On the train down to London I found myself sitting next to Lucy from IngramContent (www.ingramcontent.com). She was also going to Olympia to help man their stand at LBF15. As the train whizzed through the sunny Berkshire countryside we chatted about our varied careers in the publishing industry, as you do, and then shared a taxi to the venue.
On arrival I grabbed a map of the floorplan to find my two pre-booked appointments – Gomer Press (www.gomer.co.uk) and Imago (www.imago.co.uk) – easier said than done! The map was beautifully colour-coded but the hall and signage weren't! With my sense of direction it took a while but I finally found them both and had useful conversations about exciting upcoming projects.
With 1500+ international exhibitors and 25000+ attendees over three days LBF15 was buzzing – the market focus this year being publishing trade links with Mexico. But it wasn't just for the big players - individuals providing publishing solutions and niche publishing houses were side by side with the likes of Random House and Elsevier, with all sectors represented. And I saw Brian May, physicist and guitarist from Queen, eating a sandwich!
My goal was to find some e-book conversion information – so I headed for the Tech Centre and on the way dropped-in on a seminar about how best to use social media for publishing. The whole thing was a bit like speed-dating for the publishing industry – 5-min chat, swap business cards and on to the next!
Thoroughly enjoyed the day and gathered much useful information – lbf16 already pencilled in for next year.
On Friday the 10th April, 130 melon-headed whales washed up on a beach in Japan. These species of the dolphin family are usually found in deep waters far from the coast. The reason why they are stranded is unknown. Volunteers will be working hard to save as many as possible and release them back to sea over the weekend. February saw the deaths of over 140 pilot whales in a single weekend in a mass stranding event in New Zealand. 60 individuals were saved through the valiant efforts of volunteers and marine mammal rescue teams who worked around the clock to keep the whales afloat and protected them from dehydration and sunburn. New Zealand's rugged coastline has around 300 stranded whales and dolphins each year, and whilst these last events in New Zealand and Japan are not a first, it is still a big blow for all involved. Here is the UK we have also witnessed our fair share of these tragic events. In 2008, 26 common dolphins were stranded in Falmouth, in 2011, 70 pilot whales were stranded at Durness in Scotland and in 2012, 16 pilot whales stranded and died in Fife in Scotland. However, the largest mass stranding reported for the UK was in 1927 when 150 false killer whales became stranded off Sutherland in Scotland.
Mass strandings having occurred across the globe for thousands of years, and yet we still do not understand why this happens. There are several theories, with the latest being the impact of noise pollution, in particular military sonar testing which can disorientate the whales and lead to a pod stranding. Whilst there is no doubt that our oceans are noisier than ever with military testing, fishing vessels, cruise ships and offshore renewable construction, the very fact that strandings have occurred long before this indicates that there is something else at play. Marine mammals are highly social animals and some scientists suggest that group loyalty may be responsible. If an individual is sick or injured and swims into shallow water, the theory is the others loyally stay with it despite the inevitable outcome. Disease outbreaks or parasites, strong tides or erratic weather have also been identified as a possible explanation, as have underwater earthquakes which disrupt magnetic fields or cause damage inner ear affecting navigation.
Some species appear to be more prone to mass stranding than others, with pilot whales, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, false killer whales and sperm whales being reported the most frequently. Seals and baleen whales however are not known to mass strand. We are far from understanding why this phenomenon happens, but with autopsies carried out on the individuals that do not make it back to sea, their lives are not wasted as they will provide invaluable information about their biology, so hopefully one day we can help minimise the frequency and fatalities of these events.
If you see a stranded whale or dolphin, make sure you call the 'British Divers Marine life Rescue'. http://www.bdmlr.org.uk/index.php
For more information on strandings in the UK visit 'UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme': http://ukstrandings.org/
If you find a dead cetacean on the beach, report it immediately to the National Whale Strandings Scheme Hotline on 020 7942 5155. http://ukstrandings.org/project-aims/