Best of our wild blogs: 27 Oct 12

Mangrove anemones and special slug at the Northern Expedition Day 12 from Mega Marine Survey of Singapore

Yellow-vented Bulbul uses a plastic bag to construct a nest
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Dragonfly (42) – Pornothemis starrei
from Dragonflies & Damselflies of Singapore and Behaviours of Libellago Lineata

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Malaysia: Batu Caves at risk of caving in

Loshana K Shagar The Star 26 Oct 12;

PETALING JAYA: Batu Caves could cave in if a 29-storey condominium project near the area is given the green light, said Selangor Malaysian Nature Society committee member Lim Teck Wyn.

He said the project would expedite the limestone massif's natural erosion process, causing it to possibly cave in sooner.

“Every year there is a small amount of limestone falling away from the structure, causing skylights.

“The piling and construction work for the building will increase this amount, causing the structure to collapse sooner rather than later,” he said yesterday.

On Monday, it was reported that the Batu Caves temple committee had given a notice of demand to the project's developer, Dolomite Industries.

The state government had ordered the developer to stop all construction-related works, and said it would conduct soil testing in the area.

The property was advertised as a serviced residence located “a stone's throw away” from Batu Caves and with a “panoramic view” of the site.

Lim said the project was not in compliance with the guidelines by the Minerals and Geoscience Department, which stated that high-rise construction should not be done within a radius of 500m from the foothills.

MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said the state government should identify land in a different locality for the condominium project, or compensate Dolomite Industries.

“Conducting soil tests and coming out with a test result that the ground and caves are safe is not going to prove anything over the long term.

“The building and the caves may not collapse immediately after construction, but it may happen later,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said limestone hills were not like the ones in Damansara area, which were of granite in nature.

Dark Caves conservation site management director Don Haider said the two proposed high-rise blocks would endanger some species of fauna within the caves.

“As the construction progresses, it will cause cracks and fissures in the cave structure. This will impact the limestone walls and a cave in can possibly happen,” he said.

The highest building near Batu Caves area is nine floors, and the rest at five floors as the surrounding area is a water catchment area.

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Indonesia: Beached Whale Found Dead on Central Java Beach

Jakarta Globe 26 Oct 12;

Another whale was found beached and dead on Sidayu Indah beach in the Cilacap district of Central Java on Thursday.

"Local residents found the dead body of the whale at 10 a.m.," Iqbalul Murid, a life guard at Sidayu Indah beach, said, as quoted by Antara news agency on Thursday.

Iqbalul said that the 10 meter-long body has started to rot on the beach.

A local resident named Sadiran took the whale's fin to decorate his house.

"This whale's fin cannot be sold on the market, so I [will] dry it and hang it in my house," he said.

Local residents decided to pull the body further up the shore toward dry land because the carcass's stench had started to disseminate.

"Learning from past experience, the remains will be buried," said Sadiran. A few years ago, another whale was beached on the same shore.

Regardless of the smell, some locals decided to gaze at the dead whale.

"I heard the news at 2 p.m. and I came here directly because I was eager to the remains of the whale," Kitam, another citizen, said.

Recently, 44 pilot whales beached themselves on the island of Savu in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. At least 41 of the whales died.

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Australia: Sick turtles washing ashore

Samantha Turnbull and Bruce MacKenzie ABC News 26 Oct 12;

A turtle rehabilitation centre is struggling to keep up with the number of sick reptiles washing ashore

Sick turtles are appearing on north coast beaches earlier than expected.

The Australian Seabird Rescue rehabilitation centre at Ballina is already overflowing with 14 turtles - two more than it's designed to fit.

ASR spokesman Keith Williams says turtle strandings are usually more common in the middle of summer.

"This is a bit of a worry," he said.

"The summer load has arrived a bit early."

The stranded turtles are a mixture of the green and hawksbill species and Mr Williams says many will not survive.

"The unfortunate aspect of our work is that possibly half of these turtles will die in the first few days, they're just that sick when they strand on the beach," he said.

"If they're turning up on the beach they're already very sick.

"There's no records of turtles stranding on a beach for a sunbake.

"If they're on the beach for four to five hours they'll die from sunstroke and dehydration very quickly."

He said investigations into exactly what's causing the strandings would take place over the next few months.

"The most common thing we see is them having eating plastic, that's about one third to 40 per cent of the turtles we're seeing," Mr Williams said.

"Most of the rest have parasite infestations and that's probably indicating to us that they're not getting enough food so they're susceptible to other kinds of organisms."

Mystery surrounds turtle stranding
Bruce MacKenzie ABC News 26 Oct 12;

There's growing concern about a wave of turtles being stranded on far north coast beaches.

Keith Williams, from Australian Seabird Rescue, says 14 gravely ill turtles have been taken into care this week.

He says a similar phenomenon occurred last year, but it's not known what's causing it.

Mr Williams says both green and hawksbill turtles are washing ashore.

"The hawksbill turtles are a particularly endangered species that we're concerned about, and they represented a large number of the turtles that stranded last year," he said.

"So it's a worry that we're starting to see some more of them again.

"There's clearly something going on out there, and we're going to have to use some detective skills maybe to work out what it is.

"The most common thing we see certainly is them having eaten plastic, that's about one third to 40 per cent of the turtles that we're seeing.

"For most of the rest it's parasite infestation, and that's indicating to us that they're struggling in their diet.

"They're not getting enough food and so they're susceptible to other kinds of organisms."

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