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Archive for December, 2010

 

Marmora Cave – Ontario

You can pretty well tell that this picture was taken in one of the Marmora caves. The rock in that area, though much the same as that in Dewdney’s Cave (Bobcaygeon Formation) is wickedly sharp – comparatively, the rock in Dewdney’s is much smoother.

This tunnel was formed above the water table by water running along a joint, you can see the wear along the wall and the incision inward along a bedding plane.

In the spring these particular tunnels are entirely submersed by running water and so bats seem not to find them suitable as a hibernaculum, in fact, in my experience, most of the tunnels in the Marmora area are unpopulated by bats.

Looking at a map in the winter /spring issue of the Toronto Caver the progression of “White Nose Syndrome” in bats appears to have made it into Southern Ontario this year (2010). The disease was first seen in 2006 in Schoharie New York. Initially the White Nose Syndrome is thought to have spread southwards in the States, but mysteriously it was not confirmed to be present until it was discovered at several sites including Moira in 2010

By the map in the Toronto Caver it would appear that distribution of White Nose Syndrome is on a North/South axis – in fact quite narrowly confined to certain areas. As Kirk MacGregor says, the fungus responsible for the symptoms that are referred to as “White Nose Syndrome” (Geomyces destructans) has been identified as far north as Kirkland Lake and yet at this time there is no evidence of it being east of Ottawa.

Geographically you would wonder what it is that is defining the spread of disease … Travel patterns of the bat?

Below I copy an excerpt from an e-mail that a friend and I were bouncing back and forth in Feb. 2008 …

“not being a bat scientist or anything, but would the fungus not be indicative of what is going on inside. Is the fungus growing on some kind of sputum that the bat is exhaling? What type of medium does this fungus usually grow on? Is there any connection between that and the sputum? How fast does this come on? Consider that the bat is dormant and its body temperature drops so drastically – what kind of weird virus would grow inside a creature at those temperatures? Does the bats temperature rise – might that be what is killing it? Notice in the picture(although it is only one picture), but the bats in the middle of the picture are most heavily affected and as you get further away, the fungus seems to be growing less profusely. I wonder if that suggests the bat in the middle was affected first and then the disease spread outward from him – spread in situ that is – as the bats were dormant. I wonder if the disease is even cave related as bats obviously leave the cave. Can the bat act as an incubator like the pig does in transferring influenza from the chicken to the human and mutating it along the way?

Lots of questions 2 years ago and yet, no doubt answers will eventually follow.

Information for this post in part, was obtained from an article in the Toronto Caver …

MacGregor Kirk, “White Nose Syndrome Moves into Southern Ontario, published by The Toronto Caver, The Toronto Caver Winter and Spring 2010, pg. 5

Map showing distribution of White Nose Syndrome as of 12th of May 2010. Map by Cal Butchkoski, PA Game Commission.

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Michael14, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Somewhere above some pretty deep shafts that lead down to Friar’s Hole this lama used to live. I was returning from one such shaft and he followed me – more like terrorized me, just kind of pacing along behind. I’ve had a few weird experiences with lamas so …

Any way, off that particular topic, but on the topic of cave shafts, check out these cave base jumps. Not a sport I’d considered before, but it looks amazing, as the Chinese guide says in a massive understatement, “Everybody will have an exciting day today” …

Cave of the Swallows – Mexican cave base jump

Cave Base Jumping in Oman – Base jump in Oman

Chinese Cave Jump – Chinese sinkhole jump

Down the shaft – another of the Cave of the Swallows

Guatemala Sinkholes – How sinkholes form

It’s Timmay – something just a little different

Rubber rafting it – a deviation from cave jumping!

Detroit – Sneaky Base jump

Just a bit much – Fainting

If you are wondering why no update on broken rowboat cave, its serious snow up there right now and neither JC or myself can hack through that kind of terrain in those conditions and also I’m working like a mad man to finish off my next book – it’s now a week overdue. Keep your eyes peeled – “Tamarindo”,  Published by Edgehill Press.

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This picture was taken on a recent exploration that JC and I did in an area that has long been suspected of being “cave rich”.

In Ongley’s long forgotten cave manuscript he relates the impression at the time of Ontario being a cave desert – a paucity of karst! not so! Theres lots of caves in Ontario you just gotta find them. Marcus Buck said that 90 -95% of Ontario’s caves are found beside a road or path – still true, its because of our rugged terrain and people’s unwillingness to hack through the bush. JC and I do that quite often and sometimes we hit lucky.

My book on Ontario’s cave geography “Rockwatching” is again available at Amazon. It appears that it had risen quite significantly in price while it was out of print – Teebooks1 – $156.13, The_Meirin_USA – $94.00, and any_book for – $56.46.

Rockwatching is back on at Amazon for $20.96 – buy it and stop e-mailing me for directions to caves, you’ll learn in the book how to figure those out for yourselves.

But for now, I hope to update you in the next month or so on our further explorations of Broken Rowboat cave – it all depends on whether the location is totally snowed in for the winter or not. It’s a hike of several kilometers through some pretty rugged terrain.

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Shrunken Head?

Is this a shrunken head or just a severed head? I’m kicking myself now for not having bought it. How would I have explained him at the airport?

I have a collection of various tribal artifacts. The supposed head would have been made in Hong Kong, but it would go just fine on the wall next to this great big Congo mask that I’ve got – I call it Hannibal the Cannibal because it has a mouth of jagged teeth.

On the subject of tribal, check out my malagan mask (I’ts real)

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Mad man yodels out a turkey call

I can’t be sure of the story behind this fellow, but I was sitting waiting for Maggie in a square off one of the main streets in Chester and in the distance I heard this sound like a wild turkey; everyone around me was looking, wondering what it was … and again the sound; it was this sort of crazy cackling – warbling noise. It just kept getting closer.

Finally this fellow sprinted past, looping back he returned to leap up and down, flapping his elbows like he was trying to fly and yodeling out a wild turkey noise.

I couldn’t be sure whether he was serious or not. We locked gazes and I wondered if I was in for a pecking???  I only had time to snap this hurried picture and then he seemed distracted by something in the distance. Unexpectedly the turkeyman dashed off in a crazy zig zag sprint dodging between startled pedestrians, half crouched over, flapping and leaping, but in vain, everyone knows turkeys aren’t so graceful –  in fact they barely fly. The last I heard of the warbler was his deranged turkey call fading in the distance.

Oh turkey man, from whence did you come and where did you go?

Does anyone know the deal?

Does he do this for money?

Is he a drama student?

Somebody who likes attention?

Just plain off his rocker?

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Church and coffin in Chester Sandstone – Chester

Just recently Maggie and I had spent the day walking around the walls of the ancient Roman city of Chester – the town from which her father came and in which her mother had worked as a nurse. Apparently the two of them met when her father was choking after an appendix operation and her mother applied her nursing skills.

We had visited Chester some twenty years ago and had stayed in a bed and breakfast down on the banks of the River Dee.

This ruin was situated above Chester’s Roman Wall and it is part of the structure of the church of Saint John the Baptist. Set up into the wall there is a most unusual feature – a medieval coffin of solid oak. It looks like the coffin was cut from a solid tree trunk and inside it is inscribed “ashes to ashes.”

Nobody really knows the exact story behind the coffin but there are many theories – everything from, “it was bought from gypsies,” to “somebody dug it up while digging another grave.”

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