Friday, April 17, 2015

PLANETARY TREMORS: Two Earthquakes (4.8 And 3.8 Magnitude) Rock Assam, India Within 2 Hours!

The Met department put the epicenter at Morigaon and Sonitpur.

April 17, 2015 - ASSAM, INDIA
- Two earthquakes, one measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale and the other 3.8, rocked Assam in a span of about two hours in the early hours of Friday, forcing people to jump out of bed and run outdoors.

While the first tremor, which lasted about seven seconds, was felt at 3:35 AM, it was followed by smaller one at 5:50 AM.

The Met department website put the epicenter of the first earthquake at a place in Sonitpur district at 26.8 N Latitude and 92.7 E Longitude, and that of the second tremor in Morigaon district at 26.3 N Latitude and 92.4 E Longitude. The depth of both the tremors has been put at 10 km.

Geomorphologically located in earthquake zone V of the Indian subcontinent, the Northeastern region is marked as a highly seismic area.

With these, the Northeastern region along with adjoining Bangladesh, Myanmar and Andaman & Nicobar Islands have recorded as many as nine earthquakes in the current month.

The earlier seven earthquakes felt in the region were Andaman & Nicobar Islands (April 3, magnitude 4), Bangladesh (April 8, magnitude 4.5), Sonitpur, Assam (April 9, magnitude 3.1), West Khasi Hills, Meghalaya (April 9, magnitude 2.8), Andaman & Nicobar Islands (April 9, magnitude 5.1), Chandel, Manipur (April 12, magnitude 3.5) and Myanmar (April 15, magnitude 4.1). - Indian Express.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Himalaya and Vicinity

Seismicity in the Himalaya dominantly results from the continental collision of the India and Eurasia plates, which are converging at a relative rate of 40-50 mm/yr. Northward underthrusting of India beneath Eurasia generates numerous earthquakes and consequently makes this area one of the most seismically hazardous regions on Earth. The surface expression of the plate boundary is marked by the foothills of the north-south trending Sulaiman Range in the west, the Indo-Burmese Arc in the east and the east-west trending Himalaya Front in the north of India.

The India-Eurasia plate boundary is a diffuse boundary, which in the region near the north of India, lies within the limits of the Indus-Tsangpo (also called the Yarlung-Zangbo) Suture to the north and the Main Frontal Thrust to the south. The Indus-Tsangpo Suture Zone is located roughly 200 km north of the Himalaya Front and is defined by an exposed ophiolite chain along its southern margin. The narrow (less than 200km) Himalaya Front includes numerous east-west trending, parallel structures. This region has the highest rates of seismicity and largest earthquakes in the Himalaya region, caused mainly by movement on thrust faults. Examples of significant earthquakes, in this densely populated region, caused by reverse slip movement include the 1934 M8.1 Bihar, the 1905 M7.5 Kangra and the 2005 M7.6 Kashmir earthquakes. The latter two resulted in the highest death tolls for Himalaya earthquakes seen to date, together killing over 100,000 people and leaving millions homeless. The largest instrumentally recorded Himalaya earthquake occurred on 15th August 1950 in Assam, eastern India. This M8.6 right-lateral, strike-slip, earthquake was widely felt over a broad area of central Asia, causing extensive damage to villages in the epicentral region.

The Tibetan Plateau is situated north of the Himalaya, stretching approximately 1000km north-south and 2500km east-west, and is geologically and tectonically complex with several sutures which are hundreds of kilometer-long and generally trend east-west. The Tibetan Plateau is cut by a number of large (greater than 1000km) east-west trending, left-lateral, strike-slip faults, including the long Kunlun, Haiyuan, and the Altyn Tagh. Right-lateral, strike-slip faults (comparable in size to the left-lateral faults), in this region include the Karakorum, Red River, and Sagaing. Secondary north-south trending normal faults also cut the Tibetan Plateau. Thrust faults are found towards the north and south of the Tibetan Plateau. Collectively, these faults accommodate crustal shortening associated with the ongoing collision of the India and Eurasia plates, with thrust faults accommodating north south compression, and normal and strike-slip accommodating east-west extension.

Along the western margin of the Tibetan Plateau, in the vicinity of south-eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, the India plate translates obliquely relative to the Eurasia plate, resulting in a complex fold-and-thrust belt known as the Sulaiman Range. Faulting in this region includes strike-slip, reverse-slip and oblique-slip motion and often results in shallow, destructive earthquakes. The active, left-lateral, strike-slip Chaman fault is the fastest moving fault in the region. In 1505, a segment of the Chaman fault near Kabul, Afghanistan, ruptured causing widespread destruction. In the same region the more recent 30 May 1935, M7.6 Quetta earthquake, which occurred in the Sulaiman Range in Pakistan, killed between 30,000 and 60,000 people.

On the north-western side of the Tibetan Plateau, beneath the Pamir-Hindu Kush Mountains of northern Afghanistan, earthquakes occur at depths as great as 200 km as a result of remnant lithospheric subduction. The curved arc of deep earthquakes found in the Hindu Kush Pamir region indicates the presence of a lithospheric body at depth, thought to be remnants of a subducting slab. Cross-sections through the Hindu Kush region suggest a near vertical northerly-dipping subducting slab, whereas cross-sections through the nearby Pamir region to the east indicate a much shallower dipping, southerly subducting slab. Some models suggest the presence of two subduction zones; with the Indian plate being subducted beneath the Hindu Kush region and the Eurasian plate being subducted beneath the Pamir region. However, other models suggest that just one of the two plates is being subducted and that the slab has become contorted and overturned in places.

