Mike Mongo reveals the worlds of marine, shoreline, and in-land eco-biology

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Size of Planets and Stars in the Solar System and Universe

Studying astronomy for the past three months, I was often over-awed by the magnitude of different celestial events/objects. This video captures the idea here really well. Not only is earth tiny, but the sun is, too!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Free The World's Bile Bears

There are new informations of which I learn, informations I find disturbing or uncomfortable of which to learn, but which I feel I am obligated to further awareness of in order to facilitate real and healthy change.

For instance, bile bears.

When I first learn of bile bears, it was by accident. I came across the subject in a metafilter posting denouncing the annual Japanese dolphin culling. There was no link to the subject matter, it was just casually referenced to make a point about cruelty to animals. So I googled "china bear bile". And an entirely new facet of reality revealed itself to me.

In china, mighty supplier of wonderful goods to all of the world, creatures which are not homo sapien are considered resources tolerant of aberration and torture. This is not news. However, a new low, one that is more Hannibal Lector (a truly repellent analogy) and grossly vivisectionist in its practice than it is either human or sensible, has revealed itself.

Based on the unfortunate fact that the ursodeoxycholic acid found in the bile of a type of red-listed Asiatic black bear called a moon bear (so-named for the cream colored crescent shape on the bear's chest) cures the excrutiatingly painful conditions of gallstones and liver problems, (formerly) wild black bears are now "farmed." That is, they are caged in a wire enclosure smaller than a refrigerator after having a tube surgically attached to their stomachs which then drains the bears stomach fluids in reservoirs for later processing and sale. In China, approximately 7,000-9,000 live bears are stored and pumped for their life fluids this way. Another 4,000 are suffering likewise in Viet Nam.

May I recap? Live bears, in very small indoor cages, at this very moment are releasing their stomach fluids through surgically-attached tubing in bile kegs, for the treatment of gallstone and liver problems of homo sapiens - our name which translates to "wise man," somewhere in China.

Does the end justify the means here? Is homo sapien-kind superior enough as to be able to qualify an entirely other species as unworthy of our compassion and respect?

The proponents of the practice says that their "farming" prevents the taking of (presently) wild moon bears by poachers, and even worse conditions and atrocities against the bears from taking place. Which implies that Chinese homo sapiens are immune to compassion and common sense, and that the demand for products derived from unimaginable pain and suffering far exceeds human capacity for adjustment, and learning, and that criminals, extortionists, and sadists rule the day. Which of course is untrue.

Public outcry is not enough. The Chinese government is obligated to speak to its own people on this issue, and communicate education on the subject, as well as alternative, humane methods of treatment.

Please, spread the word on the subject of bile bears. Bring this inhumane practice to light. It is very really the 21st Century, and unless our kinds begin behaving as the "wise man" our name announces us to be, in time, it will certainly be us ourselves - in one way or another - who later begs the mercy of our "wise" captors.

More links related to the subject of bile bears:
2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
2005 article in San Francisco Chronicle
AsiaAnimal's Chinese bear page [WARNING-disturbing images]
2006 press conference by Chinese Embassy on subject of animal abuses and bile bears
2005 BBC article on Chinese bear sanctuary

Recent 2006 controversy in Virginia over sale of "bear parts"
Israeli Animal Help site on Bile Bears (multi-lingual)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Rob Stewart's Sharkwater

As an field eco-biologist, one who "works in the field," daily I am interacting with one species of shark or another. What more, living and working on the water as I do, I also witness others interacting with sharks. Unpleasantly enough, I see more than my fair share of human attacks, that is, homo sapiens bothering, torturing, butchering, and generally abusing sharks. In fact, horribly and saddeningly enough, molesting sharks is generally considered acceptable, even desirable behavior, even in the 21st century.

Thankfully, last night I had the opportunity to meet a remarkable young man, a filmmaker by the name Rob Stewart, who has made an equally remarkable film, titled Sharkwater. It is not the first film of its type - films which present sharks in a rational and admirable light - but as the most tolerant, poignant, and compassionate of its kind, it is possibly the best. In the least, it is now my favorite. Best of all, Sharkwater is a contemporary masterpiece, combining modern-day ecological drama with some of the most personal and provocative shark footage to ever see the light of day. It may well define the future of underwater documentary. Indeed, Sharkwater is the new standard of shark, sea, and conservationist filmmaking.

Stewart is a field-trained biologist, a budding scientist and a potential activist, whose main career focus and talent is photography and film. He actually looks every bit of a rockstar. (I quipped to my buddy that Rod could be "the Keanu Reeves of marine biologists." Ha.) And for a first film, in Sharkwater, Stewart is fortunate in having created a feature that is as equally heartfelt as it is engaging. It is a film that relies on the strength of its story as much as it does its spell-binding underwater footage.

