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Fri, 27 May 2016
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Earth Changes


Rare oarfish found dead on beach near Kaikoura, New Zealand

© Tim Wilding
Tim Wilding found the unusual-looking oarfish washed up on a beach south of Kaikoura.
A deep-sea fish rarely seen in New Zealand waters has washed up on a beach near Kaikoura.

Growing up to eight metres long, the oarfish is known to float vertically in the water at depths of up to 300m, and usually only in tropical locations.

One was found in Dunedin last year, but sightings of them in New Zealand were few and far between.

Identifiable by their long flat bodies and red dorsal fin, the oarfish was an edible game fish, but their meat was jelly-like and not regarded as very good eating.

Comment: See also: Rare oarfish: New Zealand sea serpent maybe a harbinger for natural disaster, says scientist

Cloud Precipitation

Cyclone Roanu: Death toll in Sri Lanka rises to 71 after torrential downpours cause landslides and flooding

© Reuters
A woman reacts as she inspects the site of a landslide at Elangipitiya village in Aranayaka
Fresh landslides in Sri Lanka have been reported as rescue workers try to reach residents in the capital stranded by floods. Poor weather conditions have hindered rescue operations with hundreds still missing.

Landslides and flooding caused by torrential downpours have killed at least 71 people as rescuers search for more than a hundred people still missing, Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Center (DMC) said on Saturday.

A half a million people have been displaced by a week of heavy rains caused by Cyclone Roanu, which after passing through Sri Lanka continued on a destructive path towards low-lying Bangladesh.

Roanu battered Bangladesh's coastline on Saturday, killing at least 20 people and displacing nearly a half a million. Hundreds of mud and tin homes in the impoverished nation were destroyed.

Comment: See also:


Giant Nile crocodiles that kill livestock and people in Africa, have now been found in Florida

© Juda Ngwenya / Reuters
They kill livestock and dozens of people every year in Africa - and now they're in Florida. Up to three Nile crocodiles have been discovered in the Sunshine state, and scientists aren't sure how the giant reptiles arrived.

"They didn't swim from Africa," University of Florida herpetologist Kenneth Krysko, who co-wrote a study confirming the arrival of the crocs, told the Associated Press."But we really don't know how they got into the wild."

Over the course of their study, Krysko and his team analyzed the DNA of three crocodiles that were caught in Florida in 2009, 2011 and 2014. Their results found that two of the reptiles matched up almost perfectly with native Nile crocodiles from Africa, while the third one was also related.

Additionally, all three crocodiles may have been introduced to the environment through the same source - possibly an illegal reptile collector who lost control of the animals.

Notably, the scientists believe that it's possible more Nile crocs are still out in the Florida wild.


2 earthquakes rattle Macedonia, Albania and northern Greece

© El Comercio/AP
A moderate earthquake southwest of Skopje has been felt in Macedonia, Albania and some areas of northern Greece, seismologists and residents say. It was followed by a slightly smaller earthquake a few minutes earlier.

The first earthquake, which has a preliminary magnitude of 4.8, was centered about 16 kilometers south of Vraneštica, or some 85 kilometers southwest of Skopje. It struck at a depth of 10 kilometers, making it a shallow earthquake.

About 8 minutes later, the same region was shaken by a slightly stronger earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.9, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center. It said the second earthquake struck closer to the surface, at a depth of just 5 kilometers.

The earthquakes were felt throughout the region, according to residents, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. "It was loud and pretty strong," a resident in Resen in Macedonia reported.

In Skopje, one resident reported that doors and lights began to sway.

© Google


Waterspout filmed in Pukerua Bay, New Zealand

Pukerua Bay resident Jackson Hamilton whipped out his when he saw the spout forming Pukerua Bay resident Jackson Hamilton quickly whipped out his phone when this happened.

Arrow Up

Mount Sinabung erupts in Indonesia, three farmers killed

© Getty Images/U. Ifansasti
Three people have been killed and four critically injured after a volcano erupted in Indonesia. More than a dozen people have been killed and thousands displaced since the volcano sprung back to life in 2010.

The highly active Mount Sinabung on the island of Sumatra spewed gas and ash high into the atmosphere and surrounding area on Saturday.

