Earth Changes


Unusual whale behaviour during migration in Cook Strait, New Zealand

A humpback whale breaches while crossing the Cook Strait, New Zealand.
A researcher says warmer than expected sea temperatures could be the explanation behind the unusual behaviour of whales migrating through the Cook Strait this year.

A team of Department of Conservation researchers and former whalers took part in the Cook Strait Whale Survey from 14 June to 12 July, to spot humpback whales migrating from Antarctic waters to breeding grounds in the South Pacific.

Project leader, Nadine Bott, said 92 humpback whales were spotted this year, slightly down from the record number of 106 in 2012.

Ms Bott said the whales behaviour was unusual compared with previous years.

"We had a lot of milling behaviour, a lot of surface activity behaviour, where the whales are jumping out of the water. Basically general mucking around kind of behaviour, which you don't typically see in a migrating population."

"They've normally always been on a very straight route from South to North through the strait, and if they do deviate from it they return quickly to the same bearing. This year they were all over the place" she said.

Comment: See also: Whales turn up in unusually high numbers in the seas around Ireland


Mysterious blob washes up on an Australian beach - a sea slug?

What is this? A red blob was found at Mudjimba this morning.
Upate: Marine experts are slightly scratching their heads over a 'mysterious blob' that washed up on Mudjimba Beach earlier today but they think they may have identified it.

A spokeswoman for Queensland Museum said marine experts had taken a look at photos of the blob and said it was difficult to tell without examining it however they said they felt it was a sea slug.

"It's hard to pinpoint without examining it and knowing the size," she said.

"Their nearest guesses, based on colour and the side 'frills' is that it might be a Spanish Dancer sea slug."

Comment: Interestingly, on the very same day and about 15 kilometres away, this occurred: Australian students discover rare fish dead on beach

Also, back in June from the same general area: Rare purple jellyfish found on Ballina beach, Australia


Australian students discover rare fish dead on beach

© Fishes of Australia
Ling's Armour Gurnard, Satyrichthys lingi.
Year 12 biology students from Coolum State High School have stumbled across an exciting find during a field study excursion at Peregian Beach.

The students found a Ling's armour gurnard (Satyrichthys lingi), a very rare fish native to Australian waters.

According to the Atlas of Living Australia, only seven Ling's armour gurnards have been reported found in Australia since 2000, and only two in the past four years.

"We were there to study the coastal dunes of Peregian Beach. Through data collection of different variables, including temperature, light intensity, pH of soils and wind strength, we analysed the adaptations of the coastal plants," teacher and head of department Paul Olsen said.

"Then, to find the Ling's armour gurnard was a real thrill, even though we were a little disappointed we found it deceased, washed up on shore. The Ling's Armour Gurnard lives on the sea floor, similar to a flathead fish. Most of the rare sightings are by divers and marine specialists, so we were very lucky to find it," he said.

Record-breaking cold in August for Northern Ireland

Breaks record for the entire month of August.

A new record for the coldest August night was set on the night of 23rd/24th August for Northern Ireland.

The Met Office said temperatures plunged to a bone-chilling -1.9C (28.6F) at Katesbridge, Co Down, beating the previous record of -1.1C at Loughermore Forest in 1964.

Note: This wasn't just the coldest in Katesbridge, it was the coldest on record across all of Northern Ireland.

Thanks to Chris Beal, Sonya Porter, John McC and Caroline S for these links

Casualties of seafloor methane gas release? Hundreds of thousands more fish found dead in Plymouth tidal pool, UK

Walkers found 'hundreds of thousands' of dead whitebait in the tidal pool at Devil's Point
Bebused walkers found "hundreds of thousands" of whitebait fish trapped in a tidal pool near Devil's Point yesterday.

It is the second time a shoal has been trapped in the same pool in less than two weeks.

Peter Wilkes and his fiance Carla Hosking were out enjoying a Sunday morning stroll with their 20-month-old son James when they thought they saw the pool at Firestone Bay looking as if it had "iced over".

On closer inspection, they found that it was the reflection of thousands of dead small dead fish which had become trapped in the shallow water.

"We saw the pond and it looked almost iced-over," said train-station worker Mr Wilkes.