Perhaps the best part of Sharkwater is its ability to counter-act the spell of anti-shark hysteria which has long been invoked by fear-mongerer filmmakers, newscasters, and media directors. By breaking down the anti-shark propaganda to its most essential element - ratings and money - Sharkwater unveils the unethical desire of large media to ring up large sales figures by inciting fear and dread at the expense of one of the most important, longstanding and significant components of the planet earth's eco-system.

Up to now, said sales figures have been chalked up at the expense of sharks, whose kind are being blood-thirstily driven to extinction by unscrupulous individuals acting irresponsibly for personal and corporate gain. (For instance, a little known fact is that the key ingredient in Preparation H hemorrhoid "medication," a product notorious for its uselessness in treating and even harmful effect on a very real medical condition, is shark liver oil.)

Incidentally, I spent some time with Stewart because he is affable and he approached me to introduce himself. He listened to my comments before and after the film, and I found him to be genuine, sincere, and an artist with scientific interests to watch out for, particularly because the film Sharkwater is such a tour de force.

Tell your friends about this film. This is a movie that is making a difference. I have no doubt that because of Rob Stewart's Sharkwater the world is going to become a more-informed and subsequently better place. Stop watching for sharks, and start watching for Sharkwater.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Birth of an Island - Live!

And island has been born in Tonga, and the crew of the sailing yacht Maiken witnessed the moment of divine creation. Divine in that volcanics and fortune came together so as that the crew were one of very few homo sapiens alive to witness such a thing, much less make a photographic journal of the event.

Story link (via Metafilter)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Seiji Osumi is to Dolphins what Infamous Nazi Experimenter Sigmund Rascher was to Homo Sapiens

Usually nazi analogies fall flat with me. They are often generalizations and gross over-statements. Unfortunately for all compassionate people everywhere, in the situation I have been outlining here such an analogy is all too appropriate. Indeed, Seiji Osumi's experiments on dolphins are all to parallel with what Sigmund Rascher did to others - people of all kinds - in World War II.

Seiji Osumi is a sadistic stooge for individuals, companies, and agencies who opportunistically kill whales and dolphins who is operating under the misnomer of "scientist doing research." He and the so-called Institute for Cetacean Research kill whales and dolphins under the auspice of "research," and then sells off the carcasses for wholesaling and processing on the commercial market. (So much so and so unpopularly that a glut of whale meat now exists for no good reason. I repeat, a glut of whale meat.) This would be like doing research on homo sapiens by catching homo sapiens, and then torturing and killing homo sapiens, and then selling homo sapiens to homo sapiens as "human burgers" under the pretense of "doing good for mankind." It's bad, it's unhealthy, and it's all to clearly wrong.

And in case there is any questions that Four-Fin the Dolphin is being maltreated, below is the link to the CBS video of Seiji Osumi's Institute for Cetacean Research co-operatives thuggishly man-handling (how woefully appropriate is that term here) Four-Fin to force display his of the dolphin's extra fins for the camera.

Seiji Osumi is the same guy who traveled from Japan to the Caribbean to encourage others to hunt whales. The rest of the world gets it: Whales are intelligent, and possibly in a manner which is utterly different than our humankind's!

Link to story and video.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Seiji Osumi, Release Four-Fin the Dolphin!

Today, news of a dolphin with extra fins being turned over to Seiji Osumi at the so-called Institute of Cetacean Research came across my desk. Knowing Japan to be the least cetacean aware nation claiming to be a world power, and concerned for the health and well-being of this unique dolphin, I researched Osumi and the institute.

First, at wikipedia, I found that the non-profit ICR is funded by Kyodo Senpaku, a for-profit whale "processor" and commercial dealer of products made from whales. Kyodo Senpaku formed Kyodo Hogei, which was the company founded by the consolidation of three predecessors whale hunting departments of Japanese fisheries, Nihon Suisan, Taiyo Gyogyo, and Kyokuyo Hogei.

Here's how it works. Japan uses the ICR to "collect" whale and cetacea samples "for scientific research," thus claiming to be in line with the agreed upon guidelines of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

However, that's all subterfuge. The ICR then sells the healthy whale to processor/wholesaler, Kyodo Senpaku. Most telling about this relationship is the process which brought the ICR to exist. In 1987, the ICR came into being the same year Kyodo Senpaku opened for business, courtesy of a tax-deductible 1,250 mil. yen ($9.6 million dollar) "donation," as well as 346.2 million yen ($2.6 million) from Japan's Fisheries Agency.) Kyodo Senpaku makes sure whale "bacon" is on the market, yet the Japanese government has the gall to claim to be innocent of any breach of international whale treaty! Indeed, people are using whale meat for dog treats!

The worst part yet is that the ICR's Seiji Osumi is actually the Sigmund Rascher of whales and dolphins, perpetrating a pseudoscience, eugenics program upon cetaceankind under the cover of scientific research and "sustainable harvesting."

Now, last week, a dolphin with the distinction of being born with four fins instead of two was turned over to the ICR's Seiji "Rascher" Osumi, who has announced most annoyingly that it is an "evolutionary throwback" and "remains from the time when dolphins' ancient ancestors lived on land." Possibly true or not, this is bad science because Seiji Osumi is no scientist, he is a fabulist and an exploiter. And all this I learned in just an hour of quality googling.

The dolphin Four-Fin who is now being tortured by bad human Seiji Osumi is a unique and possibly interesting being. Capture by Japanese fishermen was it bad fortune. (According to Margaux Dodd, director of the charity Marine Connection, 'Four-Fin the dolphin' was one of 150 caught in a dolphin drive hunt used to catch them for the commercial market. "Others caught with him were sold to marine centres or slaughtered," she said.) But must it be sentenced to suffering or vivisection (hey, it's in the name of science!) of the Cetacean Eugenist Osumi's limited mentality?

SET 'FOUR-FIN' FREE! Contact ICR and let them know, "Seiji is a criminal!'

Other important pro-whale links...

Link to protest page to US Secretary of Commerce

Sea Shepard's Operation Leviathan

Campaign Whale

Remember, e-mailing for whales is working!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Boycott Iceland

This story is all over the news. Iceland has resumed murdering whales, calling the atrocity "whaling," as if historical murdering of whales qualifies the behavior as other than criminal.

The whale that was killed this weekend, aside from being a 'red list' endangered Fin Whale, according to reports, suffered horribly.

Besides the fact the Fin whale is being carefully monitored for being near to eradicated, this whale has a brain that weighs in at 15 lbs, a frontal lobe at least as developed as homo spapiens, a six-phase neocortex (same as homo sapiens), and twice the number of brain folds as us. All of these are indicators of potential intelligence and capacity.

There is every indication that the fin whale is at least as intelligent as any land-based human, yet one was murdered this weekend to sell and eat.

How there is any doubt that two separate species of homo sapiens now occupy the planet earth - one remarkably more similar to our simian ancestors - is beyond me.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Reddit is like the news of the moment for the entire world.

But due to an unusually popular request this morning on the site itself, a new "sub-reddit" has been created.

Introducing science.reddit.com.


Jean-Michael Cousteau "rides" Great White

You have to see it, not only to believe it, but to make sense of it.

In a nutshell, Cousteau is a trained professional in his element and "in the zone." He hitched on what I would describe as a "zen-state," and then commented on the worthiness of the Great White, and on the shark's importance to the general environment (as a cleaner) and of being as non-judgmental as possible with regards to this majestic and powerful species.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Great White Shark Cam - LIVE at Monterey

This is one of the most exhilarating uses of internet technology yet.

It's a live web-cam, with no delay in streaming, of a captive Great White Shark at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the second time ever one has been key in captivity

Here's the link

Monday, October 02, 2006

Man Kisses Shark - Shark Bites Man

Dave Marcel is his name, and he lives in Key Largo (not Key West).
Here's the direct link!

Guy Gets Attacked By An Octopus

Not exactly true - the guy made first contact - but fun to watch anyhow!

Link (via Netscape).

Friday, September 29, 2006

Baby Stingrays Born In Captivity

A pair of darling baby roughtail stingrays were born in captivity, surprise guests of the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.

Apparently, a male who had been brought in earlier to mate with a female who has lived in captivity for ten years at the aquarium had the right chemistry. But according to the details of the report, no one at the facility knew the mother was pregnant.

Thus, surprise!

Link (via reddit).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Artificial Reef Declared "Ecological Disaster"

This is interesting but would be less so if not for the video footage linked to the end of this entry. In Miami, an attempt at creating an artificial reef - which to me looks more like a dumping of tires as opposed to an actual effort, having created successful reefing structures from used auto tires myself at Danger - has been declared unsuccessful and in fact a threat, due to loose tires being propelled by strong storm conditions into actual coral reefs.

But the footage below shows that while it is definitely in need of maintenance, the environment is indeed creating a habitat. (Also, oddly, one quoted person says with authority that "it wasn't deep enough," when the setting is over 60 feet down!)

Video link; Story link.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dolphin Minds, Thinkers of the Deep

This is the post I have been waiting for, something that elaborates on the unusual intelligence of dolphins.

See, dolphins are proto-humans, that is, creatures early in their own human* development.

Link via Reddit.

*Important note. I use the term human here in a context parallel to Orson Scott Card's Utlanning, Framiling, Ramen, Varelse divination of human kinds, ie...

Utlanning- A human we recognize as part of our same world and species, yet from another town or country.

