Saturday, March 14, 2015

FUK-U-SHIMA: 750 Tons Of Plant Water Leaked At Fukushima - TEPCO!

Reuters / Kyodo

March 14, 2015 - JAPAN
- In yet another major leak at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) reported that 750 tons of contaminated rainwater have escaped the plant.

The water overflowed from mounds where storage tanks for radioactive water are located, The Japan Times quoted TEPCO as saying.

Rainwater within that perimeter had up to 8,300 becquerels per liter of beta particle-emitting radioactive substances, such as strontium-90.

The leak has likely made its way to the ground, according to the officials, but they do not anticipate the contaminated water spreading further into the sea. The spilled rainwater was discovered in two separate places between the artificial mounds and the ground.

Initially, the leak was believed to be 400 tons. It was later revised upwards.

TEPCO has been having difficulties dealing with plant decommissioning and has been forced to postpone deadlines and deal with alarming incidents.

Earlier this week, the UN nuclear watchdog (IAEA) said Japan had made significant progress, but there is still a radioactive threat, and a “very complex” scenario at Fukushima.

Over a month ago, TEPCO said it would have to miss the toxic water cleanup deadline, suspending it until the end of May and revising earlier promises to be done by March. - RT.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Ebola-Related Deaths Pass 10,000 Mark - WHO Concern Over A Worrying Spike In Infections In Sierra Leone!

Sierra Leone authorities reported a worrying spike in infections over the past week in four districts [AP]

March 14, 2015 - WEST AFRICA
- The tally of Ebola-related deaths has passed the grim milestone of 10,000, mostly in West Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

The UN health agency said on Thursday that Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone alone had reported 10,004 confirmed, probable and suspected deaths from the virus since the beginning of the biggest-ever Ebola outbreak in March 2014.

There have also been eight deaths in Nigeria, six in Mali and one in the United States.

A massive international effort to stamp out the deadly disease has slowed the rate of infections, especially in Liberia. But the virus appears stubbornly entrenched in parts of Guinea and Sierra Leone.

WHO's statement came after authorities in Sierra Leone reported a worrying spike in infections over the past week in four districts.

Alfred Palo Conteh, the head of the National Ebola Response Centre, said that new Ebola hotspots have emerged in recent days in Cabala Town and Magazine Cut in the east of the capital, Freetown, where a number of confirmed cases have been recorded. The other hotspot is in the west of Freetown.

Palo Conteh added that the increase in infections of the contagious disease was caused by a lack of public caution in "densely populated" areas. - Al Jazeera.

Tracking the EBOLA Virus Outbreak

MONUMENTAL DELUGE: Widespread Flooding – The Latest Reports Of High Tides, Heavy Rainfall, Flash Floods, Sea Level Rise, And Catastrophic Storms!

March 14, 2015 - EARTH - The following list constitutes the latest reports of high tides, heavy rainfall, flash floods, widespread flooding, sea level rise and catastrophic storms.

Ohio River set to rise to highest level in decades

Weather services issued multiple alerts Saturday for Cincinnati and several other Midwest cities Saturday as the Ohio River rose toward its highest level in nearly two decades. Rains could push the river just a few feet short of the levels seen in the 1997 flood that marked one the river's most severe on record. Local communities have evacuated residents from high-risk areas.

The Ohio River Forecast Center predicts the river could crest at 58 feet -- six feet above minimum flood levels -- by Sunday, according to local reports.

The river reached 64 feet in 1997, marking one of the most serious floods the area had seen in decades. The 1997 flood resulted in power cuts for thousands of Ohioans and an estimated $180 million in damage, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

Weather services have issued flood warnings for the Ohio River, which is expected to reach its highest level since 1997 Sunday.  © Reuters/Jim Young

Flooding hits Vermilion.  © fox8news

This weekend's water rise would affect communities in Ohio, as well as towns in Kentucky and Indiana. Public roads and businesses in Cincinnati and other affected cities nearby closed Saturday as a result of the warnings.

The National Weather Service issued additional flood warnings for smaller waterways in Ohio, including the Scioto, Sandusky, Cuyahoga and Muskingum rivers, and urged residents not to drive vehicles through flooded areas.

WATCH: Ohio River flooding.

Local news outlets and area observers posted photos of some of the flooding that has already been reported near the Ohio River:

Kimberly @Predec2

@beJULEd8 Panoramic shot of Ohio River flooding. 25 miles east of Cinti.
The National Weather Service also kept a flood warning in effect for some areas near the Mississippi River Saturday, including Memphis, Tennessee, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Flooding in those areas is expected to be minor, according to the warnings, but local weather reports predicted the river could continue rising during the next week.

