Overfishing of small species causes jellyfish curse

Overfishing of small species causes jellyfish curse - Marine biologists say they have proof that excessive trawling of small fish species leads to proliferation of jellyfish, a worsening phenomenon whose causes have been unclear.

The scientists monitored ecosystems in two ocean zones a thousand kilometres (600 miles) apart, traversed by the same current.

One zone was off Namibia, where fishing has been unregulated, and the other was off South Africa, where catches of so-called forage fish -- sardines, anchovies and herrings -- are controlled according to available stocks.
AFP/AFP/File - A barrel jellyfish (Rhizostoma pulmo) is displayed in a transparent bucket in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France on July 6, 2012. Marine biologists say they have proof that excessive trawling of small …

"In the 1960s, the waters off Namibia used to yield 10 million tonnes of sardines annually. This has been replaced by 12 million tonnes of jellyfish," Philippe Cury at France's Institute for Development Research (IRD) told AFP on Tuesday.

"There was very poor management of sardines and anchovies, which were overexploited and have now almost disappeared," said Cury, a co-author of a study that appears in the journal the Bulletin of Marine Science.

"In South Africa, there was very careful management of forage fish stocks, and there has been no jellyfish outbreak."

Experts have fiercely debated the explosive growth in jellyfish populations in many ocean regions.

Suspected culprits have been damage to the seabed ecosystem by bottom trawling; the removal of predator fish that keep the jellyfish population under control; and the greenhouse effect, which is warming the sea.

But Cury said the new research points to the impact of removing a small but important strand in the food web.

With little fish removed from the sea, jellyfish have no competitors for plankton, their source of food. As a result, they proliferate uncontrolled.

"This is why it is essential to keep a certain abundance of forage fish" in the marine mix, said Cury. ( AFP )
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NASA's Curiosity rover back online after memory glitch

NASA's Curiosity rover back online after memory glitch - NASA's Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars since it landed to much fanfare last August, is back on active status Tuesday, after a memory glitch set the robot back.

"We expect to get back to sample-analysis science by the end of the week," said Curiosity Mission Manager Jennifer Trosper in a statement.

On February 28, controllers put the rover into "minimal activity safe mode" when they switched the machine's operations to a backup computer after detecting malfunctions in the primary computer's flash memory.

Engineers have diagnosed the software issue that prompted the alert last month, and are prepared to prevent it from happening again, NASA said.

The once-primary "A-side" computer is now back online as a backup, it added, and engineers are testing the B-side computer, which has taken over, by commanding a preliminary free-space move of the robotic arm.

The six-wheeled vehicle, with 10 scientific instruments on board, is the most sophisticated robot ever sent to another planet.

The $2.5 billion Curiosity mission, which is set to last at least two years, aims to study the Martian environment and to hunt for evidence of water in preparation for a possible future manned mission.

Last week, NASA announced that the rover's analysis of a rock sample had found conditions once suited to life on the Red Planet.

"A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment," Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, said. "From what we know now, the answer is yes."

At the televised press conference, the NASA team said this was the first definitive proof a life-supporting environment had existed beyond Earth. ( AFP )

Blog : The Compatibility | NASA's Curiosity rover back online after memory glitch
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Seven rare Komodo dragons hatch in Indonesia

Seven rare Komodo dragons hatch in Indonesia - Seven Komodo dragons have hatched under a breeding programme at an Indonesian zoo, an official said, a success story that raises hope for the endangered lizard.

Twenty-one eggs from two Komodo dragons were placed in incubation at the Surabaya Zoo in eastern Java, the first batch in September and the second in October, with seven hatching on March 10.
AFP/AFP - An Indonesian vet holds a baby Komodo dragon at Surabaya Zoo on March 14, 2013. Seven Komodo dragons have hatched under a breeding programme at the zoo, an official said

"Some of the eggs from the first Komodo did not hatch, which is normal. We're hoping for another seven or eight from the second clutch, which are due to hatch around April or May," zoo spokesman Anthan Warsito told AFP on Wednesday.

He said the hatchlings were the result of a breeding programme that begins with incubation and involves protecting the young from predatory cannibalistic adult dragons as well as placing microchips in the babies to monitor their progress.

Komodo dragons, the world's largest lizards, can reach around three metres (10 feet) in length and 70 kilograms (154 pounds) in weight and are endemic to a cluster of islands in eastern Indonesia.

They are also popular at zoo exhibits around the world.

The species is considered vulnerable, with around 5,000 left in the wild.

Although deadly attacks are rare, several Komodo dragons have clashed with humans in recent years, the latest victim an Indonesian tour guide who was in February bitten on the calf in the Komodo National Park. ( AFP )

Blog : The Compatibility | Seven rare Komodo dragons hatch in Indonesia
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Anti-whalers return to Australia claiming win over Japan

Anti-whalers return to Australia claiming win over Japan - The Sea Shepherd anti-whaling fleet docked in Australia Wednesday claiming victory over Japan, as Canberra indicated fugitive founder Paul Watson would not face arrest if he came ashore.

