The worlds dolphin populations are made up from almost forty species  varying in size from 1.2 m and 40 for the Maui's dolphin, and up to 9.5 m  and 10 tonnes for the killer whale. They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelf. So clearly, with this much variation within the dolphin family, you can expect the same variation in each species diet.

So, while some dolphins eat fishes like herring, cod or mackerel, others species will prefer to eat squids.

Of course, the largest of all the dolphin species - the killer whales - will also eat marine mammals like seals or sea lions and sometime even turtles.

Usually, the amount of fish that they eat depends on the kind of fish that they hunt. While mackerel or herring will contain a lot of fatty oils in their bodies, squid will not have so much, therefore, to get enough energy required for their activities, dolphins will have to eat a lot more squid than mackerel.

On average, a dolphin with a weigh of 200 to 250 Kg will eat between 10 and 25 Kg of fish every day.

How do dolphins catch their food

As you can expect, various methods of feeding exist among and within species, some apparently exclusive to a single population. Fish and squid are the main food, but the false killer whale and the orca (the true killer whale) also feed on other marine mammals like seals. They have been known to eat penguins and even sea turtles!

One common feeding method is herding, where a pod squeezes a school of fish into a small volume, known as a bait ball. Individual members then take turns ploughing through the ball, feeding on the stunned fish.

Corralling is another method where dolphins chase fish into shallow water to more easily catch them. In South Carolina, the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin takes this further with "strand feeding", driving prey onto mud banks for easy access.

In some places, orcas come to the beach to capture sea lions. Some species also hit fish with their tails, stunning them and sometimes knocking them out of the water.

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Based on an article by http://www.dolphins-world.com/what_do_dolphins_eat.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolphin

Photo care of http://www.huntercourse.com/blog/2011/06/natures-most-skilled-hunters/



There are few plants that can bring a touch of the Mediterranean to the garden as effectively as a palm tree and what's more, there are so many attractive species to choose from - including a decent selection of cold hardy varieties!

The trouble is though, palm trees can be extremely cumbersome to transport and expensive buy, but there is an answer. Grow your own palm trees from seed! Yes it will take time, but you can grow as much stock as you like and the comparative costs are negligible.

How to germinate palm tree seeds

Before you begin, be aware that the best results will usually come from fresh seeds. Try only to germinate ripe seeds and avoid immature, green seeds. If you are collecting palm seeds yourself the ripe seeds will be within the mature, coloured fruit and ready to drop. Poor germination results are usually the result of either old or poor quality seeds.

The most frequently used germination technique is the 'Polythene Bag' technique. Its popularity is down to its simplicity which means you may need to use more sophisticated methods of germination with more exotic seeds.

To begin with, soaks the seeds for 24 hours in warm water. Then place the seeds with either some slightly damp moss or a formulated palm seedling compost mix into a transparent polythene bag. You may also wish to as a small handful of perlite to this mix to help aeration. Avoid overly damp compost as this can encourage fungal rots amongst the germinating seedlings. Seal the polythene bag and then place in a warm, bright environment at about 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Be aware that germination rates are going to vary wildly depending on the species of seed sown so you will need to keep a reasonably close eye on the seedlings after a few weeks.

Once the seeds have germinated, un-zip the baggies. remember to keep the substrate damp but please make sure that it is not waterlogged.

When the seedlings have grown about an inch or so they can be potted on and moved to a protective environment until they are ready to be transferred outside.


Whenever you are making a roast chicken dinner make sure that you keep enough of the cooked chicken meat back for this gorgeous recipe for home-made chicken soup. In fact, you can ‘kill two birds with one stone’ by making your own stock too and adding it to this very recipe.

So, just how do you make chicken soup?


55g/2oz butter
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
25g/2oz plain flour
1.2 litres/2 pints of chicken stock
450g/1lb cooked chicken, skinned and shredded
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make chicken soup

To begin with, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat then gently fry the onions, celery and carrots until they begin to soften.

Now stir in the flour and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring as you do so, then reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering. Now simmer for another 10 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the cooked, shredded chicken and carry on cooking until it is heated through. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour into warm bowls then stir in the parsley and serve with a couple of oven warmed, homemade bread rolls filled with a generous spread of butter and grated mature cheese.

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Photo care of http://www.godine.co.uk/blog/chicken-soup-recipe and http://chezbeeperbebe.blogspot.com/2009/03/last-soup-of-season.html

ROME: Gladiator

The term Gladiator is synonymous with Roman culture, and while to us gladiatorial contests are little more than displays of extreme barbarism, contemporary Romans would have look upon these ‘contests to the death’ as a defining feature of their civilisation. But who were the gladiators, and what brought them into existence?

