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N. Sivasothi,
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Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore. Since 1998 with origins from OneList.

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Mon 10 May 2004

Northern snakehead Channa argus reappears in Maryland?

Category : envt

With an enthusiastic fluorish (They're back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), US colleagues of Raffles Museum's Peter Ng sent him this article about the capture of a 19-inch, 4-year old snakehead Channa argus in Maryland.

Read "A Creepy Catch of The Day". By David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 29 April 2004.

The attention over the appearance of snakeheads in a few US states between 2000 and 2002. Was alarming. While most accounts refer to C. argus, amongst the 2002 Maryland catch was the aggressive Channa micropeltes. To eradicate the fish then, the the lake was poisoned with rotenone, native fish species were reintroduced and snakehead import to the US banned. Phew!

The idea that some snakehead species are highly predatory, breathe out of water, and appear to be able to travel overland, was and still is a fisheries nightmare. This resulted in U.S. Geological Survey Circular No. 1251, "Snakeheads (Pisces, Channidae): A Biological Synopsis and Risk Assessment." You can download all 53MB of it or read it off the web. It contains some gems, even a 1959 cartoon!

The angler who caught the fish said it 'had the head of snake and the teeth of a shark'. News accounts had also referred to the fish as 'Frankenfish'. You can read more and up to date reports in the Baltmore Sun. And the USGS keeps track.

Posted at 5:12PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Mon 10 May 2004

Green chef of China

Category : internet

'Zhang Xingguo, a cook in north-east China was sacked 12 times in the past eight years for refusing to cook rare wild animals. He was awarded the "green chef" award by the China Wildlife Conservation Association last week.'

China Radio International has the intriguing and somewhat poetic story of Zhang Xingguo. Here are excerpts:

'He nursed a turtle dove with broken wings to recovery when he was 8 years old. The recovered bird, returned to nest permanently nearby and in four years, became a family of several dozen. The birds would joyfully perch on his arms and shoulders.'

'When he returned to his home town as a master chef in 1995, he discovered the "chirping of birds was heard no more and the fish had almost disappeared from the rivers". Wildlife dining had become extremely popular.' These days civet cats, raccoons, badgers, weasels, baby deer, cats and dogs are culinary staples in China.'

'Zhang decided not to cook wildlife dishes and began struggling for a living. He was even beaten up by one restaurant manager.

On 22 December 2003, over a hundred local chefs headed by Zhang signed their names on a declaration in Calabash Island City (Huludao), Liaoning Province, vowing not to cook wildlife throughout their career as a chef. Sars had by now added to to their cause.'

'At a ceremony in Beijing this week, the China Wildlife Conservation Association launched a campaign to win the signatures of over 1 million chefs against cooking wild animals by 2008.'

Other sources: ABC news online (AFP), ABC Nature News

Posted at 10:35AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Mon 10 May 2004

Finding solutions to marine trash - teachers have a go in 15 mins

Category : marine

Just last year more than 2,000 participants removed more than 6 tonnes, some 90% of which plastic, and 60% from land-based sources. But what next? How do we combat the problem at the source?

In NTU LT 19 right now, at the Seashore LIfe Workshop, participants teachers are cracking their heads to figure out for solutions to this marine trash problem we see on our shores. In just 15 minutes! [2.20pm]

Update - Back in NUS, grabbing a bite in the canteen. After that session, I uploaded their ideas while still in NTU's LT19. I did partly that to illustrate how we could share ideas quickly, with little fuss, as I don't see many seashore life or coastal cleanup webpages from Singapore. Yet I encounter lots of interesting ideas during such workshops or when project groups approach me. Pity not to share.

Interestingly, recipients of National Science Foundation grants in the US have to put up webpages such as this one on metazoan parasites of Bornean Sharks and Rays.

After my talk, Juria Chay shared with us thoughts of her Woodlands Ring primary school students from the Seashore LIfe Programme experience - she is sending me her powerpoint later, and I'll add that to web. Inspiring words from some young students!

Posted at 8:47AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news