Thursday, March 7, 2013

FIRE IN THE SKY: 2013, The Year Of The Comet - Comet Pan-STARRS Will Be Visible Tonight With The Naked Eye!

March 07, 2013 - SPACE - Observers in the southern hemisphere are getting a good view of Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4). It appears in the western sky just after sunset, a faint but easy target for the naked eye and a wonderful sight through binoculars or a small telescope. The comet was 100 million miles from Earth on March 5th when John Sarkissian of New South Wales, Australia, took this picture:

"I photographed Comet Pan-STARRS as it set behind the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope (made famous in the movie The DISH)," says Sarkissian. "This is a 5 second exposure taken through my Canon 400D digital camera set on ISO 1600."

Several important dates are approaching. On March 10th, Comet Pan-STARRS makes its closest approach to the sun (0.3 AU). At that time, solar glare might make it difficult to see even as the nucleus vaporizes and brightens. On March 12th and 13th, the comet will reappear in the sunset sky - this time in the northern hemisphere not far from the crescent Moon; think photo-op! Light curves suggest that the comet's brightness will peak near 2nd magnitude, similar to the stars of the Big Dipper. Check the realtime comet gallery for the latest images. - Space Weather.

Comet Pan-STARRS on Mar. 3, 2013, from Victoria, Australia. This shot, by Phil Hart, is one of the best pictures I've seen of it.  Image credit: Phil Hart
Northern Hemisphereans, alert! The kinda-sorta-maybe bright comet Pan-STARRS will soon be visible low in the west after sunset. The best dates to look will be Mar. 12 and 13, when the very thin crescent Moon will guide you. You’ll need binoculars to pick it out of the twilight sky, but comets this bright are rare, and you should give it a shot. Comet C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) was discovered in June 2011 by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (hence the odd name). At discovery it was incredibly faint, just 19th magnitude—the faintest star you can see with your eye is still 150,000 times brighter than the comet was at the time!

Animation showing the discovery
images of the comet taken by the
Pan-STARRS observatory.
Click to encomanate.
Image credit: Henry Hsieh, PS1SC
The comet is non-periodic, a fancy way of saying this is the first time it’s dropped into the inner solar system. There is a reservoir of trillions of such iceballs far, far past Neptune, called the Oort cloud (named after Jan Oort, the Dutch astronomer who was one of the first to predict its existence). Pan-STARRS has been falling from this distant region for a long, long time, perhaps millions of years, and is now approaching the Sun on its incredibly outstretched orbit. It reaches perihelion (the closest point in its orbit to the Sun) on Mar. 10, and then begins the long climb back out again.

It has brightened considerably over the past couple of years as it’s neared both the Sun and Earth, and by Mar. 12 should be at least as bright as 2nd magnitude, about as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper. It could get even brighter. By the way, this comet is not associated in any way with the one that will give Mars a very close shave next year, or Comet ISON which should put on quite a show later this year. Also, it never gets very close to the Earth. At more than 160 million kilometers (100 million miles) away, Pan-STARRS is already about as close to us as it will ever get.

I Wanna See It!
The comet has been high in the skies for people in the Southern Hemisphere for weeks now. But the comet’s orbit is tilted nearly 90° to the Earth’s orbit, and it’s currently moving rapidly to the north.

The orbit of the comet is tilted and highly
elongated, never bringing it very close to Earth.
Image credit: NASA/JPL
For most of us in the northern hemisphere, it’ll just start to appear over the western hemisphere after sunset around March 8, but it’ll be so low you’ll need a flat horizon, clear skies, a decent pair of binoculars or a telescope, and a bit of good luck to spot it. But over the next few days it’ll get higher and easier to spot. But be ye fairly warned, says I: It will set very rapidly, so if you want to see it you’ll need to be ready at sunset! Due to the geometry of its orbit, it’ll never get more than about 10°-15° degrees above the horizon, about the width of your outstretched hand.

Any time after about March 10 will be good for spotting it, but the best date is Mar. 12, when the very thin crescent new Moon will be close by. That will make the comet easier to find, since the Moon is bigger and more obvious. But even then, binoculars are your friend. A couple of weeks ago I was trying to find the planet Mercury in the twilight gloaming, and it was tough until it got dark enough… and Mercury is much brighter than the comet.

Gabe Brammer took this amazing photo showing Pan-STARRS (arrowed, on the right), a meteor (middle) and aonther comet, Lemmon (left). I had to crop this image to make the comets visible; click it to see it in higher resolution. It's stunning.
Image credit: Gabe Brammer
I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying to find it; I’m just trying to be honest here. While in straight numbers the comet is a bright one, twilight is a fierce competitor. Unless it brightens considerably in the next few days (which is unlikely) you really will need binoculars to see it. If it helps, I personally will be out every sunset looking for it. I hope it gets above the mountains to my west! I’ll be using binoculars and, if I can, my telescope. I’ll try to get pictures, too, but no promises there.

For more viewing information, you can read what’s online at Sky and Telescope magazine, EarthSky, the Institute for Astronomy at the University if Hawaii, and UniverseToday.

Comet What May
If you miss Pan-STARRS, don’t fret. Later this year, Comet C2012/S1 (ISON) is expected to get very bright for those of us in the north (I’ll have more on that in a later post, promise). ISON will pass the Earth at a distance of about 60 million kilometers (35 million miles) at a very favorable geometry, and may get decently bright. No one’s really sure—comets are notoriously unpredictable that way—but it seems almost assured it will be a good naked-eye comet. There’s also the comet C2013/A1 (Siding Spring), which will brush past Mars in October 2014; it never gets very close to Earth, but may be favorably placed for observing from Earth as well.

I’ve seen dozens of comets over the years, some so faint they were difficult even with a telescope, and one so bright that I spotted in broad daylight! Every comet is different, every comet is cool. If you get a chance to see Pan-STARRS—either on your own, with a local astronomy club, or at a nearby observatory—I’d urge you to take it. - SLATE.

WATCH: Comet flyby to be seen from Earth.

FLORIDA WEATHER ANOMALIES: Major Disaster Precursor - Countless Numbers Of Sharks Invade Florida Coastal Waters; 100,000 Killer Bees Attack Park Employees In Florida; And 'Sinkhole Season' Has Only Just Begun in Florida?!

March 07, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Florida's ever-popular Spring Break resorts have attracted some extra visitors to the beach this year – thousands of blacktip and spinner sharks on their annual migration north.  Officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties on Florida's south-east coast have closed several beaches to swimmers as a precaution, although marine biologists say that there is little risk to humans. 

