News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Slimy Fish On Cd-Rom

Why does a fish feel slimy?

New Zealand Coastal Creatures, a CD-Rom developed by a small Palmerston North software company, will have the answer, and in words that a child might understand.

The CD takes computer users into the intertidal zone on New Zealand's beaches where animals vomit their stomach over their victims to dissolve them while they are still alive, where leathery plants can grow more than 50cm a day, and where slimy monsters with long tentacles and a poisonous bite lurk.

"We tried to write it for children in their language," Unlimited Realities director David Brebner says. "It's got plenty of information about marine life found on New Zealand's coast and shore. It has 120 pages on creatures and the shore, and 30 full-screen video clips and animated movies in stereo with a TV-like clarity."

The CD has been "in gestation" for six years, but started to come together only in the past 18 months with the support of Technology New Zealand. Technology New Zealand helps businesses develop new products, processes and services.
Mr Brebner says Unlimited Realities has ensured the software is easy for children to use.

"For example, as well as using the usual ways of searching – key words, family tree, or alphabetical list and so on – they can use the SuperSearch engine. In most search engines you look for a word. In this one we've built up multiple indexes so they can find animals just by describing what they look like – size, colour, texture, or other physical attributes."

The marine biology information was provided by the Island Bay Marine Education Centre, a subsidiary of Victoria University, in Wellington. The centre, which is visited by thousands of people a year, let Unlimited Realities have full use of its facilities so the animals there could be filmed.

Gareth Gibson, a product technology graduate, was lead author and artist for all the CD content. Professional children's writers were also involved.

Mr Brebner says the CD has potential for overseas sales, particularly in the United States, where the California coastline is much like that at Island Bay. Judy Hutt, a marine conservation educator at the Island Bay centre, says San Francisco's rocky shore is similar, and the marine life almost identical.
"Many of the animals are of the same family," she says. "For example, paua and abalone share the same scientific first name, haliotis."

Unlimited Realities hopes to have the CD on the market in time for Christmas and the educational version – including a resource booklet for teachers and students – ready for the 2000 school year.

So why does a fish feel slimy?

"Well," Mr Brebner says, "inside the layer of skin surrounding the scales is a mucous gland that leaves a layer of smelly, slimy goo all over the fish's body. This layer is like a water-tight seal to stop bacteria and fungus in the sea from getting under the scales and feeding on the fish's flesh. And some fish produce extra amounts of very smelly and foul-tasting mucous so other fish don't want to eat them."

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Benjamin Ree's The Painter and The Thief

The Norwegian filmmaker had long been fascinated by art thieves who commit high-stakes crimes with a delicate touch when a chance Google search in 2015 uncovered a botched heist in Oslo. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>

Howard Davis: Byrneing Down the House - Spike Lee's American Utopia

Lee does an admirable job capturing Byrne's stunning live performance of his latest album, but the real star of the show is the staging. More>>

Howard Davis: The Phoenix Foundation Friend Ship Tour Docks in Wellington

A sense of local pride was certainly running high at the Opera House on Saturday night, as the lads ran through a tasty little set drawn mostly from their latest album Friend Ship (splash out for Xmas on the shocking pink extra-thick vinyl edition). More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland