23 October 2008

Halloween - Spoooky for Australian Children

WOOHOO! - It's Halloween again. Let's see what spine-chilling, scary and weird spook lurks in the closet this season.

It has been found that educated and mature parents, capable of long-term thinking/planning produce healthier and smarter kids "Children with highly educated parents, and from families with two working parents, display higher cognitive ability and appear to have fewer behaviour problems." Depressed and immature parents are probably not ideal carers.

The 'One minute a day-dad' is probably steering his attention towards electronic interactivity, just as the mother/carers are not investing in interaction with the child.

Not learning to focus in a social setting could lead to 'Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder' (ADHD). “Drugging unruly children is a method of social control “ in Australia and the U.S. especially. Being under six years old for 'the pharmacological solution' seems no barrier. Later, cognition can be chemically enhanced and psychotropic medication usage becomes prevalent for young adults.

Drinking as a means of self-medication” is usually adopted in the parental milieu and might be advanced into "binge drinking" or a “Culture of Extreme Drinking” and self-abuse.

The 'home' environment is a dangerous place: No, not spooky bats, but family dogs maul helpless children to death (here, here, here & etc) or transfer their diseases (image). Nothing is done. Alone in deep water (pools) is also a high risk environment(2 yo, 15 mo, 2 yo). Just mower injuries are considerable.The media is awash daily of violent crimes committed by the 'hand of the carer' against helpless infants, toddlers and children. In 2003 "almost 3,500 children under the age of 15 die from maltreatment (physical abuse and neglect) every year in the industrialized world." (UNICEF 2003, pdf) Nothing much seems to change.

Scaffolding society does not seem to lend much support either, in fact the human balance sheet is sliding into that of a 'developing' country: Australia "continues to accept mediocrity for our young people" at a time when we top the rankings of some global prosperity indices....I'm disappointed in the way Australia has become smug about being top of the pops in wealth and sport, but for the most important element for the future of the country, our children, we're way behind the eight ball," says Professor Stanley.

Adults being addicted to CO2 pumping private mobility reduce the quality of urban air. "There are almost three times more asthma-related deaths in Australia than in Europe" Having the highest asthma rates in the world (pdf), kids are choking. Foetuses are shrinking and harmed, children have reduced cognitive abilities from their externalities. Scientists are urging the government to reduce emissions, to not take that 'sky dome' covering the Earth from very harmful rays away. UV rays increase skin cancers and will sizzle the DNA.

A crowded, hot, water-less and polluted world, without all the other species will be very unhealthy.
The environmental heritage left behind is far from inter generational equity according to this report:
All will have to deal with bio-accumulation:

In Manly businesses are eager that all immerse themselves in plastic gadgets and costumes, which will soon end up in the tip, or worse the ocean. Trick or treat for advanced children ends up nasty and violent and only keeps the authorities busy.

The best green 'party' (celebration) people could offer the little ones would be to face up to their actions, access their values and act responsibly towards themselves, their offspring, the other species and the remaining biomes and give the Earth a chance. Quality interaction and doing things from scraps can be a lot of fun .
See also: "Manly- It's kinda spooky 2007"
Images: All public art works by young people o.s. Known here as 'graffiti', as it often just is the initials of the scribbler in Manly.

20 October 2008

Marine Conservation and The Use of Beaches

Marine Parks - the only way to go
The battle over 'No Take' and 'Grab it all Now' is grinding along Australia's coastline. Moreton Bay Marine Park , rich in biodiversity is having 16 % of the Bay declared free from fishing and boats have to "go slow" to not continue injuring the dugongs and turtles. It is " home to 750 species of fish, 120 species of coral, an abundance of dolphins, migratory whales and the world's largest population of dugong next to a capital city.""Each year some 200 turtles are found dead, sick or injured in Moreton Bay Marine Park and an average of 15 dugongs die from human impacts." The Australian Marine Conservation Society says that at least 30 % of the bay should be protected. "It exposes actually a whopping 84 per cent of the marine park to intense fishing pressure".
Manly Cove, Sydney Harbour and the Pacific hugging the Northers Beaches should also go 'slow' and have an effective 'no take' Marine Park to conserve some of the biodiversity for the future.

An observant person on Bribie Island wanted to report a loggerhead turtle stranding. He rang the Environmental Protection Agency's hotline just to be diverted to a call centre in Indonesia. The stranding was never followed up. Sounds soo familiar... abc 201008

A whale sanctuary has been created off Chile's coast, ensuring save passage for the cetaceans migration over 3,400 miles (5,500 km). Here, news of entanglement, starvation etc is almost daily. Noisy obstacles, such as human infrastructure off shore probably do not aid the journey of the giants.

