70 million years on earth, 40 years of decline: the endangered eel

This picture taken on October 25, 2021 shows an eel in an aquarium at the Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency in a suburb of Minamiizu, Shizuoka prefecture. (AFP)
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This picture taken on October 25, 2021 shows an eel in an aquarium at the Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency in a suburb of Minamiizu, Shizuoka prefecture. (AFP)
This picture taken on October 25, 2021 shows the larva of an eel at the Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency in a suburb of Minamiizu, Shizuoka prefecture. (AFP)
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This picture taken on October 25, 2021 shows the larva of an eel at the Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency in a suburb of Minamiizu, Shizuoka prefecture. (AFP)
70 million years on earth, 40 years of decline: the endangered eel
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In this photo taken on April 16, 2021, Japanese chef Tsuyoshi Hachisuka prepares eel at his restaurant in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka prefecture. (AFP)
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Updated 14 December 2021

70 million years on earth, 40 years of decline: the endangered eel

This picture taken on October 25, 2021 shows the larva of an eel at the Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency in a suburb of Minamiizu, Shizuoka prefecture. (AFP)
  • Eels are believed to have been around for 60-70 million years, and have not diversified much, with just 19 species and subspecies in the Anguilla genus

TOKYO: Eels were once so abundant that they were considered a pest, but today the ancient creature is threatened by human activity and risks disappearing altogether, scientists and environmentalists warn.

Eels appear in human mythology and ancient art, and their bones have been found in tombs dating back thousands of years.
Just thirty years ago, they were so common that in France they were even classed a nuisance, accused of damaging salmon stock and destroying fishing lines.
“When I was young, eels were in every river and estuary,” said French researcher Eric Feunteun, a leading expert on the creature.
“My grandmother had a cafe... and sometimes customers who were down on their luck would bring a bucket of young eel to pay for their coffee,” he said.
In less than half a century, the situation has changed radically: the European eel’s population is now just 10 percent of its 1960-70s level.
“We sounded the alarm in the 1980s,” explained Feunteun, a marine ecology professor at France’s National Museum of Natural History, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the European Union required its members to protect the species.
The European eel now appears on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s critically endangered list, with its Japanese and American cousins just one category behind, on the endangered list.




This picture taken on October 25, 2021 shows an eel in a tank at the Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency in a suburb of Minamiizu, Shizuoka prefecture. (AFP)

The eel’s complex life cycle makes it vulnerable to a wide range of human activity, including overfishing of a species that is a much-loved delicacy in Asia.
But that pressure is far from the only thing driving eel decline.
“We’ve known since the 1980s that there are multiple reasons and that fishing probably isn’t the main factor,” said Feunteun.
He points out that polluting waterways with contaminants like pesticides, medicines and plasticizers has a much greater effect, including on eels’ reproductive capacity.
Habitat destruction also plays a significant role, according to Andrew Kerr, president of the Sustainable Eel Group.
He points to the “draining of three quarters of the wetlands of Europe. And then the one million plus barriers to fish migration in the rivers, like dams.”
“So we basically destroyed the eel’s habitat. And that’s what’s really killed it off,” he told AFP.
Climate change is also a factor, shifting marine currents that carry eels from their spawning grounds in tropical waters to the rivers and estuaries where they will spend most of their lives.
Longer and slower routes mean higher mortality rates for young eels as they drift toward coastlines.

Since 2012, Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea have cooperated on conserving the Japanese eel found in their waters, including with fishing quotas.
But fishing limits alone are insufficient, experts say.
Other efforts include programs that range from helping eels over migration barriers, to moving young eels from areas where they are abundant to places where they are in decline.
Elsewhere, dams that can trap, injure and kill eels as they migrate have been adapted, and systems to trace them and interrupt trafficking have also been introduced.
More is needed though, experts say, including on habitat protection.
“It won’t take long for the other 16 species of eels to get on the endangered list. So we have to have a global approach to safeguarding the eel,” said Kerr.

The eel has proved resistant to reproducing naturally in captivity and artificial fertilization is possible but expensive.
“The reproductive rate is low and it takes a long time for the (juvenile) glass eels to grow,” said Ryusuke Sudo of the Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency in the Izu region, southwest of Tokyo.
Scientists have also never observed eel larvae eating in the wild, so their preferred food remains a mystery. They grow slower in captivity and each eel requires individual human intervention to reproduce.

Eels are believed to have been around for 60-70 million years, and have not diversified much, with just 19 species and subspecies in the Anguilla genus.
For all their longevity, much about them remains a mystery, with scientists only recently pinpointing the first spawning grounds.
In some ways, eels are “super-adapted,” said Feunteun. They are able to breed in areas where most fish could not find food, because eel young can feed on “marine snow,” dead and decaying plant and animal matter that drifts down the water column.
But the long distances they migrate and disperse leave them vulnerable.
“Seventy million years of existence and 40 years of decline,” as Feunteun puts it.
Still, he holds out some hope.
“It’s a species that has shown during previous climatic changes that it can rebound from very few individuals,” he said.


