Project Wild Thing – Reconnecting kids with nature – Project Wild Thing.

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Project Wild Thing is a film led movement to get more kids (and their folks!) outside and reconnecting with nature. The film is an ambitious, feature-length documentary that takes a funny and revealing look at a complex issue, the increasingly disparate connection between children and nature.

And Project Wild Thing is much more than a film, this is a growing movement of organisations and individuals who care deeply about the need for nature connected, free-range, roaming and outdoor playing kids in the 21st century. Hundreds of people have already committed huge amounts of time, energy, resources and money to help get the project where it is today. Which is really just the beginning.

The journey started in late 2010 with film-makers Green Lions exploring a film approach to an emerging issue coined ‘nature deficit disorder’ in kids. A collaboration formed with the National Trust who were also looking at the issue and through the Britdoc Foundation support for the development of the film and movement has gathered along the way from RSPB, Play England, Play Scotland, Play Wales, NHS Sustainable Development Unit, TFT, Woodland Trusts, AMV BBDO and Arla foods.

In summer 2012 Greenlions formed a collaboration with Good for Nothing, helping co-create the foundation of David Bond’s nature marketing program, this was supported by generous contributions from the Do Lectures, TYF Adventures, Eden Project and Al Kennedy.

In the autumn of 2012 the Natural Childhood Summit hosted by the National Trust brought together hundreds of organisations to explore the challenges and issues more widely and collaboratively.

Project Wild Thing emerged and thousands of people have pledged to support the project a year before the film has launched. A Kickstarter campaign raised further funding from hundreds of awesome individuals around the world to finish the film production.

In January 2013 Swarm Partnership came on board with support from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and The Wild Network was hatched. The network is an open, growing collaborative group of organisations big and small seeking to tackle the many issues raised in the film and champion the wonders of being outside. An advisory group was established with the WildLife Trusts currently heading that up.


Project Wild Thing and The Wild Network is a people powered movement, it’s success will be down to the actions and the energy of this growing community.

If you want nature, wildness and free-range living for kids and adults to exist alongside an increasingly industrialised and technological society then join us and get involved in making that happen.

See you on the outside.

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#Japanese coastal whaling ‘will wipe out species’: Environmental Activists | The Raw Story.

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A London-based environmental group charged Thursday that Japan’s coastal whaling programme was on track to wipe out the marine mammals from local waters.

The number of whales being caught off the coast is on a steady decline, the Environmental Investigation Agency said, with fishermen having to travel further afield to find their targets.

“A comprehensive analysis of the available scientific data demonstrates unequivocally that there are grave concerns regarding the sustainability of these hunts,” said Sarah Baulch, the group’s cetaceans campaigner.


The campaigners looked at coastal whaling, which is distinct from Japan’s annual whale hunt in the Antarctic that draws international opprobrium and has seen Australia lodge a case with the International Court of Justice.

Small-time coastal whaling is allowed under the rules of the International Whaling Committee, which regards it as similar to that of communities engaged in aboriginal subsistence whaling elsewhere in the world.

The practice was brought to worldwide attention by the Oscar-winning anti-whaling documentary “The Cove”, which graphically depicted the slaughter of the animals in the small town of Taiji in Japan’s southwest.

The Japanese government has maintained that coastal whaling is the socio-economic foundation of fishing communities. But the argument does not wash in many Western countries, whose publics want it banned.

The outrage abroad, particularly the more extreme actions of militant campaigners in the Southern Ocean, has had the effect of making whaling a rallying cry for nationalists, who insist the desire to ban it is cultural imperialism.

The Environmental Investigation Agency, citing figures from the whaling industry, said the falling catch was indicative of a diminishing whale population, while charging the Japanese government is not carrying out proper surveys.


The group also charged that cruel methods employed in killing dolphins, whales and porpoises, in which they are chased a long way before being butchered, “likely” causes stress to the wider cetacean population.

The government should phase out the practice to allow the populations to recover while helping fishermen to find different jobs, it said.

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Jill Studholme – Google+ – Mysterious disease creates Zombie #Starfish

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Mysterious disease creates Zombie Starfish

Sick and dying starfish (sea stars) have appeared in a multitude of locations between Alaska and southern California. 