Florida Beaches Close As Sharks Invade Coastal Waters.
"The sharks are not predatory, at least as far as humans are concerned, and in clear water are far more likely to just swim away," Shari Tellman, of Florida Atlantic University's Elasmobranch Research Laboratory, told the Guardian.  "The only real issue would be if the water's murky and there's case of mistaken identity, or a shark just bumps into you, because they have very rough skin. When they are together in a big group there's always the possibility of larger sharks being nearby, but there's only a small chance of any problem." Tellman's team of researchers have been tracked the migrations from the shore and the air for two years and say the sharks will be gone from the Florida coast by next month to spend the summer months in the warm Atlantic waters off Georgia and the Carolinas.

WATCH: Countless number of sharks spotted in Florida.

WATCH: Thousands of sharks close Florida beaches.

She likened them to Florida's famous human 'snowbirds', visitors from the colder northern states and Canada who spend the winter enjoying the more tropical climes in the south.  "They come down in the late fall when it starts getting colder, they're very visible here during the winter hanging around and enjoying the warmer temperatures, and in the spring they turn around and start heading back north again," she said.  "It's their annual migration pattern. It looks spectacular but it's part of their normal behaviour."  One research team tracked a pod of 4-5,000 of the sharks a close to the shoreline by the Jupiter Inlet on Wednesday.  Lifeguards say the beaches will reopen as soon as most of the sharks have moved on. - Guardian.

Killer Bees Attack Park Employees In Florida.
Two Tampa park employees were swarmed by as many as 100,000 Africanized honeybees, after they accidentally disturbed a hive.  David Zeledon and Rodney Pugh were both removing a pile of trash near the entrance road of Picnic Island Park, when they overturned an old truck tire.  

That's when they spilled the bees.

"It was like a thousand little knives poking me in my body," said Pugh, 41, who took off running from a front-end loader that became surrounded by the bees.  

An Africanized honeybee, also known as a "killer bee." (Credit: San Diego Dept. of Environmental Health).
"It was like bees all in the cab," Pugh said.  "So I'm trying to swat, and they say never to swat bees," he said.  Pugh and his partner both tried to escape, but they ended up with nearly 100 stings each. "My ears were just throbbing with pain," Pugh said.  Both men were hospitalized and treated with antibiotics and swelling reducers in case they had an adverse reaction to the stings. "It's the worst feeling, because you just had so many and they wouldn't stop,"

Pugh said. Africanized bees, or killer bees, are similar to typical honeybees, except they are all extremely aggressive and will attack relentlessly if bothered. Jonathan Simkins of Insect I.Q. was called out to exterminate the hive.  He suspects the bees originally came from Africa or South America aboard a port ship.  Picnic Island Park is next to Port Tampa. Simkins said it won't be the last encounter with this dangerous form of bee. "The problem that we're having is the wild bees," Simkins said.

"This pile of rubbish wasn't moved for three years.  So this colony's been breeding and sending out colonies," he said, an ominous prediction that there are many more of the killer bees in the Tampa Bay area. "The European bee will swarm once or twice a year.  The African bee will swarm up to 17 times," Simkins said. One danger with these bees is that they are virtually identical to regular honeybees, which are not as aggressive.  If a killer bee hive is disturbed with the thought that it's a regular hive, whoever is in the line of fire will get stung, possibly dozens of times. "They just keep coming at you," said Simkins, who's helped eradicate numerous killer bee hives. Both park employees are expected to recover from the attack. - ABC Action News.

WATCH: Picnic Island Park workers attacked by 100,000 killer bees.

'Sinkhole Season' Has Only Just Begun in Florida.
As crews entombed a man who was swallowed by a sinkhole near Tampa, the earth opened up again just a few miles away. On Tuesday, in a neighboring county, officials investigated reports of a home cracking, perhaps due to another sinkhole.  Across Florida this time of year, it's the start of what's unofficially considered the "sinkhole season," State Geologist Jonathan Arthur said. It coincides with the beginning of the state's rainy season and usually lasts until the end of summer.  "Florida is famous for bugs, alligators, pythons, hurricanes and now sinkholes," said Larry McKinnon, a Hillsborough sheriff's office spokesman. "I think our salvation is that for most of the time, our weather is picture-perfect."

This Aerial photo shows demolition workers picking up the remnants from the home of Jeff Bush, Tuesday, March 5, 2013, in Seffner, Fla. A huge sinkhole opened up under a bedroom in the home last Thursday, Feb. 28, and swallowed Jeff Bush, 37. (AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Dirk Shadd)
But it's also the weather - along with man-made factors - that exacerbate sinkholes, experts said.  Arthur said February is usually when the state is at its driest, but it's also the start of the rainy season. Acidic rain can, over time, eat away the limestone and natural caverns that lie under much of the state, causing sinkholes. Both extremely dry weather and very wet weather can trigger sinkholes, he said.  "An extensive drought can cause soil and sediment over a cavity to be extremely dry and collapse," said Arthur.  On the other hand, following Tropical Storm Debby in 2012, dozens of sinkholes formed in counties north of Tampa because of the rain.  In Hillsborough County, an area particularly susceptible to sinkholes, 37-year-old Jeff Bush was killed last week when a hole opened up underneath his bedroom. Engineering experts have said it is too dangerous to retrieve Bush's body, so they demolished the home and filled the hole with gravel.  Hillsborough County is in a moderate drought, but engineers and county officials don't know exactly why the sinkhole formed in Seffner, and said they will likely never know.  The county has had 1.56 inches of rainfall since Jan. 1; it usually averages about 5.41 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

In Pinellas County, about 30 miles away from Seffner, fire-rescue workers in the community of Palm Harbor said they asked two people to evacuate a home after the residents reported "extensive cracking on the interior and exterior of the home." A county building inspector said the home was safe to live in, but the homeowner was seeking an engineer's opinion.  Arthur said he looked at 50 years of data and found that there is usually an uptick of reported sinkholes in February, with an increase until about July, when activity tapers off. December and January have typically low sinkhole activity.  Florida tracks naturally-occurring sinkholes and other ground collapses following a busted water main, development and groundwater pumping for crops. In 2010, strawberry farmers in eastern Hillsborough County pumped water from the aquifer onto their crops during cold weather so that the water would freeze on the crops, creating a layer of ice that protects the berries.  So much water was pumped that more than 65 sinkholes opened in the area and wells went dry.  "When they take water out of the ground it's like taking air out of a balloon," said Bill Fernandez, a Florida sinkhole repair expert. "When you suck water out of the ground, you change the hydrostatic pressure underground and that's what can cause sinkholes."  Arthur added that moving a lot of dirt around for development can also trigger sinkholes. On Sunday in Largo, a failure in a pipe in a mall's stormwater control system under the parking lot caused the ground to collapse.  "There are a lot of variables," said Arthur. "Sinkholes are naturally occurring. Regardless of human activity they would occur." - Weather Channel.

