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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What do three sablefish do over the course of 20 years? Grow a few inches, move around a bit...probably go bowling a few times

This is pretty cool:

From the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, we learn that fishermen on the U.S. west coast have recently caught several sablefish (aka black cod) that were tagged years ago in a now-defunct tagging program. Each of the three sablefish in question was first tagged over 20 years ago. Two were recovered more than 500 miles from the point of tagging,  but the third was found less than 15 miles from its tagging location.

Monday, March 28, 2011

MSC label on cat food: I can haz sustainable fisheries?

This just happened

Mars Petcare, makers of legendary cat foods Whiskas and Sheba (which Jake assures me are both equally delicious), recently announced that some types of their catfoods in certain European countries will now bear the mark of the Marine Stewardship Council.

Good news, cats! Now you can stop eating songbirds!
Cat collage courtesy of someone with too much time on their hands, via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The strangely touching case of the brittle star and the coral, or: why I was crying at my desk yesterday

There are a lot of things that touch your heart and in doing so generate warm feelings and misty eyes. Puppies. Old faded photographs (especially if they are of puppies). Old videos of Puppy Bowl. And so on.

You know what's not on that list? Brittle stars. For the vast majority of humanity, brittle stars score a perfect zero on the emote-o-scale. An average person sees a brittle star, and they think "I don't care". They may even say it out loud.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Canadian tar sands meet American politics

Top o' the early afternoon to ye, ye wee fragile laddies and lasses o' the internet.

Have you been following the Tyee's excellent series on the hydra-headed, multi-national political beast that serves the interests of the Alberta tar sands? It's a must-read.

If you haven't been following along, today's a good day to jump in - the subject is the ties between the Canadian tar sands and the Koch brothers, the obscenely wealthy and enormously powerful American industrialists whose billions support a network of arch-conservative operations and operatives in the States.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Marine Economy and Beyond

Northern Vancouver Island may conjure images of economically depressed towns, victims of the downturn in its staple industries of fishing, logging and mining (cue the minor key and the overly concerned voice of a documentary narrator). While the north island economy is no longer ‘booming’, as it was in the 70's and 80's, many business owners have recognized new markets and are capitalizing on existing ones.

Salmon opening near Metlakatla, BC, ca. 1985
Just a couple of weeks back, the Vancouver Sun ran a story on the 'sheer tenacity' of local Port Hardy business Keltic Seafoods ltd. Former employees of the Maple Leaf Foods processing plant took the place over after the company shut down its operation in 1999. Today, the plant supports up to 200 workers and creates even more employment for its suppliers.

There are many such success stories in the marine sector of the north island. In fact, the marine economy of the region is now quite diverse, according to a joint study by Living Oceans Society and the Regional District of Mount Waddington. The study looked at wages, benefits and employment of local residents from ocean-related businesses in the region. In all, almost 30 % of local employment could be linked to the ocean in 2009 (the study year), and that portion would likely be much greater after last year's spectacular sockeye run. If you'd like the details, final report of the study can be downloaded can be downloaded here.

Friday Links - 98.5% Charlie Sheen-free

Hey, it's Friday! Got big plans for tonight?

No? You're going to sit at home with Blood on the Tracks on repeat, eating an entire block of Velveeta while thinking over all of the mistakes you've made?

Tough break. If you get tired of that, here's some stuff to read, I guess.

To cheer you up, here's a picture of my dog eating carrots.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Would you like some Oil with your Pi?

Happy Pi Day! That's right, today (March 14, or 3.14) is the 22nd annual day of celebration of the notorious mathematical constant here in geekdom. It is usually marked by eating pie (the homophone of pi) and generally sharing terrible mathematical puns. NewScientist offers a musical take on the ratio of honour, by translating the digits of pi into notes and chords with surprisingly melodious results.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Waiting for Tsunamis

As someone who has spent my entire life on the coast of British Columbia, I feel fortunate in saying that I have never experienced a tsunami. Not one. Of course, I've seen many tsunami watches and even warnings over the years. In fact one of my earliest memories is of my parents waking me up very early one morning at Kanis Island, just off the west coast of Vancouver Island, to get to higher ground as a tsunami was apparently on its way. The allotted time passed, the water remained flat and everyone went back to bed. The same scenario has played out over half a dozen times on this coast that I can remember.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hurricanes, marine planning, and public fora

This past week there were two hurricane warnings for the waters around northern Vancouver Island, indicating winds over 64 knots (118 km/h), the first of which materialized and wrought destruction along the west coast. On this side of the island, some trees were knocked down, the ferries were canceled, and the power was knocked out on Malcolm Island for a day or so. The second hurricane warning failed to materialize, but was still enough to cancel several sailings on Friday. Sandwiched in between these two dramatic weather events was a public advisory forum in Port Hardy, almost as if it were being held in the eye of the hurricane.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Crazy freediving clip. Do not try this at home. Or anywhere. Ever.

This has been making the rounds for quite some time, so you may have already seen it. What "it" is, is a stunning short film showing world champion freediver Guillaume Nery apparently freediving to the bottom of a massive hole in the seafloor. 

My response when I saw this for the first time a few months ago went pretty much like this: screaming ARE YOU KIDDING ME and gasping for air even though I was sitting on my landlubbing posterior, safe and sound - and dry - at home.

My second response was to google the hell out of it. And, as is made obvious by the people who created the movie, it is fiction - the subject and the camera operator are both champion freedivers, but the 'dive' in the video was, as I understand, composed of several different dives spliced together. The makers of the movie never suggested it was anything else than that, either.

But, you know what? It doesn't matter. It's an amazing clip. Here's the deal: I'll stop writing, and you watch it. Deal? Deal.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sick Bees, Pesticides, and the Fate of Ocean

So as often happens this time of year, I wake up feeling like I've just inhaled half a yard of gravel through my nose. Now I know what you're thinking, "That's what Keith Richards goes through every single day". But as I as I sit here with stuffy head and no hearing in one ear, all I can think is that I'm glad that I'm not a bee. Why? Because when bees get sick, this is what happens: