South Africa maps first deep-sea preserve
Underwater canyons, deep-sea coral reefs and sponge banks are part of a unique ecosystem that South Africa wants to save within its first deep-sea marine protected area. After 10 years of consultations, South Africa has mapped the boundaries for the proposed reserve stretching 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the eastern KwaZulu-Natal coast.The mapping required synthesising the many divergent interests in the Indian Ocean waters, with 40 industries from fishing to gas lines to jet skis operating in an area home to about 200 animal species and their ecosystems.”All of this data was then entered into conservation planning software in order to identify areas of high biodiversity while avoiding areas of high (economic) pressure,” said Tamsyn Livingstone, the researcher who heads the project.The conservation area is being born in a spirit of compromise, which will allow people and companies to continue using the protected waters in zones designated as lower-risk threats to biodiversity.The scheme still needs to be passed into law, but would join South Africa’s existing network of marine preserves strung along its 3,000-kilometre (1,800-mile) coast stretching from the warm Indian Ocean to the cold southern Atlantic.South Africa has embraced this “participatory” method to protecting species living in its water, an approach pioneered in California and Australia.Global goals for protecting biodiversity have been debated for two weeks at a UN summit in Nagoya, Japan (http://www.cbd.int/cop10/), in an effort to set goals on saving habitats which would help to end the mass extinction of species.Environmental groups want 20 percent of coastal and marine areas protected, they say China and India are lobbying for six percent or lower. Talks are supposed to wrap up on Friday.Part of the challenge is in protecting species that are more often than not still unknown. Only one quarter of the estimated million species in the oceans have been discovered.A global census of the oceans unveiled in early October uncovered prehistoric fish thought dead millions of years ago, capturing researchers’ imaginations about what else lurks in the deepest parts of the sea.”Offshore biodiversity is not well known,” said Kerry Sink of the South African National Biodiversity Institute.Exploring the seas remains an expensive project, prompting South African researchers to reach agreements to share information with fisheries, coastal diamond mines and the oil industry.”South Africa’s plan is unique in covering all industry sectors to ensure that biodiversity planning minimizes the impact on industry,” she said.”Healthy offshore ecosystems underpin healthy fisheries and keep options open for future generations.”With growing worries about climate change, scientists say the deep seas could become an important source of protein for the planet, because water temperature changes less at great depths.That assumes that the growth of industry can be managed alongside the marine life, especially as oil companies find ways to drill in ever-deeper waters.The explosion of a BP oil rig in April off the Louisiana coast, rupturing a 1,500-metre deep well, highlighted the risks.It took five months to shut off the leak which caused the biggest the oil spill in US history, with 205 million gallons of oil flowing into the Gulf.
Marine Reserves in UK http://www.marinereserves.org.uk/
South African Biodiversity Inst http://www.sanbi.org/
Countries of world resolve, finally, to seek to save earth’s #biodiversity. Will real action now follow?
A historic deal to halt the mass extinction of species was finally agreed last night in what conservationists see as the most important international treaty aimed at preventing the collapse of the world’s wildlife. Delegates from more than 190 countries meeting in Nagoya, Japan, agreed at the 11th hour on an ambitious conservation programme to protect global biodiversity and the natural habitats that support the most threatened animals and plants.After 18 years of debate, two weeks of talks, and tense, last-minute bargaining, the meeting of the UN Convention on Biodiversity agreed on 20 key “strategic goals” to be implemented by 2020 that should help to end the current mass extinction of species.
At the very least, the signing of the agreement in Nagoya late last night is the moment when the international community at last began to take the destruction of the natural world seriously.
Biodiversity loss has long been the Cinderella of global politics. For many years, while governments have prioritised the reduction of world poverty, and more recently, have taken on board the real threat of climate change, the remorseless destruction of the world’s habitats, ecosystems, species and natural genetic material has been an afterthought.
Sexy beast: Why Britain’s rare breeds could be the saviours of their species
In The Independent today: There may be only a few hundred Dairy Shorthorn in Britain, but Tulip and other rare breeds of cattle, sheep and pig aren’t just genetic dead-ends. As their impassioned owners explain, these beauties are the supermodels of animal husbandry – and, quite possibly, the saviours of the 21st-century farmyard
Comment: As a New Zealander growing up in towns bordering the countryside and having friends and adopted aunts and uncles who had huge farms, I have some affinity with sheep and cattle. I respect and admire the work farmers do and their contribution to the economy. I am however concerned about genetic breeding and putting all our ‘eggs’ in the same ‘genetic basket’!
