WELCOME TO THE CFZ BLOG NETWORK: COME AND JOIN THE FUN

Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

LOBSTERS A GO GO

Welcome to our newest guest blogger - the irrepressable Miss Fleur Fulcher. She turned up unnanounced at the 2008 Weird Weekend, and seemed to somehow stroll around the place causing high strangeness wherever she trod. The nearest analogue any of us have ever met to a real-world version of J.K.Rowling's Luna Lovegood, we have persuaded her to occasionally step out of her wardrobe full of pretty frocks and strange inhabitants in order to give us her insight upon the natural world. So, she chose to write about strange lobsters...


With my degree in fashion journalism, I am the perfect person to write about what this season’s most fashionable crustaceans are doing.

Often overshadowed by the flashier inhabitants of the sea, the lobsters would like to remind us all that they too can be crazy-looking, ancient, giant or in other ways strange (and delicious).
The lobsters this season are not the usual drab looking creatures. They are bright blue, green, purple and even two toned.
The largest lobster on record weighed over 3 stone. Somehow I think that even my mother, fond of lobster as she is, would be overwhelmed if that turned up on her plate.
There have been reports since a few months after Hurricane Katrina of huge spiny lobsters up to 6 feet in length in the Florida Keys. Some believe this is due to unusual nutrients being washed into the water during the hurricane. In typical American fashion, the size of the behemoths of the sea floor does not stop the locals from turning them into dinner.

If giant spiny lobster isn’t your thing, then you could head over to Japan and a nice cone of lobster ice cream, (they also have a charcoal ice-cream in one parlour). Or try the ‘Love Maine Lobster Claw’ game, the same as the infuriating ones at fairgrounds where you try to win badly made fake Disney toys, but with live lobsters scrabbling around waiting to be caught. Infuriating animal rights activists worldwide, this game has been a big hit in the US.


Possibly the strangest looking one I have seen thus far is the orange and green specimen found in Maine by Alan Robinson, who - deciding it was too unusual to eat - donated it to the Mount Desert Oceanarium, where it will live out its days. Apparently, the odds of a lobster being two coloured like this is 1 in 100 million.

In December 2008, a lobster with 4 claws was caught near Newport. You have to wonder whether they charge the diners extra for ones like that, a bit like the sorry looking one-clawed ones that always lurk at the back of the pick-your-own tank.





So next time you go to an Oceanarium or the National Marine Aquarium, don’t spend all your time with the fish, check out the lobsters that might be lurking there too.

WORDS FROM THE WIZARD



Our old friend Tony "Doc" Shiels, who is still the nearest thing to a father that I have alive, writes to me regularly. As readers of this blog will know, Tony had a close run in with cancer recently, but came out the other side. The cancer seems to have gone into spontaneous remission, or perhaps he magicked it away. One of his two latest letters which arrived this morning included a piece of news that he wanted disseminated across the Internet, and another piece which I thought was such a marvellous quote I wanted to share it with you all.

"A bit of great shamanic news which should be stuck on your website is the fact that I have handed the mantle: "Wizard of the Western World" to Keith Barry. Let's keep it funny. It happened on the first of the month.

Wizard of the Western World.
Enchanter of the East.
Necromancer of the North.
Sorcerer of the South.

That's WENS (ooops!), let's make it NEWS! So it will be Keith Barry www.wot.ww, I suppose.

I'm serious about this lads, and Keith is the very best magician in Ireland, apart from me. He has a very beautiful wife, Mairead, and a sweet baby daughter, Breanna. On January 3rd I gave baby Breanna a soft toy Cernunnos. The child was delighted. Every Celtic child should have a horned god in its cot."


I have often been asked why I consider Tony to be my surrogate father. It is simple, but until recently it would have hurt too many people for me to explain. In the summer of 1996 my first wife left me, and - as most people would - I turned to my father and mother for support. They are both dead now, and so I can explain what happened next, even though it is not particularly pleasant for me to do so. My parents were very old-fashioned, and had a singular view of society. I was the first person in my family to get divorced, they said, and by doing so I had brought dishonour on the name of Downes. During the horrible three months had followed, my parents pretty well disowned me, and the only person from their generation (okay, he is over a decade younger than they were, but who is counting?) to give me comfort and support unreservedly, was Tony. I had always been fond of him, but since 1996 I have loved him.

Tony is a painter, a surrealist, a playwright, a performer, a magician, a prestidigitator, and until now he has been the Wizard of the Western World. Although he writes, and speaks, in the words of his own peculiar psychic landscape, he is undoubtedly the wisest man I know. He has said the following passage to me on a number of occasions, but this is first time that he has ever written its down for me, so - at last - I am able to share the wisest words I have ever heard or read about the nature of fortean phenomena.


