1. The General Data Protection Regulation gives the European Union the power to hold businesses and organizations accountable for how they collect and handle personal data — your data.
Businesses and organizations have had two years to get ready. This wasn’t a sneak attack by the European institutions. The GDPR went on the books in May 2016, giving anyone who collects customer data plenty of time to prepare.
2. Even though it’s driven out of Europe, the GDPR impacts the whole world.
If you live outside of Europe, you’re probably wondering what a European law has to do with you. Thanks to something called “territorial scope,” any organization that deals with data of EU residents must comply with the GDPR for those individuals, which impacts global organizations like Apple and Facebook. Even though they are not strictly required, some organizations are taking a principled (and perhaps easier) approach, providing the same set of controls and protections to non-EU residents.
3. It’s filling up in your inbox.
We’ve all been bombarded with emails about updated privacy policies and terms of service. It’s (mostly) not fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it’s because organizations are getting their policies and practices into GDPR compliance. Bonus points: All those emails are a hint to disconnect from services you’ve forgotten about.
Now this is where it gets complicated.
For while there is a WordPress plugin that is supposed to ensure that this WordPress blog conforms, whatever that implies, to the requirements of the new law I am not able to download it without upgrading the blog to Business Plan. As I am already paying to be a Premium WordPress user I object to shelling out more money just now.
So if there is any aspect of being a subscriber to Learning from Dogs that you do not like then please unsubscribe.
As I learn how other blog authors are dealing with the issue then I will let you know if there are any changes that I need to make.
Any advice or suggestions regarding this new law would be most welcome!
The tree that houses our internet connection has died!
Our local arborist from Liberty Tree Enterprises is on the property tomorrow, Wednesday, to fell a dead tree. It is the tree that has our Outreach Internet wireless antenna attached to it very close to its top.
Outreach are standing by to re-install the antenna in another tree close by but it’s reasonable to plan for being off-line for a couple of days.
Thus, the following article that recently appeared on Mother Nature Network seems a most appropriate item to share with you all.
A dying tree in a forest is nature simply running its course and eventually giving back to its ecosystem. A dying tree in a well-landscaped yard, however, can pose problems for other trees and everything else around it.
If you have trees near your home, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on their health and to take action if you think a tree is dying or dead.
But first it’s important to be sure your tree is actually sick. This may seem like common sense, but some trees will exhibit signs of illness as part of their usual seasonal cycles. Kevin Zobrist, a Washington State University extension forestry educator, explains that some trees, like the western red cedar, will temporarily appear sick “due to normal seasonal dieback.” So the first step to identifying if a tree is dying is to identify the tree to make sure it’s not just behaving like it’s supposed to.
It’s also important to remember that not all causes of tree sickness are insect-related. Ailments can be the result of improper planting, diseases and weather-related events, like severe storms, winds and drought.
5 signs your tree may be dying
1. Too much leaning or an otherwise odd shape.According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), trees leaning 15 degrees away from their original vertical position aren’t doing so well. Trees that were originally straight that are leaning like this are likely the victims of strong winds or root damage. The InterNACHI says that large trees that are leaning due to wind “seldom recover.”
2. Cracks in the tree. These are deep splits in the bark of the tree that can be difficult to identify. Some trees are supposed to have cracks. But deep cracks and gashes can lead to serious issues and “indicate the tree is presently failing,” per the InterNACHI.
3. Trees can get cankers, too. Cankers are deeply unpleasant things for both humans and trees. In the case of our arboreal friends, cankers are areas of dead bark, the result of a bacterial or fungal infection, according to the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), a trade group for tree professionals. These infections get inside the tree through an open wound, and the stress of the infection causes the bark to become sunken or fall off the tree. A tree is more likely to break apart near a canker.
4. Wood shows signs of decay. Decay is often hard to spot because it often starts on the inside of the tree, according to TCIA. There are still signs of decay that you can see, however. Mushroom-like spores on the visible roots, stems or branches are clear signs of decay, and cavities where wood is missing also indicate that the tree isn’t healthy.
5. The tree has deadwood. This is exactly what it sounds like: It’s wood that’s dead. When a tree starts dropping branches or limbs, it’s a sign it’s trying to conserve resources by making itself smaller. In addition to being dry and easy to break, deadwood can also be identified by the color of the wood. If it’s bright green, the tree is still healthy. If it’s dull green, it’s dying, and if it’s brown, it’s deadwood. Be sure to test other branches from around the tree as it is possible that only that section of the tree is dying.
