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Sun, 28 Feb 2021
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Fish

Jellyfish outbreaks a sign of nature out of sync

PARIS -- The dramatic proliferation of jellyfish in oceans around the world, driven by overfishing and climate change, is a sure sign of ecosystems out of kilter, warn experts.

"Jellyfish are an excellent bellwether for the environment," explains Jacqueline Goy, of the Oceanographic Institute of Paris. "The more jellyfish, the stronger the signal that something has changed."

Brainless creatures composed almost entirely of water, the primitive animals have quietly filled a vacuum created by the voracious human appetite for fish.

Dislodging them will be difficult, marine biologists say.

"Jellyfish have come to occupy the place of many other species," notes Ricardo Aguilar, research director for Oceana, a international conservation organisation.

Nowhere is the sting of these poorly understood invertebrates felt more sharply than the Mediterranean basin, where their exploding numbers have devastated native marine species and threaten seaside tourism.

Target

UPDATE: Polar bear stranded on Iceland killed by police

REYKJAVIK -- Icelandic police said Wednesday they had shot and killed a polar bear discovered earlier this week on the island, which is hundreds of kilometres (miles) from the threatened species' natural habitat.

"It was shot last night (Tuesday)," a police spokesman in the northern town of Saudarkrokkur told AFP.

Polar bears are rare sightings on Iceland, since they have to swim hundreds of kilometres through icy waters to reach the island from their natural Arctic habitats, but the bear discovered Monday was the second spotted and killed on the island in the past two weeks.

Icelandic authorities had been harshly criticised for killing the first bear and had indicated they would try to capture the second animal, which was discovered by a 12-year-old girl as she was out walking her dog.

The chief veterinarian from the Copenhagen zoo had been flown in late Tuesday to help.

The police "tried to get close to (the bear) with our vet, but they did not get close enough to shoot it with the anaesthetiser," zoo spokesman Bengt Holst told AFP.

"Then the bear started running, so the police were frightened they would lose control. The bear could run very close to the populated area, so they decided to shoot it," he added.

Cloud Lightning

Rains kill seven, displace over two million in India

KOLKATA - Flash floods triggered by two days of heavy rain in eastern India killed seven more people and displaced more than two million, officials said Wednesday.

"At least five deaths were reported in two districts as raging rivers collapsed thousands of huts, uprooted trees and damaged roads," Asim Sengupta, finance minister of West Bengal state, told AFP.

The minister said 1.6 million people had been made homeless.

Nearly a million people were cut off in the neighbouring eastern coastal state of Orissa, where two people drowned, disaster management minister Manmohan Samal said.

Four rivers were overflowing in Orissa, where medical teams were being sent to affected areas and air force helicopters were due to drop food packets.

In West Bengal, soldiers had been called to rescue tens of thousands of people marooned in flooded villages.

Schools and colleges in the affected districts were ordered shut to house displaced people.

Binoculars

Rare polar bear sighting on Iceland

Reykjavik -- A polar bear has been discovered on Iceland, which is hundreds of kilometres from the threatened species' natural habitat, a local photographer said Tuesday.

"The bear is in the north of Iceland near the town of Saudarkrokkur," Rax Axelsson, a photographer with Iceland's newspaper of reference, Morgunbladid, told AFP.

Polar Bear
©Unknown

"The bear is living off of eggs and birds" and does not appear to be hungry, he added.

The bear was discovered by 12-year-old Karen Heljateynsdottir not far from her farm as she was out walking her dog on Monday.

"She saw something white and thought it was a plastic bag, and then she realised it was a polar bear. She ran home and she said she has never run so fast in her life," Axelsson said.

Target

Earthquake with preliminary magnitude 5.7 strikes Greece; no injuries reported

The Athens Geodynamic Institute says an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7 struck near the Greek capital before dawn Wednesday.

No injuries or damage were reported.

Bizarro Earth

Panda habitat damaged by China quake

BEIJING - At least 80 percent of the habitat for giant pandas in China's earthquake-hit province was destroyed or damaged, a forestry official said Tuesday.

Pandas
©AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan
Two pandas play at China Conservative and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, China's southwest Sichuan province, Tuesday, June 10, 2008. The nine-year-old Mao Mao was finally found Monday and dug out Tuesday, almost a month after the May 12 devastating earthquake, crushed by a wall of her enclosure as the river nearby swelled with landslide debris.

Alarm Clock

Eight Reasons Why 'Global Warming' Is a Scam

When Al Gore lost his bid to become the country's first "Environment President," many of us thought the "global warming" scare would finally come to a well-deserved end. That hasn't happened, despite eight good reasons this scam should finally be put to rest.

Bizarro Earth

US: Mississippi River breaks through Illinois levee

Rising waters burst through an overtaxed levee on the Mississippi River Tuesday, sending gushing torrents into an Illinois town as the sodden US midwest reels from days of epic flooding.

levee break Mississippi
©AFP
Missouri Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Matthew Crounse and Sergeant Darrell Rankin patrol the top of the levee next to the flooding Mississippi River June 17, 2008 in Clarksville, Missouri. Communities along the Mississippi River continue preparing for flooding as the river continues to rise.

The levee break left Highway 34 at Gulfport, on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, under water prompting officials to close a bridge to the neighboring town of Burlington and creating havoc for commuters.

News reports said a flash flood warning was in effect Tuesday in Henderson County, Illinois as a result of surging waters from the levee break.

Eye 2

Monsoon hits India early for first time in more than a century, killing 23

India's annual monsoon rains have swept across the country about two weeks ahead of schedule, causing deadly floods.

Butterfly

Bee Species Outnumber Mammals And Birds Combined

Scientists have discovered that there are more bee species than previously thought. In the first global accounting of bee species in over a hundred years, John S. Ascher, a research scientist in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History, compiled online species pages and distribution maps for more than 19,200 described bee species, showcasing the diversity of these essential pollinators. This new species inventory documents 2,000 more described, valid species than estimated by Charles Michener in the first edition of his definitive The Bees of the World published eight years ago.

bee
©iStockphoto/Nathan McClunie
A new inventory documents 2,000 more described, valid bee species than estimated before.

"The bee taxonomic community came together and completed the first global checklist of bee names since 1896," says Ascher. "Most people know of honey bees and a few bumble bees, but we have documented that there are actually more species of bees than of birds and mammals put together."