Tall, broad-shouldered with snow-white hair and a steady gaze, Morgan cuts an impressive figure. After a brush and a wash – Fairy liquid, a bucket of water and firm grip are required – it’s showtime. Morgan, a 16-month-old Wiltshire Horn ram, is one of more than 50 native breeds that competed at the Singleton Rare Breeds Show at the Weald and Downland Museum in West Sussex this year. The show celebrated its 25th anniversary in July and the event has never been stronger. Indeed, it’s been a very good year for many of British farming’s rarest breeds.
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST), founded in 1973, monitors our most vulnerable breeds across a number of categories, from Minority and At Risk to Vulnerable, Endangered and Critical, and publishes an annual watchlist. In this year’s watchlist, several significant breeds, including the Middle White pig and the British White cattle, slid up a category or two. With animals in the Critical category numbering fewer than 100 breeding examples and Minority breeds fewer than 1,000, that can mean the difference between maintaining a viable population or simply curating a living museum.
It’s tempting to see rare breeds as agriculture’s misfits and eccentrics, overtaken by the more popular kids in class. In fact, they’re more like supermodels: highly refined for their role and, in the case of dainty Berkshire pigs, Portland sheep with caramel-tipped legs and black-nosed British White cattle, really quite beautiful.
The Wiltshire Horn, explains Morgan’s owner Michael Newall, is one of the RBST’s success stories. The breed left the watchlist in 2006 and the reason for its renaissance comes down to one thing: money. While the other breeds were prized for their heavy fleeces, the Wiltshire has a hairy coat that doesn’t need to be sheared. With British wool prices at rock bottom and travelling shearers charging up to £5 per animal, the Wiltshire suddenly becomes more interesting economically to smallholders.
Linda Rollason used to keep Wiltshires, before they were taken off the watchlist, and now breeds the Norfolk Horn, an At Risk breed with fewer than 1,500 breeding animals remaining: “The plight of the Norfolk is partly why the RBST was formed. Depending on who you talk to, they were down to about 10 ewes and two rams in the 1950s.” It’s a prime example of a breed too specialised for its own good. “The original Norfolk Horns were designed for the Norfolk Brecklands, which had shallow, sandy soil with little shade, making for hot, dry summers and cold, exposed winters. The breed has to take that. They have to be agile and walk long distances to find food, which is why they’re a tall, rangy shape. And they’ll eat anything.”
When modern fertilisers were used to improve the Breckland’s pasture, the thrifty Norfolk Horn became obsolete overnight, unable to compete with the Suffolk sheep. “With the pressure of post-war food shortages and the industrialisation of farming, people wanted productive animals with lots of fast-growing offspring, at the expense of taste and variation,” says Rollason.
The same happened in pig and cattle farming. In Billingshurst, Michaela Giles rears Saddleback pigs, a rare breed that has just fallen into the Minority category. “The problem with traditional breeds is that they take longer to get to slaughter weight,” she says. “We slaughter at around 24 to 28 weeks, not 16 weeks – that’s a lot of extra feed. We can’t compete with Tesco, or even Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.”
The change in farming practices was even more dramatic for the dairy cattle herd. In 1944, the Northern Dairy Shorthorn numbered 10,000 cows and 1,000 bulls. By 2007, there were just 55 females in five herds. By contrast, 220,000 black and white Holstein calves were registered in the UK last ‘ year, according to Simon Gee of Holstein UK. And modern farming has been supersized: 200 Holsteins can live on the 80 or 90 acres where there once used to be just 30. Some farms are entirely dependent on bought-in feed; there’s no grazing at all.
So, if these breeds can’t survive, why keep them on life support? “Rare breeds represent a huge number of things to us: a genetic heritage but also a social heritage,” argues Claire Barber, the RBST’s conservation officer. “We were able to progress as a country thanks to wool from certain breeds. They’re just as important to conserve as a stately home.