Arborists can help
If you don’t feel comfortable making the call regarding your tree’s health, consult the professionals. Agricultural extensions organized through universities can help you determine the state of your tree, and let you know if trees in your county or state are experiencing problems. If you’re not sure how to contact your extension, the National Pesticide Information Center maintains a list of extensions in each state and U.S. territory.
You can also reach out to an arborist, also referred to as a tree surgeon. These individuals can help you determine the health of your tree and if a removal is necessary. If it is, many arborists can help you with that as well. The International Society of Arboriculture has an easy-to-use tool to help you locate ISA-certified arborists in your area.
I hope that the above article has been informative and that you will understand why there may be a pause from this end.
So I will close the post by including another photograph taken on Monday afternoon of our tree that confirms that it has come to the end of its natural life and that if not felled could be a danger to the house.
We were in Reggie and Chris’s villa in the village of La Croix des Luques inland from the Cote d’Azur, Southern France.
I quickly realised that their villa was not far from the world-famous sailplaning airfield at Fayence. Or LES PLANEURS DE FAYENCE as it is known. Reggie gladly offered to take Jean and me across to the airfield.
Many years ago, when I was living and working in Colchester, Essex, I became a very keen and active pilot with the Rattlesden Gliding Club in Suffolk eventually qualifying as a gliding instructor. So when Reggie suggested that I see about getting a dual flight at the Fayence Club I didn’t need asking twice.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t accommodate my wishes before we had to leave France so that opportunity had to be let go.
Another opportunity, this time for Jeannie, was taken advantage of. Chris was a member of a local art class and while we were going to be there the class would be meeting at the villa. Would Jean like to take part?
Jean is a good amateur artist, as many of her paintings and sketches around our house attest to. So that did take place and it was a wonderful afternoon for all concerned.
Then on a subsequent day Reggie and Chris took us for a drive along the beautiful coastline that is the essence of the Cote d’Azur.
To reach the coast Reggie took a route that went down towards Frejus and Saint-Raphael and then joined the coast road just west of Le Dramont.
I found this was stirring up very old memories. For my father, a Chartered Architect, had a passion for this part of France and every summer back in the 1950s took the four of us (Mum, Dad, me and my sister Elizabeth) for a month’s holiday. Thus many of the coastal town names had echoes from over 60 years ago. (Father died in December, 1956 of cancer.)
As we drove along, I reminisced aloud to Reggie and Chris that when I was 15 my mother decided that it would be a good thing for me to do a student exchange with a French boy. It was arranged and in the early part of the summer of 1959 in to our house in Preston Road, Wembley came Philippe, whose home was in Paris.
Then in about 4 weeks it was my turn to accompany Philippe back to Paris. It was a very ornate apartment with an air of luxury living and I felt very lost in the place. Apparently, Philippe’s father was a director with Air France.
Anyway, the father announced just a couple of days after I had arrived that all the family the following day would be flying from Paris to Nice airport, (with Air France, of course!) to then spend a month at the family’s French villa in the coastal town of Antheor.
On me mentioning Antheor Reggie immediately exclaimed that we were just a few miles from going through Antheor and that we should stop there. I wondered if I would remember anything of the place.
Well I did!! To my amazement when we stopped to look down at the beaches below the level of the road I thought that we were very close to the beach in front of the villa at Antheor where I used to swim, frequently on my own, every day that I stayed there.
I told everyone to stay where they were and ran on to the next beach.
It was the same beach that I now recalled so clearly.
Even more amazing for me was that the iron gate and steep stone steps down to the beach were still there, albeit no longer being used as a more modern set of steps was in place.
By this time, the others had arrived at the head of the new steps and were looking down at me as I became truly lost in days so very long ago.
I have no recollection why back then the rest of the family so rarely came down to the beach that was so close to where their villa was. Indeed, it was just a case of crossing the coast road, much quieter in those years, and descending the steps to the beach.
But for this London boy it was bliss beyond measure. Maybe at some level it reminded me of family holidays for our, as in sister Elizabeth and me, father’s death was still a painful memory.
I stood still and just looked at the beach and at the sea and was transported so very clearly back to the times when I swam around the rocks, wearing a face mask and snorkel, just lost forever in what one could see underwater.
Then it was time to return to the car and resume our delightful drive.