Shallow crustal earthquakes also occur in this region near the Main Pamir Thrust and other active Quaternary faults. The Main Pamir Thrust, north of the Pamir Mountains, is an active shortening structure. The northern portion of the Main Pamir Thrust produces many shallow earthquakes, whereas its western and eastern borders display a combination of thrust and strike-slip mechanisms. On the 18 February 1911, the M7.4 Sarez earthquake ruptured in the Central Pamir Mountains, killing numerous people and triggering a landside, which blocked the Murghab River.

Further north, the Tian Shan is a seismically active intra-continental mountain belt, which extends 2500 km in an ENE-WNW orientation north of the Tarim Basin. This belt is defined by numerous east-west trending thrust faults, creating a compressional basin and range landscape. It is generally thought that regional stresses associated with the collision of the India and Eurasia plates are responsible for faulting in the region. The region has had three major earthquakes (greater than M7.6) at the start of the 20th Century, including the 1902 Atushi earthquake, which killed an estimated 5,000 people. The range is cut through in the west by the 700-km-long, northwest-southeast striking, Talas-Ferghana active right-lateral, strike-slip fault system. Though the system has produced no major earthquakes in the last 250 years, paleo-seismic studies indicate that it has the potential to produce M7.0+ earthquakes and it is thought to represent a significant hazard.

The northern portion of the Tibetan Plateau itself is largely dominated by the motion on three large left-lateral, strike-slip fault systems; the Altyn Tagh, Kunlun and Haiyuan. The Altyn Tagh fault is the longest of these strike slip faults and it is thought to accommodate a significant portion of plate convergence. However, this system has not experienced significant historical earthquakes, though paleoseismic studies show evidence of prehistoric M7.0-8.0 events. Thrust faults link with the Altyn Tagh at its eastern and western termini. The Kunlun Fault, south of the Altyn Tagh, is seismically active, producing large earthquakes such as the 8th November 1997, M7.6 Manyi earthquake and the 14th November 2001, M7.8 Kokoxili earthquake. The Haiyuan Fault, in the far north-east, generated the 16 December 1920, M7.8 earthquake that killed approximately 200,000 people and the 22 May 1927 M7.6 earthquake that killed 40,912.

The Longmen Shan thrust belt, along the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, is an important structural feature and forms a transitional zone between the complexly deformed Songpan-Garze Fold Belt and the relatively undeformed Sichuan Basin. On 12 May 2008, the thrust belt produced the reverse slip, M7.9 Wenchuan earthquake, killing over 87,000 people and causing billions of US dollars in damages and landslides which dammed several rivers and lakes.

Southeast of the Tibetan Plateau are the right-lateral, strike-slip Red River and the left-lateral, strike-slip Xiangshuihe-Xiaojiang fault systems. The Red River Fault experienced large scale, left-lateral ductile shear during the Tertiary period before changing to its present day right-lateral slip rate of approximately 5 mm/yr. This fault has produced several earthquakes greater than M6.0 including the 4 January 1970, M7.5 earthquake in Tonghai which killed over 10,000 people. Since the start of the 20th century, the Xiangshuihe-Xiaojiang Fault system has generated several M7.0+ earthquakes including the M7.5 Luhuo earthquake which ruptured on the 22 April 1973. Some studies suggest that due to the high slip rate on this fault, future large earthquakes are highly possible along the 65km stretch between Daofu and Qianning and the 135km stretch that runs through Kangding.

Shallow earthquakes within the Indo-Burmese Arc, predominantly occur on a combination of strike-slip and reverse faults, including the Sagaing, Kabaw and Dauki faults. Between 1930 and 1956, six M7.0+ earthquakes occurred near the right-lateral Sagaing Fault, resulting in severe damage in Myanmar including the generation of landslides, liquefaction and the loss of 610 lives. Deep earthquakes (200km) have also been known to occur in this region, these are thought to be due to the subduction of the eastwards dipping, India plate, though whether subduction is currently active is debated. Within the pre-instrumental period, the large Shillong earthquake occurred on the 12 June 1897, causing widespread destruction.

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!

April 17, 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.

Rare deep sea oarfish washes up on marsh in Aramoana, New Zealand

Department of Conservation services manager David Agnew with the ''bizarre'' fish that was discovered washed ashore at Aramoana. Photos by Gerard O'Brien.

A 3m, self-amputating, vertically swimming, serpent-like ''bizarre'' marine specimen has washed up on the salt marsh at Aramoana.

Department of Conservation service manager David Agnew said he got a call from Aramoana resident Don Gibbs, who discovered the fish on the salt marsh side of the spit.

He went to have a look and said he had never seen anything like it before in his eight years in Dunedin and 20 years with Doc, during which he has mostly been stationed along the coastline in New Zealand.

''It's very unusual looking.''

University of Otago NZ Marine Studies Centre manager Tessa Mills confirmed the fish was an oarfish, which have been known to grow to 11m long.

 Photos by Gerard O'Brien.

''They are usually found in deep water in tropical temperatures but I think they do come up to feed on the surface.''

She said it was unusual that it had been found washed up in a cold water area.

Marine studies programme director Sally Carson said the fish was one of the most ''bizarre, rare fish''.

She said the oarfish hangs vertically in deep water and is known to ''self-amputate'' by biting off its own tail.

''Why it would do that I have no idea,'' she said.

