Monday, October 18, 2010

The Insightful Beagles

By Eduardo C. Gonzalez

Beagles are dogs that exude warmth and are very affectionate dogs. They are superb dogs to have for your families. They have so much energy in them and they need to have daily exercises to keep them in shape. These dogs need a lot of of space so that they can roam around and release their excess energy. Having a nice big yard will be good for these dogs. These dogs like to search for things and they are really excellent dogs when it comes to hunting. Their intuition for hunting is superb. Beagles will never cease to fascinate their owners.

Their sense of smell is quite powerful. Beagles come in two distinct sizes. There are beagles measuring under thirteen inches and the others measure thirteen to fifteen inches. Though their sizes may be different but their character and other attributes remain the same. The Beagles are relatively short and commonly they have color mixtures of black, white and tan colors. Experienced pet dog owners can easily notice beagles that are either colored black or tan with white markings,

These dogs have exceptional attitudes that make them so loveable. They are very loyal and they do exhibit a lot of playfulness. These are the characteristics that their owners admire in them. They need to have regular walks with their owners but they do not need much socialization. When taking their dogs for a walk, their beagles must be properly leashed so that they will not stray away from the path their owners are taking. You have to remember that these are hunting dogs and they will instinctively hunt. They need to have a lot of playing time,. For this reason, it is necessary for their owners to let them loose in their yards. Their yards must be fenced properly so that their dogs will not escape. If you want watchdogs, then the beagles will be suitable for your needs. They will keep on barking as soon as they see anyone approaching your homes. Though they are good watchdogs, beagles are not meant to be guard dogs, since they are so friendly even towards people they do not know.

Beagles hail from England and were known for their hunting skills and they did hunt in groups or pairs. Initially, they were used to hunt down rabbits and that is the main reason why they were bred as pack hounds. In the 1700's, they were primarily used to hunt down foxes, because this type of sport was quite famous at that time. The Beagles we see today were those that were developed in the 1800's and they first came to the United States in1876.. Others claim that these dogs came from the lineage of the talbot hounds owned by William “ The Conqueror.”The Beagles are quite popular in the United States.

Beagles weigh usually between 18 – 30 pounds and they live for at least 12 – 13 years.

Give them affection and they will remain faithful to their owners.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mariculture Parks

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

Raising fish in underwater cages may seem mean, especially if one is a vegetarian. But it does have a benevolent side. The fish are protected from strong winds, mean ocean currents, overfishing and dynamite fishing, ensuring the continuity of many fish species.

Overfishing and dynamite fishing also affect the income source of many small fishermen, who go out to sea and discover at the end of the day that there is no catch. By mariculture--raising them in cages--the fish win, and the small fisher folk, too, at a profit margin of up to P90,000 per cage (some U.S. $2,000) in a four month period.
Mariculture used to be something only rich people could afford. A 100 square meter fish cage costs P300,000, (just short of U.S. $7,000) and financing an operation costs another P200,000 (a little over U.S. $4,600).

Now the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is making it accessible to small fishermen and medium investors. Small fishermen can rent a cage from the government and pay for it during harvest. Affordable credit can also be had from the Land Bank and other financial institutions.

Fish raised in cages include bangus, seabass, snapper, apahap, lapu-lapu, pompano, seargent fish, rabbit fish and others. Mariculture is also used to farm seaweeds, crabs, lobsters, abalone, sea cucumber and more.
A 100 square-foot cage filled with up to 20,000 fingerling bangus can harvest up to 20 tons of fish each weighing an average of half a kilo in four months. A mariculture farm needs just 100 hectares of water space. The mariculture park in Laoang, Northern Samar has 2,500 hectares.

BFAR is pushing this project aggressively with local government units, the DENR and NGOs among others. Some 60 mariculture parks are set to be launched soon. 

Fishermen are trained by government-provided experts including training the caretakers, product development and environmental monitoring. Each park is governed by a management council chaired by the mayor of the city or town, and co-chaired by the BFAR regional director.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Findings in the Ocean Depths

Sea Cucumber
By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

In this age of information we tend to presume (even though common sense belies it) that mankind has already learned it all. We presume that what we personally don’t know, someone else does, and the information is stored in some library somewhere in the world or on some website. Not.

In fact it is only now that the first Census of Marine Life was made in this world. It took place over the past 10 years and just got finished now. It involved some 2,700 scientists, 670 institutions, 540 underwater expeditions, and 9,000 days at sea, an AFP article said.

The cost was $650 million dollars and—wait for it--there are more than one million species in the ocean, from microbes to whales, and we only know one-quarter of them. Ninety percent of marine life is microbial.

We have—wait for it—16,764 known species of fish and some 5,000 more to discover. Some of the species were presumed to have been extinct for 50 million years. We also need to get to know some 750,000 more fish species and to figure out what their ecological job is.

Sea Whip
The ocean has borne the consequence of global warming. Some 40 percent of plankton has disappeared with the rise in ocean temperatures. And in 99 percent of areas that they used to inhabit, sharks have disappeared.

