Archive for the ‘Gibraltar’ Category

George Orwell in Gibraltar

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

I’m enjoying very much reading the newly published George Orwell Diaries, also available online here. In addition to politics and fascinating insights into the daily life of the late 1930s such as the price of eggs, there is a remarkable amount on natural history, clearly something Orwell found important and interesting. Although the diaries do not cover his time in the Civil War in Spain, he does write this from Gibraltar in September 1938:

Weather mostly hot & nights sometimes uncomfortably so. Sea variable mostly rather choppy. When no wind fish visible at least 10 feet below surface.
The Barbary Ape is said to be now very rare at Gibraltar & the authorities are trying to exterminate them as they are a nuisance. At a certain season of the year (owing to shortage of food I suppose) they come down from the rock & invade peoples° houses & gardens. They are described as large doglike ape with only a short stump of tail. The same species found on the African coast just opposite.
The breed of goat here is the Maltese, or at any rate is chiefly Maltese. The goat is rather small, & has the top half of its body covered with long & rather shaggy hair which overhangs to about the knees, giving the impression that it has very short legs. Ears are set low and drooping. Most of the goats are hornless, those having horns have ones that curve back so sharply that they lie against the head, & usually continue round in a semi-circle, the point of the horn being beside the eye. Udders are very pendulous & in many cases simply a bag with practically no teats, or teats barely 1/2 inch long. Colours black, white & (especially) reddish brown. Yield said to be about a litre a day. Goats apparently will graze on almost anything, eg. The flock I watched had grazed the wild fennel plants right to the ground.
Breed of donkeys here small, like the English. The conveyance peculiar to the place a little partly closed in carriage like the Indian gharry with the sides taken out.

Photo from Wikipedia by Karyn Sig

Mediterranean flood mystery solved

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

A new study published in Nature has revealed details of the catastrophic flood that refilled the Mediterranean Sea more than five million years ago. The flood occurred when Atlantic waters cut through into the Mediterranean basin which had dried up when Africa crashed into Iberia, drying out the trapped Mediterranean. The researchers say that a 200km channel across the Gibraltar strait was carved out by the floodwaters. It may have may involved peak rates of sea level rise in the Mediterranean of over 10 metres a day and may have taken just two years to fill up. Imagine the immense power of the waterfall at Gibraltar. BBC

See also: The biggest waterfall in geological history (with video)

Gibraltar’s apes to be culled

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Gibraltar is to cull a pack of 25 of the Barbary macaques after they have taken to breaking into hotel rooms and scavenging in bins in the town centre. El Mundo or  Daily Telegraph. The current Gibraltar population of the Barbary macaque, often termed erroneously as I have done as an ape, numbers more than 200. More on them here