"99% of so-called "Forteans" simply don't get it. It ain't "really weird", "it" is just stuff that happens all the time.

Those people must lead very sheltered, blinkered lives. They waffle on about "Reality Television" crap. Surreality Television would kick them all up the fundamentals"

DOCTOR SHUKER IS IN THE HOUSE

We are very pleased to announce that we have badgered our old friend Dr Karl Shuker into joining the blogs of the "Ever Circling Skeletal Family" that is the CFZ Blogosphere. His blog can be found at ShukerNatureand the first entry contains a particularly interesting little article about a possible new species of wolf from Eastern Europe.

Check it out now you funk soul cryptids...

CFZ Website temporarily down

The CFZ and CFZtv websites appear to be temporarily out of action. I would love to claim that this is because of the massive amount of through traffic on our sites, but it is almost certain that this is just an unexpected outage on the server. If they are not back up in an hour or two I will get Graham to telephone the hosts.....

CFZ PEOPLE: David Sutton's Mum

Our hearts go out to David Sutton, the editor of Fortean Times who has just lost his mother. We know whhat that feels like, and sympathise greatly, as - I am sure - do all the readers of these blogs..

WHALE STORIES OF CRYPTOZOOLOGICAL INTEREST

Two stories on the excellent Wildlife Extra website are of more than considerable interest to people of a cryptozoological persuasion.

The most recent comes from the west coast of Ireland where, in September, there were the first confirmed sightings of blue whales since records began.


The other story is much older, but as it is accompanied by the only pictures of four Arnoux’s beaked whales (Berardius arnuxii), observed from a helicopter during an Antarctic expedition, we decided to include it. For more details go here.

NEWS FROM THE CETACEAN NATION

THE WORLD’S SECOND LARGEST ANIMAL RUNS AGROUND IN IRELAND

A 64 foot fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) the second largest animal in the world ran aground alive near Courtmacsherry in the west of Ireland this January. The animal was in poor condition with its bones visible through its blubber. It was hope that the animal could be saved as putting such a huge creature to sleep is hard as it takes a vast amount of drugs and shooting it with high powered firearms would be the only option.

Sadly the animal died of natural causes. It was probably very weak and ill before it ran around. The creature was buried using two JCBs.

Many fin whales have been recorded off the Irish coast since September 2008. The International Whale and Dolphin Group were working closely with operators to record the whales in the area through photo-identification, where unique markings are recorded to enable them to recognize individuals. To date they have more than 60 fin whales and 10 humpback whales recorded (mostly from West Cork).

SPURNING JAPANESE

According to Greenpeace sources in Surabaya, East Java, the Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru II, has been forced to abandon her whale-slaughtering mission and return to port in Indonesian. The Ship has a damaged propeller, rudder and navigation system. The Yushin Maru II being out of commission will significantly decrease the number of whales killed in the southern ocean this season. It is not know if this damage was due to the gallant efforts of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Meanwhile two Greenpeace activists are awaiting trial in Japan for their part in exposing a whale meat scam. Japanese whalers hunt Antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) for ‘scientific research’ (what ever the hell that means) but the whale meat is sold on illegaly for huge profints. In 2006 505 minke whales were butcherd by the Japanese fleet.

Not content with this atrocity, Japan is making a mockery of international law by re-flagging and using the refueling tanker, formerly known as the Oriental Bluebird, after it was fined by the Panamanian government for breaching international environmental law Now named the Hiyo Maru - the vessel is still operating with the whaling fleet, without a permit and despite the fact that Japan has ratified a treaty which seeks to ban the practice of reflagging to circumvent environmental law.

SINK THE BASTARDS!

In December 2008, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin, named after the late, lamented conservationist and crocodile expert, perused the Japanese whaling fleet across the Antarctic.

They found Japanese whalers in the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone at 64°26 South and 132° 40' East. The Steve Irwin launched a Delta boat with a crew to attack the Yushin Maru II with rotten butter bombs. The Sea Shepherd crew pursued and delivered 10 bottles of rotten butter and 15 bottles of a methyl cellulose and indelible dye mixture.

Pursuing this ship and several others the Steve Irwin prevented them from whaling. Captain Paul Watson said… “The Japanese whalers are still targeting whales in the waters of an established international whale sanctuary and thus they are still in violation of international conservation law and acting under the principles of the United Nations World Charter for Nature, we will continue to pursue, harass and intervene against their blatantly illegal lethal assaults on the whales."

The Steve Irwin has a crew of 40 international volunteers and a film crew onboard producing the series Whale Wars. Last year the Sea Shepherd crew pursued the Japanese whaling fleet from early December until mid-March. That intervention cost the whalers over $70 million in lost profits and saved almost 500 whales.

Everyone at the CFZ would like to send out our thanks and admiration to these brave people.