Tag: ‘Asia’

Video of Indonesian coelacanth

27 Jun 2006

A portion of the Indonesian coelacanth video shot several weeks ago has been made public.

The news report states that while more than 200 coelacanth finds have been documented off the coast of southern Africa, only 4 of the Indonesian variety had ever been confirmed before the Aquamarine Fukushima team caught theirs on video last month. According to the group's coelacanth web page, the researchers this time were able to capture a total of 7 coelacanth on video during the period from May 30 to June 5, as follows:

- May 30 (8:00 to 9:00 AM): Successfully videotaped an Indonesian coelacanth off the northern coast of Sulawesi, at a depth of 170 meters in 17 degrees Celsius water. Length of video is 5 to 10 minutes.

- May 31 (approx. 7:30 AM): Videotaped 2 more coelacanth in the same cave where the first coelacanth was videotaped.

- May 31 (approx. 10:00 AM): Videotaped another coelacanth in a different cave located at a depth of 180 meters.

- June 4 (approx. 6:40 PM): Videotaped 3 coelacanth over the span of 2 hours at a depth of 150 meters in the same area.

Beginning July 13, Aquamarine Fukushima will hold a special exhibit dedicated to the mystery of the Indonesian coelacanth, featuring video of the fish shown on a 65-inch plasma screen. The exhibit will run for an unspecified period of time.

[Source: Aquamarine Fukushima coelacanth page]

UPDATE (July 1, 2006): You can see the same coelacanth footage in this news report in English, on YouTube.

Kawasaki BULLDOG to sweep Cambodian landmines

23 Jun 2006

Kawasaki's BULLDOGOn June 21, Kawasaki Heavy Industries announced plans to send its BULLDOG landmine clearing system to Cambodia, where it will be put to the test in the field. The BULLDOG system, which employs Kawasaki's robotic remote control and electronic control technology, has undergone some upgrades after conducting mine clearing operations in Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005.

By conducting test operations in Cambodian minefields, Kawasaki hopes to gather data that will help them develop a BULLDOG system well-suited to the local vegetation, soil conditions, and terrain. As was the case in Afghanistan, the operations are financed by a grant extended by the Japanese government.

The BULLDOG system consists of three parts: (1) the MINE DOG, a mine-detecting vehicle equipped with mine detection sensors and a variety of cameras, (2) the MINE BULL, a mine-clearing vehicle equipped with a drum that drills the earth to excavate and detonate mines and a mechanism to collect waste products, and (3) a system of devices for remote control and operation.

Relying on an 8-channel system of mine detection sensors that automatically adjust their height with respect to uneven terrain, the MINE DOG can detect anti-personnel mines and unexploded bombs underground. A camera mounted on top of the vehicle detects trip wires and mines scattered on the ground surface. Sensor data is analyzed using software developed by Kawasaki, which allows operators to distinguish mines from objects such as rocks or cavities in the soil. For the tests in Cambodia, Kawasaki added features to help the MINE DOG deal with vegetation, as well as features to improve mobility on soft ground.

The MINE BULL detonates anti-personnel mines by means of a high-speed digging drum that turns the soil in front of the vehicle. The vehicle's excavation depth monitor, GPS antenna, and route-monitoring cameras ensure steady digging and forward motion, and a system of magnets extract waste materials that typically slow down the safety inspections that follow mine clearing operations. To deal with Cambodia's sticky soil, Kawasaki added a system of brushes to prevent soil buildup and mobility-enhancing features similar to those added to the MINE DOG.

The MINE BULL will be shipped to Cambodia in June, and work will begin in a minefield near Siem Reap in July. The MINE DOG will be shipped in August, and it will go to work beginning in October.

Kawasaki aims to use the data obtained from these tests to quickly develop a BULLDOG system well-suited for the Cambodian landscape, which they hope will make a valuable contribution to international demining activities that involve the Japanese government and international NGOs.

[Source: ZDNet Japan]

“Living fossil” coelacanth captured on video

31 May 2006

*** Watch the VIDEO ***

On May 30, a Japanese research team videotaped a one-meter long coelacanth in its natural habitat in the waters off the coast of Indonesia's Sulawesi island. According to the announcement by Aquamarine Fukushima -- a marine science museum located in Fukushima prefecture -- this is the first video of a coelacanth in its Indonesian habitat since a German team videotaped one in 1999.


Researchers at Aquamarine have been studying the coelacanth since the facility opened in 2000, and a research team has been stationed in Indonesia since last year. Researchers used a camera mounted on a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to shoot a 10-minute video of the coelacanth. The video reportedly shows the fish lurking in a rocky cave located about 500 meters off the coast of Buol in northern Sulawesi, at a depth of about 170 meters. The museum has not indicated when the video will be shown to the public.

"The camera light caused the fish's eyes to glow green. It was there. Its body was dark blue," the research team reported to museum director Yoshitaka Abe on the telephone.

"Congratulations. Well done," Abe told the researchers. "This is a big first step in our research."

UPDATE (June 2, 2006): This translation was referenced by Loren Coleman on Cryptomundo, where you can find a lot of interesting background info about the coelacanth. He also discusses the potential significance of the reported "dark blue" color of the one caught on this video (Latimeria menadoensis, the Indonesian species, is supposed to be brown).

The German team that first filmed the coelacanth in Indonesia in 1999 was led by one Hans Fricke (See: http://www.dinofish.com/jago.html). I could not find his video of the Indonesian coelacanth online, but I came across these fantastic videos he shot of the African species (Latimeria chalumnae). In one of them, a coelacanth displays its trademark "handstand" posture.

[Sources: Jiji, Chunichi Shimbun]

Yellow dust clouds zapped with green lasers

18 Apr 2006

LIDARIn an annual rite of spring, scientists in Japan carefully monitor the atmosphere for yellow dust. Also known as Asian dust, yellow sand or yellow wind, yellow dust is a phenomenon in which strong seasonal winds kick up giant clouds of fine Gobi desert sand. The dust clouds travel eastward, affecting air quality in China, Korea and Japan, and occasionally the continental US.

Japan's Meteorological Research Institute uses a remote sensing technique known as aerosol LIDAR (light detection and ranging) to monitor the status of the atmosphere and measure phenomena such as yellow dust. When weather conditions permit, a green laser beam is shot into the night sky from a small prefab structure belonging to the institute. The laser light is partly backscattered as it strikes particles floating as high as 40 km (25 miles) in the atmosphere, and the strength and timing of the reflected signals allows observers on the ground to analyze the particle content of the air.

On the night of April 17, the Omaezaki weather station in Shizuoka prefecture confirmed the presence of yellow dust in the atmosphere.

[Source: Yomiuri Shimbun]