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Sat, 18 Sep 2021
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Bizarro Earth

US: Increase of sick brown pelicans baffles experts

Los Angeles: Wildlife experts are trying to figure out why sick, disoriented and bruised California brown pelicans are being found in record numbers along more than 1,000 miles of coastline.

The birds, some of them dead, have been spotted from San Francisco to Baja California, Mexico. Many have been found far from their homes on roads, fields and backyards.

The pelicans started appearing late last month north of San Pedro in Southern California, then began appearing farther north, said Jay Holcomb, executive director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Fairfield, in Northern California.

The center's San Pedro facility received more than 40 birds in the past seven to 10 days, while the Fairfield one has received about 25, Holcomb said Tuesday.

A man vacationing in Baja California alerted the center about a similar problem there this week after discovering sick pelicans on the beach south of San Felipe.

People

Astronaut Jack Schmitt Joins Climate Skeptics

American astronaut Dr. Jack Schmitt - the last living man to walk on the moon - is the latest scientist to be added to the roster of more than 70 skeptics who will confront the subject of global warming at the second annual International Conference on Climate Change in New York City March 8-10, 2009.

Magnify

Pelicans fall out of sky

Pelicans suffering from a mysterious malady are crashing into cars and boats, wandering along roadways and turning up dead by the hundreds across the West Coast, from southern Oregon to Baja California, Mexico, bird-rescue workers say.

Better Earth

Global Warming? Europe shivers in cold snap

Temperatures across Europe have plunged to record lows, causing travel chaos and putting more demand on power supplies.

In France, the normally balmy south was covered in up to 40 centimetres of snow, leaving hundreds of motorists stranded on motorways around Marseille.

The city's main St Charles railway station had to be closed after the signals froze.

The situation was the same across a swathe of northern Italy. In Milan, the city's two airports have re-opened after being closed for several hours on Wednesday. Flights have also resumed at airports in Turin and Bergamo.

Temperatures sank to record lows in parts of Germany overnight. A weather station in the eastern state of Saxony said the coldest spot was just below minus 27 degrees Celsius. Thick snow has covered much of the country and ice breakers have been brought in to clear several waterways.

Bizarro Earth

Quake in Northern Mexico causes peninsular plate separation

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake that rattled northern Mexico on Monday has produced a small separation of the peninsula from the continent, a Mexican scientist said Tuesday.

Phoenix

US: Wildfires trigger evacuations near Boulder, Colorado

Wind-driven wildfires swept across Boulder County grasslands Wednesday, destroying at least four structures and prompting mandatory evacuations of at least 500 homes.

Residents were ordered to leave more than 500 homes on the north side of Boulder, county spokeswoman Barbara Halpin said. At least one other neighborhood north of the city was evacuated, but the number of homes wasn't immediately known.

No injuries were immediately reported.

Cloud Lightning

US: Melting snow causes heavy flooding in Washington state

Image
© AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Rescue workers evacuate residents from a flooded neighborhood along McCutcheon Rd. near Orting, Wash. Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009. The rapidly rising Puyallup River forced hundreds of people in the area from their homes.

Snoqualmie - Rain and high winds lashed Washington state Wednesday, causing widespread avalanches, mudslides, flooding and road closures as the heavy snowfall that has buried parts of the state began to rapidly melt.

More than 30,000 people were told to leave their homes in flood-endangered areas across western Washington as authorities warned of heavy flooding.

"This is going to be a memorable flood event," said Andy Haner, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle.

Fire trucks rolled through Orting, about 10 miles southeast of Tacoma, with loudspeakers advising everyone to leave the town and surrounding valley, home to about 26,000 people. Sandbags were placed around many downtown homes and businesses as the Puyallup River neared record levels. It was forecast to crest Thursday.

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'Spookfish' Has Mirrors For Eyes

Spookfish1
© BBC News
The spookfish has a pair of mirrors (black) to focus light from below into its eyes.

A Pacific fish uses mirrors as well as lenses to help it see in the murky ocean depths, scientists have revealed.

The brownsnout spookfish has been known for 120 years, but no live specimen had ever been captured.

Last year, one was caught off Tonga, by scientists from Tuebingen University, Germany.

Tests confirmed the fish is the first vertebrate known to have developed mirrors to focus light into its eyes, the team reports in Current Biology.

Better Earth

Polarized Light Leads Animals Astray

Young sea turtle
© ScienceDaily/iStockphoto
Baby sea turtles use the direction of star- and moonlight reflected off the water surface to help them find the ocean when they emerge from their beach nests; in urbanized areas, many turtles turn the wrong way and migrate toward the brighter lights of buildings or streetlamps.
Human-made light sources can alter natural light cycles, causing animals that rely on light cues to make mistakes when moving through their environment. In the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a collaboration of ecologists, biologists and biophysicists has now shown that in addition to direct light, cues from polarized light can trigger animal behaviors leading to injury and often death.

Artificial light that occurs at unnatural times or places - often called light pollution - can attract or repulse animals, resulting in increased predation, migrating in the wrong direction, choosing bad nest sites or mates, collisions with artificial structures and reduced time available to spend looking for food, just to name a few. In a classic example, baby sea turtles use the direction of star- and moonlight reflected off the water surface to help them find the ocean when they emerge from their beach nests; in urbanized areas, many turtles turn the wrong way and migrate toward the brighter lights of buildings or streetlamps.

Igloo

The day the sea froze: Temperatures plunge to MINUS 12C and forecasters say it won't warm up until Sunday

Frozen sea
© The Daily Mail
Two walkers venture out over the frozen area which, in the distance, can be seen encroaching on a small boat
Temperatures plunged so low today that the sea actually began to freeze as Arctic conditions continued to grip the UK.

In the exclusive enclave of Sandbanks in Poole, Dorset, a half-mile stretch along the shoreline reaching about 20 yards out to sea is covered in ice.

The enclosed area and lack of movement caused by light tides would make the sea here more susceptible to this occurring, said Tony Conlan, a forecaster with the MeteoGroup.

The sea freezing is a relatively rare occurrence and the last time the sea in the South froze was in February 1991. It was in 1963 that the seas iced over more widely.