Wednesday, April 23, 2014

This is why we can't have nice the ocean

The nice people over at  Deep Sea News asked by to do a guest blog for them.

So here is a link: This is why we can't have nice the ocean

It was spawned by an announcement from the US Government and hit on one of my current bugbears - the chronic lack of communication, funding, coordination and organisation in the marine conservation community and the high level of competition.

The fact that I got to sneak in references to Sesame street, Finding Nemo, MC Hammer (and sadly.... Vanilla Ice), and Aliens ... was a bonus.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Facebook - the therapist for teenage trauma

Shocking as this might seem, I was a very nerdy teenager. Plus I looked very much like Daniel Radcliffe in the worst fashions the 1980s could offer. My high school love life was a morass of nerdy angst, paranoia and neuroses with more near misses and spectacular crashes than all of the Jason Statham Transporter movies added together. But thanks to Facebook I have discovered that I was not actually such a hopeless disaster after all.

Several of my old high school crushes are now on Facebook and I discovered that one of my long-term crushes (and my biggest academic rival/arch nemesis) also had a huge crush on me (and also considered me to be her biggest rival/nemesis too, which also pleases me).

One of my other big crushes (we also had our mutual "first kiss" but what followed was a truly epic crash of Statham-like proportions and a long period of, what I thought was unrequited, longing) won't actually FB friend me because she is now recently married and worried about facebook friending her "first love". I thought my big crush was unrequited and I had been epically dissed - turns out she was super shy, could not bring herself to talk to me after our romantic liaison, and I obviously had a much bigger impact on her life than I had imagined.

One of my biggest teenage traumas was, however, my dreadful first date. I arrived at the appointed hour (cunningly pretending to my parents that I was meeting a friend at a book shop) but said date did not arrive. I was stood up on my first ever date! I spent some six hours wondering around the bookshop with my teenage heart crushed into tiny pieces until my parents arrived to pick me up, and take my heartbroken carcass back home, while I pretended that I had a great time. It turns out that she had been forbidden to date boys by her extremely strict and conservative parents, but and had been kept home, but had been too embarrassed and afraid to tell me - in fact very far from the rejection I had thought it was.

Facebook has generally been good to me as far as exes are concerned, my first real love actually invited me to Facebook (although sadly a possessive boyfriend sadly led to her actually leaving facebook altogether), and my exes from long term relationships are good friends with me and we chat a lot - sometimes you just realize you are fundamentally incompatible, but that doesn't stop you from being close friends and caring about each other, once the dust has died down.

But to get back to the topic, I've discovered, thanks to facebook, that I was not such a romantic unloved failure as I thought in my teenage years. I just have a huge attraction to nerdy girls (see my earlier blog on my infatuation with nerd girls), who in their teens  were as nervous, shy and neurotic as I. Plus, quite frankly, when it comes to determining whether a girl likes me or not, I am spectacularly blind - she really needs a massive sign in flashing neon above her head for me to pick up the signals. Those teenage nerdettes could have probably been jumping up and down, waving at me and I might not have seen they liked me... So thank you facebook, it may be 30 years too late, but you have greatly bolstered the ego and confidence of my teenage self.

How to subtly tell me that you might be interested in me romantically - wear this on your head ...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter musings

As today is Easter, I thought I should write something of a sermon. Now no matter whether you are religious or not (and for the record here my personal religious convictions are exactly that, personal), there does appear that Jesus was a historical person, and although there are no immediate accounts of his saying and teachings, those Greek and Hebrew texts closest to his life time quote him as saying along the lines of ...

we should be considerate and help the poor, the unfortunate, incarcerated and victimized....

For example: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Mtt 24: 34-40) 

“But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.”  (Mtt 14: 16) 

... we should not be hypocritical  and he had a poor opinion of those people who proclaimed to be faithful their deeds show them to be not ...

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” (Mtt 6:5) 

“Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Mtt 23:28) . 

He clearly wasn't a great fan of capitalism and money at all costs...

“And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” (J 2: 14-16) 

... in fact he was a bit of a commie hippy and extolled the rich giving their wealth to the poor ...

 “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel* to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Mtt 19:24) 

(*BTW this is an infamous mistranslation - the earliest original texts say rope instead of camel - which makes a lot more sense, but goes to show that the bible is not infallible) 

“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (J 3:17) 

... and he was a proponent of universal free healthcare...