Soon after we stopped at a small beach cafe for an afternoon drink of something cool.
Everything, well for me at least, still seemed a little unreal; a little larger than life! I think that’s what inspired me to take the photograph above of the cafe proprietor and her cat!
Then we moved on again.
In due course, to another delightful evening meal somewhere local. The French expression “en famille” says it all!
These wonderful days were going by far too quickly!
In a flash it was Tuesday and Jean and I were being driven to Nice airport for another easyJet flight. But instead of returning to Bristol we had booked an easyJet flight into Gatwick. Because the last 36-hours of our vacation were being spent with my daughter’s family.
Maija’s husband, Marius, who is employed by The Royal National Theatre, near Waterloo Bridge on the south bank of the River Thames in London, frequently is working evenings but in order to spend time with me and Jeannie he had taken a day’s holiday on the 25th.
Our last day of our vacation dawned bright and sunny. It was a school day for Morten and after he had left for school Marius and Maija suggested going for a walk along the South Downs. Perfect!
For those unfamiliar with the South Downs let me quote a little of what may be read on Wikipedia.
The South Downs are a range of chalk hills that extends for about 260 square miles (670 km2) across the south-eastern coastal counties of England from the Itchen Valley of Hampshire in the west to Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, East Sussex, in the east. The Downs are bounded on the northern side by a steep escarpment, from whose crest there are extensive views northwards across the Weald. The South Downs National Park forms a much larger area than the chalk range of the South Downs and includes large parts of the Weald.
The South Downs are characterised by rolling chalk downland with close-cropped turf and dry valleys, and are recognised as one of the most important chalk landscapes in England. The range is one of the four main areas of chalkdownland in southern England.
It is a beautiful place to walk.
It was a magical way of spending our last day.
Again, I was aware of stirrings in my old memory box from many years ago, possibly when I might have taken young Alex and Maija for a walk along the Downs, or something along those lines.
But today it meant so much for Jeannie and me to be with Maija and Marius for this gorgeous walk.
A couple of hours later we found a place to have a late lunch and asked the lady serving our table to take a photograph of all four of us!
Obviously, we had to be home in time for Morten’s return from school.
Those last hours of that day were focussed on keeping Morten company. What else mattered!
So the last photograph of the whole vacation is the one below. A picture taken of Morten planting some seeds that were bought while we were out that day.
We arrived back in Portland, Oregon around 6pm on the 26th and too late to drive all the way back to Merlin.
So after we had collected the car from the long-term parking we stopped off at the first motel that we saw heading though southern Portland.
Then around 11am on Friday, 27th April we pulled up in front of the house to be greeted by six very loving and contented dogs. Well done, Jana!
That evening those contented dogs demonstrating their happiness did more than anything to communicate a precious message.
Alex drove us across to Bristol airport mid-morning on the 18th April for our flight, courtesy of easyJet, from Bristol to Nice.
The days with Alex and Lisa had been so wonderful yet had gone by so very quickly. Thank goodness that Alex and Lisa had already made plans to come and see us again in Merlin sometime during August. It made the parting a little less painful.
Our flight was a good one and departed on time and quickly climbed into a beautiful Spring sky.
Looking down on the beautiful planet underneath us I tried very hard not to think of the 8,000 or so litres of aviation fuel that Alex estimated our Airbus would burn on this 90-minute flight. (Alex is a Commercial pilot flying for an airline out of Bristol.)
But no time to get too introspective about the wake we humans are leaving on the face of Planet Earth because before Jean and I had really got our heads around the fact that we would shortly be seeing Reggie and his wife, Chris, our aircraft was positioning itself over Nice in readiness for landing at Nice airport.
Reggie and Christine’s house was situated at La Croix des Luques, about an hour’s drive from Nice and up in the beautiful countryside that lay inland from the Cote d’Azur; that famous coastal region to the East of Toulon that boasted such places as Cannes, St. Tropez, Monaco and, of course, Nice itself. It was glorious countryside and in some ways familiar with the forested country back in Merlin, Oregon.
By 5pm French time we were at the house and Jean and Reggie were catching up in earnest!
I had a very strong sense that the next six days were going to be very relaxing and very entertaining.
Plus Reggie and Chris had two dogs; two wonderful dogs. But talk about the fickle finger of fate. For their two dogs were named Merlin and Hugo! And, I should hasten to add, named before we moved from Arizona to Oregon in 2012.