Flood watches also remained in place for the weekend for some northeast states, including western New York and Pennsylvania, lasting until Saturday evening. - International Business Times.

Storm and flooding kills 62 in Lobito, Angola

Torrential rains have killed 62 people, more than half of them children, in the Angolan town of Lobito, official news agency Angop said on Thursday, citing firefighters.

The Bairro Novo neighbourhood of Lobito, located on the Atlantic coast about 500 kilometres south of the capital Luanda, was worst affected by the downpours on the night from Wednesday to Thursday, with the water up to three metres deep in places, the agency added.

Thirty-five of the 62 dead were children, it said.

WATCH: Deadly Angola floods.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos asked the provincial government to help the families affected by the tragedy, while offering his condolences to the relatives of the dead, a presidency statement said.

Violent storms come to Angola every spring, causing landslides and floods that hit the country's poor neighbourhoods the hardest.

One person was already killed in a storm on Tuesday that also destroyed 137 houses and left more than 400 families homeless in Luanda, the local government said. - IOL.

Heavy rainfall kills 14 and damages crops in North India

The foothills of the Dhuladhars overlooking the lush green Kangra valley experienced fresh snowfall on Sunday.  © Ashok Raina

Widespread rains battered large swathes of North India on Sunday bringing mercury down by several notches, even as it claimed 14 lives and damaged crops in several regions.

Twelve people were killed in Rajasthan due to rain, lightning and hailstorms, which also destroyed Rabi crops in the state, while two were killed in Uttarakhand in rockslide triggered by heavy rain.

Cold conditions returned to Delhi after the showers as the day temperature plummeted to 19.6 degree Celsius, nine degrees below normal. According to the Meteorological department, the city received 3.6 mm rains till 5.30pm this evening. The minimum temperature was 16.6 degrees, two notches above normal, while maximum was registered at 19.6 degree. On Saturday, the maximum was recorded at 27.3 degrees.

In Rajasthan, besides those dead, scores of cattle perished while several people were also injured in thunderstorms in the last 24 hours, officials said on Sunday.

Six people were killed in Bundi district, two each in Rajsamand and Sawaimadhopur districts and one each in Bikaner and Ajmer districts, police said.

Incessant rains, hailstorm and winter's revival have not only affected normal life but also caused damage to standing Rabi crops in entire Rajasthan, a MeT official said.

Meanwhile, higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh received a fresh spell of snow while rain lashed mid and lower hills. Avalanche threat loomed large over high-altitude tribal areas above 2,500 feet as melting of snow and glacier movement could accelerate in next few days.

Rohtang and Kunzam Pass, Pin Parvati valley and Chitkul and other high-altitude tribal areas received 10 cm to 20 cm of snow while Keylong and Kalpa recorded 3 cm and 2 cm of snow. High-altitude tribal areas reeled under biting cold wave conditions with minimum temperatures ranging between minus 12 and minus 18 degrees.

Keylong and Kalpa in Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts recorded a low of minus 5.9 degree and minus 2 degree, followed by Chamba 1.0 degree. Tourist resorts Dalhousie, Manali and Shimla recorded 2.6 degree, 4.4 degree and 5.3 degree respectively. - The Tribune.

EARTH CHANGES: Monumental Signs Of The Times – The Latest Reports On Extreme Weather Across The Planet For March 14, 2014!

March 14, 2015 - EARTH - The following stories constitutes some of the latest incidents of Earth changes across the globe.

Unusual ice heave on Otter Tail County lakes, Minnesota

Ice damage on Otter Tail Lake mostly has been concentrated on the south shore of the lake,
according to Dave Sethre, President of the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations

Ice is a normal part of winter along Minnesota's lakes. However, this year, some property owners on Otter Tail County lakes are dealing with more ice, and damage, than usual.

Dave Sethre, president of the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations, called the ice on one of the biggest lakes -- Otter Tail -- "pretty radical" this year.

"This is turning out to be the winter of the ice heave on many of our larger Otter Tail County lakes," Sethre wrote in a March newsletter. "Estimates are that expansion has been 150 to 200 percent at some locations."

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, ice heaves and ridges are caused by caused by the pushing action of a lake's ice sheet against the shore.

"This is especially true in years that the ice sheet lacks an insulating snow cover," the department added. When lake ice cracks for whatever reason, water rises into the cracks and freezes, gradually expanding the sheet.

Fluctuating temperatures can worsen this problem by causing additional expansion, the DNR said, which exerts a tremendous thrust against the shore. Alternate warming and cooling of the ice sheet leads to additional pushing action, causing the ice to creep shoreward and scrape, gouge, and push soil and rock into mounds (called "ice ridges").

Sethre said he has seen the most damage on Otter Tail Lake on the southern shore.

