Undersea Bits and Bobs

Posted in Under the Sea on January 26th, 2010 by MadDog
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Don’t ask me why, but I think of nudibranchs as the furry little bunny rabbits of the sea. They’re not furry. They don’t breathe air. They have no legs. They do sometimes, however, have what may appear to be ears, but are not. Here’s a little funny-bunny Nudibranch (Phyllidiella pustulosa)  for you:As you may have surmised, I’m a bit mentally frazzled today. I have a tentative job to run someone out to Bag Bag Island  in two days and it has me a bit disconcerted, as I usually have more time to plan a trip like that. It’s only about 120 kliks round trip, including a fudge factor for finding the spot where the guy wants to be, but it’s wild country and if you have problems, you’re in for a long, long stay. There are no regular boat runs out there, so the money is good. I can’t afford to pass it up, but I’m not like the fishermen with big boats who tootle out to Bag Bag on a lark. I’ve got to get my act together tomorrow and be ready to go at 06:00 the next day. I need to get used to this kind of work, because there will be a lot of it in our future.

Here’s another P. pustulosa  (I hate that name – it’s so . . . indelicate) for you:

The one in the shot above is a fairly small specimen. Most of those that we notice are three or four times as large. It was crawling on a bit if stuff that wasn’t attached to anything. That’s why I picked it up to show to you. We don’t normally bother the critters unless there’s sufficient reason and a genuine purpose (the reason being that I wanted to show you the size and the purpose was that picking it up was the most interesting way to do it).

This Nudibranch (Fryeria menindie)  is even less bunny-like, but it does have a couple of yellow ear-like appendages:I could not get myself around to shoot this one sraight from the side without scrunching my face up against the coral, which would have induced an itchy rash oozing stuff that you don’t want to hear about and lasting for weeks. Therefore, its front end and back end are slightly out of focus. These are the travails of an underwater photographer. I like to dwell on the minor irritations of life. I do this so that the big ones can’t take up all of my precious moaning time.

I’m a little puffed up about this image. These Trumpetfish (Aulostomus chinensis)  are difficult to shoot:I managed to fire one off at this fine specimen just as he was attempting to scurry from one completely ineffective hiding position to another. Of course, they can’t really hide. They just like to imagine that they are invisible. All that they require is a few sprigs of sea fan or coral to make them believe that they have disappeared. I can still see them, of course, but the shot is ruined. It’s rare to get a good side shot such as this of one which is not obscured by something.

I include this shot simply because it’s a good example of “what I see when I’m diving”:It’s a little mob of female Purple Anthea (Psudanthias tuka)  hovering over a lovely coral formation which I think is Turbinaria reniformis.  It does make a pretty scene. I got that shot at Barracuda Point.

Returning home on Saturday, I stopped right in front of our house and took this shot to the South showing the big wood chip loading equipment at JANT (Japan and New Guinea Timber). They grind up trees to make paper:That’s the Finisterre Mountains  in the background. You can also see the Lutheran Shipping Engineering Yard on the far shore.

I seem to have nothing witty to wrap it up.

Happy Australia Day.

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Paper, Wood and the Prince of Nature

Posted in Opinions on November 8th, 2009 by MadDog
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Today is Sunday. I’m not really here. I’m up at Blueblood recuperating from the wedding yesterday. This is a phantom post.

Before I begin today’s hypocritical sermon, let me show you the surreal scene in from of my house at 05:30:Purple and Red SunriseToo much purple, but no matter what I tried I couldn’t make it look any better, so I left it the way it was. I guess I still have a few things to learn about Photoshop. The fifteen second exposures on the three frames did make the water nice and glassy.

First, I’ll admit that I believe that anybody who suggests that we should stop chopping up trees to make paper is an idiot. The world runs on paper. We could get by without fossil fuels (nukes are fine with me), but civilisation, as we know it, would collapse without paper. Unfortunately in the extreme is that nobody has figured out any commercially useful way to make paper without cutting trees up into tiny bits. So, we have to live with this:

Prince of Nature full of chipped logs

This is an absolutely huge  ship full of chopped up trees. I can’t even imagine how many trees are there, but the trucks run up and down our access road 24 hours a day for months to make enough chips for a ship load. By the way, the ship parks nearly in front of our house which would be just about directly on the other side of the ship from where the middle tug boat is sitting.