To put that into context for any new readers of this place, where Jean and I live in Southern Oregon is on Hugo Road, Merlin!
Tomorrow will be the last day of sharing the details with you all of our vacation.
It will cover the balance of the time that we spent with Reggie and Chris in the South of France, a most amazing ‘blast from the past’ for yours truly, our return to England and another stay, just for 36 hours this time with Maija, Marius and Morten, then on the 26th our return flight to Portland.
So on Friday the 13th of April daughter Maija ran Jean and me to the railway station at Haywards Heath to catch a train into London, specifically to Victoria Station.
Then we boarded the London Underground to get ourselves from Victoria Station to Bounds Green tube station on the Picadilly Line. It was a bit of a culture shock for both Jean and me; to say the least. But we managed it somehow and once at Bounds Green there was my sister Eleanor to greet us. Eleanor lives in Johannesburg in South Africa (long story) but needed to come to England and made arrangements that meant she could meet with us for this one afternoon and evening. For Eleanor had pre-booked a bed and breakfast in Coniston Road, London N10.
Eleanor is twelve years my younger sister and it was only later on in life that both of us realised what a precious age gap that was. For as Eleanor was growing up in her early years I was at the age of wanting to be the big brother to her and it became, and still is, a very close bond.
Immediately upon meeting we found a nearby cafe to grab some lunch and do a bit of catching up!
The afternoon and evening went by far too quickly and fairly smartly on the Saturday morning, the 14th, we said our ‘goodbyes’ and Jean and I struggled for the second time in twenty-four hours with the Underground! This time making our way from Bounds Green to Paddington Station, the main line station that serves Bristol and places in between, as in the Great Western Railway, as well as down to the South-West including Exeter and then on to Plymouth and into Cornwall.
Our train journey was from Paddington to Swindon Station to be met by Richard and Julie.
Richard is my longest, closest and dearest male friend.
He and I go back very many years, for we met not long after I had left IBM in 1978, where I had been an Office Products salesman, and then started my own company. Richard had, in turn, recently left Olivetti where he, too, had been an Office Products salesman.
We hit it off immediately and over the intervening years, as in the thick end of 40 years, there’s not a lot that we haven’t shared in terms of fun and frolics, and especially a great many flying exploits in my group-owned Piper Super Cub!
When Jean and I got together in 2008 as you might imagine she quickly became close friends with Richard and Jules, as Richard calls Julie.
Plus Jean and Richard share a rather ironic, if that’s the right term, event. For both of them were diagnosed in December, 2015 with the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease!
As with seeing Eleanor, the time with Richard and Jules was far too short but, nonetheless, very
precious. Plus, dear Murphy gave Jean and me a much-needed dog fix!
Thus on the morning of the 15th, Richard and Jules ran us across to Bristol which is where my son, Alex, is living with Lisa, his partner.
The plan was to spend from Sunday, the 15th, through to Wednesday, the 18th, with Alex and Lisa. Alex had booked time off work for those days but Lisa unfortunately was working during the weekdays.
Yet another meeting of dear friends, as in Richard and Jules catching up with Alex.
Alex had arranged for Jean and me to go down to South Devon on Monday, 16th, to meet with John Joiner, my dear brother-in-law.
Let me explain some family background. My father had had two daughters with a previous wife to my mother. Their names were Rhona and Corinne and when they were alive they both lived in South Devon. In the years that followed my father’s death in December, 1956, both Rhona and Corinne, and their respective husbands, Reider and John, made me feel very special and very deeply loved by both of them. (Indeed, it was because of wanting to be close to Rhona and Corinne’s families that I settled in South Devon when I returned from Cyprus in 1991.)
Corinne died in June, 2013. John, who is now well into his 80s, lives in a small apartment in the village of South Brent just a few miles from Totnes in South Devon. I make a point of calling him from Oregon at least once a week but to be able to see John again after so many years was another big highlight of the vacation.
Inevitably, along came another lunch and in the photograph above you can see John on the right-hand side and sitting next to him, as in the left of the photo, is Greta, my cousin as in Rhona’s daughter, who spends a great deal of her spare time looking after John. Dear Greta!
After the pub lunch we returned to John’s apartment for tea and carried on sharing many special memories.
Indeed, one of those special memories was Benji the wonderful dog that Corinne and John had for many years. On one of John’s walls was this wonderful painting of Benji.
