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Fish

US Aid Nets Kill Wildlife off Africa

turtle
© Daniel Floren / AP
This sea turtle got caught in a fishing net off Diani, Kenya. The turtle was freed and released, but others have died. Daniel Floren, who runs a local diving school, says the U.S.-funded nets are destroying the very ecosystems that fishermen rely on.
Diani, Kenya - Plastic fishing nets - some bought for poor fishermen with American aid money - are tangling up whales and turtles off one of Africa's most popular beaches.

One recent victim was a huge dappled whaleshark that bled to death after its tail was cut off by fishermen unwilling to slash their nets to save it. In another case, divers risked their lives to free a pregnant, thrashing humpback whale entangled in a net last summer.

Both incidents occurred off Diani beach, which is popular with American and European tourists.

The fishermen have traditionally used hooks and hand lines to haul in their catch, which they then sold to hotels full of tourists. But the use of plastic nets has become increasingly common as growing populations have competed to catch shrinking supplies of fish, marine biologist David Obura said.

In 2003, USAID began a four-year project worth $575,000 to improve the lives of coastal communities. It worked on a project with a Kenyan government agency that included providing freezers for the fishermen to store their catch, along with boats and nets.

But the plastic nets are destroying the very ecosystems that the fishermen depend on and the tourists come to see, said Daniel Floren, who runs a local diving school.

Officials, experts and even the fishermen themselves acknowledge the nets are killing wildlife and coral.

"Without the reefs, there will be no diving. If we have nothing to show, I'll have to shut up shop," Floren said.

Fish

England: South American armoured suckermouth catfish found in Leicestershire

An armoured suckermouth catfish, a reptilian-like fish normally found in South America, has been found in a Leicestershire waterway.

Armored fish
© SWNS.COM
The armoured suckermouth catfish which was found next to the canal.
The prehistoric creature has scaly skin similar to a crocodile and an impressive set of teeth.

It was found, already dead, by schoolboy fisherman Shawn Brown in the Grand Union Canal at Wigston.

The 14-year-old took a picture of his 10 ins-long discovery and showed it to a number of aquarists who managed to identify it.

The armoured suckermouth catfish normally lives in Panama, Costa Rica and South America.

Bizarro Earth

US: Heartbreaking Triage as Fargo Battles Floods in North Dakota

Image
© Dan Koeck for The New York Times
At the Fargodome in North Dakota, hundreds of thousands of sandbags were filled in an effort to prepare for the crest of the Red River.
For some residents in the neighborhoods closest to the fast-rising Red River here, the last-minute announcement by anxious city officials that they would build a second set of dikes to protect the heart of this state's most populous city was anything but soothing.

In fact, hundreds of homeowners now could find their properties sandwiched between the city's first 12-mile-long dike and the new line of defense. Record water levels are expected by Friday afternoon.

"What you're saying here is that we're on the wrong side of the world?" Laura Krupich, a resident of the South Acres neighborhood in Fargo, asked a city commissioner as she found her house on a map showing the new earthen and sandbag levees.

Ms. Krupich's house, according to city planners' estimates, may not be protected by the city's second "contingency" dikes. There was even concern that houses between the two sets of dikes could be in particular danger if the first one breaks but the second one holds.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 5.3 - Guerrero, Mexico

Image
© USGS
Date-Time Friday, March 27, 2009 at 08:48:18 UTC

Friday, March 27, 2009 at 02:48:18 AM at epicenter

Location 17.580°N, 100.522°W

Depth 49 km (30.4 miles) set by location program

Distances 80 km (50 miles) SSW of Arcelia, Guerrero, Mexico

105 km (65 miles) NW of Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico

110 km (65 miles) W of Chilpancingo, Guerrero, Mexico

250 km (155 miles) SW of MEXICO CITY, D.F., Mexico

Bizarro Earth

Jakarta: 60 Die as Dam Breaks

Image
© Tatan Syuflana/Associated Press
The dam broke at about 4 a.m., sending a huge wall of water crashing through a valley, witnesses said.
Heavy rains caused a large dam in a crowded urban area on the outskirts of Jakarta to burst early Friday morning, sending a deadly wall of water and mud crashing through hundreds of houses, killing at least 60 people, police said.

The dam broke at about 2 a.m., tearing through a low-lying valley, surprising residents in their sleep, witnesses said. Within minutes, several whole neighborhoods were ensconced in mud and water.

Rescue workers clawed through thick mud and dredged houses and roadways Friday afternoon looking for survivors. Hundreds of residents were being evacuated to a nearby university where family members were searching through bodies for loved ones. Police said the death toll could be higher as more victims are found.

Cloud Lightning

Cyprus residents left shell-shocked after freak twister strike

Larnaca – Nicosia motorway
© Unknown
A large hail storm brought traffic to a near standstill on the Larnaca – Nicosia motorway
A freak twister and hailstorm swept through Larnaca yesterday, uprooting trees, tearing off rooftops and snapping power cables.

All it took was five minutes for the storm and whirlwind, which broke at the same time, to wreak havoc on the town and its outskirts, as walnut-sized hail stones struck homes and the fierce wind shook cars.

The worst happened in the area near the Antonis Papadopoulos stadium and the Kokkinos refugee settlement. Debris sucked by the twister was hurtled on vehicles, kiosks and residences.

Alarm Clock

Cracks in levee force evacuations in Fargo, North Dakota

Officials ordered the evacuation of one neighborhood and a nursing home late Thursday after authorities found cracks in an earthen levee built to protect the area from the threat of the rising Red River.

Residents were not in immediate danger, and floodwaters was not flowing over the levee, Mayor Dennis Walaker said Thursday night. The evacuation was being enforced as a precaution.

Arrow Up

New estimate raises North Dakota flood higher than sandbags

Fargo - Bad news turned dire Thursday for residents scrambling in subfreezing temperatures to pile sandbags along the Red River: After they spent the day preparing for a record crest of 41 feet, forecasters added up to 2 feet to their estimate.

The first estimate sparked urgency among thousands of volunteers in Fargo, but the second sparked doubts about whether a 43-foot-high wall of water could be stopped. Across the river in Moorhead, Minn., City Manager Michael Redlinger said portions of his city's dike could not be easily raised to withstand a 42-foot crest.

"Now everything's up in the air," he said.

Bulb

Earth Hour 2009: A Billion to Go Dark Saturday?

Starting in New Zealand's remote Chatham Islands, thousands of cities, towns, and landmarks around the world will start to go dark for Earth Hour on Saturday evening.

Up to a billion people worldwide are expected to participate in this global voluntary blackout by switching off their lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time.

The movement, sponsored by the conservation nonprofit WWF, is designed as a symbolic gesture in support of action against global warming.

Fish

Fish mega-shoals could be world's biggest animal group

Image
© Nicholas Makris
A vast shoal of fish – creating one of the largest massings of animals on the planet – can be seen forming and then dissipating in these time lapse images taken by Oceanic Acoustic Waveguide Remote Sensing.
When Atlantic herring get together, they don't mess around with small gatherings. Using a new ocean imaging technology, scientists have found that the fish form "mega-shoals" of hundreds of millions of fish, covering dozens of square kilometres.

Such observations could help conserve dwindling fish stocks, says Nicholas Makris, an oceanographer at MIT, who led the study.

"If we see what's in the ocean we'll be more mindful of conserving it," he says.

The technology - called ocean acoustic waveguide remote sensing (OAWRS) - has also helped researchers confirm theoretical predictions as to why and how so many animals get together and act as one.

"I don't know anything that's close to this scale," says Iain Couzin, a biologist at Princeton University in New Jersey, who was not involved in the study.