SNOWQUESTER AMERICA: The Winter Storm Saturn Batter Towns Still Struggling In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Sandy - Flood Waters And Winds Ravage Homes From New Jersey To New England; More Than 250,000 Households Without Power; Over TWO FEET Of Snow On The East Coast! UPDATE: Destructive Tornado Hits Glascock, Georgia - Flattening Homes, Trees And Tombstones!

March 07, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A late-winter storm has inflicted new damage to parts of the Jersey shore still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy, as New Englanders braced for potential evacuations and coastal flooding.  The storm buried parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions with snow earlier this week but barely laid a glove on Washington, D.C., which closed its federal buildings in preparation for worse.  As the storm moved up the coast to New England, strong winds, heavy snow and power outages were expected.  While the snowfall proved less serious that anticipated in New Jersey, properties suffered damage from strong winds and moderate flooding and around 40,000 homes were left without power. In Mantoloking, the Jersey shore town hardest-hit by Sandy last October, pounding surf broke through a temporary dune during the early-morning high tide.  The dune breach forced the closing of a major coastal highway for several hours, but the highway re-opened late on Thursday morning.  

Surge: Ocean waves crash over a seawall and into houses along the coast in Scituate, Massachusetts on Thursday. It is one of the towns which has been evacuated in fear of flooding.
Detective Stacy Ferris said the breach spanned three oceanfront properties, sending three to six inches of water flowing through onto the highway.  The state Department of Transportation, along with Mantoloking's own public works crews and contractors, were busy scooping and pushing sand back into the breach to prepare for high tide, expected at about 3 p.m. Thursday. 'We're going to plug that hole before the next high tide,' Ferris said.  Every one of the 521 homes in Mantoloking was damaged to some degree by Sandy. Many were completely destroyed and hundreds of others suffered major damage.  On the Jersey Shore, winds gusted past 60 mph in some parts.  Winds raked the beachfront in Point Pleasant Beach, blowing drifts of sand onto Ocean Avenue, and shredding the decorative entrance canopy at a hotel across the street from the beach.  Lashing winds also blew off part of the roof of a Stone Harbor, N.J., condominium complex and Ocean City officials advised residents to move their cars to higher ground in preparation of possible flooding.  

Dangerous conditions: A snow plow rests in a ditch after sliding off of Brock Road in Spotsylvania,Va. on Wednesday.
But the state's hardened residents said they were not fearful of the storm.  Tom Humphrey, whose home in Point Pleasant Beach was flooded in October, calmly said: 'I prepared a little, taking all the stuff that was outside, inside. Hopefully we'll be fine.'  New Englanders were bracing for the brunt of the storm Thursday evening and Friday morning.  The National Weather Service was predicting up to 7 inches of heavy, wet snow in southeastern Connecticut and wind gusts that could hit 50 mph.  A coastal flood warning was in effect starting Thursday morning for east-facing shores in Massachusetts, with up to a 3-foot surge at high tide in some areas.  Central Massachusetts was bracing for four to eight inches of snow, while early predictions were that Boston would get less.  Dozens of car crashes were reported across Connecticut on Thursday morning. Among them, a FedEx tractor trailer overturned on Interstate 84 in Tolland, causing a chain-reaction crash involving about nine other vehicles, including a state police cruiser and two other tractor-trailers.  In the seacoast town of Scituate, Massachusetts, about 30 miles south of Boston, emergency officials were setting up a shelter at the high school and preparing for three high tides during the duration of the storm, including one at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday.  'They are recommending that folks who live right on the coast to evacuate at least three hours before high tide,' said Mark Patterson, the town's harbormaster. 

WATCH: New storm damage for Sandy-ravaged shoreline.

Paula Polasky, who said debris still fills her neighbourhood in Scituate from storm Nemo last month, told WHDH that she was leaving her home as soon as possible.  'The house was rocking for Nemo, but I'm not going to take any chances this time,' she said. 'I just told my boss, I said, "I am going to evacuate. I'd rather be safe than sorry."'  Alan Dunham, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton, said the biggest concern would be Friday morning's high tide, which will peak between 8 and 10 a.m.  'By then we will have had 48 hours of very strong east-northeast wind flow pushing water toward us,' Dunham told the Boston Herald. 'We could have moderate to major coastal flooding.'  On Cape Cod, where the storm was expected to be mostly rain, emergency officials were concerned about more beach erosion. The area already suffered extensive erosion from Superstorm Sandy and a major snowstorm last month.  'We've really gotten more erosion in the last six months than we've experienced in the last decade,' said Sandwich Town manager George Dunham. 'These three storms are really taking a toll.'  Others in Massachusetts were carefree about the storm.  Mail carrier Stephen Manning didn't even wear a coat as he delivered mail along Dorchester Avenue in Boston. Instead, he wore a hooded sweatshirt.  'This is warm,' Manning said. 'You wear a jacket when it's cold.'  The storm pummeled the nation's midsection on Tuesday, killing at least five people in weather-related traffic accidents. More than 1,100 flights were cancelled Tuesday at Chicago's two airports, and hundreds more were cancelled Wednesday in Washington, Philadelphia and New York.  

Roadblock: A tree blocks the road on Stadium Drive as a massive snowstorm blanketed the area Wednesday in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In Washington, where as much as 10 inches had been forecast, the storm did little but drop harmless snowflakes that rapidly melted amid warmer-than-expected temperatures.  There were bigger problems elsewhere in the region, though.  In southwest Virginia, a 22-year-old man was killed early Thursday after his vehicle ran off an icy Route 632, went over an embankment and landed upside down in a creek.  A semi-trailer slid off a snow-covered interstate in western Wisconsin, killing two people.  A central Indiana woman died when a semi-trailer plowed into her car after she lost control merging onto the highway, and a man from Columbia City in northeast Indiana was killed when his snowmobile left the road, headed across a field and crashed into a wire fence.  Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency and about 50 National Guard soldiers were sent out to help clear roads. Up to 20 inches of snow piled up in central and western parts of the state. More than 200,000 customers in Virginia lost power.  In Maryland, the U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday resumed searching for a distressed fishing boat that was lost in rough seas with two men on board.  The Coast Guard said the 67-foot boat became disabled 15 miles east of Assateague Island Wednesday. The Coast Guard found a third man on a life raft and was able to rescue him.  The storm dumped 2 feet of snow in parts of neighboring West Virginia, closing schools in more than half the state and leaving more than 20,000 customers without power.  