The other fact about John is his incredible use of the English language. Both in terms of his vocabulary and his diction. John’s legacy to me is, and will be for the rest of my days, the value of speaking well.
Another wonderful connection with past times.
The truth is that the odds are that I may never see John again. That made this day with John so incredibly special. Huge thanks to Alex and Greta. What a fabulous day!
The next day, Tuesday, the 17th, was Lisa’s birthday and yet another wonderful evening out.
Then came the 18th and the last few hours of being with Alex. At 12:50 that day we were due to fly from Bristol down to Nice in Southern France to spend six nights with Reggie, Jean’s brother.
Those beautiful days will be the topic of tomorrow’s post. See you then!
But before I turn away from today’s description of our days in England, let me address a question that John Zande raised yesterday. Namely: “Have to ask, do you miss the English village life? It’s so beautiful.”
Here’s my answer:
John, yes there was no question that there were stirrings of great familiarity when down with John near Totnes. In my mind’s eye, I could still walk up Totnes High Street and name many of the stores that I used to visit on an almost weekly basis when living in Harberton.
But at the same time I was shocked and disappointed by the huge growth in new housing, someone said an additional 500 homes built in the area in the last 5 years, and all the traffic and crowded lanes that go with that expansion. Many of the lanes were so crowded with parked cars that they were effectively single-lane carriageways.
The relatively sparse housing in the part of Oregon where we now live, the way that the natural world seems untouched by us humans here on Hugo Road, felt very beautiful in comparison. We looked forward to being back in Merlin.
We had arrived in England, via Gatwick airport, yesterday, as in Monday the 9th April, and were staying with Maija and family until Friday when Jean and I travelled up to London to meet my sister Eleanor.
So these three days were to be spent doing as many fun things as we could; it being the Easter school holiday week so Morten was at home each day.
Thus today’s post is a fairly quick run through of all the things that we did.
First thing on Tuesday morning was to see how adept young Morten was in riding his bike.
Thankfully it was dry but still overcast. The forecast was for the weather to improve over the coming days. But whatever the weather we were not going to let it get in the way.
Our wild botanic garden on the High Weald of West Sussex has over 500 acres of beautiful ornamental gardens, woodlands and a nature reserve. Wakehurst is also home to the Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild seed conservation project in the world.
Morten got it into his head to ‘dress up’!
He is a very lively young man!
As well as the beautiful grounds it was possible to buy plants.
Slowly the weather improved.
In the blink of an eye it was Wednesday and the plan that day was a visit to the Bluebell Railway. As the website offers:
The volunteer-run Bluebell Line was the UK’s first preserved standard gauge passenger railway, re-opening part of the Lewes to East Grinstead line of the old London Brighton & South Coast Railway in 1960. Since then it has developed into one of the largest tourist attractions in Sussex, yet it still remains true to its objectives of the preservation for posterity of a country branch line, its steam locomotives, coaches and goods stock, signalling systems, stations and operating practices.
One’s never too old to go on a steam railway!
As the above photograph shows it was another day of intermittent rain and low clouds.
But did that stop four people having a fun time???
On the Thursday, the 12th, Maija had an engagement in London in connection with her company, SOUND UK, and Jeannie and I were in charge of Morten for the day.
Well I think that was the arrangement although Morten woke up with very clear ideas as to how the day was to be spent. Primarily walking into Lindfield village so he could show Jean and me all the places of note!
Lindfield is the classic English village complete with cricket field, village pond and a pub or two. As Wikipedia offers:
The village stands on high ground above the upper reaches of the River Ouse. It is situated close to both the natural beauty of the High Weald and to Haywards Heath with its amenities and station on the main London-Brighton railway line.
Lindfield has a rich historic and architectural heritage. The ancient High Street, lined with lime trees, has over forty medieval and post medieval timber-framed houses, with many individual shops. At the bottom of the High Street is a natural spring-fed pond with fish, ducks, and herons. Beyond lies the Common which, over the centuries, has witnessed many events – fairs, festivals, bonfire celebrations and sporting activities; cricket has been played there since 1747. Today, it is still central to village celebrations and leisure activities. In addition to the Common there is Pickers’ Green, providing pitches for cricket, football, stoolball and a children’s play area.
The High Street follows an ancient north-south track that has existed for thousands of years, long before the Romans built a major road, the London to Brighton Way, a mile to the west of the village.