“Modern agriculture has used only a few breeds since the war. We’re now getting exotic diseases such as bluetongue and changing regional climates. If all your animals are virtually [or actually] clones, you’re in trouble. We learn more about the genetics of these animals all the time. Some may be more resistant to conditions such as foot rot. From that point of view alone they need to be conserved. You can take sentiment out of conservation.”
Rollason agrees: “The people who keep rare-breed sheep are running gene banks without the freezers. We don’t know what we might need in the future. Look at the Wiltshire – in a hotter climate they’re far more popular. But it’s more than that: I feel connected with people from hundreds of years ago. These breeds are a link to our past.”
Technology is changing the prospects of many rare breeds. Charles Castle is a vet working on an embryo-transfer scheme for his own Northern Dairy Shorthorn cattle. “It was the breed I grew up with in Yorkshire. The modern dairy cow is such an extreme animal, with in-built health issues, that it seems bizarre we’re letting the Northern Dairy Shorthorn go just for the sake of fashion. That didn’t seem to me to be a good enough reason.”
Embryo transfers have jumpstarted the breed, with 15 calves produced from 40 embryos. Fertilised embryos are taken from a donor cow and implanted in a recipient. The RBST is also creating a gene bank of rare breeds for future generations. Semen storage techniques that have long been used for cattle are now being extended to other breeds. It’s an expensive process – the project’s second year will cost £4,000 – and there’s no Government help; the RBST is funded entirely by donations, legacies and membership fees.
Castle has witnessed a revival in rare breeds over the past two or three years. “It’s a combination of many things: mid-sized farmers find continental breeds harder and more expensive to keep. Traditional breeds tend to be smaller and have quieter temperments, so suit hobby farmers. And there has been a great increase in consumer preference for products that are sustainable, traceable and natural.”
Yes, it comes down to what we buy. “The only secure survival route lies in finding a use for rare breeds,” says Barber. Many rare breeds, such as Berkshire pigs and Belted Galloway beef cattle, were developed for the dinner plate. Christabel Barran, who farms British White cattle, believes the local food movement is changing the market: “A tremendous number of restaurants in the North are serving locally sourced British White. A lot of breeders sell meat by the box method.” Most breeders at Singleton Rare Breeds Show sell surplus lambs and pigs. “We have no marketing strategy other than selling them to friends and family, but the piglets go like hotcakes,” says Giles. “Would I want to farm Norfolk Horns commercially?” asks Rollason “No. There are easier ways of earning a living. But I want my breed, my passion, to pass on not pass out.”
But who better than a banker to understand the cold, hard economics involved in commercial rare-breed farming? With around 90 pigs, Christine Coe farms Britain’s largest herd of Berkshires, a Vulnerable rare breed, at Glebe Farm in Warwickshire – but spends her days working in the City. The meat from her Berkshires, a breed prized by the Japanese for its pork, is sold in her farmshop – she makes her own sausages and cures her own bacon. But it wouldn’t be possible to give up the day job yet.
“Personally, I think the future of rare breeds is going to be difficult,” Coe says. “When you look at the numbers, they’re desperately low: the whole of one breed might be less than one third of a trailer of commercial pigs. They’ve survived so far thanks to passionate people, who are prepared to work 24/7 and find a niche for the animals. If that passion dies, what is their future?”
The RBST is committed to finding a commercial future for its most vulnerable breeds, so that others may join the Wiltshire Horn, the British White and the Saddleback in the relative safety of the lower categories. “We’re not there to carry the breeds,” says Barber. In some places, farming is returning to traditional systems, with low- maintenance rare breeds that are perfectly adapted to their environments. Despite changing eating habits and advancing science, grassroots breeders and shows such as Singleton remain exceptionally important to spread the word about rare breeds.
“I would like my grandchildren to have the option to use the Northern Dairy Shorthorn,” says Castle, “because I think they’re a valuable animal. I thought a lot of people would laugh at me but perhaps they don’t think I’m so silly now.”
Nature – or rather nature in distress as a result of our industry incompetence – has made headline television news and newspapers’ front page. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is in competition with the UK elections for breaking news and its status is predicted to outdo the Exxon Valdez http://www.eoearth.org/article/exxon_valdez_oil_spill.