Moving to the east: A map shows the areas where snow is expected to fall on Thursday.
In Pennsylvania and Ohio, many areas had 4 to 6 inches of snow.  On Wednesday, the snowstorm largely spared Washington D.C., which was expecting much worse and had all but shut down.  Officials in the capital didn't want a repeat of 2011, when a rush-hour snowstorm stranded commuters for hours, so they told people to stay off the roads and gave workers the day off.  Dubbed the 'snowquester,' the storm closed federal government offices, just as the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester were expected to do.  An upper-level, low-pressure system coming in from the northwest and a surface low sweeping up from Kentucky had been expected to converge along the Virginia-West Virginia line, bringing heavy precipitation, cold temperatures and winds gusting up to 35 mph. 

Bogged down: Pilot John Harsh shovels snow off of the tail of his Cessna 172 airplane at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport during heavy snow Wednesday, March 6, 2013 in Weyers Cave, Va.
'Whenever you're talking about that much heavy, wet snow and those winds of 20-30 mph with some higher gusts, there's a concern for numerous power outages,' said National Weather Service meteorologist Jared Klein in Sterling, Va.  Both Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and Pepco in the Washington area said they would have extra line crews available.  'So far, knock on wood, we've dodged on this one,' said D.C. Homeland Security director Chris Geldart. 'We're keeping our fingers crossed that it remains the way it's been.'  The Baltimore-Washington area's last major snowstorm struck on January 26, 2011. It hit Washington during the evening rush hour, causing some motorists to be stuck in traffic nearly overnight.  It dropped 5 inches on Washington and 7.8 inches on Baltimore, knocked out power to about 320,000 homes and contributed to six deaths. The federal government later changed its policies to allow workers to leave their offices sooner or to work from home if major storms are expected. - Daily Mail

WATCH: SNOWquester blankets the nation's capitol.

UPDATE: Tornado Hits Glascock, Georgia - Flattening Homes, Trees And Tombstones.
The steeple of Magnolia Baptist Church in Glascock County points toward the damaged church this morning.
© Parish Howard/ Morris News Service.
A Tuesday night tornado with wind speeds near 100 mph took the roof and steeple off a rural church, flattening nearby tombstones and downing trees.No one was injured in the storm that struck about 7:30 p.m., but three residences were damaged and about 10 people displaced, authorities said.  Kent Frantz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Atlanta, was at the site Wednesday and said the destruction path was about 150 yards wide and about three-quarters of a mile long.  State and federal emergency agencies and the American Red Cross were helping those hit by the storm. 

One of the victims, Diane Newsome, said it was all unexpected.  "In the beginning it was lightning and thunder, then stopped," she said Wednesday. "Then it sounded like a train coming through and it destroyed everything."  Her mother Elaine Young, of Dearing, Ga., said, "I thank the good Lord we're still living."  "There ain't no place like home," Newsome added through tears. "I just want to come home."  Although the roof of Magnolia Baptist Church is gone, the ceiling, pulpit and pews are still intact. No dollar value has been determined for the damage.  Officials said anyone wishing to help may contact the American Red Cross or the Glascock County Sheriff's Office.  The church at Magnolia Church Road and Highway 171 North has planned a cleanup day at 8 a.m. Saturday. - The Augusta Chronicle.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Indonesia's Mount Tangkuban Perahu Volcano Erupts - Spews Ash And Smoke, Thousands Evacuated, No One Hurt!

March 07, 2013 - INDONESIA - Around 1,500 people were evacuated today after the Tangkuban Perahu volcano in Western Java spewed lava and ash.

According to a National Volcanology Agency report published by the Indonesian Antara News agency, the volcano began to spew volcanic material during the early morning and later the mountain spewed a 200 meter high column of ash.

In response, the administration of Western Java has prohibited the entry of tourists and others in a 1.5-kilometer area around the crater, as clarified by Yayah Suheryanto, head of the emergency unit of the National Agency for Disaster Management. - Prensa Latina.

Indonesian officials examine the crater of Tangkuban Perahu volcano in Subang, West Java, Indonesia, Thursday, March 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Kusumadireza)
Indonesia scientists say they are closely monitoring a smoking volcano on Java island, urging villagers and tourists to stay off the mountain's slope.

Government volcanologist Hendra Gunawan said Thursday that Mount Tangkuban Perahu in West Java province shot up smoke and ash nearly 500 meters (1,640 feet) into the air since Monday, and was placed at the second-highest alert level.

It does not send debris or lava far down its slopes and nearby towns and villages were in no danger, but authorities warned tourists off limit its danger zone of 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from the crater, citing a build up of poison gas inside the peaks.

The 2,084 meter (6,837 feet)-high mountain is one of Java's most popular tourist attractions where people can hike to the edge of the crater to view boiling mud up close. It last erupted in 1983. - Huffington Post.

Tangkuban Perahu (spelt Tangkuban Parahu in the local Sundanese dialect) is a dormant volcano 30 km north of the city of Bandung, the provincial capital of West Java, Indonesia. It last erupted in 1959. It is a popular tourist attraction where tourists can hike or ride to the edge of the crater to view the hot water springs and boiling mud up close, and buy eggs cooked on the hot surface. This stratovolcano is on the island of Java and last erupted in 1983.

Together with Mount Burangrang and Bukit Tunggul, those are remnants of the ancient Mount Sunda after the plinian eruption caused the Caldera to collapse. In April 2005 the Directorate of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation raised an alert, forbidding visitors from going up the volcano. "Sensors on the slopes of the two mountains - Anak Krakatoa on the southern tip of Sumatra Island and Tangkuban Perahu in Java - picked up an increase in volcanic activity and a build up of gases, said government volcanologist Syamsul Rizal."

A study conducted in 2001 determined that Tangkuban Perahu has erupted at least 30 times in the previous 40,750 years. Studies of the tephra layers within 3 km of the crater revealed that twenty one were minor eruptions and the remaining nine were major eruptions. The eruptions that occurred prior to approximately 10,000 years ago were magmatic/phreatomagmatic. The eruptions that occurred after 10,000 years ago were phreatic." The volcano erupted as recently as February 21, 2013. - Wikipedia.

