Sunday, May 18, 2014

CLIMATE CHANGE: El Ninopocalypse - NASA Image Reveals El Nino Conditions Are Similar To 1997, The Year When Extreme Weather Events Resulted In One Of The Warmest Years In Recorded History!

May 18, 2014 - PACIFIC OCEAN - El Niño gawkers, rejoice. A new set of imagery provides an unmistakable view of the El Niño conditions that appear to be developing.

A map showing ocean height anomalies in early May 2014 compared to early May 1997. Reddish brown indicates
ocean heights that are higher than normal while green indicates lower then normal ocean heights.
NASA Earth Observatory

On Tuesday, NASA's Earth Observatory released a map showing ocean heights in the tropical Pacific in early May compared to May 1997, the year an El Niño formed against which all other El Niños are measured. That year's El Niño helped fuel extreme weather around the globe and contributed to 1998 being one of the warmest years in recorded history.

NASA's image shows that while El Niño conditions haven't yet formed, this year is following a trajectory similar to 1997.

El Niño is generally defined by an abnormal tongue of hot water stretching from the coast of South America into the Pacific Ocean. Currently, ocean surface temperatures in that region have been slowly warming, but they aren't close to El Niño levels yet.

The related measure of ocean height provides another way to look at El Niño and the conditions that precede it, and NASA's satellites have captured a rise of water in the eastern Pacific. The map above shows areas where the ocean is higher than normal in reddish brown and lower than normal in green. The maximum rise is only about an inch off the coast of Central and South America, but that tiny tweak is a hint of bigger things underway.

The cause of the rise is that pool of very warm water working its way up from beneath the surface (or, less likely, Godzilla). Warm water is more voluminous than colder water, which causes oceans to rise. The swelling pool of water in that region is a telltale indicator that generally precedes El Niño.

Don't get caught up in the El Niñopocalypse just yet. For all the signs an El Niño is on the horizon, it's still too early to know just how strong this one could be or even if it will form. Scientists from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society issued a forecast on Thursday that shows the odds of El Niño being in place by this fall at 75 percent. While that's high, it's by no means a given.

Most models used to generate their forecast also indicate if El Niño does develop, it will be weak-to-moderate in strength. That comes with a caveat, though.

"Forecast are still uncertain, and a strong event cannot be ruled out," IRI wrote in its forecast release.

In other words, don't freak out but don't toss out your El Niño preparedness kit just yet. - Climate Central.

ICE AGE NOW: Snow In May In Chicago - This Is Not A Joke?!

May 18, 2014 - CHICAGO, UNITED STATES -  Residents of the north suburbs woke up to light snow on Friday, the first time it has snowed in Chicago in May in nearly 10 years.

(Credit: Megan Schmitt)

Snow was falling in Hoffman Estates and Deerfield around 7:30 a.m. Snow was also reported on cars in the western suburbs.

The last time is snowed in May was back on May 5, 2005, according to CBS 2′s Megan Glaros.

Any snow is unlikely to accumulate, and temperatures will rise to around 50 degrees.

(Credit: Megan Schmitt)


Although there was snow on the ground farther to the west, between Rockford and Sycamore.

Megan Schmit sent photos during her commute to Sycamore.

 WATCH: Spring snow in Chicago.


The latest report of snowfall in any season was a trace of precipitation in early June, 1910, according to the National Weather Service.

The heaviest monthly snowfall in May happened back in 1940, when the Chicago area officially got 2.2 inches.

WATCH: Snow makes fleeting return.

The Friday snowfall was just the latest evidence of an extremely cold and snowy 2014 - which ranked among the coldest and snowiest season in history.

The good news is the weekend forecast looks much better, with temperatures near 60 on Saturday, and in the mid 60s on Sunday.

Next week will be even better, with a high of 68 on Monday, and temperatures in the 70s starting Tuesday. - CBS Chicago.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: MERS Contagion - MERS Virus Spread To Third Person In The United States; Jumps From Human To Human; Netherlands Reports First Case; Saudi Arabia Records More MERS Deaths As WHO Calls For Countries To Improve Prevention Measures; And Expert Declares That Foreign Doctors, Nurses In Saudi Arabia Could Take MERS Global!

May 18, 2014 - HEALTH -  Health officials reported Saturday what appears to be the first time that a mysterious Middle East virus has spread from one person to another in the United States.

MERS Virus Spread To Third Person In The United States
FILE - This undated electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows novel coronavirus particles, also known as the MERS virus,
colorized in yellow. On Saturday, May 17, 2014 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said
an Illinois man has apparently picked up an infection from the only American diagnosed with a
mysterious Middle East virus, but the man has not needed medical treatment.
(AP Photo/NIAID - RML, File) Credit: The Associated Press

The Illinois man probably picked up an infection from an Indiana man who earlier this month became the first U.S. case of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. The Illinois man, however, never needed medical treatment and is reported to be feeling well, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The two men met twice before the Indiana man fell ill and was hospitalized in Munster, Indiana, shortly after traveling from Saudi Arabia, where he lived and was employed as a health care worker. Health officials say they think the virus spread during a 40-minute business meeting that involved no more contact than a handshake.