Framling- A human we recognize as part of our same species, yet from another world or planet.

Ramen- When a lifeform is considered human, but is of another species. Being able to think and behave at a human level and act civilized.

Varelse- A creature with whom communication is impossible. If such a creature is belligerent, then it is the only time when war is truly unavoidable and necessary.

It is my deepest impression that human is an unlimited state of being, and that homo sapien is merely a single expression of the kind, human.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Deep-Sea Whales

According Paul J. Ponganis and Gerald L. Kooyman of the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, some cetatceans (whales, orca, dolphins, porpoise) have a number of unique physiological adaptations enabling seep sea dives.

How deep? Sperm whales - which have the largest brain of any animal so far discovered...at 15 lbs! - have been recorded making hour long dives as deep as 6000 feet, over a mile down.

Link via reddit.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Did you know the planet earth now has a floating garbage "patch" at least the size of Texas, floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Well, we do.

Here is the link from reddit which led me to research the story in the first place. One of the comments on the hyper-linked piece stated that the above was an "urban myth," and I became interested enough to follow up. I found out the report originates from this piece in the LA Times (specifically this report), and is anything but urban myth.

There is really a massive swirling amassment of man-made refuse in the center of the Pacific Ocean. Unbelievable!

I tracked the source of all of the above to this piece in Natural History magazine. Worse, I located this entry in Wikipedia, and the true name of this developing challenge. It is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Now you know.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Willy Fish

Ohmigod, the fish, six and a half inches long, it swam up his peepee!

Complete with dramatic re-enactment

Link (via reddit).

Antarctic Sea Spider

To tell you the truth, this creature sort of flips me out.

It's an Antarctican sea spider, it has a proboscis mouth (such as a housefly does) which it uses to suck the juices from sponges and sea slugs, and it lives on the ocean floor between 6000 to 7000 metres (!) beneath the ocean's surface. That's over three miles down! That ain't exactly the most bright-lighted place in the world for this sort of creature to be crawling around sucking the vital juices from soft and squishy living things.

And they're big enough to be creepy, most about two and half feet across!

Ohmigod, can you imagine being a dive specialist three miles down below the Antartic Ocean (temp −2 °C), pitch black except for your own light, and you step and crunch on one of these things, and then look down and start to see a bunch of them crawling around you? Gasp swoon faint.

Just to balance things out a little, the Antartic Ocean is also home to the largest and most song-singingest whales alive, the blue whale. So...

...I guess, as far as blood-sucking spider creatures go, it actually is nicely packaged. I mean, orange? Why orange? What set of circumstances inspired that evolutionary leap?

Link via reddit.

Monster Catfish

Growing up in Florida, I have heard my share of "monster catfish" stories, tales in which catfish exist "big enough to swallow a man whole." Considering the size of catfish I have seen (and even caught) myself cane-fishing on Lake Seminole, in Seminole, FL, and all the way down to the Florida Everglades, I always judged these tales to true, and based in reality somewhere down the line.

Nonetheless, they are some big catfish!


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Eric Cheng, shark swimmer and photographer

Eric Cheng is an underwater photographer. He swims with sharks.

Big, big sharks.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Rare Whales Can Live to Nearly 200

Bowhead whales live to be 200 years old! And their brains are larger than humans!

Link via Reddit.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Turtle Hospital and healthy Hawksbill Turtle...on Release Day!

The Turtle Hospital Rescuers
I ran into these folks from the Turtle Hospital of Marathon a few mornings back, as they were stepping aboard the Yankee Freedom boat to head to the Dry Tortugas to release this young hawksbill turtle who had spent some recovery time at the hospital after an sea accident.

Everybody was happy and excited, even the young turtle, who was wiggle wiggle wiggle and raring to go.

Small Crab in Key West Salt Flats

Here's a small spider crab I found while examining an unusual piece of blueberry-colored sponge.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"Record" Hammerhead Shark carried 55 Baby Sharks

hammerhead shark babies

It ain't tragic - idiot humans need love,too - but it's highly unfortunate.

Tragic is commercial overfishing.

(Courtesy Swim At Your Own Risk)

Hammerhead Attacks Tarpon

(Courtesy Swim At Your Own Risk)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Red Creature from Water Planet

Believe it or not, this is from our planet. From the same time expedition, this is a live sea urchin, my guess lytechinus variegatus, with a beautiful sweeping shot of the extra-shallow flats at the end of the footage.

Cliff and the Little Anemone

Cliff's finger and Anenome
It was absolute low tide last week, what with the Solstice coming up and a full moon, so Cliff and I went out on the recently-appeared Shallows to see what could be seen.

This is little anemone wrapped around Cliff's finger. (He knew all about it, how it's nematocysts were too fine to go through human skin.)

Ain't it pretty?