Taking the beach away to attract beach holiday seekers
It is interesting to see how far 'developers' in the tourism industry go: They carted their biggest asset away, 500 truck loads of beach sand to build a a $1 billion resort with it. In the absence of the key feature, the project is now on hold. It will take 100 years for the forces of nature to replace the stolen sand. BBC

Choking on the air and pulverised stuff
"Australia's asthma mortality rates are one of the highest in the world according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare." HealthInsit.au does not mention car pollution as a 'cause'. It all seems a matter of 'managing' it by medical professionals, not preventing it by involving urban planning. Elsewhere, they have found that tree-lined streets can make a difference.

Privatising public spaces
At dark, Manly's coach-led body-fitness customers are cluttering up the paths, dipping into the doggy lawn and punching into the night. All apparently unregulated. Most businesses have to pay the rent, events have to register and pay a fee, but feral businesses occupying public space with business activities seem to be exempt. "City of Yarra and several other municipalities are following the lead of five bayside councils, which recently moved to clamp down on boot camps that operate on beaches and foreshore parks.But Yarra has gone a step further and proposed a ban on commercial exercise groups of more than six people from 18 public parks in Fitzroy, Clifton Hill and Richmond. Fitness classes will also be prohibited from exercising within 10 metres of playgrounds or 15 metres of picnic sheds and park benches." It might be... "reasonable to pay a fee to conduct a business in a local park", but is it desirable to privatise public spaces?

16 October 2008

Including Pram Inhabitants in Communication

A bumper crop of babies, toddlers and advanced children are being pushed around Manly in prams. Mostly, turned away from the face2face position, leaving the young one deprived of interaction.

Parents/carers can be seen engaged in electronic interaction (mobile) for prolonged periods, as their most common posture. Awareness becomes entirely focused on the one physically absent.

Lack of (verbal) interaction can interfere with the language development of the young child. Shari Harpaz, a speech pathologist, specializing in children with PDD-NOS, social and play deficits, developmental verbal dyspraxia, and oral motor deficits "is seeing an increase in speech-delayed babies and toddlers" which is related to mobile phone usage. The social preconditions for language acquisition are withheld. Preverbal vocalizations are not responded to. "The social use of language, that's the piece that's getting lost,'' said Harpaz.
Speechless presence needs some inclusive quality face-time to become a member of the language-using human community.

'PDD-NOS': Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified
'Hey, cellphone mom: Your children are calling', Seattle Times, 070908
'Caregivers should turn off the phone and watch the kids' , mlive, 090908
How best to walk your baby, The Independent, 211108
Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, Dundee's School of Psychology

12 October 2008

Channel-billed Cuckoos and Fig Trees of Manly

A couple of Channel-billed cuckoos ( Scythrops novaehollandiae) are back in town again, seeking to outsource their child-rearing to the local Crows, Pied Currawongs, Butcherbirds and Australian Magpies. The up to 65 cm long bird with a large (horn-like) bill and a red eye can be heard (audio) at different times of the day. Its call is much louder than that of the Common Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) (audio). They love eating native figs and fruit. Around Feb./March they fly back to a rapidly cleared PNG.

Here too in lawny bland-burbia intolerance to trees fills the air with the sound of daily chainsaws and other petrol powered machines. The Fig trees Manly has to offer the visiting bats and birds, such as in Darley Rd and Wenthworth St have no protective devices (cages) to prevent vehicles constantly crunching into them. They are very scarred, most of the bottom branches had to make way to the 'wheels of industry'.

Many large, old trees/figs are mysteriously dying at the moment, revealing a 'view'.

At the library plaza of Market Place a pet fanatic even brings in an unleashed cat and locals get amused how it chases the local native birds.

Trees and birds are one of the big assets of Manly -let's look after them..
Trees on Council Land, Manly Council
Images: Figs in Darley Rd.
Manly, dead old Fig, Marine Pde
More and image here 0109

10 October 2008

Banksy's "Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill"

New Yorkers don’t care about art, they care about pets." One could paraphrase it as: Manly-siders also don't care about art or wildlife, they care about pets. Mass hysteria about submissive, privately owned 'pets' and captive creatures in shops, cages and tanks is good business in times of Black Friday, Halloween and Mega Extinction Rates. Something one CAN control.

Banksy's animatronics installation in NYC "Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill" grasps attention on " our relationship with animals and the ethics and sustainability of factory farming, but it ended up as chicken nuggets singing." News about " the implications of animal cloning on food safety, animal health and welfare and the environment" seem to be sparse. Human cloning. au. pops up occasionally.