According to Wikipedia, not much is known about the oarfish.

Myths have surrounded the fish, with people around the world mistaking it for a sea serpent - there has even been a suggestion the Loch Ness Monster could be an oarfish.

Mrs Carson said DOC was looking after the oarfish and the marine centre had ''passed on the information'' to see who would be interested in further study of the fish.

Otago Museum has for decades displayed a preserved oarfish in a deepwater creatures dioarama. - Otaga Daily News.

2 pieces of humpback whale found on Uran shore, India

A dead humpback whale
A 20-feet-long humpback whale was washed ashore in two parts near Danda village in Uran on Monday. A dead turtle of 2.5-feet diametre was also found in the vicinity.

"The whale's body was decomposed. It must have been in the sea for many days, which is why it was also broken into two," said Bharat Patil, a local.

Marine biologists said that a humpback whale has been spotted off the Uran shore after three years. Earlier, in April 2012, a 40-feet-long humpback was found dead on the Pirwadi beach of Uran.

Marine life specialist D Stalin said excessive fishing and movement of too many fishing and commercial vessels in the Arabian Sea pose threat to humpback whales, dolphins and sharks. They can be fatally injured by high-speed boats and their big propellers. "Our government has not given any serious thoughts on their preservation. Oceans are an important feature for survival of life but we continue to abuse marine zones," he said.

In 2012, two more dead whales were found on the coast of Mumbai and Raigad. Experts said it was likely that the same family of humpback whales were fatally injured by the propellers of a barge or a ship. Even in the latest case, the humpback could have been hurt by a passing ship.  - The Times of India.

Man fights off cougar to save girlfriend's large dog in Priddis, Canada

Elvis Xerri and Boomer

Elvis Xerri is nursing a few bruises after fighting off a cougar that attacked his girlfriend's dog on his acreage southwest of Calgary early Monday — but acknowledges his injuries could have been a lot worse.

"It scared the crap out of me. I can't believe I did that," Xerri said. "Would I do it again? For sure, because I wouldn't want to be a bystander. Was it smart? Probably not the smartest thing I've ever done."

Xerri said he and his girlfriend Jacqui were asleep at his property in Priddis. Boomer, Jacqui's nine-year-old Bernese mountain dog, was dozing outside below their open bedroom window with the exterior lights on.

All of a sudden, at around 3 a.m., Xerri awoke to Boomer's yelps and jumped to action wearing only his underwear.

"I was thinking it was a coyote attacking him. But it was the largest cougar I've ever seen, on top of the dog," he said, estimating the animal to be about five feet long.

Adrenalin kicked in and Xerri found himself jumping on top of the big cat, startling it and grabbing its scruff.

"I threw it about five or six feet," he said.

But the cougar was undeterred, and this time wrapped its mouth around the dog's head and tried to drag the canine into the trees, Xerri said.

Once again, Xerri threw himself at the cougar, screaming. He managed to scare off the cougar, which dodged him and ran off into the woods.

All the while, Jacqui and Xerri's 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter were inside the home listening to the commotion. They were all relieved to learn Xerri and Boomer escaped with only minor injuries.

"He's good. We took him to the hospital and he just had some teeth marks on his skull from where the cougar was trying to drag him," Xerri said.

"He's alive. I was worried about Jacqui. She's not used to the country, and if she lost her dog that way, it would be really traumatic."

Xerri said he had a feeling there was something lurking around outside because earlier in the day his golden retriever was barking all afternoon.

He said he has seen wildlife on his property — including bears, lynx and coyote — but he has never gotten that close to a cougar before.

And he's worried if a cougar attack happens again, it will be against his children.

"I've seen them at the end of my driveway where my kids get picked up for the school bus," he said.

Xerri plans to report the incident to wildlife officers in hopes they can find the animal and relocate it.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Alberta Fish and Widlife still had not received a report but noted officers were looking into the incident, said a department spokesman.

"We're glad there were no serious injuries," said Dan Laville in an emailed statement. "Public safety is a priority for Fish and Wildlife officers, and any sightings of cougars or other dangerous wildlife should be reported to the 24-hour Report A Poacher hotline at 1-800-642-3800."

He said there have been two instances of "livestock predation" involving cougars over the past several months in the Priddis area.

Earlier this month, wildlife officials said they were noticing a steady rise in conflict between cougars and people in cities, towns and on private land throughout Alberta.

Laville advised people in cougar or bear country to make a lot of noise to avoid surprise encounters, to carry bear spray, and not to wear headphones or do anything else that might hinder their ability to hear or see wildlife. Dogs should be leashed and children kept close by. He also recommended that people travel in groups.

"Never run away from cougars or show fear by screaming. Always fight back and never give up if a cougar makes contact," he added.

Meanwhile, wildlife experts in the Canmore area are also reminding residents to keep an eye out after a cougar was recently spotted in the Peaks of Grassi neighbourhood.

Tyler McClure with Bow Valley WildSmart said a resident was sitting at her kitchen table Thursday morning when she saw a big cat moving through her backyard.

"It's not uncommon to be seeing animals moving there as it's up against a wildlife corridor," McClure said. "A spring comes upon us and plants start to open up, animals start to become more active on the landscape."

He said the sighting is a good reminder that wild animals, such as cougars, can be found within Canmore's town limits.

He added Bow Valley residents can report sightings to the Report-A-Poacher line or Kananaskis Emergency Services at 403-591-7755.  - National Post.

