International Cat Day

International Cat Day is a celebration which takes place on 8 August, every year. It was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus or Felis catus) is a small, typically furry, carnivorous mammal. They are often called house cats when kept as indoor pets or simply cats when there is no need to distinguish them from other felids and felines. They are often valued by humans for companionship and for their ability to hunt vermin. There are more than seventy cat breeds recognized by various cat registries.

Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felids, with a strong flexible body, quick reflexes, sharp retractable claws and teeth adapted to killing small prey. Cat senses fit a crepuscular and predatory ecological niche. Cats can hear sounds too faint or too high in frequency for human ears, such as those made by mice and other small animals. They can see in near darkness. Like most other mammals, cats have poorer color vision and a better sense of smell than humans. Cats, despite being solitary hunters, are a social species, and cat communication includes the use of a variety of vocalizations (mewing, purring, trilling, hissing, growling and grunting) as well as cat pheromones and types of cat-specific body language.

Cats have a high breeding rate. Under controlled breeding, they can be bred and shown as registered pedigree pets. Failure to control the breeding of pet cats by spaying and neutering, as well as the abandonment of former household pets, has resulted in large numbers of feral cats worldwide, requiring population control. In certain areas outside cats’ native range, this has contributed, along with habitat destruction and other factors, to the extinction of many bird species. Cats have been known to extirpate a bird species within specific regions and may have contributed to the extinction of isolated island populations.Cats are thought to be primarily responsible for the extinction of 87 species of birds, and the presence of feral and free-ranging cats makes some otherwise suitable locations unsuitable for attempted species reintroduction.

Because cats were venerated in ancient Egypt, they were commonly believed to have been domesticated there, but there may have been instances of domestication as early as the Neolithic from around 9,500 years ago (7500 BC). A genetic study in 2007 concluded that all domestic cats are descended from Near Eastern wildcats, having diverged around 8000 BC in the Middle East. A 2016 study found that leopard cats were undergoing domestication independently in China around 5500 BC, though this line of partially domesticated cats leaves no trace in the domesticated populations of today. A2017 study confirmed that domestic cats are descendants of those first domesticated by farmers in the Near East around 9,000 years ago. According to a 2007 study, cats are the second-most popular pet in the U.S. by number of pets owned, behind freshwater fish. In a 2010 study, they were ranked the third-most popular pet in the UK, after fish and dogs, with around 8 million being owned. (Cats own you).

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was founded in 1969, in initial efforts to stop the commercial hunt for seal pups on the east coast of Canada. The International Fund for Animal Welfare has offices in 15 countries, and projects in more than 40 IFAW is one of the largest animal welfare organisations in the world.

Activities of the IFAW include

  • collaborating with elephant and rhino orphanages in Zambia, Zimbabwe and India, where the focus is on rescue, rehabilitation, release, and post-release monitoring and protection.
    tenBoma is IFAW’s counter-poaching initiative in Kenya, as featured on NBC’s Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly and PBS NewsHour.
  • IFAW’s Wildlife Crime program works to reduce demand for wildlife products, wildlife cybercrime and live animal exploitation and trafficking around the world.
  • IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue and Research group (MMRR) is a team of scientists, veterinarians and other individuals committed to promoting the conservation of marine mammal species (dolphins, whales, porpoises, and seals) and their habitats. Cape Cod is a hot spot for mass stranding activity, and the team is called on for expertise in global events as well.
  • IFAW introduced The Meet Us Don’t Eat Us campaign to promote whale watching, as an alternative to whale hunting in Iceland.
  • IFAW aims to protect the last 400 critically endangered North Atlantic right whales and has developed acoustic detection systems, collaborated with lobstermen, commercial fishers and shipping industries to prevent collisions with ships and gear entanglements; and advocated for greater legislation to protect the species.
  • IFAW trains customs officers, game wardens and law enforcers in many countries to prevent the killing of endangered species, Through its DISRUPT wildlife crime prevention program,
  • IFAW protects elephants by protecting critical elephant habitats, managing human-elephant conflict, preventing poaching, ending illegal ivory trade and rescuing orphan and injured elephants.
  • IFAW Carries out legislative and educational campaigns across the globe. This is an effort to try to prevent cruelty to animals, preserve endangered species, and protect wildlife habitats.
  • IFAW has a leading role in the campaigns to end the commercial seal hunt in Canada and end commercial whaling, as well as its work to help dogs and cats in impoverished communities, protect elephants, end illegal ivory trade,rescue and release of wild animals such orphan rhinos and rescue of animals in the wake of disasters such as hurricane Katrina in the US.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare attracted Controversy and criticism after A financial manager of the Brian Davies Foundation, IFAW invested IFAW’s money in organizations that carried out animal experiments, such as Bausch & Lomb, US Surgicals, Glaxo, Merck, Abbot, Upjohn, Philip Morris and McDonald’s. When the investment was drawn to the attention of IFAW’s trustees, the shares were sold immediately and the financial manager dismissed. When Davies retired from IFAW in 1997 to start Network For Animals, IFAW established a payment schedule to use his name and image for fundraising and campaigns. The contract was important for the continued level of success that IFAW achieved with Davies’ leadership, according to research on successful animal welfare organizations”. Davies had the following to say about it: “I signed an agreement with IFAW which was conceived by the trustees. I was opposed to the idea of receiving remuneration from two animal welfare organisations; this solution allowed me to run Network For Animals without pay for seven years.”

