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Antarctic Ocean. Life in peril: 7 Japanese ships, $29mil Tsunami-fund armed coastguards vs 23 nations' volunteers

Top: woman feeds her baby at a shelter for those evacuated away from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Bottom: Japanese vessel, on its sides reads in giant letters 'Government of Japan'

Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States have jointly condemned Japanese annual 'scientific' whaling

*Update Dec. 31, 2011* Indeed odd: 7 Japanese ships seem not interested in whales but - "Japanese government security ship Shonan Maru #2 continues to tail the Steve Irwin and the Brigitte Bardot" on their way back to port for repairs. Now the Bob Barker is alone at the mercy of the other 6 Japanese ships with armed coast guards continuously moving eastward (to where?), far from any rescue/backup as the Bob Barker, on January 6'2010, rescued Ady Gil's 6 crew who were nearly killed when the Ady Gil was suddenly sliced in two by a whaling ship.

(quote)

"Despite the suspension of the program this year, we of MAFF are determined to continue the program until it leads to the resumption of commercial whaling," senior vice minister Nobutaka Tsutsui said.

Takanarita, a widely experienced journalist, blogged his disappointment. Pro-whaling politicians had taken control, he said. It had become an expression of male pride: ''We can't give in to the likes of Sea Shepherd.''  read more »

Amazing view of Earth: 3D video tour of oceans & marine mammal protected areas (Google Earth in collab. w/ French Gov. and NOAA)

(quote)

This Google Earth Tour, narrated by Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice Chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s World Commission on Protected Areas, follows the migrations of whales above and below the surface and visits some of the key marine protected areas and sanctuaries for whales around the world. Join the blue whale in the US national marine sanctuaries off California and journey to the proposed Costa Rica Dome Marine Protected Area in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, one of the key areas being proposed as part of the "Homes for Whales" project of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. Follow the humpbacks on migration, from their breeding grounds to the feeding areas in the North Atlantic around the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, and visit one of the most recent protected areas, the Agoa Sanctuary in the French Caribbean. This animated Google Earth Tour was first presented as part of a keynote lecture by Dan Laffoley (IUCN) at the opening of the 2nd International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas (ICMMPA) on 7 November 2011 in the Atrium, Fort-de-France, Martinique. It was prepared with the help of Jenifer Austin Foulkes (Google), Charlotte Vick (Sylvia Earle Alliance/Mission Blue) and Erich Hoyt (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society/IUCN).

(unquote)

Push to save threatened Antarctica, cetacean species, pristine waters.. Australia plans largest marine reserve in Coral Sea

Teeming with life: Australian Government plans to create world's biggest marine reserve in the Coral Sea

Australia plans to establish the world's biggest marine protection zone covering a biodiversity hotspot brimming with life

Fishing stocks around the world are becoming increasingly depleted, conservationists say

call to save threatened, frozen world - Antactica

blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata) resting on hard Acropora coral

a group of 11 environmental organisations have joined forces to get around one million kilometres of the Coral Sea declared as a protected marine park

(quote)
Antarctic Ocean Alliance: Call to save threatened, frozen world
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance, a newly formed organisation whose membership includes such environmental campaigners as Greenpeace and Mission Blue, has called for the establishment of the world's largest marine reserve network around Antarctica.

The alliance made the call yesterday in Hobart, directing its message at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which is also meeting in Hobart later this week.  read more »

Dolphin & Whale more like people than we thought: Curious, playful, affectionate, sharing things, blowing water jets

*Update 12 March 2013*
Christopher Swann, a cetacean novice, 'whale whisperer' - dances with whales 'Minkes are the smallest of the great whales but they still grow to a length of 30ft and weigh 7 tons... Orcas, or killer whales, are 8-ton sea monsters with dorsal fins like dinghy sails - lords of the sea at the top of the food chain, gladiatorial figures in black shining armour, cleaving the waves with dorsal fins as symbolic as the scythe of the Grim Reaper.’ Swann once followed a group of killers for 14 hours. Food and drink were irrelevant. The sun scorched his eyes and he felt himself drawn irresistibly into their world. 'As would happen many times there-after,’ he says, 'I simply became a whale.’
*Update 22 October 2012*
Listen: Beluga whale 'makes human-like sounds Researchers in the US have been shocked to discover a beluga whale whose vocalisations were remarkably close to human speech. While dolphins have been taught to mimic the pattern and durations of sounds in human speech, no animal has spontaneously tried such mimicry. "Our observations suggest that the whale had to modify its vocal mechanics in order to make the speech-like sounds," said Sam Ridgway, president of the National Marine Mammal Foundation and lead author on the paper. "The sounds we heard were clearly an example of vocal learning by the white whale."
*Update March 09, 2012* - 30 Dolphins stranded in Brazil and incredibly saved! Extremely rare event!


Robin Williams with dolphins in the wild  read more »

First space dockings: US Gemini 8, March 16, 1966; Russia Cosmos 186, Oct. 30, 1967; China Shenzhou 8, Nov. 4, 2011

the Long March rocket carrying the unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou 8 blasts off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre

China first orbital docking: Tiangong-1 spacecraft and Chinese Space Station

The Agena Target Vehicle as seen from the Gemini 8 spacecraft during rendezvous. This was the first time two spacecraft successfully docked, which was a critical milestone if a mission to the Moon was to become a reality.

(quote)

China has joined two space vehicles together in orbit for the first time. The unmanned Shenzhou 8 craft made contact with the Tiangong-1 space lab at 1729 GMT.

[2 November 2011] The unmanned Shenzhou 8 craft, launched earlier this week, made contact with the Tiangong-1 space lab at 1729 GMT. The union occurred over China itself.

Being able to dock two space vehicles together is a necessary capability for China if it wants to start building a space station towards the decade's end.

Although no astronauts were in the Shenzhou craft this time, future missions will carry people.

Tuesday's procedure (Beijing time 0029, Thursday) took place at an altitude of about 340km. It was automated but overseen on the ground at the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Centre.  read more »

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