MY VIEW: ‘Blame game’: It was interesting to note on Channel 4 News, BP pointing the finger at the company who owns and manages the oil rig. BP did acknowledge however that as it was ‘their’ oil that was being extracted, and they were doing everything possible to slow the devastation..Companies should – and need to be taken to account to ensure this happens – take responsibility for the consequences – economically and environmentally – for the industries. Pollution is especially problematic as once the ‘flow’ begins, the damage can be severe and long term. Oil pollution is the form of slicks is has a reputation for being a major concern, as it is very difficult to handle and, in the context of the open ocean, spreads… and then does immeserbable damage. As The Independent’s Michael McCarthy states: ‘This couldn’t have happened at a worse time or a worse place’. How we respond will show what we really think about the oceans and their resources. It will also signal how much we have learnt about past wildlife disasters.
PLUS: * Will it reallt be a catastrophe??
Gulf oil slick is a disaster for world climate deal
Offshore oil drilling could become unacceptable, eliminating Barack Obama’s bargaining tool with the Republicans, writes Geoffrey Lean. Could the greatest casualty of the giant oil slick surging through the Gulf of Mexico turn out to be not Louisiana’s magnificent wildlife, or the biggest US fishery outside Alaska, but the last remaining chance of an international agreement to combat climate change? It seems counter-intuitive. Surely an economic and ecological disaster, caused by exploiting the fossil fuels that emit all that carbon dioxide, should make the world keener to tackle global warming by moving to cleaner sources of energy? But that would be in a rational universe – one where agreement did not depend on two increasingly dysfunctional institutions: the UN climate treaty negotiations and the US Congress.
* Barak Obama’s Demands: £17billion wiped off BP shares as oil slick reaches U.S. coast in ‘worst spill in history’… and Obama says they will pay
Environmentalists always cry “ecological catastrophe!” when oil gushes into the the sea, and usually they are wrong.
A 1993 spill off the Shetlands from the wrecked oil taker Braer, forecast to kill “whole populations” of birds, actually did little damage. Nor did a similarly apocalyptically-hailed one off Spain in 2002. And a scientific expedition a year after the release of a million tons of oil, affecting 350 miles of coast on the Arabian Gulf during the first Gulf War, found no trace of it in 177 out of 180 dives in the sea. WHERE
Yet sometimes nature cannot cope. The spill from the Exxon Valdez in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989 killed at least 250,000 birds –ten times as more as in any previous disaster – and the area’s fragile ecology has yet to recover fully. And already it looks as if the new spill in the Gulf of Mexico may be even worse.
As off Alaska, the oil threatens a huge area of particularly vulnerable coast. Louisiana is the largest producer of seafood in the lower 48 states, providing half the country’s shrimp catches, two out of every five of its oysters, and more than a third of its blue claw crabs.
And its three million acres of wetlands – 40 per cent of the US total – provide vital nurseries and spawning areas for fish. Over 70 per cent of the country’s waterfowl use the wetlands as resting or wintering areas, and all 110 of its species of migratory neo-tropical songbirds also rely on them. In all, some 400 species – including whales and endangered turtles – are threatened by the spill.
As much as 90 per cent of the Gulf’s marine species depend on wetlands at some stage in their lives, and most of them are in Louisiana.
As luck would have it, it has also come at a particularly bad time of year, at the peak spawning time for fish and for bird nesting and migration. And the timing is also dreadful for President Obama, who just this month opened up vast areas of US coastal waters to oil exploration.
Louisiana oil spill: slick reaches US coast
Oil from a leaking underwater well in the Gulf of Mexico has started washing ashore in the southern US state of Louisiana, amid fears that the slick could become the worst environmental disaster in the country’s history.
Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico ‘could be worse than Exxon Valdez disaster’
BP struggles to stop crude pouring from well a mile under the sea as growing slick menaces US coastline
By David Usborne, US Editor
The first coating of oil from a growing spill in the Gulf of Mexico was expected to reach the US shoreline last night, despite frantic efforts by the United States and BP to halt its drift and avert the threat of an environmental calamity not seen since the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989.