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Burwarton Agricultural Show

The 127th Burwarton Agricultural show takes place 2 August 2018 in Burwarton, Shropshire. The event has won many awards including the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service which was created in 2002 during Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee, in order to recognize excellence in Voluntary Services carried out by groups in the community. The show includes displays of Livestock pigs, Poultry and Horses. Judging of Pig classes with the Kune Kune pig Society providing active demonstrations of Pig Handling and a sheep-shearing competition. In the main arena there are Magnificent Shire Horses Doing Ploughing Demonstrations, Show Jumping, the Hawkeye Falconry Display, the Devils Horsemen Cossack trick riding, a vintage Tractor Parade, Vintage Land Rovers, decorated Heavy Horses, Mounted Fancy Dress, a Wild West Spectacular, the Young Farmers Tug o’War, The Royal Logistic Corps musical ensemble, Show Jumping, the Bob Hoag Sheep dog display, The White Helmets Royal Signals Motorcycle display Team, A Cavalcade of Vintage tractors courtesy of Bridgnorth Vintage Machinery Club, a parade of decorated Heavy Horses, grand Parade of Livestock and Horses, a Grand Parade of Carriages, Parade of Foxhounds and the Inter Hunt relay team, A sheep-shearing competition will be taking place. The Knowles Vintage Diary will also be demonstrating. There is also a vintage Bentley and the KLSI Military Vehicle Display. There are also lots of Stationary Engines on Display.

Trade stands, include agricultural machinery, food, shopping, crafts, conservation, handicrafts, horticulture, home produce and Honey. Other attractions included the opportunity of taking an alpaca on a mini-trek around the Mill Pool in the conservation area, the Knowles Vintage Diary, a vintage Bentley and the KLSI Military Vehicle Display. There were also plenty of vintage Tractors and Stationary Engines on Display. The British Ironwork Centre, created a pop-up charity garden featuring metalwork flowers and There was also a Scarecrow trail raising funds for Oak Farm in Ditton Priors.

There is also plenty to eat and drink, The public catering facilities include local food producers, G&R Tudge from Richards Castle, Keysells Farm from Tenbury Wells and P Faulkner from Richards Castle. Severn Valley Roasts with their popular pig roast, Ascari from Hereford, providing dining facilities, and the Ludlow Brewing Company providing bar facilities in the Members Pavilion. There is also Entertainment for the children at various times throughout the day, including the Jill Fielding Band, The Bell Inn Brass Band, Puppetree – Punch & Judy show, Magic Russ and the Itchy Feet Appalacian dance group

World Tiger Day

Global Or International Tiger Day, is held annually on July 29 to educate the public and raise awareness concerning tiger conservation,It was created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit. The goal of the day is to promote a global system for protecting the natural habitats of tigers and to raise public awareness and support for tiger conservation issues.

The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat species, most recognizable for their pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with a lighter underside. The species is classified in the genus Panthera with the lion, leopard, jaguar, and snow leopard. Tigers are apex predators, primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and bovids. They are territorial and generally solitary but social animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey requirements. This, coupled with the fact that they are indigenous to some of the more densely populated places on Earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans.

Tigers once ranged widely across eastern Eurasia, from the Black Sea in the west, to the Indian Ocean in the south, and from Kolyma to Sumatra in the east. Over the past 100 years, they have lost 93% of their historic range, and have been extirpated from Western and Central Asia, from the islands of Java and Bali, and from large areas of Southeast, Southern, and Eastern Asia. Today, they range from the Siberian taiga to open grasslands and tropical mangrove swamps. The remaining six tiger subspecies have been classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The global population in the wild is estimated to number between 3,062 and 3,948 individuals, down from around 100,000 at the start of the 20th century, with most remaining populations occurring in small pockets isolated from each other, of which about 2,000 exist on the Indian subcontinent. A 2016 global census estimated the population of wild tigers at approximately 3,890 individuals . Major reasons for population decline include habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation and poaching. The extent of area occupied by tigers is estimated at less than 1,184,911 km2 (457,497 sq mi), a 41% decline from the area estimated in the mid-1990s. In 2016, wildlife conservation group at WWF declared that world’s count of wild tigers has risen for the first time in a century.

