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Where are All The Sharks Going?

Planet Earth

If this news item was about something good happening to sharks, then this article would belong in our conservation area, but it isn't about something good - it is about something bad and ongoing and devastating; and just another nail in the coffin of planet earth.

Sharks probably should be on the Hancock Wildlife Foundation's list of example and supported animals as it too, along with the eagle, bear, wolf and orca, is one of the top predators of our planet and one of the "canaries in the mine" that can and does signal when our planet has problems. We have only recently realized that these top predators are in fact valuable in our ecology; valuable and irreplaceable. Sharks perform many different functions but chief amongst them is the fact that they help keep their prey from devolving - they prey on the weakest and cull them. We here at HWF recognize that this is part of life's cycle. It's why we help people learn about the life cycle of our predators and in turn about the life cycle of the planet.

Shark Fin Soup is a delicacy that used to be confined to the tables of the rich in China. Gathering the fins necessary to make it used to be dangerous manual work. That's what made the supply slim and the price high.

Today, thanks to mechanization and the greed that spawned its use in catching sharks wholesale, it can be purchased by anyone and everyone, anywhere where it has not actually been outlawed; and even in most places it has been outlawed. According to this page on the www.stopsharkfinning.net shark fin soup is available here in the Vancouver area in several restaurants. Chances are its available somewhere near you too.

Only through the combined actions of everyone can we stop the destruction of this species that is one of the top predators in our seas. Do your part. Read and learn about what is going on. Talk to others. Blog about it. Ask your friends - yes, your Asian friends and in fact everyone - whether they frequent restaurants where this "delicacy" is served. Use your social might to make this unacceptable and tell them why it is. Simply boycotting a restaurant is not going to help, you have to make the activity of eating shark-fin soup socially unacceptable, here and everywhere else.

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Planet Earth and What We're Doing - And How To Fix It

Planet Earth

I created the "Planet Earth" topic because I just finished reading an article from Wired Planet called "Terraforming Earth: How to Wreck a Planet in 3,000 Years (Part 1)"

Hancock Wildlife Foundation is built upon the work of David Hancock, whom I've known for over 25 years now. We've spent long hours talking about our views on what man is doing to this planet and we come at the topic from two very different backgrounds and initially with two very different points of view.

Without putting words in David's mouth, I think I can characterize him as part of the solution instead of part of the problem - at least as much as possible within the limits of also being able to affect real change in as many people as he can. He might have been like some and gone "off grid" to live in isolation but "environmentally friendly" - but no, he's done other things and helped in other ways.

David early on was close to the birds he's most known for his teaching and researching about. He's watched the demise of species in many areas and participated in the re-introduction of them from stocks he's caught and raised personally. He believes in zero population growth as being fundamental to fixing the most basic problems of our planet - that of man's continued expansion at the peril of the other inhabitants of the planet; the fish, birds, mammals, insects etc. Nothing but the complete halt in population growth will make enough difference in the long term to save our planet from devastating consequences of the things we are doing to it. 

I, on the other hand, come from a background of the typical middle-class North American family of the mid to late 20th century: 2.5 children per family (I'm one of 3 brothers and I have 2 sons myself now) and always striving to have bigger and better things to play with. I have a technical bent and read a lot of science fiction. Maybe I've been biased to ignore the planet's plight by my perception that science can either solve the immediate problem or provide a long-term solution in the form of new planets we can expand to as we out-grow this one.

The problem is, no scientific solution is going to happen soon enough.

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Oil spill hits pelicans hard

Planet Earth

By Allen Johnson, AFP June 6, 2010 7:01 AM

Grand Isle, Louisiana, June 5, 2010 (AFP) - The morning after President Barack Obama’s visit to Grand Isle, a wildlife rescue boat slipped past an orange boom at nearby Queen Bess Island, home to thousands of rare brown pelicans and now under attack from a oil spill.

The rookery "is the worst-hit area in the state in terms of wildlife," Michael Carloss, a state biologist said Saturday. "We don’t know about marine life yet because we don’t know how much of the oil is underwater."


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'Noise pollution' threatens fish

Planet Earth
By Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News
Cichlid fish
Sound matters to cichlids

Fish are being threatened by rising levels of man-made noise pollution.

So say scientists who have reviewed the impact on fish species around the world of noises made by oil and gas rigs, ships, boats and sonar.

Rather than live in a silent world, most fish hear well and sound plays an active part in their lives, they say.

Increasing noise levels may therefore severely affect the distribution of fish, and their ability to reproduce, communicate and avoid predators.

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The Shrunken Sea

Planet Earth

The Aral Sea Is Disappearing—and With It, the Identity of a Nation

By Jack Shenker



Abandoned fishing ships near the former shoreline of the Aral Sea.
© Photos: Jason Larkin

No one knows exactly how many have left Karakalpakstan, a former Soviet Republic nestled deep within the ruler-straight lines and flamboyant squiggles that make up the map of Central Asia, now under the custody of Uzbekistan. Official figures put it at over 50,000 in the last 10 years alone—roughly 10% of the population—and this figure doesn’t include the people inside smugglers’ vans, the human cargo who pay around $500 each to obtain falsified passports from government officials before slipping out under the radar of the authorities, voyaging towards Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan in search of a new life. But although the numbers remain disputed, the reasons for the exodus are clear. Karakalpakstan is the site of what scientists have called the largest man-made ecological disaster of the 20th century, a climate catastrophe so severe that it has devastated the economy, health and community fabric of an entire society. Locals simply know it as the Aral Ten’iz—a sea which fled its shores ...

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The Shrunken Sea


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