Oysters’ ‘language’ studied
Scientists have begun studying the “language” of oysters in an effort to find out what they are saying about their environment. Researchers are monitoring the opening and closing of the molluscs in response to changes in seawater, such as reduced oxygen or red tide, a suffocating algal bloom, that can lead to mass die-offs. Using a device they have nicknamed the “kai-lingual,” a play on the Japanese word kai or shellfish, scientists from Kagawa University want to see if they can decode oyster movements that might warn of possible problems. The “kai-lingual” uses a series of sensors and magnets to send information on the opening and closing of shells in response to environmental changes. “With kai-lingual, we can hear the ‘screams,’ like: ‘We are in pain because of insufficient oxygen,’” Kagawa University Seto Inland Sea Regional Research Center director Tsuneo Honjo said.
Croc may have killed man
Police say a man who died during a spearfishing dive may have been attacked by a crocodile. Queensland state police say search crews found the man’s body yesterday, one day after he vanished in waters off the remote Cape York region in the northeast. His name was not released. Police say the condition of the man’s body indicated he may have been attacked by a marine animal, and said that the waters off northern Queensland were well-known crocodile habitats. Officials will conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
Nuke test ban ratified
The country said it had ratified a global treaty banning nuclear test explosions. Negotiated in the 1990s, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty specified that the 44 countries with nuclear power or research reactors at the time needed to give formal approval before it could take effect. With the endorsement yesterday by the country’s parliament, the treaty is now only awaiting ratification from the US, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan. Lawmaker Mahfudz Siddiq urged the remaining countries — especially the US and Israel — to get off the bench and sign.
Antarctica whale hunt starts
The country’s whaling fleet left port yesterday for its annual hunt in Antarctica, press pictures showed, with security measures beefed up amid simmering international protests. Three ships, led by the 720 tonne Yushin Maru, set sail from Shimonoseki on the west coast on a mission officially said to be for “scientific research,” according to local media reports. In February, the country cut short its hunt by one month after bagging only one-fifth of its planned catch, blaming interference from the US-based environmental group Sea Shepherd. The fleet aims to catch about 900 minke and fin whales this season.
Olympian charged with rape
Police say two-time Olympic judo gold medalist Masato Uchishiba has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. Uchishiba, 33, was arrested yesterday, triggering a criminal investigation, according to an officer in the National Police Agency’s public relations department who declined to give his name. In September, Uchishiba was fired as a judo coach by Kyushu University of Nursing and Social Welfare amid allegations that he gave a female student an alcoholic drink at a hotel and sexually harassed her. He has denied claims of sexual harassment.