Good write-up at the Wooster Collective
Check out the videos on sausages and the sedated wild captive cats, the 'shop',
Good Flickr images
Image: Banksy? Berlin
Video via banscopetstore

08 October 2008

Dead Fish and Noisy Motors at Manly Beach

Dropping anchors onto the aquatic reserve
In the Marine Reserve today 'leisure crafts' were throwing their heavy anchors into the low reef today to pop some champagne.Motorising the beach, air and land
Helicopters hovered over Manly beach and sub-urbs, giving it that VN ambiance. Are there any restrictions on people perving from above, destroying the space with their noise? How many noisy aircraft routes can Manly Beach handle, in addition to the diesel-spewing coaches, running their air-conditioners hot?
Beach findings
On the shore of Manly Beach an unusual number of ocean/leather/mosaic jackets. We mentioned that an unusual amout of puffer fish and moray eel were also washed up onto Manly Beach. They all seem to have been dislodged from the safety of the reef caves of Cabbage Tree Aquatic Reserve. Maybe they are all just ploughed into the industrial beach sweeper and disappear with the tonnes of garbage into the tip? Does anyone record why there were so many dead reef fish last week?

Images: Some of the dead fish (ocean leatherjacket, pdf & Eubalichthys mosaicus) washed up on Manly Beach 071008 and possibly an Eora engraving from the Pittwater region.

Plundering the Cabbage Tree Bay Marine Reserve again

Again, the "no take" Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve has been vandalised in broad daylight with many people present. 'Protected' fish such as the Blue Gropers and many more were speared. It is sad, that apparently only one person stood up to these people carrying potentially deadly weapons on a busy beach. Regularly, MNLY confronts people taking buckets full, spearfishing, filling big nets of colourful 'protected' fish. Some carers just let their kids collect as much shellfish as they wish. Most of the plunderers know about the illegality of their actions and become very aggressive. It is sad, that the enforcement of a "no take" zone is left up to the arbitrary citizen willing to risk their life.
A phone call to the relevant authorities on weekends and after hours, when most of the 'harvesting' and 'sport' takes place, is usually diverted to an answering machine. Rangers are off duty. MNLY has been documenting some of the vandalising of an aquatic reserve since 2005 and made numerous phone calls. It would be a positive step to hear that vandals, that "could be prosecuted" are actually fined. Effective protection of the marine reserve should be 24/7.

Via Manly Daily 'How can anyone be so bone-headed?' 071008 (Maybe it is has not fallen out of the archives, as the 'red tide' 021008 has.

Portrait of a male Eastern Blue Groper (Achoerodus viridis) with escorts. Shelly Beach, Manly, NSW, Flickr
Eastern Blue Groper (Achoerodus viridis). Fairy Bower, Manly, NSW, Flickr

Report all illegal taking and vandalising in protected aquatic habitats: Ph: 1800 043 536
- Manly Council Rangers Ph.:9976 1630
- Sydney North Fisheries Office Ph.: 8437 4983

The 'Spearoz' community is also discussing the matter here

06 October 2008

Preventing 'Red Tides' at Shelly Beach, Manly

Shelly Beach is a small sheltered beach, facing Manly Beach. A coastal walkway, leads along the Cabbage Tree Bay Tree Aquatic Reserve to Shelly, which has one of the few small unbuilt headlands with native vegetation on it. Some of original cabbage tree palms were replanted as they once fringed the watercourses leading to the beach. The headland leading back to Manly beach has been undergoing intense development for years. The beach facilities are also under intense demand.

Dead Fish, how come?
Last week (02 & 03.1008) many dead puffer fish and a moray eel were washed up on Manly beach. We assume, these 'cave dwellers' were from the 'Aquatic Reserve'. On the 051008 the first blooms of an apparent red tide was visible at Shelly Beach. On the 021008 "a mysterious red sludge", believed to be red algae bloom was found on a beach in the Manly area, at Clontarf.(Image)