Six-year-old girl mauled to death in second stray dog attack within days in Guntur, India

Stray dogs in India

In a shocking incident, a six-year-old girl was attacked and killed by a pack of street dogs at Kakumanu village panchayat in Guntur district on Wednesday.

The girl, S K Kousar, was going to meet her aunt, who was working in the fields, around 10 am when a pack of 10 dogs pounced on her and bit her indiscriminately, resulting in her instant death.

According to reports, a shepherd, who was passing by, first heard the cries of the girl and rushed to the spot in the minority colony in the village. Though he managed to drive away the dogs, it was too late as the girl had succumbed to the injuries by then. She was bitten all over the body and her innards had come out.

On being informed, the girl's family rushed to the spot, but they were able to take only her lifeless body home.

Blaming the death on the negligence of the civic officials, who allegedly failed to take proper measures despite repeated complaints over the severe stray dog menace, the villagers, along with the family members and relatives of the victim, staged a dharna on the Guntur-Kakumanu road blocking traffic for nearly four hours. "We have been complaining to the officials about the dog menace for six months now, but to no avail. We are afraid of venturing out even during the day, leave alone nights, as the stray dogs attack pedestrians and vehicle users without any provocation," a protestor said.

Collector Kantilal Dhande, along with the district panchayat officer and ZP chairperson Janimuna Shaik, visited the spot and assured to take action to curb the menace. Dhande also announced a compensation of '4 lakh to the bereaved family. The protest was then withdrawn.

Agriculture Minister P Pulla Rao and Social Welfare Minister R Kishore Babu also expressed their shock over the death of the girl and directed the officials to rush to the spot and provide necessary assistance.

It may be noted that Kousar was the second girl to come under dog attack in the colony within a span of a few days. The first victim, another minor, was still undergoing treatment at the Guntur Government General Hospital. Coming from an economically-poor family, villagers had to pool money for her treatment.  - The New Indian Express.

World's last male Northern White Rhino placed under 24-hour armed guard in Kenya

Armed rangers are white rhino's protectors.  ©

After the decimation of his species by poachers, Sudan the rhino finds himself in an extremely precarious position: He is the last male northern white rhinoceros on the planet.

According to The Independent, the 40-year-old animal has been put under 24-hour armed guard in the Kenya game conservancy where he lives. There is hope that Sudan will one day be able to produce progeny -- and possibly save his kind from extinction.

Sudan and two female rhinos of his subspecies are cared for by rangers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The trio are reportedly three of the last five remaining northern white rhinos in the world. Two other females live in captivity.

To protect him from poachers, Sudan has been fitted with radio transmitters, reports The Independent. The rhino's horn has also been removed as an added precaution. "The only reason his horn has been cut off is to deter poachers," Elodie Sampere of the conservancy told The Dodo. "If the rhino has no horn, he is of no interest to poachers. This is purely to keep him safe."

In 1960, there were more than 2,000 northern white rhinos roaming the earth, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. Poaching, however, reduced this number to 15 by 1984. Poachers aren't just dangerous to rhinos, whose horns can reportedly fetch prices of $75,000 per kilogram or more, but also to the people who try to protect them.

In a January interview, Simor Irungu, a ranger who guards Sudan and other rhinos at Ol Pejeta, explained just how perilous his line of work is. "With the rising demand for rhino horn and ivory, we face many poaching attempts and while we manage to counter a large number of these, we often risk our lives in the line of duty," Irungu told the website World of Animals.

To provide their rangers with the best possible training and equipment, Ol Pejeta launched a GoFundMe campaign last month. Thus far, the campaign has raised about $7,700. - Huffington Post.

Fish kills reported due to bitterly cold winter in Pennsylvania

Dead fish

Evidence of how brutal this winter was is showing up at ponds in Pennsylvania, including one in Luzerne County.

Pennsylvania's Fish and Boat Commission says the bitterly cold winter killed off nearly the entire fish population at Harris Pond in Sweet Valley. Harris Pond is a popular fishing spot for those who live in and around the Sweet Valley area of Luzerne County.

"That's bad. That's terrible. A lot of people fish in there. The public fishes there a lot," said John Kobal of Sweet Valley.

Hundreds of dead fish have already been cleared from the pond, but if you walk along the water's edge more are still surfacing.

Harris Pond isn't the only place dealing with dead fish.

"My buddy he has a little pond and all his fish died. It's small. That's the first I heard and then down at Harris Pond," Kobal added.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission says it has received more than 100 phone calls about ponds filled with dead fish throughout the northeastern part of the state.

"It happens in shallow ponds when we have severe winters. Basically all the oxygen gets used up and the fish die," said Robert Wnuk with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Wnuk added that it's known as a "winter kill," and it's something they've dealt with before.

"It doesn't happen a lot, only when we get these really severe winters when you have really prolonged ice and snow cover. That's what keeps the pond from replenishing the oxygen," Wnuk added.

The Fish and Boat Commission will restock ponds, like Harris Pond, in the summer. However it says it will take years for the fish population to return to what it once was. - WNEP.

No big surprise: Bird populations around Fukushima plummet after nuclear disaster

Bird populations may have declined to a large extent in Japan's Fukushima province due to the disaster that occurred there in 2011. Scientists have taken a closer look at bird populations and have found that since the March 11 earthquake, which caused the nuclear catastrophe, bird populations have plummeted.

