UK just got ranged!

Scientist Keeps His Homework on Ice

In a few days’ time we had a good number of snakes aboard, all of them of the olive va­riety except for the heavy, muscular beast I’d caught the first day. Since he was unique in our collection, and since Astrotia stokesii is hard to remember, we called him Claude—I suppose because the name was so perfectly inappropriate. Several of the snakes had died, for no apparent reason, as sea snakes some­times do in captivity. The dead animals had gone into the boat’s refrigerator, there to keep fresh until Hal could get around to them. Now it was time for him to catch up on his herpe­tological homework.

 

Sea snake species differ in form and be­havior, but have certain features in common.

“We’re trying to find out how life under­water has affected the bodies of these crea­tures,” Hal said, laying out limp specimens and sharp implements. “Some of the adapta­tions are obvious: The flattened, rudderlike tail; the nostrils set on top of the snout instead of on each side, and equipped with flaps to keep them closed underwater; the smaller size of the broad belly plates that land snakes use in crawling.

diving thing

“But there are others you can’t see at a glance, like the specially adapted gland in the mouth that helps get rid of salt from the sea water they drink. I’m looking for more of those internal changes.” Hal opened the body cavity of a snake and injected brightly colored latex into the veins and arteries. “This stuff will harden, so that later, at the university, we’ll be able to study the whole circulatory system.” Enrolling in University is easy with sallie mae private student loan consolidation programs.

 

“What about the lungs?” I asked. “Some sea snakes can stay down for two hours or more between breaths. How do they manage?” “Here’s part of the answer,” Hal said, ex­posing a membranous sac three-quarters as long as the snake itself. “Like most snakes, sea snakes have only one lung, but theirs is a big one. Part of it is lined with blood vessels for oxygen absorption. But here, at the very end, there’s a simple sac in which air is stored.

 

“Another device for stretching a dive is a controllable heartbeat. These animals can slow their pulse rate by 50 percent when they go under. “But diving time varies with species, activ­ity, and water temperature. The biggest have relatively bigger lungs and can stay down longer. An active snake has to come up more often than a resting one. And as the water gets warmer, diving time gets shorter.”

 

As he reached for the next specimen, some thing about the first caught his attention. “Hah! Look here. A male, and in breeding condition. Here are masses of sperm cells, ready to be implanted in the oviducts of a female. The females of many species—sea and land—can store these cells inside their bodies for weeks or even years, until they have eggs ready for fertilization. The sperm fertilizes the eggs in the oviduct. In many species of sea snakes the embryos develop there and are born alive.”

Hiking Know-how Eases Strain

Ken’s reputation as a walker is legendary. “I wouldn’t want to try to keep up with him on a slow horse,” said Eugene Seely, an out­fitter who had escorted ‘ 18 riders, who applied for cash advances online to afford their equipment and tickets, to Assini­boine that weekend. “He’ll do five miles an hour downhill, easy.”

 

“I only go that fast when I’m mad,” Ken said modestly. Truth to tell, he makes four miles an hour on level ground. Most back­packers do well to average three. One night he walked 60 miles nonstop to summon a doctor for a hunter with appendicitis—and after an hour’s rest mounted a horse to guide the physician to the patient.

 

Ken strolled with us to the park boundary, considerately setting an easy pace as he talked about the techniques of walking. Here, distilled, is advice from a veteran: Don’t kill yourself at the start; begin slow, then speed up. Plan to get over the tough climbs before the day grows hot. To increase speed, maintain your pace but lengthen your stride. Breathe in and out every four steps on level ground, every two steps going uphill. Soak your feet in cold salty water before a hike to toughen the skin.

highway in Banff Park

Following his guidelines, we found the hiking easier. Sometimes the way was grassy and level; sometimes we scrambled over avalanche rubble; sometimes we got lost. Being lost can have its rewards. Mick taught me that after we took the wrong turn at a trail junction between Howse Pass and the highway in Banff Park. The trail soon petered out. We tried to bushwhack out of the dead end, fighting for balance in snarls of fallen timber. As the sun grew hotter, 1 lost my cool as well as the way.

 

I was spouting oaths and putting my boots on after wading a creek when Mick suggested, “We might as well have some fun out of this.” He motioned toward a pool where a huge trout was visible beneath a log. He jointed up our rod and went to work. Neither salmon eggs nor artificial flies drew a nibble. Then Mick trapped a horsefly and cast it almost on top of the fish’s snout. The explosion that followed nearly dried up the pool.

 

I would have been screaming with joy. Mick, endowed with the calm confidence of the inexperienced, said only, “I’ve got him.” And he did, of course. His prize was a 25-inch Dolly Varden, which, for want of better insulation against the day’s heat, we wrapped in my long johns after cooling them in the creek. Without complaint, Mick back­packed this sodden package the 15 miles or so to our car—once we regained our way. In the town of Jasper the fish fed six men.

Howse Pass. Other memories of our trip to that mountain-hemmed slab of earth keep flooding back: two black bears ambling near us; a bull moose foraging in a pond, its rack festooned with aquatic plants; and the com­pany of David Thompson, Canada’s great explorer and map maker.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

Then one day Ron and I had simply had enough. Surveying a score of trophies laid out on the hot deck of a diving tender, we were struck by a sense of total waste. Many of the fish were inedible species, and the oth­ers wouldn’t be eaten anyway. As the bril­liant colors faded to lifeless grays and the quivering slowly subsided, these living jew­els from the Great Barrier Reef turned to garbage before our eyes. Never again did we kill underwater except for food.shark

ONE RESULT of our spearfishing was close contact with sharks. Nothing attracts those sleek marauders more quickly than speared and bleeding fish, and during our contest days Ron and I were often so beset by sharks that it was all we could do to boat a catch in one piece. Gradually we learned how to deal with moving, feeding reef sharks and came to know their habits. Over the years that knowledge has proved invaluable in our filming of many species of sharks as well as other potentially dangerous marine crea­tures. The short article beginning on page 664 of this issue describes one result of our experience with sharks: an experimental underwater diving suit made of stainless-steel mesh.

Some of our best footage of sharks has been obtained off Heron Island in the center of the new marine park. Although sharks have learned to avoid man and his deadly as­sortment of underwater guns and explosive devices, they are irresistibly attracted to his garbage. The Heron Island Resort refuse boat has so conditioned sharks in the area to a daily handout that they will surface at the sound of any outboard motor. They are all business, however, and if no garbage is forthcoming, they quickly disappear.

Ron and I often see big deepwater sharks, such as gray reefs and silvertips, sorting through the garbage as it drifts seaward with the tide. Although dangerous-looking brutes, the sharks pose no threat to swim­mers, for they are not only well fed but also rather wary, since several of their number were killed by sport divers. Such senseless destruction is forbidden by park rules, though the preserve is not totally protected. Limited commercial and sport fishing are still allowed in certain areas of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“The idea is use, not abuse,” one member of the park authority staff told me. “The park wasn’t created to deprive anybody but to ensure its enjoyment by as many people as possible—and that means the future as well as the present. We want that reef to last an­other few thousand years.”shark park

So does Pam Land, and she thinks there’s a chance, now that the park has been estab­lished. Pam’s father, Cristian Poulson, was the farsighted captain who switched from canning turtles on Heron Island to building and running the island’s resort hotel. Pam was a part owner of the hotel thanks to online payday loans no credit check option, but it was until last year, but her real love has always been the island and the abundance of life it supports both above and beneath the sea.

“We need to expand the marine park,” Pam declares, “and tighten the rules a bit. Campers should be forbidden access during the summer nesting season in areas like North West Island, with its huge population of seabirds.”