It’s like a whole different planet down there. And—wait for it--some 6,000 new species were discovered, while some species that what were presumed to be rare are actually common. There were a lot of changes of species documented, too. (Creationists, evolutionists, extrapolate what you will from this but please don’t kill the messenger).

The reason the census was taken was so there could be a baseline against which the next census that will be taken further down the road can compare changes in the ocean.

Sand Fleas Alaska
The ocean, like land, has marine highways, areas of rest, and vibrant neighborhoods and communities in extreme locations from the tropics to the ice poles to the deepest, darkest depths. Wait for it. We get half our oxygen from the deep and a lot of our food comes from down there.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The ant, the elephant, the tree and the fungi

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

When I heard this story about the ant, the tree, the elephant and the fungi I came to think about the choices we make in relationships.

Once there was a savannah tree in Africa. It was always safe despite the prevalence of elephants that loved to eat trees, felling one after another, but always leaving the savannah alone. This is a true story from Live Science. A lot of savannah trees are avoided by elephants because if they eat the tree the ants that live in the tree and enjoy the tree’s nectar will crawl on the elephant’s eyes and inner gums and bite like crazy.
Now the fungi cometh.

One there was an ant on a tree in Thailand. It seemed to be drawn to a fungi and felt compelled to eat it. For real--I got this from Scientific American. The fungi (in the photo above, letter "P") made the ant into a zombie, inhabiting its brain and using its body to go exactly where the fungi needed to be--on a leaf that had up to 95 percent humidity with temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. Once there the fungi would always emerge from the exact same part of the ant’s body--the back of its head, so it could multiply.

You wonder sometimes if horror stories are made by natural scientists.

Now, I am not elephantophobic, I love elephants and know they have their role in the food chain. I am not fungiophobic although I don’t know what good it does. Everything in due time finds its heroism, I like to think.

But think of the choices we make. Marry the right guy and you lead a long sweet life of good quality, like the ant and the savannah tree. Marry the wrong guy and you can be controlled, your spirit killed and your body slowly expiring. I am so glad I never married a fungi.

Monday, October 4, 2010

World Animal Day

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

One thing I enjoyed growing up as a Catholic was the stories of saints. I had a little book as a child with the stories of different saints, and I used to read comic books about them. One saint I liked was St. Francis of Assisi, because he could, as the story goes, talk to birds.

Now, THAT was a miracle to my little eyes. Someone the birds would fly down to and talk to? But then, with years comes wisdom and I know that wild birds can be made friends with people, can be trained. Pigeons can be kept as pets and join pigeon races. Parakeets when domesticated go on your finger. Leave bread on your front lawn at a certain time every day and the birds will politely stand around your fence waiting as you drop the bread everywhere. 

Catching wild birds is another thing. I had a maid who was quite good at that. One time she caught five wild birds when she was on a roll. So it was probably no miracle, and saints being made saints hundreds of years after they died, makes it quite likely the story evolved and no one was alive to challenge it.

 The idea of blessing pets was at first sacrilegious to me. As a child I had a much loved pusakal (stray cat) that died. We buried it on an empty lot next door and I asked my uncle, a priest (who later became Archbishop of Lipa) to bless the pet’s grave. He told me that that is something one just doesn’t do. At that time man was placed higher than pets, you see.
But now pets are being reviewed as part of God’s creation and scholars are wondering what spiritual role they may play in the life of man. The focus is still man, but then all of creation is subject to God, the creator. Personally, I think God gave us pets so we could feel a closer link even to wild animals and to the rest of our earthly home.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Ludong is the most expensive fish in the Philippines

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez
Meet the most expensive fish in the Philippines--the choice of presidents, senators, congressmen, royalty, socialites and Hollywood stars. It was the favorite dish of the late President Marcos. Meet the Ludong fish.
Also called “banak,” the “president’s fish,” lobed river mullet and Cestraeus plicatilis,it costs P10,000 for 2 kg., or some US $200 if you would like to try the ludong’s special taste and unique aroma.
The Ludong is prevalent in the Cagayan Valley region which is in Luzon and along the Pacific Ocean. In fact, Cagayan is the single known habitation of the Ludong in the world.
This fish was once believed to be an annual gift from the river goddess to the Ibanags, the people who, as the joke goes, have the darkest elbows in the Philippines and who live by the Cagayan River.
The Ludong is endangered and may become extinct. The more rare it becomes, the more expensive it gets. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said that from 2002 to 2003, no Ludong were caught at all. Poachers are paid in advance to get the fish when they are spawning, giving mature Ludong less time to breed.
The weight of the Ludong these days is smaller, only 8.9 ounces compared to 5.5 pounds just a few years ago.
The Philippine BFAR has imposed a five-year ban on Ludong fishing. They are also experimenting on breeding the valuable fish in captivity, and educating the local people on the need to preserve it.
So if someone says to you, “Ludong, anyone?”  Just say no.
Manila Bulletin