King Edward III recognised the importance of medieval Lindfield and in 1343 granted the town a royal charter to hold a market every Thursday and two annual eight-day fairs. For centuries the fairs continued each April and August with the summer fair becoming one of the largest sheep sales in Sussex.
Lindfield was once part of the thriving Wealden iron industry. As early as 1539, William Levett of Buxted, a county curate with a thriving sideline in iron and armaments, was recorded as extracting iron ore at Lindfield. Later the Henslowe family of Lindfield were actively engaged in the iron milling business in association with Ralph Hogge, parson Levett’s former servant and later a major ironmaster in his own right.
In 1841 the London-Brighton railway opened, passing to the west of the parish with a ‘Station for Cuckfield and Lindfield Towns’ on open land that was to become the town of Haywards Heath. The construction of the Ouse Valley branch line reached Lindfield in 1866 with a proposed station to the north of All Saints’ Church but the line was abandoned for financial reasons.
Charles Eamer Kempe, a leading church stained glass designer and manufacturer lived at Lindfield until his death in 1907. Kempe renovated and redecorated an Elizabethan manor house near the village which he renamed Old Place, from where he entertained clients and professional partners. Internally the house was appointed to the highest standard of Victorian splendour. After his death in the 1930s, the house was partitioned into six individual residences, with the main reception rooms forming part of the new “East Wing”.
Lindfield also had a children’s play area which is where I snapped this photograph of Morten on that Thursday.
Then before we knew it the morning of Friday, 13th was upon us and it was time to catch the train up to London.
However these days with Morten had put in place a precious bond that was one of the primary reasons for us coming to England.
In tomorrow’s post I offer the experiences of meeting Eleanor, Richard and my son Alex.
Our recent vacation to see family in England and France.
Dear friends, I have my fingers tightly crossed that today’s post and the posts for the rest of the week aren’t going to come across as too indulgent!
For what I have planned this week is to share the experiences that Jean and I had when we flew from Oregon to Europe, leaving on 8th April and returning on the 26th.
Come the day of our departure the morning presented low clouds and persistent rain. It was a four-hour drive North on Highway I-5 and our plan was to be away by 8am. Our home-sitter cum pet-sitter, Jana, would be arriving around 9:30.
Inevitably, I couldn’t sleep that well and it was not long after 7:30am that Jean and I drove down our driveway to start the journey to Portland International Airport. It was rain the whole way and not an easy drive; to say the least. Especially when overtaking the many trucks when the spray was pretty grim!
The Portland skies were just as wet and dreary as the drive up had been.
Anyway, we had arrived without any hitches and it was time to forget about the car for nearly three weeks and start getting ourselves into holiday mood.
Then on the very dot of the scheduled time for departure, as in 15:40, our Icelandic Air flight FI664 rotated skywards en route for London Gatwick via a short stop at Reykjavik.
To our great amazement the total flight time of over ten hours passed reasonably smoothly and before we knew it we were catching a taxi from London Gatwick to my daughter’s house in the village of Lindfield just 20 minutes away from the airport.
By mid-day on Monday the 12th we were at my daughter’s house and sitting down to a lunch snack with Maija, my daughter, and Morten, my seven-year-old grandson.
The plan was to spend a few days with Maija, and her husband Marius, and above all with Morten and I will cover what we did over those days in tomorrow’s post.
Why is is that some things so profoundly affect one?
In working my way through magazines and other stuff that I wanted to read following being away for nearly three weeks, I came across a report published by the University of Exeter, back in England, about the effect of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef.
Deteriorating Great Barrier Reef hushed: young fish no longer hear their way home
Degraded coral reefs are far quieter than five years ago, and no longer sound like a suitable habitat to young fish searching for a place to live and breed, according to research published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
Baby fish looking for a home can use noisy coral reef sounds including snapping shrimp clicks, damselfish chirps, and clownfish chattering to locate and select suitable habitat. But that “coral reef orchestra” has been quietened following recent cyclone and coral-bleaching damage on the Great Barrier Reef, raising fears that young fish may no longer hear their way home.
An international team of scientists, led by the University of Exeter, carried out field experiments on the Northern Great Barrier Reef and found that reefs sound much quieter and less acoustically diverse than they did before three years of cyclones and coral bleaching.
The soundscapes of these recently-degraded reefs are less attractive to juvenile fishes attracting 40% fewer fish compared to the sound of previous healthy reefs.