The Romans believed that gladiators first appeared in 264 BC. They were common slaves who were made to fight to the death at the funeral of a distinguished aristocrat, Junius Brutus Pera.. This spectacle was arranged by his heirs in order to honour his memory.

Gradually, this gladiatorial spectacle became separated from its funerary context, and became staged by the wealthy as a means of displaying their power and influence within the local community. In fact, advertisements for gladiatorial displays still survive at Pompeii, painted by professional sign-writers. They have been found on house-fronts, and on the walls of tombs clustered outside the city-gates. The number of gladiators to be displayed was a key attraction - the larger the figure, the more generous the sponsor was perceived to be, and the more glamorous the spectacle.

Most gladiators were still slaves. They were subjected to a rigorous training, fed on a high-energy diet, and given expert medical attention. Therefore they were an expensive investment, not to be despatched lightly!

For a gladiator who died in combat, the trainer – known as a lanist – may have charged the sponsor of the fatal spectacle up to a hundred times the cost of a gladiator who had survived. Clearly it would become significantly more expensively for the sponsor if they supplied the bloodshed that the audiences often bayed for. Although if a gladiator was allowed to be slain it was seen as an indication of their generosity.

Remarkably, some gladiators were not slaves but free-born volunteers! The chief incentive was probably the down-payment that would have been received upon taking the gladiatorial oath. This oath meant that the owner of the gladiator troupe now had ultimate sanction over each gladiator's life, assimilating them to the status of slaves.

Some maverick emperors with a perverted sense of humour made upper-class Romans (of both sexes) fight in the arena. But as long as they did not receive a fee for their participation, such persons would be exempt from the stain of infamia, the legal disability that was attached to the practitioners of disreputable professions such as actors, prostitutes and, of course, gladiators.

The ancient Roman gladiators have been a source of fascination for thousands of years. And as modern day archeologists and historians uncover more about their lives, our hunger to find out more about the Roman gladiator seems to increase.

What did gladiators eat?

Research by Karl Grossschmidt, a paleo-pathologist at the Medical University of Vienna has managed to give an insite into this unglamopurside to the gladiators life!

Contemporary accounts of gladiator life sometimes refered to the ancient wariors as hordearii - literally meaning 'barley men'. To find out more, Grossschmidt and collaborator Fabian Kanz subjected bits of bone uncovered at the gladiator graveyard in Ephesus - in what is now western Turkey- to isotopic analysis. This is a technique that measures trace chemical elements such as calcium, strontium, and zinc. The biggest revelation to come out of the Ephesus cemetery is what kept the gladiators alive - a vegetarian diet rich in carbohydrates, with the occasional calcium supplement.

They also managed to turn up some other surprising results. Compared to the average inhabitant of Ephesus, gladiators ate more plants and very little animal protein. The vegetarian diet had nothing to do with poverty or animal rights. Gladiators, it seems, were fat. Consuming a lot of simple carbohydrates, such as barley, and legumes, like beans, was designed for survival in the arena. Packing in the carbs also packed on the pounds.

"Gladiators needed subcutaneous fat," Grossschmidt explains. "A fat cushion protects you from cut wounds and shields nerves and blood vessels in a fight. Not only would a lean gladiator have been dead meat, he would have made for a bad show. Surface wounds look more spectacular," says Grossschmidt. "If I get wounded but just in the fatty layer, I can fight on," he adds. "It doesn't hurt much, and it looks great for the spectators."

But a diet of barley and vegetables would have left the fighters with a serious calcium deficit. To keep their bones strong, historical accounts say, they downed vile brews of charred wood or bone ash, both of which are rich in calcium. Whatever the exact formula, the stuff worked. Grossschmidt says that the calcium levels in the gladiator bones were "exorbitant" compared to the general population. "Many athletes today have to take calcium supplements," he says. "They knew that then, too."

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Based on an article by Professor Kathleen Coleman
Photo of mosaic care of http://uk.ask.com/wiki/List_of_Roman_gladiator_types
Photo care of http://www.overoll.com/Content/Bite-marks-may-identify-UK-gladiator-graveyard-/2010/6/7/263350.news?from=gimage and http://www.hollywood.com/feature/Top_10_Posthumous_Performances/5277553

Based on an article by Andrew Curry

ROME: The Roman Colosseum

Even in today’s world of high rise skyscrapers, the Roman Colosseum remains hugely impressive. While almost two thirds of the original building had been destroyed by earthquakes, fires, or plundered for its once glistening stone by Roman Popes and aristocrats, it still stands as a glorious but troubling monument to Roman imperial power and cruelty.