The tiger’s closest living relatives were previously thought to be the lion, leopard and jaguar, all of which are classified under the genus Panthera. Genetic analysis indicates that the tiger and the snow leopard diverged from the other Panthera species about 2.88 million years ago, and that both species may be more closely related to each other than to the lion, leopard and jaguar. The oldest remains of an extinct tiger relative, called Panthera zdanskyi or the Longdan tiger, have been found in the Gansu province of northwestern China. This species is considered to be a sister taxon to the extant tiger and lived about 2 million years ago, at the beginning of the Pleistocene. It was smaller than the modern tiger, being the size of a jaguar, and probably did not have the same coat pattern. Despite being considered more “primitive”, the Longdan tiger was functionally and possibly ecologically similar to its modern cousin. As Panthera zdanskyi lived in northwestern China, that may have been where the tiger lineage originated. Tigers grew in size, possibly in response to adaptive radiations of prey species like deer and bovids which may have occurred in Southeast Asia during the early Pleistocene.

The earliest fossils of true tigers are from Java, and are between 1.6 and 1.8 million years old. Distinct fossils are known from the early and middle Pleistocene deposits in China and Sumatra. A subspecies called the Trinil tiger (Panthera tigris trinilensis) lived about 1.2 million years ago and is known from fossils found at Trinil in Java. Tigers first reached India and northern Asia in the late Pleistocene, reaching eastern Beringia (but not the American Continent), Japan, and Sakhalin. As evidenced by Sandra Herrington, some fossil skulls that are morphologically distinct from lion skulls could indicate however that tigers might have been present in Alaska within the last 100,000 years during the last glaciation. Fossils found in Japan indicate the local tigers were, like the surviving island subspecies, smaller than the mainland forms, an example of insular dwarfism. Until the Holocene, tigers also lived in Borneo, as well as on the island of Palawan in the Philippines. As of the Middle Ages, Caspian tigers were noted to range in the Pontic-Caspian steppes of Ukraine and southern Russia.

The tiger’s full genome sequence was published in 2013. It and other cat genomes were found to have similar repeat compositions. There are 11 recognised tiger subspecies. Two, the Trinil and Japanese tigers, became extinct in prehistoric times. The remaining subspecies all survived at least into the mid-20th century; three of these are also considered extinct. Their core historical range in South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan), Eastern Asia (China, Mongolia, North Korea, Siberia, South Korea) and South East Asia, including three Indonesian islands, is severely constricted today, and the populations in the Black Sea (Iran, Georgia, Southern Russia, Turkey) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) are now extinct. Tigers are among the most recognisable and popular of the world’s charismatic megafauna. They have featured prominently in ancient mythology and folklore, and continue to be depicted in modern films and literature. They appear on many flags, coats of arms, and as mascots for sporting teams. The tiger is the national animal of Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and South Korea.

World Population Day

World Population day is an annual event, observed on July 11 every year. The purpose of World Population Day is to raise awareness of global population issues. The event was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989. It was inspired by the public interest in Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987-approximately the date on which the world’s population reached five billion people. World Population Day aims at increase people’s awareness on various population issues such as the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health and human rights.

The world population refers to the total number of humans currently living at any one time. The world population was estimated to have reached 7,500,000,000 at 16:21 on April 24, 2017. The United Nations estimates it will further increase to 11.2 billion in the year 2100. The World population has experienced continuous growth since the end of the Great Famine of 1315–17 and the Black Death in 1350, when it was near 370 million. The highest population growth rates – global population increases above 1.8% per year – occurred between 1955-1975 peaking to 2.06% between 1965-1970. The growth rate has declined to 1.18% between 2010-2015 and is projected to decline to 0.13% by the year 2100. Total annual births were highest in the late 1980s at about 139 million, and are now expected to remain essentially constant at their 2011 level of 135 million, while deaths number 56 million per year and are expected to increase to 80 million per year by 2040. World population reached 7 billion on October 31, 2011 according to the United Nations Population Fund, and on March 12, 2012 according to the United States Census Bureau.