Where I find the irony in this story (more to come later) is in the name of the ship, the Prince of Nature.  Your mileage may vary according to how generally disgruntled you are concerning the chopping up of trees for paper. My general feeling is that we must do it, so we’d better find the least damaging way to go about obtaining this resource. In the case of this company (It’s called Japan and Niugini Timber – JANT.) I think that they’re doing it in the least disgusting way that we can manage, given the general condition of the forestry industry in PNG, upon which it’s simply too dangerous for me to comment.

When we first came to PNG in 1981, JANT was just roaring to life. They were clear-cutting tropical rain forest with a vengeance. Now, at least to outward appearances, that has changed. All of the trees that I see coming in on the trucks, with very few exceptions, are small diameter eucalypts which are grown on monoculture plantations. This is, of course, still devastating to the ecology, but at least it is the lesser of two evils.

The Prince of Nature . . . uh huh

Prince of Nature,  indeed. Could you think of a more hypocritical name?

Okay, we lived through that one with no blood on the floor. Now we’re going to get down and dirty. Here we have another ship. Victory  is its name and there’s precious little irony in that:

Logger ship "Victory"

The owners of the cargo of this ship have, indeed, enjoyed a grisly victory over the people of PNG. You’re looking at a ship carrying an absolute fortune of some of the finest quality tropical timber left on the planet. I’m disgusted  to look at it. I would not be quite  so disgusted if I believed that the people who gave it up were not getting (I have to subdue some Army talk here) cheated  quite so badly. We all know who made the big money here. I don’t have to say it.

Maybe some erstwhile Christians out there will remember the story of Jacob and Esau. I’ll skip over all the religious stuff and get to the core of it. Isaac, the father of the two brothers, had an estate the value of which was incalculable. Esau was the older of the two and stood to grab it all when Isaac died. One day Esau came in from wherever and was feeling a little peckish. He saw his brother cooking a meal, and begged for food. Crafty Jacob told Esau that he could have a cup of soup if he swore to hand over his birthright. Esau said, “Sure, no worries.” Dumb, eh? Everything, everything,  for a cup of soup:

Logger ship "Victory" carrying someone's birthright

And, you know that the big men who sell the birthright of their people, their children and the generations to come will say. “Ah yes, but we still have our land.” (and our shiny new cars) Fools!  Your land is worth nothing  without the ecology that supported your ancestors and may, sooner that we might expect, have to be your sole source of lifegiving sustenance and shelter from the hell to come. Your land is now simply a pile of dirt that will shortly be washed into the sea along with your entire culture.

Tirade complete. Conscience nearly clear.

Here is a little cheerier sunrise:


With a little hint of fire.

In our hearts, we know it’s coming.

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Mountains on Mountains

Posted in Mixed Nuts on April 29th, 2009 by MadDog
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If you’re seeing this it may be because I’m On The Road. I’ve prepared a few posts to be automatically published unless I intercept them and substitute a travel post.

When I leave my house each morning, I pass through a gate at the edge of our compound and this is what I see:

Rock mountains over wood chip mountainsThere is a large wood-chipping factory just outside the gate. The reddish stuff is tens of thousands of plantation-grown eucalyptus trees all chopped up into little chips about the size of a playing card. Once every few months a giant ship comes in and hauls them away. The blue mountains in the distance are the Finisterre Mountains. Here is another shot that I grabbed just outside of our gate:
The Finisterre Mountains in the distance behind wood chips at JANTOn the way into town, I happened past just as this pretty scene was unfolding:

A ship in the morning sun on Astrolabe Bay
It is a ship way out on Astrolabe Bay. The big Casuarina tree in the foreground makes a nice contrast. I have some other amusing shots of the mountains and the bay here.

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