The ships Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Sam Simon returned from a bitter campaign in the Southern Ocean in Antarctica with an estimated Aus$1.0 million (US$1.03 million) damage bill after run-ins with Japanese whalers.

Their fourth ship, the Brigitte Bardot, was at an undisclosed location with Watson, wanted by Interpol after skipping bail last July in Germany, thought to be on board.


The ships left port in November and Bob Barker captain Peter Hammarstedt said it had been the most successful, but most dangerous, campaign of the nine they have carried out so far.

"It's been a long campaign, it's certainly been the most dangerous to date. Never before have the Japanese whalers been as brazen, as reckless, as violent as they have been this year," he said in Melbourne.

"My vessel carries scars from battle and those scars were delivered by illegal Japanese whaling boats that were killing whales unlawfully in Australian Antarctic territorial waters."

The militant environmental campaigners claim the Japanese fleet "repeatedly rammed" their boats but Japan's Institute for Cetacean Research has accused Sea Shepherd boats of targeting its vessel, the Nisshin Maru.

Japan, which says the hunt does not breach an international moratorium on commercial whaling because it is done in the name of "scientific research", had set a quota of more than 1,000 minke and fin whales this season.

But Sea Shepherd claimed only 75 were caught, the smallest haul yet.

Sea Shepherd director Bob Brown, the founding leader of Australia's Greens Party who assumed command of the campaign from Watson, said it was "a great outcome".

"Many of the whales are heading to Australia right now rather than as lumps of meat on a factory ship heading to Tokyo," he said.

Watson himself spent the campaign on board the Steve Irwin but there was no sign of him in Melbourne.

He is wanted after skipping bail in Germany where he was arrested on Costa Rican charges relating to a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002.

Brown said Canberra must allow him into Australia without the risk of arrest.

"The Australian Federal Court has ruled that Japanese whaling is illegal -- they are breaking Australian law, and Sea Shepherd is upholding Australian law," he said.

"We need the chief upholder of Australian law in Antarctic waters, Paul Watson, to know that he can come freely onto these shores knowing that he will not be harassed by the long arm of Tokyo."

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus indicated that Watson would not be arrested if he came to Australia.

"The Australian government does not provide assurances whether a person will be subject to extradition proceedings either now or during the future," he said, without saying whether Canberra has received an extradition request.

"But as I have made clear, a person cannot be extradited from Australia in the absence of an Australian warrant and the approval of the Australian government.

"That said, I can confirm that Mr Watson is not subject to any arrest warrant in any Australian government juristication."

Canadian Watson claims the charges he faces are part of a "politically motivated" attempt led by Japan to put an end to his efforts against whaling. ( afp )

Blog : The Compatibility | Anti-whalers return to Australia claiming win over Japan
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Neanderthal's genome sequenced

Neanderthal's genome sequenced - Researchers have completed the first high-quality sequencing of a Neanderthal genome.

The genome produced from remains of a toe bone found in a Siberian cave is far more detailed than a previous "draft" Neanderthal genome sequenced three years ago by the same team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

"The genome of a Neanderthal is now there in a form as accurate as that of any person walking the streets today," said Svante Paabo, a geneticist who led the research.

The Leipzig team has already been able to determine which genes the Neanderthal inherited from its mother and which from its father.

A team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, completed the sequencing of a Neanderthal genome
A team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, completed the sequencing of a Neanderthal genome

It now hopes to compare the new genome sequence to that of other Neanderthals, modern humans and Denisovans - another extinct human species whose genome was previously extracted from remains found in the same Siberian cave.

"We will gain insights into many aspects of the history of both Neanderthals and Denisovans, and refine our knowledge about the genetic changes that occurred in the genomes of modern humans after they parted ways with the ancestors of Neanderthals and Denisovans," Mr Paabo said.

His group plans to publish a scientific paper later this year, and in the meantime, the genome sequence is being made freely available so scientists elsewhere can conduct research on it. The announcement was welcomed by other researchers.

Wil Roebroeks, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands who was not involved in the Leipzig study, said it was "exciting times" for comparative studies of humans and our closest extinct relatives.

By combining findings from genetics with studies of early diets, technology and physical anthropology of different human species, scientists would probably find new insights into our evolutionary past soon, he said.