‘‘We don’t think this changes the risk to the general public,’’ which remains low, said Dr. David Swerdlow of the CDC.

The new report also is not considered evidence that the virus is spreading more easily among people than previously thought, he said. The virus is not considered to be highly contagious, and health officials believe it only spreads from person to person with close contact. Many of those who have gotten sick in the Middle East have been family members or health care workers caring for a MERS patient.

The CDC said tests completed Friday provided evidence that the Illinois man had an infection at some point. Since the first man’s diagnosis, health officials have been monitoring and testing anyone who was in close contact with him, including health care workers and household members, but none of the rest of them has tested positive for the virus.

A second U.S. illness was confirmed last week in a 44-year-old man from Saudi Arabia who was visiting Florida.

Saudi Arabia has been at the center of an outbreak of MERS that began two years ago. The MERS virus has been found in camels, but officials don’t know how it is spreading to humans. Overall, about 600 people have had the respiratory illness, and about 175 people have died. All had ties to the Middle East region or to people who traveled there. There is no vaccine or cure and there’s no specific treatment except to relieve symptoms, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Not all those exposed to the virus become ill.

MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which caused some 800 deaths globally in 2003. - Boston.

Netherlands Reports First Case Of MERS Virus
FILE - This file photo provided by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a colorized transmission of the MERS coronavirus that emerged in 2012. (AP Photo/National Institute
for Allergy and Infectious Diseases via The Canadian Press, File)

A first case of the dangerous Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS) has been detected in the Netherlands, in a man who had traveled to Saudi Arabia, authorities said Wednesday.

"He was infected during a visit to Saudi Arabia and is being treated" in hospital in The Hague, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) said in a statement.

The man was diagnosed on Tuesday and is being kept in strict isolation.

His condition is stable, the RIVM said, adding that authorities are getting in touch with everyone he has been in contact with.

MERS causes fever, cough and shortness of breath, and can be lethal particularly among older people and those with pre-existing health problems.

Some 30 percent of the several hundred people infected with it have died, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus first emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and recent research has suggested it may originate in camels.

The vast majority of cases have been in Saudi Arabia, but MERS has also been found in 16 other countries. Most cases involved people who had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia. - Daily Star.

Saudi Arabia Records More MERS Deaths
The World Health Organisation called for better prevention measures [AFP]

Health authorities in Saudi Arabia have reported three more fatalities from the MERS respiratory virus, taking the death toll in the world's worst-hit country to 163.

The health ministry website also revealed on Saturday that 520 cases have been recorded in the country since MERS appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

It said three women died on Friday; a 48-year-old in Riyadh, a 67-year-old in Taif, and woman in Jeddah whose age was not disclosed.

A spate of cases among staff at King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah last month sparked public panic and the dismissal of its director and the health minister.

Other nations including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, the UAE and the US have also recorded cases, mostly in people who had been to Saudi Arabia.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation said its emergency committee, which includes global medical and policy experts, had flagged mounting concerns about the potentially fatal virus.

WHO recommendations

The WHO called on countries to improve infection prevention and control, collect more data on MERS and to be vigilant in preventing it from spreading to vulnerable countries, notably in Africa.

But it has so far stopped short of declaring an international health emergency, which would have far-reaching implications such as travel and trade restrictions on affected countries.

A WHO team carried out a five-day inspection visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this month and pinpointed breaches in its recommended infection prevention measures as being partly responsible for the spike in hospital infections.

MERS is considered a deadlier but less transmissible cousin of the SARS virus that appeared in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.

Like SARS, it appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering coughing, breathing difficulties and a temperature, but MERS can also causes rapid kidney failure. - Al Jazeera.

Foreign Doctors, Nurses In Saudi Arabia Could Take MERS Global
A man wearing a mask poses with camels at a camel market in the village of al-Thamama near Riyadh May 11, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser

The biggest risk that Middle East Respiratory Syndrome will become a global epidemic, ironically, may lie with globe-trotting healthcare workers.

From Houston to Manila, doctors and nurses are recruited for lucrative postings in Saudi Arabia, where MERS was first identified in 2012. Because the kingdom has stepped up hiring of foreign healthcare professionals in the last few years, disease experts said, there is a good chance the MERS virus will hitch a ride on workers as they return home.