SHADOW WARS: Nightmare On The Korean Peninsula - North Korea Threatens To Turn Seoul And Washington Into "Seas Of Fire", Vows Pre-Emptive Nuclear Attack On The United States; South Korea Threatens To Attack The North Korean Military Command; China Navy Seeks To "Wear Out" Japanese Ships In Disputed Waters!

March 07, 2013 - KOREAN PENINSULA - Pyongyang threatened to turn Seoul and Washington into “seas of fire” through a “precise nuclear strike” a day after one of its generals said on television that it could walk away from the 1953 armistice agreement that halted the Korean War.  In response, the operations chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said if North Korea stages an attack, the South Korean military will retaliate against the source of any attacks and also the leaders who ordered them.  

North Threatens South  And United States With Nukes.
The Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, printed an article on its front page entitled “The U.S. and warlike puppet groups should be aware of their destructive ending.”    “If the U.S. imperialists wield their weapons, we will turn not only Seoul but also Washington into seas of fire with our own measures for a precise nuclear strike,” Jong Hyon-il, a brigadier general, was quoted in the article. It was the first time Pyongyang had warned of a precise nuclear strike against Seoul, according to the Ministry of Unification yesterday.   Above the article was a statement in the name of the Supreme Commander of the North Korean Army, leader Kim Jong-un, that also threatened to cancel the 1953 armistice agreement.   The South Korean Army raised its alert level as a result of the threats.   The article and statement came a day after North Korean Gen. Kim Yong-chol, the orchestrator of the attack on the warship Cheonan in 2010 and the bombardment of Yeonpyeong island a few months later, warned on state television that Pyongyang could “cancel the 1953 armistice agreement” that ended the fighting in the Korean War.   The threats appeared to be retaliation for the UN Security Council planning new sanctions to punish the North for its third nuclear test in February and a protest of annual Korea-U.S. joint military exercises starting next Monday.

    In yesterday’s front page photo in the Rodong Sinmun, the type of rocket launchers used by the communist regime to bombard South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010 was featured prominently. [Rodong Sinmun]
In the article printed in the Rodong Sinmun yesterday, Jon Yong-nam, head of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, was quoted as saying, “I will wave the flag of the DPRK [North Korea] on the ridge of Mount Halla, Jeju Island.”   North Korea’s previous claim was that former leader Kim Jong-il would someday bring the North Korean flag to Jeju Island as “President of Unification,” suggesting an absorption of South Korea by the communist North.   Kang Ji-yong, an official at the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, a state mouthpiece, blamed South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and Jung Seung-jo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for attempting “fratricide with support from foreign forces.”  The newspaper printed a large photo of a parade of armored vehicles with banners reading, “Eradicate the U.S. invaders who are the mortal foe of the Korean people.”  The photo was from a military parade on April 15, 2012, the centennial of the birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung.  Kim Yong-hyeon, operational director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a press meeting yesterday that the South Korean military “will sternly retaliate” if North Korea’s Army starts any military provocations. - KJD.

North Korea Vows Pre-Emptive Nuclear Attack On United States.
North Korea leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korea led by tyrant Kim Jong-un has sensationally vowed to launch a NUCLEAR attack on the USA.  The provocative statement comes weeks after the country conducted underground nuclear tests which caused a massive earthquake.  America’s west coast cities on Los Angeles and San Francisco are feared to be in Kim’s sights.  A foreign ministry spokesman said: "Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to pre-emptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest."  

 However experts doubt the country's ability to produce a warhead capable of being fitted to a long-range missile.  The announcement comes on the day North Korea launched a chilling new propaganda film via its official Youtube channel.  The footage shows missiles, armed soldiers, tanks and military parades.  The UN is set to impose its toughest sanctions yet on oddball Kim Jong-un's nation - they will be drafted today.  The nuke warning from North Korea was put out by the country's official news agency and accused the US of leading the calls for the crippling sanctions.  

WATCH: North Korea Propaganda Video Shows Obama And US Troops On Fire.

 On Tuesday North Korea threatend to scrap the armistice that ended the 1950-53 war with South Korea.  And it criticised military exercises between the US and South Korea. Pyongyang said it was shutting off a military hotline with the US and South Korea.  North Korea's KCNA agency quoting a military source said: "We will completely nullify the Korean armistice".  Last month the world was put on high alert when North Korea carried out its biggest nuclear blast yet.  The giant underground explosion caused an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.9.   The banned blast - which took place in the remote, snowy, north-east of the country - drew global outrage, even from Pyongyang's only major ally China.  The actual device was thought to be smaller than those in two earlier tests — raising fears that the crackpot Communist state is close to its aim of perfecting a missile capable of hitting its number one enemy the US.  United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the explosion, as an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council began drawing up "fresh measures" to punish the rogue country. 

 In Britain, Foreign Secretary William Hague threatened boy dictator Kim Jong-Un with more "isolation".  In February North Korea poached Michael Jackson's peace anthem We Are the World to soundtrack a chilling video showing a US city under missile attack.  The bizarre footage was uploaded on the secretive state's official webpage.  The propaganda movie depicts a smiling lad dreaming of a regime rocket being launched into the air and travelling to America.  The three-and-a-half minute vid then showed a mystery city full of skyscrapers being attacked with multiple explosions, while the Stars and Stripes flag flutters in the background. - The Sun.

Seoul Vows 'Stern' Response To N.Korean Provocation.
Joint Chiefs of Staff head of operations Maj. Gen. Kim
Yong-hyun briefs reporters in Seoul on Wednesday.
The South Korean military on Wednesday vowed to respond firmly to any North Korean provocation.  "If North Korea pushes ahead with provocations that would threaten the lives and safety of our citizens, our military will strongly and sternly punish the provocations' starting point, its supporting forces and command," said Maj. Gen. Kim Kim Yong-hyun, the head of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The warning came a day after North Korea threatened to scrap the armistice that halted the Korean War over 60 years ago and warned of "precision nuclear strikes" that will create a "sea of fire."