Ice along the shore of Otter Tail Lake has been pushing up against the shoreline again this year. This picture, taken by the public lake access along State
Highway 78 and across from the Pelican Bay Pier, shows a group of trees as no match for the heaped-up ice.  © Eric Hendrickx/FOCUS

Ice along the shore of Otter Tail Lake has been pushing up against the shoreline again this year. This picture, taken by the public lake access along State Highway 78 and across from the Pelican Bay Pier, shows a group of trees as no match for the heaped-up ice.

"I don't think it's because of high water," Sethre responded, when asked if he thought the summer's precipitation made for more problems this winter.

Instead, he said, the water level actually seems to be lower, based on outflow near the lake's weir.

"At times in the past, major ice breakers with mid-lake pushups have occurred to relieve the impact to shoreline areas," Sethre said. "Unfortunately, we have not seen this in recent years... with ice thickness about 24 inches now; there will be little hope for any stress relief to occur with a mid-lake ice breaker from here on to the end of the winter."

Ross Hagemeister, a professional fishing guide who is often on Otter Tail Lake, said he thinks the lake's shallow shoreline also contributes to the problem, acting as a sort of an ice ramp.

Hagemeister also agreed that the ice heave seems to be more dramatic in some areas this year.

While it isn't out of the ordinary to find heaves on the lake, he said, where about 10 feet of push-up might be average, it appears closer to 20 feet this year.

"The ice just needs somewhere to go," Hagemeister said,as the ice grows during warmer spells.

"But, I'm not a hydrologist," Hagemeister said. "It's just observation."  - DL Online.

A week before Spring: Nova Scotia blizzard forecast with 40 cm of snow

CBC meteorologist Peter Coade expects "all forms of traffic" to be affected on Sunday, including flights, roads and ferries. © Craig Paisley/CBC

Environment Canada warns of snow squalls for some areas of Maritimes Friday morning

Just a week away from the official start of spring, the Maritimes are bracing for another winter storm.

CBC meteorologist Peter Coade says two weather systems — one from the northwest and another warm and moist disturbance out of the Gulf of Mexico — are forecast to collide and become one, just south of Nova Scotia on Sunday.

The system is expected to produce snow. Coade expects "all forms of traffic" to be affected on Sunday, including flights, roads and ferries.

"Although it is still early to come up with a solid snowfall amount forecast, I think it safe to say that blizzard conditions can be expected with the strong east-to-northeast wind blowing around some 10 to 20 centimetres — possibly as high as 30 to 40 centimetres — of fresh snow," said Coade.

Snow will develop in areas of southwestern Nova Scotia and southwestern New Brunswick late Saturday afternoon or evening and spread north and east Sunday to reach northern New Brunswick and Cape Breton before noon, said Coade.

Environment Canada warns of snow squalls for Nova Scotia's Antigonish and Guysborough counties, as well as P.E.I.'s Kings and Queens counties Friday morning.

"Snow squalls cause weather conditions to vary considerably, changes from clear skies to heavy snow within just a few kilometres are common. Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions," Environment Canada says.

"Snow Squall Warnings are issued when bands of snow form that produce intense accumulating snow or near zero visibilities."

As a result of snow squalls, all classes at public schools in Antigonish County were closed Friday.

The national weather service has all of the Maritimes under a special weather statement for Sunday, advising the public to monitor weather forecasts ahead of the storm.

Coade expects "all forms of traffic" to be affected on Sunday, including flights, roads and ferries.

While the weather may be wintry, the official start of spring occurs at 7:45 p.m. on March 20. - CBC.

'Baikal seriously ill': World's deepest lake suffers alien algae, record water-level drop

Olkhon Island and Lake Baikal. © Wikimedia Commons

The shores of Lake Baikal in Siberia, the world's largest body of fresh water and popular tourist destination, are covered with rotting algae dangerous to its unique ecosystem.

Baikal is getting increasingly contaminated by spirogyra, which could pose a threat to the purity of its waters.

Spirogyra is not native to Baikal's ecosystem. It thrives on biological waste which, according to ecologists, is provided in abundance by the sewage facilities of the local holiday centers, as well as private boats.

Now, most of Baikal's shores are covered in rotting spirogyra. Only the western shore remains clean.

"It has never been detected previously in such a mass abundance. Spirogyra is completely occupying more than 50 percent of the coastal area of Lake Baikal," says Oleg Timoshkin from the Limnological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The institute researches the flora and fauna of Siberian lakes.

"Last year, there was more than 1,500 tonnes of rotting algae. Unfortunately, I can definitely say that Baikal is ill. Seriously ill."

