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Mon, 18 Feb 2019
The World for People who Think



Mass seabird deaths baffle researchers, thousands wash up on Dutch beaches

© Depositphotos.com
As many as 20,000 guillemots have died in Dutch waters in the past few weeks, baffling researchers, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday. The sea birds, which breed on cliffs and live on fish and crustaceans, are being washed up dead on Dutch shores from the Wadden Islands to Zeeland.

In addition, hundreds of weakened birds have been taken to animal shelters for treatment. 'The death total is very high. We have not seen such mass deaths since the 1980s and 1990s,' marine biologist Mardik Leopold from Wageningen University told NOS.

No-one yet knows the cause of the deaths. Some have speculated that plastic from the hundreds of containers which fell from a cargo ship last month could be responsible. Others have suggested paraffin washed up on the beaches could be to blame.


Signs and Portents: Rare piglet born with two heads, two snouts and three eyes in the Phillipines

The rare piglet is held in front of locals in the village of Calian, Sultan Kudarat, Phillippines

The rare piglet is held in front of locals in the village of Calian, Sultan Kudarat, Phillippines
A piglet in the Phillippines has left villagers astounded after she was born with two heads, two snouts and three eyes.

The footage, captured in the village of Calian, Sultan Kudarat, on January 31, shows the rare animal, who was the last to be born in a little of eight, being held by her owner Adelita Dalipe.

The unusual piglet, who has been named 'Mara Clara', is being kept in a separate enclosure for her own safety and is being provided with constant care.

In the clip, Mara Clara's owner holds her piglet in front of locals as the animal wriggles in her arms.

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Avalanche kills 3 people in Anantnag, India

Dead bodies of avalanche victims being removed to Pahalgam by the villagers.
© Excelsior/Sajad Dar
Dead bodies of avalanche victims being removed to Pahalgam by the villagers.
Three persons were killed when an avalanche hit them amid a snow-clearance exercise along the Aru-Pahalgam road in Anantnag district.

After the incident, one person was rescued but he succumbed to injuries on the way to the hospital. The bodies of other two victims were recovered later.

As per officials, the incident took place at 4 pm on Friday at Gudkhamb point along the Aru-Pahalgam road.

Black Cat

Stray leopard attacks four people in Jalandhar, India

The animal jumped over a wall
© AP
The animal jumped over a wall when forest officials tried to tranquilize it.
A stray leopard found its way into a residential area in northern India on Thursday and attacked four people, reports say.

Residents in the city of Jalandhar notified police when they saw the large cat inside a house. When forest officials arrived, they tried to tranquilize it, but it escaped over a wall and into the village, sending locals running for their lives.

The animal injured four people, including animal control officials, before being locked inside a second house. The operation to contain it is still underway, as another expert team is coming from a nearby village to assist the officials.


Fisherman killed by shark off Réunion Island - 23rd attack since 2011, with 10 fatalities

Shark attacks
A fisherman was killed off Réunion Island on Wednesday when a shark attacked him just sixteen feet from the shoreline. The 41-year-old man was reportedly retrieving fish traps with several companions just off the coastal town of Sainte Rose, in eastern Réunion, when he was suddenly attacked. The size and exact species of the animal are unknown.

According to French news site RTL, the shark ripped the man's left leg off, and he quickly bled out.

"[The man's] companions immediately took him out of the water and administered first aid," Éric Tuffery, a prosecutor from the capital city of Saint-Denis, told RTL. "But the victim bled out in less than a minute."

Two of the victim's five companions went into shock and had to be hospitalized.


Sightings of oarfish put Japanese on alert for earthquake, tsunami

© South China Morning Post
Japan's social media has gone into nervous overdrive following the discovery of a number of deep-sea fish traditionally thought to be harbingers of natural disaster.

On Monday, an oarfish measuring nearly four metres from snout to tail was found tangled in a fishing net off the port of Imizu, in the north-coast prefecture of Toyama. The fish was already dead but was later taken to the nearby Uozu Aquarium to be studied.

Two more of the slender, snake-like fish were discovered in Toyama Bay nine days earlier.
A record four oarfish were found in Toyama Bay in 2015 but that could be surpassed this year.

The species - characterised by long silver bodies and red fins - usually inhabit deep waters and the fish are rarely seen from the surface, although legend has it that when oarfish rise to shallow waters, disaster is near.

Comment: Strange Sounds adds:
According to lore, the fish rise to the surface and beach themselves ahead of an impending earthquake. That ties in with scientific theories that bottom-dwelling fish may very well be susceptible to movements in seismic fault lines and act in uncharacteristic ways before an earthquake.

Hiroyuki Motomura, a professor of ichthyology at Kagoshima University, has a more mundane explanation for the recent discovery of oarfish off Toyama Prefecture.

