25 June 2010

Whaling - back on the agenda

As I write, the delegates of the IWC (International Whaling Commission ) are behind closed doors discussing the future of whaling; specifically whether Japan should be allowed to carry out small-scale commercial whaling. Not surprisingly, this has divided delegates and there have been numerous meetings prior to this annual meeting to thrash out the terms. Japan has offered the tempting concession of no whaling in the Southern Ocean which has put New Zealand in the firing line. New Zealand may opt for this concession in exchange for limited whaling, so has been accused of selling out.

One matter which has inflammed the meeting is the suggestion that the endangered fin whale (see above)  may be included in Japan's commercial quota.  These magnificant animals ~ the second largest animal  in the world ~ are often nicknmaed the greyhound of the sea because of their speed.  Their speed saved them from whaling during the 19th century but as whaling boats got faster, the whalers turned their attention to the fin whale, decimating the population by 70 % between 1904 and 1979. Despite protection from the moratorium on commercial whaling their numbers have been slow to recover and  in 1996 its status was moved from vulnerable to endangered.

Other matters have been discussed this week and the IWC received reports regarding the status of several whale populations. While some populations of humpback, southern right and blue whales in the Southern hemisphere were increasing, there was still concerns regarding the survival of the western North Pacific gray whale with just 130 individuals and the western North Atlantic right whale with 300 individuals.For these populations, anthropogenic mortality was the biggest killer, including collisions with shipping and entanglement in nets.

This entangled sperm whale was fortunate that there were divers nearby and it was successfully dis-entangled and swam away unharmed.

9 June 2010

World Oceans Day

With all the doom and gloom surrounding the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, I thought I'd celebrate World Oceans Day with some beautiful images of oceans and the animals and plants that live within them. Enjoy......

First one of my favourite images of a pair of clown anemone fish amongst the tentacles of its host anemone. Second, a shoal of pyramid butterfly fish on a coral reef.

An unusual view of a booby viewed from below, as it dives into the water to catch fish.                           

Next another of my favourite animals, the weird-looking nautilus. This is a cephalopod, a relative of the squid and octopus, with a spiral chambered shell. Usually seen in deep water.

Below is an 'in-your-face' view of a green turtle, photographed near Hawaii.

Another unusual viewpoint, this time a saltwater crocodile on the seabed off the coast of Australia.

This aerial shows Seventy Islands, Palua. These waters have been made into a conservation area where marine animals such as sharks are protected.

And to finish a sunset with an orca. OK, a bit of digital enhancement but an image popular with our clients.

Thank you to Reinhard Dirscherl and David Fleetham (sunset) for supplying the library with these fabulous images.

2 June 2010


I make a living from photography and writing for magazines but I must admit that the World Cup has not aroused any great images or inspired outbursts of writing. The start is only a few days away and people are either very excited or very cynical. I am still slowly discovering what it might mean and what it means.

We have in a city that has many people living under the breadline and in shacks a beautiful stadium. Last week someone described it as a giant lemon meringue and it is a clever and nice name if you know what a lemon meringue is (There is a picture of it a few blogs back if you are curious to see it). A lot could have been done with the money spent on building the giant meringue.

But it is mostly all good! Many of the road signs warning of pot holes have become redundant and we in Port Elizabeth have new roads, a bus rapid transport system and a new hotel or two. The greatest impact is however on the people; they are smiling and are excited. The national flag has appeared on many cars and it looks fascinating. They even have what the call football socks; little material socks in the colour of the national flag that fits over the rear-view mirrors of cars. It looks cool, and guess what, you cannot buy little national flags or national socks as they are sold out everywhere. The world cup has done something for the economy before it even got here and the Garments and Clothing Makers and Allied Workers Trade Union must have something to smile about for a change. The Taxi Drivers Union does not approve of the new bus transport system and there are a few strikes pending. I think the actual start of the World Cup will cause most strikes and pending strikes to disappear.

The World Cup got to me so much that I even went to photograph a football match, maybe just to ensure that I am in touch with the game, and that I can take the place of one of the many international photographers on the touchline should one suddenly become injured. I am very impressed with the dramatic way in which international football players become injured and am quite sure that international photographers have the same problems. I have just read in a newspaper that one of the teams insists on furniture with rounded edges in order to prevent possible injuries. If a photographer hurts his wrist on a too sharp unrounded door handle I am ready to take over his or her place on the touchline.

The game I went to wasn’t a top level match and I laughed a bit too much to take the photography seriously – one of the goalkeepers got red-carded for tackling an opposing player. I did however see something that made my green heart beat faster, behind the goals on the roof of a university residence was a solar powered water heater. At least the goalie could have a hot shower. What is great is that the residence belongs to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and they attract students from all corners of the country. It will teach someone from a rural area where this kind of thing is not found something about alternate energy and a different way of heating water. I wonder if the new stadiums have solar heated water.

If you are coming to South Africa enjoy the visit and if you need a solar heated shower feel free to contact me. I know where one is in Port Elizabeth. I am still looking forward to photographing and writing about anything about the World Cup that arouses my interest.