WATCH: Algae on the bottom of Lake Baikal. Caption at 01:32 says 'This is what the same part of the lake bottom looked like several years ago".

Baikal's unequaled purity is in part due to an endemic sponge, lubomirskia baicalensis, which feeds by filtering water. The spirogyra, while harmless by itself, infects the sponge, thus threatening the lake's pristine state.
"@MicroPicz: ~>" spirogyra conjugation tubes... reproduction at its simplest... #wsrbio

— Paul Mugan (@Paul_Mugan) January 19, 2015
But the alien algae aren't the only threat Baikalis facing at the moment. Its water level is at a record low - 5cm below the critical level of 456 meters, according to a source in the local emergency services who spoke to RIA Novosti. The level hit critical just three weeks ago.

This has led to the Republic of Buryatia, whose territory includes Baikal's eastern shore, declaring a state of ecologic emergency. The officials have also asked the local population to start saving water.

They say the draining could cause irreversible damage to the lake's unique ecosystem and leave almost 30,000 locals without water. Some local ecologists blame energy companies for over-using Baikal's water reserves.

"At the beginning of the season, in April- May, hydroelectric power plants flushed increased amounts of water, while they should have been saving water in the lake," said Endon Garmaev from the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, as cited by Rosbalt news agency. "The flush continued throughout the summer. Energy from hydroelectric plants is the cheapest, and [nearby city] Irkutsk power companies are after a bigger profit."

However, experts from Irkutsk Region, on Baikal's western shore, say there's nothing to worry about, and the dropping water levels are a natural result of ecological cycles, following an unusually dry summer.

"Throughout the existence of the Irkutsk hydroelectric power plant, despite several emergency cases, nothing happened to the lake's biosystem", claims Mikhail Grachev, director of the Limnological Institute, as cited by

Baikal is the world's oldest freshwater lake, about 25 million years old. It holds one-fifth of the entire planet's freshwater reserves. The importance of its protection has been stressed by UNESCO, which declared it a World Heritage site in 1996. - RT.

Hawaii blizzard continues, snow removers and observatories evacuated

 Rapidly accumulating snow drifts reported

The blizzard warning continues for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, as snow is piling up high.

The National Weather Service says the warning is in effect for Hawaii Island's higher elevations - anything above 11,000 feet - until 6 p.m. Thursday. Forecasters expect an additional 2 to 4 inches of snow to fall. Temperatures are in the mid-20s, but its the wind that is extreme, gusting up to 85 miles per hour.

Those who work on the summit - including snow removal crews - had to abandon their posts. This message was issued by the Maunakea Rangers early Thursday morning.

Just before noon on Thursday, the blizzard allowed summit webcams to glimpse the observatories partially buried in snow.

Waimea caught a glimpse of the snow on Mauna Kea, although the summit remains obscured by the blizzard.

Waimea caught a glimpse of the snow on Mauna Kea, although the summit remains obscured by the blizzard.

The road to the summit of Maunakea is CLOSED to the public due to continuing blizzard-like, white-out conditions on the summit. Due to rapidly accumulating snow drifts, extremely strong winds and near white out conditions yesterday, the snow removal crew and all observatory personnel abandoned the entire summit area. Weather permitting, our snow removal crew will again begin attempting to clear the large amounts of snow from summit roads early this morning, however, it will likely take them at least the entire day to complete this task. - Maunakea Rangers at 3:55 a.m.
It is likely that the summit road will remain closed all day today.

Down below Mauna Kea, summit views were shrouded in clouds all day. Some folks were able to glimpse the snow on the areas just below the summit as it peeked out from beneath the blizzard. Lynn Beittel of Visionary Video took these shots from Waimea this morning. - Big Island Video News.

U.S. Geological Survey reports earthquake in western North Carolina

The U.S. Geological Survey has reported an earthquake that shook part of Swain County late Friday night.

The U.S.G.S. tracked the earthquake to Cherokee and said it happened at 11:51 p.m.

According to the U.S.G.S. website, this was a 2.8 magnitude earthquake.  - WYFF4.

Turkish ski resort of Uludağ hit with heavy snowstorm

Uludağ Mountain

Ongoing snowfall reached about 2 meters on Saturday on Uludağ Mountain, in what has been a suprise with spring right around the corner.

The 2,543-meter mountain, located in Turkey's western province of Bursa, has witnessed one of its best seasons in the year with the occupacy rate in hotels going at 100 percent.

The snowfall also hit the 2014 Uludağ Economic Summit featuring prominent members of the Turkish business world as well as Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan. - BGN News.

Thousands evacuated due to raging forest fire near Valparaiso, Chile

Plumes of smoke from a wild fire rise over Valparaiso, Chile, Friday, March 13, 2015. © AP

A serious forest fire spread quickly on Chile's coast Friday and threatened to reach the nearby port cities of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar.

