Archive for May, 2009

Is the future concentrated solar power?

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

The Guardian claims that concentrated solar power, a field in which Spain leads the way, could generate “quarter of world’s energy”.

Read in the Guardian

“Spain is leading the field on CSP: more than 50 solar projects in the country have been approved for construction by the government and, by 2015, it will generate more than 2GW of power from CSP, comfortably exceeding current national targets. Spanish companies are also exporting their technology around the world.”

Portuguese Men O’ War in Spanish Mediterranean

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Photo by Scott Sonnenberg (wikipedia)

The Portuguese Man O’ War (Physalia physalis), one of the world’s most poisonous “jellyfish”, has been spotted off the Andalusian coastline near Almeria and along the Costa del Sol between Cadiz and Malaga. This is the first time they have reached Spain’s coasts for ten years. Scientists have warned the creatures could soon arrive in waters around the Balearic Islands and the Catalan coast. The species is not a true jellyfish but but rather a siphonophore – a colony of four kinds of minute, highly modified individuals, which are specialized polyps and medusoids.

Their sting is 10 times stronger than an ordinary jellyfish. Wikipedia notes:

The stinging venom-filled nematocysts in the tentacles of the Portuguese Man O’ War can paralyze small fish and other prey. Detached tentacles and dead specimens (including those which wash up on shore) can sting just as painfully as the live creature in the water, and may remain potent for hours or even days after the death of the creature or the detachment of the tentacle.Stings usually cause severe pain to humans, leaving whip-like, red welts on the skin which normally last about 2–3 days after the initial sting, the pain should subside after about 1 hour. However, the venom can travel to the lymph nodes and may cause, depending on the amount of venom, more intense pain. A sting may lead to an allergic reaction. There can also be serious effects, including fever, shock, and interference with heart and lung action. There have even been deaths, although this is rare. Medical attention may be necessary, especially where pain persists or is intense, or there is an extreme reaction, or the rash worsens, or a feeling of overall illness develops, or a red streak develops between swollen lymph nodes and the sting, or if either area becomes red, warm and tender.

Treatment for Man O’ War stings elsewhere on the body involve washing the affected area with salt water and then applying ice to dull the pain. More here

“Climate change is changing the migration patterns of many creatures. If they establish themselves it would be very worrying because they really are very dangerous,” Xavier Pastor, the European director of the Oceana ecological campaigning group, told the Independent.Even dead or washed up on shore the creatures still pose a threat because their tentacles retain their poison.”The Portuguese Man O’ War hasn’t been seen in the Mediterranean for a decade, and its appearance off the Spanish coast could herald a process of colonisation, which has happened with other invading species,” Mr Pastor said. Read in The Daily Telegraph

The Portuguese Man O’ War (named caravela-portuguesa in Portuguese) is named for its air bladder, which looks similar to the triangular sails of the Portuguese ship (man-of-war) Caravela latina (two- or three-masted lateen-rigged ship caravel), of the 15th and 16th centuries. As can be seen in the photo. Photo (wikipedia)

See also last year: Portuguese man o’war threat in Cantabrian Sea

New biosphere reserves for Spain

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Spain has been awarded with two new Biosphere Reserves: the island of Fuerteventura and its surrounding waters and Gerês-Xures, a natural area straddling Portugal and Orense, Spain. Spain now has 40 such reserves. In the photo, Dunas de Corrajeo, in northern Fuerteventura.

El Mundo

Bearded vultures in Cazorla

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The programme to reintrodce the lammergeyer (bearded vulture) in the Sierra de Cazorla is continuing with the release last week of three more females. 12 birds have now been released through the technique of hacking in the range since 2006. Five chicks were also born in captivity in Cazorla this February.

El Mundo

Tiger mosquito continues to spread

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus)  is continuing its seemingly unstoppable march across Catalonia and is now present in 87 municipalities. The insect was first detected in the Iberian Peninsula in Sant Cugat del Vallès in 2004.

El Periodico

Pyrenean bear with cubs

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Hvala, the bear at the centre of the furore last autumn after biting a hunter, has been photographed with two cubs by wardens from the Vall d’Aran. Another bear, Sarousse, which was also released in 2006, may also have cubs, and if so could spell the beginning of a rise in the Pyrenean population.
Pireneodigital

Captive bears mate

Monday, May 4th, 2009

The captive bears Paca and Furaco have finally mated after failing to do so last year. Paca has lived with her sister Tola in a mountainside enclosure for many years and both have play a great role in making bears accepted in Asturias among the general public. As I understand it any cubs are likely to have the fate, and be kept in semi-captivity.

Read in El País

More on Paca and Tola here and the story of the pairing here