"This is how MERS might spread around the world," said infectious disease expert Dr Amesh Adalja of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

It can take five to 14 days for someone infected with MERS to show symptoms, more than enough time for a contagious person to fly to the other side of the world without being detectable. Healthcare workers "are at extremely high risk of contracting MERS compared to the general public," Adalja said.

The threat has attracted new attention with the confirmation of the first two MERS cases in the United States. Both are healthcare workers who fell ill shortly after leaving their work in Saudi hospitals and boarding planes bound west.

About one-third of the MERS cases treated in hospitals in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah were healthcare workers, according to the World Health Organization.

Despite the risk, few of the healthcare workers now in, or planning to go to, Saudi Arabia are having second thoughts about working there, according to nurses, doctors and recruiters interviewed by Reuters.

Michelle Tatro, 28, leaves next week for the kingdom, where she will work as an open-heart-surgery nurse. Tatro, who typically does 13-week stints at hospitals around the United States, said her family had sent her articles about MERS, but she wasn't worried.

"I was so glad to get this job," she told Reuters. "Travel is my number one passion."

So far, international health authorities have not publicly expressed concern about the flow of expatriate medical workers to and from Saudi Arabia.

"There is not much public health authorities or border agents can do,” said infectious disease expert Dr Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota. "Sure, they can ask people, ‘did you work in a healthcare facility in Saudi Arabia,’ but if the answer is yes, then what?"

Healthcare workers are best placed to understand the MERS risk, Osterholm said, and "there should be a heightened awareness among them of possible MERS symptoms."

Neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the Department of Homeland Security responded to questions about whether they were considering monitoring healthcare workers returning to the United States.


In the last few years, the number of expatriates working in Saudi Arabia has soared, said Suleiman Arabie, managing director of Houston, Texas-based recruiting firm SA International, with thousands now working in the kingdom.

About 15 percent of physicians working in the kingdom are American or European, and some 40 percent of nurses are Filipino or Malaysian, according to estimates by recruiters and people who have worked in hospitals there.

The majority of U.S.-trained medical staff are on one- or two-year contracts, which results in significant churn as workers rotate in and out of Saudi medical facilities.

The Saudi government is building hundreds of hospitals and offering private companies interest-free loans to help build new facilities. Its healthcare spending jumped to $27 billion last year from $8 billion in 2008. Building the hospitals is one challenge, staffing them with qualified personnel is another.

Arabie's firm is trying to fill positions at two dozen medical facilities in Saudi Arabia for pulmonologists, a director of nursing, a chief of physiotherapy and scores more.

Doctors in lucrative, in-demand specialties such as cardiology and oncology can make $1 million for a two-year contract, recruiters said.

Nurses' pay depends on their home country, with those from the United States and Canada earning around $60,000 a year while those from the Philippines get about $12,000, recruiters said. That typically comes with free transportation home, housing, and 10 weeks of paid vacation each year. For Americans, any income under about $100,000 earned abroad is tax-free, adding to the appeal of a Saudi posting.

One Filipina nurse, who spoke anonymously so as not to hurt her job prospects, told Reuters that she was "willing to go to Saudi Arabia because I don't get enough pay here." In a private hospital in Manila, she made 800 pesos (about $18) a day.

"I know the risks abroad but I'd rather take it than stay here," she said. "I am not worried about MERS virus. I know how to take care of myself and I have the proper training."

None of Arabie's potential candidates "have expressed any concern" about MERS. Only one of the hundreds of professionals placed by Toronto-based medical staffing firm Helen Ziegler & Associates Inc. decided to return to the United States because of MERS, it said, and one decided not to accept a job in Jeddah she had been hired for.

Recruitment agencies in Manila have also continued to send nurses to the kingdom since the MERS outbreak, said Hans Leo Cacdac, the head of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. The government advises that returning workers be screened for MERS, Labour and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said this week.

Expat healthcare workers now working in Saudi Arabia feel confident local authorities are taking the necessary steps to combat the spread of MERS in hospitals.

"Just today they came and put up giant posters in our hospital on MERS," said Dr Taher Kagalwala, a pediatrician originally from Mumbai who works at Al Moweh General Hospital in a town about 120 miles from Tai'f city in western Saudi Arabia

"I have not heard of or seen any healthcare workers looking to leave their jobs or return to their countries because of the MERS panic. If it was happening, there would have been gossip very soon."
- Reuters.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Island Of Sumatra Off Indonesia! [MAPS+TECTONIC SUMMARY]

May 18, 2014 - SUMATRA - A 6.2-magnitude quake struck off the Indonesian island of Sumatra today, with no immediate tsunami warning issued.

USGS earthquake location map.

The US Geological Survey said the quake hit at a depth of nine kilometres, just over 300 kilometres west of the coastal city Banda Aceh.