Officials said the fire began at an illegal garbage dump in the afternoon and flames were spread quickly by high winds, leading authorities to declare a state of catastrophe in the area. Deputy Interior Secretary Mahmud Aleuy said that about 4,500 people in six neighborhoods had been evacuated as flames advanced nearby and that an additional 10,000 might need to be moved.

WATCH: Forest fire in Chile.

The interior ministry said a 67-year-old woman died of cardio-respiratory causes, and firefighters reported at least 10 people injured.

Chile's Emergency Office estimated that about 300 hectares (about 740 acres) had been affected by late Friday.

Chile suffered its worst urban fire in the same general area, in April 2014, when a raging blaze that started as a forest fire leaped from hilltop to hilltop in Valparaiso, killing 15 people, injuring more than 500 and destroying more than 2,900 homes.

The city, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003, is known for colorful neighborhoods hugging hills so steep that people use stairs rather than streets. About 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of the capital, Santiago, it has a vibrant port and is home to Chile's national legislature. - Yahoo.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFFS: Disaster Precursors And Warnings From Mother Nature – The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior, Migratory Patterns, Attacks, Deaths, And Appearance Of Rare Creatures!

March 14, 2015 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

Bear attacks woman in Finland

The killed 200 kg male bear at Juua, near Kolinportti on Friday morning.  © Mikko Pehkonen

A bear attacked a woman in northern Karelia's Juuka, when she came upon the animal that had woken from its winter sleep. The bear was tracked down 10 kilometres from the spot, and shot.

The woman was walking in the woods on Thursday morning, when she stumbled across the bear's den. The woken beast attacked the woman, lashing out at her with his paw and biting her in the elbow and buttock. The bear then disappeared into the woods.

The woman called emergency services herself, and was picked up in the forest about an hour later. According to the police, the woman was not injured seriously. She walked to the ambulance herself.

Appealing to police law, the authorities ordered the bear to be put down.

Tracked down and shot

The bear was finally tracked down some 10 kilometres from the attack location, in Ahmovaara near Kolinportti on Friday morning.

According to authorities leading the hunt, the bear was followed for a couple of kilometres before a dog was unleashed. The dog quickly found the bear, who tried to escape across Kajaanintie, a major road in the region, but was shot dead on the other side. The male bear weighed over 200 kilograms.

Bear attacks on humans are extremely rare in Finland. The animals usually run away if possible. A bear may attack if frightened by a surprise visit to its den. Another dangerous situation is where a human comes between a bear mother and its cubs. - YLE.

200 reindeer killed by avalanche in Trollheimen, Norway

Reindeer killed by avalanche
An animal tragedy in the Oppdals part of Trollheimen, specifically in the area south of Storhornet, was discovered Wednesday afternoon.

Two local residents, Day Jørund Vik and John Bjorndal, wanted to see the extent of the landslide and took a trip inland to the area the same day.

We had heard about it being exceptional and wondered how big it was. We discovered that the animals had been taken and notified the reindeer owner, says Vik Adresseavisen.

The animal tragedy was also featured by a number of other media including local newspapers Opdalingen, Up and NRK Sor-Trondelag.

In the spring

The landslide proved to be about one mile wide and nearly as long. It is estimated that there was about 120,000 cubic meters of snow.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 tons had swept over all or most of the reindeer herd of a few hundred animals that winter in the area.

Three to four days later four animals, still alive, were unearthed from the snow by herder Gustav Kant and crews that had been called in.

Three of the animals were so severely injured that they had to be euthanized. The fourth, a doe, was in such good shape that she ran away and disappeared into the mountains.

The reindeer owner and his aides have so far unearthed 35-40 dead animals from the snowpack which had a depth of between two and nine yards.

The dead animals lay partly on the surface and partly buried in the snow. The rest are probably buried well down in the snow and many of them will not be found until the snow melts in the spring. - TK. [Translated]

Wolves attack dogs in Pacific Rim Park, Canada

Parks Canada is warning people to keep their dogs on a leash while walking in Pacific Rim National Park near Ucluelet, B.C. because of attacks by wolves.

Two dogs are injured and another is missing after a series of wolf attacks near Ucluelet, B.C.

On Tuesday morning, a pair of wolves attacked two dogs being walked off leash on Wickaninnish Beach. While the larger dog escaped, the smaller one — a Jack Russell Terrier — was taken by the pair.

Todd Windle, a human-wildlife conflict expert with Parks Canada, says the dogs' owner was only 200 metres away when the attack happened.

"She saw both wolves come up and they started attacking her larger dog first," says Windle.

