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 23, 2012

The New Zealand Whio, or Blue Duck, is a unique and threatened species and treasure of New Zealand...

Whio (Blue Duck, Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos) ...
Whio (Blue Duck, Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos) at Staglands in Akatarawa, New Zealand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New Zealand's "Whio" or blue duck (hymenolaimus malacorhynchos) is a unique and threatened species of waterfowl endemic to that country. It is the only member of its genus and has no close relative anywhere on earth. It is a natural treasure of New Zealand.

It is believed that the blue ducks appeared at a very early stage in evolutionary history and the species' isolation in NZ has resulted in it acquiring a number of unique anatomical and behavioural features. The "Whio" really is a natural treasure of New Zealand.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Mega coalmines threaten Great Barrier Reef - Greenpeace claim...

  • Save the Great Barrier Reef
    © Tom Jefferson/Greenpeace

    In our campaign to stop dangerous climate change, Greenpeace is taking on one of the most urgent issues: the enormous expansion of coal mining and coal exports from Australia. Not only does coal expansion spell disaster for our global climate but it threatens one of the world’s most precious treasures, the Great Barrier Reef.
    The Galilee Basin, located in the heart of Queensland, is the site of a series of proposed mega mines that could see Australia’s coal exports more than double within a decade. Enormous coal mines mean enormous amounts of carbon pollution and supporting infrastructure – including at least one rail line and multiple massive port terminals. Australia is on the brink of turning the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area into an industrial estate.
    Greenpeace documented the impacts of the coal expansion plans in ‘Boom goes the Reef,’ a report released March 1, 2012. Impacts include:
    • Six times more coal ships travelling through the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
    • Six-fold increase in coal port capacity along the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. This includes the development of Abbott Point port, which would become three times larger than any other coal port in the world. The Australian Government is set to approve this port within weeks.
    • 113 million cubic meters of dredging in the World Heritage Area due to industrial expansion. This proposed dredging would destroy vital marine habitat, including habitat for endangered Loggerhead and Olive Ridley turtles.
    The report was released, and supported by a creative action, to coincide with the visit of the World Heritage custodians from UNESCO who are concerned about the impacts of development on the reef. Under pressure, the Australian and Queensland Governments announced a ‘strategic assessment’ to understand the impacts on the reef. We’re urging these governments to not approve any major coastal developments while this strategic assessment is being done.
    Our campaign has clearly hit a nerve. On the eve of UNESCO’s visit, a confidential draft of a campaign proposal to challenge the increasingly reckless expansion of the coal industry found its way into the hands of the coal industry and two national newspapers and received widespread coverage. Three days of front-page stories in the national press followed.
    We have faced a massive and hysterical backlash from the mining industry and several Australian politicians (including the Prime Minister, the Trade Minister, the Energy Minister and the Environment Minister) who made absurd claims in their attacks on our campaign. Rio Tinto is calling us ‘economic vandals', the Minerals Council of Australia claim we are attacking Australia's 'national interest', the Treasurer declared that we were "irrational", "deeply irresponsible" and "destructive’ and the Minister for Trade has accused us of driving ‘mass starvation’.Read more:


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

National Government presiding over the extinction of the Maui dolphin? I hope not...

Hector's Dolphins swimming at Porpoise Bay, in...
Hectors dolphin  Image via Wikipedia


Why are they so special?


Maui's dolphin.
Maui's dolphin:
Maui's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) is the world's smallest dolphin and is found only on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand and nowhere else in the world. It is New Zealand's rarest dolphin.

The dolphin is listed internationally as 'critically endangered', which means there is a high risk of it becoming extinct in the near future.

In 2012 a DOC-commissioned study estimated the Maui's dolphin population to consist of 55 with a 95% confidence interval of between 48 to 69. The estimate is for individuals aged more than 1 year (i.e. this excludes calves of under a year).

This small population of dolphins is thought to have been isolated from their more-numerous relatives, South Island Hector's dolphin, for thousands of years.
Maui's dolphin used to be known as North Island Hector's dolphin. But research showed the North and South Island dolphins are separate sub-species that are physically and genetically distinct from each other.
Read more:

This is not the first time I have posted here this year about the falling numbers of the Maui dolphins..  The previous figures I received were about 100 Maui dolphins. The Department of Conservation has expressed its concern to the New Zealand Government about the falling numbers. Even the larger Hectors dolphins need to be regularly monitored as well. Once they have gone, they are gone for ever!

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Most eco-friendly city this week: Masdar City...

Picture of Masdar City, a planned city.
Image via Wikipedia

Most Eco-Friendly City

Masdar City

The United Arab Emirates are known for their vanity projects, but Masdar City will give not only bragging rights, but also hopefully a model for other environmentally friendly cities. Located 11 miles from Abu Dhabi, the city will take advantage of the climate to rely on solar power and other renewable sources for the entirety of their energy needs. They aren't just stopping with energy - automobiles will be completely banned and the city is going to try to reuse water until it's as thick as syrup as well as attempting to recycle the entirety of its waste.
Obviously keen to impress the big names of environmental awareness, upon completion in 2025, Masdar City will also be the base for the International Renewable Energy Agency from which they can look disapprovingly at cities that aren't as awesome as Masdar - so basically, everywhere.
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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Scientists create Supersoldier Ants...


Soldiers and supersoldiers from the ant genus Pheidole. Supersoldiers have a body size as much as twice as large as soldiers' and heads that as much as three times larger than soldiers'.Image: Photo courtesy of Alex Wild
When eight bizarrely big-headed soldier ants turned up in a wild colony collected from Long Island, N.Y., scientists knew they had found something interesting.
This discovery of these oversized versions of soldier ants, whose job is to defend the nest, led researchers to create their own supersoldier ants in the lab with the help of a hormone, and, by doing so, offer an explanation for how ants, and possibly other social insects, take on specific forms with dedicated jobs within their colonies.
It turns out these abnormal soldier ants were throwbacks to an ancestral state, one that no longer shows up within their species except, apparently, by accident. This phenomenon occasionally pops up elsewhere, in the form of whales bearing limbs their ancestors lost, chickens with teeth or humans with tails. [10 Vestigial Limbs & Organs]

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

River pollution patrol in New Zealand's north...

Northland’s Wairua River with a 750 sq km catchment is one of the major rivers flowing into the Kaipara Harbour — our largest estuary, a nursery area for snapper and other fish and an essential habitat for migratory waders. The Wairua drains what was once the magnificent Hikurangi Swamp. Sadly, this is now largely drained and converted to farmland.
Photo by Malcolm Pullman
Milan Ruka introducing Russel Norman and Eugenie Sage to the dirty dairy-polluted Wairua River near Whangarei. Photo: SNPA/Malcolm Pullman
The muddy brown waters of the Wairua show our mistreatment of rivers and our gross carelessness about their health and our own.

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