Rainfall Through the Chiliads: Cave & Climate Science In Gibraltar

Our sister charity GONHS (Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society) is holding the second Cave and Climate Science Field Workshop in Gibraltar this week, the Gibraltar Chronicle wrote today.

Running from 7 to 14 February the workshop is attended by scientists from the UK, France and Germany who work with Prof Dave Mattey from the Royal Holloway University of London and the GONHS Cave Science Unit. It forms part of an international research program to establishing a new climate record for the western Mediterranean.

As written in the Chronicle the program is funded through Royal Holloway by the Natural Environment Research Council and examines the relationship between weather patterns and the growth of speleothem (cave deposits). Speleothem, it explained, "grow as a result of rainfall and record climate variations that extend back over 500,000 years or more".

Previous monitoring programs of the Cave Science Unit and Royal Holloway in St Michael's caves in Gibraltar brought an understanding of the relationships between weather patterns and speleothem growth, the paper wrote. This new project now includes Gibraltar's Ragged Staff cave system in the equation. With the application of cutting edge dating and chemical analyses the program aims to construct "detailed climate patterns that will provide vital information on past and future rainfall patterns in SW Europe", the Chronicle wrote.

Not a Pet: Portuguese Man O War In Gibraltar

eavy storms brought the Portuguese man o' war to Gibraltar. According to tonight's Newswatch on GBC television the Government advised caution as its sting can be very harmful to humans. News presenter Sean Sullivan interviewed our charity's chairman Dr Eric Shaw about this creature of the sea.
"If you're stung, go to the hospital as soon as you can! There is no easy way around it," said Eric, explaining that even a dead Portuguese man o' war can inflict serious wounds.

If you touch a specimen with bare hands, the animal's venom goes right through your skin. Fresh water might worsen the sting's effect on your system. Wash and cool the wound with salt water and seek immediate help from your doctor, even if you personally consider the sting to be harmless. As pointed out by GBC, the animal's contact with human skin can cause "abdominal or chest pains, headaches, nausea, muscle spasms, irritations and pains". The colourful creature can be truly breathtaking: its venom might cause respiratory problems, allergic shocks and is especially dangerous for people with heart conditions. In rare cases a sting might even be fatal.

Looking like a jellyfish, the unprotected species actually belongs to the class of hydroids (hydrozoa). Each animal consists of several highly specialised colonies of individual polyps which cannot exist apart from each other. With its gas filled bag or bladder of some 30 cm length floating on the surface, its tentacles can be 12 metres long.

As said by GBC, the Royal Gibraltar Police saw some 20 specimens of the Portuguese man o' war in Gibraltar's waters or stranded on local beaches; it is uncommon for them to enter the area, but this might change. Eric told GBC that in his opinion the heavy storms of the past weeks have caused the animals to drift from the Atlantic further to the coastline.

Triple Bee Luck

It seems it is recession time for bees as well. You do not see as many around as before – and bee pollination is responsible for 60% of mankind's food. Today though, we were extremely fortunate: The Environmental Agency called us out to remove a single swarm of African bees, but we found three!

When we first arrived at the location in Centre Pavilion Road, we found one big hive and brought it to a safe place on the Upper Rock. Returning later to collect the remaining disorientated bees - as it is practise - we found two more!

An old saying says, that bees bring luck, we were very lucky today indeed. With a foraging range of 3 miles (4.8 km) and 600 flowering plants in Gibraltar, these bees are invaluable for the natural balance in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. On top of this, the bees provide us with delicious golden honey, which we believe might be of help when one suffers from asthma or hay fever. The honey is not for sale, but we deliver it to locals for free since it has been cleared for consumption by the environmental test centre.

The Sequel: Portuguese Man O War In Gibraltar

Almost a month after the last alert, our charity has counted more than 40 specimen of the poisonous Portuguese man o' war washed ashore the east side of Gibraltar. They have been removed by the Environmental Agency, but caution should be taken when visiting the beaches.
portuguese man o war in eastern beach, Gibraltar

We advise anyone seeing a Portuguese man o' war to avoid skin contact and to call the authorities in order to remove them.
Skin contact with the tentacles of a specimen can cause a human skin irritation, pains, respiratory problems, allergic shocks, muscle spasms or even result in death. If you have come in touch with a Portuguese man o' war in the water or a dead one washed ashore, cool the sting with salt water and consult a doctor as soon as possible.

Green Sea Turtle Visits Queensway Quay Marina

Gibraltar’s Queensway Quay Marina today is hosting a very welcomed guest: The Green sea turtle (chelonia mydas) – protected under EU Law and the Gibraltar Protection Ordinance – can be observed feeding on Luminescent jellyfish.

Several locals and boat owners came to our office to tell us about the sighting of the turtle, being as amazed as we are. Of course the turtle is unlikely to become a permanent resident in the marina, yet we are very pleased that the environment of Queensway Quay attracts this endangered species.
The developer went the extra mile to make the marina an eco-friendly development with an infastructure designed to enhance biodiversity. With more and more species attracted to the marina, these efforts have been rewarded. As fishing and diving are prohibited there, the turtle - and other permanent residents and visitors - can linger unperturbed.