 “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Mtt 9: 35)

He didn't call for violence, in fact called for non-violence+ and diplomacy...

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Mtt 5: 9) 

(+There are some that argue that the passage in Luke (22:36) where he calls for his disciples to sell their cloaks and buy swords is a call for everyone to buy weapons (as is our God-given second amendment right), but 2 verses later he clearly says that two swords are enough and when his disciples attack a priest's slave (verse 50) he rapidly chastises them and promptly heals the slave (verse 51), which is clearly not the actions of a pro-weapon, pro-aggression person). 

He certainly didn't say anything about homosexuality being bad, or protesting about gay marriage, or generally being a hateful bigot. In fact quite the opposite, he said that you should not be judgmental and you should be good to everyone equally.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Mtt 7: 1-2)

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Mtt 28: 39) 

So if Jesus was around now what would he think of the world? Particularly those who claim themselves to be Christian and working in his name, yet argue against free healthcare, welfare, fair treatment and rights of prisoners, who bolster the rich and wealthy to become even more so, while others are close to, and declining into poverty. The level of economic equality in the US is currently greater than the differences between the rich and poor in Regency England - we live in a time of large numbers of poor and a small super wealthy elite to are increasing disenfranchising the less wealthy majority. So what would Jesus do? Seriously... think about it...

But anyway, for those of your that celebrate Easter have a good holiday and don't eat too much chocolate and always remember to always look on the bright side of life...

I'm British !

My favourite song of the moment ...

This pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the British ...

Opinionated versus science

I had a friend tell me recently I was opinionated. That was a pretty good evaluation – I have opinions about many things. Or to put it in a more scientific frame, I have hypotheses about many things. When I was a child I was one of those children that was always asking “why?” and was easily frustrated when no one knew, or the answer was punted. If anyone had answered simply that “it is known” as an excuse for why things were a certain way, that didn’t make sense to me, it did, and still does drive me crazy. So I’m constantly wondering and postulating why things are a certain way – especially when looking at animal or human behavior (which are often pretty much the same). But although I may have opinions and ideas about a lot of things, those opinions are easily changed. If I’m shown evidence, or given a good valid argument, that my opinion is incorrect I will change it <snap> like that. Sticking to an opinion or an idea despite evidence to the contrary is sadly very common in the science community. I see so many “scientists” who stubbornly resist new ideas and studies, especially if it contradicts a paper that they wrote or concept that they have publicly supported. But adapting to new evidence is a key criterion of scientists and if drives me crazy when so many of the conservative scientists stubbornly resist new evidence saying the contrary data to their opinion is “bad science” – whereas bad science is exactly what they are doing, refusing to reject a hypothesis that has been shown to be false.

Where my opinion is less changeable is with people. Generally, like Mr Darcy “my good opinion once lost is lost forever”. But that has led to problems sometimes, as Elizabeth Bennet retorts to Darcy "that is a failing indeed!" - as some of my closest friends when I first met them, I didn’t really like them. Sometimes it was perhaps because their behavior in some ways was so similar to mine, and I later realized that we actually had a lot in common and if I had written them off just from first impressions, I would have lost a couple of really good friends. But, in general, if someone is spiteful to me, tries to do me down, or betrays my trust, that’s it, I’m done with them. So you've been warned.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Field trip packing lists for the discerning traveller

On our recent trip to Costa Rica, the students accidentally got a rather old, dated "suggested packing" list from one of the lecturers that included items such as: a compass, “shorts for relaxing” – it did stop short of a pith helmet, personal valet, white tie and tails (in case we go for dinner) and a flag (for claiming new countries discovered).
Because of this I started looking into packing lists for historical explorers. For example, Peter Fleming, who traveled 3,5000 miles from Peking to Kasmir, suggested:
  • old clothes,
  • a few books,
  • two compasses
  • two portable typewriters, 
  • two pounds of marmalade, 
  • four tins of cocoa,
  • six bottles of brandy,
  • one bottle of Worcester sauce,
  • one pound of coffee,
  • three small packets of chocolate,
  • some soap,
  • tobacco,
  • barley meal and other basic foodstuffs.

I highly support the Worcester sauce – an essential cooking ingredient. Lord Byron in his expedition to Mount Athos took other essential supplies including a soda water siphon and a hatbox (because no true gentleman would go anywhere with a crumpled hat).

