbed in the heart by a stingray barb.

His death was similar to that of an 18 year old New Zealand woman in 1939, who was at first believed to have been a victim of a sexual attack, but a post mortem later discovered that her heart wounds were caused by a stingray barb.

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posted by Unknown @ 9:28 PM 0 Comments

Endangered Fijian ground frog being saved by NZ conservation...

Endangered Fijian ground frog being saved by NZ conservation...

The endangered Fijian ground frog is being saved from extinction on the island of Viwa thanks to the efforts of New Zealand conservation knowledge.

The eradication of cats,dogs,and rats from Viwa, the smallest of the five islands that are home to the Fijian ground frog, is the first stage of a project to remove introduced pests to stop the extinction of the protected amphibian.

Residents have been regularly refilling more than 1200 bait stations, and recording the decline of bait-take and rat numbers on this Pacific island.

The Pacific Invasives Initiative (PII)based at the University of Auckland,aims to eradicate invasive species from Pacific Islands where indigenous species are threatened and livlihoods are affected.

The New Zealand initiative provides support and education for local community groups to manage invasive species.Provided pest species can be stopped from re-invading - the area will benefit from improved water and increased crop yields.

The lessons learned on Viwa are an important step towards conservation goals across the Pacific region to ensure the survival of threatened species and improve the livelihood of local residents.

The New Zealand conservation department supports conservation measures throughout the Pacific region.

Contributor's Note
Another successful NZ initiative in conservation

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posted by Unknown @ 8:50 PM 1 Comments

The unique language of dolphins...

The unique language of dolphins...

First published at Qassia:

The unique language of dolphins is being recorded - decoding the secrets.
Decoding the Maui dolphins secrets - one of the most endangered of their species.

Its unique language is being recorded for the first time to discover where it goes on its journeys.

There are only 110 Maui dolphins left in the world and they all live in coastal waters along a section of the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

Otago University's researchers believe they routinely visit many of the harbours dotted along the coast after deciphering and monitoring its unique "clicking" langage.

Using echo-location sonar equipment anchored to buoys in west coast harbours, researchers believe they have evidence of the dolphins roving ways.

Dolphins apparently use ultrasonic sonar clicks and each species has its own particular accent, just like humans.

Compared to other dolphin species, Maui's and their close relation, the Hector's dolphin, have a click frequency range of 112-130 kHZ, similar to the bottlenose dolphin I wrote about a few months ago, but a higher frequency to the common dolphin and the dusky dolphin.

Most of the Maui's and Hector's dolphins sounds are beyond human hearing, with their only audible sounds being a squeal or cry created by high frequency "clicks".

The study was part of conservation efforts to help the endangered Maui dolphin avoid extinction.

The Fisheries Ministry and Department of Conservation are working on a strategy to meet a balance of the dolphin's survival and the fishing industry. An interim net ban has been put in place along the Maui's coastal range, but not inside harbours.

It is a miracle that the dolphins can find their way out of the myriad of nets in these harbours.

A recent news item would suggest that the future of these animals is becoming a priority with maritime authorities; that must be a very good thing for their future.

Dolphin Language

Contributor's Note
A unique language

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posted by Unknown @ 6:45 PM 0 Comments

Tuatara DNA - so quick to evolve - found only in New Zealand...


Published first On Qassia:

Tuatara are only found in New Zealand. They are apparently very slow growing and reproducing, and have a sluggish metabolism. They are an ancient form of lizard and the oldest living form of wildlife in New Zealand. Tuatara have often been called 'living dinosaurs' and have largely not changed physically over extremely long aeons of evolution going back millions of years.

But they have reportedly broken records for DNA evolution, something that has astonished New Zealand scientists. An analysis of their bones has shown their DNA has evolved faster than any other animal species yet studied.

An evolutionary biologist, Professor David Lambert, at the Massey University based team from the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, established through study of tuatara DNA that the reptiles have evolved very quickly.

Professor Lambert said recently it had been expected that the tuatara, which did everything else slowly, would therefore evolve slowly too, but the new DNA research questioned such ideas.

Scientists had recovered DNA sequences from the bones of tuatara up to 8750 years old and compared them to modern tuatara blood samples, to establish the speed of the DNA changes in the species.

There will undoubtably be more up to date information released in the near future, which is of great interest to the writer.

Tuatara are not only the oldest living species in NZ, but would rank with some of the oldest in the world.

Tuatara Site


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posted by Unknown @ 6:18 PM 0 Comments

My first post on a new blog...

This is my first post on a new blog. I have decide to create a niche for my new conservation and ecological project.

I think it is better to niche post than having too many general subject blogs.

I hope visitors to my blogs will enjoy this new one.

Kiwi riverman is now a team of five blogs.

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posted by Unknown @ 5:51 PM 0 Comments