Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Grief of the penguins: Scores of birds bowed in mourning after the deaths of their chicks

Prostrate on the icy tundra of the Antarctic, they appear the picture of misery after the deaths of their chicks.

The extraordinary image capturing penguins in an act of mass mourning was taken on the Riiser Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica by photographer Daniel J. Cox.

He has spent 25 years travelling from pole to pole documenting everything from polar bears to penguins and getting up close and personal is all in a day's work.

'Part of my job is to accept that with the spectacular sights of nature also come the stark facts of life, and to see Emperor Penguins mourning in a human-like way over the death of their chicks is heart-wrenching,' he said.

'They hunch over like they are in a state of grief and they wander around the frozen ice wastes attempting to locate their chicks.

'It is difficult to say how and why they died, but I was told by other scientists that it was not unheard of.

'Weather and things like starvation, if there is a food shortage, can cause this kind of sad event.'Read more...

52,000 chickens wiped out in Myanmar in wake of avian influenza recurrence (and 1000 ducks)

Over 50,000 chickens suspected of carrying virulent avian influenza were wiped out following the discovery of unusual death of 700 three-month-old chickens in a poultry farm in Sittway, Myanmar's western Rakhine state, recently, the local weekly Popular News reported Wednesday.

On confirmation that H5N1 recurred in the area, 52,000 fowls and over 1,000 ducks from 75 nearby poultry farms were destroyed in the state's Bumay village-tract as part of the authorities' measures to prevent the spread of the influenza.

The authorities are making investigation into the cause of the case if it was infected by migratory birds or through import of chickens from the border areas .

According to earlier report, a number of some American migratory birds were found arriving and resting in some areas in Bago region's Naunglaypin, Daik Oo and Pyontazar townships during this winter.

The Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department (LBVD) has warned of probable infection from the birds which may carry virus into the country from the cold regions to infect local birds.

Read more

More than 400,000 British Columbians to participate in earthquake drill

VANCOUVER At exactly 10 a.m., more than 400,000 people across British Columbia will jump out of their chairs, dive underneath a sturdy surface and wait for the largest simultaneous earthquake drill to end.

Radio stations across the province will sound an alarm and thousands of students, office workers, even clergy and church goers will take cover for a minute to practice what they’d do when the so-called Big One hits.

This is the first time a province-wide drill has been conducted and the goal is to create awareness.

Although the last 9.0 magnitude quake here was in 1700, seismologists have warned that B.C. sits in a geological zone prone to earthquakes.

Alison Bird, one of the few Canadian seismologists, said based on the frequency of earthquakes and stress building up beneath the earth’s crust, B.C. is due for a major shake.

“We are certainly in a time frame where we could have one ... and it’s a good idea to expect it,” Bird said.

But she believes updated building codes, construction materials and regulations mean the devastation that occurred in Haiti is unlikely here. Read More..

(Picture from this post is from an American drill, don't worry!)

BREAKING NEWS - 6.1 EARTQUAKE HITS - SIMEULUE, INDONESIA

Simeulue, Indonesia has been struck by a 6.1 Magnitude earthquake this afternoon Jan 26th at 15:42 UTC

Location 2.120°N, 96.741°E

Debth: 26.8 km (16.7 miles)

230 km (145 miles) W of Sibolga, Sumatra, Indonesia
270 km (165 miles) SW of Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia
565 km (350 miles) WSW of KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia

No tsunami bulletins have been issued at this time.

More follows...

Taxi saves woman who jumped from 23rd storey of hotel

A woman threw herself from a restaurant on the 23rd-floor of a Buenos Aires hotel, only to miraculously survive when her fall was broken by a parked taxi.

Photographs showed the 30-year-old woman bent into the buckled roof of the black-and-yellow taxi before she was rushed to hospital, where she had a lung, a kidney and her spleen removed, according to officials.

Witnesses in the restaurant atop the Panamericano hotel, described how she had calmly ordered a coffee and left her purse behind before taking off her shoes to climb over a safety barrier and jumping.

"If I had not got out, she would have killed me," the shocked taxi driver, Miguel Cajal, told local media. "I felt this explosion and I saw this woman's body sunken into the roof of my cab.

"The first thing I did was call my family. And then I just started to cry; it is really hard to see something like that."

Mr Cajal told the C5N television station that he jumped out of the car because he saw a policeman stopping traffic and looking up. Moments later, the driver's side of the car was smashed by the woman's body.

The woman landed in a sitting position on the roof of a taxi, deeply denting the roof and shattering the windshield.

She was rushed to the nearby Hospital Argerich, where she was being operated on for injuries including internal bleeding and broken hips and ribs, Alberto Crescenti, director of Argentina's Emergency Medical System, told the government news agency Telam. He estimated that she fell nearly 100 metres (330 feet). Source..

Dead seals to be autopsied

Total now more than 200 in past two weeks -

St. Anthony — A charter plane full of frozen harp seal carcasses may not sound like exciting cargo, but its arrival in St. Johns last week was hotly anticipated by scientists.

