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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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Thursday, October 29, 2009

The world's rarest fish Part One

There is a subtle clue in the title to this article. Although it would be both interesting and informative to write an article on the world's six rarest fish, it would sadly be impossible. First of all, the figures are just not available. Unlike land mammals, for example, where detailed surveys have been done, and it is possible to say - for example - that the rarest large land animal in the world is the Javan rhinoceros with only about 50 specimens still living on the island of Java. Even in this case for figures are not certain.

There are an unknown number of these animals living on mainland Indo-China. An entire population was discovered in Vietnam about 15 years ago and it is tempting to theorise that the species may not be as endangered as the experts think. Sadly, however, these are merely pipe dreams, and even if there are another 50 specimens in Vietnam, Laos, Malaya and Burma this does not do much to increase the chances for the prognosis of the species in the long term. However, all is not lost. At the beginning of the 20th century it was believed to that there were only about 25 white rhinos left. A hundred years later, and they are the most common rhinoceros species in the world.

With fish, however, the situation is even more uncertain. Many of the rarest fish in the world owe their scarcity to a very small and often fragmented habitat. Therefore, it pains us as journalists to have to admit that the five fishes described in this article are almost certainly not the six rarest fishes in the world. However, they are all critically endangered, and each of them is a fascinating creature, which it would be sad to think it might soon be gone for good.


THE MARYLAND DARTER (Etheostoma sellare)

Surprisingly enough if you want to look for one of the world's rarest fish you don't have to travel to the depths of the ocean or air to some uncharted territory at the ends of the Earth. This little fish lives in a clear, cool creek in Harford County, Maryland, just a few miles from where 1-95 crosses the Susquehanna River. The fish has never been found anywhere else.


It was first discovered in 1912 by two biologists collecting fish in Swan Creek, a fast-flowing stream near Havre de Grace. They named the fish and published their discovery in a scientific journal, whereupon the world promptly forgot all about it. Fifty years later in 1962, a group of graduate students found one near Swan Creek in Gasheys Run. Three years a healthy population was found in Deer Creek, which is where all subsequent records have been made.


The main reason that this fish is so rare is because of its extremely specialised habitat requirements - the riffles (fast-flowing areas, before the flatlands) in that part of a stream where the water tumbles out of the hills onto the relatively flat coastal plain. At one time this tiny species may well have been common in many of the streams that flow into the Chesapeake Bay from the Western Shore, but we are unlikely ever to know because so much of that area has become heavily industrialised and the water table polluted.


The good news is that the Maryland Darter is an "Indicator Organism," a species whose presence or absence indicates the relative health of a natural ecosystem. The continued existence of the Maryland Darter in Deer Creek indicates that this watercourse is still relatively healthy and clean.


THE BALLINA ANGEL-FISH (Chaetodontoplus ballinae )

This beautiful, small angelfish is widely believed to be one of the rarest fish in a the world. However, the question remains - is it indeed rare, or just very little known?


The type specimen was originally caught and described by Gilbert Whitley in 1959, based on a single specimen collected off Ballina in northern New South Wales. Like the Maryland Darter, however, it was 20 years before Ken Graham of the NSW Fisheries Department caught the second specimen - a single animal, again in the waters off NSW. He took a photo of the fresh specimen and sent the photo and the preserved fish to the Australian Museum. Until this year, these were the only two records of this rare fish in the world. However, in May 2003 Mark Norman of the Victoria Museum in Australia led a team on a three-week expedition, which made a number of remarkable new discoveries. These included a new species of spiked dogfish and in one short trawl at around 90m deep near Ball’s Pyramid, - three specimens of the Ballina Angelfish, leading Norman to announce (in an amazingly bullish manner) that "it appears that this species may be quite abundant in this special region."


Again, it seemed that the rarity of this beautiful species is mainly due to its incredibly restricted habitat - the cold, deeper water around coral and rocky reefs in depths between 25-123m. Near Balls Pyramid it was associated with a large, rocky pinnacle encrusted with hard corals. They both have hair main classes threat to its survival has been cited as illegal collecting by the marine aquarium fish trade, where this species would attract high prices due to its rarity and difficulty in collecting.

Maloti Minnow Pseudobarbus quathlambae


The Maloti Minnow is a small fish from the highlands of Lesotho in Africa. Like the Maryland Darter, it can only exist in a high quality environment with very highly oxygenated water. It would actually have been quite a common little fish, but it has been classified a critically endangered fish according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. This is because a large portion of its environment will be seriously impacted by the imminent implementation of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.