The second, smaller dog then came in to defend the larger one. The wolves left the bigger one alone and made off with the smaller one instead.

Three days earlier, a chocolate lab was attacked by two wolves in a driveway of a home near Ucluelet, but a neighbour scared off the pair.

Windle says dogs must be leashed when in the park including its beaches. He says off-leash dogs are at a greater risk of being attacked by wolves and cougars.

"Although there's several incidents every single year in this region, we are not aware of any single incidents where dogs have been attacked where they're on leash," says Windle.

Wolves and cougars frequent different areas of the park including the beaches.

If people come into contact with a wolf, Windle suggests making noise and keeping as far away from it as possible. - CBC.

Winter has been tough on waterfowl across America

A male Hooded Merganser swims in a half-frozen Mill Pond in Norwalk.  © Chris Bosak

What would you do if your refrigerator and kitchen cupboards were locked and you didn't have a key? The grocery stores were all boarded up, and it's the dead of winter so your garden has long stopped being productive. Oh, and you can't drive anywhere because of a natural instinct telling you to stay put.

That is what the last six weeks have been like for many birds, especially waterfowl. And it's been a deadly scenario.

I heard the other day that upwards of 70 ducks and geese were found dead at the Norwalk Wastewater Treatment Plant, most likely because of malnutrition. I also received a call from a Westport resident who had five dead Canada geese in her yard one morning. The number swelled to eight as the week went on. Mute Swans have been stranded on frozen water, too,
although some of those birds have been saved.

"It's been the most severe winter we've had in 30 years," said Min Huang, a waterfowl specialist with Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). "We've seen a lot of mortality over the last three weeks up and down the coast, mostly geese and puddle ducks."

Waterfowl, including geese, can find food in the water or on land under normal circumstances. The sources of food on land have been covered since the late January snow storm. A few additional snow storms and a few ice storms for good measure have all but sealed up that food source for more than five weeks. Only in the last day or two has some snow melted to show grass along the edges of yards and fields.

Throw in sustained subfreezing temperatures that froze all the water in sight, including Long Island Sound, and you have a very deadly winter for ducks and geese.

"We don't usually get a sustained freeze that lasts all of February and into March," Huang said.

Huang confirmed that DEEP personnel did visit the wastewater treatment plant in Norwalk this week. He didn't get a number of dead waterfowl, but he did say that most of the dead birds were geese and puddle ducks.

"I haven't received any reports yet, but I'm 95 percent confident that (those deaths) are just malnutrition," Huang said.

Puddle ducks, such as Mallards and American Black Ducks, dabble, or tip up, to feed in the water. That method, obviously, is rendered useless when the water is frozen.

Diving ducks, such as Hooded Mergansers, were able to find small pools of water kept unfrozen by bubblers at boat docks. They were able to dive for small fish and other morsels within those pools.

Huang said the DEEP will not know the real impact on duck and geese populations until they do their surveys in the spring.

Milan Bull, senior director of science and conservation at Connecticut Audubon, said the timing of the deep and sustained freeze did not work in the waterfowl's favor.

He said geese and duck eat voraciously in the fall to store up fat reserves for the winter. In winter, they eat what they can find to sustain themselves.

"If this freeze happened in December or January, they'd be fine because of their fat reserves," Bull said. "The later it gets in winter, the harder it is."

Bull confirmed what Huang said about the bird mortality being a problem in the entire state.

"Up and down the coast there are a lot of dead waterfowl," he said.

So why not just fly south to find open water and food? Huang said by December ducks have found their wintering grounds and they aren't likely to move on until the end of winter.

"Once we're into December, they aren't going anywhere," he said. "The ducks feel it's not worth it to use the energy it takes to migrate. This year, frozen water has been a problem from Virginia to Maine."

In other words, ducks and geese gamble that local waters will not remain frozen for long and that offers better odds survival than trying to use what fat stores they have left to fly hundreds of miles south to find open water.

In most winters that gamble pays off. This winter, it was a bad bet for many geese and ducks.  - The Hour.

1,450 sea lions have washed up on California beaches this year

Sea lion pups brought to SeaWorld.  © SeaWorld
By the time Wendy Leeds reached him, the sea lion pup had little hope of surviving.

Like more than 1,450 other sea lions that have washed up on California beaches this year, in what animal experts call a growing crisis for the animal, this 8-month-old pup was starving, stranded and hundreds of miles from a mother who still needed to nurse him and teach him to hunt and feed. Ribs jutted from his velveteen coat.

The pup had lain on the beach for hours, becoming the target of an aggressive dog before managing to wriggle onto the deck of a million-dollar oceanfront home, where the owner shielded him with an umbrella and called animal control. In came Ms. Leeds, an animal-care expert at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which like other California rescue centers is being inundated with calls about lost, emaciated sea lions.