The median age of the world’s population was estimated to be 30.1 years in 2016, with the male median age estimated to be 29.4 years and female, 30.9 years. The 2012 UN projections show a continued increase in population in the near future with a steady decline in population growth rate; the global population is expected to reach between 8.3 and 10.9 billion by 2050. 2003 UN Population Division population projections for the year 2150 range between 3.2 and 24.8 billion. One of many independent mathematical models supports the lower estimate, while a 2014 estimate forecasts between 9.3 and 12.6 billion in 2100, and continued growth thereafter. Some analysts have questioned the sustainability of further world population growth, highlighting the growing pressures on the environment, global food supplies, and energy resources. While press interest and general awareness in the global population surges only at the increments of whole billions of people, the world population increases by 100 million approximately every 14 months. The world population reached 7,400,000,000 on February 6, 2016; and 7,500,000,000 on April 24, 2017.

Jacques Cousteau

The late great pioneering French naval oficer, explorer conservationist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau sadly passed away 25 June 1997 in Paris, aged 87, following a heart attack. He was born 11 June 1910. He studied the sea and aquatic life And co-developed the Aqua-Lung. He was also a member of the Académie Français and studied at the Collège Stanislas in Paris. In 1930, he entered the École Navale and graduated as a gunnery officer. After a car accident cut short his career in naval aviation, Cousteau indulged his interest in the sea.In Toulon, where he was serving on the Condorcet, Cousteau carried out his first underwater experiments, thanks to his friend Philippe Tailliez who in 1936 lent him some Fernez underwater goggles. Cousteau also worked for the information service of the French Navy, and was sent on missions to Shanghai and Japan (1935–1938) and in the USSR in 1939.

After the armistice of 1940, his family took refuge in Megève, where he became a friend of the Ichac family who also lived there. Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Marcel Ichac shared the same desire to reveal to the general public unknown and inaccessible places — for Cousteau the underwater world and for Ichac the high mountains. The to neighbors took the first ex-aequo prize of the Congress of Documentary Film in 1943, for the first French underwater film: Par dix-huit mètres de fond (18 meters deep), made without breathing apparatus the previous year in the Embiez islands with Philippe Tailliez and Frédéric Dumas, using a depth-pressure-proof camera case developed by mechanical engineer Léon Vèche (engineer of Arts and Métiers and the Naval College). In 1943, they made the film Épaves (Shipwrecks), in which they used two of the very first Aqua-Lung prototypes. These prototypes were made in Boulogne-Billancourt by the Air Liquide company, following instructions from Cousteau and Émile. Having kept bonds with the English speakers (he spent part of his childhood in the United States and usually spoke English) and with French soldiers in North Africa ( Jacques-Yves Cousteau , helped the French Navy to join again with the Allies and assembled a commando operation against the Italian espionage services in France, for which he received several military decorations for his deeds. At that time, he kept his distance from his brother Pierre-Antoine Cousteau, a “pen anti-semite” who wrote the collaborationist newspaper Je suis partout (I am everywhere) and who received the death sentence in 1946. However, this was later commuted to a life sentence, and Pierre-Antoine was released in 1954.

During the 1940s, Cousteau worked on the aqua-lung design the forerunner of open-circuit scuba technology used today. Cousteau started diving with Fernez goggles in 1936, and in 1939 used the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus invented in 1926 by Commander Yves le Prieur but dissatisfied with its performance so he improved it to extend underwater duration by adding a demand regulator, invented in 1942 by Émile Gagnan. In 1943 Cousteau tried out the first prototype aqua-lung which made extended underwater exploration possible. In 1946, Cousteau and Tailliez showed the film “Épaves”and set up the Groupement de Recherches Sous-marines (GRS) (Underwater Research Group) of the French Navy in Toulon. A little later it became the GERS (Groupe d’Études et de Recherches Sous-Marines, = Underwater Studies and Research Group), then the COMISMER (“COMmandement des Interventions Sous la MER”, = “Undersea Interventions Command”), and finally more recently the CEPHISMER. In 1947, Chief Petty Officer Maurice Fargues became the first diver to die using an aqualung while attempting a new depth record with the GERS near Toulon.

