Archive for Hebrides
www.telegraph.co.uk 8th November 2010
33 whales have been found beached off Rutland Island near Burtonport in County Donegal, Ireland on Saturday. The pod had been spotted in late October off the Inner Hebrides and were in danger of grounding themselves due to bad weather, said Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. Also in the region at that time was the Royal Navy and several campaigners have voiced their concerns that military sonars may have caused the whales to beach themselves. However, a Royal Navy spokesperson has claimed that the nearest navy vessel to South Uist, where the whales were spotted in October, was 50 miles away and at that distance, would have no effect on the mammals navigational abilities. Navies around the world have previously insisted that their sonars do not affect marine creatures but in America, a judge ordered the US Navy not to use mid-frequency sonar between 2007 and 2009 for fear of damaging marine life. The beaching off Rutland Island is one of the largest in recent history. In the 1960s, around 60 whales died by beaching off the west coast of Kerry. In 2001, 35-40 more suffocated in the same area. The most recent event is currently being investigated by a team from Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology.
Sources: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment 7th September 2010
The Royal Mail has been secretly testing zero-emission delivery vans in the Outer Hebrides. On the Isle of Lewis, the Post Office has been using Hydrogen powered Ford Transits. They fill up in one of the UK’s few hydrogen refuelling stations in Stornoway and have been converted at a total cost of £100,000. The tests could be in response to the severe criticism the Royal Mail faced in 2004 after it scrapped its sorting trains in favour of national flights and long-distance lorries. If the project is a success then the Hydrogen van could replace all of the 35,000 postal vans in the country. However, although the project may go down well in the Northwest Scottish Isles where an alternative energy source is needed to replace expensive diesel and petrol, there are few hydrogen refuelling stations in the rest of the country. Also, the Hydrogen vans’ range is 85 to 135 miles compared to 300 of conventional vehicles. Other van companies are believed to be awaiting the results of the experiment with interest.
Sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news 7th September 2010
Recent research into the genetic make-up of smaller bee populations in the Hebrides Islands has given an insight into the potential threats posed to bee populations nationwide if their habitats are further fragmented. Due to the gradual reduction in their habitat the Moss Carder Bees of the Scottish Islands are so inbred that it poses a threat to their very continuation as a species. The lead researcher on the project, Penelope Whitehorn from Stirling University, said that although the effects of inbreeding had not yet directly affected the creatures immune systems it did make them more susceptible to parasitic infections. The rich habitat meant that the effects are not as pronounced as they would have been on the poorer UK mainland. Other consequences include the increased likelihood of infertile males.
One species of bee has already become extinct in the UK. The Short Haired Bumblebee died out in the 1980s due to decreased habitat and parasitic infections. So far attempts to reintroduce the bee to the UK from New Zealand (where the bees were introduced in the 19th century) have failed.