I'm excited to let you know that we've got a copy of the stunning Oceans DVD to give away. So read on to find out how you could be checking out some of the most amazing animals under the sea.
Don't you agree, there's something nice about watching fish swim? You know at first glance it's easy to believe there isn't too much thinking going on upstairs in fish, but keep watching and it's amazing how you start to notice how each animal has her own personality and quirks.
A lot of people seem to find watching fish calming -- or more precisely, see fish as a calming 'decoration'. Why else would so many houses and offices install fish tanks, and why else would Google offer this very cute gadget (below). But to be honest, I much prefer watching fish swim in their natural environment -- not a fish tank. And not surprisingly, it turns out fish prefer this too.
Researchers recently compared the behaviour of fish in the wild; in a large artificial 'stream' in a zoo; and in smaller tanks used by pet owners. What they found is that the smaller the tank, and the less 'complex' (ie. no rocks, plants, hiding places, etc) the tank was the more aggressive the fish became -- sometimes even escalating to nipping and attacking other fish.
When you think about it, it's not really that surprising. If you put me in a small empty room, I'd be pretty annoyed as well. Obviously, like us fish feel pain. And when you consider all the other amazing things scientists have discovered about fish, it makes sense that they might experience boredom and frustration too.
For example, did you know that fish communicate with each other using squeaks and squeals that you and I can only hear with special instruments? Or that in some species the older fish teach the youngens -- about things like predators, and even to recognise the sound of trawling boats. Or that some fish use tools... such as stingsrays working out how to extract food from plastic tubes by shooting jets of water; or blackspot tuskfish using a rock to open a clam's shell.
And don't even get me started on how cool cuttlefish are (although technically they're not a fish)! Ahem ... I guess what I'm trying to say is: Sea animals is pretty amazing! And there's a whole lot more going on upstairs in the animals that live down below than we often give them credit for.
Oceans DVD Giveaway!
The Disney doco, Oceans, is about to be released on DVD and we have a copy that could be yours. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below and tell us one good reason people should care about fish.
UPDATE You guys are all so awesome for knowing how awesome fish are! These responses are all fabulous! Unfortunately there can only be one winner .....
And the DVD goes to *drumroll* Liz2!
Well done Liz!
And massive THANK YOUs to everyone for entering!
More good news for animals abroad! Hot on the heels of other nations stepping up to save the sharks of the world – this week Chile banned the finning of sharks. But wait, it gets better – just last week the Bahamas banned the fishing of sharks completely!
Now before the Jaws theme pops into your head (oops! Too late!), some amazing divers are out to show sharks aren't the man eating monters of movies, but in fact are actually pretty shy. Like our canine companions, sharks also have an incredible sense of smell, and wait for it – the NZ Swell Shark even barks like a dog!
So what's the sad situation with sharks? Soup! Yep, you read that right – soup! The demand for an expensive dish known as Shark Fin Soup sees millions of sharks killed – all for their fins.
Considered so much of a delicacy in China that, in a fisherman's eyes, it renders every other part of a shark's body as worthless, one bowl of the bland broth can fetch up to $400!
So fishing boats head out and catch millions of sharks. In some cases, a shark is hauled up on deck, her fins are hacked off, before she is tossed back overboard, alive, in agony and slowly sinking to her death.
Not only is this insanely cruel, but the practice has seen some shark populations plummet by 90% - sharks are literally swimming on a knife's edge!
Thankfully more and more governments worldwide are recognising this cruelty too. Other island nations, like Honduras, Maldives and Palau have also declared their seas safe for sharks, and the US states, Hawaii and Washington, and the Canadian city, Brantford have banned the sale of shark fin.
But here in Australia, you can wander into any number of Chinese restaurants and order shark fin soup straight off the menu.
So here's how you can help! If you're out for dinner and see this cruel dish on the menu, you can send a strong message by politely explaining to the waiter or manager why you are leaving. Tell them if they stop selling shark fin soup you'll be back …and you'll bring your friends!
If you know of any awesome Asian eateries that have already taken shark fin off the menu – let us know below!
The wonderful people at Hopscotch Films have given Unleashed a stack of double passes to see advance screenings of the latest Disney blockbuster, Oceans.
Doesn't it look amazing? What a great way to give people a glimpse into the lives of sea animals!
The oceans have been plundered by outdated and cruel fishing methods driving many species to the brink of extinction. This movie shows that a lot of these animals aren't all that different to us - they form amazing bonds and play and protect each other… We should be doing all we can to protect them!
