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Sun, 08 Dec 2019
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U.S. Navy Sonar May Harm Killer Whales, Expert Says

Since 1976, whale expert Ken Balcomb has led what is perhaps the longest running study on killer whales, or orcas (Orcinus orca).

Most days, the research biologist studies orcas from the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, Washington, and from his home porch perched above Puget Sound, where the animals hunt and play in summer months.

But one day last May, Balcomb and whale-watchers along the coast observed something they had never seen before. "I first heard reports from whale-watchers that orcas where behaving very unusually," Balcomb recalled. "One pod had gathered in a tight group and were moving close to shore."

Balcomb confirmed at the time that strange underwater pinging noises detected with underwater microphones were sonar. The sound originated from a U.S. Navy frigate 12 miles (19 kilometers) distant, Balcomb said. The vessel eventually moved within 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) of Puget Sound.

Bomb

Video: Killer Whales Blasted by U.S. Navy Sonar

Click here to watch the video.

When the killer whales of Washington State's Puget Sound began vanishing, a biologist had to get an earful from the U.S. Navy to pick up clues to the mystery (Washington map).

Using supersensitive microphones, Ken Balcomb has been eavesdropping on the region's resident killer whales, also known as orcas. Unlike their transient brethren, these animals spend their entire lives in the sound.

But Balcomb's years of research unveiled a disturbing trend: Mature orcas were disappearing in the prime of their lives, and no one knew why.

Red Flag

Bearded seal strays from Arctic to Florida

Experts are trying to capture a bearded seal that strayed into Florida's Intracoastal Waterway, hundreds of miles from its Arctic home.

©JOE RIMKUS JR/MIAMI HERALD STAFF
An emaciated bearded Artic seal in the Tarpon River in Ft. Lauderdale off Rose Drive tries to look over the seawall at an ice bed put down to entice it to stay in the area.

Ambulance

B.C.'s bee population reduced by 25 per cent

CROP POLLINATION: Experts struggle to explain why numbers down.

Cloud Lightning

More Tornadoes Hit The Midwest

Weekend storms that swept through Kansas claimed the life of a 10th person, the Kansas Emergency Management Agency said Sunday.

The National Weather Service said Sunday that more than a dozen new tornadoes have been reported in the area where the tornado caused its heavy damage Friday.


Snowman

Record May snow fall in Casper, Wyoming

The city of Casper easily eclipsed a 36-year-old record for snowfall on the fifth of May, less than a week after many residents were firing up their air conditioners.

The National Weather Service's Riverton office reported that a foot of snow had fallen on Casper Mountain as of 5 p.m., and that similar amounts had fallen in lower elevations in the city.

That obliterated a record set on May 5, 1971, when the previous record -- one inch -- fell on the city.

Cloud Lightning

Huge twister kills at least 9 in Kansas

GREENSBURG, Kan. - Emergency crews called off the search for more victims of a tornado that killed eight people and devastated this southwest Kansas town Friday as fresh rounds of severe weather threatened the area Saturday evening.

©AP
Much of Greensburg lies in ruins.

Light Sabers

Lightning kills five elephants in West Bengal

At least five elephants were killed by lightning in a West Bengal wildlife reserve, officials said Friday.

The animals died Thursday in a tea estate under the Buxa Tiger Reserve area in the state's northern region.

Their carcasses were found by tea garden workers on the bank of a river near the New Lands Tea Estate in Alipurduar area of Jalpaigur district, 700 km north of Kolkata.

'We suspect that the elephants died of lightning when they came to drink river water. There were no external injuries or evidence that the elephants were poisoned or electrocuted by poachers,' Buxa reserve official Subhankar Sengupta told IANS.

However, he added that the exact cause of death could only be ascertained after the post-mortem reports were available.

Cloud Lightning

Thailand trying to create rain

Welcome to the work of the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking, a small front line in Thailand's fight against drought -- a struggle likely to become increasingly desperate if scientists and governments meeting in Bangkok this week fail to agree a master plan to tackle global warming.

Attention

Billions at risk from wheat super-blight

"This thing has immense potential for social and human destruction." Startling words - but spoken by the father of the Green Revolution, Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, they are not easily dismissed.

Comment: Add this to the bee die-off and we're in for some serious trouble, folks.