Nice Beach as a drain, growing harmful bacteria?
The walkway from Manly beach to Shelly beach along the aquatic reserve is studded with old, often decayed pipes of all sizes, draining the dense sub-urban development on top of the headland, down into the little bay/'reserve'. The mossy green rocks are the sure-sign for 'rich run-off'. The little creek behind the restaurant, has spaghetti-like pipes all leading into it and straight into the beach. Most of the properties, strain to grow water and nutrient intensive foreign vegetation. A large paved car park on top of Shelly, is increasingly denuded, leading to even more run off. Numerous dogs on the beach and unleashed along the walkway help to contribute their untreated feces into the adjacent cabbage bay aquatic reserve. Sydney on the whole “dumps a billion liters of sewage into the ocean every day...” (Maude Barlow, Blue Covenant, 08 p28.) Habitat degradation, generous run off and extreme warming of the atmosphere and the ocean is a guaranteed recipe for 'red tides', then harmful algea (HABs), then hypoxic or 'dead zones'. The beaches become at first unusable, smelly and might irritate the skin and eyes. Later, even just breathing the 'mist' can cause health problems and fish suffocate in the oxygen-deprived sludge, “fish-kill” (video). Marine species have their central nervous systems attacked by the poisons generated by the bacteria and also seek to 'leave the ocean' gasping for oxygen. Marine mammals, such as humpbacks are also poisoned and 'beached'. 'Food-species' can become deadly to fish, shellfish and people. Sea and shorebirds fall out of the sky(pdf). The stench would repel any visitor, closing beaches becomes very costly for the human economy. Rehabilitating the ecology of a 'dead zone' is usually left for the next generations.

Beyond denial - Doing something against the red tide
Elsewhere environmental groups are enforcing measurable standards to prevent the fouling of their beaches."..To set numeric limits on the excess nutrients which trigger harmful blooms of blue-green algae...Blue-green algae - also known as cyanobacteria - produce "dermatoxins" that can create severe dermatitis and are known tumor promoters; "neurotoxins" which interfere with nerve cell function; and "hepatotoxins" which attack the liver. Exposure to blue-green algae toxins through ingestion, skin contact or inhalation can cause rashes, skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions, gastrointestinal upset, serious illness, and even death..."
Their drinking water" is now subject to almost year-round blue-green algae blooms as a result of nutrient pollution"

It is too dear to not act
The red tide algae, Karenia brevis, "costs approximately $20 million per bloom in economic damage off the coast of Florida alone." The beauty of a beach is lost forever.

Ocean Care includes the acknowledgement of eutrophication, it seeks to alter the behaviour of individuals and the authorities bestowed with the stewardship of an biome and urban planning.

1. Shelly Beach, Google Maps, 2008
2. The walkway from Manly Beach to Shelly beach along the Cabbage Tree Bay Tree Aquatic Reserve on the one hand and the suburb on the other, Google Maps, 2008
3. Shelly Beach looking back onto the walkway with thick s
treakes of 'red slime' 051008
4. Shelly Beach with 'red slime'', with view to Manly Beach opposite

Red Tide 11.2010: North Head images, 1 & 2,

05 October 2008

Manly Jazz Festival

Day two of Manly's Jazz Festival. Car-free for a tiny bit of beach road, pedestrians pushed at the Corso end to the wharf as well against pushy motorists. Maybe, one day they will come around and declare public space for people every Sundays as in other world cities and not just for smelly cars. Maybe the pedestrian areas will truly have no motors in them.

The roaming bands could move with crowds of pedestrians and entertain without the emission intensive stages with hot, blinding spotlights on the audience (in the day-time), that took days of petrol-fueled erection time. As before - a lot of the amplified music had noise pollution and chemical pollution as a side-effect, as the petrol generators buzzed on. Many push bikes were out feeling free to move along the beach 'road'.

Bad planning, to place really loud amplified music on top of the penguin habitat.

02 October 2008

Manly Ocean Care Day - Of Albatrosses and Red Tides

As another 'ocean care day festival' is approaching in Manly it is time to focus on the 'care' bit. In the holiday season the beach is specially subjected to a tidal wave of of unwanted 'convenience' packaging and 'recreational' plastic.

Out of the ordinary was a large Shy Albatross (image) (Diomedea cauta cauta, pdf, measuring some 95-100 cm, wingspan 240-260 ) found at the North Steyne end of the beach on 300908. 10 puffer fish were also rolling on the sand. This giant bird is still hunted for 'sports' and chokes on human plastics. As there is no habitat left for it in the Manly region, the next possible place could be just north of Sydney. Five albatrosses and pelicans have been found poisoned at Tuggerah Lakes. "It was believed the sudden outbreak of botulism was caused by rain washing chemicals and fertilisers into the stagnant water of the lake."
If it isn't run-off from human settlements that has killed the birds and polluted the water, then it is also possible, that it is the mix of high temperatures, due to human-caused emissions, as well as the flushing of unwanted wastes into the water bodies. The result is a warm brew encouraging the growth of toxic micro-organisms. Even if no red tide is visible, the toxins (brevetoxins) still lingering, damage the nervous system, just like the botulism bug. Maybe the shy giant made it out to sea and was overcome by the HABs, to finally get washed up at Manly. Does anyone care?