Going back further in history, Roman legionaries when travelling to the edges of the empire, in addition to their armor and weapons, would take woolen trousers, 2 pairs of underpants, hobnailed sandals, a scarf, cooking pot, bowl/mess kit,  2 cloaks, a shovel and mallet, a wicker basket, a metal skewer (for kebab night?) and would have to carry two massive wooden stakes, to construct a wooden palisade or fence around their camp.

Our particular field trip to Costa Rica was somewhat female dominated (75% of our group) and so for them here are some essential items for the female traveler courtesy of Gertrude Bell’s (from her 1913 expedition to “Arabia”):
  • Silk dresses
  • Parasol
  • Silk underwear
  • Fur coat
  • Silver candlesticks
  • A tea service
  • 12 hats

Lilias Campbell Davidson in the 1889 book “Hints To Lady Travellers” additionally suggests
  • dark coloured petticoats (to hide dirt)
  • an ivory glove stretcher
  • a portable bath

The more practical Ms. May French Sheldon packed two loaded colt revolvers and a Winchester rifle, because it gave her “31 chances to shoot without having to reload”. Mary Kingsley extolled the virtues of “a good thick skirt” during travels, particularly after she once fell into a pit trap and her rugged skirt and petticoats saved her from getting her legs impaled by the stakes lining said pit.
Laurence Durrell, the older brother of famous naturalist and conservationist Gerald Durrell suggests a pretty minimalist packing list "A loincloth? One pair of very light long trousers made of any lightweight linen. (You may find the sun a bit burny). A pair or two of shorts. A couple of old shirts. A pair of sandals or beach shoes. Nothing else."

Evelyn Waugh is my kind of traveler noting that a good supply of alcohol is essential to relive boredom and irritation (1935; The Tourist Manual): "With a glass in his hand, the tourist can gaze out on the streets of Tangier, teeming with English governesses and retired colonels, and happily imagine himself a Marco Polo.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A good time for a beer

On March 22, 1933, President Roosevelt signed into law the Cullen-Harrison Act, which legalized beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% (and low alcohol wine). Law went into effect on 7th April 1933. This partially overturned the 18th amendment (which led to the Volstead Act) that outlawed alcohol consumption in the US on 17th January 1920 - a law pushed basically by rural religious zealots. So today I have been drinking beer (in moderation) celebrating the overturning of one of the most stupid constitutional amendments ever.

Although the general consumption of alcohol decreases, it didn't stop alcohol abuse, in fact it made it led to more deaths and disease as secret binge drinking and consumption of tainted, dodgy spirits soared. Thanks to the illicit alcohol trade it basically led to the establishment of organised crime as a power in the US, particularly the American Mafia.

Strangely, having a high drinking age and banning alcohol on American college campuses also leads to secret binge drinking, alcohol poisoning and deaths because under age students are too scared to tell anyone about their comatose friends, and drunk driving rates soar as students travel off campus, drink more than they can handle in feats of teenage bravado and crash on their return to campus. Will we never learn...

On 5th December 1933 prohibition was effectively repealed by the 21st Amendment. The end of prohibition also to a change in government as pro-prohibition Republicans were replaced by anti-prohibition Democrats. Ironically in the following years it was revealed that close to 80% of the prohibition-supporting members of Congress (if you believe the newspaper stories) were being supplied with illegal alcohol nonetheless, often by members of organised crime cartels.

When Roosevelt signed in the Cullen-Harrison Act he allegedly said:  "I think this would be a good time for a beer." Something which I endorse.

