From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1995:
Chemical weapons scuttled by the
British after World Wars I and II are blamed by
local residents for the recent deaths of hundreds of
birds and some seals along the coasts of Donegal
and Antrim, Ireland. At least 120,000 tons of
nerve gases and mustard gas were sunk in the area
between 1945 and 1957, where 18 ships full of
similar materials were sunk about 25 years earlier.
A panel of 26 researchers who volun-
teer their efforts on behalf of the Monterey Bay
National Marine Sanctuary is expected to recom-
mend a ban on “chumming” in the area, to take
effect in early 1995. Chumming––dumping blood
and offal into the water to attract sharks––is used
by entrepreneur Jon Cappella to draw rare great
white sharks toward submerged cages of thrill-
seeking divers, anchored near Point Ano Nuevo.
Ano Nuevo is home of one of the world’s biggest
elephant seal and sea lion breeding colonies and is
just a mile from a popular surfing beach.
Diver James Robinson, 42, of Santa
B a r b a r a, on December 9 became the first con-
firmed fatality from a shark attack along the
California coast in nearly six years. The attacker
was believed to be a great white shark, the same
species as killed UCLA graduate student Tamara
McAllister near Malibu in February 1989.
Hoping to prevent the collapse of cod,
flounder, and haddock stocks, the Commerce
Department on December 7 closed Georges Bank
(off New England) to commercial fishing from
December 12 until at least March 25, and banned
all use of “small mesh” nets in the vicinity.
China on December 1 banned fishing
around Quinghai lake in Russia––except at a state-
run fish farm–– to protect a rare species of scale-
less carp. Poachers on the lake reportedly kill 500
metric tons of fish per year.
A study of guppies by Lee Alan
Dugatkin and Robert Craig Sargent has discovered
that males choose less attractive males as their
same-sex companions, apparently to look more
attractive by contrast to females. Published in the
November edition of the journal B e h a v i o r a l
Ecology and Sociobiology, the study proves that
“even fish with brains as small as pinheads are
capable of surprisingly sophisticated social behav-
ior,” says Natalie Angier of The New York Times.
The Florida Marine Fisheries
Commission has approved a ban on collecting live
shellfish along the nine-mile Sanibel Island beach-
front, effective January 1 if approved as expected
by Florida governor Lawton Chiles. The Sanibel
Island is famed for abundant shells, but collectors
who take living shells have contributed to an
abrupt decline of the shellfish population.