Earth ChangesS


Sea lions shot dead on Columbia River as salmon battle rages

PORTLAND, Ore. - Six federally protected sea lions were apparently shot to death on the Columbia River as they lay in open traps put out to ensnare the animals, which eat endangered salmon. State and federal authorities are investigating.

The discovery came one day after three elephant seals were found shot to death at a breeding ground in central California.

sea lion
©AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens
A sea lion swims along the Columbia River, past Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators on Sunday, May 4, 2008 at Bonneville Dam, just east of Portland, Ore. The deaths of six sea lions are under investigation after the bodies of the federally protected animals were found in open traps on the Columbia River and appeared to have been shot.

Trapping will be suspended during the investigation, said Rick Hargrave, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife who was at the scene Sunday.

The carcasses of the four California sea lions and two Steller sea lions were found Sunday around noon below the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River on the border of Oregon and Washington.

Cloud Lightning

At least 8 killed, 50 hurt by storm in Bangladesh

Dhaka - At least eight people have been killed and over 50 injured as a strong storm swept over Bangladesh's northwestern Natore, Sirajganj, Jessore, Rajbari and southwestern Bagerhat districts on weekend, leading English newspaper The DailyStar reported on Sunday.

Bizarro Earth

South Korea: 9 killed by sudden large wave

At least nine people were killed and 14 others injured Sunday after being swept away by a sudden large wave that crashed over a breakwater on South Korea's west coast, the Coast Guard said.

The wave - believed to have been as high as 16 feet - slammed over the breakwater near a beach southwest of Seoul where dozens of people had been fishing and sightseeing, said Lee Won-il, a local Korea Coast Guard officer.

wave south korea
©Associated Press
South Korean police officers search for missing persons near Daecheon Beach in Boryeong, South Korea. At least nine people were killed and 14 others injured Sunday after being swept away by a sudden large wave that crashed over a breakwater, South Korea's Coast Guard said.

Comment: Regular tidal movements and a cloudy and drizzly weather don't seem to be enough explanation for a freak wave that killed up to 15 people.

Bizarro Earth

One dead as Chilean volcano spews ash for third day

SANTIAGO - A volcano spewed ash over Patagonian towns in southern Chile on Sunday, two days after its first eruption in thousands of years forced authorities to evacuate some 4,000 residents.

Police wear masks to protect them from ash, in Chaiten,
©REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
Police wear masks to protect them from ash, in Chaiten, located some 1220 km (760 miles) south of Santiago May 3, 2008.

Local media said an elderly woman died as rescue teams evacuated the last remaining people from the town of Chaiten, close to where the snow-capped volcano of the same name erupted on Friday, triggering earth tremors and sending a cloud of ash two miles into the air.


Dwarf Cloud Rat Rediscovered After 112 Years

A team of Filipino and American scientists have rediscovered a highly distinctive mammal -- a greater dwarf cloud rat -- that was last seen 112 years ago. Furthermore, it has never before been discovered in its natural habitat and was thought by some to be extinct.

dwarf cloud rat
©Larry Heaney, courtesy of The Field Museum
The greater dwarf cloud rat (Carpomys melanurus) was rediscovered in April, 2008 -- 112 years after the first and only time it had ever been seen by scientists. Cloud rats are one of the most spectacular cases of adaptive radiation by mammals anywhere in the world, with at least 15 species ranging in size from 2.6 kg to 15 grams, all living only in the Philippines.

The greater dwarf cloud rat (Carpomys melanurus) has dense, soft reddish-brown fur, a black mask around large dark eyes, small rounded ears, a broad and blunt snout, and a long tail covered with dark hair. An adult weighs about 185 grams.

"This beautiful little animal was seen by biologists only once previously -- by a British researcher in 1896 who was given several specimens by local people, so he knew almost nothing about the ecology of the species," said Lawrence Heaney, Curator of Mammals at the Field Museum and Project Leader. "Since then, the species has been a mystery, in part because there is virtually no forest left on Mt. Data, where it was first found."


UK: Rare albino ray is caught in the Solent

Trawlermen have landed an albino ray thought to be the first found in British waters.

The 80cm-long fish was caught in the Solent and is now being cared for at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth.

Experts are surprised that the ray survived so long without camouflage to hide from predators.


Over 240 dead after Myanmar cyclone

Over 240 people are reported dead after a tropical cyclone hit Myanmar on Saturday, national media said on Sunday.

Authorities in Myanmar introduced a state of emergency in five regions as the Nargis cyclone struck, with wind speeds reaching some 190 km/h (118 mph). Most of the deaths came in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta.

The majority of the Southeast Asian country's largest city, Yangon, was left without electricity, and its streets were filled with overturned cars, parts of trees and other debris. Telephone and Internet communications were also severely disrupted.


Myanmar declares five regions disaster zones after Tropical Cyclone Nargis hits

YANGON - A powerful cyclone killed more than 350 people, destroyed thousands of homes and knocked out power in the country's largest city, state-run media said Sunday.

Tropical Cyclone Nargis struck early Saturday with winds of up to 120 mph, the military-run Myaddy television station said.

Yangon cyclone
©AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhang Yunfei
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, people walk past fallen trees at a street in Myanmar's biggest city Yangon Saturday, May 3, 2008. Tropical Cyclone Nargis ripped through Yangon early Saturday, tearing off roofs, uprooting trees and knocking out electricity.

Shari Villarosa, the top American diplomat in Yangon, said trees and electricity lines were down in the city after the storm's whipping winds and torrential downpour.

"Our Burmese staff have lost their roofs," she told The Associated Press. "There is major devastation throughout the city."

Five regions of the impoverished Southeast Asian country have been declared disaster zones.

At least 351 people were killed, including 162 who lived on Haing Gyi island off the country's southwest coast, state-run television said. Many of the others died in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta.


Survivors search for belongings amid Arkansas tornado wreckage

DAMASCUS - Smoke rose from burning heaps of wreckage Saturday as residents of rural Arkansas cleaned up what was left of their homes after deadly tornadoes scoured a state that has been plagued by severe weather this year.

Arkansas tornado damage
©AP Photo/Danny Johnston
A mobile home is destroyed in Center Ridge, Ark., after storms struck the area Friday, May 2, 2008. A powerful storm system packing tornadoes and heavy winds roared across the nation's midsection early Friday, killing at least seven people in Arkansas including a teenager crushed by a tree while she slept.


Officials say New Mexico wildfire has burned nearly 60 homes

ALBUQUERQUE - Firefighters worked in cooler, calmer weather Saturday to clear lines around a blaze that has burned nearly 60 homes and more than 20 square miles in the mountains of central New Mexico.

Authorities were able to confirm Saturday that 50 homes burned Wednesday in a fire caused by humans in the Manzano Mountains, southeast of Albuquerque, said Linda Peters, a fire information officer. Nine homes had burned earlier.