Forget the lecture halls and labs - the coffee area is where it all happens

When I was an undergraduate I walked into the coffee area of our zoology building and was informed that “some of the most important papers on animal behavior were written here”.  It was a somewhat ugly coffee area in an ugly concrete building, with vinyl covered plywood tables and bright orange upholstered bucket chairs that looked like they had escaped from Austin Power’s 1960s love pad. The coffee wasn’t even good, in fact the zoologists were highly envious of the botany department who had a tea trolley with excellent tea and chocolate covered cookies, but I digress… The coffee area was the place to be as that was where everyone in the department congregated, talked about what they were reading or working on, and most importantly, brain-stormed ideas.  Sure there was a certain amount of procrastination going on, with faculty avoiding having to go back to grading, hiding from sheets of data that had to be entered onto excel spread sheets, or balking at yet another hundred samples to analyze back in the labs. But the collegiality that there was in that coffee area: with undergrads chatting to the “silverbacks” of the faculty, sharing their innovative ideas, and getting mentoring advice in return; or scientists from different disciplines advising on different or new techniques to colleagues that had encountered a brick wall in their research progress; was quite frankly more valuable than many lectures, and worth the price of a disgusting cup of instant coffee. Our department was not alone. At the famous big science facility CERN, home of the large hadron collider, there are whiteboards in the lunchrooms because when the scientists there get together they can’t but help brainstorm ideas, and this is encouraged as some of these lunch time collaborations have yielded important scientific fruit.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that conferences are a necessity for the growth of an academic. They give you a chance to share your ideas with other academics to receive support, or possibly criticism, so that you can strengthen and refine your analysis and your interpretation of your data. They are important events to find out the methods and results of peers in your field, information that could be incorporated into your own studies. Informal places where you can get advice, share ideas and develop research and writing partnerships. Rare is the conference where I don’t come home with a note book full of contacts to email, studies to cite and methods to try out. You can travel around the world to find a venue to discuss and debate with your peers. Sadly there is no such place within my university. There is a laughingly called “faculty lounge” but it is basically a converted storage room, with a couple of arm chairs, that has basically been taken over by senior administrators as a meeting room anyway.

According to its website and mission statement, my university department  supposed to be  interdisciplinary - where science meets social science and policy analysis - with practitioners in multiple fields being brought together. But most researchers at the university work in isolation, locked away in their offices or labs. Despite its supposedly inter-disciplinary nature, my department isn’t great at getting together. There are some faculty in the same department that I see maybe once a month at a faculty meeting, some I never see for semesters at a time. This is just within the department, let alone with faculty in other departments in the college of science, or university as a whole.
There was recently an idea to have joint lunches in departmental conference room, so faculty (and possibly graduate students) could get together and chat/share. This was a great idea, but it was also pretty much a disaster with only one or two faculty at best turning up. Which is fair enough, who wants to relax or hang out in what is ostensibly a classroom and/or a place of examinations.

What we dearly need is some sort of lounge. A place where faculty, staff and ideally graduate students, can get together and chat, sip coffee and hang out in a relaxed and informal atmosphere, where academic news can be shared and ideas exchanged. Somewhere with a comfy chair where you can read the latest issue of science or nature in comfort and then chat and debate about the articles with colleagues. This could be at a university level, or ideally a department level. Other departments have spaces for meeting and getting together that are not classrooms or conference rooms. Our neighbouring psychology department has many, and even <horror> offices for graduate students. Such a place would greatly aid the spread of ideas, mentoring and collegiality. I’ve worked with several universities and institutions and this is the only one that has not had some sort of faculty and/or graduate student lounge or club, such an absence is to the universities detriment in terms of promoting productivity, intellectual development, innovation and also for general morale.

Nobel and Pulitzer prize winner Saul Bellow once said “Goodness is achieved not in a vacuum, but in the company of other men”. The same could be said about ideas and innovation. Meeting in a relax atmosphere leads to the forming of academic relationships and exchanges of ideas, that is the power of coffee.

There’s something about field trips

I take students on field trips at least twice a year, if not three times or more. These trips are usually a week or more to locations such as Costa Rica, Belize, Scotland, the Galapagos, the Amazon and even Antarctica. I've done well over thirty field trips over the past 15 years. I am a staunch advocate of the educational value of these trips. As one student said to me on a recent trip to Costa Rica: “The lectures make sense to me now. You just don’t really understand how a rainforest ecosystem works unless you actually see it.” I’m believe in taking students to developing countries, especially if they are in the environmental field, to show than how the majority of the world lives and how activities in the developed world can negatively impact those in the developing nations. Anyone who is planning to do graduate studies in ecology or conservation should definitely go on a field trip - there is nothing like one of these trips to really show you the difference between what seems so simple in a project proposal and the actual technical and logistical difficulties of working in the field. 

But there’s something else about field trips too in the bonds and friendships they can build. I have old students from nearly a decade ago that I am still in touch with, who I met through field courses. My closest friends (besties) I got to know via field courses. My two best friends have both been on over six international field trips with me over the years, and now they are pretty much like family.