A military source here said Seoul intends to target the highest ranks of the North's regime in the event of an attack. "When we refer to command, it usually signifies divisional or corps commanders," the source said. "But if Seoul comes under attack, the top levels of North Korea's regime including [leader] Kim Jong-un could become targets."  North Korea continued saber-rattling on Wednesday threatening to turn Washington D.C. into a "sea of fire" and to plant the North Korean flag atop Mt. Halla on Jeju Island off the southern tip off the Korean Peninsula.  Buses and trains in Pyongyang were spotted draped in camouflage netting. The North also designated no-fly zones over the East and West seas and restricted ship traffic. "There is the chance of North Korea firing Scud, Rodong or KN-02 short-range missiles or coastal artillery," a military source here said.  Meanwhile, Korea's key diplomatic and security positions remain in limbo as parliament wrangles over President Park Geun-hye's government reorganization bill. The head of national security at Cheong Wa Dae, defense minister and head of the National Intelligence Service have yet to be appointed. - Chosun.

China Navy Seeks To "Wear Out" Japanese Ships In Disputed Waters.
An aerial photo from Kyodo News shows Chinese ocean surveillance, fishery patrol ships and a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship (R and 2nd L) sailing about 27 km (17 miles) west from a group of disputed islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea in this September 18, 2012 file photograph taken by Kyodo.
China's naval and paramilitary ships are churning up the ocean around islands it disputes with Tokyo in what experts say is a strategy to overwhelm the numerically inferior Japanese forces that must sail out to detect and track the flotillas.  A daily stream of bulletins announce ship deployments into the East China Sea, naval combat exercises, the launch of new warships and commentaries calling for resolute defense of Chinese territory.  "The operational goal in the East China Sea is to wear out the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force and the Japan Coast Guard," said James Holmes, a maritime strategy expert at the Newport, Rhode Island U.S. Naval War College.  It wasn't until China became embroiled in the high stakes territorial dispute with Japan late last year that its secretive military opened up.  Now, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is routinely telegraphing its moves around the disputed islands, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.  News of these missions also has domestic propaganda value for Beijing because it demonstrates the ruling Communist Party has the power and determination to defend what it insists has always been Chinese territory, political analysts said.  However, experts warn that the danger of these constant deployments from both sides into the contested area increases the danger of an accident or miscalculation that could lead to conflict.  In the most threatening incident so far, Tokyo last month said the fire control, or targeting, radar of Chinese warships near the islands "locked on" to a Japanese helicopter and destroyer in two separate incidents in late January.  Beijing denies this but U.S. military officers have backed up Japan's account.  "We are in extremely dangerous territory here," said Ross Babbage, a military analyst in Canberra and a former senior Australian defense official.  "We could have had Japan and China in a serious war."  Some foreign and Japanese security experts say Japan's powerful navy and coast guard still holds the upper hand in the disputed waters but that this could change if Beijing intensifies its patrols.  "I believe China for the time being focuses resources on the South China Sea, which is a higher priority for them now," said Yoshihiko Yamada, a maritime policy expert and professor at Tokai University.  "But, if they shift more resources to the East China Sea, the coast guard alone would not be able to handle the situation."  There were signs that tension remained high last week when Tokyo protested that China had deployed a series of buoys around the islands to collect intelligence about Japanese operations.  China's Foreign Ministry said the buoys were in Chinese waters and positioned to collect weather information.  Beijing's paramilitary agencies have been equally forthright since the standoff began with a stream of news and footage of their deployments.  Ships from these agencies including customs, maritime surveillance and fisheries are in the frontline of Beijing's campaign to assert sovereignty over the disputed islands, which are believed to be rich in oil and gas.  A Chinese fisheries surveillance vessel entered Japan's territorial waters near the islands for the second day running on February 24 in what was the 31st similar incursion since September, the Japanese coast guard said last week.  News bulletins in China are saturated with coverage of Chinese paramilitary ships jostling for position with their Japanese counterparts around the rocky islands.

There is evidence Japan's coast guard is feeling the pressure.  It plans to form a new, 600-member unit equipped with 12 patrol ships that will be deployed exclusively on missions around the disputed islands.  And, it is boosting its budget to buy ships and aircraft by 23 percent to 32.5 billion yen ($348.15 million) for the year starting in April.  The coast guard also plans to add 119 personnel in the year starting next month. That would be the biggest staff increase in 32 years.  As tension mounted around the islands ahead of his return to office as prime minister of Japan in December, Shinzo Abe proposed converting retired navy vessels into coast guard patrol ships.  Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Tuesday that his ministry and the coast guard were discussing the idea.  Beijing has so far held its navy back from waters immediately surrounding the disputed territory but its warships are almost constantly patrolling nearby seas and other waterways around the Japanese archipelago, according to the PLA announcements.  In late January, the PLA said a naval fleet would conduct a naval exercise in the Western Pacific after "sailing through islands" off the Chinese coast, a clear reference to the Japanese archipelago. The navy had conducted seven similar exercises last year, it said.  In a series of subsequent bulletins, the PLA said three of its most modern warships, the missile destroyer Qingdao and the missile frigates Yantai and Yancheng would make up the fleet which would conduct training in the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea in an 18-day deployment.  The U.S. navy has also monitored the sharply increased tempo of Chinese naval and paramilitary operations near Japan.  In an unusually blunt public assessment, a senior American naval intelligence officer, Captain James Fanell, told a seminar in San Diego on January 31 that the PLA navy had last year sent seven surface action groups into the Philippines Sea south of Japan.  It had also deployed the biggest number of submarines in its history into this area, he said.  It was unclear if Fanell was referring to the same seven deployments the PLA disclosed last month.  "Make no mistake, the PLA navy is focused on war at sea and about sinking an opposing fleet," Fanell said.  And, the U.S. officer said, China's maritime surveillance agency, a civil proxy for the PLA, had become "a full-time maritime sovereignty harassment organization" with the goal of enforcing territorial claims.  The frequency of deployments appears set to continue with the PLA announcing on February 27 it would conduct 40 military exercises this year with an increased emphasis on "core security-related interests".  Senior Chinese officials have strongly implied that Japan's claim over the islands is an attack on one of China's core interests, an important distinction to Beijing in defining its non-negotiable national priorities.  In a speech to the politburo in late January, Chinese party leader Xi Jinping referred to the pain of "wartime atrocities", an apparent reference to Japan's bloody invasion and occupation of China last century, according to a report of his remarks carried by the official Xinhua news agency.  "We will stick to the road of peaceful development but will never give up our legitimate rights and will never sacrifice our national core interests," he was reported to have said.  And, Beijing continues to boost its military firepower. Chinese shipyards last week delivered a new, stealth frigate to the navy, the official PLA Daily newspaper reported.  The radar evading type-056 frigate would be introduced in big numbers as the first step in a systematic upgrade of navy hardware, the paper said.