Tell us below what you're going to do to protect our oceans and you could win a double pass to see this spectacular movie before anyone else!
Hurry, comp closes noon Monday May 16th so don't plod along like a walrus!
PS The tickets are only valid for Friday 20th, Saturday 21st, Sunday 22nd May (not valid after 5pm on Saturday) at the following cinemas :
Sydney – Palace Verona & Palace Norton Street Cinemas
Melbourne – Palace Como Cinemas
Brisbane – Palace Barracks Cinemas
Adelaide – Palace Eastend Cinemas
Perth – Cinema Paradiso Cinemas
Canberra – Greater Union Manuka Cinemas So please only enter if you can make it to a screening! ;)
Have you ever stopped to think how amazing sea creatures can be? And I'm not talking about the beauty of a whale's song or the playfulness of jumping dolphins. I'm not even talking about the fact that some sea turtles can swim the ocean for 150 years… Although all those things are pretty awesome!
I'm talking about the creatures who live far beneath the waves in the deepest darkest waters of the ocean. The creatures who, if it weren't for videos like this one – we may never have the chance to see…
Aren't those pictures some of the most amazing things you've ever seen? It's called bioluminescence. Forget fireworks - nature's lightshows are SO much more awe-inspiring. Check out this picture of millions of dinoflagellates lighting up a whole wave!
It just goes to show, the ocean's full of creatures who are so much more incredible (and clever!) than we often give them credit for (and that includes fish who sadly end up on dinner plates!). I just had to share this cool video with you guys!
Not long ago I took some friends to a favourite diving place of mine in Melbourne called Cottage by the Sea. This particular place has deep overhangs and crevices that provide shelter and feeding ground for lots of ocean life. It's home to one of the most inquisitive and cute ‘fish’ (actually an invertebrate, like an octopus) in the world - the Cuttlefish.
Imagine a creature that can change colour and texture on demand, can hover, shoot forward or backwards and has eyes that can look into your soul. A cuttlefish is SO much more than a piece of calcium washed up on the beach. This vid will give you a better picture:
One of my favourite things to do when diving is poke my head into the caves in the reef and see how fish are spending their day. I was doing exactly this when all of a sudden a large cuttlefish shot out and grabbed one of our air gauges with his tentacles! (Cuttlefish use their tentacles to explore things, just like we might pick something up with our hands.) The gauge was bright yellow and he was flashing different colours trying to match it. He seemed highly fascinated with the colour and shape of the gauge. Then he suddenly let go and hovered right near my friend's mask, having a good long look at her. Cuttlefish can actually make eye contact!
Our playful cuttle then moved on to another diver in our group who was quite nervous about the strange creature in front of him. I think the cuttle sensed this and actually toyed with him. The cuttlefish would dart forward; the diver would back up and the cuttle would raise four of his tentacles above his head and lower the other ones in a really funny gesture.
Then the cuttle moved towards me. He gently touched my raised hand with his tentacles before hovering up to my mask to look me in the eye!
We watched for a long while as the cuttle moved away from us. But when we decided to move on, I turned back a few times to see him slowly following us, watching us the whole time.
When we surfaced we couldn’t stop talking about our cuttle encounter. We felt he was communicating with us and that we were lucky to be in the presence of such an intelligent creature.
I have no doubt that most sea creatures feel pain, and since this experience with the cuttle (who are directly related to squids) my friends haven't eaten any calamari. It's often the case that people won’t knowingly contribute to the killing of an animal they feel empathy for. So why should our marine creatures be any different?
I love retelling this story because I know people who hear it will never look at cuttle bones on the beach the same way again. Would this kind of experience stop you eating squid or cuttlefish? Or have you given up seafood altogether?
Did you know that June 8th is World Oceans Day? I often wonder why our planet wasn't called Ocean, instead of Earth, since most of the planet is covered by water! Not only that, the ocean creates oxygen, regulates our climate and is home to about 97% of all life on the planet. But there's a crisis happening below the water...
Scientists are warning that we will fish out our oceans by 2048 if we don't change what we are doing. Meanwhile fishing mentality seems to be: plunder what you can while you still can. Since the ocean is literally Earth's life support system, I am frankly terrified by this!
But it's not just people who are gobbling up ocean wildlife. Every year countless billions of marine animals are ground up and fed to livestock — yet another ecological disaster.
"More than 50% of the fish taken from the oceans are fed to livestock making pigs, sheep, cows, and chickens the largest marine predators on the planet" — Captain Paul Watson SSCS.
