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

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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The giant colossal Squid has been thawed in New Zealand museum...

The giant colossal squid has been thawed in New Zealand museum...

New Zealand marine scientists have completed the thawing process and have begun to analyse the colossal sqid that was caught in the depths of the Ross Sea waters of Antarctica, and was donated to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. It has been kept deep frozen for a year.

The giant squid was caught in February 2007 by a deep sea fishing boat.

Marine scientists started thawing the the giant specimen earlier in the week and finished yesterday, Wednesday, NZ time. It was put in a large tank of saline solution where ice was added to prevent decay - they had up to eight hours to complete the process.

The squid weighs in at nearly a half a tonne, but is shorter than originally estimated, probably up to 4 metres rather than the earlier estimate of 6 to 8 metres. The collosus squid is generally shorter than its giant counterpart.

The squid's eyes measure 27 cm, like large dinner plates - the biggest animal eyes in the world.

The squid has attracted worldwide interest and audience, visitors and online. If it proves to be male it could mean the existence of much large colossal squids in the wild.

A smaller squid captured at the same time has been dissected by scientists at the museum.

Read Full Story

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Wood - for a better New Zealand and World...

I visited this website and what they say, makes lot of sense:

Wood. Manage it responsibly.

Consume it voraciously. For a better world.

Forests and Wood Fight Climate Change

Wood is the world’s most renewable raw material. For this reason, Forests, and the wood they provide are vital in the fight against climate change. As the effects of global warming impact on our environment, the use of renewable and sustainable building materials has never been so important.

The stages of the wood story – planting and renewal, growth, harvesting and use are part of a renewable cycle that takes and stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making wood a truly carbon-neutral building material.

The time has come to fight climate change and we each need to look for ways we can contribute to the fight. Using wood is something we can all do to help the environment. By demanding and using more wood, we can ensure that more trees will be planted and more carbon dioxide will be absorbed from the atmosphere. The result is a better world for ourselves, our families and future generations. It’s simple. Wood. Manage it responsibly. Consume it voraciously. For a better world.

Case Study: Wood use in New Zealand

The Carbon Cycle

Forests and wood are an integral part of the carbon cycle as they absorb, store, release and reabsorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Planting trees and using wood is critical to ensuring that this cycle continues to benefit the environment for future generations of New Zealanders.

Wood you visit here

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Yellow eyed Penguin or Hoiho are in danger...

The hoiho is the rarest penguin in the world. They need help to survive.

The hoiho is also known as the yellow-eyed penguin.They are native to New Zealnd.

About penguins..... Penguins are one of the most ancient families of birds. They have been on earth for 60 million years. These flightless birds have short, stubby flippers, dense waterproof feathers and a sleek, streamlined shape, making them well adapted for swimming in the cold sub-Antarctic and Antarctic seas, where most species of penguin live.

There are 15 species of penguins and they are all found in the Southern Hemisphere. Only three species breed on mainland New Zealand, the little blue penguin, the Fiordland crested penguin and the yellow-eyed penguin or hoiho.

Facts, facts, facts....

The hoiho is only found in New Zealand, which means it is endemic to New Zealand.
Hoiho is the Maori name for the yellow-eyed penguin. (Sometimes the Maori name 'Tauora' is used too.)

Hoiho is the only penguin with yellow eyes and a yellow band of feathers around its head, so it is called the `Yellow-eyed penguin'.

The scientific name for the hoiho is Megadyptes antipodes, which means 'large southern diver'.

The Maori called this tall handsome penguin hoiho, which means 'noisy shouter', because its piercing call can be heard over the roar of the waves.
The hoiho is a native species. It is endangered and protected - it is against the law to harm or kill a hoiho.

Most penguins nest in crowded, noisy colonies but not the hoiho. Hoiho pairs nest apart from other penguins, so they need a lot more space than other penguins.
Hoiho nest in forest or scrub, sometimes up to 1km from the sea. They can only be found on the south-east coast of New Zealand's South Island and some sub-Antarctic islands.

According to palaentological knowledge, the hoiho is possibly the most ancient species of penguin.

Palaentology is the study of fossils to determine the structure and evolution of extinct animals and plants.

More facts....

Hoiho stay near home all year, except for wandering young birds.
Most penguins return to their nest sites only for the breeding season. Hoiho return to their nest sites most nights.

Hoiho eat a variety of small fish, including red cod, opal fish, sprat and squid.
Hoiho will swim up to 40 kilometres from the shore in search of food. They can dive up to 120 metres deep and can reach speeds of 25 kilometres an hour in the water.
Hoiho come ashore from fishing in the evening, when the sun is setting.
The hoiho grows to be about 60 - 68cm tall.

Hoiho have a grey-blue back, brilliant white front, a bright yellow head band and bright pink webbed feet.

Both male and female adult hoiho have the same colouring.

The hoiho can live to be over 20 years old and will usually stay with the same partner for life.