The quake occurred at around 7:00 am (0630 IST), USGS said.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity

ndonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 devastated Indonesia, where 170,000 people were killed, mostly in Aceh province. - The Indian Republic.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Sumatra Region.
The plate boundary southwest of Sumatra is part of a long tectonic collision zone that extends over 8000 km from Papua in the east to the Himalayan front in the west. The Sumatra-Andaman portion of the collision zone forms a subduction zone megathrust plate boundary, the Sunda-Java trench, which accommodates convergence between the Indo-Australia and Sunda plates. This convergence is responsible for the intense seismicity and volcanism in Sumatra. The Sumatra Fault, a major transform structure that bisects Sumatra, accommodates the northwest-increasing lateral component of relative plate motion.

Relative plate motion between the Indo-Australia and Sunda plates is rapid, decreasing from roughly 63 mm/year near the southern tip of Sumatra (Australia relative to Sunda) to 44 mm/year north of Andaman Islands (India relative to Sunda) and rotating counterclockwise to the northwest, so that relative motion near Jakarta is nearly trench-normal but becomes nearly trench-parallel near Myanmar. As a result of the rotation in relative motion along the strike of the arc and the interaction of multiple tectonic plates, several interrelated tectonic elements compose the Sumatra-Andaman plate boundary. Most strain accumulation and release occurs along the Sunda megathrust of the main subduction zone, where lithosphere of the subducting Indo-Australia plate is in contact with the overlying Sunda plate down to a depth of 60 km. Strain release associated with deformation within the subducting slab is evidenced by deeper earthquakes that extend to depths of less than 300 km on Sumatra and 150 km or less along the Andaman Islands. The increasingly oblique convergence between these two plates moving northwest along the arc is accommodated by crustal seismicity along a series of transform and normal faults. East of the Andaman Islands, back- arc spreading in the Andaman Sea produces a zone of distributed normal and strike-slip faulting. Similar to the Sumatran Fault, the Sagaing Fault near Myanmar also accommodates the strike-slip component of oblique plate motion. Plate-boundary related deformation is also not restricted to the subduction zone and overriding plate: the subducting Indo-Australian plate actually comprises two somewhat independent plates (India and Australia), with small amounts of motion relative to one another, that are joined along a broad, actively-deforming region producing seismicity up to several hundred kilometers west of the trench. This deformation is exemplified by the recent April 2012 earthquake sequence, which includes the April 11 M 8.6 and M 8.2 strike-slip events and their subsequent aftershocks.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Paleoseismic studies using coral reefs as a proxy for relative land level changes associated with earthquake displacement suggest that the Sunda arc has repeatedly ruptured during relatively large events in the past, with records extending as far back as the 10th century. In northern Simeulue Island, the southern terminus of the 2004 megathrust earthquake rupture area, a cluster of megathrust earthquakes occurred over a 56 year period between A.D. 1390 and 1455, resulting in uplift substantially greater than that caused by the 2004 event. Studies that look at large sheeted deposits of sand on land interpreted as the transport of debris from a tsunami wave also indicate that this region has experienced significant tsunamis in the past centuries, albeit infrequently.

Prior to 2004, the most recent megathrust earthquakes along the Sumatran-Andaman plate boundary were in 1797 (M 8.7-8.9), 1833 (M 8.9-9.1) and 1861 (M8.5). Since 2004, much of the Sunda megathrust between the northern Andaman Islands and Enggano Island, a distance of more than 2,000 km, has ruptured in a series of large subduction zone earthquakes - most rupturing the plate boundary south of Banda Aceh. The great M 9.1 earthquake of December 26, 2004, which produced a devastating tsunami, ruptured much of the boundary between Myanmar and Simeulue Island offshore Banda Aceh. Immediately to the south of the great 2004 earthquake, the M 8.6 Nias Island earthquake of March 28, 2005 ruptured a 400-km section between Simeulue and the Batu Islands. Farther south in the Mentawai islands, two earthquakes on September 12, 2007 of M 8.5 and M 7.9 occurred in the southern portion of the estimated 1797 and 1833 ruptures zone, which extends from approximately Enggano Island to the northern portion of Siberut Island. Smaller earthquakes have also been locally important: a M 7.6 rupture within the subducting plate caused considerable damage in Padang in 2009, and a M 7.8 rupture on October 25, 2010 occurred on the shallow portion of the megathrust to the west of the Mentawai Islands, and caused a substantial tsunami on the west coast of those islands.

In addition to the current seismic hazards along this portion of the Sunda arc, this region is also recognized as having one of the highest volcanic hazards in the world. One of the most dramatic eruptions in human history was the Krakatau eruption on August 26-27, 1883, a volcano just to the southeast of the island of Sumatra, which resulted in over 35, 000 casualties.