“It’s like a zombie wasteland,” says biologist Emily Tucker told Nature. “You’ll see detached arms crawling away from their  body.”

Called Sea Star Wasting Disease, it can cause the death of an infected starfish in just a few days. Its effects can be devastating on starfish populations. 

The disease has hit before, in southern California in 1983-1984 for example and again  in 1997-98. These events were associated with warmer sea temperatures. The current outbreak is more widespread. 

It is particularly worrying because one of the starfish affected, Pisaster ochraceus, was the original “keystone species”. This is a species  that has a disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance. Without it the ecosystem would be dramatically different. The concept was first proposed in 1969 usingPisaster ochraceus as a primary example.  Within a year of  Pisaster ochraceus being removed, biodiversity halved.

Lesions on the animal are the first signs of the disease. Tissue then decays around the lesions which leads to break up of the body and death.

There is a map of where diseased sea-stars have been found at

More information at

#seastarwastingsyndrome   #starfish  

Photo credit: Steven Pavlov (CC BY-SA 3.0) 

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Dinosaur Quiz: Animal Planet.

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Dinosaurs disappeared from the earth around 60 million years ago, but many of their ancestors are still around. Take this dinosaur quiz to learn more.


About 60 million years ago, something happened to wipe dinosaurs off the face of the Earth. These creatures dominated the landscape far longer than humans have been around, but many mysteries remain about their appearance, physiology and eventual extinction. So which of today’s animals evolved from dinosaurs?

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Let’s defend the oceans, before it’s too late – Fabius Maximus (blog)

See on Scoop.itVia @VidarOceans Protecting the Oceans

Summary:  The environmentalist community has put their resources into fighting anthropogenic global warming. For reasons discussed in other posts, that campaign has achieved few of the political gains sought. Meanwhile the prosaic forces of commerce destroy the oceans through pollution and and overfishing. We can do better.

From CNN, by David McNew/Getty Images


The clock is running; we have been warned by articles such as this:

“Overfished and under-protected: Oceans on the brink of catastrophic collapse“, CNN, 27 March 2013


The Census of Marine Life, a decade-long international survey of ocean life completed in 2010, estimated that 90% of the big fish had disappeared from the world’s oceans, victims primarily of overfishing.

Tens of thousands of bluefin tuna were caught every year in the North Sea in the 1930s and 1940s. Today, they have disappeared across the seas of Northern Europe. Halibut has suffered a similar fate, largely vanishing from the North Atlantic in the 19th century.

In some cases, the collapse has spread to entire fisheries. The remaining fishing trawlers in the Irish Sea, for example, bring back nothing more than prawns and scallops, says marine biologistCallum Roberts, from the UK’s York University. “Is a smear of protein the sort of marine environment we want or need? No, we need one with a variety of species, that is going to be more resistant to the conditions we can expect from climate change,” Roberts said.

The situation is even worse in Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, people are now fishing for juvenile fish and protein that they can grind into fishmeal and use as feed for coastal prawn farms. “It’s heading towards an end game,” laments Roberts.

Trawling towards disaster

One particular type of fishing, bottom-trawling, is blamed for some of the worst and unnecessary damage. It involves dropping a large net, around 60 meters-wide in some cases, into the sea and dragging it along with heavy weights from a trawler.



Marine conservationists compare it to a bulldozer, with the nets pulled for as far as 20km, picking up turtles, coral and anything else in their path. The bycatch, unwanted fish and other ocean life thrown back into the sea, can amount to as much as 90% of a trawl’s total catch.

Upwards of one million sea turtles were estimated to have been killed as by catch during the period 1990-2008, according to a report published in Conservation Letters in 2010, and many of the species are on the IUCN’s list of threatened species.

Campaigners, with the support of marine scientists, have repeatedly tried to persuade countries to agree to an international ban, arguing that the indiscriminate nature of bottom-trawling is causing irreversible damage to coral reefs and slow-growing fish species, which can take decades to reach maturity and are therefore slow to replenish their numbers.

