26 November 2011

The Salmon have come..... and gone

Four weeks ago, the fish were just starting the annual spawning run into the Goldstream River, near Victoria, in British Columbia. There had been concerns about a fuel spill into the river during the summer; some small absorbing booms were stretched across the surface for several months. The 2010 run was also much smaller than expected, so what could one anticipate for this year.

During the last month, several thousand fish have made their way upstream. They have joined into mating pairs, dug out their small trench in the gravel, and have laid their eggs and fertilized with milt... but then comes the ultimate price! The skin of the fish begins to discolour, the flesh becomes inedible, to humans that is, and the fish slowly die.

Some are washed downstream to be eaten by the waiting bald eagles, but many wash up on the river bank to be eaten by seagulls. At night and early morning, mink and bear arrive at the river to feed but the human presence during daylight hours tend to keep these animals hidden in the underbrush
This small river is just one of many on the coast and fortunately it is in a dedicated wilderness park. Its proximity to a city attracts thousands of visitors during the fall season but with park rangers working on river bank protection and other environmental issues, the wilderness nature of the river has been successfully maintained.

15 November 2011

Rhino poaching in South Africa

The poaching of both White and Black Rhinocerous (Ceratotherium simum and Diceros bicornis) which are critically endangered in South Africa is rampant and to draw the attention of the South African government to the plight of the rhino the various groups trying to protect the rhino have taken the unusual step of defacing bank notes. The defacing of bank notes in any way is illegal but the eco-activists are using red pens to mark the horns of the rhino on the ten rand note. It is hoped that citizens will also become aware of what is happening and that the government will also take the matter more seriously. A total of 361 Rhinos have already been killed this year!

7 November 2011


My first realization that adults also suffer severe emotional stress and trauma came when I was about 7 years old. The incident is still vivid in my mind. A man came out of a bottle store in Stellenbosch and dropped his bottle of wine onto the dusty sidewalk and all that was left were a few shards of glass and a vinegary smell in the air. He sat down on the sidewalk and cried.

Last time I went into a bottle store (what a euphemism!) I bought a random bottle of wine and just took it home. When we opened it we discovered the bottle was made of plastic. Reading the label revealed that the plastic was re-cycled and supposedly of great benefit to the environment. To be honest I don’t know if this is good or bad and I don’t know how to prove whether it is more environmentally friendly than glass.

I decided to photograph the bottle for my green photo agency. Drinking the wine and driving a knife through the bottle was ok (although I realise I must hide the knives when I drink) but creating a good image with the wine in me was not that easy. I decided to empty a fresh bottle and use it the next day to do the photography. The bottle stayed in the kitchen for a couple of weeks with a knife stuck into it. How do you show a bottle is made of plastic? I never got past the knife in bottle idea.

I was not inspired when it came to the picture either and stuck with the clich├ęd sundowner idea. As I was unsure of what I was trying to illustrate the picture is rather stark too.

Wine fanciers need not worry as the wine was quite palatable. I really don’t know of the aging potential of the red as the bottles never really survive for any length of time around me. Maybe if you are clumsy, going hiking or get violent when you drink the plastic bottle is lighter and will cause less damage.

When I go to the beach I find hundreds of plastic bottles along the high tide mark. If I look on the rocks or beach I will find shards of glass and a few unbroken bottles. Maybe I would rather step onto a plastic wine bottle than some glass. Some glass bottles and some plastics are re-cycled. Perhaps I should just admit that I don’t know whether plastic bottles are good or perhaps better than glass. Maybe we should just improve our re-cycling and ensure that both the plastic and glass bottles end up in the correct re-cycling bin.

1 November 2011

Beach Clean up Spitsbergen

These tourists in Spitsbergen are cleaning up the beaches after having walked around the area. A helicopter comes along on a regular basis to pick up the nets, plastic etc.  Wouldn't it be great if this happened globally in the cruising industry?