On field trips you really get to know people. Being around others 24/7 in sweaty humid jungles, freezing cold or rain, in dodgy accommodation with dodgier plumbing, braving poisonous snakes and biting insects, working long hours and getting little sleep – to get to see people who they really are, and whether you can love them or hate them. Many a glowing recommendation has been the result of a field trip. I've recruited many from past trips to be my graduate students – even if their grades are not 4.0s across the board, I know I can rely on them to get the work done without complaining; that they will listen to my advice; they either put up with or call me on my bad habits; and will do a thorough job with enthusiasm. Thanks to field trips I know who I can rely on when the chips are down – who I would want in my lifeboat, or in a barricaded mall with me come the zombie apocalypse.

Relationships built on these trips usually last. I have a group of friends I get together with regularly to drink and play games – we realized the other weekend that they all went on one of my field trips at some time or other, and we've all kept in touch over the years. Moreover, several very successful long-term romantic relationships were spawned by field trips. When you live with someone in a jungle bunkhouse, you see them at the crack of dawn, in clothes that are distinctly musty after having been worn for several days, with dirty hair and no make-up and sweat pouring down their face, and you still find them really attractive and want to be with them all the time nonetheless, that’s a very good basis for a future relationship. Someone liking you when you are in your best clothes, smelling nice and on your best behavior is simply no comparison to someone who likes you and cares for you when you are tired, grumpy and look like you've been dragged out of a badger’s burrow backwards. If you want to know if someone is a keeper, have a date with them in a sweaty rainforest or a cramped boat during a rainstorm, rather than swanky restaurant.

Occasionally you do have someone you really connect with on a trip who to your surprise you never see again, but this is rare and there is usually something else going on (e.g. in the case of two of my students, the fact one of them was engaged to someone who was possessive to say the least, led to them cutting ties completely when they got home) but this is very much the exception. My facebook profile is full of former field trip participants who I consider good friends and colleagues, who I still chat with. Some on a weekly, if not nearly daily, basis.

My life was changed on a field trip. On a trip to South Africa I had resolved to take a career path that was financially secure, but outside of academia and marine biology, but I was encourage by a colleague (then a PhD student) on that trip (who I recently went drinking with 20 years later – I was dressed as a pirate, he was dressed as bat girl) that my scientific ideas were excellent, and that I shouldn't give up on my dreams and should give research on whales and dolphins a shot.  I haven’t looked back. Several other friends say the same that a field trip encourage them to go on to graduate school, or become a conservationist/researcher/teacher.

I often hear students 'hum' and 'ha' about going on a field trip. They are often expensive, but so are many things. You could easily spend a few thousand dollars fixing your car, or you could spend the same getting an educational experience that might change your life, or make relationships that could be the most important you’ll ever have. 

Distracted by abstracts

My new guest blog on Southern Fried Science is now up :
  Distracted by abstracts - tips for writing a good abstract for a scientific conference 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Inconceivable ... The PhD Bride

- We'll never succeed. We may as well die here.

- No, no. We have already succeeded. I mean, what are the three terrors of Academia? One, grading - no problem. We have TAs; we can avoid that. Two, the department meetings, which you were clever enough to discover what they look like, so in the future we can avoid them too.

- What about Tenure?

- Tenure? I don't think it exists.


- Is very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it's over, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life.

- Have you ever considered academia? You'd make a wonderful adjunct Professor


- Beautiful isn't it? It took me half a lifetime to write this thesis defense presentation. I'm sure you've discovered my deep and abiding interest in my thesis topic.  I'm writing the definitive work on the subject, so I want you to be totally honest with me on how this 204 slide powerpoint presentation makes you feel.

[Starts the presentation. PhD committee writhes in great pain]



-You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means ...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A runner venting

I have the body and physique of a movie long as that movie star is Ricky Gervais. So it may surprise those that know me that I actually run every day (because one cannot be too prepared for the zombie apocalypse). In addition to the exercise, during the week I listen to science or history podcasts and at weekends satirical comedy, so it's a time for learning as well as the fact that  I often get some great ideas while jogging. My favorite running spot is a local wood, which has a circular route that is the perfect length, and sometimes I get to see deer, foxes and other wildlife while running from one woody grove to the next.

