Earth ChangesS

Magic Wand

Rare Giant Manta Born at Japan Aquarium

What is believed to be the first giant manta ray born in captivity has arrived at a southern Japanese aquarium, the facility said Sunday.

The baby manta, a female, was born late Saturday in a huge fish tank at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, more than a year after its parents mated, the aquarium said in a statement posted Sunday on its Web site.

In a video capturing the birth, the baby manta, rolled up like a tube, came sliding out of the mother manta, then quickly spread its fins and began swimming around.

The scene, recorded by the aquarium, was broadcast by national broadcaster NHK on Sunday.

Cloud Lightning

Torrential Rains Flood Texas Cities

Torrential overnight rainfall flooded a handful of north Texas towns Monday, killing two people and stranding residents and their pets on the roofs of their homes awaiting rescue.

©Associated Press

Creeks swollen by as much as 8 inches of rain inundated parts of the towns of Gainesville and Sherman near the Oklahoma state line.


Tiny but Hungry, Moth Threatens California Crops

SAN FRANCISCO - Full grown, the light brown apple moth is roughly the size of a nickel: a little dirt-colored insect with an adult life span shorter than the average summer vacation.


Swarm of 230 small quakes rocks Big Island

About 230 small earthquakes shook the upper East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano beginning early this morning, prompting officials to close off most of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as a precaution to protect visitors.


Giant Frogs Raid Toilets, Power Lines

It sounds like the plot of a B movie.

People scream after finding huge frogs in their toilet bowls. Electrified amphibians cause multiple blackouts. Frogs hitch rides in cars, later surprising unsuspecting drivers.

It's all real, and, according to the University of Florida, the invasive Cuban tree frog is responsible for the chaos. The species has colonized over half of Florida and is now moving in on the rest of the state. The 6-inch-long frogs, which dwarf native tiny tree frogs, have also been found in Georgia, South Carolina, California, Hawaii and Canada.

©AP photo/University of Florida/IFAS/Josh Wickham
In this photo, Steve Johnson holds a Cuban tree frog at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Plant City. The invasive frog, which can be more than six inches long, has colonized the southern half of the state and is moving north.

Cloud Lightning

Flash floods leave 22 dead in Pakistan

Flash flooding caused by torrential rain and thunderstorms struck several villages in mountainous northwestern Pakistan, leaving at least 22 people dead, a senior government official said yesterday.

Cloud Lightning

Honduras Declares Emergency State after severe rain

After three days of severe rain battering the Central American region, Honduran authorities ordered one-month emergency state, starting on Saturday.

The rain and landslide killed seven Hondurans, provoked hundred of victims, houses and electric power collapse, noted the Contingencies Permanent Commission (COPECO).

Cloud Lightning

Snow flurries possible in Montana

A low-pressure system moving through the Intermountain West and northern Rockies was expected to bring showers and thunderstorms from New Mexico to the Dakotas.

Showers were forecast for northern Idaho and Montana, although snow flurries were possible in western Montana. Scattered showers and thunderstorms were also forecast for the southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley.


"Stinky Whale" Mystery Stymies Scientists, Aboriginal Hunters

A rancid stench in the meat of some gray whales has made them inedible to Russian aboriginal hunters, according to a new report.

Chemical contamination or disease may be causing the increasing phenomenon of so-called stinky whales, experts say.

A similar stink is also being noticed in the meat of ringed and bearded seals, walruses, and cod, the report by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) adds.

Something Fishy

Aboriginal whalers in Russia's northeastern province of Chukotka first began sensing there was something wrong with the whales in the 1990s.

Since then, many of the mammals they tow ashore from a hunt end up having a foul medicinal odor.

People who eat the meat have reported temporary problems such as numbness in the mouth, skin rashes, and stomach aches. Such whales are of no other use to locals.

"Even dogs will not eat the meat," said Gennady Inankeuyas, a whaling captain and chairman of the Association of Traditional Marine Mammal Hunters of Chukotka. The organization looks after the interests of whale hunters and their families.

Magic Wand

Marine phytoplankton changes form to protect itself from different predators

A tiny single-celled organism that plays a key role in the carbon cycle of cold-water oceans may be a lot smarter than scientists had suspected.

In a paper published June 11 in the online version of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report the first evidence that a common species of saltwater algae - also known as phytoplankton - can change form to protect itself against attack by predators that have very different feeding habits. To boost its survival chances, Phaeocystis globosa will enhance or suppress the formation of colonies based on whether nearby grazers prefer eating large or small particles.

"Based on chemical signals from attacked neighbors, Phaeocystis globosa enhances colony formation if that's the best thing to do for survival, or it suppresses the formation of colonies in favor of growing as small solitary cells if that's the best thing to do," said Mark E. Hay, Teasley Professor of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "These changes in form made nearly a 100-fold difference in the alga's susceptibility to being eaten. It's certainly surprising that a single-celled organism can chemically sense the presence of nearby consumers, identify those consumers and change in opposing ways depending on which consumers are present."