"We were working with a relatively small range of background exposures in this study because we weren't able to get into the 'hottest' areas that first summer after the disaster, and we were only able to get to some 'meium-hot' areas the following summer," said Tim Mousseau, one of the researchers, in a news release. "So we had relatively little statistical power to detect those kinds of relationships, especially when you combine that with the fact that there are so few barn swallows left. We know that there were hundreds in a given area before the disaster, and just a couple of years later we're only able to find a few dozen left. The declines have been really dramatic."

Scientists have taken a closer look at bird populations and have found that since the March 11 earthquake, which caused the nuclear catastrophe,
bird populations have plummeted.   © Taramoto

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica gutturalis) in Japan. © Alpsdake/Wikimedia Commons

The scientists also analyzed how the response of bird species differed between Fukushima and Chernobyl. One contrast was that migratory birds fared worst in the mutagenic landscape of Chernobyl than year-round residents, whereas the opposite was true for Fukushima.

"It suggests to us that what we're seeing in Fukushima right now is primarily through the direct result of exposure to radiation that's generating a toxic effect-because the residents are getting a bigger dose by being there longer, they're more affected," said Mousseau. "Whereas in Chernobyl, many generations later, the migrants are more affected, and one possibility is that this reflects differences in mutation accumulation."

The findings are published in the Journal of Ornithology. - Science World Report.

Unofficially it's 365 rhino killed already in South Africa this year

Rhino drinking

With officials figures hard to come by and a change from regular monthly reports to 'quarterly or so' reports its difficult to find out the current situation on rhino poaching in South Africa. Even with reports and statistics now being published on a quarterly basis the South African government is still finding excuses not to publish the figures.

This is so with the first set of rhino poaching statistics due to be published for 2015. The press conference and publication due today has been postponed because the departments that were to be involved in the press conference had 'timetable clashes'.

With a current investigation going on that will probably lead to South Africa asking for a legal rhino horn trade market at next years CITES meeting it is obviously beneficial to cloud the waters where the scale of the poaching epidemic is concerned.

With official figures hard to come by then unofficial reports need to be used as an indication about the effectiveness of anti-poaching activities.

One of the unofficial statistics compiled on rhino poaching in South Africa is put together by OSCAP (Outraged Citizen Against Rhino Poaching) who have their own system in place to monitor rhino deaths and court cases.

While today's official rhino poaching figures have been postponed OSCAP have released their figures to South African newspaper The Citizen. OSACP figures show that in the first 3 months of 2015 365 rhinos have been killed for their horn.

This would indicate that the poaching trend continues upwards and unless something major happens then 2015 year figures will beat the record 2014 annual death of 1215.

Taking into account seasonal surges of rhino killings and the upward trend it is possible that 2015 will see over 1500 rhinos killed - our estimate based on OSCAP figures for the first quarter is that 1504 rhinos may be killed by the end of this year.

If OSCAP estimates are current then it offers a reason why the Environment ministry is so slow to publish official figures. A continuing increase in rhinos being killed will not help them in their arguments to initiate a legal trade in rhino horn.

Before the country can push for a highly-regulated trade in rhino horn it has to demonstrate that it can protect wild rhino from poaching to prevent illegal rhino horn entering the market.

Regular and consistent reporting of rhino poaching stats should be made so that the world fully understands the scale of the poaching problem and the threats faced by the species.  - Wildlife News.

Billions of barrel jellyfish appear in coastal waters off Cornwall, UK

Making waves: Billions of barrel jellyfish have been spotted in water off the coast of Devon and Cornwall

This week's warm weather may have tempted you to take a dip in the UK's usually chilly waters.

And if you had, you wouldn't have been the only one swimming around the coastline.

Billions of jellyfish have appeared in our waters, apparently attracted by the higher sea temperatures.

Invasion: Experts believe the barrel jellyfish, which can grow up to six feet, have
been attracted by the warmer waters and a lack of predators

Hundreds of the barrel jellyfish - each the size of a dustbin lid - have been hauled in by fishermen on the Devon and Cornish coast, with dozens of sightings reported to the authorities.
Passengers aboard a sea life cruise were stunned after coming across a giant swarm of thousands of the jellyfish - the largest species found in south-west England - over a mile in length on Wednesday.

The jellyfish, which can grow up to six feet and weigh 55lb, were sighted just off Pendennis Point near Falmouth, Cornwall.

Keith Leeves, captain of AK Wildlife Cruises, said: 'It was eerie and a little unnerving.

'There were thousands of them. I've never seen anything like that in all the years I've been doing this - it was spectacular.'

WATCH: Huge barrel jellyfish swims ast driver in Dorset.

Experts say their stings are not powerful enough to do any serious harm, but warn swimmers that it is best not to touch them.

Matt Slater of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust said it was 'difficult to say what is causing their appearance, but it could be because there is more plankton for the jellyfish to feed on because of warmer waters'.

Steve Hussey, from the Devon Wildlife Trust, says the increase could be because of fewer predators in the region's seas.

'The leatherback turtle is struggling at the moment, which means there are less of them to eat the jellyfish.' - Daily Mail.

Zimbabwean hunter trampled to death by elephant

Hey, that's one less hunter to contend with.
A Zimbabwean professional hunter was killed by a bull elephant in the north of the country, his company said on Thursday.

Ian Gibson was killed on Wednesday by the elephant he was tracking with a client in the lower Zambezi Valley, Chifuti Safaris said in a statement posted to the website.

The bull charged Gibson from a distance of less than 100m, the statement said.