Nesting and chicks:

The breeding season lasts about 28 weeks, starting in mid-August when mates are chosen. Nests are made in August and September. For hoiho to feel safe, the nest must have a back to it and it must be sheltered from storms and the sun. Nests are made with dried grass and leaves, set against fallen logs, rocks, flax bushes and tree trunks.

The hoiho like to build away from other penguins and sometimes may not even breed if they are within sight of other penguins. For 43 days the parents take turns to sit on the two greenish-white eggs. When the eggs hatch one parent goes fishing while the other minds the chicks. When the fisher comes in from the sea, the parents greet each other with noisy cries and gestures. The hungry chicks have to wait until they have finished saying hello! When at last it's the chicks turn, each thrusts its beak into the parents mouth for the regurgitated meal.

Chicks in danger!

Even though one parent stays with the hoiho chicks throughout the first six weeks, they are still very vulnerable to enemies like ferrets, stoats, dogs and feral cats. The adult hoiho are unable to defend their chicks against such fierce enemies.

The chicks grow quickly. When they are six weeks old, both parents must go fishing to keep them fed. By early March the chicks are as big as their parents. Their downy feathers are gone and they now wear waterproof feathers like an adult, but without the yellow head band. The chicks are now ready to go to sea.
The young birds swim north, wandering as far as 500 kilometres from home. The open sea is dangerous and many young penguins do not come home again.

Meanwhile their parents fatten themselves on small fish and squid before they moult. Adult hoiho moult during March and April. For 3-4 weeks they will not go to sea while their old feathers moult. They lose weight and are vulnerable to predators like stoats - and people! Sometimes when people see a moulting penguin they think it is sick. It is important to leave the penguin alone and not to disturb or hurt the penguin by interfering during its moulting period.

After the moulting period the hoiho have smart new feathers. They can then go fishing and socialise with other hoiho until August when the busy breeding season begins again.

Hoiho are in danger!

Once lush forest came down to the sea and the shouts of the hoiho could be heard along the New Zealand coast. But people came and cut down the forests beside the sea, and brought dogs, cats and ferrets.

Hoiho nest sites are destroyed, they are attacked by dogs, and their chicks are killed by cats, stoats and ferrets. Out at sea hoiho tangle and drown in set nets, or may not be able to find enough fish to eat.

Poor penguins. Their numbers have fallen. Now there are fewer than 700 hoiho in the South Island of New Zealand and only 2000 to 3000 in the main colonies on Campbell and Auckland Islands, with other small populations on Stewart and Codfish Islands. That's all the hoiho in the whole world.

The hoiho are being helped..........

The hoiho is protected because it is an endangered species, which means that it is illegal to kill the hoiho or cause it any harm. Hoiho nesting sites are also being protected and replanted.

Land along the coast where hoiho nest is be replanted with flax and shrubs to make new nesting areas.

Some areas have been fenced along coastal margins to keep out sheep and cattle which trample and destroy hoiho nests.

Predators like wild cats, stoats, ferrets and dogs are being controlled and removed from hoiho nesting areas.

Set nets, which penguins can get caught in, have been banned in some areas to avoid catching dolphins - which helps the hoiho as well.

Land owners are working with conservation organisations to protect hoiho, and hoiho nesting areas on their land.

The Forest and Bird Te Rere Reserve is a protected area, where lots of trees and shrubs are being planted for the hoiho, and hoiho enemies are controlled. Learn more about Te Rere.

In 1987 the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust was formed. It helps protect the Yellow-eyed Penguin and its habitat.

The Department of Conservation staff manage a number of reserves where hoiho live, they study the hoiho and help other organisations and land owners to care for the hoiho and hoiho nesting areas.

Yes! You can help too........ By learning about the hoiho you can help it to survive. You can be a friend of the hoiho by talking to your friends and family about the hoiho and telling them what people should do when they visit a hoiho's home.

If you visit a hoiho nesting area:

Be quiet so you do not scare the hoiho from coming ashore to feed their chicks
Talk quietly and move slowly
Stick to the tracks
Do not go into areas fenced off for penguins
Do not take dogs near hoiho nesting areas
Do not litter
If you see someone doing the wrong thing near hoiho nests call the NZ Department of Conservation.

Acknowledgement and thanks to below:

Conservation resources

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posted by Unknown @ 10:58 PM 0 Comments

Sunday, April 6, 2008

An newly developed Chinese fruit with amazing properties - luo han - a sugar substitute...

A Hamilton, New Zealand, company that extracts a zero-kilojule sweetener from a fruit grown in southern China is aiming for revenue of up to $1oo million in a few years it has been claimed.

Bio Vittoria's PureLo, a non calorific sweetner is extracted from luo han, which is used in sachet sweeteners, smoothies, yoghurts, powdered dietary supplements and cereals, and is now gaining traction in the global food and drink sector.

The company, 'Bio Vittoria', was reportedly founded by former HortResearch scientist, Garth Smith, who played a key role in the development of the kiwifruit industry, and American nutraceuticals marketer, Stephen LeFebvre.