Riyadh police identify, investigate girl who assaulted another in viral video

Riyadh police identify, investigate girl who assaulted another in viral video
Updated 23 May 2022

Riyadh police identify, investigate girl who assaulted another in viral video

Riyadh police identify, investigate girl who assaulted another in viral video

Riyadh Police said they have identified the girl who was seen assaulting another girl in a video that went viral on social media platforms across the country. 

An investigation is ongoing, and the necessary actions will be taken, a spokesperson for the police department said in a statement. 

In the video, a group of girls are seen sitting together when the assailant begins to repeatedly hit the victim on the back of her head in an apparently unprovoked attack. 

One girl steps in to try to stop the attack while others watch. 

Dozens of people took to social media on Sunday to call on authorities to reprimand the assailant using the hashtag “Girl bullies her friend” in Arabic. 

And in a shocking twist a second video has been shared in response to the police tweet which appears to show the same attackers beating a woman in an abaya.

In this video the girls - who are wearing the same clothes and have the same physical features repeatedly punch their victim before two other youths appear to come to her rescue.


Canada celebrates political icon ‘Hurricane Hazel’, aged 101

Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada's largest airport. (AFP)
Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada's largest airport. (AFP)
Updated 21 May 2022

Canada celebrates political icon ‘Hurricane Hazel’, aged 101

Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada's largest airport. (AFP)
  • She also played on a professional women’s hockey team for two seasons, losing two teeth while earning Can$5 ($4) per match, which she described as “a princely sum in those days”

TORONTO, Canada: Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada’s largest airport as she forges ahead with a career that has included being a city mayor for 36 years and playing professional hockey.
Her tenacity earned her the nickname “Hurricane Hazel.”
“I don’t know how it came about (that) they call me ‘Hurricane Hazel,’” she said in an interview with AFP at a Mississauga, Ontario exhibit celebrating her life, adding with a boisterous laugh: “I know I move quickly.”

And nothing seems to stop her. Throughout her long life, she says she followed the mantra: work hard and be prepared.

“Hard work never killed anybody, my mother told me that,” she said. “If you want to go anywhere you have to work hard.”
Born in 1921, in Port Daniel, Quebec, Hazel is the youngest of five children. Her father worked in the fishing industry while her mother was a nurse.
She left the family farm at age 16 to continue her education, before taking up secretarial work during the Second World War at a Montreal engineering firm.
She also played on a professional women’s hockey team for two seasons, losing two teeth while earning Can$5 ($4) per match, which she described as “a princely sum in those days.”
In 1951, she married Sam McCallion with whom she had three children.
“She wasn’t always there, but she was there when she needed to be,” recalled her son Peter McCallion, describing her as a “wonderful” grandmother to her only granddaughter.

Inspired by former Ottawa mayor Charlotte Whitton — the first female mayor of a major Canadian city — and Margaret Thatcher, she entered politics in the 1960s.
In 1978, she won the mayoralty of Mississauga on the shores of Lake Ontario, neighboring Toronto — helped at the polls by her refusal to be baited by her opponent’s sexist remarks during the campaign.
Today, she spurns questions on gender and politics. “It has not been difficult at all. I have been supported by men both in business and in politics,” she said, adding that she’s been “fortunate.”
McCallion has left an indelible mark on Mississauga, which has dramatically changed over the past decades as it grew to become Canada’s seventh largest city.
She had been in office only a few months when a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in a populated area of the city, and erupted in flames.
McCallion gained a national profile for managing the mass evacuation of 220,000 residents, in which nobody died or was seriously injured.
“To live a happy life you have to be very positive and you have to feel that you’re contributing. You can’t think of ‘me’ all the time,” she says, explaining her commitment to public service.
She would be re-elected 11 more times to lead the city of Mississauga, making her one of Canada’s longest serving mayors.
According to Tom Urbaniak, author of a book on Mississauga under her watch, her longevity in politics is due to her strong personality and accessibility, but also “her down-to-Earth populism” and outspokenness.
“Hazel McCallion leans toward conservatism but she is extremely pragmatic,” said the Cape Breton University professor, who noted her support for political parties of all stripes.
The self-described “builder” was voted most popular mayor, before retiring three years later at age 93.
A stamp collector, McCallion says she enjoys gardening and making videos for charitable causes, and keeps up with the news, wearing a yellow and blue ribbon on her lapel to show support for Ukraine at war.
“I’ve lived one hundred years and I’ve never felt so negative about what is happening in the world today,” she laments. “It’s very disturbing.”


Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville

Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville
Updated 20 May 2022

Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville

Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville
  • Gordon Smith, 42, disappeared after Scottish side’s defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Europa League final
  • Sister thanks fans ‘and Scotland as a whole’ for helping find her missing brother

DUBAI: A Rangers fan who went missing for nearly 36 hours after Wednesday’s Europa League final in Seville has been found.
Gordon Smith, 42, became separated from his brother Craig, 23, after going to the toilet at a fan zone at about 11 pm, soon after his team had been beaten by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Spanish city.
According to media reports, after waiting for several hours, the younger sibling, from Renfrewshire, went searching for his brother but was unable to track him down.
When the missing man failed to make contact with any of his family members, his sister, Danielle Ashleigh Smith, took to social media to appeal to Rangers supporters to help find him.
She told the media that her brother had not returned to the fan zone and that bags containing the brothers’ passports, money and phones had been stolen.
“Their belongings were stolen at some point in the early hours from Craig,” she said.
Smith described her brother’s disappearance as “out of character” and said at the time she was concerned for his safety.
But on Friday afternoon, she posted on Facebook that the missing sibling had been found “safe and sound” at 11 a.m. that morning.
“He’s safe and en route to some accommodation,” she said.
She also expressed her gratitude at the response she received to her social media plea, saying that several people had offered help with money, accommodation and even flights.
“The support shown from not only Rangers fans but Celtic fans and Scotland as a whole has been amazing and I am proud this is my country,” she wrote.
News reports said a Seville resident had helped liaise with police during the search for Smith.
Younger brother Craig was now preparing to fly home after contacting his family and being issued with emergency travel papers, the reports said.


Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump
Updated 19 May 2022

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump
  • Murad Lamrabette, formerly of Dutch club SBV Vitesse, dies during family holiday in Majorca
  • Lamrabette’s wife recorded 31-year-old’s ill-fated stunt on video that went viral

DUBAI: A Moroccan former footballer leapt to his death while performing a daredevil jump whilst on a family holiday in Spain.
Media reports identified the man as 31-year-old Murad Lamrabette, who played for Dutch club SBV Vitesse’s U23 team in the 2010/2011 Eredivisie season, as well as other professional football clubs in Holland.
Lamrabette died in front of his two children and wife, who filmed him as he attempted to perform a “tombstone” stunt from a 30-meter high cliff during the family’s vacation in Majorca.
The 31-year-old miscalculated his jump, and drowned after hitting a rock and falling into the water below unconscious, said reports.
His wife could be heard shouting “oh my god” as she recorded the stunt in a 14-second video that later went viral across social media and news platforms.
Spanish authorities carried out an autopsy, the results of which indicated that Lamrabatte died from drowning, rather than injuries caused by the impact of hitting the rock.
Reports added that authorities had yet to interview his wife as she was too traumatized by the incident.
After retiring from football, Lamrabatte retrained and became a kickboxing coach.
His former club posted an obituary on its website, and tweeted: “Vitesse has received the sad news that Murad Lamrabatte has passed away. The former attacker of Jong Vitesse has just turned 31. We wish family and friends a lot of strength.”


Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine

Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine
Updated 19 May 2022

Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine

Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine
  • The 75-year-old former president blamed the slip on his age

LONDON: Former US President George W. Bush found himself somewhat embarrassed after he called the invasion of Iraq “wholly unjustified and brutal” while discussing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Speaking at his presidential center in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday, Bush said,:“The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq … I mean, of Ukraine.” 

The freudian slip joins a long list of Bush’s verbal gaffes delivered over the years.

The US invaded Iraq in 2003, with the Bush administration claiming at the time there were weapons of mass destruction in the country. However, UN inspectors found no evidence of the existence of such weapons before the invasion.

US military operations in Iraq dragged on until 2011, with tens of thousands of civilians killed and displaced and almost 5,000 coalition troops killed.

On Twitter, many quickly pointed out the irony of conflating the invasions of Iraq and Ukraine. Justin Amash, a former congressman from Michigan, tweeted: “Oof. If you were George W. Bush, you think you’d just steer clear of giving any speech about one man launching a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion.”  

Another tweeted: “That’s not a Freudian slip, it’s a Freudian tumble down the stairs.”

“Awww. there goes that ol rascal george, reminding everyone of his war crimes. hahaha! isn’t it cute? please excuse him. he’s 75, so it’s okay to laugh off the millions he killed. we have fun here at the institute. now where was he? oh yeah, Putin’s unprecedented evil” tweeted another.

https://twitter.com/DubJ/status/1527109267228172288?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1527109267228172288%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffpost.com%2Fentry%2Ftwitter-reacts-bush-iraq-slip-up_n_6285a57be4b05c3afec484e3 

Writer and entrepreneur Adam Best wrote: “George W. Bush has always been the Michael Jordan of speaking gaffes but never expected a Freudian slip where he admitted to being a war criminal.” 

Some have speculated that the slip-up could be used as evidence in a possible prosecution of Bush for war crimes, with one tweeting: “This should be admissible as evidence at The Hague.” 

In his speech, Bush said that elections in Russia are rigged and political opponents are imprisoned or eliminated from participating in the electoral process. 

The 75-year-old former president blamed the slip on his age, and after an awkward silence, the audience laughed.