Subduction and seismicity along the plate boundary adjacent to Java is fundamentally different from that of the Sumatran-Andaman section. Relative motion along the Java arc is trench-normal (approximately 65-70 mm/year) and does not exhibit the same strain partitioning and back-arc strike- slip faulting that are observed along the Sumatra margin. Neither has the Java subduction zone hosted similar large magnitude megathrust events to those of its neighbor, at least in documented history. Although this region is not as seismically active as the Sumatra region, the Java arc has hosted low to intermediate-magnitude extensional earthquakes and deep-focus (300-700 km) events and exhibits a similar if not higher volcanic hazard. This arc has also hosted two large, shallow tsunami earthquakes in the recent past which resulted in high tsunami run-ups along the southern Java coast. - USGS.

DISASTER PRECURSORS: The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior - Winterkill Strikes Grand Lake Near Duluth, Thousands Of Fish Found Dead; Rare, Mysterious Deep Sea Fish Washes Ashore Along North Carolina Coast; Massive Number Of Dead Fishes In New Jersey River; Monster Jellyfish Spotted On Beaches Of South West Wales; Locusts Form 1,000 Foot High "BUGNADO" Near Lisbon, Portugal; Rare Sturgeon Washes Up Along Connecticut River; Strange Deep Sea Fish Caught At Pamban, India; And One Quarter Of The U.S. Honeybee Population Died Over The Winter! [PHOTOS+VIDEOS]

May 18, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

Winterkill Strikes Grand Lake Near Duluth, Thousands Of Fish Found Dead
Dead fish of several species are washed up along the shore of Grand Lake on Monday. Thousands of fish in the lake
north of Duluth were lost to winterkill, a condition in which dissolved oxygen levels are too low for fish to survive.

Dan Wilfond/Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

The fish began piling up along the western shore of Grand Lake near Duluth on Monday, not long after the ice had gone out. Pushed by a strong east wind, thousands of dead fish washed up in reed beds and the front yards of lakeshore residents.  Perhaps as many as 35,000 fish died, said Dan Wilfond, fisheries specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at French River, although he cautioned that that was a rough estimate.  The fish, victims of winterkill -- low oxygen levels -- included sunfish, crappies, walleyes, northern pike and largemouth bass, Wilfond said.  Grand Lake, a 1,600-acre lake between Saginaw and Twig, is popular with anglers.  "It was disheartening," Wilfond said. "It was a pretty severe kill."  Tim Goeman, DNR regional fisheries supervisor at Grand Rapids, said he was not aware of other lakes across northeastern Minnesota that have suffered winterkill.  Winterkill occurs when dissolved oxygen levels get too low during winter for fish to survive, Wilfond said. It typically takes place on shallow lakes with lots of aquatic vegetation or high nutrient levels, Goeman said.  Grand Lake is 24 feet at its deepest, but just 1 percent of the lake is deeper than 15 feet, Wilfond said. The lake has historically suffered some winterkill events, he said. The last severe winterkill on Grand Lake was in 1955-56.  Walleye numbers in the lake have decreased in recent years as bass and panfish populations have increased. As a result of the winterkill and a subsequent void in the lake's fish numbers, the DNR plans to stock the lake with walleye fry (tiny, just hatched fish), Wilfond said.  "Maybe we can get the walleye population up and running," Wilfond said. "Because of the void, there will be a lot of forage for them."  The DNR had been stocking walleyes in Grand Lake for a time but discontinued it several years ago due to poor returns, Wilfond said.  "But in our management plan, we said we would reintroduce walleye stocking in the event of a winterkill," he said.  The DNR plans to stock 755,000 fry each year from this year through 2016. This year's fry stocking likely will take place in a couple of weeks, Wilfond said. - St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Rare, Mysterious Deep Sea Fish Washes Ashore Along North Carolina Coast
A Lancetfish was found Monday in Nags Head on a beach south of Jennette’s Pier. Leif Rasmussen via Daryl Law

A rarely seen deep sea fish washed up on the beaches of North Carolina on Monday evening.  A Lancetfish was found in Nags Head on a beach south of Jennette's Pier. It is an open ocean fish and rarely comes to shore.  Lancetfishes have large mouths and very sharp teeth. They grow up to 6.6 feet in length. Very little is known about their biology, though they are widely distributed in all oceans, except the polar seas.  Officials with Jennette's Pier say the rare fish was alive when it washed up on the shore.

A November 2006 photo of a Lancetfish.NOAA

Daryl Law, who works at the North Carolina Aquarium, said the fish was released after being photographed.Lancetfishes have been seen as far north as Greenland and are often caught by vessels long-lining for tuna. - MYFOX8.

Massive Number Of Dead Fishes In New Jersey River
Footage shows scores of dead fish in Belmar, NJ on May 12, 2014.