"Feeling he was quite close to the elephant, Ian and his tracker Robert continued to follow the tracks in the hopes of getting a look at the ivory," Chifuti Safaris said.

"They eventually caught up to the bull, spotting him at about 50m-100m. The bull instantly turned and began a full charge.

"Ian and Robert began shouting in order to stop the charge. At very close range, Ian was able to get off one shot before the bull killed him,"
the statement said.

The elephant was understood to be in musth, which means the bull had a surge of testerone and would have been particularly dangerous.

Fellow hunters posted condolence messages on hunting community websites.

Wrote Steve on "Good guy; the best, actually. Godspeed, my friend. Godspeed."

Safaris said: "Ian Gibson was a fine man and one of the most experienced professional hunters on the African continent. He will be deeply missed by all."

The company also reportedly lost a professional hunter in 2012, when Owain Lewis was killed by a buffalo. - News24.

Pensioner finds snake in his oven in Halliwell, UK

Find: The 65-year-old scooped up the reptile and put it in a plastic food recycling box.  © Getty/Facebook/GMPBoltonNorth

David Atherton scooped up the reptile and put it in a plastic food recycling box and alerted police after he watched it fall to the floor and curl up

A pensioner ready to enjoy a meal of pie and chips was shocked to discover a three foot snake slithering around inside his oven.

David Atherton was about to put his meal inside the cooker when he saw the black and white banded California king hanging at the side.

The 65-year-old scooped up the reptile, put it in a plastic food recycling box and alerted police after he watched it fall to the floor and curl up.

RSPCA officers retrieved the snake the same evening and it has been given a temporary home with a local conservationist.

Mr Atherton, from Halliwell, near Bolton, Greater Manchester, revealed his sister Margaret, 73, who has a phobia of the animal, had to be taken to hospital with heart problems after becoming distressed when she heard of the incident.

He said: "Her phobia is so bad she cannot even look at a snake on TV, let alone see one in real life.

"I would not like to hazard a guess as to what would have happened if she had been the one to open the oven and see it.

"It could have been much worse."

He added: "When I pulled down the oven door I saw the snake hanging down from the side and and at first I thought it was part of a food packet, but then I realised what it was.

"There is a small gap between the oven and the fitted cupboards, which must be what it came through.

"You could not make it up and I must confess it is not something that happens every day."

Experts said the banded California king snakes can grow up to 6ft in length and were commonly kept as pets.

RSPCA inspector Melissa Furey said the organisation commonly see a big influx of snakes coming out in April, as the weather gets warmer.

She added: "It is the time of year when they come out basking in the sun - this is the second escaped snake in just over a week which has made an appearance in Greater Manchester.

"Pet owners need to be responsible and make sure they have the correct equipment - vivariums with locks - because snakes are really good escape artists and can slip through the smallest of gaps."

It comes after a teenager was left terrified after discovering a 6ft-long snake in her bathroom in Rochdale.

Karen Marriott dialed 999 after her 16-year-old daughter Hannah uncovered the six-foot long reptile curled up on a bath mat on top of a radiator.
- Daily Mirror.

Wolves attack sheep flock on the edge of Roquebillière town, France

Wolves have attacked a flock of sheep just yards from houses in the Alpes-Maritimes town of Roquebillière.

The pack killed 12 sheep and injured many others in the attack early on Tuesday morning, the first time wolves have attacked so close to houses.

Farmer Daniel Nicolao, 59, told Nice Matin that 21 sheep were either killed or injured - and the injured animals were so badly hurt they were going to be slaughtered.

The Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage told the paper that so far this year there had been 128 wolf attacks and they had killed about 300 animals, with many of the attacks being near Roquebillière, a spa town in the Vésubie valley just 30km from Nice.

Mr Nicolao said he would get compensation but told the newspaper: "I don't give a damn about compensation, it's my sheep that matter. Do you know how much work that means! I'm going to get my rifle, and I'll fix the problem. You watch!"

He added that the pack had attacked every one of the sheep in the flock, meaning they had had young wolves with them and were teaching them to hunt.

"Today they are in the field next door - next year they'll be doing our dustbins!"

The attack happened just 50m from the home of Roquebillière mayor Gérard Manfredi and only yards from a house where a family slept, separated only by a wire fence.
Mr Manfredi was not available to speak this morning, but told TF1 news that "it was the first time an attack had happened directly in the village, just 50m from my own house and 100m from the church".

WATCH: Scenes from the aftermath of the attack.

Last year 2,800 sheep were killed in Alpes-Maritimes, the department most affected by wolves, which have spread since arriving over the border from Italy.

There are thought to be about 200 wolves in France, where they are a protected species, much to the disgust of Nice mayor Christian Estrosi who called on the prefect to "allow hunters and shepherds the freedom to shoot wolves". - Connexion France.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 5.4 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Trinidad And Venezuela! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location map.

April 17, 2015 - CARIBBEAN
- An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 rocked Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday night but there were no immediate reports of damages or injuries.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake was also felt in Venezuela and as far north as St George’s in Grenada. It was focused at an epicentre around 34 kilometres north-northeast of Irapa in Venezuela and about 105 kilometres west-northwest of Port of Spain in Trinidad.

 USGS shakemap intensity.

USGS map indicating reports of the locations across Trinidad where the earthquake was felt. (Credit: USGS) The quake, which struck at around 10.24 (local time) was felt across Trinidad and Tobago, with light to moderate shaking the norm. Many people took to the social networks to report on the tremor, but disaster officials here said there were no immediate reports of damages to infrastructure or injuries.

