Explorers hope for less boring critters on upcoming trench dives

branson's submarine

James Cameron found nothing more than shrimp on his dive to the Mariana Trench. Richard Branson hopes to see more when he visits the deepest spot in the Atlantic this year.

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What Wikileaks says about wildlife --El Salvador

El Salvador: Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Blau thinks the environmental group is just a sham of the hard-line left opposition. Is it?

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Freakiest Shark Exhibit Ever At Santa Monica Aquarium

Santa Monica Aquarium showcases local fish, but it’s not boring. They have a freaky exhibit of live shark embryos in egg casings. Bonus: eel, starfish & urchin

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Otters in Yellowstone and Grand Teton

Otter Boys Play

River otters are one of those animals that you can do all the right things–stake out the lakes they’re known to visit, drag yourself out of bed at 5 am–and still not get to see. You have to get lucky.

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Animals Catch World Cup Fever

black squirrel soccer ball

Mickey is all feet with the football

Around the world animal lovers are posing cute critters with soccer balls. It’s as if instead of Brazil versus England, it’ll be Team Fish versus Team Elephant.   A Japanese aquarium figured out how to give a soccer ball to fish, with “Blue tangs, symbolising Japan’s national soccer team who are popularly known as “Blue Samurai.”

I’m not above it. Here’s the squirrel football team.

Alvin puts on his game face

The Gray Team has the ball

Blue tangs symbolize Japan's team, who are called "Blue Samurai"

South Korean OAfrican penguins play football at Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium in Yokohama (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

African Soccer Star !! by Picture Taker 2

Corgi in Training by this is emily

AnimalTourism: Where to Go to See Animals

ESPN Nuttily Claims Obama May Ban Fishing

When my husband David sent me a story about the Obama administration’s secret plan to abolish fishing, I assumed it was from The Onion. But it’s ESPN who’s getting the word out that the president could single-handedly “prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation’s oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters.” You really don’t have to know anything about this upcoming report to know that’s not going to happen.

ESPNOutdoors writer Robert Montgomery then basically turns over the ESPN platform to Phil Morlock, whom he describes as director of environmental affairs for Shimano, a Japanese maker of bikes and fishing equipment. Montgomery lets Morlock ululate uninterrupted for paragraph after paragraph, using preposterous phrases like “Big Green.” A more accurate description would have been that Morlock is a lobbyist for fishing and hunting groups. He’s on the board of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), the group that lobbies for hunters and anglers. And he’s just started a similar group in Canada.

What works for the hunting industry is scaring hunters that Obama has a secret plan to take their guns away. Gun sales rose after Obama was elected. Morlock clearly wants to infect anglers with the same psychosis that makes hunters feel aggrieved and embattled.

Hunters have long tried to rope fishermen into their “sportsmen” mantle. Morlock and Montgomery whine that Obama isn’t considering the huge economic impact of fishing. (I guess they don’t have Google.) Hunters love to conflate stats on how many people fish and hunt

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Will Asking People To Text for Dolphins Work Post-Haiti?

Last night dolphins near Taijii, Japan, were oblivious to the break The Cove won an Oscar. The film’s hero, former Flipper trainer Ric O’Barry, has been trying to show Taijii’s dolphin slaughter to the world for years, even if it meant walking around with a TV on his chest. So, it’s no surprise he’d use the stage for the dolphins. O’Barry unfurled a banner saying “TEXT DOLPHIN TO 44144”.

What was the reaction? Twitter immediately ricocheted the message around thousands of time–and it’s still bouncing. This USAToday blogger says the sign–and its inherent naughtiness–got him to look up the film. But over at the Huffington Post, they ran a story explaining “What Happens if You Follow Ric Barry’s Sign?” The answer: you’re signed up for text message updates, up to 30 a month. Call me old-fashioned, but I subscribe to his blog, so that’s about 30 more than I need.

The Haiti earthquake taught the public that the easiest way you can donate money to a cause is by texting a charity. I doubt that causes can ask you to just text them anymore without people worrying how much it will cost. The various charities send you back a confirmation before your cellphone carrier sends off your money, Charity Navigator explains. If you haven’t done it, you won’t know that.

O’Barry wants you to write a letter to Obama. Taiji was, predictably, annoyed at the win. Controversy is swirling, the LA Times says. But what else does controversy

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Visitors to a Chinese Zoo Feed Carp Bananas by Hand

American zoos frown on feeding the animals, but the Nanning Zoo in China isn’t so persnickety. Visitors feed their carp bananas by hand.

What I can make out from on online translation of the zoo’s story: people in Guangxi got some bad bananas, so naturally they brought them to the zoo. And, of course, the zoo didn’t mind people giving the fruit to the monkeys and hornbills. Then, almost inevitably, somebody fed them to the gold fish. And now, as long as you peel the bananas, the carp think of them as a treat.

And it seems to be cultural: only this one pool of fish like bananas. There’s another pool in the zoo with the same kind of fish but they have “no enthusiasm on the banana.”

To see more animals go to animaltourism.com

Shark Cage Dives–Right in New England

New Englanders want to see sharks; that much is clear from the way they’ve crowded Chatham on Cape Cod in recent weeks, hoping for a glimpse of the sharks preying on the seal colony. There were enough sharks to close some beaches, but not really enough to make shark-watching successful. Few would-be shark tourists realize that New England is starting to have a thriving shark cage-diving industry, with three tour companies, one right on Nantucket.

Bryce Rohrer led shark cave dives off South Africa, the shark cage dive Capitol of the World, then realized he could start Nantucket Shark Divers closer to home. Rohrer grew up fishing in the area, but “that slowly evolved into ditching the fishing rod for a camera.” He knew there was enough sealife tantalizingly close to shore to make a good trip. “Not many people know sharks out there,” he says. “It’s a very attractive spot for people. The bottom line is there’s a ton of wildlife around there, lots of whales, sharks, dolphins–all the things people care about.”

This year he’s lead some free-diving tours–no cage, no airtanks–just a snorkel. He’s got a few warm, relatively shallow spots 10 to 40 miles off shore. Next year, he’ll also have a shark cage, which goes in the water behind the boat. He’ll let divers venture out of the cage at their own pace once they’re comfortable. He also has options for people like me, who can’t swim and are a little chicken; you

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Fish-Walking Ducks Imperilled By New Rules


Spillway,originally uploaded by Lottery Monkey.

The New York Times had an interesting story Monday about a endangered and strange animal tourist attraction in western Pennyslvania. The animals themselves aren’t endangered. They’re just carp and mallards. For 75 years the carp have been gathering in such thick numbers that mallard ducks walk on their backs to get bread thrown by tourists.

Linesville bills itself as “Where the Duck Walk on the Fish.” The problem is that someone in the Pymatuning State Park has decided that the duck droppings have reached unacceptable proportions. So they are demanding that everyone switch to pellets. That would rule out the ducks. And the many duck-themed businesses around town. Which has locals fighting back.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has looked into the environmental impact of the situation before. The spectacle is supposed to bring in $55 million to the area. One study by Clarion University biology professor Andrew Turner found that the bread increased phosphorous in the reservoir by 50%. Too much phosphorous could produce too much algae. But the paper says that a local fish hatchery and sewage plant probably produce more phosphorous.

Look, the attraction is by no means natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth sparing. People enjoy getting a close up look at the carp and ducks. Somehow it’s always the people who just want to see nature who end up on the short end of the stick in these economic equations. It’s ridiculous to say that we should get rid

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