"It's getting crazy," she said.

Experts suspect that unusually warm waters are driving fish and other food away from the coastal islands where sea lions breed and wean their young. As the mothers spend time away from the islands hunting for food, hundreds of starving pups are swimming away from home and flopping ashore from San Diego to San Francisco.

Many of the pups are leaving the Channel Islands, an eight-island chain off the Southern California coast, in a desperate search for food. But they are too young to travel far, dive deep or truly hunt on their own, scientists said.

WATCH: California sea lions pups in crisis.

This year, animal rescuers are reporting five times more sea lion rescues than normal — 1,100 last month alone. The pups are turning up under fishing piers and in backyards, along inlets and on rocky cliffs. One was found curled up in a flower pot.

Last week, SeaWorld San Diego said it would shut its live sea lion and otter show for two weeks so it could spare six of its animal specialists for the rescue-and-recovery effort.

"There are so many calls, we just can't respond to them all," Justin Viezbicke, who oversees stranding issues in California for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said on a conference call with reporters. "The reality is, we just can't get to these animals."

As the injured animals proliferate, their encounters with humans are growing. Some people offer misguided help such as dousing the pups with water or trying to drag them back into the ocean. Others take selfies with the stranded animals, pet them or let their children pretend to ride them, rescuers said.

As Ms. Leeds approached the quaking sea lion on Capistrano Beach, she frowned at a pile of tuna near his muzzle. "Has someone been trying to feed him?" she asked.

Many are sick with pneumonia, their throaty barks muted to rasping coughs. Parasites have swarmed their digestive systems. Some are so tired that they cannot scamper away when rescuers approach them with nets and towels and heft them into large pet carriers.

"They come ashore because if they didn't, they would drown," said Shawn Johnson, the director of veterinary science at Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. "They're just bones and skin. They're really on the brink of death."

This year is the third in five years that scientists have seen such large numbers of strandings. - New York Times.

Woman dies and 2 injured after whale crashes into tourist boat off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Grey whale. © Wikimedia Commons.

A Canadian woman died from injuries sustained when a grey whale crashed into a tourist boat as it returned from a short excursion out of the resort city of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.

Two other passengers were injured in the accident, which took place close to the beach around 11am on Wednesday, according to a statement released by tour company Cabo Adventures.

"The captain had to make a movement to avoid a whale that surfaced just in front of the boat," the statement said. "The whale hit one side of the boat, leaving two people injured and another passenger hurt who, unfortunately, later died in hospital."

Port director Vicente Martínez said the woman was 45 years old. Some reports said she was 10 years younger. The collision happened on the Pacific coast side of the Baja California Peninsula. One reported version said the whale jumped out of the water and landed on the boat filled with 24 people, including the crew.

The confusingly worded statement from the tour company appeared to suggest that the victim fell into the water during the collision. Once she was pulled back into the boat, it said, she immediately received mouth to mouth resuscitation from another tourist who happened to be a qualified nurse before naval rescue paramedics arrived and took her to the hospital.

Two other injured tourists were also taken to hospital - one was later released and the other's life was not in danger, the statement said.

Cabo San Lucas promotes whale watching among its major attractions, promising tourists safe and awe-inspiring encounters with the huge docile mammals that every winter migrate thousands of miles from Arctic waters to warm shallow lagoons off the Mexican coast where they breed.

The fatality happened on the same day that Mexican authorities announced a particularly high number of grey whales had gathered in the area during this year's season, which runs from mid-December to the end of April.

The National Commission for Natural Protected Areas said its census indicated a 10% increase on last season, making it one of the highest migrations registered during the last two decades. - The Guardian.

Family dog mauls 2-year-old boy in Kauai, Hawaii

Pitbull terrier

A two-year-old boy is in serious condition after being attacked by a family dog Tuesday on Kauai.

Officers responded to Wena Street in Puhi at about 11 a.m. on a dangerous dog complaint.

The boy was bitten by a pitbull on the face, neck and back.

He was transported to Wilcox Memorial Hospital in serious condition, then medevaced to Queen's Medical Center on Oahu. Kauai Humane Society Executive Director Penny Cistaro confirmed the dog was euthanized. - Kiki Radio.

Wolf seen prowling the streets of Kolham, Netherlands

Wolves have not been seen in the area for more than 150 years. © SWNS

A bizarre video has emerged in the Netherlands of a lone wolf stalking a city suburb as it hunted for its next meal.

The huge grey wolf was filmed running along a residential street in the northern city of Kolham, which is normally packed with children and family pets.

The 22 second video shows the wolf strutting along the road for around 30 metres, stopping from time to time to look into gardens before continuing on its way.

