Sunday, December 18, 2005

makes me upset...

Polar bears drown as ice shelf melts
The Sunday Times December 18, 2005
Will Iredale

SCIENTISTS have for the first time found evidence that polar bears are drowning because climate change is melting the Arctic ice shelf.

The researchers were startled to find bears having to swim up to 60 miles across open sea to find food. They are being forced into the long voyages because the ice floes from which they feed are melting, becoming smaller and drifting farther apart.

Although polar bears are strong swimmers, they are adapted for swimming close to the shore. Their sea journeys leave them them vulnerable to exhaustion, hypothermia or being swamped by waves.

According to the new research, four bear carcases were found floating in one month in a single patch of sea off the north coast of Alaska, where average summer temperatures have increased by 2-3C degrees since 1950s.

The scientists believe such drownings are becoming widespread across the Arctic, an inevitable consequence of the doubling in the past 20 years of the proportion of polar bears having to swim in open seas.

“Mortalities due to offshore swimming may be a relatively important and unaccounted source of natural mortality given the energetic demands placed on individual bears engaged in long-distance swimming,” says the research led by Dr Charles Monnett, marine ecologist at the American government’s Minerals Management Service. “Drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice continues.”

The research, presented to a conference on marine mammals in San Diego, California, last week, comes amid evidence of a decline in numbers of the 22,000 polar bears that live in about 20 sites across the Arctic circle.

In Hudson Bay, Canada, the site of the most southerly polar bears, a study by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the Canadian Wildlife Service to be published next year will show the population fell 22% from 1,194 in 1987 to 935 last year.

New evidence from field researchers working for the World Wildlife Fund in Yakutia, on the northeast coast of Russia, has also shown the region’s first evidence of cannibalism among bears competing for food supplies.

Polar bears live on ice all year round and use it as a platform from which to hunt food and rear their young. They hunt near the edge, where the ice is thinnest, catching seals when they make holes in the ice to breath. They typically eat one seal every four or five days and a single bear can consume 100lb of blubber at one sitting.

As the ice pack retreats north in the summer between June and October, the bears must travel between ice floes to continue hunting in areas such as the shallow water of the continental shelf off the Alaskan coast — one of the most food-rich areas in the Arctic.

However, last summer the ice cap receded about 200 miles further north than the average of two decades ago, forcing the bears to undertake far longer voyages between floes.

“We know short swims up to 15 miles are no problem, and we know that one or two may have swum up to 100 miles. But that is the extent of their ability, and if they are trying to make such a long swim and they encounter rough seas they could get into trouble,” said Steven Amstrup, a research wildlife biologist with the USGS.

The new study, carried out in part of the Beaufort Sea, shows that between 1986 and 2005 just 4% of the bears spotted off the north coast of Alaska were swimming in open waters. Not a single drowning had been documented in the area.

However, last September, when the ice cap had retreated a record 160 miles north of Alaska, 51 bears were spotted, of which 20% were seen in the open sea, swimming as far as 60 miles off shore.

The researchers returned to the vicinity a few days later after a fierce storm and found four dead bears floating in the water. “We estimate that of the order of 40 bears may have been swimming and that many of those probably drowned as a result of rough seas caused by high winds,” said the report.

In their search for food, polar bears are also having to roam further south, rummaging in the dustbins of Canadian homes. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the explorer who has been to the North Pole seven times, said he had noticed a deterioration in the bears’ ice habitat since his first expedition in 1975.

“Each year there was more water than the time before,” he said. “We used amphibious sledges for the first time in 1986.”

His last expedition was in 2002, when he fell through the ice and lost some of his fingers to frostbite.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

did you cry?

Saw it on opening day. I cried buckets

this movie is a must watch.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Racial riots in Sydney...

By Les Kennedy, Damien Murphy, Malcolm Brown and Tim Colquhoun
December 12, 2005

"RACIAL violence erupted in several Sydney suburbs last night in retaliation for a rampage by thousands of young residents through Cronulla that turned the seaside suburb into a battlefield."

i love australia having spent some time there. i just feel that sometimes the australians there can be a bit over the top... picking on the wrong issues (eg the death penalty thingy - so two-faced. It is ok to sentence the Bali bombers to death and not a drug trafficker?) and people.

While i was there, one of my friend, a second-generation australian of french descent was beaten up really badly by a gang of thugs cos of his ancestry. And they had targetted him... it wasn't a random attack.. he got amubshed near his house. This was during the time when france was doing some nuclear testing in the pacific. By beating up a fellow australian just cos his parents were from france.. what were they trying to prove?

And on and off... stuff like house mate ganna pelted with eggs... glass beer bottles.. well don't know if that was racially motivated or that cos she was a random target.

Sometimes Australians can be the nicest and friendiest people.. but then there are those like this..

just sad that people can spoil such a beautiful country.

BTW.. i really like the Cronulla Sharks. Go Mat Rogers! kekeke... always enjoyed watching him play for the sharks.. sigh.. i miss going for games in winter.. sitting on the darn cold metal benches.. wearing woolly hats and gloves.. drinking beer and eating a hot dog and yelling "wanker" at the top of my voice at every opportunity.

i'm re-reading this..

Memoirs of a Geisha

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Library Pledge

Got this from a contact who claims that her friend is a library fiend.
It is darn hilarious... Can we get all new and existing library members to read the pledge and sign it in blood??




When you receive this chain e-book, kindly memorise
the following pledge and recite it every morning after
you brush your teeth, and once before going to bed.


I, a good member of the library, promise to stick to
the terms and conditions of the library membership,
kindly granted to me by the highest, most knowing,
most literate of all organisations - the LIBRARY.

I promise to never extend my library borrowing period,
and to never accumulate fines. When visiting the
library, I promise to wear soft-soled shoes, to never
disturb other members of the borrowing public, and to
switch off my handphone and to knock the heads of
random members of the public if they do not do the

I promise to lobby for the rights of books to be
wrapped in traditional plastic, measured and handcut
by librarians, and not cheap slip-on covers leftover
from the clearance sales of MPH in 1980.

I promise to not fold pages, or damage book corners,
or to pick my nose when reading books, or to read my
library books in the toilet, thereby encouraging the
population of silverfish.

I promise to undertake the national service required
of me to prevent the terror of silverfish and moths
and other insects detrimental to the health of the
precious library books.

Above all, I promise to never visit bookstores which
undermine the membership, the prestige and glamour of

I promise to always wash my hands and sterilise my
hands before touching any library books or
audio-visual materials.

With my hand over my heart, I pledge that I will give
of my best to the library and be a library
regulations-abiding member of the borrowing public!