Earth ChangesS


Florida: Mysterious algae blooms worry biologists

florida algae
©Daivd Walters / Miami Herald Staff
Peter Frezza, a biologist with Audubon of Florida's Keys office, measures water clarity on the Twin Key banks. The photo was taken from just below the surface and reveals the water's green tinge as a result of the algae bloom in parts of Florida Bay.

Algae has turned Florida Bay's waters a murky green, threatening the ecosystem below. What's causing the sudden blooms isn't clear.

Only a day earlier, the heart of Florida Bay's world-renowned fishing ground was clear enough to count turtle grass blades six feet down. Now, Pete Frezza stared into water so thick with algae it looked an awful lot like pea soup.

Stick an arm in and you wouldn't see your hand.


Colossal squid goes under the knife in New Zealand

Colossal Squid
The colossal squid, which weighs half a tonne, is thought to be the largest ever recovered intact

The sight of an enormous, tentacled creature splayed out on an operating table may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but for scientists in New Zealand tomorrow it will just be another day at the office.

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa is about to begin experiments on one of the ocean's most enigmatic creatures: the colossal squid. Only dismembered or digested parts of the squid are ordinarily found, but this rare intact specimen was caught in Antarctic waters in February 2007.


17 Elephants Butchered for Ivory in African Park

Poachers from an array of factions have killed 17 elephants in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo since mid-April, conservationists announced.

The killings of the first 14 animals were announced early last week, and an additional 3 were found Friday.

The rare animals were slaughtered in Virunga National Park, most likely to feed Asia's demand for ivory.

Virunga's ecosystem has come under increasing pressure from a bevy of military groups looking to exploit the natural resources in its jungles to fund their operations.

The Nairobi-based charity WildlifeDirect, which publicized the latest killings, said Rwandan and Mai Mai rebels, Congolese army forces, and even local villagers were all to blame.

Poachers hold a pair of harvested elephant tusks (top) on April 27, 2008. To claim the tusks, which are carved into ivory goods, poachers will butcher an elephant and leave the rest of its body to rot, as seen in an image of a slaughtered elephant (bottom) taken on April 20, 2008.

At least 17 elephants have been found butchered for their tusks since mid-April in Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park, wildlife groups announced.

Arrow Up

The toll is rising: At least 15,000 killed by Myanmar cyclone

At least 15,000 people have died since the Nargis tropical cyclone hit Myanmar on Saturday, China's Xinhua news agency quoted official sources as saying Monday.

Earlier Monday, Myanmar's state television said the death toll was nearing 4,000, with around 3,000 people missing.

Authorities in Myanmar introduced a state of emergency in five regions as the cyclone struck, with wind speeds reaching some 190 km/h (118 mph). Most of those killed were in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta.

The majority of the Southeast Asian country's largest city, Yangon, is still without electricity, and its streets are filled with overturned cars, uprooted trees and other debris. Telephone and Internet communications have also been severely disrupted. Several towns around Yangon have also been flooded.


Myanmar believes cyclone killed at least 10,000: diplomat

Myanmar's military government has a provisional death toll of 10,000 from this weekend's devastating cyclone, with another 3,000 missing, a diplomat said on Monday after a briefing from Foreign Minister Nyan Win.

Better Earth

Quake pattern watched closely: How Reno temblors will affect faults at Lake Tahoe unclear

As earthquakes continue to shake Reno, two reports released this month give new insight into the likely characteristics of a temblor at Lake Tahoe.

A 4.2-magnitude quake shook western Reno at 4:33 a.m. Monday, the latest in a series of quakes that has rocked the Mogul area since February.

Monday's quake is considered an aftershock of a 4.7-magnitude quake that hit the area Friday, after which seismologists warned there was a slightly higher probability of a larger quake.


Cyclone kills nearly 4,000 in Myanmar

A devastating cyclone killed nearly 4,000 people and left thousands more missing in army-ruled Myanmar, state media said on Monday, a dramatic increase in the toll from Saturday's storm.

The death toll only covered two of the five disaster zones where U.N. officials said hundreds of thousands of people were without shelter and drinking water in the impoverished Southeast Asian country.

"The confirmed number is 3,934 dead, 41 injured and 2,879 missing within the Yangon and Irrawaddy divisions," Myanmar TV reported three days after Cyclone Nargis, a storm with winds of 190 kph (120 mph), hit the Irrawaddy delta.

©REUTERS/Xinhua/Zhang Yunfei
People walk past fallen trees on a street in Myanmar's biggest city Yangon on May 3, 2008 in this picture distributed by China's official Xinhua News Agency.


Cyprus has hottest April ever

Cyprus sweated through its warmest April since records began, according to a weather service announcement.


UK: Flocks of ravens in killing spree

Like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, large groups of ravens are flocking together to attack defenceless victims and eat them alive.

Throughout the country, farmers have reported a rise in the number of calves, lambs, and sheep pecked to death. Animals not killed have been left in agony as the birds eat their eyes, tongues and the soft flesh of their underbelly.


Hundreds killed by Burma cyclone

A tropical cyclone has killed at least 351 people in Burma and damaged thousands of buildings, according to state television.

Parts of the Irrawaddy region were hit particularly badly, with three out of four buildings reportedly blown down in one district.

Burma map