Inside the Roman Colosseum, and on top of the subterranean ranks of arches and columns, Romans for centuries cold-bloodedly killed thousands of people. these would have included Christian martyrs, anyone who they regarded as a criminal, and their coveted professional fighters - the gladiators.

The Roman Colosseum was born in the aftermath of Nero's extravagance and the rebellion by the Jews in Palestine against Roman rule. Nero, after the great fire at Rome in AD 64, had built a huge pleasure palace for himself (the Golden House) right in the centre of the city. In AD 68, faced with military uprisings, he committed suicide, and the empire was engulfed in civil wars.

The eventual winner of these civil wars was Vespasian (emperor AD 69-79), and it was his idea to shore up his shaky regime by building an amphitheatre - or pleasure palace for the people - out of the booty from the Jewish War - on the site of the lake in the gardens of Nero's palace.

Known then as the Vespasian amphitheatre, the Colosseum was a grand political gesture. Suitably for that great city, it was - and eventually remained - the largest amphitheatre in the whole of the Roman Empire.

In its day, the Colosseum was capable of seating 50,000 spectators which, besides gladiatorial contests, was also used for such public spectacles as mock sea battles, animal hunts, and re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.

The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era, but it was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and rather surprisingly, a Christian shrine.

Indeed, it was very possible that the Colosseum would have disappeared altogether were it not for the amphitheatre's reputation as a Christian sacred ground. Even so, the cathedrals of St Peter and St John Lateran, the Palazzo Venezia and the Tiber's river defences all exploited the Colosseum as a convenient quarry.

In the 21st century the Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome as well as one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions. It still has close connections with the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit "Way of the Cross" procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum

Eventually there were well over 250 amphitheatres in the Roman empire - so it is no surprise that the amphitheatre and its associated shows are still the quintessential symbols of Roman culture.

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The blue whale - Balaenoptera musculus is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales called Mysticetiis. It is also arguably the most impressive creature to live or have ever lived on this planet! At 30 metres (98 ft) in length and 180 metric tons or more in weight, it is in fact both the largest and the heaviest animal ever known to have existed!

You would think then, that being the largest animal on Earth they would be quite easy to find.  However, blue whale populations have declined dramatically over the past century or so due to commercial whaling so finding them anywhere can prove to be particularly difficult.

Be that as it may, just where do you find blue whales?

Since the introduction of the whaling ban, scientific studies have failed to show whether global blue whale populations are increasing or remaining stable.

The largest known concentration, consisting of about 2,800 individuals, is the northeast Pacific population of the northern blue whale that ranges from Alaska to Costa Rica, but is most commonly seen from California in summer. Sometimes, this population is known to visit the northwest Pacific between Kamchatka and the northern tip of Japan.

In the North Atlantic, there are two further large populations of northern blue whale. The first is found off Greenland, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. This group is estimated to total about 500. The second, more easterly group is spotted from the Azores in spring to Iceland in July and August; it is presumed the whales follow the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between the two volcanic islands.

Beyond Iceland, blue whales have been spotted as far north as Spitsbergen and Jan Mayen, though such sightings are rare. However, scientists do not know where these whales spend their winters. The total North Atlantic population is estimated to be between 600 and 1,500.

In the Southern Hemisphere, there appear to be two distinct subspecies, the Antarctic blue whale, and the little-studied pygmy blue whale which is found in Indian Ocean waters. The most recent surveys provided an estimate of 2,280 blue whales in the Antarctic (of which fewer than 1% are likely to be pygmy blue whales).

Estimates from a 1996 survey show that 424 pygmy blue whales were in a small area south of Madagascar alone, thus it is likely that numbers in the entire Indian Ocean could be in the thousands.

A fourth subspecies of blue whale -  B. m. indica, was identified in the northern Indian Ocean, but difficulties in identifying distinguishing features for this subspecies led to it being used a synonym for B. m. brevicauda, the pygmy blue whale.

Migratory patterns of these subspecies are not well known. For example, pygmy blue whales have been recorded in the northern Indian Ocean (Oman, Maldives and Sri Lanka), where they may form a distinct resident population. In addition, the population of blue whales occurring off Chile and Peru may also be a distinct population.

Some Antarctic blue whales approach the eastern South Atlantic coast in winter, and occasionally, their vocalisations are heard off Peru, Western Australia, and in the northern Indian Ocean. In Chile, the Cetacean Conservation Center, with support from the Chilean Navy, is undertaking extensive research and conservation work on a recently discovered feeding aggregation of the species off the coast of Chiloe Island in the Gulf of Corcovado, where 326 blue whales were spotted in the summer of 2007.

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