“It’s akin to someone plowing up a wildflower meadow, just because they can,” says Roberts. Others have compared it to the deforestation of tropical rainforests.

Bottom-trawling’s knock-on impacts are best illustrated by the plight of the deep-sea fish, the orange roughly (also known as slimeheads) whose populations have been reduced by more than 90%, according to marine scientists. Orange roughys are found on, or around, mineral-rich seamounts that often form coral and act as feeding and spawning hubs for a variety of marine life.

“Anywhere you go and try to harvest fish with a trawl you are going to destroy any coral that lives there, and there is example after example of the damage that is done by trawlers,” says Ron O’Dor, a senior scientist on the Census of Marine Life. “If I ruled the world, they would be banned, they’re just such a destructive method of catching fish. Fishermen have other methods, such as long-line, that cause far less damage.

“The disturbing truth is that humans are having unrecognized impacts on every part of the ocean, and there is much we have not seen that will disappear before we ever get a chance,” says O’Dor, who is also a professor of marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.

For more see “Net gains: Estimating the scale of the problem may allow us to arrest dangerous levels of overfishing“, Nature, 20 February 2013.

Why have activists focused so much on global warming over other issues? Perhaps because as a vehicle it offered more leverage to make political and social changes they seek. As David Hume learned at the Radical Emission Reduction Conference at the Royal Society.

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Right #Whale Speed Zone Made Permanent – Defenders Blog.

See on Scoop.itVia @VidarOceans Protecting the Oceans

The Fifth Annual Right Whale Festival took place in Jacksonville Beach, Florida on Saturday, November 23. Hosted by Sea-to-Shore Alliance and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the festival is a community event that celebrates the annual return of the North Atlantic right whales to their calving grounds in the waters of the Southeastern U.S.

Right whale mother & calf (© Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Research Permit # 594-1759)

An endangered species, only about 500 of these whales remain in the wild. They face serious threats to their survival from busy shipping lanes and fishing gear entanglement. The festival is aimed to help visitors learn more about right whales, their challenges, and their recovery.

The Florida Defenders of Wildlife team went down to participate, and we set up a booth and a special “make & take” arts and crafts table where children (and some adults!) decorated their own whale fluke cut-outs. Visitors learned about the many local and national efforts to protect these critically endangered whales from extinction and how we can lessen human impacts. Included at the event were educational displays, speaker presentations, children’s activities, live music, food, a 5K run and a beach clean-up.

This was my second year at the event. The weather, bright and sunny with a hint of a fall breeze in the air, couldn’t have been better. The location is beautiful, right on the beach, where right whales are often seen off the coast! Everyone I met at the event was a pleasure to talk to and interested in learning about the right whale and all of the other wildlife species we work hard to protect every day. I even met a few soon-to-be college graduates from the University of South Florida (my alma mater) who are interested in interning with our office next year. It’s great to meet students who are inspired by these events and who want to do more to help our endangered species. And as it turns out, the festival was just in time for some very good news for the right whale.

Just two weeks later, the National Marine Fisheries Service made a crucial decision: it finalized a rule to make speed zone protections for North Atlantic right whales permanent!

Right whales are critically endangered. (© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock)

Speed zones are designated in seasonal management areas that right whales are known to frequent, and vessels over 65 feet in length are required by law to slow down while in these zones. Right whales are slow swimmers, and ship strikes are a leading cause of death for this species. Over the past five years, right whale ship strikes have been eliminated in slow speed zones! The rule is extremely cost-effective, and Defenders of Wildlife worked hard to ensure it not only stayed in place, but became a fixture of right whale conservation measures.

The old speed zone rule had an expiration date, but NMFS chose to make the new rule permanent; it will continue to be monitored for its effectiveness. Though more still needs to be done for right whales, this is a great step towards promoting their recovery.

December is a time when mother right whales and their newborn calves swim, feed and rest in the warm waters off the coast of Georgia and Florida. This year’s youngsters will soon swim north with their mothers on their very first migration through permanently protected waters. What a great way to end 2013!


 Shannon Miller, Florida Program Coordinator

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