Richard Klein, a paleoanthropologist at Stanford University in California who was not involved in the study, said it was "a monumental achievement that no one would have thought possible 10 or perhaps even five years ago". He said the comparisons might allow scientists to discover what makes our species unique and explain why we survive and others did not. ( Press Association )

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Sport during pregnancy

Sport during pregnancy - Being pregnant isn’t a reason to give up sport altogether but obviously, during pregnancy not all sports are suitable. Using some good old-fashioned common sense and respecting a few rules, you can keep fit during these special nine months – there’s no need to let yourself go!

Sport during pregnancy
© Thinkstock

It all depends on the stage of pregnancy and your previous level of physical activity. During the first trimester, you can continue with pretty much any sport, but over the next two trimesters, you’ll need to be more careful.

If you’ve never been sporty before, then this is certainly not the right time to take it up in a big way with some far-fetched idea of keeping a top figure throughout the pregnancy. Useless and dangerous!

However, if you are used to a particular sporting activity, you can generally continue with it, if:
  • Your chosen sport is not too violent on your body (wrestling, gymnastics…);
  • You are having a healthy pregnancy, with no particular medical complications;
Your doctor gives their go-ahead.

Recommended sports during pregnancy…

The most highly recommended sports during pregnancy are walking and swimming. Walking is good as it can be done by those with no previous sporting activity, and that too, throughout the entire pregnancy. It helps keep the pelvis muscles moving, thereby facilitating the birth process by keeping you in good shape. Swimming is good as it is relaxing, increases cardiac capacity and helps relieve joint pain caused by the extra weight of baby on your body. Most pools offer special pregnancy swim and light water aerobics classes…

Light aerobics out of the water are also okay and can be associated with pre-natal classes. If you want to work out a bit, go more for 3 20-minute sessions a week rather than a more rigourous full hour session. And even if you are at home, don’t forget to warm up for a few minutes before beginning your exercise routine. And avoid any excessive stretching or abrupt movements.

Some women like to continue with moderate dance, yoga or cycling, but obviously your burgeoning bump will prevent you from doing most yoga poses and the cycling during the third trimester.

Forbidden sports during pregnancy

On the other hand, there are loads of sports that should be avoided from the end of the 1st trimester, in particular those sports that carry a risk of falls, such as skiing, skating, horse-riding. Also to avoided, all sports that expose you to possible bumps to the tummy, such team ball sports, judo….

Tennis and jogging at not at all recommended either, as they causes quite strong shakes and jolts as well as causing all sorts of sprains. Then of course, looking at things sensibly, it should be obvious that all high thrill sports are to be avoided completely… so no mountain climbing, deep sea diving, hang-gliding etc. for you during the pregnancy!

Precautions for pregnancy sport
  • You will of course avoid and sudden movements and excessive strain on your joints, which are more fragile during pregnancy.
  • Obviously, you will rest more often than before, and will not exercise when the weather is hot.
  • You’ll also keep in mind your balanced diet, with sufficient potassium to avoid muscle cramps, which are more frequent during pregnancy.
  • You will no doubt make sure to always have your bottle of water close at hand to avoid any risk of dehydration.
What results can you expect from sport during pregnancy?

The benefits of physical activity during pregnancy are numerous:
  • Keeping the abdominal muscles in tone;
  • Improvement of blood circulation;
  • Increase of capacity for endurance;
  • Improved psychological wellbeing;
  • Different studies have also shown that a sporting activity during pregnancy facilitates the birth process, by improving respiratory function;
  • It has also been noted that women who’ve remained physically active during pregnancy are less prone to Caesarean births.
So are you convinced yet? ( doctissimo.com )

Blog : The CompatibilitySport during pregnancy
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Dinosaur Named After Daisy Morris

Pterosaur: Dinosaur Named After Daisy MorrisA girl who was just five years old when she stumbled across a completely new species of flying dinosaur is to have it named after her.

Daisy Morris who is now nine, found the fossil at Atherfield beach on the Isle of Wight in 2009 and took it to local dinosaur expert Martin Simpson.

Pterosaur: Dinosaur Named After Daisy Morris
Pterosaur: Dinosaur Named After Daisy Morris

With colleagues from the University of Southampton, he confirmed it was a new species of pterosaur, about the size of a crow, from about 115 million years ago and which will now be called Vectidraco daisymorrisae.

Vertidraco means "dragon from the Isle of Wight" while the rest of the title refers to the young fossil-hunter.

Mr Simpson said: "When Daisy and her family brought the fossilised remains to me in April 2009, I knew I was looking at something very special. And I was right.

"The fossil turned out to be a completely new genus and species of small pterosaur, a flying reptile from 115 million years ago in the Lower Cretaceous period, which because of the island's eroding coastline, would without doubt have been washed away and destroyed if it had not been found by Daisy.

"It just shows that, continuing a long tradition in palaeontology, major discoveries can be made by amateurs, often by being in the right place at the right time."
The pterosaur fossil has now been donated to the Natural History Museum. ( Sky News )

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