And if fishing our oceans doesn't make sense, then fish farming makes even less! Every fish raised in a fish farm is fed up to ten times its own weight in ocean-caught fish. That means more fish are caught from the oceans to feed fish in factory farms!
If you're like me, and would rather avoid an ocean apocalypse, then you'll be glad to know that there is something we can all do to stop this. This World Ocean Day, join me and give fishing the finger by pledging not to eat fish (or any other innocent animal).
On a lovely sunny Saturday a couple of weeks ago a friend and I decided we would do one of Port Phillip Bay's most popular shore dives at St Leonards Pier. This is a great dive because of the many sea creatures that call the pier home. There are normally heaps of Seadragons, Leatherjackets, Stingray's, Nudibranchs and even the occasional Stargazer.
With all our gear on and ready to shoot some photos we swam in under the pier. There are usually quite a few people fishing from the pier, so we were very aware of fishing lines and the possibility of getting tangled up.
We made the decision to head out from under the pier and as we headed out I made a mental note of several discarded fishing lines that I would cut free on my way back. These are very hard to spot and seriously threaten wildlife by entangling them. Then suddenly I felt a very sharp pain in my left index finger! OUCH!
I looked down to realise I'd been hooked by a large hook through the skin on the top of my finger from one knuckle to the other. My skin was now being stretched to the point of tearing and was starting to bleed. But then I realised it could get much worse. Surfacing too quickly puts both humans and fish alike at risk of an internal embolism or overexpansion injury. This is something every wild caught fish would go through when they are netted and dragged up from depth. Their flotation bladders explode internally and their eyes bulge due to the change in pressure.
My finger felt like it was going to be torn open. With my free hand I caught the fishing line to relieve the tension on my finger and just held on for the ride to the surface. The first thing I saw when I got to the surface was a guy with a scary grimace like smile on his face doing his best to 'land his catch'. Needless to say he was pretty shocked when he realised he'd hooked a diver. I spat my regulators out and I think unfortunately a pile of expletives followed! I grabbed my knife and with the pressure now off my finger I was able to cut the line. The next job was to pull the barbed hook out of my finger. Once done the pain really set in. I hadn't realised the hook had also caught my tendon and now my finger was swelling quickly. To this day the finger still hurts. But actually, I'm thankful I had the experience. 'Cause now I know first hand how cruel fishing is.
I've always disagreed with recreational fishing. It seems barbaric to me to find joy in hooking a living feeling being through the mouth and let her fight to exhaustion on the end of a line; then drag her out to suffocate to death. Most fish are not killed quickly and they suffer a painful drawn out death. Those that are thrown back are often injured beyond recovery or are killed by predators because they are too exhausted to escape. All this in the name of entertainment!?!
Sadly most victims of fishing don't live to tell the tale. But the next time someone tries to tell you fishing doesn't hurt, point them in my direction and I'll set the record straight!
I’m seriously happy about the new Earth Choice ad that’s currently airing on prime time telly. It seems to be the first ad that brings to light the plight of our marine animals. It scares me that the world has largely forgotten them.
I wanted to cry when the stingray was being used as a cleaning rag and the octopus as a mop. I’m a diver and I’ve had interactions underwater with octopuses that lasted for minutes. These highly intelligent creatures can communicate by changing their colours, the tentacles can express emotions such as anger and affection. They express curiosity through touch and they will look you in the eye to check you out. I’ve even seen them open jars to get something inside.
And it's not just our ocean life that gets poisoned by many of our household products. Supermarket shelves are lined with products from companies like Procter & Gamble, Colgate/Pamolive, Johnson & Johnson, and Glade who still test on animals! As if it weren't bad enough that we're flushing chemical cocktails into the oceans, first they're dripping them into the eyes of rabbits, feeding them to mice and giving dogs chemical burns just to find out how toxic they really are!
Fortunately, Earth Choice is just one of many great brands that are looking out for animals. There are plenty of others that you can find in pretty much any supermarket, for example: Blast, Planet Ark, and Seventh Generation.
Every time we go to the supermarket we can make a powerful choice not to support animal cruelty. And let's face it, the animals need us (octopuses and bunnies alike). There's just no need for us to torture animals in labs or destroy our oceans just to wash the dishes! So take the pledge to say 'No!' to animal tests and make sure to support brands that look out for our oceans.
We’re supposed to let you know that the ideas expressed here are the views of the individual authors, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia or Animals Australia Unleashed. So now you know.