Lead author Tim Gordon, a marine biologist at the University of Exeter, said: “It’s heart-breaking to hear. The usual pops, chirps, snaps and chatters of countless fish and invertebrates have disappeared. The symphony of the sea is being silenced.”
This loss of attractiveness of reef sounds to fish in the sea could have devastating consequences for reefs.
I know I am far from being alone in feeling great sadness at this aspect of our changing planet.
So before I republish the rest of that University of Exeter paper take a few minutes and watch this YouTube video about the Australian Barrier Reef
Then listen to this mp3 file that is a recording of the sounds of a healthy reef.
This is the balance of that news item published by the University.
Fish communities are instrumental to maintaining healthy reefs by removing algae, facilitating coral growth, contributing to nutrient cycles and keeping food webs in balance. Damaged reefs with healthy fish populations recover faster than reefs that have lost their fish.
Harry Harding, co-author from the University of Bristol, explains: “If fish aren’t hearing their way home anymore, that could be bad news for the recovery prospects of reefs. Fish play critical roles on coral reefs, grazing away harmful algae and allowing coral to grow. A reef without fish is a reef that’s in trouble.”
Coral reef animals produce a dazzling array of sounds to communicate with each other while hunting, to warn each other about the approach of predators and to impress each other during courtship. Together, these sounds combine to form a soundscape that can be heard for miles around. This soundscape provides a valuable cue for young fish to locate and select habitat after a period of early development in the open ocean.
Gordon said: “Being able to hear the difference really drives home the fact that our coral reefs are being decimated. Some of the most beautiful places on Earth are dying due to human activity, and it is up to us to fix it.”
The scientists from the University of Exeter, University of Bristol, Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science), Duke University (USA), the Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University (Australia) built experimental reefs from coral rubble on sand flats, then used underwater loudspeakers to broadcast healthy coral reef sounds or degraded coral reef sounds, to see which sounds attracted more young fish.
Senior author Steve Simpson, Associate Professor in Marine Biology & Global Change at the University of Exeter, said: “Over the last 15 years my research group have discovered how important sound can be for fish to locate and select specific reefs. We have marvelled at the remarkable diversity and complexity of coral reef soundscapes. But in the last few years the reefs we know and love have died before our eyes. And the deserted and crumbling rubble fields have turned eerily quiet.”
Professor Simpson added: “If the reefs have gone quiet, then the chances of the next generation of fish recolonising the reefs are much reduced. Without fish, the reefs can’t recover.”
Warming seas increase the frequency and severity of coral bleaching events worldwide, as higher temperatures cause a breakdown in the relationship between corals and the zooxanthellae that they host in their tissue, providing their energy through photosynthesis.
This bleaching recently killed up to 80% of corals in some areas of the Great Barrier Reef, and bleaching events of this nature are happening worldwide four times more frequently than they used to.
Reductions in carbon emissions are needed to reduce this damage, as Gordon explains: “The damage we’ve done to reefs worldwide is horrific, but the fight isn’t over yet. If we can fulfil our international commitments to dramatically reduce carbon emissions, it’s still possible to protect some of the reefs that are left. The time for action is now.”
Jean and I flew back into Portland last Thursday evening and after a motel stay near to the airport arrived back home last Friday a little before mid-day.
It was an incredible trip covering family in both England and France and I will start writing up the details of where we went and who we stayed with over the coming days; sing out if this is not want you want to read!!
But as good as the vacation was it was fabulous to be home and I wanted to share with you a few sights of home taken over the last couple of days.
I can think of no better way of re-starting my blog posts than to republish an item that Dan shared with me back in early April.
A man wrote in a letter to a small hotel in a Midwest town he planned to visit on his vacation:
“I would very much like to bring my dog with me. He is well-groomed and very well behaved. Would you be willing to permit me to keep him in my room with me at night?”
An immediate reply came from the hotel owner, who wrote:
“SIR: I’ve been operating this hotel for many years. In all that time, I’ve never had a dog steal towels, bedclothes, silverware or steal pictures off the walls or use them as a coloring book.
I’ve never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly. And I’ve never had a dog run out on a hotel bill. Yes, indeed, your dog is welcome at my hotel. And, if your dog will vouch for you, you’re welcome to stay here, too.”
Dan also shared some really gorgeous photographs that can be seen on the next two Sundays.