Posts Tagged ‘Argentina’

Nature Ramble

This week, something I have never considered.

So strange, in fact, that I marked it for a Nature Ramble the moment I read it.

More than 700 seals counted in Thames Estuary

Conservationists and volunteers record 708 grey and harbour seals in the first count carried out by air, land and water

Harbour seals near Whitstable, Kent. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

More than 700 seals have been spotted in the Thames Estuary in the first ever count carried out by air, land and water.

Conservationists and volunteers recorded 708 grey and harbour seals along the Thames in a survey stretching up the estuary to Tilbury, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said.

The survey involved recording seals spotted from boats, from the air or by teams on the ground investigating small creeks and rivers, with the GPS co-ordinates of sightings noted.

The aerial survey enabled researchers to count seals on the outer sandbanks of the estuary where colonies of up to 120 seals were recorded in remote and undisturbed spots away from people and boats.

Boats were used for surveying areas of the Medway and Swale estuaries, while researchers on foot were able to get to spots the boats could not reach.

It is the first such complete assessment of the seals in the Thames following a boat survey by ZSL last year.

The survey was timed to coincide with the annual seal moult, when harbour seals shuffle onto sandbanks to shed their coats and grow a new layer in time for the winter, making them easier to spot.

The scientists estimate there were around 500 harbour seals and 200 of the larger grey seals, although the exact figures need to be confirmed through further analysis.

ZSL’s conservation scientist Joanna Barker said: “We knew there were a lot of seals in the Thames but 708 is pretty incredible.

“In previous results there’s been a good few hundred in the Thames, but it’s great to have a figure we can use as a baseline.”

She said the survey would be repeated in future years, enabling scientists to see if numbers were increasing, staying the same or declining.

“Now we know the numbers and where they are, it can help with conservation,” she added.

The presence of so many seals is good news for the Thames Estuary, which was declared biologically dead in the 1950s as a result of heavy pollution, but has since largely recovered.

Barker said: “It’s a really good indicator because the seals are the top predators in the marine food chain, and it shows that the marine environment is relatively good and is producing enough food for the seals to eat.”

She added: “At the moment it seems we’ve got a healthy population in the Thames.”

But she warned there had been drastic declines in numbers of harbour seals recently across Scotland, and that seal populations elsewhere could be vulnerable.

The reasons for the declines are unclear but could be down to disease, climate change, the shifting of prey species and competition with grey seals.

With the declines in Scotland, the Thames’ harbour seals are a more important part of the overall European population, Barker said.

The ZSL study will produce the first complete count of harbour seals in the Thames and south east coast, which will help scientists accurately monitor the species to better understand and protect them, Barker said.

In addition to the survey, ZSL also runs a reporting scheme for members of the public who spot seals and other marine mammals in the Thames. Sightings have been recorded at Richmond, by the London Eye and at Canary Wharf.

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Comment:

Fancy that, seals on the River Thames. I have always associated seals with cold places, places with ice and snow. I was totally taken aback when I read this. Mind you, we get Magellan penguins in Rio de Janeiro, but we know that they are lost, forgot to get off the bus at Argentinian Patagonia.

 

Make wine not war! It’s environmentally friendly

As tensions heighten in the Falklands, Argentinian vineyard sends grapes to English winemakers to produce unique cross-border vintage.

Amid the diplomatic sabre-rattling overshadowing the anniversary of the Falkland’s war, there is one area of Anglo-Argentinian relations we can all raise a glass to.

British and Argentinean vineyards have responded to the crisis by forming a unique collaboration to ‘make wine not war.’

In what even the producers admitted was a ‘madcap’ idea, two tonnes of grapes were transported 7,000 miles from a red wine vineyard on the foothills of the Argentinian Andes to a sparkling white wine producer in the Home Counties.

United by wine: Two tonnes of grapes were transported 7,000 miles from a red wine vineyard on the foothills of the Argentinian Andes to Chapel Down winery in Kent

Chapel Down winery in Tenterden, Kent has now created 1,300 bottles the world’s first cross-border wine created from foreign grapes imported to the UK which will be available later this month.

Andrew Maidment, European head of wines of Argentina, said: ‘The wine industry is all about collaboration but nothing like this has ever been done before.

‘When I approached the British wine makers, they said ‘It sounds completely crazy but we’ll give it a go.’

Madcap: The grapes were flown over from a vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina

It’s something unique which makes it very exciting.

‘It was also a big risk though – we didn’t know what was going to happen with it whether it would be a fantastic bottle or whether it would be undrinkable.’

Celebration: The final product symbolises unity between Argentine and British industries

Staff from Chapel Down visited the vineyard in Mendoza, which lies 3,500 ft above sea level, last April and chose the grapes they wanted harvested which had to be flown to the UK within five days to keep them fresh.

Mr Maidment said: ‘It was very important was that, while the grapes came from Argentina, this wine wasn’t made by Argentina.

‘It was produced completely by the British vineyard, with no one telling them what to do.

It’s a bit of a madcap idea, but it worked as a celebration of the two industries working together.

‘It wasn’t conceived with anything political in mind, but in the current climate I think everyone would be happier to have people making wine than making war.’

After a year of production, the Chapel Down Malbec red is now complete and Mr Maidment described it ‘elegant and not too in your face.’

‘It’s got an Argentinian influence but is unmistakably restrained English style. I’m really happy with it.

‘It’s a fusion of the two countries but is truly English, very elegant, young and fresh.

Source: MailOnline Read more about timings and distribution

And the last paragraph… It’s a good environmental policy

‘It’s actually far cheaper and far more environmentally friendly to produce wine this way rather than import ready made wine, because you don’t have to fly the bottles over.

‘Transporting grapes is a lot easier to do.’

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