Possibly tens of thousands of fish have died in Belmar, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said. Footage from Chopper 2 showed thousands of dead fish in Shark River near the docks in Belmar on Monday. The DEP believes the fish kill is a result of natural causes, the remnants of a massive influx that came into the estuary overnight, CBS 2′s Lou Young reported.  "They were here last night. Biggest School I've ever seen," fishing boat captain George Stella said.  Initially, heavy rains were thought to be the cause of the massive kill.  Recent heavy rains were believed to have caused the water to churn, stirring up the sediment at the bottom of the river, the DEP told CBS 2. This could have caused algae to bloom after recent warm weather. The algae could have starved the water of oxygen, resulting in the death of the fish, the DEP said. However, that scenario now seems less likely as subsequent testing determined that oxygen levels in the water were normal, and no algae or chemicals were found.

Footage shows scores of dead fish in Belmar, NJ on May 12, 2014.

The DEP also said that it was possible that a large school of the fish migrated into the area. The fish may have done so in close proximity to each other in a small estuary, deprived each other of oxygen, and suffocated.  Local fisherman told CBS 2′s Young that they have seen this kind of thing before.  "Every 20 or 30 years you'll see something like this happen. It can be attributed to the amount of bunker in the area right now," Nick Caruso said.  "The blues and striped bass come by and chase them and they come here and run out of oxygen," Stella added.  "It is very alarming when we see something like this," Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty told WCBS 880′s Steve Scott. "And right now, we're cleaning up what's here, and we're still trying to find out what the source of this fish kill is.  "They're coming up the docks," Doherty added. "They're coming up on the beaches. And they're coming in through our marina as well."  Doherty told WCBS 880 bunker fish, also known as menhaden, were the breed primarily turning up dead.  "Preliminary idea is that it is a low level of oxygen in the water and the bunker fish are the most susceptible to a low level of oxygen in the water," Mayor Doherty explained.  Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, noted that in 2010 "millions" of dead menhaden washed ashore along Delaware Bay. Those are fish are more susceptible to low oxygen, he said.  "It's not uncommon for this to happen to them," Hajna told WCBS 880. "You don't like it to happen, but likely, this combination of natural causes is what did it.  "Most important, no public health or safety concern here," Hajna added.  New Jerseyans couldn't believe what they were seeing.  "For two hours straight, there were millions and millions of fish that were coming out of the river when the tide had changed," Jesse Thomas, who works at Fisherman's Den, a bait and tackle shop, told 1010 WINS.  "You would think it would affect all the fish, but I don't know what it is," Drew Brandle told CBS 2′s Christine Sloan.

WATCH: Large fish kill in New Jersey.


"I've never seen it in this river before, anything like this. Never," Bob Matthews, who also works at Fisherman's Den told WCBS 880. "I've heard of it, and I know it's happened a lot of other places."On Monday night, crews were working to clean up the fish in an effort to keep the problem contained to the inlet."After awhile they are going to start decaying, the belly is going to blow, they're going to come to the surface and then it's going to be a stink fest down there," Joe Zaleski said.Workers have carted off what they can, but some fish are sinking and the bottom of the river has become coated with carcasses. Thus far the absence of any stench has been attributed to cold water and an initially healthy bunker population.Officials have taken samples of fish and will test them before making an official determination on the cause.The good news, if any, to come out of this the presence of bunker in large numbers means that their main predators are close by creating good striper fishing along the Shore. - CBS.

Monster Jellyfish Spotted On Beaches Of South West Wales
Jason Dale

Monster jellyfish have landed on the beaches of south west Wales. And there are warnings many more could be on the way.  Surprised visitors discovered the two foot wide creatures on the sands of Ferryside in Carmarthenshire. The giant barrel jellyfish can grow up to 3.5ft wide and can sting, but they it is not powerful enough to harm humans. Jason Dale from Machynys in Llanelli said he couldn't believe his eyes when he spotted the huge creature on the shore.  The 43-year-old, who owns an internet company, said: "It looked like something out of Doctor Who - it was some alien creature.  "I have never seen a jellyfish this size, it was at least 2ft wide. I was surprised to see it."  Barrel jellyfish the size of wheelie bins have already washed up on beaches along the English coast, with 30 being spotted in Portland in Dorset alone. Experts believe the jellyfish invasion has been caused by heavy flooding. The plankton, which jellyfish feed on, is also so rich due to the amount of nutrients in the sea. 

Usually, the jellyfish can be found in the warmer waters of the Mediterranean but a trail of them are being left stranded on the shore by south westerly winds and strong tides.  Mr Dale said he believed the marine animals, which weigh 35kg, were heading to Britain due to the waters around the coast heating up.  He said: "I think because of the warm waters there's more jellyfish coming through - they are coming up from the channel.  "I saw hundreds of jellyfish in Llangennith a few years back."  Marine life experts have warned beach visitors to stay away from the shallow parts of the shoreline and to not approach the sea creatures if spotted.  Wildlife photographer Steve Trewhella, aged 50, added: "I think that the numbers we have seen so far are the tip of the iceberg. Jellyfish are a form of plankton and one of the possible reasons we are seeing such high numbers at the moment is because of the plankton bloom."  He added he believed the floodings in rivers had also had an impact on jellyfish numbers.  If you are stung, seek medical help. - Llanelli Star.

