Monday, April 27, 2009

MyWorld Tuesday: Chernobyl


Take a seat by ~Brute-ua on deviantART
photo taken in Pripyat - let Brute-ua know if you like it.

On April 26th, 23 years ago, the reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plan malfunctioned and massive amounts of radiation were released. I was seven years old and it's among my first clear memories - Germany is a long way from the Ukraine, but it still was frighteningly close. I remember watching the news and how maps were shown that illustrated how the fallout was carried by the wind and how far it would reach. We had a garden, but in that year, we never ate anything that grew in it. I was forbidden to eat the nuts that grew on the tree in front of our house and many parents didn't allow their children to play in sandboxes or outdoor playgrounds.

I also remember seeing footage taken in Pripyat and it was all grainy, with much interference because of the radiation. I've seen that footage many times now and I still find it as chilling as I found it then. To me, radiation was like some kind of faceless beast that stalks you silently and unseen - you can run or hide, but it's always there once it has chosen you. Reading about the Liquidators who died after only days from Acute Radiation Poisoning made the image even stronger for me.

I think that we do well to remember Chernobyl. There's no viable alternative to atomic power right now (at least not one that will completely replace it), but we can't afford to forget that we are playing with fire.

If you want to get a feeling for the mood in Germany during that spring and if you can read German, I recommend Die Wolke by Gudrun Pausewang - unfortunately, there's no English translation. There's a movie, but it's nowhere as good as the book.

Explore more of the world at the MyWorld Tuesday Meme

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Camera Critters: Orangutan

The zoo in Hamburg has a big group of Sumatran Orangutan and has been breeding them very successfully in the last few years. One of their females, Bella, is one of the oldest Orangutan in captivity with 48 years and has given birth to a baby only three years ago.
Their enclosure is housed in a big dome that can be opened when the weather is warm enough
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here's the view from upstairs
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Moko, Bella's daughter and her baby
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There are many places to hide food like honey or yoghurt in the enclosure and the orangutans will forage for it during the day. Here Tuan, the male of the group (not yet showing the fur and big cheeks of an adult male) trying to get honey out of the stem with a small stick
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They share their enclosures with dwarf otters and at first the orangs were absolutely terrified of the otters. Now they have become used to them, but still treat them with caution, the otters will sometimes run up to an orang sitting on the ground and try to nip its feet or fingers.
Tuan gets close for a better view
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See more cute critters over at Camera critters

If you want to help save Orangutans in the wild, go to RedApes - learn more about them, why they are nearly extinct and what you can do.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Camera Critters: Marabou

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A marabou at the Vogelpark Walsrode. While it was standing there, a duck swam near it and the marabou eyed it very interestedly, while the duck stretched its neck and then stopped moving alltogether.

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I just had time to think "That's one suicidal duck!" and then the marabou had grabbed its neck and was shaking it. I fully expected it to try and swallow the duck, I thought that the duck was already dead or at least dying.

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But after a few seconds, the marabou let go again and the duck raised its head, ruffled its feathers and swam away. I have no idea what that was about. Marabou chiropractor?

The Camera Critters Meme has more great pictures of cute animals, go there and take a look!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Today's Flowers

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some flowers I photographed at the Botanical Garden in San Francisco, don't know what they are, but I love the colour.
See more beautiful flowers over at the Today's Flowers meme