Big Spill

While BP’s All But Done With It,
Wildlife in the Gulf’s Still Reeling

Two years ago today, the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig operated by subcontractors working for BP Inc. in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded, caught fire and killed eleven people, in what became the U.S.’s biggest environmental disaster. It took 87 days for the giant British concern to cap the well, after an estimated five million barrels of oil had already spilled into once pristine gulf waters.
BP was forced to set aside a $20 billion fund to cover the cleanup efforts, which were undertaken along with U.S.’s environmental agencies and local organizations, and pay for reparations. Such amount’s still to be fully spent and legal battles still rage over who should pay what and to whom.
It may take years before we know for sure the true extent of the damage to wildlife, fisheries and the ecosystem the spill has caused. But disturbing reports about deformed shrimp and lung-damaged dolphins are no comfort for those who’ve been fighting for years against the use of fossil fuels, exactly to prevent what seems now statistically inevitable: another ecological disaster.
It won’t be easy. And it’s not just because BP, despite settling billions of dollars of claims from the spill, has again asked a U.S. judge for yet another delay to resolve remaining disputes. But energy policies in the U.S. and pretty much every other big western economy are still in large part controlled by the oil and gas industry.
Particularly in the U.S., such fight to end our oil dependency has been disheartening, and the Obama administration’s done less than expected supporting research of alternative energy sources. On the contrary, Continue reading

Urge & Mystery

To Pee or Not to Spend &
a Whale Far From the Sea

Sometimes it’s fun to pick and choose and put together far out news stories, even when they have nothing to do with each other. It’s all in the interest of our readers, of course, and also because we have absolutely run out of related news to report.
In fact, Colltales does have a soft spot for the odd, the weird and the crazily abnormal, which often go unnoticed in our daily grind. So grab a cup of coffee and jump-start your day with another smart conversation piece to impress your friends over the weekend.
INHIBITED RESEARCH
One of the winning entries of this year’s Ig Nobel Prize Awards was a study on the relationship between the urge to urinate and the ability to make sound financial decisions. Come again?
You heard it right: a multi-disciplinary team of scientists actually drank an excessive amount of liquids to gauge issues of self-control in relation to cognitive activities. What’s surprising is that what they concluded most likely was not what you’d expect.
The paper, Inhibitory Spillover: Increased Urination Urgency Facilitates Impulse Control in Unrelated Domains, was the result of obviously-arduous efforts by Drs. Mirjam Tuk, Peter Snyder and Paul Maruff, among many others, to prove the, Continue reading

Keep it Down

Mass Squid Stranding May Help
Understanding of Whale Deaths

Despite extensive research, and the suspicion that noise pollution has a lot to do with it, the reason why whales, dolphins and other marine species beach themselves to death remain elusive.
The odd phenomenon, which has been recorded since Aristotle times, has been attributed to a number of causes, from increased human activity, to shifts in deep-sea currents to geological changes in the seabed. But none of them has been considered a determining factor.
The picture is clearer when it comes to squids, though. Recent experiments have proven that noise does affect the physiology of cephalopods and in many cases, lead them to beaching.
After thousands of squid washed up along the shores of Spain, in 2001 and 2003, Continue reading

No One Can Hear

The Loneliest Whale in the
Ocean Can Not Find a Mate

Her voice was first heard in 1989. Oceanographers have been following her songs for two decades. It all indicates that she’s a baleen whale, a subspecies that includes the great Blue, the Fin and the Humpback whales. But there’s something very sad about this creature.
Unlike any other in the ocean, she (or he, no one knows its gender) sings at a 51.75Hz frequency, way above the 12 to 25Hz range of every other whale. It’s a frequency her kind can’t Continue reading

Whale Blood

Iceland Disregards Ban,
Steps Up Illegal Whaling

Word by word, you could have read this headline in the 1970s and the 1980s: Commercial Whaling Will Drive Whales to Extinction. Thirty years have passed and the story hasn’t changed much. Despite an official, global, U.N.-sanctioned ban on whaling first established in 1986, the practice of hunting, killing and profiting from the slaughtering of whales continues as bloody and senseless as ever.
Iceland now, as then, leads the nations breaking the law (yes, Continue reading

Whale Watch

New Measures May Be Needed
to Save Whales From Extinction

Lobbying to lift the whale hunting ban was defeated.
So why whales and dolphins continue to be slaughtered
and what else can be done to stop the killings? (*)

Despite a decision by the International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting, which ended Friday in Agadir, Morocco, not to lift the 24-year hunting ban on whales, as global commercial fisheries and dubious scientific concerns were lobbying for, in reality, not much has been accomplished to protect these majestic creatures. On the contrary, a lot still remain in place that is further depleting their worldwide populations.
Beyond the barbaric resolution allowing Greenland’s indigenous Continue reading