In 1948, between missions of mine clearance, underwater exploration and technological and physiological tests, Cousteau undertook a first campaign in the Mediterranean on board the sloop Élie Monnier, with Philippe Tailliez, Frédéric Dumas, Jean Alinat and the scenario writer Marcel Ichac. The small team also undertook the exploration of the Roman wreck of Mahdia (Tunisia). It was the first underwater archaeology operation using autonomous diving, opening the way for scientific underwater archaeology. Cousteau and Marcel Ichac brought back from there the Carnets diving film (presented and preceded with the Cannes Film Festival 1951).Cousteau and the Élie Monnier then took part in the rescue of Professor Jacques Piccard’s bathyscaphe, the FNRS-2, during the 1949 expedition to Dakar. Thanks to this rescue, the French Navy was able to reuse the sphere of the bathyscaphe to construct the FNRS-3.The adventures of this period are told in the two books The Silent World (1953, by Cousteau and Dumas) and Plongées sans câble(1954, by Philippe Tailliez)

.In 1949, Cousteau left the French Navy.In 1950, he founded the French Oceanographic Campaigns (FOC), and leased a ship called Calypso from Thomas Loel Guinness for a symbolic one franc a year. Cousteau refitted the Calypso as a mobile laboratory for field research and as his principal vessel for diving and filming. He also carried out underwater archaeological excavations in the Mediterranean, in particular at Grand-Congloué (1952).With the publication of his first book in 1953, The Silent World, he correctly predicted the existence of the echolocation abilities ofporpoises. He reported that his research vessel, the Élie Monier, was heading to the Straits of Gibraltar and noticed a group of porpoises following them. Cousteau changed course a few degrees off the optimal course to the center of the strait, and the porpoises followed for a few minutes, then diverged toward mid-channel again. It was evident that they knew where the optimal course lay, even if the humans did not. Cousteau concluded that the cetaceans had something like sonar, which was a relatively new feature on submarines.

Cousteau won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1956 for The Silent World co-produced with Louis Malle. With the assistance of Jean Mollard, he made a “diving saucer” SP-350, an experimental underwater vehicle which could reach a depth of 350 meters. The successful experiment was quickly repeated in 1965 with two vehicles which reached 500 meters.In 1957, he was elected as director of the Oceanographical Museum of Monaco. He directed Précontinent, about the experiments of diving in saturation (long-duration immersion, houses under the sea), and was admitted to the United States National Academy of Sciences.He was involved in the creation of Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques and served as its inaugural president from 1959 to 1973. In October 1960, a large amount of radioactive waste was going to be discarded in the Mediterranean Sea by the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique (CEA). The CEA argued that the dumps were experimental in nature, and that French oceanographers such asVsevelod Romanovsky had recommended it. Romanovsky and other French scientists, including Louis Fage and Jacques Cousteau, repudiated the claim, saying that Romanovsky had in mind a much smaller amount. The CEA claimed that there was little circulation (and hence little need for concern) at the dump site between Nice and Corsica, but French public opinion sided with the oceanographers rather than with the CEA atomic energy scientists. The CEA chief, Francis Perrin, decided to postpone the dump. Cousteau organized a publicity campaign which in less than two weeks gained wide popular support. The train carrying the waste was stopped by women and children sitting on the railway tracks, and it was sent back to its origin.

A meeting with American television companies (ABC, Métromédia, NBC) created the series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, with the character of the commander in the red bonnet inherited from standard diving dress) intended to give the films a “personalized adventure” style. This documentary television series ran for ten years from 1966 to 1976. A second documentary series, The Cousteau Odyssey, ran from 1977 to 1982, among others.In 1970, he wrote the book The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea with Philippe, his son. In this book, Costeau described the oceanic whitetip shark as “the most dangerous of all sharks”.In 1973, along with his two sons and Frederick Hyman, he created the Cousteau Society for the Protection of Ocean Life, Frederick Hyman being its first President; it now has more than 300,000 members.On December 1975, two years after the volcano’s last eruption, The Cousteau Society was filming Voyage au bout du monde on Deception Island, Antarctica, when Michel Laval, Calypso’s second in command, was struck and killed by a propeller of the helicopter that was ferrying between Calypso and the island.

In1976, Cousteau uncovered the wreck of HMHS Britannic. He also found the wreck of the French 17th-century ship-of-the-line La Therese in coastal waters of Crete.In 1977, together with Peter Scott, he received the UN International Environment prize.On 28 June 1979, while the Calypso was on an expedition to Portugal, his second son, Philippe, his preferred and designated successor and with whom he had co-produced all his films since 1969, died in a PBY Catalina flying boat crash in the Tagus river near Lisbon. Cousteau was deeply affected. He called his then eldest son, the architect Jean-Michel Cousteau, to his side. This collaboration lasted 14 years.In 1975 John Denver released the tribute song “Calypso” on his album “Windsong”, and on the B-side of his hit song “I’m Sorry”. “Calypso” became a hit on its own and was later considered the new A-side, reaching #2 on the charts.

