Magnitude 5.6 earthquake strikes Port Moresby

Eventhough Papua New Guinea sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, locals will tell you that earthquakes are a rarity in the southern region. That being an exception last night when an earthquake measuring 5.6 on the richter scale struck just minutes before midnight.

The USGS report here provides full details of this earthquake.

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Mystery of Missing flight 370

Map shows key facts about the Flight 370 mystery.

Someone please explain why the proposed crash site is about the same distance but in the opposite direction to its destination.

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Giant snakes have the ability to find their way home

Migrating animals have always impressed us with their ability to navigate between breeding and foraging grounds. Cetaceans make long journeys to the warm tropical waters to breed and then migrate back to the cold polar waters to feed, birds make long seasonal migrations following food sources and weather patterns, eels and salmon journey between the sea and fresh water at different life stages and turtles make very long journeys across ocean basins to feed before returning to their nesting beaches where they breed again, but whoever’s heard of migrating snakes?

An interesting study recently published about  Burmease pythons  (Python bivittatus) in South Florida, USA might just have provided the first ever evidence that snakes (and I mean giant snakes) are capable of finding their way back to their homes if relocated. Although other snake species have demonstrated sophisticated spatial memory, the ability of a snake to find its way back to its home has never been seen before.

This particular study involed 12 radiotagged animals; 6 were released where they were originally captured while another 6 were transported by road to locations ranging from 21-36 km from their point of capture and released. Data from radio tags showed that 5 of the 6 animals released had actually found their ways back to  within 5 km of their original capture point.

Circular statistics, movement paths, capture locations and final capture locations of six translocated pythons within and near ENP

Circular statistics, movement paths, capture locations and final capture locations of six translocated pythons within and near ENP

 

These results show the first ever documented evidence that giant snakes might just be capable of finding their ways home if relocated. An animals ability to return home after translocation involves two senses: a map sense (determination of a position in relation to a goal) and a compass sense (access to reliable compass to maintain orientation towards the goal). This study concludes that these animals were able to use environmental cues at their release site to determine their position in relation to their goal thus making their ways home. These cues may include olfactory and magnetic cues that change predictable through space (Rodda G et.al., 1992). The use of magnetic, celestial, olfactory or polarized light could have also provided reliable compass sense for the animals (Southwood and Avens, 2009).

 

Article condensed from:

Shannon E. Pittman, Kristen M. Hart, Michael S. Cherkiss, Ray W. Snow, Ikuko Fujisaki, Brian J. Smith, Frank J. Mazotti and Michael E. Dorcas. 2014 Homing of invasive Burmese pythons in South Florida: evidence for map and compass senses in snakes Biol. Lett. 2014 10, 20140040

Other Reference

Rodda GH, Philips JB. 1992 Navigational systems develop along lines in amphibians, reptiles and birds. Ethol. Ecol. Evol. 4, 43-51. (doi:10.1080/08927014.1992.9525349)

Siuthwood A, Avens L. 2009 Physiological, behavioural and ecological aspects of migration in reptiles. J. Comp. Physiol. B 180, 1-23. (doi:10.1007/s00360-009-0415-8)

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Snake vs Crocodile

Amazing pictures of a snake eating a crocodile taken at Lake Moondarra, near Mt Isa, north-west Queensland.

snake preying on its victim near Lake Moondarra, Australia

snake preying on its victim near Lake Moondarra, Australia

See more here

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New Herbrides trench explored

A new expedition into the New Herbrides trench has turned up some intriguing finds which could end up adding to the little knowledge we already have of the mysteries of the deep sea.

In a recent post on the BBC website, a team of Scientists from Oceanlab at the Unversity of Aberdeen, UK, carried out an expedition with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand to the area some 1,500 km north of New Zealand. Among the many surprises they encountered in the area, one of the most intriguing was the absence of the grenadiers which is one of the morst common fish species found in the deep sea. In the New Herbrides trench, they reported NONE! There was also an absence of the snail fish, another one of the common fish species of the deep sea. What was comon in the trench was the cusk eel, which is common to other deep sea habitats studied too, only in very low numbers. In the New Herbrides thrench however, these were quite plentiful.

So how is it that fishes that are a common sight in other deep sea habitats are a rarity in the New Herbrides? and why is it that the cusk eel, which is one of the more rarer species in other deep sea habitais turn out to be more common in the New Herbrides trench?

“if you look at the New Herbrides trench, and where it is geographically, it lies under very unproductive waters – there is not a lot happening at the surface of the tropical waters.” (Jamieson)

One possible explanation put forward by Dr Alan Jamieson of Oceanlab suggests that this might be due to the nutrient content of the waters above the trenches. The New Herbrides trench is located about 1,500 km north of New Zealand, and further away from any significant geographical feature that could bring nutrient to the area. This could also provide an explanation to movie director, James Camerons description of his dive to the deepest part of the ocena in 2012 where he described the place as a very ‘alien place’.

A very interesting theory and one that remains to be scrutinised however one thing is for sure, species diversity in the deepest parts of the oceans is not limited to larger creatures. As recently revealed, by studies from the Mariana’s trench, where larger creatures are absent, microscopic life can still thrive.

Adopted from Rebecca Morelle, BBC News (Science & Environment) Read full article here

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Missing boat people rescued (an update)

Nine people reported to have been missing at sea in East New Britain waters, Papua New Guinea (PNG) have reportedly been rescued by a fishing vessel.  PNG’s local paper the Post Courier reported that the National Maritime Safety Authority had confirmed that fifteen people had been rescued by a fishing boat. The number included four children aged between two and twelve years old.

The boat was first reported missing when a distress call was made by passengers on the boat to relatives on land on Monday, January 20. Apparently, the boat had run out of fuel and was carried out to sea by local currents.

Small vessel owners and operated are being reminded to practice safety first at sea and not to travel out to sea given the current weather conditions.

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Nine missing in the waters of PNG

Nine people have gone missing on a boat in East New Britain. Its been four days now but the Provincial Disaster Office has not yet been notified. Help us look for them. (Read about it)

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Philippines Typhoon

Our Thoughts and Prayers go out to everyone in the Philippines. Can also get more information about he typhoon here. Said to have winds that are some of the strongest in history, reaching speeds of up to 260km/hr. More stats here

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Sea Save Petition

Please assits by signing this petition to save our sharks and Manta Rays

Replacement CITES pic for website Petition

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Update on Missing Scientists

About a year and three months ago, a post on the case of five research scientists who had mysteriously disappeared in the waters of West New Britain, Papua New Guinea was reported on this blog. (see post) At that time the report too was a little over a year on.

missing scientists

Very little was done to locate the missing scientists since then because of monetary problems and the case was eventually shelved with nothing conclusive on the fate of the five scientists. That was until the beginning of the week when a wanted criminal on the run for a string of offences including escape decided to turn himself in to police.

With his surrender came reports that two of the five scientists might still be alive and are being kept in the jungles in the area. (see report). The two, who are believed to be the two female members of the team are believed to have had their lives spared and forced to marry and live with their captors.

If this were true then one can only imagine the ordeal they had to endure in the three years they were neglected by the government of PNG and forgotten for dead. To be abducted, then have your friends/workmates killed and forced into a bond that waas more a prison than a mutual bondage built on love and endure this everyday for three years.

This is courage worthy of no medal, strength that can not be measured and bravery that is second to even the best military units on earth today. I only hope that these reports are true and that these survuvors be found and returned to their families. Please find them alive!

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