The US Coast Guard and the oil firm were leading the bid to limit the spread of slick, fed by oil leaking from broken well pipes one mile under the sea at an estimated rate of 5,000 barrels a day – five times greater than initial estimates. But the White House last night served notice that BP, whose rig exploded last week and then sank, must foot the bill for the entire clean-up.
With three leaks detected near the sea, the spill could eventually match the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989, when 11 million gallons gushed from a crippled tanker into an Alaskan sound, devastating the local habitat. In fact, it could prove even more serious, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, told reporters. “The Valdez was a knowable quantity of oil because it was a ship. This is a well,” she said.
Michael McCarthy: This couldn’t have happened at a worse time or a worse place
The Gulf oil spill could not have occurred at a worse time or a worse place, environmentally, a United States expert on the region said last night.
The gigantic slick is likely to hit marine and coastal wildlife at the height of the breeding season, said Aaron Viles, the campaign director of the New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network.
“We are very concerned, especially if you look at it in terms of sensitive and threatened species,” Mr Viles told The Independent. “BP’s oil drilling disaster couldn’t have happened at a worse spot at a worse time of the year.”
Among the deep-water species for which there is great anxiety are sperm whales, because the Gulf of Mexico population have their primary feeding grounds in the “Mississippi canyon” – a deep water trench 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana which is five miles wide and 75 miles long.
This is where the Deepwater Horizon oil platform, which exploded and sank a week ago beginning the colossal oil spill, was located. There are thought to be only about 1,600 sperm whales in the Gulf, in a population which is classed as endangered.
There is also great concern for the western Atlantic population of the bluefin tuna, which is the world’s most sought-after fish because of the Japanese demand for it for use in sushi and sashimi.
Just as the eastern Atlantic population of Thunnus thynnus breeds only in the Mediterranean, where its population is thought to be on the brink of collapse from overfishing, so the western Atlantic population breeds only in the Gulf of Mexico – and it is spawning at the moment.
”The primary season is right now,” Mr Viles said. “This is a horrible time.”
Besides marine mammals and fish, marine reptiles are also threatened: three of the world’s seven species of marine turtle breed in the Gulf, the green, the loggerhead, and the Kemp’s Ridley, the latter being the rarest of all, officially classed as critically endangered and nesting only on Gulf of Mexico beaches, mainly in Mexico itself, but also on the shore of Texas. (Nearly all of the Kemp’s Ridley turtles in the world nest on a single beach, Rancho Nuevo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas).
But the concern for deep-water marine life is, if anything, exceeded by fears for what the oil slick will do if its hits the shoreline along the four Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
At the moment it looks like the black tide will, if not prevented, come ashore at the Birdfoot Delta, the estuary where the Mississippi river enters the sea.
But there are fears that it may affect the coastline all the way east to Florida. “This is an oil slick the size of Jamaica,” Mr Viles said. “We have never seen an oil spill of this magnitude, and it is likely to be the worst ecological disaster ever to hit the northern Gulf coast.”
Birds that nest on the shores and in the marshes of the coastline are likely to be hit by the oil, such as the brown pelican, whose population crashed in the 1970s because of pesticides, and which only came off the US endangered species list late last year.
Another species in the firing line is the least tern, a charming bird closely related to the little terns of Britain and Europe.
In a further dangerous twist, also at risk are the migratory birds which are currently pouring into North America from the neotropics of Central and South America where they have spent the winter: millions of them cross the Gulf from Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and the first place they make landfall is the Gulf coast itself.
The oil slick also presents, of course, a substantial commercial threat to wildlife – especially to the oyster and shrimp fisheries which, along the North-Central Gulf coast alone, are thought to be worth $3bn a year. “The fishermen are likely to have their worst year ever,” Mr Viles said.
Gulf wildlife endangered
Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
The smallest of the eight species of pelican, the brown pelican nests in colonies, often on small islands, along the coastlines from Washington and Virginia in the north to the mouth of the Amazon in the south. In the 1970s, the birds suffered a severe population decline because of the use of pesticides.
Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
The largest of the toothed whales, the creature on which Moby Dick, “the great white whale” in Herman Melville’s story, was based. The sperm whale lives on squid, for which it can dive as deep as 10,000 feet. It can be 70 feet long and weigh as much as 50 tons.
