Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New wildlife deaths, and explanations for the earlier ones -
Over 100 birds were found dead along a California highway this past weekend, and thousands of dead fish were reported along Chicago's lakefront prior to that. A smaller incident of around 30 dead birds was also reported in Missouri. The dead birds found along Highway 101 in California "were intact and had not been shot." Thousands of gizzard shad, a member of the herring family, were found dead in Chicago's harbors, many floating in ice. Even more abnormal, according to wildlife experts, was the sight of Canada geese and mallards munching on the dead fish, something not ordinarily a part of their diet. Various wildlife officials attest that the events are unrelated, and are not uncommon. As for the latest reports officials are currently uncertain as to what could be responsible.
Dozens of birds found dead in eastern Romania drank themselves to death, the local sanitary and veterinary authority has revealed. The starlings died after they ate grapes left over from the wine-making process. The cause of death was determined after the contents of the birds' gizzards were analysed. On Saturday, several residents of Constanta, 260 kilometres east of Bucharest, alerted the authorities after they discovered dozens of dead starlings on the outskirts of the city. They said they feared the birds had been killed by avian flu, but the DSVSA immediately ruled out that possibility. The incident came after unexplained mass bird and fish deaths were reported in several countries, including the United States, Sweden and Britain.
Overeating and indigestion blamed for 1,000 turtle doves falling dead in Italy with strange blue stain on their beaks. The blue stain is believed to be sign of poisoning or hypoxia - lack of oxygen that is precursor to altitude sickness. Cold weather and overbreeding is being blamed for deaths of two million fish in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. Mass winter deaths among spot fish have occurred twice before in the Maryland area - in 1976 and 1980. Disease is behind the deaths of 100,000 fish in Arkansas River. Swedish experts blamed the shock of New Year fireworks for the unexplained deaths of 50 jackdaws found on a street in Falkoping, Sweden.
The thousands of dead turtle doves that rained down on roofs and cars in an Italian town were victims of their on greed, an expert claims. Residents in Faenza described the birds falling to the ground like 'little Christmas balls' with strange blue stains on their beaks. 40 turtle doves had also been found dead at San Cesario near Modena, 60 miles from Faenza, and tests were also being carried out on their bodies. A zoological institute in Faenza said, 'We are fairly confident the birds died as a result of massive indigestion brought on by over-eating. The most likely cause are discarded sunflower seeds that were found on an industrial estate close to where the bodies of the turtle doves were found. In essence the birds were greedy, ate too many of the seeds - which we have found inside them during autopsies - and this brought on the indigestion that led to their death.'
The largest bird incident took place in Beebe, Arkansas, were horrified revellers witnessed around 3,000 blackbirds crashing to their deaths into homes, cars and each other as they celebrated New Year. Another 450 birds were found strewn along a highway in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after apparently hitting overhead power lines. In both cases, the birds are believed to have become confused and were flying at a lower height than usual.
The deaths of tons of fish across the globe is being attributed to unusually cold water. (photos)

**The secret of creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.**
Albert Einstein

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/11/10 -


INDONESIA - Anak Krakatau - Authorities have made plans to evacuate tens of thousands of residents from Lampung on southern Sumatra if the rumbling volcano gets worse, but officials saw little impact on production in the coffee-rich area. The government has made plans to evacuate around 40,000 people from 32 villages to guard against the threat of a tsunami in the event of an eruption by Anak Krakatau, in the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java.
About 85 percent of Indonesia's coffee comes from Lampung, Bengkulu and South Sumatra provinces on the southern end of the island. The country is the world's second-largest producer of robusta, an instant coffee staple, after Vietnam.
Anak Krakatau, or Child of Krakatoa, formed on the site of the giant 1883 explosion of Krakatoa volcano. The original eruption was most of the most violent natural events ever recorded, was heard thousands of miles away and changed the world's weather for several years. A resulting tsunami killed around 40,000 people. the volcano is erupting intensively but poses no immediate danger. "The impact on coffee production is likely minimum because there are very few coffee plantations there." The volcano is also far from the main Panjang port and the coffee-belt in western Lampung. Indonesia, an archipelago of 18,000 islands on the seismically active Pacific "ring of fire", frequently suffers volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and related tsunamis.

