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Earth Changes


At least 215 dead as quake hits southwest Pakistan

Pakistan earthquake
© AP Photo/Arshad Butt
Pakistani villagers look at children who were killed by the earthquake in Ziarat, about 130 kilometers, 80 miles, south of Quetta, Pakistan on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008.
Wam - Desperate villagers clawed through piles of mud and timber looking for victims of an earthquake that collapsed thousands of homes in southwestern Pakistan before dawn Wednesday, killing at least 215 people.

As rescue workers resumed their search Thursday morning, officials said hopes of finding more survivors in the debris left by the 6.4-magnitude quake had dimmed.


Chinese farmers use rockets to scare fruit-eating monkeys

Farmers from the small Taiwanese village of Yunlin have been forced to hire fireworks experts to save their harvest from fruit-eating macaques, the China Post newspaper said on Wednesday.

Japanese persimmon orchards have just started to ripen, but are being raided by macaque monkeys. Killing macaques, which are an endangered species in Taiwan, is banned under wildlife protection laws.


Singing duets helps sperm whales to bond

Sperm whales may take as much pleasure in singing well-timed duets as humans do.

New underwater recordings have shown that the whales carefully coordinate their song to match the calls of their singing partner. The animals appear to enjoy singing to each other, possibly to strengthen relationships among females within the group.

Till now biologists had assumed that the sounds with which whales communicate are mainly intended to scout out other members of their group. But humpback males are thought to woo females with solo love songs, and male killer whales whistle to each other, perhaps to help social bonding.


US: 40,000 still lack power after Northeast storm

Albany, NY - Thousands of utility customers around the Northeast awoke without power Wednesday, a day after the season's first big snowstorm blew through the region.

The wet snow fell on trees still covered in fall leaves, and its weight, combined with gusty wind, sent limbs crashing down on power lines.
snow plow
© Associated Press Photo/Mike Groll
A snow plow clears a highway in Westerlo, N.Y., Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. The National Weather Service said snowfall totals by Wednesday morning could range from a few inches in areas south of Buffalo and around Albany to 8 to 12 inches in the Adirondacks and the Tug Hill Plateau north of Syracuse.

In upstate New York, more than 40,000 customers remained without power early Wednesday, most of them in the Mohawk Valley, Adirondacks and the Catskills, according to statements by utilities National Grid and New York State Electric & Gas.

Cloud Lightning

Eyewitness: Honduras flood disaster

Honduras floods

Seventeen out of the 18 regions of Honduras have had flooding of some kind
Heavy rain has soaked much of Central America since the beginning of October.

Honduras is one of the worst affected countries, with more than 30 people dead and 40,000 others forced from their homes.

Claudina Reyes, a Christian Aid representative in Honduras, describes the situation:


Update: Earthquake kills over 100 in Pakistan

A government minister says more than 100 people have been killed in an earthquake in southwestern Pakistan.

Minister for Revenue and Rehabilitation Zamaruk Khan says the government is preparing to provide food, shelter and medical care to survivors of Wednesday's quake.

Bizarro Earth

Pakistan 6.4 Earthquake Kills 31

Islamabad - A strong earthquake struck parts of southwestern Pakistan early Wednesday, killing at least 31 people, officials said.

The quake struck just after 4 a.m. in Baluchistan, an impoverished province bordering Afghanistan. It had a preliminary magnitude of 6.4, the United States Geological Survey reported.

The province's police chief, Asif Nawaz Khos, said at least 31 people had been killed, and a local mayor said many houses were damaged.

The quake was centered about 400 miles southwest of the capital, Islamabad.


Salmon tracked to aid conservation

Oslo - Hi-tech devices tracked two small salmon on a 2,500 km (1,550 mile) swim from the Rocky Mountains to Alaska in a step toward understanding fish migrations and protecting stocks, scientists said.

The two salmon, about 14 cm (5.5 inches) long and with almond-sized implants, swam down a tributary of the Columbia River in Idaho into the Pacific Ocean and north past a string of electronic listening devices during a three-month trip.

"We've demonstrated the ability to track animals about the size of a hot dog," Jim Bolger, executive director of the Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking (POST) project, told Reuters. The fish swam the same distance as from Moscow to London.

"We're demonstrating the use of this array to see what's happening in the oceans. Previously we've been searching with a flashlight -- now we feel we are turning on the lights."


Scientists urge ban on catching Atlantic sharks

Washington - An international team of scientists wants to ban the catching of eight species of Atlantic Ocean sharks and put a strict limit on the catch of two others to try to prevent population crashes.

Sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they reproduce and grow slowly, but there are currently no international limits on shark catch, according to the non-profit Lenfest Ocean Program, which convened a meeting of shark experts to study the problem.

The group found in a study released on Monday that 10 species of Atlantic sharks are at serious risk of being overfished.

"Our results show very clearly that there is a critical need to take management action to prevent shark population depletion and maintain ecosystem function," said lead author Colin Simpfendorfer of Australia's James Cook University.


Snakes, Salamanders And Other Creatures Thrive In Areas With Higher Deer Populations

Reducing the number of deer in forests and parks may unexpectedly reduce the number of reptiles, amphibians and insects in that area, new research suggests. A recent study by researchers at Ohio State University and National Park Service found that higher deer activity is modifying forest ecosystems in unexpected ways. Out of several species of snakes, salamanders, and invertebrates studied, a greater diversity of animals were found in areas with deer populations than were in areas with no deer activity.
hellbender salamander
© Ohio State University
Katy & Hellbender: Ohio State doctoral student Katherine Greenwald, seen here with the hellbender salamander, is studying how human disturbance to the environment affect different types of salamanders. Hellbenders are the third largest aquatic salamander in the world, weighing 3 to 5 pounds on average.

The study, which comes at a time when many states have begun to selectively control deer populations, challenges previous research that has suggested deer populations can negatively impact forest ecosystems through eating plants that many smaller animals may depend on.

Instead, researchers found that high numbers of deer may in fact be attracting a greater number of species. This may be because their waste creates a more nutrient-rich soil and as a result, areas with deer draw higher numbers of insects and other invertebrates. These insects then attract larger predators which thrive on insect lava such as salamanders, and the salamanders in turn attract even larger predators such as snakes.