A red tide is at the moment hovering around the corner in Clontarf's Sandy Bay, (Manly Daily, 021008, image). Red tides love warmth + plenty of human caused run off. They then breed toxins which have the ability to kill life in the ocean/bay and on land. Although there is a fine of $ 1 million for dumping baddies into the water-ways, there seems to be none for doing it with a trickle (eutrophication) over time.

Clontarf / Bantry Bay Estuary Management Planning Process - Data preparation in 0807, (pdf) reveals a lot about the the Sydney Harbour Foreshores and Waterways Area, such as Castle Rock and Bantry Bay and includes parts of the Balgowlah Heights, Clontarf and Seaforth suburbs.
65.5% of the space is for human habitat, 22.0% for their sealed roads and 10.2% for parks and public spaces. The 'storm water drainage network' is visualised in this document. The appropriation of freshwater is also accounted for. Giant lawns and pools spill into the 'bush', which is often cleared to see the marina (image). The foreshore appears transformed into a space for fossil fuel vessel parking. The estuary/bay is slowly looking like a large boat-parking area. Private dinghies clutter up the 'public' reserve. As in Manly, unleashed dogs are emptied of their untreated feces into the bay.

The environment- human interface is summed up as being in conflict:

  • "Seawalls for protection of properties versus its damaging impact on natural ecosystem
  • Groundwater abstraction and possible saline water intrusion in aquifer
  • Beach raking for safety versus its impact on invertebrates
  • Dog walking off leash and impact on shore birds
  • Powered and sailing boats and their wake impacting on seawalls and beach erosion
  • Access to mooring versus their impact on sea grass beds, ability to spread caulerpa taxifolia
  • Powered boats and the safety aspects for swimmers and kayakers
  • Ad hoc boat storage and its impact on amenity and habitat:
  • Ad hoc access ways to foreshore for convenience versus destruction of habitat." (pdf)
The degradation of the environment does not only rob species of a habitat, but it also diminishes life quality for all living and to come. Running out of space and resources in an ever shrinking world is no fun. The diy cocktail of heat, plus draining liquid wastes equals red tides, or dead zones, that are void of life and toxic to ALL. Just breathing the mist is a hazard, eating the contaminated fish/seafood can be deadly. Jelly invasions ( the only creature thriving on this human-made environment ruin the beach- Beach closures, due to toxic blooms or jelly blooms are costly. 'Business as usual' in a risk-society could play it all away in just a generation.

The oceans are getting so hot, acid and degraded by us. Species are either fished out by us or their habitat is ruined. Lobsters, seals, whales, dolphins and crabs etc etc are affected by the red tide toxins and are wishing to leave their habitat, they thereby die.

It would be a sad world which leaves a
red ocean behind
no fish and life in it
no ocean and foreshore birds on the horizon
no beach or bay without a noisy smelly and dangerous motor
no beach or bay without human infrastructure cluttering up the landscape

Let's care!

1 & 2 Dead Shy Albatross on Manly Beach, 300908
3 Sandy Bay, Clontarf, Google Maps
4 Clontarf/Spit Bridge, Google Maps

Animation: Ocean care day animation, Manly Beach

Toxic Blooms: Understanding Red Tides, FATHOM
HABs, Harmful Algae and Red Tides, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Sea Birds affected by red tide toxins, Florida conservation 2006
Entanglement in or ingestion of anthropogenic debris in marine and estuarine environments - key threatening process listing, DECC
Rock Snot, a hazardous algae in Tasmania, has had devastating effects on inland river catchments in New Zealand abc 270808

Update 101008
- The red tide at Clontarf mentioned above has been identified as Noctiluca scintillans (Manly Daily p3, 101008). The same type of algae bloom has also been found at Seaforth, west of the Spit Bridge and Woollloomooloo Bay. NSW Health recommends that people avoid contact with all blooms. This dinoflagellate is also linked to " anthropogenic eutrophication...along the southeast coast of Australia". In India, it has been implicated with "the decline of fisheries". At night Noctiluca glows in a bright blue bioluminescence, as viewed on Manly Beach before.
Suspected blooms should be reported to the Regional Algal Committee during business hours (02 4729 8138), or the Department of Environment and Climate Change’s Environment Line (131 555) after hours. Toll-Free Algal Information Line - 1800 999 457 according the the NSW Department of Water and Energy

Update 231008
- Brush et al. Historical Land Use, Nitrogen, and Coastal Eutrophication: A Paleoecological Perspective. Estuaries and Coasts, 2008; DOI: 10.1007/s12237-008-9106-z "During the past 300 years, many of the wetlands have been drained, and the landscape was converted to agricultural fields and urban and suburban development. Since precolonial time, the mesohaline estuary has become increasingly eutrophic and anoxic."