Locusts Form 1,000 Foot High "BUGNADO" Near Lisbon, Portugal
Wildlife photographer Ana Filipa Scarpa spotted the bizarre tower of bugs while
driving along the road north of Lisbon in Portugal

A Portuguese wildlife photographer captured the dramatic moment a plague of LOCUSTS swarmed across the countryside  Ana Filipa Scarpa was in Vila Franca de Xira, north of Lisbon when she spotted what she initially thought was a dust storm.  However, within moments, Ms Filipa Scarpa realised that the 1,000 foot high column was alive and made of insects.  The phenomena - dubbed a Bugnado - was made of red locusts who scour the farmland looking for food.  She said: 'At first I believed it was a wind twister, the animals around me were very nervous.  'I stayed in my place and looked for a safe place, but there was none, and at the same time the twister was never reaching me.  'So I entered my car and drove towards it. After same metres I realised that an enormous amount of insects were in fact the tornado.  'I suppose it would be better a wind twister, than a bug twister,' she said.  The locusts disappeared before arriving at Ms Filipa Scarpa's position on the roadway. 

Ms Filipa Scarpa had initially thought the column was made of dust created by dangerously
high winds and initially sought somewhere to shelter

According to Ms Filipa Scarpa, animals including horses seemed disturbed as
the column of locusts formed around a quarter of a mile away

According to the United Nationas a red locust can eat its own bodyweight in food each day
while traveling between 20-30 kilometres

'I cannot imagine what could happen to me if they had caught me.  'It's not known for sure what kind of bugs make up this swarm, but they may be red locusts.  'The swarm extended perhaps 1,000 ft. It was nearly a quarter of a mile away from my position and I took the picture with a 200 mm lens.  'Perspective makes the leading edge of the swarm appear smaller and thus tapered.'  The red locust can have a devastating impact on the developing world where outbreaks can threaten 15 million people with starvation.  A special United Nations team has been established to counter the menace presented by red locusts in southern and eastern Africa.  The voracious bugs can travel more than 20 miles in a day, devouring crops.  A locust will eat its own two gram bodyweight in fresh food each day. UN figures suggest that one tonne of red locusts will eat enough food to nourish 2,500 people for a day.  The United Nations runs special eradication schemes across large areas of Africa to keep red locust numbers down. - Daily Mail.

Rare Sturgeon Washes Up Along Connecticut River
Carleen Gerber

The rare nearly 7-foot-long Atlantic sturgeon that weighs about 100 pounds was found Saturday near Elys Ferry Road.  "It had been here a while, it started to decay...started to smell," said eyewitness Gary Weed.  This fish is labeled an endangered species by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  State experts are taking a closer look at the big discovery at the DEEP Marine headquarters in nearby Old Lyme.  "We had seen a few wash up in Long Island Sound the last couple of years, the same size or pretty close, but this is the largest we've seen in the river so far," said Tom Savoy, who is a DEEP fisheries biologist.

WATCH: Rare prehistoric fish sturgeon washes ashore.


Savoy studied the remains and said it was an immature female, maybe 15 years old. Atlantic Sturgeon could live up to 75 years old and grow up to 15 feet long.  There is a population of the fish that live along the lower part of the river. If you hook one, you're asked to release it because DEEP officials said they are a protected animal. There are only thousands left along the east coast.  "We do caution people, they are a federally-listed species, so their not supposed to take them out of the water or cause them undo harm," Savoy said.  Savoy said he can't determine exactly how this one died, but if you ever see one, you'll know and have your own "fish story" to tell.  "Its different. It really is different. Something you don't see everyday." - WIBW.

Strange Deep Sea Fish Caught At Pamban, India
A fisherman holding one of the rare fish at Pamban L. Balachandar