Much of the Caribbean region is located in a seismically active zone. - Caribbean 360.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Caribbean Region and Vicinity

Extensive diversity and complexity of tectonic regimes characterizes the perimeter of the Caribbean plate, involving no fewer than four major plates (North America, South America, Nazca, and Cocos). Inclined zones of deep earthquakes (Wadati-Benioff zones), ocean trenches, and arcs of volcanoes clearly indicate subduction of oceanic lithosphere along the Central American and Atlantic Ocean margins of the Caribbean plate, while crustal seismicity in Guatemala, northern Venezuela, and the Cayman Ridge and Cayman Trench indicate transform fault and pull-apart basin tectonics.

Along the northern margin of the Caribbean plate, the North America plate moves westwards with respect to the Caribbean plate at a velocity of approximately 20 mm/yr. Motion is accommodated along several major transform faults that extend eastward from Isla de Roatan to Haiti, including the Swan Island Fault and the Oriente Fault. These faults represent the southern and northern boundaries of the Cayman Trench. Further east, from the Dominican Republic to the Island of Barbuda, relative motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate becomes increasingly complex and is partially accommodated by nearly arc-parallel subduction of the North America plate beneath the Caribbean plate. This results in the formation of the deep Puerto Rico Trench and a zone of intermediate focus earthquakes (70-300 km depth) within the subducted slab. Although the Puerto Rico subduction zone is thought to be capable of generating a megathrust earthquake, there have been no such events in the past century. The last probable interplate (thrust fault) event here occurred on May 2, 1787 and was widely felt throughout the island with documented destruction across the entire northern coast, including Arecibo and San Juan. Since 1900, the two largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the August 4, 1946 M8.0 Samana earthquake in northeastern Hispaniola and the July 29, 1943 M7.6 Mona Passage earthquake, both of which were shallow thrust fault earthquakes. A significant portion of the motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate in this region is accommodated by a series of left-lateral strike-slip faults that bisect the island of Hispaniola, notably the Septentrional Fault in the north and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault in the south. Activity adjacent to the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault system is best documented by the devastating January 12, 2010 M7.0 Haiti strike-slip earthquake, its associated aftershocks and a comparable earthquake in 1770.

 USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Moving east and south, the plate boundary curves around Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles where the plate motion vector of the Caribbean plate relative to the North and South America plates is less oblique, resulting in active island-arc tectonics. Here, the North and South America plates subduct towards the west beneath the Caribbean plate along the Lesser Antilles Trench at rates of approximately 20 mm/yr. As a result of this subduction, there exists both intermediate focus earthquakes within the subducted plates and a chain of active volcanoes along the island arc. Although the Lesser Antilles is considered one of the most seismically active regions in the Caribbean, few of these events have been greater than M7.0 over the past century. The island of Guadeloupe was the site of one of the largest megathrust earthquakes to occur in this region on February 8, 1843, with a suggested magnitude greater than 8.0. The largest recent intermediate-depth earthquake to occur along the Lesser Antilles arc was the November 29, 2007 M7.4 Martinique earthquake northwest of Fort-De-France.

The southern Caribbean plate boundary with the South America plate strikes east-west across Trinidad and western Venezuela at a relative rate of approximately 20 mm/yr. This boundary is characterized by major transform faults, including the Central Range Fault and the Boconó-San Sebastian-El Pilar Faults, and shallow seismicity. Since 1900, the largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the October 29, 1900 M7.7 Caracas earthquake, and the July 29, 1967 M6.5 earthquake near this same region. Further to the west, a broad zone of compressive deformation trends southwestward across western Venezuela and central Colombia. The plate boundary is not well defined across northwestern South America, but deformation transitions from being dominated by Caribbean/South America convergence in the east to Nazca/South America convergence in the west. The transition zone between subduction on the eastern and western margins of the Caribbean plate is characterized by diffuse seismicity involving low- to intermediate-magnitude (Magnitude less than 6.0) earthquakes of shallow to intermediate depth.

The plate boundary offshore of Colombia is also characterized by convergence, where the Nazca plate subducts beneath South America towards the east at a rate of approximately 65 mm/yr. The January 31, 1906 M8.5 earthquake occurred on the shallowly dipping megathrust interface of this plate boundary segment. Along the western coast of Central America, the Cocos plate subducts towards the east beneath the Caribbean plate at the Middle America Trench. Convergence rates vary between 72-81 mm/yr, decreasing towards the north. This subduction results in relatively high rates of seismicity and a chain of numerous active volcanoes; intermediate-focus earthquakes occur within the subducted Cocos plate to depths of nearly 300 km. Since 1900, there have been many moderately sized intermediate-depth earthquakes in this region, including the September 7, 1915 M7.4 El Salvador and the October 5, 1950 M7.8 Costa Rica events.

The boundary between the Cocos and Nazca plates is characterized by a series of north-south trending transform faults and east-west trending spreading centers. The largest and most seismically active of these transform boundaries is the Panama Fracture Zone. The Panama Fracture Zone terminates in the south at the Galapagos rift zone and in the north at the Middle America trench, where it forms part of the Cocos-Nazca-Caribbean triple junction. Earthquakes along the Panama Fracture Zone are generally shallow, low- to intermediate in magnitude (Magnitude less than 7.2) and are characteristically right-lateral strike-slip faulting earthquakes. Since 1900, the largest earthquake to occur along the Panama Fracture Zone was the July 26, 1962 M7.2 earthquake.