A Chinese colleague of Dr Smith introduced him to luo han - a small pulpy fruit known in China for its sweetness and medicinal properties. Then Dr Smith developed a method to extract a powder which has no calories and is 300 times as sweet as sugar.

Most of the luo han crop is currently grown by the Miao and Yao hill tribes in mountainous areas of Guangxi province. Lu han is reportedly protected under World Trade Organisation rules, so it may not be grown outside a few areas in southern China.

They obviously do not want to lose control of another native Chinese plant and fruit, remembering how decades ago New Zealand horticulturalists and scientists developed a small Chinese berry sized fruit into one the size of stone fruits such as apricots. It was then grown and marketed from New Zealand as the iconic Kiwifruit.

The BioVittoria company is now 60% owned by its founders and other minority shareholders in the US and New Zealand. They are looking for world markets to continue developing and marketing this potentially amazing product.

Read history here

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posted by Unknown @ 5:34 PM 0 Comments

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Water that most precious commodity - makes up 75% of the human body...

Water is one of our most precious commodities, making up 75% of the human body and covering 71% of the Earth’s surface. However, it has been calculated that as little as 0.02% of that water is actually fresh water available for human consumption and that 50% of the world's population will face water shortages by 2025.

Each person in the UK currently uses about 150 litres of water every day; this has been rising by 1% per year since 1930. Most of the water we use is wasted, being flushed down the toilet or left to flow down the sink while we clean our teeth.

By making just a few small changes to your liquid lifestyle you will be helping to cut the demand on our most important natural resource, as well saving money on your household bills.

Water way to save indoors:

Reduce your toilet flushing water wastage.

Fit a flow reducer to your shower head.

Save water by shrinking your shower.

Use rain or bath water for flushing your toilet.

Save water when washing the pots.

Fit spray taps to reduce water consumption.

Use any energy-saving settings available on your washing machine

Don’t boil more water than you need.

There are a 101 ways to save water.

We need to learn them all.

If every household in Britain cut one toilet flush per day we’d save a total of 170 billion litres of water in a year!

The more people make changes towards a greener lifestyle, the bigger the impact we all have on the environment.

So spread the word!

Especially bright, brilliant new ones!

Water Savings

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posted by Unknown @ 10:32 PM 0 Comments

The New Zealand Kiwi - an icon of national identity...

The New Zealand Kiwi.

A Great Spotted kiwi:

The kiwi is the smallest living member of the ratite family (Apterygidae), a group of flightless birds which includes the rheas of South America, the ostriches of Africa, the emu of Australia and the extinct moa of New Zealand. There are six different species of kiwi, The Little Spotted Kiwi, Great Spotted Kiwi, Brown Kiwi, Okarito, Haast Tokoeka and the Southern Tokoeka.

This country’s ancient isolation and lack of mammals allowed the kiwi to occupy a habitat and lifestyle that elsewhere would be occupied by mammals. The kiwi is a unique bird and has become an icon for the New Zealand ’spirit’ and an emblem of national identity - human,sport and the fruit.

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posted by Unknown @ 9:33 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Year of the Frog - frogs are going extinct...

Year of the Frog:

Frogs are going extinct. So are toads, salamanders, newts, and the intriguingly unusual caecilians. In fact, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) estimates that at least one-third of known amphibian species are threatened with extinction. While the major culprit has historically been habitat loss and degradation, many of the declines and extinctions previously referred to as "enigmatic" are now being attributed to the rapidly dispersing infectious disease chytridiomycosis ("chytrid"). This fungus is causing population and species extinctions at an alarming rate. Can you imagine if we were about to lose one-third of the world's mammals?

Chytridiomycosis ("chytrid")
The disease known as chytridiomycosis, results when a chytridiomycete fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis ("chytrid") attacks keratin in the skin tissue of amphibians. Many researchers believe that this infectious fungus inhibits the frog’s ability to respire and osmoregulate, eventually killing the frog. Chytrid has been implicated in amphibian declines in the Americas, Caribbean, and Australia and its range continues to grow.

Chytrid is not the only cause of amphibian decline, but is a likely explanation for unexplained declines in high-altitude, protected regions and may hasten the collapse of populations weakened by other threats such as habitat destruction, climate change, and water and air pollution.

The combined effect of habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, and chytrid cannot be addressed solely in the wild. Captive assurance populations have become the only hope for many species faced with imminent extinction and are an important component of an integrated conservation effort. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, with their demonstrated expertise in endangered species breeding programs, have been called upon to meet this conservation challenge.

The IUCN has classified four amphibians in the U.S. to be critically endangered, the Mississippi gopher frog, the Chiricahua leopard frog, the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the Wyoming toad. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed thirty-seven amphibian species under the Endangered Species Act. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums may be their only hope for survival.

World-wide Cooperation
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and the AZA Conservation and Science Department are working closely with our partners to develop and implement a global action plan for amphibian conservation:

Read story here

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posted by Unknown @ 7:30 PM 0 Comments