Tropical Cyclone Vince was 11 hundred km off the coast of Australia.

Forecasters warn a category one cyclone off the West Australian coast could be the start of worse things to come. Tropical Cyclone Vince was spotted this morning about 11 hundred kilometres northwest of Exmouth, south west of Port Headland. Vince was stationary at about noon (WST), but expected to track southeast and intensify to a category three. The West Pilbara Coast may be affected by the weekend.
New Caledonia on cyclone alert - The south Pacific island of New Caledonia, home to the world's largest nickel deposits, is on alert today ahead of a tropical depression expected to hit the French territory on Thursday. The slow-moving weather system, baptised Vania, is gradually intensifying and represents a serious threat to the Loyalty Islands and then for the main island. "The depression's trajectory seems to be between the islands of Lifou and Ouvea." The storm currently is currently packing maximum sustained winds of 35 knots (65 kilometres per hour) which was expected to strengthen to 60 knots (111 km/h) within the next 48 hours.


AUSTRALIA - Two entire towns in northern NSW will be evacuated today as the nation's flood crisis spreads south of the Queensland border. Boggabilla, with 650 residents, and nearby Toomelah with 200 people, are expected to be inundated when the Macintyre River peaks. Major flooding is also expected further east in Grafton where the Clarence River is expected to peak at seven metres. Hundreds of residents in nearby areas are also preparing to leave their homes. About 5500 people are isolated in various communities across the north coast and that number is expected to increase dramatically as rivers continue to rise.
Downstream from Grafton, some 2000 people in the towns of Ulmara and Maclean are also expected to become isolated today. Yamba and Iluka are also expected to become isolated. Further south, the small towns of Bonalbo, Ewingar, Upper Thora and Darkwood are still cut off by floodwaters from the Bellinger River. The Toowoomba deluge arrived in Tenterfield on the border yesterday, leaving 2700 residents isolated and the town cut in half by what has been described by locals as THE WORST FLOOD IN 60 YEARS. In Ulmarra, 5km north of Grafton, residents were sandbagging their homes. In Yamba, tourists packed shops to stock up on food and water in preparation for being cut off by floodwaters. "There is no food left in town. People are panicking."
The town of Bellingen was cut in half yesterday, with about 500 residents to be isolated for another day at Darkwood and Upper Thora. The next area of concern would be towns in the Far West like Broken Hill, with expected falls of up to 200mm in the next couple of days. Another area of ongoing concern is the town of Boggabilla on the Macintyre River with potential major flooding tomorrow. The government has declared the shires of Inverell, Leeton, Gwydir and Clarence Valley as natural disaster areas. Sixty-three local government areas in NSW have now been declared natural disaster areas since December as a result of flooding.
Unrelenting tide grips Brisbane and Ipswich as Queensland flood crisis deepens. Almost 30,000 properties are facing flooding in Brisbane and Ipswich, and regional centres are going under, some for the second time in 10 days, as Queensland's deadly flood crisis escalates. Flood waters are already affecting 35 Brisbane suburbs, and Ipswich's CBD has been swamped and 3000 homes inundated, with both cities expected to experience flood levels at or beyond what was seen during the catastrophic 1974 floods. The damage was likely to worsen, given the two cities are now so much larger and more densely populated. About 19,700 properties are expected to be flooded in 50 suburbs, with 3500 commercial blocks also affected. Some 6500 people are expected to take shelter at emergency centres in Brisbane. At Ipswich, the Bremer River has broken its banks and sent water surging though the CBD, flooding some businesses to ceiling height. Up to 4000 homes are expected to be inundated, and 1500 Ipswich residents are holed up in emergency shelters.
The regional centres of Dalby and Chinchilla, to Brisbane's west, are again swamped by floodwaters, less than two weeks after homes and businesses were inundated in both communities. The township of Condamine has been evacuated for a second time as more floods hit. Some communities are newly under threat. There were fears rising flood waters at Goondiwindi, near the NSW border, could breach levee banks, flooding the town of 5000. The town of Texas, also on the border, is seeing waters rise and many of its 600 residents are being evacuated. A quarry filled with water has collapsed, flooding homes and leaving hundreds of people stranded in the Queensland town of Fernvale, in the Brisbane Valley. In Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane, flash flooding caused many deaths and widespread destruction. All but one of the 10 deaths confirmed so far occurred in the valley and nearby Toowoomba when an inland tsunami swept through on Monday. The death toll is expected to climb, with 67 people in the Lockyer Valley area still missing. About 56,000 properties are without power in southeast Queensland, most in Ipswich and many across Brisbane.
It will take two years to repair and rebuild Queensland's infrastructure after the devastating floods. Roads, sewage systems and parks are among the assets destroyed as the state experiences the worst flooding in more than a century. Even with the best approach, restoring the state's infrastructure will take a couple of years because some of it no longer exists.