The Twin Otter travelled up to Baffin Island and back down along the Labrador coast picking up the frozen seals that washed ashore over the past fortnight.

Its final stop was St. Anthony airport, where five seals found at Eddies Cove East last week were loaded and flown to the capital city, where Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientists hope to unravel the mystery behind their deaths.

DFO seal expert Garry Stenson said last week more than 200 harp seals had washed ashore over the past two weeks for no apparent reason.

The first reports came from The Northern Pen, which informed DFO of dead seals washing ashore following the Christmas Eve storm surge that struck St. Lunaire-Griquet, Great Brehat and St. Carol’s.

Since then, the deaths have mounted, Read More...

On a Lighter Note: Grand piano found on sandbar in Miami bay

An unlikely sight has appeared off the the coast of Miami.

A grand piano, which weighs at least 300kg (650lb), now sits on a sandbank in the middle of the Biscayne Bay.

Exactly how and why the piano came to be there remains a mystery.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission say as long as the instrument isn't a navigational hazard, they won't remove it.

Local residents have been giving their thoughts on the new water feature.

Watch the BBC Video here

Ocean changes unsettling to solo sailor - "There's no more sea life"

A Canadian sailing in a solo around-the-world race says he is disturbed by the "horrendous" conditions he has encountered in the southern oceans — including the near absence of large sea life.

Derek Hatfield has rounded the planet alone twice before but this trip through the southern ocean has been a relentless stream of extreme storms and deepest calms.

"The conditions are — to put it bluntly — horrendous," adds Hatfield.

...

Hatfield's most disquieting observation so far has been the almost complete absence of sea life.

He says he saw just one dolphin in the second leg of the Velux 5 Oceans race between Cape Town, South Africa, and Wellington, New Zealand.

"The lack of sea life is just horrendous, how it's changed in the last 10 years, going from daily visits from whales and dolphins to non-existent," laments Hatfield.

Dr. Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia's Fisheries Centre confirms that what Hatfield is seeing — or rather, isn't seeing — is in keeping with anecdotal evidence he has heard about the Southern Ocean.

"There are accumulating accounts of no marine life," he says.

Read More

Family of deposed Tunisian president reportedly flees to Canada

Family members of the deposed Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali are reportedly in Canada, a development now being denounced by some in the Tunisian community there.

French-language media in Canada first reported that as many as 10 members of the Ben Ali family arrived in Montreal by private jet on Thursday.

Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney seemed to confirm their arrival by pointing out that some members of the Ben Ali family have permanent residency status in Canada and therefore have the legal right to enter and stay without a visa.

Read More

Are protests now spreading into egypt? Watch the video here

Regular freezing winters if the Arctic continues to warm up, scientists warn

The cold and snowy winter that paralysed Britain last month could become a regular feature if the Arctic continues to warm up, scientists say.

Researchers believe the melting of glaciers is dumping vast amounts of fresh water into the sea - and potentially altering the ocean circulation that gives the British Isles their mild weather.

If climate change weakens the Gulf Stream, the UK faces a chilly future even as the rest of the world gets hotter.

The warning came ahead of a UK expedition to the Arctic to find out how the world's most northerly sea is changing.

Explorers with the Catlin Arctic Survey expedition will venture out on to the ice to drill holes down into the ocean, measuring temperature, salinity and flow of the fresh water just below the sea ice. Read More..

U.S. east coast braces itself for worst winter in 30 years as temperatures plunge to -50F

This winter could end up being the coldest for 30 years across many parts of America.

The prediction came as at least four people died after an Arctic blast gripped large swathes of the eastern U.S. and sent temperatures plunging to a record -50F (-45C).

The abnormal conditions will continue until at least the middle of February across much of the eastern two-thirds of the country, according to long range forecaster Joe Bastardi.

And he expects winter to stretch well into April in some areas.

Temperatures since December 1 have averaged below normal from Boston and New York City to Chicago, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Atlanta and even Miami, and are expected to continue in the same vein until at least the middle of February.

Brother and sister Joseph Cody, 12, and Grace Cody, nine, were killed when the ice pond they were sledding on gave way from underneath them in Southwest City, Missouri.

In North Haven, Connecticut, 50-year-old Denise O'Hara is feared to have slipped and knocked herself unconscious on the driveway of her home late at night - neighbours found her frozen body the following morning.Read more..

Freezing air that jumps the 'Arctic fence' is to blame for sub-zero winter

The brutal winter that has brought misery around the world is being caused by freezing air that is jumping the ‘Arctic fence’, scientists have revealed.

Changes in atmospheric circulation have caused a jet stream that is normally contained around the North Pole to move further South.

This left Britain and other countries not used to such sub-zero temperatures prey to the bouts of intense cold that have been the hallmark of winter. At the same time warm air has been flowing further north into the Arctic, prompting scientists to liken the phenomenon to leaving the fridge door open in a heated house.

The theory could explain why Britain, Europe and the U.S. have endured some of the coldest conditions for years, with forecasters predicting they could continue well into next month.

Read more...