Episode 16 – 23 August Weird facts about sharks and local environmental news
Robben Island….not the first place I think of as a hot-spot for biodiversity or wildlife, and I have to admit, I didn’t even know about the thriving population of fallow deer that live there! Ok so they’re not indigenous, but these deer have been successfully populating the island to the point where Island Managers are starting to talk about the need to cull them. And we all know whenever “culling” is suggested as a solution, it tends to get people hot under the collar, so the environmental manager of the Robben Island Museum has made it clear that they are only in the early stages of the plan and intend to first speak to all environmental institutions for feedback and advice. For example, the local SPCA will continue to have access to the island.
Just to give you a little bit of an overview, in 2009, about 220 fallow deer were culled by hunters because of the damage they were causing – basically too many deer and not enough food – with the population size far beyond the carrying capacity of the site. But in 2010 the island managers allowed animal welfare group Four Paws to take a group of 52 deer from the island to a beautiful sanctuary in the Free State, and it was reported that there were then just 30 of these animals left on the island. But since 2009 the numbers climbed again and it’s estimated that the deer population is back to a 150 individuals. Interestingly Deer are not the only animals that have been culled on Robben Island. At one stage, there were an estimated 25 000 feral rabbits and they were also doing major environmental damage, thousands were culled and some of the meat was even processed and sold.
But I’ll keep you updated on the authority’s decision and how the “deer” challenge develops.
Weird facts about sharks
August is “Shark Week” on The Discovery Channel and this year they featured a two-hour piece devoted to Megladon, a prehistoric giant shark that grew up to 60 feet (18 meters) long and had jaws powerful enough to crush an car. Exciting TV, except that the show suggested these animals still exist, which is just not true. A poll from Discovery Channel suggests that up to 70 percent of the audience may now think that Megalodon is not extinct! Not good for a Channel that’s supposed to be dedicated to furthering our knowledge of the natural world!
And it’s crazy because there are tons of weird and completely true facts about sharks that are way more interesting than, well, fiction.
For starters – sharks don’t get rotten teeth!
Shark teeth are covered in fluoride, which makes them cavity-resistant. One 2012 study found that sharks’ enamel is made up of a chemical which is resistant to acid produced by bacteria. This, and the fact that most sharks replace their teeth continuously throughout their lives, means that sharks have excellent dental health.
The cookiecutter shark takes ice-cream-scoop-shaped bites out of other sharks, including great whites, even though Great White’s are much bigger than them. They also have been known to bite holes in cables and other materials used by U.S. Navy submarines. So much so that the navy switched to using a fiberglass, bite-proof coating on it’s equipment.
The skin of a female shark is much thicker than that of a male because males bite females during mating!
The Greenland shark gets the world record for being the slowest-moving fish ever recorded.
And last but not least, Lantern sharks can glow to “hide” themselves in the deep ocean. They emit the same amount of light as that which is filtering down from above and this way, they don’t look like a dark “shadow” moving in the water. Very clever!
Secrets about Fresh Produce You Did Not Know
Ethylene is a natural hormone which causes fresh produce to ripen. It’s the reason those soggy carrots in the crisper drawer in the fridge probably need to be thrown out right about now!
Many households face trouble when it comes to storing and using fresh produce. Fresh produce doesn’t have a long shelf life especially when the temperatures in the storage environment are not controlled well. And Ethylene is potent hormones that can kick start the ripening process even if present in the strength of 1 part in a million parts of air. Let’s take fruit. Ripening is a completely natural process but it’s good to remember that once fruit starts to ripen it degrades physically and begins to lose it’s nutritional content and that’s what we’re after. So the only way to keep fruit fresh for long is to ensure that you keep the ethylene levels in the storage environment low or negligible.
There is a misconception that fresh produce does not spoil in the refrigerator. You must remember that Ethylene is continuously released by fresh produce even inside the refrigerator and if you do not employ the use of good domestic post harvest technology
you will realize that all your fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator begin to spoil in time. There are many devices available for domestic purposes and they work by absorbing all the ethylene from the storage environment so your produce does not get damaged in any way.
Now I’m not saying we all have to run out and buy these new Ethylene absorbers – we’re lucky to have fridges in the 1st world – which have hugely increased our ability to eat lovely fresh food on a regular basis– but I find it interesting and hopefully you do to! Read more….
Kangaroo keeps missing boy warm
You might have heard about this delightful little story, but I still wanted to share it with you. Die Burger reported that Simon Kruger wandered away from a family picnic at a Conservation Park, near Adelaide, Australia one Saturday lunchtime. A search involving 40 people and two rescue helicopters was then launched, and continued through the night. Simon was wearing only a fleecy and track-suit pants. But luckily he was spotted by a helicopter nearly 24 hours later, and winched back to safety.
When he was rescued, Simon told his father: “Dad, I’m okay. I slept under a tree and there were kangaroos.” His father, Etienne Kruger, told Australia’s 7 News that Simon was picking flowers for his mother when the kangaroo approached him. “A kangaroo came closer to him and ate the flowers he’d picked for his Mom from him, and the kangaroo fell asleep next to him. I think God sent a kangaroo to keep him warm.” Simon’s mother, Linda Kruger, said she believes it’s a miracle. “When I smell his jacket, it’s kangaroo – bush and kangaroo,” she said.
Just goes to show that the bond between human and animal is sometimes more significant than meets the eye!
Is culling a solution?
And remember, take care of the earth and she will take care of you!