Probably the greatest threat to the continuation of the species will come from the Mohale dam. The ultimate opening of Mohale-Katse tunnel threatens the very existence of the species by exposing it to greater possibility as prey to bigger fish, most notably which have been introduced as both a food and a sporting resource. It is also feared that the increased tourism to the region which is planned by the government of the country will perforce bring with it an intolerable level of environmental degradation which will, sadly, reduce the quality of the water in the region so much that the fish will die out.

Luckily, however, all is not lost for this tiny minnow like species. There are other suitable catchments outside Mohale where the small fish could be translocated as part of the LHDA mitigation and conservation plan. The LHDA will ensure that the translocation is not effected in areas where trout is present. the Government of the country should be commended for such a far-sighted action. it is not often that Third World governments pay much attention to the future of a such a small and seemingly insignificant species were charred - after all - of little or no commercial or touristic value. Let's hope that the conservation programme which has been set into action will spur other governments in the region to do likewise.

It is hard to choose only a small number of species from the dozens that are critically endangered to, or feared to be extinct. In the next article we shall be bring you more stories - some good, and some bad - from around the world telling how some of the world's most unique creatures may not survive beyond our own lifetimes.


THE DEVIL RIDES OUT

This afternoon we are expecting a visit from a bloke called Nick Flintoff who is making a film about the Great Devon Mystery - the events that happened in early 1855 when something left a long series of footprints in the snow across great swathes of south Devon.

It is popularly believed to have been the HornÄ—d
One himself, although when similar things happened in Woolsery earlier this year (despite overwhelming pictorial evidence that a demonic entity had visited with his violin) we were involved in a massive cover-up financed by those who are loth to accept the awful truth that He can take on many guises, including that of a roly-poly Welshman clutching my stepdaughter's violin, and told the world's press that we believed that it was somthing made by a horny rabbit.

No.

We don't mean a jackalope, we mean a male rabbit or hare filled with testosterone and hopping strangely. But of course it was the Dark Lord Himself. And we shall be telling Mr Flintoff that this afternoon, of course.


And then we shall be having tea and biscuits, and if I am lucky, my lovely wife will have made cake. And then my nephew and I will play Command and Conquer. It is going to be a nice day.

ANOTHER NEW ORANG PENDEK SIGHTING

This just in by e-mail from Dally Sandradiputra, one of the guides on the recent Sumatra expedition. We post it unedited:

Hi All

I just received SMS from Sahar,

On October, 18 2009, there was saw Orang Pendek, In Tandai Forest his name is Pak Udin,
when he saw OP, OP was looking for food at tree that has broken down during about 3 minutes. after that OP was running way, the color of Orang Pendek ware black and silver, he was really strong, long hand, short foot.

Dally

LINDSAY SELBY: Strange encounter with a half man/half bird creature

Anyone who reads my stuff on this blog knows I tend to find strange stories on the internet and here is another one for you. If anyone has any information about this please post!

http://www.aliendave.com/Utah_ReportonStrangeCreature.html

Story Reported to UUFOH on July 8th 2002 via Ryan Layton - UUFOH Member - by "Fred"

I will tell you about the experience in as much detail as I can. I have been studying such things as this; from Bigfoot (which is and always will be my main interest) to Chupacabras to Mothmen and more since I was in the 4th grade. From anything cryptozoological in nature to U.F.O 's and Ghosts you name it. So naturally when my uncle told me of his experience I was a little more than intrigued. I must say first that while my uncle is not above a little exaggeration from time to time (guess it's an uncle thing) he swears that this did indeed happen and said nothing for years and actually never went into all the detail with anyone until just recently when he confided in me the whole story and I do have his permission to tell it here and I did promise to leave out his name. Anyway,

The incident took place back in the summer of 1976 in the state of Utah somewhere between the town of Panguitch and Hatch in the Dixie National forest. They were traveling north on highway 89. Sighting occurred at night at around 11:00 p. m, the skies were clear and no other vehicles were in the area at the time. The area was lightly forested but there were no trees or brush obstructing their view, no tree stumps or boulders in the area either. While driving north the headlights, which at the time were set to high beams, partially picked up what he describes as a half man/half bird creature standing in the middle of a clearing containing no visible grass. The creature itself was approximately 70' away. He describes it as being between 5' 1/2 to 6' tall. It had large eyes that did not glow or produce any color a large head and no visible neck. He describes it as having wings that were either folded or attached to or part of the arm and folded in front of itself. There were no visible feathers and he describes the skin as looking like dark or weathered human looking skin with dark or dirty spots on it. He also describes it as having a large wide body but my thought is that it could have had something to do with the wings or whatever appendages it might have had.

