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
Please assits by signing this petition to save our sharks and Manta Rays
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.
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!
— Rugby League Week (@LeagueWeek) November 4, 2013
World Cup Group B: PNG 4-38 Samoa; FT: Disappointing game. Samoa took their chances, PNG needs Mal Meninga to play #rlwc2013
— Charlie Mullan, Hull (@CharliePMullan) November 4, 2013
— FOX SPORTS News (@FOXSportsNews) November 4, 2013
— t j . m a t a g i (@tjmatagi) November 4, 2013
FT PNG 4-38 Samoa #RLWC2013 Well done Samoa unlucky PNG just not your night
— Chris Kelly (@BigChrisLFC34) November 4, 2013
Well samoa have played in the best and worst game at the world cup so far #RLWC2013
— BiGmAC (@houdinisson) November 4, 2013
— Jane Roberts (@JaneElRoberts) November 4, 2013
— M . A . I (@marley_ah) November 4, 2013
Not every game can be a classic and we've been blessed overall so far. Samoa too strong for PNG who have flattered to deceive in #RLWC2013
— Gareth Walker (@garethwalker13) November 4, 2013
— Jim Brown (@RealJimBrown) November 4, 2013
— League Freak (@LeagueFreak) November 4, 2013
— Watna Mori (@niugini_gold) November 4, 2013
They'll be gutted in Port Moresby this morning. They didn't give up, but sadly the PNG side just haven't cut the mustard at #RLWC2013
— Billy Painter (@BillyPainter93) November 4, 2013
Disappointing from PNG? Or were Samoa just too good? #RLWC2013
— Love Rugby League (@loverugbyleague) November 4, 2013
— RugbyLeagueRatings (@RLRatings) November 4, 2013
Papua New Guinea have not impressed in #RLWC2013. Cant think why any Super League club would want to sign any of their players
— Jeff Swales (@Jeswal_63) November 4, 2013
Talk about sex till you drop or die making babies…God knows what other phrase one can make about this but this is very interesting.
Four different insect-eating marsupials (in the genuses Antechinus, Phascogale and Dasykaluta) from Australia, Papua New Guinea and South America have a mating strategy that is so bizzare, the males die shortly after the act. This is a classic example of semalparity or more commonly, reproductive suicide.
While reasons to why this is happening are still being debated, studies have shown that this is not a sacrifical act to ensure survival of offsprings, although females tend to come into heat around about the times when insect populations are at their peaks, however corelations to food supply does tend to be a factor. In a recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the national Academy of Sciences, all females tend to come on heat at the time when insect populations (food supply) are at their peaks. This means that the breeding season is very short and males will not have the luxury of taking their time with a group of females over a long period of time – competition among males is intense.
To pull off this super-sex feat, male testosterone levels skyrocket, ultimately disabling their immune systems. They then compete not by fighting but by producing the most sperm to ensure survuval of their genes. Acts of mating can last for up to 12 hours to decrease chances of the females mating with another.
To these animals, a larger testis size to body size is adventageous as it produces the level of testosterone requiresd or these long bouts and produces enough sperm to ensure survival of their genes but it comes at a cost – semalparity.
Shark calling, is a traditional ritual practiced by the people of New Ireland made famous by Australian filmmaker, Dennis O’Rouke in his 1972 documentary, The Shark Callers of Kontu. This documentary is one of the few (most probably the only) fully documented records available of this ritual – even the year of the documentary is subject to much speculation. In my older post, I said it was in 1982 but I have been able to confirm that is was 1972 and not 1982.
Very little is known about Shark Calling outside of the people who practice it that my visit to the festial helped me understand so much more about these people and their tradition. Whats even more frightening is that, this once widely practiced ritual is quickly disappearing. Christainity and lack of interest by younger people of today are almost always the reason behind this as well as other cultural practices in PNG.
So what exactly is Shark calling?
Shark calling is a ritual where men in dug-out canoes go out to sea armed with a rattle, made from coconut shells, a noose attached to a float, a club and a counch shell to hunt sharks. Legends of how this practice came about is a different topic and will be covered later.
Once out at sea, the rattle is put into the water and shaken, it is believed the sound it makes under water is similar to that of a school of fish in distress. This will attract sharks. When a shark approaches, it is lured to the bait on the other side of the noose. As its head passes through, the noose tightens around its head, the float on the noose keeps the shark afloat. The animal is then pulled up to the side of the canoe and clubbered to death. The counch shell is used to signal success but can also be used to sound an emergency or send other signals – each with a distinct sound.
It is important to note that unlike many other rituals in other parts of PNG as well as other societies in different cultures around the world, shark calling is not an initiation. It does not mark the transit to different stages in life nor does it give any prestiage among anyone in the community. It is accepted that some people are just not meant for the trait and can spend all of their lives going to sea but will not catch a shark, while for others, this comes almost naturally, althoug there are rituals that must be observed before one goes to sea to call sharks.
Shark Calling Festival, 2013
The thrill of watching men armed with primitive tools has attracted people from all over the world and continues to attract many more to the New Ireland, so much so that the New Ireland Provincial Tourist Authority has listed it as a tourism attraction for the province. The success of this, I can not say much.
This years event was scheduled for late June but was defered to late July because of financial constraints. I attended together with a colleague and two other tourists; an Australiana and an English, loking forward to three days of shark calling and the rare occassion to actually witness a shark being caught.
Much to our dismay, our hopes were quickly washed away by torrential tropical storms – after three days and attempts by as many as 60 individuals, no sharks were caught. We left feeling very disappointed.
So why would attempts by 60 men over three days yield zero sharks? Interesting question that puts to doubt the belief of this ritual being ruled by some supernatural beings (as per traditional beliefs).
Lets look at some other facts, the dates marked on the calender as festival (shark calling) dates are not actually the dates men go out to hunt sharks but are in fact dates marking the end of one hunting season. A typical hunting season lasts from January through to the end of June, after this, conditions are not right and chances fo catching a shark are slim. Maybe this was why no sharks were caught when we were there.
Anyways, from this information, I have decided to try something else. I will be starting up a working relationship with the village people here such that each time a shark is caught, they try to identify the shark and take some other measurements. At the next shark calling festival marking the end of one hunting season, I go back and collect data.
It is hoped that the information I gather from this data can help understand shark behaviour in the are and can even contribute to conservation of these animals.