From 1980 to 1981, he was a regular on the animal reality show Those Amazing Animals, along with Burgess Meredith, Priscilla Presley, and Jim Stafford. In 1980, Cousteau traveled to Canada to make two films on the Saint Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, Cries from the Deep and St. Lawrence: Stairway to the Sea. In 1985, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan.On 24 November 1988, he was elected to the Académie française, chair 17, succeeding Jean Delay. His official reception under the Cupola took place on 22 June 1989, the response to his speech of reception being given by Bertrand Poirot-Delpech. After his death, he was replaced under the Cupola by Érik Orsenna on 28 May 1998.In June 1990, the composer Jean Michel Jarre paid homage to the commander by entitling his new album Waiting for Cousteau. He also composed the music for Cousteau’s documentary “Palawan, the last refuge” .

On 2 December 1990, his wife Simone Cousteau died of cancer .In June 1991, Jacques-Yves Cousteau remarried, to Francine Triplet, with whom he had (before this marriage) two children, Diane and Pierre-Yves. Francine Cousteau currently continues her husband’s work as the head of the Cousteau Foundation and Cousteau Society. From that point, the relations between Jacques-Yves and his elder son worsened. In November 1991, Cousteau gave an interview to the UNESCO Courier, in which he stated that he was in favour of human population control and population decrease and in 1992, he was invited to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the United Nations’ International Conference on Environment and Development, and then he became a regular consultant for the UN and the World Bank. In 1996, he sued his son who wished to open a holiday centre named “Cousteau” in the Fiji Islands. On 11 January 1996, Calypso was rammed and sunk in Singapore Harbour by a barge. The Calypso was refloated and towed home to France. Cousteau is buried in a Roman Catholic Christian funeral in the family vault at Saint-André-de-f in France. A street was renamed “rue du Commandant Cousteau”, in his honour and a commemorative plaque was affixed to his house.

World Hydrography Day

World Hydrography Day, takes place annually on 21 June. It was adopted by the International Hydrographic Organization as an annual celebration to publicise the work of hydrographers and the importance of hydrography. Hydrography deals with the measurement and description of the physical features of oceans, seas, coastal areas, lakes and rivers, as well as with the prediction of their change over time, for the primary purpose of safety of navigation and in support of all other marine activities, including economic development, security and defence, scientific research, and environmental protection.

The date chosen for World Hydrography Day is the anniversary of the founding of the International Hydrographic Organization which was established in 1921 for the purpose of providing a mechanism for consultation between governments on such matters as technical standards, safe navigation and the protection of the marine environment.  The IHO is actively engaged in developing standards and interoperability, particularly in relation to the challenges brought about by digital technologies.

Large scale Hydrography is usually undertaken by national or international organizations which sponsor data collection through precise surveys and publish charts and descriptive material for navigational purposes. The science of oceanography is, in part, an outgrowth of classical hydrography. In many respects the data are interchangeable, but marine hydrographic data will be particularly directed toward marine navigation and safety of that navigation. Marine resource exploration and exploitation is a significant application of hydrography, principally focused on the search for hydrocarbons.

Hydrographical measurements include the tidal, current and wave information of physical oceanography. They include bottom measurements, with particular emphasis on those marine geographical features that pose a hazard to navigation such as rocks, shoals, reefs and other features that obstruct ship passage. Bottom measurements also include collection of the nature of the bottom as it pertains to effective anchoring. Unlike oceanography, hydrography will include shore features, natural and manmade, that aid in navigation. Therefore, a hydrographic survey may include the accurate positions and representations of hills, mountains and even lights and towers that will aid in fixing a ship’s position, as well as the physical aspects of the sea and seabed.

Hydrography charts normally portray what is safe for navigation, and therefore will usually tend to maintain least depths and occasionally de-emphasize the actual submarine topography that would be portrayed on bathymetric charts, which are used to avoid accident. The latter are best representations of the actual seabed, as in a topographic map, for scientific and other purposes. Trends in hydrographic practice since c. 2003–2005 have led to a narrowing of this difference, with many more hydrographic offices maintaining “best observed” databases. This has been coupled with a preference for multi-use surveys, so that the same data collected for nautical charting purposes can also be used for bathymetric portrayal.