Other witness included the passenger who had remarked on seeing something also. The sighting only lasted about 10 seconds. The car was traveling around 50 miles per hours but when the creature was sighted my uncle took his foot off of the gas and started to brake to slow down. They continued traveling north after the sighting looking for a good place to turn around and when they returned to the location of the sighting it was already gone. During the initial sighting and during their return to that location there was no sound or smell. They never exited the vehicle because they were scared and so there were no footprints seen.

One more thing that I should include is neither witness had been drinking alcoholic beverages or taking any prescription medication at the time. If my uncle recalls anymore information about his sighting I would be more than happy to forward it to you and you may also post this story if you would like. Actually it is my hope that you do post it so that anyone else who had a similar occurrence could be motivated by this report to come forward and tell their story and maybe with enough people volunteering information we can get a better picture of what this is and maybe learn of something new. Thanks again Ryan and take care,

Fred

I have not found any other reports about this but someone out there in CFZ world may know more about it.

THE FLICKS: Movie reviews by Richard Freeman

ROGUE
Director/writer Greg McLean


Giant crocodile films are a genre all to themselves. There have been dozens of them over the years, some better than others. This latest offering from the director of Australian psycho movie Wolf Creek revolves around an ill-fated tourist trip along a remote river in Australia’s Northern Territory. American travel writer Peter McKell (Michael Varten) is among the group taken via boat by guide Kate Ryan (Radha Mitchell). When they see a distress flare they investigate and find a smashed up boat in a swamp. At that point their own vessel is attacked and sunk by a 7.2 metre, two-tonne indo-pacific crocodile.

The survivors (including a British family with an annoyingly stereotypical upper-class accent) are forced onto a tidal island that is rapidly vanishing under water as the monster crocodile lies in wait to pick them off.

The film was inspired by the real life rogue crocodile called Sweetheart who attacked a number of boats between 1974 and 1979. Apparently he was mistaking the noise of outboard motors for rival male crocodiles.

In reality a man-eater, even a huge one, would spend at least a week digesting a human after eating them. In the film, however, the croc keeps coming back for more victims and storing them in a ‘larder’ underneath a huge tree.

The film’s ending is somewhat predictable but as killer croc films go it’s not bad. The crocodile itself is quite well realised though it looks a little stumpy with the tail seemingly too short in comparison with the head and body. Rogue is better than Dark Water or Bloodsurf but not as good as Primeval or Dark Age.

DYING BREED

Director Jody Dwyer
Writers Jody Dwyer/Michael Boughen


A film about an expedition in search of the thylacine sounds like a great idea and it would be but sadly this film misses a great chance. The plot revolves around zoology student called Nina (Mirrah Foulkes) who travels to northern Tasmania ostensibly to search for thylacines. However, we learn that her sister vanished in the same area five years before, shortly after photographing a thylacine track.

She takes her boyfriend and his annoying friend (who partially finances the trip) and his girlfriend along with her.

From here on the film degenerates into a cross between Deliverance and Cannibal Holocaust. The group happen across a tiny hamlet inhabited by inbred, degenerate cannibals with sharp teeth who waylay travellers and turn them into pie filling! The mutants are apparently the descendents of escaped convicts. Women travellers are used to breed with before getting the chop. We find out this is what befell Nina’s sister.

We are treated to a brief glimpse of a thylacine but it lasts only a few seconds. How much more interesting the film would have been if it had concentrated on the Tasmanian wolf, a creature that really does exist, rather than a hackneyed bunch of derivative, mythical cannibals.

HALLOWE'EN JACK: Yesterday's News Today

As you know Oll Lewis, your usual host, is away for a couple of days. Yesterday’s News Today is, for a limited time only, presented by Hallowe’en Jack down at his pumpkin patch.

It’s that time of year,

and Hallowe’en Jack is here.

So with a flaming grin,

let’s begin:



Big cat confronts Matlock cyclist
Neanderthals ‘had sex’ with modern man
Tarantula grounds UK flight
Two-Headed Snake Found In Couple's Drawer
Rising folk star Taylor Mitchell killed by coyotes
Bigfoot enthusiasts go high tech
Chimpanzees Seen 'Mourning' Late Friend