But with the sudden advent of sunny days a new creature has appeared in the woods: the "power walker". And by power walkers I mean gaggles of excruciatingly slow strollers in expensive gear (many in full make up), lifting weights that although brightly colored weigh less than my house keys, while simultaneously gossiping at full volume or talking on their phones. Most importantly these gaggles block off the path and force me and other trail users to have to go cross country to avoid them, through muddle patches and hurdling over downed logs, because polite requests to "excuse me" go unheard or are ignored.

Now, I am a big advocate for people to get into and experience nature, but there also needs to be respect and consideration for other trail users - the cyclists, runners, Tai-chiers, dog walkers, meditators, hikers and bird/wildlife watchers. I'm too British publicly rebuke into the "power walkers" for their self centered attitude, but maybe there should be some sort of trail etiquette guide at gate of every park? Or should I just wait until the aforementioned zombie apocalypse to clear the woods of slow moving, conspicuous and oblivious to their surroundings, power walkers for me...  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Antarctic whaling court case

You may have heard about the court case that just ruled on Japan's so-called scientific whaling in Antarctica (see for a press article) and here's  primer on the court decision on Antarctic whaling  feat. yours truly.

A humpback whale in Antarctica (c. Chris Parsons, 2013)

A lot of people have been asking me about this, and I thought I would blog about my interpretation.

(1) The case validates what many scientists have been saying that "scientific whaling" under permit is not good science, and so this case sets a legal precedent that could potentially be used elsewhere.

(2) The case does not stop scientific whaling in the North Pacific, which is currently higher than Antarctic whaling in 2012/13 season only 103 Antarctic minke whales were taken in Antarctica versus 321 northern minke, sei and Bryde's whales in the North Pacific.

(3)Politically this North Pacific hunt is important in Japan as keeping the coastal communities happy means votes for the ruling party.

(4) The Antarctic hunt was very costly for the Japanese government which massively subsidizes the hunt, and cannot recoup their costs via sales of whale meat, especially since now Iceland is flooding the Japanese market with whale meat (that they cannot sell domestically). So there had been signs of them trying to wind down the Antarctic whaling (esp after the damage caused by the tsunami that hit Japan).

(5) However - if they did stop whaling in Antarctica, Sea Shepherd would have claimed that they had beaten Japan, and that would have caused a massive "loss of face" for Japan (a loss of status and honor  that is culturally very significant for the Japanese people). Especially seeing as how Sea Shepherd is a small NGO that the Japanese Government has called a "terrorist" organisation. The great proud Japanese nation being defeated by a small terrorist group, would be a gigantic loss of face and politically very embarrassing. But, losing to a fellow sovereign nation and major trading like Australia, and a United Nations court is less disgraceful. They can spin it to the public that like David, they went up against Goliath, but this time David lost. This case does give them an economically beneficial "out" from whaling in Antarctica.

So what next? Will Japan stay in the International Whaling Commission (IWC)? Probably, because of the North Pacific scientific whaling and because they are really obliged be part of the IWC as it is the internationally recognized competent authority for whale resource management by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that Japan needs to be a member of, and keep sweet, because of other wildlife trade issues (e.g. tuna) that are more financially important.

Will they increase their "research sampling" quotas in the North Pacific to compensate? I'd put money on it.

Does this mean that we can get whaling in the North Pacific banned too? Probably, as a legal precedent has been set. A second case would be required, which might take years, and the case needs a champion nation to bring it.

What about whaling by Norway and Iceland? Both conduct commercial whaling under "reservation" to the 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling. Norway can catch whales legally, but have not been able to hit their quota for years (currently c. 1200 animals) possibly because northern minke whales are becoming depleted in Norwegian coastal waters. Again this is heavily subsidized by the government and there is not a great market for this meat. Iceland is another matter as arguably their reservation to the moratorium is illegal (for complicated reasons involving them originally signing up to the moratorium, but then leaving the IWC, and then rejoining but insisting on a reservation - which is very dodgy in international treaty terms). They are also violating the spirit, if not the word, of CITES by exporting the meat of endangered fin whales, and to Japan. There may be a potential court case on the legality of Iceland's commercial whaling.

I strongly believe all whaling will end, eventually ... sometime in the future. this will mainly due to changing societal values and economics, although a scientific rational might likely be the tool by which it is accomplished.