Western Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus)
The bluefin is one of the world’s most sought-after fish, prized for its flesh, especially in Japan, where it is a prime ingredient of sushi and sashimi. The Eastern Atlantic bluefin spawns in the Mediterranean, where overfishing has nearly driven it to extinction; the Western Atlantic form spawns only in the Gulf.
Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Green turtles are mostly herbivorous. Their meat and eggs are considered delicacies in many countries, so hunting has devastated green turtle populations around the world. There is an important population in the Gulf.
On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez, en route from Valdez, Alaska to Los Angeles, California, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The vessel was traveling outside normal shipping lanes in an attempt to avoid ice. Within six hours of the grounding, the Exxon Valdez spilled approximately 10.9 million gallons of its 53 million gallon cargo of Prudhoe Bay crude oil. Eight of the eleven tanks on board were damaged. The oil would eventually impact over 1,100 miles of non-continuous coastline in Alaska, making the Exxon Valdez the largest oil spill to date in U.S. waters.
The response to the Exxon Valdez involved more personnel and equipment over a longer period of time than did any other spill in U.S. history. Logistical problems in providing fuel, meals, berthing, response equipment, waste management and other resources were one of the largest challenges to response management. At the height of the response, more than 11,000 personnel, 1,400 vessels and 85 aircraft were involved in the cleanup.
Dr who saving the environment? Whether or not you are a Dr Who fan or into Sci Fi at all, it is hard not to see the parallells. After all, ‘explore new worlds and new forms of life’, often because Planet Earth has become decimnated and is now ‘unliveable’. Sound familiar/like the environmental castastrophe at its worst case scenario? this is actually from ‘star trek’
In this episode the population of Planet UK is living on a floating scenario, in ‘levels’ – basically skyscrapers. The ‘planet’ is travelling through space with the aid of and on the back of a giant whale-type creature.
1. In order to cope with a expanding population, would we be willing to live in a skyscaper?
2. Is it, any circumstances, morally accetable to use an animal for human endeavour (essentially, ‘vivisection’)?
What do you think?
Dr Who Offical Website http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/dw
The Guardian’s response: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2010/apr/10/doctor-who-the-beast-below
“Is that how it works, Doctor, you don’t interfere with affairs of peoples or planets unless there’s children crying?”
Amy Pond’s maiden voyage is, on the surface at least, one for the kids. It’s all broad flourishes charged with the childlike wonder of seeing outer space for the first time. And the sight of a spaceship in a far future full of London Underground logos and modern-day school uniforms is the sort of thing that gets fans past puberty into wailing paroxysms of “No! The 29th century just isn’t like that!” (Granted, that might just be me.)
The Beast Below looks for all the world like a RTD story: a Technicolor morality play light on intricate plotting and heavy on modern moral parallels. But Moffat still conjures some magical ideas and takes the characters exactly where they need to go – rather than simply going in the Starship UK and putting the bad thing right, relationships are tested and solidified by differing reactions to what’s going on in there. With echoes of Donna Noble’s “Sometimes I think you need someone to stop you,” it’s only Amy who works out that once again (and this is becoming a Moffat trope) nobody has to die. Amy’s not nearly as badass this week – although you wouldn’t be, would you?
The anti-vivisection message does seem to get lost somewhere along the way – the ship’s inhabitants seem to get off with little more than a ticking off and a promise never to be so beastly ever again. But manatees are just inherently funny. Four out of five, we’re saying.
“You don’t ever decide what I need to know!”
The rage with which the Doctor reacts to a mistake that Amy doesn’t even remember making comes as a timely reminder of the weight of responsibility he carries, and that his instincts aren’t necessarily human, or even humane – something that definitely got lost toward the end of the Tennant era. (Tennant would also have given the poor girl a chance to get dressed – and he was supposed to be the all-hands Doctor.)
Neither does the Doctor fully understand things, or even himself, right away. The whole story hinges on Amy recognising in the starwhale, as in the Doctor, “something old and that kind, and alone”. It looks like that’s how the relationship between the Doctor and Amy is going to play out – which is just as well, seeing that as well as having those space-manatee qualities, this Doctor also thinks its sensible to pickpocket little girls in corridors for clues.