Weekly Press Review – 16 April 2018

Two South African universities have been selected to form part of an international scientific expedition aiming to explore one of the coldest and most remote locations in the Antarctic for two months.

According to the press the team will comprise of glaciologists, marine geologists, marine biologists, marine biogeochemists, oceanographers and marine archaeologists. The team also comprises members of the UK’s Nekton Foundation and the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

The team will be using autonomous underwater vehicles to survey the seafloor below 3,000 metres and study cavities on the underside of the ice shelf.

UCT’s Professor Isabelle Ansorge said, “Participating in the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 will give South African researchers an unprecedented opportunity to investigate and explore one of the most remote and least-studied places on our planet, and to collaborate with international research colleagues across different disciplines.”

Oceana shares fell 0.24 percent on the JSE this week. According to the press this was despite the company reporting that it expected its basic earnings a share for the six months to March to increase by 55 percent and 65 percent.

The company attributed the increase in earnings to the release of $13 million deferred taxation in Daybrook, following the reduction in the federal corporate tax rate in the US from 35 percent to 21 percent.

According to the press, the H5N8 bird flu virus is threatening the lives of protected African penguins at Boulders beach.   State veterinarian Dr Laura Roberts says that 18 penguins have already succumbed to the disease.

“All possible measures are in place to prevent the spreading of the virus through human interaction. These are wild birds so we cannot control the natural spreading of the virus,” said Dr Roberts.

This week the fate of our plastic infested oceans has once again made headlines with more frightening statistics.

Around 12.2 million tons of plastic enters oceans annually. This plastic is ingested by dozens of species of marine mammals and birds and degrades vital habitats. Million of birds, sea mammals and turtles die each year from ingesting this plastic.  Countering this epidemic of ocean pollution will require big, bold international actions by governments and small, personal actions by citizens. And both need to happen now!

The world’s rarest turtle has been discovered in Vietnam.

According to the press the discovery of a single Yangtze giant soft turtle, living in a lake outside Hanoi, has been confirmed, bring the total number of globally known population for this species to just four.

“This finding brings new hope, with the possibility of bringing wild animals together in a controlled environment for captive breeding,” said Timothy McCormack of the Turtle Survival Alliance, Asian Turtle Programme (ATP).

The HMS Bullfrog, which survived attacks by both the Nazis and the Japanese during World War 2, is headed for the scrap yard unless it finds new ownership.

According to the press, the 75-year-old, 2,000 ton-museum ship, now named the Cable Restorer, has been berthed in Simon’s Town for 24 years.

The man at the helm, former Simon’s Town mayor Harry Dilley, has been instructed to dispose of the vessel.

Dilley said that he is running out of options to save the vessel. He has maintained the her for over a quarter of a century. In that time she has served as a restaurant, a wedding venue, a film set and a floating dormitory for maritime college pupils.

Not only is the vessel costly to maintain, but it is also unclear how long the navy will host it inside the military base.

“We do not have a good record with this kind of thing,” said Brian Ingpen, maritime educator and co-founder of the Lawhill Maritime Centre.  “To my thinking it would be wonderful if we could preserve her, but it costs a lot of money.”

Veteran Hout Bay operator Ken Evans believes that the vessel has both commercial and developmental potential.

“It is a difficult one. You actually need a bunch of philanthropists to keep it alive,” he said.

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Weekly Press Review – 9 September 2016

The declining numbers of the African penguin have once again made headlines. According to the press, the hardest hit seem to be the young penguins on the west coast where declining fish stocks have resulted in severe food shortages for the penguins in the area.

Since 2004 penguin numbers in the area have declined by a staggering 90 percent says Dr Richard Sherley of the University of Exeter.   Over the last three years Sherley and a group of researchers have been working on a research project focusing on the eating patterns of the African penguin.

Most penguins used the west and south coasts as their main feeding ground, but there is simply no longer food available for these young birds along that particular stretch of coastline.

“Historically this area was full of fish, so one can understand why they moved to this region, but they have been unable to adapt to the changes,” said Sherley.

Unless drastic changes are made to fishing methods in the area, and all along the South African coast, the African penguin population is simply not sustainable.

South African Paralympic swimmer Achmat Hassiem has made headlines this week saying that he is so grateful to the great white shark that bit off half his right leg, adding that he is prepared to devote the rest of his life to protecting these endangered animals.

“I was recently made a global marine guardian by the UN. My forte is sharks – who better to protect them than me? The shark has given me so many opportunities, opportunities to represent my country, to change the world.

“I have become a shark advocate because it is my way of thanking her for giving me everything I have achieved today and it is my way of thinking I am a hero of the world, hence the nickname, Shark Boy,” said Hassiem.