Chinese Jiangkai I type frigate vessel which allegedly directed fire-control rader against Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer in the East China Sea, is seen in this undated handout photo taken by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, released by Ministry of Defense, Japan and obtained by Reuters on February 5, 2013.
REUTERS/Ministry of Defense, Japan/Handout
Despite the intense military and diplomatic pressure, the Japanese government shows no sign of wilting.  "We simply cannot tolerate any challenge now and in the future," Prime Minister Abe said recently in Washington.  "No nation should make any miscalculation or underestimate the firmness of our resolve."  Still, military analysts said Japanese forces must continue to match China's patrols and exercises.  In a paper prepared for an Australian military think tank last year, an influential Japanese military strategist, retired Vice Admiral Yoji Koda, said Chinese naval forces sailing around the Japanese islands "will surely meet intensive surveillance and continuous tracking" from Japanese forces and its U.S. allies.  Some military analysts suggest Beijing's continuous deployments around the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands are also part of a wider policy of enhancing its claims over a number of disputed territories in the East China Sea and South China Sea.  "If Beijing starts policing territory it claims as its own, and if rival claimants can't push back effectively, it will start looking like the rightful sovereign over that territory," said Holmes.  However, Holmes added that Japan poses a much stiffer challenge for Beijing than smaller nations like the Philippines which also has overlapping territorial claims with China.  While smaller in raw numbers than the PLA navy, the highly trained Japanese navy is generally regarded as the most powerful in Asia with state-of-the art ships, submarines and aircraft. And, it has a security alliance with the United States that obliges Washington to intervene if Japan is attacked.  Other military experts suggest Beijing has decided to intensify its operations against Japan, a nation whose wartime aggression is remembered across Asia, because confrontations with smaller neighbors in recent years had led to a region-wide diplomatic backlash.  "The Senkaku/Diaoyu hoopla of late is triggered by China's desire to extricate itself from total regional isolation caused by China's expansive territorial claims against virtually all of its maritime neighbors," said Yu Maochun, an expert on the PLA at the Annapolis, Maryland United States Naval Academy. ($1 = 93.3500 Japanese yen) - Reuters.

MONUMENTAL GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Major Planetary Transformations - The Most Incredible Sinkholes Around The World!

March 07, 2013 - EARTH - As we continue to monitor the monumental transformation of Planet Earth, here are several images of some of the most stunning sinkholes, craters and landslides witnessed over the last decade.

A sinkhole covers a street intersection in downtown Guatemala City, May 31, 2010. A day earlier authorities blamed the heavy rains caused by tropical storm Agatha as the cause of the crater that swallowed a a three-story building. WATCH "20/20: HOUSES FROM HELL" FRIDAY AT 10 ET (Luis Echeverria/Guatemala's Presidency/AP Photo)
A man inspects a sinkhole in a house, July 19, 2011, in Guatemala City. When neighbors heard the loud boom overnight they thought a cooking gas canister had detonated. Instead they found a deep sinkhole inside a home that was 40 feet deep and 32 inches in diameter. Guatemala City, built on volcanic deposits, is especially prone to sinkholes, often blamed on a leaky sewer system or on heavy rain. (Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images)
An aerial view shows a giant landslide under a residential street taking a car with it and leaving another car hanging over the edge in Schmalkalden, central Germany, Nov. 1, 2010. The cause of the landslide is yet unclear unclear. Residents were evacuated from 23 buildings. Nobody was injured. (Jens Meyer/AP Photo)
A firefighter rescues citizens at an accident site after a road collapsed at Liaoyang Street of Harbin City, northeast China, Aug. 14, 2012. Two people were confirmed dead and two others injured when a roadbed collapsed at Liaoyang Street in Nangang District of Harbin City. (Landov)
Workers use excavators to fill in a sinkhole which occurred overnight on Shiliuzhuang road, in Beijing, China, April 26, 2011. A section of the road collapsed beneath a truck, slightly injuring the driver and a passenger, who both jumped out the vehicle before it sank into the hole. (AFP/Getty Images)
A car sits in a sinkhole caused by a broken water main, which collapsed part of Friendship Blvd., Dec. 3, 2010, in Chevy Chase, Md. No one was reported injured in the accident. (Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images)
A massive, approximately 200 ft. by 240 ft., sinkhole opened up and tore apart the pavement of Soledad Mountain Road, Oct. 3, 2007, in the Mount Soledad neighborhood of La Jolla, Calif. The landslide damaged or destroyed six homes and forced the evacuation of at least 20 others. (Kent Horner/Getty Images)
This picture taken on Jan. 28, 2013 shows workers using machinery to fill in a sinkhole that buildings collapsed into near a subway construction site in Guangzhou, China. The hole measured about 1,000 square feet across and was around 30 feet deep, but no one was killed, according to a state media report. (AFP/Getty Images)
A view of the collapsed road which caused major damages to the Shanxi Provincial People's Hospital, Aug. 12, 2010 in Taiyuan, China. As the road caved-in, it caused parts of the Shanxi Provincial People's Hospital to collapse an hour later. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)
A house in Barry Road collapsed into a huge hole measuring 50 meters wide by 15 meters deep, in the small town of Waihi, in the North Island of New Zealand, Dec. 13, 2001. Three children had to be rescued from the ruins, but were not injured. The town of Waihi sits on a network of disused mine shafts, one of the largest underground goldmines in Australasia. (Dean Purcell/Getty Images)
Workers cordon off a leaning building in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, March 4, 2013. A vehicular road traffic tunnel being constructed for the 2014 Winter Olympics collapsed nearby, the local media said. There were no casualties reported. (Mikhail Mordasov/AFP/Getty Images)
A sinkhole appeared behind villager Zhang Shiyin's house and in his vegetable plot, Jan. 13, 2011, in Leshan, China. The hole expanded to measure 20 meters in diameter. (Liu Zhongjun/ChinaFotoPress/ZUMA)
A tourist peers into the Darvaza "Gates Of Hell" gas crater in Turkmenistan, July 21, 2012. Located in Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert, the eerie cavern has been on fire for more than 40 years. It was discovered in 1971 by Soviet geologists when the ground beneath their drilling rig suddenly collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of 230 ft. (Amos Chapple/Rex USA)
A huge crater at the collapsed Pinheiros subway station in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jan. 15, 2007. Rescuers have dug through tons of rubble in search of seven people believed buried inside a giant sinkhole that opened at a construction site in South America's biggest city. (Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images)
A fireman looks under a fire truck stuck in a sinkhole in Los Angeles, Sept. 8, 2009. Four firefighters escaped injury after their fire engine sunk into a large hole caused by a burst water main in the San Fernando Valley, authorities said. (Nick Ut/AP Photo)

GLOBAL COASTAL EVENT: Extreme Weather - Powerful Winds Ground At Least Six Ships On The Caribbean Side Of The Panama Canal!