The three farmers were killed inside the prohibited "red zone" near the slopes of the volcano, Indonesia's disaster agency said.

"This area should have been empty, because nobody should be inside the red zone," disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

The 2,600 meter (8,530 feet) high volcano sprung back to life in 2010 after lying dormant for nearly four centuries.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills four elephants in northern Sri Lanka

Four elephants, including two calves, were killed by lightning in northern Sri Lanka in one of the worst wildlife tragedies to hit the country in years.
Four elephants, including two calves, were killed by lightning in northern Sri Lanka in one of the worst wildlife tragedies to hit the country in years, officials said Sunday.

A female elephant, aged about 25 years, and two of her calves, aged 10 months and two years, and an eight-year-old female were found dead Sunday just outside the Wilpattu wildlife sanctuary, an official said.

"Villagers from neighbouring areas alerted the authorities and we carried out autopsies," wildlife veterinary surgeon Chandana Jayasinghe said. "The deaths were caused by lightning."

Local villagers in Mahavilachchiya, 250 kilometres (156 miles) north of Colombo, had reported heavy rains accompanied by thunder and lightning in the shrub jungle area on Friday when the elephants were thought to have been struck.

It was the worst natural disaster involving elephants since February 2011 when four baby elephants drowned in a major flood in the north-east of the country.


Elephant tramples mahout to death in Thailand

© Getty
Charging elephant
A Surin mahout died after being trampled by an elephant at a camp in Nong Plalai.

Saifon Sala-ngam, 36, died May 7 at Banglamung Hospital after being attacked at the Siam Chang Show 2 on Highway 36.

Owner of the pachyderm, Winai Sroysaeng, 27, said the 10-year-old cow named Hongyok was carrying two Chinese tourists when the jumbo went on a rampage and ran towards the mahout, who was taking photos of tourists.

The man flew about 5 meters and the elephant then stomped on him, leading to massive internal injuries. The two tourists fell off and sustained minor injuries.

Winai said Hongyok usually was a peaceful elephant and had never exhibited bad behavior before. He suspects the jumbo was agitated by the heat.

Police ordered the elephant camp to keep the pachyderm away from people until it could be examined by a specialist.

Cloud Precipitation

Rainstorms wreak havoc in southern China: 8 dead and 55,000 forced to evacuate

© news.ycwb.com
Road traffic in Xinyi city, south China's Guangdong province is disrupted because of heavy and constant rainstorms on May 20, 2016.
Eight people died and four others were reported missing as rainstorms wreaked havoc in south China's Guangdong Province on Friday.

The casualties were all reported in Xinyi, a small, county-level city in Maoming, the press office of the Communist Party of China Maoming city committee said in a statement on Saturday.

Xinyi was one of the worst-hit areas in Friday's rain, recording 465.5 millimeters of precipitation in 10 hours.

Of the 557,421 Maoming residents who suffered losses from the extreme weather, 542,000 were from Xinyi. Nearly 55,000 were forced to evacuate after their homes were destroyed, according to the statement.

It said direct economic losses surpassed 1 billion yuan (152.7 million U.S. dollars).

The rainstorm stopped on Saturday afternoon.

Comment: Earlier this month flooding caused deadly landslides in southern China


A third of birds in North America threatened with extinction

© Sean Kilpatrick
A billion birds have disappeared from North America since 1970, and a third of bird species across the continent are threatened with extinction, a new report says.

The first State of North America's Birds report finds that of 1,154 bird species that live in and migrate among Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, 432 are of "high concern" due to low or declining populations, shrinking ranges and threats such as human-caused habitat loss, invasive predators and climate change.

Steven Price, president of Bird Studies Canada, a member of the North American Bird Initiative behind the report, says that since 1970, "the estimate is we've lost at least a billion birds from North America.... The trend lines are continuing down. They have to be turned around or will fall below a threshold where they can be recovered."

Most threatened, with more than half the species of "high concern" are ocean birds such as northern gannets, tropical and sub-tropical birds, including many that breed in Canada and the U.S., but winter in Mexico.

There are also steep declines in coastal shorebirds like semipalmated and western sandpipers and red knots, which have lost 90 per cent of their population; grassland birds such as the greater sage grouse, Sprague's pipit and chestnut-collared longspur; and aridland birds.