PHILIPPINES - Widespread flooding in the Philippines has claimed seven more lives, raising the death toll to 40 after two weeks of heavy rain. The seven deaths occurred in the past four days as floods engulfed Samar, the country's third-largest island. Seven other people remain missing after being swept away by floods or buried by landslides. Soldiers and government personnel are evacuating more people in Samar and nearby Leyte island. The heavy rains began shortly before New Year's Eve and have brought misery to 1.29 million people in 144 towns, including 338,000 who fled their homes or are receiving food or other aid from the government. More than 22,000 people remain in government-run temporary shelters while waiting for floodwaters to ebb, with nearly 1300 houses damaged or destroyed. An initial government estimate put the damage to roads and bridges, homes, and farms at nearly 900 million pesos ($A20.59 million).

BRAZIL - Floods and mudslides triggered by heavy rains have killed at least 13 people in the city of Sao Paulo and the rest of the state. Most died when mudslides swept away their homes. Main roads were flooded, causing huge traffic jams in Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city. Brazil has seen severe flooding this year which has left thousands homeless and dozens dead in the south-east of the country. The torrential downpours began on Monday night, causing rivers to burst their banks. Rescue services reported a dozen landslides. The first few days of January have seen nearly as much as is normal in the ENTIRE month.

SRI LANKA - Recent heavy rains across Sri Lanka caused flooding and landslides that left thousands homeless, killed 13 people and injured 44 others. Officials have set up 351 camps to house more than 127,500 displaced people in three provinces. More than 863,000 people have been affected by the floods. Helicopters have been deployed to airlift villagers marooned in flood-stricken regions. Planes were delivering dry rations to the area.


A pilot project to see if cash crops can be grown in the salty ground of India's coastal areas has been launched. The area in Tamil Nadu state will house dozens of species of halophytes - or salt-loving plants - that can be used for producing cash crops.
Halophytes can be used to produce edible oils, medicines, vegetables, and cattle and fish feed. Halophytes can be found throughout the coastal areas of India. Marine biologists involved in the project say that salt-resistant plants are important for people living in coastal areas, where vast tracts of land have turned saline and unsuitable for any other form of cultivation. In recent years, river water and groundwater supplies have depleted rapidly, principally because of increasing irrigation. Backers of the scheme say it could transform agricultural production in coastal areas which are becoming increasingly saline not only in India but in other parts of South Asia as well.
"Global warming causes sea waters to rise and as such inundated areas will increase substantially in years to come, turning large amount of coastal land saline and unfit for regular crops." The aim was to see whether sea water could be considered a social resource, and if so in what way it could be used to increase food production. Saline water plants can also be used to produce fine chemicals, biofuels and even building materials. Field studies conducted in the US and East Africa have suggested that halophytes such as sea asparagus can be grown as commercial crops.