March 07, 2013 - PANAMA - Powerful winds and waves caused by a cold front from North America on Monday grounded at least six ships on the Caribbean coast of Panama, officials said.

The ships include several massive cargo vessels stranded off the city of Colon, near the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal.

No injuries or environmental damage were immediately reported, although residents reported a smell of petroleum in the vicinity of a ship that appeared to have a ruptured hull.

Red Cross workers attempted to secure some of the vessels as waves battered the coastline.

Officials reported 10 flooded homes and one person missing in the area due to bad weather.

The ships were not travelling through the canal and traffic in the channel was not affected. - India TV News.

Powerful winds created from a cold front in North America have grounded at least six ships on the coast of Panama.

There have been no reported injuries or environmental damage, although local residents had reported a smell of petrol coming from the affected area.

The ships included several massive cargo ships stranded off the city of Colon. - BBC.

WATCH: Powerful Winds Ground At Least Six Ships.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF IN AUSTRALIA: Thousands Of Fish Found Dead In A River In Victoria; Thousands Of Fish Found Dead In Lake Keepit; And Thousands Of Fish Wash Up Dead On Eyre Peninsula!

March 07, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Authorities are investigating the deaths of thousands of fish in a coastal river system east of Port Campbell.  The deaths have angered anglers and Princetown residents, who have slammed authorities’ decision to open the Gellibrand River estuary at Princetown.  An Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman said the EPA was aware of the deaths and had contacted the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, which will investigate further.  The CCMA says fish such as black bream, estuary perch, yellow-eyed mullet and smaller species died after Parks Victoria opened the estuary to the ocean last week.  CCMA river health executive manager Trent Wallis said the number of dead fish was likely to be in the thousands.  “Exact numbers are difficult to ascertain due to high levels of predation from birds and many fish being washed out to sea,” he said.  Mr Wallis said a combination of “very low” tides and high water levels in the estuary appeared to have resulted in faster water flows from the river mouth than the CCMA expected.  He said the estuary levels dropped by up to 1.5 metres overnight because of a lack of replacement flows, and low oxygen levels in the water suffocated the stranded fish. 

Opening the mouth of the Gellibrand River to the ocean has killed thousands of fish.
Thousands Of Fish Found Dead In A River In Victoria.
“This combination of low tides and low flows into the estuary from the river, combined with the continuing degradation of water in the closed estuary, has not been encountered before,” Mr Wallis said.  “This improved understanding of the risks to the Gellibrand system will be taken into account for future decisions,” he said.  An Apollo Bay angler, who wanted to be anonymous, said he found hundreds of dead fish along a three-kilometre stretch of the river on Sunday.  “There were 60 to 70 larger fish, at a guess, and small bait fish would probably run into the hundreds,” he said.  “There were dead fish lying on the boat ramp in the carpark where everyone pulls up.  “It’s not something that’s going to rejuvenate over a short amount of time; it’s going to have effects over a lot of years to come.” 

Princetown landholder Matt Bowker said opening the estuary earlier could have avoided the “appalling” fish deaths.  “It’s always a tough call  on when to open it but it’s so severely affected by the amount of water taken out of the top end of it for Warrnambool,” Mr Bowker said.  “I would’ve said three weeks earlier that it was time to let it go and if it meant that after a week it blocked up again, then so be it,” he said.  The CCMA provides advice on the estuary openings and Parks Victoria assesses the advice before deciding whether to open the river mouth.  Mr Wallis said CCMA recommended opening the estuary to avoid fish from dying in a closed estuary, and to reduce the risk of flooding on private land. - Colac Herald.

Thousands Of Fish Found Dead In Lake Keepit.
Thousands of fish have been found dead on the eastern shore of Lake Keepit, northeast of Gunnedah.  New South Wales Fisheries on Wednesday reportedly launched an investigation into the deaths Murray cod, yellow belly, bream and carp at the Manilla Ski Gardens.  The cause is believed to be low oxygen levels, but sample testing could prove inconclusive because experts believe the fish have been dead too long.  Fishermen say fish were also seen gasping at the surface and hundreds of shrimp, since cleaned up by local birdlife, were seen climbing out of the water.  The fish deaths occurred along a 2km stretch in the upper end of the lake known as “the forest”, which has been inspected by a NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) fisheries officer. 

The DPI says the kill was first observed on Monday but only reported to the department on Wednesday.  A DPI spokesman reportedly says water above the kill appeared dirty compared to downstream and weather conditions before the kill were hot and dry.  That was followed by afternoon thunderstorms, with about 25mm of rain recorded in the area.  Those factors and a dam increase from 34.5 per cent capacity at the time to a current capacity of 40 per cent are believed to have caused low dissolved oxygen levels.  “No water samples have been collected because the delay in reporting the kill means that the results would be inconclusive,” the DPI spokesman is quoted.  He says it proves the importance of reporting fish kills as soon as possible to ensure fish and water quality samples can be obtained close to the time of an incident. - CCN.

Thousands Of Fish Wash Up Dead On Eyre Peninsula.
Authorities hope to establish within a day or two why thousands of fish were found dead on Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.  Thousands of young leather jackets washed up in the Port Neill area.  Kirk Gibbons from the caravan park said it was a big talking point among locals.  "The three main beaches here at Port Neill there'd be, on the high-tide mark, literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds on each beach," he said.  "[It is] not a pleasant sight, you literally couldn't take a step without stepping on half a dozen or more.  "At least the birds had a good feed, there were lots of birds around there feeding."

WATCH: Fish deaths under investigation.

Fisheries regional manager Andrew Carr doubted there was too much cause for alarm.  "If, for example, there was some sort of spillage in the water or the ocean, some sort of toxic chemical you would think every fish, every species, would be killed and that's why it would seem to be more environmental or natural causes," he said.  "But we're going to make sure and do a biopsy just to double check.  "I have been posed the question what sort of clean-up is going to take place. I don't envisage there'll be any type of clean-up - there's already quite a significant amount of decomposition of the fish - they'll dry up - they're only small and certainly there's a few birds having a field day as well." - ABC News Australia.