A day after catching deep sea lobsters, considered a 'prize catch,' country boat fishermen have caught rare fish, believed to be fully grown 'Rhinochimaera,' a deep sea fish.  Fishermen, who ventured into the south sea for fishing in a motorised 'vallam' (country boat) on Friday morning and returned on Saturday morning, caught the fish while fishing about 40 nautical miles south of Pamban.  I. Litisan, who owned the 'vallam,' said the fishermen had gone to the deep sea looking for a better catch when they caught the rare fish. Each fish weighed about six to seven kg. As the fish were not consumed, they were cut into pieces for drying, he said.  Sources in the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) said the fish belonged to the Rhinochimaera genus and Chimaera family. The exact species could be confirmed only after a detailed study, they said. These fish could have migrated from the deep sea, they added.  Mr. Litisan said fishermen in his boat also caught about 50 deep sea lobsters, totally weighing about five kg. They were sold at Rs. 1,000 a kg, he said.  "We get such rare fish species, giant lobsters and prawns as the sea is undisturbed when the mechanised boat fishermen are staying away from the sea since April 15 when the 45-day ban period began," he told The Hindu.  R. Roosevelt, who was engaged in fishing and trading, said country boat fishermen in the Pamban region used to get a range of fish such as Groupers, Basslets, Goat fish, Anchovies, Travallies, whitings, Barracudas, Pomfrets, Seer and Halfbeaks, besides crabs and lobsters.  They said there were about 800 motorised country boats in Pamban area alone and the fishermen ventured into both the north and south sea for fishing. On a given day, 500 boats would venture into the sea and the average day's catch from all the boats would be around 35 tonnes, Mr. Roosevelt said.  While crabs and lobsters were exported to foreign countries, the other varieties were sold in the domestic market, he said. About 7,000 families in the region depend on fishing for their livelihood, he added. - The Hindu.

One Quarter Of The U.S. Honeybee Population Died Over The Winter
Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko

Nearly one quarter of the US honeybee population died over the winter, according to an annual survey. Beekeepers report the losses remain higher than they consider sustainable, and the death rate could soon affect the country's food supply.  "More than three-fourths of the world's flowering plants rely on pollinators, such as bees, to reproduce, meaning pollinators help produce one out of every three bites of food Americans eat," the US Department of Agriculture said in a statement about the survey. Bees' pollinating role adds $15 billion to the value of U.S. crops, including apples, almonds, watermelons and beans, according to government reports. The study, produced by a partnership between the USDA, the Apiary Inspectors of America and the Bee Informed Partnership, found that 23.2 percent of honeybee colonies died over the winter, which is higher than the "acceptable winter mortality rate" of 18.9 percent.

The good news for the beekeeping and agricultural industries is that the 23.2 percent colony loss rate is lower than that of Winter 2012-2013, where 30.5 percent of colonies died. "Pollinators, such as bees, birds and other insects are essential partners for farmers and ranchers and help produce much of our food supply. Healthy pollinator populations are critical to the continued economic well-being of agricultural producers," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the USDA statement. "While we're glad to see improvement this year, losses are still too high and there is still much more work to be done to stabilize bee populations."  Honeybee hives are generally inactive during the winter, when the colony survives by creating a winter cluster. The bees bundle together for warmth, which self-regulates the internal temperature in the cluster's center, according to the Back Yard Beekeepers Association. This winter, record cold temperatures, marked by polar vortices sweeping down from the Arctic Circle, may have proved deadly to the bee population.

"It was about the worst winter we've had in the past 20 years, for bee management and surviving bees," Jerry Fischer, chief apiary inspector with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, said to the Baltimore Sun. Maryland lost nearly 50 percent of its honeybee population, an increase over previous years, which averaged about a one-third loss annually. Fischer said that many of the colonies he inspected last summer appeared to not have stored up adequate honey supplies to survive the unusually harsh winter. A Harvard study published earlier in May found that two popular insecticides - both of which are neonicotinoids - are the likely cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the disease killing off honeybees and threatening pollination of the world's crops. The researchers noted that the colder the winter, the more the severe the harm from the insecticides.  "With the damning evidence mounting, pesticide companies can no longer spin their way out of this crisis," Michele Simon, a public health lawyer who specializes in food issues, told Reuters.

But neonicotinoid producers, including Bayer AG, Monsanto Co and DuPont, argue that mites - not their products - are to blame for the devastating loss.  "Yearly fluctuations in the rate of losses like these only demonstrate how complicated the whole issue of honey bee [health] has become, with factors such as viruses and other pathogens, parasites like varroa mites, problems of nutrition from lack of diversity in pollen sources, and even sublethal effects of pesticides combining to weaken and kill bee colonies," Jeff Pettis, co-author of the survey and research leader of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., said in the USDA statement.   BeeLogics, a Monsanto-owned bee health company and a collaborator on the annual survey, laid much of the blame for the colony collapses on the varroa mite, an Asian bee parasite first found in the US in 1987, Reuters reported. "What is clear from all of our efforts is that varroa is a persistent and often unexpected problem," Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland and the director of the Bee Informed Partnership, said in a USDA ARS statement. "Every beekeeper needs to have an aggressive varroa management plan in place. Without one, they should not be surprised if they suffer large losses every other year or so. Unfortunately, many small-scale beekeepers are not treating and are losing many colonies. Even beekeepers who do treat for mites often don't treat frequently enough or at the right time. If all beekeepers were to aggressively control mites, we would have many fewer losses." - RT.