Comment: Just a short distance away and around the same time as the above incident there came this report: Rare sei whale seen off Cornwall's coast in Penzance, UK

While across the Atlantic this happened: Rare 45-foot sei whale dies in Virginia river

In addition, another recent mass fish kill occurred back in the UK: Millions of dead herring wash up on Isle of Man coast, UK

One can't help but wonder if all these recent events are related and connected to this? Hundreds of methane plumes erupting along U.S. Atlantic coast

Alarm Clock

USGS: Earthquake Magnitude 6.0 - 6km NW of American Canyon, California

Earthquake 6.0 in N CA, USA
Event Time
2014-08-24 10:20:44 UTC
2014-08-24 03:20:44 UTC-07:00 at epicenter

38.220°N 122.313°W depth=11.3km (7.0mi)

Nearby Cities
6km (4mi) NW of American Canyon, California
8km (5mi) SSW of Napa, California
13km (8mi) NNW of Vallejo, California
14km (9mi) ESE of Sonoma, California
81km (50mi) WSW of Sacramento, California

Scientific data

Comment: There was a bigger earthquake later the same day in Peru, a 6.9.

Seems like the ring of fire is heating up!

Alarm Clock

USGS: Earthquake Magnitude 6.9 - 43km ENE of Tambo, Peru

Earthquake 6.9 tampo in Peru
Event Time
2014-08-24 23:21:45 UTC
2014-08-24 18:21:45 UTC-05:00 at epicenter

14.586°S 73.578°W depth=101.0km (62.8mi)

Nearby Cities
43km (27mi) ENE of Tambo, Peru
61km (38mi) ENE of Puquio, Peru
105km (65mi) S of Andahuaylas, Peru
129km (80mi) SW of Abancay, Peru
467km (290mi) SE of Lima, Peru

Scientific data
Eye 2

Snake sightings on the rise in New Mexico this year, including more venomous Mojave rattler

© Erik Enderson
Mojave rattlesnake
The Mojave rattler, one of the most lethal rattlesnakes in the Southwest, has been gradually moving into new territory in Southeastern New Mexico.

The snake is a type of pit viper that has recently migrated from California and Arizona and appears physically similar to the area's native Western diamondback rattlesnake and black-tail rattlesnake. Mistaking the Mojave rattler for the other rattlesnakes could mean the difference between life and death according to some experts.

The Mojave rattler's fangs are infused with a neurotoxin that is much more potent than its diamondback counterpart, leading the New Mexico Game and Fish Department to dub it the "most dangerous of the state's rattlers." The snake has a reputation for being quick to strike and has venom nearly as toxic as a cobra according to a Game and Fish Department fact sheet on New Mexico rattlesnakes.

Rick Johnson, a Carlsbad resident, was surprised to have seen two dead baby Mojave rattlers since last week.

No end in sight: California's record drought is making Earth's surface rise

© Ruaridh Stewart/ZUMA Press/Corbis
California’s exceptional drought has exposed the bottom of Big Bear Lake.
The record-breaking California drought is so bad that monitoring stations used to study earthquakes can detect the drying ground rising up. Measurements of these subtle movements, made using GPS instruments, suggest that the western United States is missing some 62 trillion gallons of water, enough to cover the entire region six inches deep.

Drought has plagued various parts of the western United States for years. California's dry times started at the beginning of 2013 and have continued to worsen. Nearly 100 percent of the state is now experiencing drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and more than half the state falls under the most severe category of "exceptional drought." Water restrictions are in place. Farmers have been hard hit. And some people are even questioning participation in the viral "ice-bucket challenge" that is raising awareness and funding for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

While it's not difficult to see parched lawns and drying lakes, and scientists can directly measure changes in rainfall and stream flow, getting a measure of how much water has been lost from the desiccating landscape hasn't been easy. The new study, appearing today in the journal Science, provides a way to do just that by taking advantage of GPS monitors set up across the country.

Comment: Richard Howitt, professor emeritus of resource economics, stated:
"A well-managed basin is used like a reserve bank account," Howitt said. "We're acting like the super rich who have so much money they don't need to balance their checkbook."
The systems in which we live are failing in a fractal-like way. For those interested in the science behind these failures, from cosmic, to global, to you, check out:

Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection


Drought causes 'irreversible damage' in California; collapsing aquifer sinking the land

A pole is marked with the land levels in Mendota, California, showing the drastic sinking of the land for nearly a century.
Walk into any grocery store in America and there's a good chance the fresh produce you see there was grown in California. Up to half of the nation's fruit, nuts and vegetables are grown in the Central Valley, one of the planet's most fertile growing regions, between Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Now, for the first time this century, the entire state is in severe to exceptional drought.

"It's really depressing for us to leave ground out. We're still paying taxes and payments on everything that's non-production," said Gene Errotabere, whose family has farmed the valley since the late 1920s. "I mean, it's this whole valley. It's just a breadbasket of our whole country here, and to see this much ground being fallowed is not something I like to see."