Although running at a brisk pace, witnesses say that it did not seem dangerous and was possibly looking for a new home.

WATCH: Terrifying footage of wolf prowling the city streets.

However, wolves have not been seen in the country for more than 150 years . Local experts believe the wolf had travelled to the city from Germany - up to 190 miles away.

Oguz Acioz, 35, captured the footage while driving to work before calling the police.

The salesman said: "The last wolf was seen here about 150 years ago.

"I was about a metre behind it. I could see the mouth and the teeth and I knew it wasn't a dog so I started filming straight away.

"I was so surprised. You never see one of these on a street. It's not a normal sight.

"Luckily, there was nobody on the street as everyone had gone to work. Normally there are lots of children around and chickens in back gardens.

"I looked at it in the eyes. It seemed hungry.

"I wasn't scared. I wanted to see him. I thought he might need help.

"It was seen crossing the border [with Germany] on Friday. There is a picture of it and it is the same wolf.

"People think it might have been looking for a new home or mate. It ran a long way.

"Yesterday, they captured it and took it back to Germany."  - Daily Mirror.

Biocide! 2.9 million whales slaughtered in 100 years

Whales slaughtered.

The first estimate of the number of whales killed during the 2oth century is set to be published in the next edition of Marine Fisheries Review. Researchers hunted through the records and found that between 1900 and 1999 a total of 2.9 million whales were killed.

The scale of modern industrial whaling that took hold in the early and mid 1900's is astonishing. The researchers, Robert C. Rocha, Jr., Phillip J. Clapham, and Yulia Ivashchenko, found that between 1900 and 1962 the number of sperm whales killed equalled the total estimated to have been killed over the previous 200 years.

But the height of the whaling industry was only just beginning. In the following 10 years between 1962 and 1972 the industry managed to repeat the scale of killing.

The researchers estimated that between 1712 and 1899 whaler in small sailing boats managed to kill 300,000 sperm whales. Modern techniques and improved shipping meant whalers killed 300,000 sperm whales between 1900 and 1962. Then the big factory ships were launched and in just 10 years another 300,000 sperm whales were caught.

By the time the International Whaling Commission had effectively banned whaling in 1982 they estimate that at least 2,870,291 had been killed since the start of the century.

Up to 1963 it was estimated that whalers were taking upwards of 10,000 fin whales each year before numbers began to fall. Sei whales where then targeted at rates exceeding 10,000 per year. Baleen whales were a major species for the whalers until population levels dropped to levels which led to annual catches falling below 10,000 per year in 1969.

Following declining catches of preferred species (fin and sei) in the northern hemisphere during the 1970's the whalers turned their harpoon sights on Bryde's and humpback whales.

Minke whales in the northern hemisphere were targeted by whalers as the northern blue whale population declined. From the 1940 through to the 1980s about 3000 minke whales in the northern hemisphere were killed. Minke whales escaped targeting for a couple of decades because of the prevalence of more profitable species. But by 1964 the minke whales of the southern hemisphere were also being targeted as other whale species declined.

The speed and scale of the whaling during those 85 years was such that many species almost disappeared and have still not recovered - and are unlikely to reach their former populations. The paper points to the Southern Blue whale which now numbers just 1% of prewhaling populations.

The researchers were also able to take advantage of the more open scientific relationships in the former USSR compared to the times of the whaling industry. They were able to uncover new figures from the Russian whaling fleet which partly explains the failure of the North Pacific right whales. Despite a hunting ban being put in place on the species in 1935 the USSR continued to hunt the whales and failed to report the killings to the IWC. Total global catch for all whales recorded in Russia appears to be 534.204 but 178,118 of them were not reported to the IWC monitoring group.

While the USSR were not the only country to be actively killing whales that had been put on IWC ban lists - many countries including the UK were actively ignoring international agreements on various species - they were the most prolific poachers.

After the blue whale hunt ban was bought established in 1966 98% of ban breeches were by soviet whalers. 96% of humpbacks killed after that species were protected by hunting was again by soviet whalers. Despite a ban on hunting of northern grey whales during the 1930's the US government still issued permits for over 300 whales after 1947 for 'scientific' reasons.

The worst year for whales in the northern hemisphere was 1966 when 33,473 whales were killed. In the southern hemisphere the worst year was 1960 with 62,169 killed.

The scientists concluded the paper with a quote from John Gulland regarding fisheries: whaling management in the 20th century was an interminable debate about the status of stocks until all doubt was removed.

And so were most of the whales.

Paper reference:

Marine Fisheries Review: Emptying the Oceans: A Summary of Industrial Whaling Catches in the 20th Century (pdf)
- Wildlife News.