Even though, in places, hydrographic survey data may be collected in sufficient detail to portray bottom topography in some areas, hydrographic charts only show depth information relevant for safe navigation and do not show an accurate portrayal of the actual shape of the bottom. The soundings selected from the raw source depth data for placement on the nautical chart are selected for safe navigation and are biased to show predominately the shallowest depths, if there is a deep area that can not be reached because it is surrounded by shallow water, the deep area may not be shown. The color filled areas that show different ranges of shallow water are not the equivalent of contours on a topographic map since they are often drawn seaward of the actual shallowest depth portrayed. A bathymetric chart does show marine topology accurately. Details covering the above limitations can be found in Part 1 of Bowditch’s American Practical Navigator. Another concept that affects safe navigation is the sparsity of detailed depth data from high resolution sonar systems. In more remote areas, the only available depth information has been collected with lead lines. This collection method drops a weighted line to the bottom at intervals and records the depth, often from a rowboat or sail boat. There is no data between soundings or between sounding lines to guarantee that there is not a hazard such as a wreck or a coral head waiting there to ruin a sailor’s day. Often, the navigation of the collecting boat does not match today’s GPS navigational accuracies. The hydrographic chart will use the best data available and will caveat its nature in a caution note or in the legend of the chart.

A hydrographic survey is quite different from a bathymetric survey in some important respects, particularly in a bias toward least depths due to the safety requirements of the former and geomorphologic descriptive requirements of the latter. Historically, this could include echosoundings being conducted under settings biased toward least depths, but in modern practice hydrographic surveys typically attempt to best measure the depths observed, with the adjustments for navigational safety being applied after the fact.

Hydrography of streams includes information on the stream bed, flows, water quality and surrounding land. Basin or interior hydrography pays special attention to rivers and potable water although if collected data is not for ship navigational uses, and is intended for scientific usage, it is more commonly called hydrology. Hydrography of rivers and streams is also an integral part of water management. Most reservoirs in the United States use dedicated stream gauging and rating tables to determine inflows into the reservoir and outflows to irrigation districts, water municipalities and other users of captured water. River/stream hydrographers use handheld and bank mounted devices, to capture a sectional flow rate of moving water through a section.

Each World Hydrography Day has a different theme, these are determined by the Member States of the International Hydrographic Organization in order to promote the importance of hydrography internationally. The theme for World Hydrography Day 2018 is “Bathymetry – the foundation for sustainable seas, oceans and waterways”. Previous themes for World Hydrography day have included Safety at sea and protection of sensitive areas, multilateral cooperation and effective collaboration in data exchange, charting and standards development, Mapping our seas, oceans and waterways, charting our seas and waterways, Hydrography – underpinning the Blue Economy, Hydrography’s importance in managing seas and waterways, supporting safe navigation, Human Resources regarding Hydrography, the Importance of the Hydrographic Services, Hydrography for Protecting the marine environment, The importance of Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs), safety at sea and efficient maritime practices.

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought takes place each June 17. The purpose of the world Day to combat desertification and drought is to educate people concerning the causes of drought and highlight ways to prevent desertification and recover from drought. Each annual celebration has a different theme. Desertification is a type of land degradation in which relatively dry area of land becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife. It is caused by a variety of factors, such as through climate change and through the overexploitation of soil through human activities. When deserts appear automatically over the natural course of a planet’s life cycle, then it can be called a natural phenomenon; however, when deserts emerge due to the rampant and unchecked depletion of nutrients in soil that are essential for it to remain arable, then a virtual “soil death” can be spoken of, which traces its cause back to human overexploitation. Desertification is a significant global ecological and environmental problem. Desertification is defined as “the process of fertile land transforming into desert typically as a result of deforestation, drought or improper/ inappropriate agriculture”. Desertification Is defined by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) as “land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.

The world’s most noted deserts were formed by natural processes interacting over long intervals of time. During most of these times, deserts have grown and shrunk independent of human activities. Paleodeserts are large sand seas now inactive because they are stabilized by vegetation, some extending beyond the present margins of core deserts, such as the Sahara, the largest hot desert. The immediate cause of desertification is the loss of most vegetation. This is driven by a number of factors, such as drought, climatic shifts, tillage for agriculture, overgrazing and deforestation for fuel or construction materials. Vegetation plays a major role in determining the biological composition of the soil. Studies have shown that, in many environments, the rate of erosion and runoff decreases exponentially with increased vegetation cover. Unprotected, dry soil surfaces blow away with the wind or are washed away by flash floods, leaving infertile lower soil layers that bake in the sun and become an unproductive hard the controlled movement of herds of livestock, mimicking herds of grazing wildlife, may help to reverse desertification.

