Friday, September 19, 2014

Wally-wood Does It Again

Wellington Airport is facing more flak over its controversial Wellington Blown Away sign!
You may recall the public hoohah when the sign plan was first announced, and the huge campaign to select the eventual design.
Wow! Was that a FART???
Well, the sign's changed twice in recent months, first to Vellington to support the Kiwi vampire movie What We Do In The Shadows and now to WOWington to celebrate the upcoming World of Wearable Arts show.
But the changes have attracted criticism from a local concert promoter, who reckons it's simply become a billboard.
However, airport spokesman Greg Thomas says they're using the sign exactly as it was intended: "There's one thing that the sign was put up for - which was about showcasing Wellington. And both of these two changes have very much been in line with that, to showcase Wellington. They've only been subtle changes." He says it'll be changed back to Wellington Blown Away after WOW.
The airport first announced plans to build a Wellywood sign (a copy of the Hollywood sign) in early 2010, to promote Wellington's film industry to visitors. That met with intense backlash (plus legal threats from USA) and was slammed by many who thought it unoriginal.
So the airport backed down and an independent panel helped choose an alternative. The panel ran a public competition and Wellington Blown Away was selected as the winner, scoring 18,862 of 33,027 votes.
Interesting to note that, contrary to Greg Thomas' position, at no stage during the initial discussions over the $80K sign, was there ever any mention of repeated promotional changes.
In the USA, the now-iconic Hollywood sign was originally merely a 1923 real estate advertisement, originally saying Hollywoodland! No changes were made to that sign: the -land bit simply fell off with old age!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stranding In Titahi Bay

A whale from one of the least known marine mammal families was found early yesterday morning, beached at the southern end of Titahi Bay near Porirua, Wellington.
It appeared to be a 5-7m Cuvier's Beaked Whale, part of a family of beaked whales that dive to at least 300m to hunt squid. This one had scars caused by bites from "cookie-cutter" sharks, but these marks were common and unlikely to have caused fatal injuries.
Beaked whales are unusual in that they have very reduced teeth, whereas their close relatives such as sperm whales and dolphins generally have multiple teeth. Beaked whales can suck in their food without need of teeth - rather like we can suck in spaghetti.
Cuvier's beaked whales are wellknown from strandings around NZ and are found in most of the world's oceans. But the chances of actually seeing any of the 11 beaked whale species known to inhabit our waters is slight - in some cases, they're only known to exist due to their bodies washing up.
It's unclear if this particular whale had stranded or had died and was then washed up on the beach: an autopsy will hopefully confirm the cause of death.
This is not the first whale to die on Titahi Bay. In the 1950s, a large sperm whale washed up in the area.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Battling For Whales Again

New Zealand is expecting a fight, over it's bid to have the World Court's ban on Japan's scientific whaling adopted by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
The IWC meeting starting today in Slovenia will be decisive: it's the first since the ruling and there's not another until 2016.
It is in effect a battle over Antarctic whaling, because Japan has a new plan to resume commercial whaling next season which will also be presented to the IWC. The nasty Nippons have said they'll restart Southern Ocean whaling with a "redesigned scientific whaling programme" in the 2015/16 season which will meet the requirements of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The ICJ ruled this annual expedition is a commercial activity masquerading as research. NZ wants to set that judgment into IWC stone, so no further illegal scientific whaling happens.
The resolution needs just a majority of 50% of countries plus one to pass. But, knowing the way Japan buys supporters' votes, it's likely the resolution will be hard-fought.
The debate will be a key test of NZ/Australia resolve, as well as other like-minded governments, to ensure the resolution is passed without watering-down. If successful, it'll prevent Japan from whaling in Antarctica until 2016/17 at the earliest.
Another country targeted at the IWC is Iceland, where commercial whaling was resumed in 2006, in addition to a "scientific programme" of research whaling. A proposal for a Sth.Atlantic whale sanctuary will also be put forward. And recent figures show Norway killed a record 729 whales so far this year, the highest since 1993 when it resumed whaling.