"I have around 20 specimens of this fish in my collection so it's not a very rare species, but I believe these fish tend to rise to the surface when their physical condition is poor, rising on water currents, which is why they are so often dead when they are found," he said.

"The link to reports of seismic activity goes back many, many years, but there is no scientific evidence of a connection so I don't think people need to worry."

Oarfish - characterised by long silver bodies and red fins - usually inhabit deep waters and the fish are rarely seen from the surface, although legend has it that when oarfish rise to shallow waters, disaster is near. via Strait Times

Nevertheless, the oarfish's reputation as an indicator of imminent doom was enhanced after at least 10 oarfish were washed up along Japan's northern coastline in 2010. In March 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake struck off northeast Japan, triggering a massive tsunami that killed nearly 19,000 people and destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant.

With that anniversary looming, people on social media became jittery about the omens.

A message on Twitter claimed: "This is no doubt evidence of a precursor to an earthquake. And if it is in the Nankai Trough, it might be a huge quake."


Rare Bryde's whale found dead in Florida Bay, cause of death still unknown

A rare dead Bryde's whale was recovered
© Everglades National Park
A rare dead Bryde's whale was recovered Tuesday in Everglades National Park.
Scientists pulled a rare whale from Florida Bay this week, a 38-foot Bryde's whale that had washed up on an island in Everglades National Park.

The Bryde's whale is uncommon here; researchers say there are only a few dozen in the Gulf of Mexico.

"This animal is a very important specimen," said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman Blair Mase-Guthrie. "There's thought to be less than 100 in the Gulf of Mexico, and it's the only whale that lives year-round in the Gulf of Mexico."

The cause of death is unknown.


Sonar may provoke suicidal behaviour says study

Beached Whale
Beaked whales get stressed by sonar and can suffer decompression like scuba divers, according to researchers.
Scientists have long known that some beaked whales beach themselves and die in agony after exposure to naval sonar, and now they know why: the giant sea mammals suffer decompression sickness, just like scuba divers.

At first blush, the explanation laid out Wednesday by 21 experts in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B seems implausible.

Millions of years of evolution have turned whales into perfectly calibrated diving machines that plunge kilometres (miles) below the surface for hours at a stretch, foraging for food in the inky depths.

The heart rate slows, blood flow is restricted, oxygen is conserved.

So how could the ocean's most accomplished deep-sea diver wind up with nitrogen bubbles poisoning its veins, like a scuba novice rising too quickly to the surface?

Short answer: beaked whales -- especially one species known as Cuvier's -- get really, really scared.

"In the presence of sonar they are stressed and swim vigorously away from the sound source, changing their diving pattern," lead author Yara Bernaldo de Quiros, a researcher at the Institute of Animal Health at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, told AFP.

"The stress response, in other words, overrides the diving response, which makes the animals accumulate nitrogen," she added. "It's like an adrenalin shot."

One type of sonar in particular throws these whales off balance.

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Democratic hopefuls are already moving too far left to beat Trump in 2020

Trump effect
President Trump's approval ratings are falling, and his failure to build the U.S.-Mexican wall endangers his consolidated political base. As my colleague David Drucker reports, top Texas Republicans now fear that the president may lose Texas in 2020.

Yet, I believe Trump has an increasingly good chance of reelection. Why?

Because of the growing division between the basic political ideology of most Americans and the campaign platforms of 2020 Democratic Party presidential aspirants. The first point to note here is that most Americans identify as either conservative or moderate, rather than liberal. A 2018 Gallup poll, as below, shows that while the number of self-described liberals is growing, the gap between self-identified conservatives and liberals remains near 10 points.
© Gallup
I believe that this gap is the critical element in allowing Trump to win reelection, because there's no question that the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries is now centered around a contest of who can be the most liberal.

Comment: The Democratic Party has provided ample munition to Trump's re-election strategy and unwittingly continues to do so.


Baby girl killed by dog in Costa Rica

The dog, an American Stafford, was usually kept in the garage of the small house. Apparently the infant, somehow, crawled into the garage.

The dog, an American Stafford, was usually kept in the garage of the small house. Apparently the infant, somehow, crawled into the garage.
An eleven-month-old baby died on Monday morning in hospital, the victim of the injuries she suffered after being bitten by a dog. The attack took place in the small house, located in San Gabriel de Calle Blancos de Goicoechea, in San José, around 10:30 am Monday.

The parents of the only child took her to the nearby clinic in Tibas, where after administering first aid, transferred to her to the Children's Hospital in San Jose, where she died.

The dog, an American Stafford, was owned by the family. It was one one of six dogs that were without proper conditions and a parrot, whose possession is prohibited.

The dog typically ran loose in the small garage. Apparently, the baby crawled from the house into the garage and was attacked. The mother was also injured while trying to rescue the infant.