6 steps to fitness for free

By Tracy Brighten

The great thing about keeping fit at home is that there’s no travelling, you don’t need to wear the latest kit, and it’s free. If you have a cross trainer, exercise bike, or weights, it helps, but it isn’t essential. You do need self-discipline though. Copping out is easier when you’re not letting down a training partner.

6 steps to keeping fit at home: Continue reading

Faroe Islands pilot whale massacre ‘a natural way of life’

By Tracy Brighten      Contains graphic images

Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd estimates 250 pilot whales were killed last week. Is it time tradition was buried with whale bones littering the seabed?

Pilot whale slaughter 2 by Sea Shepherd Peter Hammarstedt

Sea Shepherd protestors have been arrested trying to stop the pilot whale hunts in the Faroe Islands, but video footage and photographs by other group members captured the horrors of the mass slaughter.

The whale hunt known as the grindadráp, or “grind”, is a centuries old tradition with recorded history dating back to 1584, according to whaling proponents Whaling.fo. The whale meat and blubber once provided an important food source for the Faroese people, and whale oil was used for cooking and export. Continue reading

Kiwi genome reveals nocturnal bird’s colour blindness

By Tracy Brighten

The genetic blueprint for New Zealand’s national bird reveals the kiwi’s adaptation to a nocturnal, ground-dwelling lifestyle around 35 million years ago has meant poorer eyesight, but superior smelling powers

TeTuatahianui North Island brown kiwi

Published online in Genome Biology, the study by researchers in Germany identified genetic mutations that have deactivated genes related to colour vision, as well as other mutations that have enhanced the kiwi’s sense of smell compared to other birds.

The kiwi is an evolutionary phenomenon, and an endemic species to New Zealand, a land that was geographically isolated after its separation from Godwana 80 million years ago. This isolation makes New Zealand ideal for studying evolutionary processes. Continue reading

Sirocco kakapo’s rise to stardom

By Tracy Brighten

Stephen Fry and social media launched this rare parrot to stardom, and now this tech-savvy bird is putting fame to good use.

Sirocco by Chris Birmingham (DoC)

Back in 2009, Stephen Fry visited New Zealand’s Codfish Island with zoologist Mark Carwardine to film BBC2’s Last Chance to See, a documentary about animals on the edge of extinction.

Now, with almost 6.5 million views of ‘Shagged by a rare parrot’ on YouTube, their encounter with Sirocco, the flightless parrot, has achieved phenomenal worldwide coverage. Not bad for a species that previously wasn’t well-known even in New Zealand, despite its international critically endangered status.

Today, Sirocco features on the NZ Department of Conservation blog, he has his own Facebook page with 155,000 likes and a Twitter account, as you might expect of a bird. Continue reading

Is sleep deprivation causing teenage depression?

By Tracy Brighten

New research reveals a strong link between sleep deprivation and depression in adolescents that could guide better prevention and treatment

Girl on phone late night

In a new study published in the journal Sleep, U.S researchers found that up to 25% of adolescents slept for 6 hours or less per night, and were classed as sleep deprived. With early school times, weekend jobs and social media, it’s no surprise that adolescents don’t get enough sleep, putting them at risk of major depression. Continue reading

Bat fossil reveals supersize walking bat 16 million years ago

By Tracy Brighten

Scientists in New Zealand unearth an ancient bat fossil, revealing a new bat species that once scurried the forest like its much smaller modern relative, the short-tailed bat

The News Hub - Short-tailed bat by David Mudge Nga Manu TrustIn the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers reveal a new species of bat, Mystacina miocenalis, and its close association with Mystacina tuberculata, the lesser short-tailed bat that still inhabits New Zealand’s temperate old-growth evergreen forests.

The fossilised remains were excavated in Central Otago on New Zealand’s South Island, from sediment left over from Lake Manuherikia that existed in the Miocene era, around 16 million years ago. Continue reading

Owners in denial over cat predation on wildlife

By Tracy Brighten

Research suggests owners are reluctant to accept the cat predation risk to wildlife and a cat welfare approach may be needed 

Wildlife killer cat

Domestic cats have been introduced by humans across the world and growing cat populations are placing local wildlife under greater pressure. Cat predation compounds the survival problem by adding to habitat loss and food scarcity for some species.

Free-roaming cats on islands have contributed to the extinction of native bird, mammal, and reptile species unable to fend off this introduced predator. In mainland environments, cats are impacting local bird and mammal populations, with large numbers killed each year. Continue reading

Time to get off my backside and confront him

He’s been coming round a lot lately, persuading me and pretending to have my best interests at heart when really he’s a self-serving blighter.

When I’m thinking of going for a speed walk he’s telling me, “weather’s not too good today”. When I’m about to pop my kit on for a cross-trainer workout he’s at my shoulder saying, “you can’t exercise on an empty stomach”. Even when I’m thinking about some gentle stretching after a long stint of writing, he’s there with coffee and biscuits… “homemade why don’t you?” He always seems to catch me off guard.

I should never have listened. I gave in far too easily. I’m not usually such a pushover.

I’ve been thinking about where this copping out will get me and today I’m making a new start. I opened the door and threw him out. “And don’t come back,” I yelled so the neighbours could hear.

I’ve made up my mind to stand up to Mr Excuse.

 

Image credit: Pixabay