Desertification has played a significant role in human history, contributing to the collapse of several large empires, such as Carthage, Greece, and the Roman Empire, as well as causing displacement of local populations. Historical evidence shows that the serious and extensive land deterioration occurring several centuries ago in arid regions had three epicenters: the Mediterranean, the Mesopotamian Valley, and the Loess Plateau of China, where population was dense. At least 90% of the inhabitants of drylands live in developing nations, where they also suffer from poor economic and social conditions. This situation is exacerbated by land degradation because of the reduction in productivity, the precariousness of living conditions and the difficulty of access to resources and opportunities. A downward spiral is created in many underdeveloped countries by overgrazing, land exhaustion and overdrafting of groundwater in many of the marginally productive world regions due to overpopulation pressures to exploit marginal drylands for farming. Decision-makers are understandably averse to invest in arid zones with low potential. This absence of investment contributes to the marginalisation of these zones. When unfavourable agro-climatic conditions are combined with an absence of infrastructure and access to markets, as well as poorly adapted production techniques and an underfed and undereducated population, most such zones are excluded from development. Desertification often causes rural lands to become unable to support the same sized populations that previously lived there. This results in mass migrations out of rural areas and into urban areas, particularly in Africa. These migrations into the cities often cause large numbers of unemployed people, who end up living in slums.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”. Specifically, SDG Goal 15: Life on Land states the resolve of the United Nations and the SDG signatory nations to halt and reverse land degradationTechniques and countermeasures exist for mitigating or reversing the effects of desertification. One controversial solution is to manager population growth. Another way of mitigating Desertification is to adopt sustainable agricultural practices. However the costs of adopting these sometimes exceed the financial benefits for individual farmers, even while they are socially and environmentally beneficial. Another issue is a lack of political will, and lack of funding to support land reclamation and anti-desertification programs.

Desertification is recognized as a major threat to biodiversity. Some countries have developed Biodiversity Action Plans to counter its effects, particularly in relation to the protection of endangered flora and fauna. Reforestation can help stop one root cause of desertification and is not just treat of the symptoms. In many places deforestation and desertification are contributing to extreme poverty and many organisations focus on educating the local population about the dangers of deforestation and sometimes employ them to grow seedlings, which they transfer to severely deforested areas during the rainy season. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations launched the FAO Drylands Restoration Initiative in 2012 to draw together knowledge and experience on dryland restoratio In 2015, FAO published global guidelines for the restoration of degraded forests and landscapes in drylands, in collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Age.

Currently, one of the major methods that has been finding success in this battle with desertification is China’s “Great Green Wall.” This plan was proposed in the late 70’s, and has become a major ecological engineering project involving the planting of nearly 66,000,000,000 tress planted in China’s great green wall. It’s success depends upon providing enough water, Fixating and hyper-fertilizing soil. Fixating the soil is often done through the use of shelter belts, woodlots and windbreaks. Windbreaks are made from trees and bushes and are used to reduce soil erosion and evapotranspirati. Due to lack of water some soils can become consolidated rather than porous (as in the case of sandy soils. techniques such as zaï or tillage are then used to still allow the planting of crop

Another technique that is useful is contour trenching. This involves the digging of 150m long, 1m deep trenches in the soil. The trenches are made parallel to the height lines of the landscape, preventing the water from flowing within the trenches and causing erosion. Stone walls are placed around the trenches to prevent the trenches from closing up again. The method was invented by Peter Westerveld. Enriching of the soil and restoration of its fertility is often done by plants. Of these, leguminous plants which extract nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil, and food crops/trees as grains, barley, beans and dates are the most important. Sand fences can also be used to control drifting of soil and sand erosion. Some research centra (such as Bel-Air Research Center IRD/ISRA/UCAD) are also experimenting with the inoculation of tree species with mycorrhiza in arid zones. The mycorrhiza are basically fungi attaching themselves to the roots of the plants. They create a symbiotic relation with the trees, increasing the surface area of the tree’s roots greatly (allowing the tree to gather much more nutrients from the soil.

As there are many different types of deserts, there are also different methods to stop desertification. For instance the salt-flats in the Rub’ al Khali desert in Saudi-Arabia are one of the most promising desert areas for seawater agriculture and could be revitalized without the use of freshwater or much energy. Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) is another technique that has produced successful results for desert reclamation. Since 1980, this method to reforest degraded landscape has been applied with some success in Niger. This simple and low-cost method has enabled farmers to regenerate some 30,000 square kilometers in Niger. The process involves enabling native sprouting tree growth through selective pruning of shrub shoots. The residue from pruned trees can be used to provide mulching for fields thus increasing soil water retention and reducing evaporation. Additionally, properly spaced and pruned trees can increase crop yields. The Humbo Assisted Regeneration Project which uses FMNR techniques in Ethiopia has received money from The World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund, which supports projects that sequester or conserve carbon in forests or agricultural ecosystems.