References for the Panama Fracture Zone:

Molnar, P., and Sykes, L. R., 1969, Tectonics of the Caribbean and Middle America Regions from Focal Mechanisms and Seismicity: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 80, p. 1639-1684.

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics


EXTREME WEATHER: "It Was Frightening" - Rare Suspected Tornado Picks Up Car In Eugene, Oregon Community College Parking Lot!

Bystanders inspect a car overturned by a rare suspected tornado in a parking lot at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., on April 15, 2015. 
© Lane Community College

April 17, 2015 - OREGON, UNITED STATES - A rare suspected tornado in Oregon swept across a parking lot at a community college in the city of Eugene, lifting up a Jeep with two people inside and damaging three other vehicles, officials said on Wednesday.

Oregon gets only a handful of tornadoes each year, and they are usually weak, said National Weather Service meteorologist Liana Ramirez. She said meteorologists believe this was a small tornado and are working to confirm that determination.

No one was injured from the suspected tornado on Tuesday afternoon at Lane Community College in Eugene, about 100 miles (161 km) south of Portland, officials said.

A car sits in a Lane Community College parking lot after sustaining damage from a rare suspected tornado in Eugene, Ore., on April 15, 2015. 
© Lane Community College

© Lane Community College

The Jeep with the two people sitting inside was lifted about 5 feet (1.5 meters) off the ground before dropping back down, according to Joan Aschim, a spokeswoman for the college.

"I'm sure it was frightening for the two occupants," Aschim said, adding that few people were in the parking lot at the time.

A car was flipped around in the air and landed on another vehicle, and a fourth vehicle was flipped over and landed on its roof, Aschim said.

The Oregonian newspaper on its website posted photos submitted by a student at the college showing a sedan lying on its roof on a grassy space in the parking lot and another vehicle with part of its roof and windshield caved in. - Yahoo.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Sinkhole Closes Highway In California And Firetruck Hits Sinkhole In Richmond, Virginia!

April 17, 2015 - UNITED STATES - Here are several of the latest reports of sinkholes across the United States as monumental planetary transformations continue.

Sinkhole closes highway in California

© Rob Varela

One lane of Highway 118 in Saticoy is expected to remain closed until Thursday as crews work to repair a sinkhole in the area, officials said Tuesday.

The sinkhole, about 5 feet deep and 10 feet wide, was caused by a leak from a reinforced concrete drainage pipe joint, according to Caltrans.

Caltrans officials said water inside the pipe will be removed, the break will be patched and the void will be filled with concrete slurry.

The sinkhole is on the Wells Road portion of the highway between Darling and Telephone roads, and motorists are advised to avoid the area and use alternative routes.

It was discovered by a Caltrans maintenance crew member about 11 a.m. Monday. - Ventura County Star.

Firetruck hits sinkhole in Richmond, Virginia

© NBC12

A firetruck is stuck near the intersection of Noble and Rennie avenues after the back tire hit a sinkhole.

Engine 14 was out checking for street closures Thursday morning after a water main break on Wednesday when the accident happened. A tow truck is on the way.

No one was injured in the accident. The extent of the damage to the engine will not be known until they remove the vehicle. - NBC12.

FIRE IN THE SKY: "It Was Brighter Than Venus" - Luminescent Green Fireball Spotted In Durham, Newscastle, North Yorkshire And Cumbria, UK!


April 17, 2015 - UNITED KINGDOM
- A spectacular fireball has been seen streaking across the sky by people across the North-East and further afield.

A luminescent green ball, which burned brightly for several seconds as it plunged earthward, could have been caused by an object no bigger than a pea.

It is thought it could have been an early arrival of the Lyrid meteor shower expected to begin tonight (Thursday, April 16) - caused when the earth passes through the dusty tail of Comet Thatcher.

The larger-than-average meteor fell in the northern skies at 9.25pm last night with sightings in County Durham, Newcastle, North Yorkshire, and Cumbria. It was first reported online by The Northern Echo's website.

Amateur astronomer Martin Whipp, of Ripon, North Yorkshire, said: "I was heading back home driving parallel to the A1 near Boroughbridge when I saw it.

"It was magnitude -5, which is slightly bigger than Venus and was visible for two to three seconds before it broke up into pieces as it came down. It was slightly greenish in colour."

Mr Whipp, who has been a member of the York Astronomical Society for more than 20 years, said: "It was a fireball. Anything brighter than Venus is classed as a fireball. Anything smaller than that is just a meteor.

"My estimate is that it would only be the size of a pea. It looks so spectacular when it enters the atmosphere because it causes so much friction.

"And what you actually see is the gas bubble around it being burned off by the friction."

Mr Whipp added the greenish colour could be caused by some sort of copper. If it had hit the ground it would be called a meteorite. A normal meteor is about the size of a grain of sand and would burn up completely.

Mr Whipp said the Lyrid meteor shower - also known as the April Lyrids - would begin tonight and peak on Wednesday.

He said: "The Lyrids are quite bright, so it could have been an early arrival. Having said that there are meteor showers going on all the time."

Ian Critchley, of Birkenhead, near Liverpool, said he was travelling along the M6 near the A6 turnoff when he saw a bright flash.

He said: "It was a greenish fireball with purplish tinges. It appeared to be half a mile away, but it was very difficult to judge the scale.

"It up the inside of the car, it was that that bright. It looked as though it came to ground west of the motorway." - The Northern Echo.