Gaza Strip Leatherback

There’s a new stories about a “rare giant sea turtle” being caught and eaten in the Gaza Strip going around now. I dug up a video for it and it’s definitely a leatherback so I figured I’d throw in my two cents since I just posted about leatherback turtles.

Here’s the video. Sorry if there’s an advertisement in front of it. I’m not making anything from it but it was the only source I could find. They do show the turtle being killed so it’s not really fun to watch.

A few corrections to the video first, it’s not “thought” to be a leatherback. There’s no mistaking a leatherback for any other turtle. That’s a leatherback. The fisherman says it’s 600-700 kilograms. I’m never good at estimating weights but the biggest one weighed in Canada so far was just a bit above 600 kilograms and that one looks on the small side so probably less than 400 kilograms (still a big animal though).

I thought it was odd they were talking about eating the meat since I’d often heard that leatherback flesh is poisonous but I can’t find a good citation for that and there do seem to be substinence fisheries for them so I guess leatherbacks are either edible or only occasionally poisonous. Also, I’d heard of people eating the eggs for ‘viagra’ effects but never the blood or the whole ailing children thing. I’m not sure what conditions are like in Gaza but if they’re not killing the turtle for necessary food, it really seem like a shame to kill an endangered species for bogus penis enhancement.

Also the fisherman says the turtle ruined a bunch of fishing gear. This is actually a common problem with leatherbacks. They don’t seem to have a way to reverse directions. So if they run into a net or even a loose rope in the water, they can easily become entangled. This can often end badly when the loops get caught around their neck and choke them or the tide rises while the ropes hold them underwater (or people decide to drag the turtle ashore and drink its blood to improve their sex lives).

In more encouraging news, the Reuters article ends with this:

A smaller Leatherback was caught off the Gaza coast last month but the turtle was released after fishermen discovered it carried a tag classifying it as an endangered species.

Thanks to William F. Landell for pointing this story out in the comments.

Biologist
Leatherback

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Getting Help with SAS

SAS source code

There was some discussion in one of my SAS posts about where to find SAS help and communities. It seemed like a pretty useful topic so I thought I’d expand it a bit and make a post out of it. First, let me say I’m not the most knowledgeable since I’m more of a find-wall-bang-head type of programmer but I did my best to dig up some possible answers. If anyone has any other suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

  • To start with, there’s always the official online documentation although this tends to be more for polishing something you already know how to do than starting cold.
  • Speaking of official, there’s also the official SAS forums. I didn’t know about these until I started looking around for this post so I can’t say much about them but the topics they have available seem rather specific and I can’t figure out where one would go to post a basic question.
  • Edit:There’s also the SAS Knowledge Base that has a lot of good papers and notes detailing SAS features complete with sample code and explanations. It’s really useful if you’re a learn by example type. (Thanks to Alison for pointing this one out).
  • Kelly Levoyer of SAS points out SAScommunity.org which seems like it is a little sparse but does have a surprisingly long list of SAS-related blogs.
  • The SAS company also appears to have jumped on the blogging band wagon although really only SAS Dummy looks helpful for learning SAS at the moment.
  • The only place that seem to be available for asking general question is the SAS-L email list (which I just found out is the same as the comp.soft-sys.sas Usenet group). There’s a nice paper on SAS-L etiquette (mostly do your homework first) (found via the sascommunity site).

Offline, there are also SAS user groups. I often get emails from our local one but I’ve never actually gone. The SAS company also has trainers that travel and teach quick classes. Our university stats department brought in one to teach a couple short two-day classes about statistical functions and macros. The classes were pretty good although I’m not sure how much it cost or how frequent they are. It might be worth checking on if you’re near a university.

Finally, you can also read my poor attempts at explaining SAS macro variables and SAS macros. Also, if you have any specific questions you can try asking in the comments here and if it’s not too time consuming I’ll try to lend a hand.

Programmer
SAS
Statistician

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