Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A History Of Stupid

By : Dennis Stein

  I recently chose a movie for my wife and I to watch, called "The Cove". Big mistake. I thought it was about this fellow, and the dolphins he trained. However, it was an expose of a particular location in Japan where dolphins are corralled up in a large netted-in cove, and slaughtered by the thousands. Let me quickly clarify to those of you who may not know, my wife and I are extreme animal lovers, or tree-huggers, whichever moniker you prefer. The images of that inlet, bright red with the blood of these animals, and their still moving bodies being dumped out to sea, were enough to make my wife ask me to turn the channel, on the verge of tears. The film simply made me very angry...
  Here we are in 2011, and with all the focus on climate change, stupid ecological decisions are still made each day. The reason for the existance of the cove is relatively simple. The japanese believe that the dolphins eat fish which are commercially important to Japan's fisheries. Japan coincidently has the largest fish market on earth. Every September, despite the outcries from
groups and individuals worldwide, dolphins are herded into the cove by the thousands, and killed with long spears.
  Japan is certainly not alone in this line of ecological stupidity. Right here in this country, wolves were killed by the hundreds in B.C., the Premiere of the province refusing to end it, saying that it was to protect trophy game hunting, (by wealthy Americans). Anyone who hnows anything about predatory animals knows that the sickly or weak are usually the prey which falls to these animals, thus strengthening the remainder of the herd. But they were shot anyway, from snowmobiles, planes, and helicopters, their carcasses left to rot in the snow...
  Shark Fin Soup is university of stupid, putting many shark species on the endangered list. I have no problem with someone fishing a shark to eat the entire animal, but you can guess what happens in most cases of shark fins being cut off. The rest of the shark is simply dicarded over the side, usually still alive...
  The subject of invasive species also brings some dumb moves to mind. Other animals brought here to Canada to control or eliminate invasives is just plain idiocy. Let's bring in a beetle from Asia to eat this purple plant that is choking up our wetlands! The idea of course, is that once the plant is eradicated, the beetle has no more food to eat, and dies off. Sorry, but nature doesn't work that way... The animal simply adapts, finding something similar to eat, and thrives. What should we do about gobies and zebra mussells threatening the ecosystem in the Great Lakes? I'm not really sure, but we shouldn't compound a situation that happened by accident, with a stupid decision that makes a new problem, or the existing problem worse.
  I am not trying to pick on us as a nation, or Japan. Dumb stuff that affects ecology happens all over the world. I saw the CEO of leaning against the dead carcass of a 'problem'  bull elephant in Africa, rifle proudly displayed. In this online article, an elephant expert with decades of experience pointed out that after reviewing the video of this incident on the popular site Youtube, that she believed it was a female the idiot shot, not a bull. Thousands of acres of rainforest are slashed and burned each year to expand on crops of soy bean, and sugar cane, erasing species found nowhere else on earth to extinction. Man made disasters such as last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico kill everything it their path, and natural disasters like the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, spill radioactive polution from a damaged nuclear power plant, poisoning humans and animals alike. One would think that with all of the technology advances we have seen, mankind might be a little smarter about things in general.
 The one thing said at the end of this movie 'The Cove'  which stuck with me was : 'If we can't work together to fix THIS, this one thing, then it's game over...'

Watery Graves

By : Dennis Stein

 The Thousand Islands is home to world-class freshwater scuba diving, bringing many divers to our area each year. The river is host to a great number of historic shipwrecks, at varying depths and from different time periods. Reaching these wrecks also takes varying levels of diving, from novice to highly trained technical. The locations of this fleet of ships span the St. Lawrence, dating back to the 1700's, and are the results of wars, weather, and mistakes made... The work of an invasive species, Zebra Mussells, have turned the once murky, low visibility environment into the premiere destination for fresh water diving in eastern North America.The wrecks in these waters vary from loyalist gunboats built in the late 1700's, to paddlewheel passenger ships, and grain, coal, or oil steamers. Tugboats, schooners and the like all lie at various depths, in different currents.
  Favourites include the Rothesay, launched in the year of confederation, in New Brunswick. A large double-paddlewheel passenger vessel which handled the Montreal to Prescott route. She went down after colliding with an American tug in 1889, just to the west of Prescott. The site has very little current, and can be accessed off highway 2 from a small picnic area on shore. A rope line guides divers down to the shallow wreck, where the bow and stern area remain resonably intact.
  Another would have to be the Keystorm, built in England. A large steamer of over 250 ft. designed to carry cargo, and built in the very beginning of the 20th century. In 1912, she struck a shoal and sank within minutes carrying over 2000 tons of coal. It is a favourite dive site south of the shipping channel off Mallorytown Landing, and one of the local pubs in Brockville honours it name.
  One of the more dangerous dives for a wreck on the Thousand Islands lies off Wellesley Island in deep water, with fast current. The 700 ft long steel freighter Roy A. Jodery lies close to the Coast Guard Station where she sank in 1974, carrying over twenty thousand tons of iron ore. This wreck is only for the highly skilled, having claimed the lives of several divers, including one of the original salvage divers for the company's Insurance underwriters, whose body was never found...
 There is a tremendous wealth of information online on this subject, and some of the best that I found would be included at Wheher you are a diver or simply interested in shipwrecks, our area contains plenty to keep you busy. Perhaps long lost treasures await those brave enough to venture into the depths of the St.Lawrence, where the deeper, darker waters hide history's bounty...