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Antarctic Poaching
Illegal fishing techniques
in the waters off Antarctica
threaten the staple
food for seals, whales and
penguins, according to researchers
addressing a scientific conference in
Hobart, Australia. The gathering of
the Conservation of Antarctic Marine
Living Resources heard warning of
ships that are vacuuming up tiny
shrimp-like creatures known as krill.
The catches are used to feed salmon
farms, and localized depletion of the
tiny crustaceans could develop into
food shortages for larger marine
species that depend upon them.
Those in attendance at the conference
also heard that pirate fishing vessels
are invading the rarely patrolled
southern waters to catch Chilean sea
bass. “It’s a deep-living, slow-growing,
long-lived predator fish found in
the Southern Ocean around Antarctica
... It’s important for the survival
of Weddel seals, killer whales and
sperm whales,” said Mark Stevens of
the U.S.-based National Environmental
Mysterious Tree Deaths
Researchers in Portugal
are baffled by a massive
loss of cork trees, which
have begun drying up at
an alarming rate. “We don’t know yet
if it is a disease or if the mortality is
caused by climatic factors,” World
Wildlife Fund’s Portugal forest officer
Luis Silva told the Lusa news
agency. The conservation group held
a joint conference on the problem
along with the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization and Portugal’s
agriculture ministry. Portugal is the
world’s leading exporter of cork, followed
by other Mediterranean
nations, which also attended the conference.
Cork trees can live up to 500
years and can be stripped for their
bark every nine years.

Warming Migrations
Animal species in Britain
have begun a discernible
mass migration northward
during the past 25 years to
escape global warming, according to
researchers. Professor Chris Thomas
of the University of York says that 80
percent of the 300 species his team
monitored have abandoned habitats
they occupied for thousands of years
to move to areas 40 to 60 miles farther
north. Many of those species
were choosing to live at higher elevations
as well. “Eighty percent is a
surprisingly large percentage ... It’s
amazing how strong and already visible
is the signature of climate
change,” said Thomas.

Afghan Drought Returns
A new drought in
Afghanistan threatens
almost 2 million people in
the country with hunger,
according to an appeal for relief by
the United Nations. The country is
suffering water shortages again this
year after near-normal rains in 2005
that followed a three-year drought.
The U.N. is asking donor nations to
provide 49,950 metric tons of mixed
food items as well as non food items,
water and sanitation supplies.

People in northwestern
Turkey say they saw a
strange fireball hovering
over a lake that was the
epicenter of a magnitude 5.2 tremor.
The quake caused a minaret to collapse
in Balikesir province, and a subsequent
quake of comparable magnitude
there injured two people.
• Earth movements were also felt
in southern Iran, northeastern
Indonesia, the central Philippines,
northern Thailand, southeastern Australia,
Hawaii, coastal Peru and northeastern

Mount Bulusan showed
further signs of unrest in
the central Philippines as
explosions from within its
craters sent ash soaring high over Sorsogon
province. The volcano has
been active since March, but has not
spewed ash since June 28.
• Sicily’s Mount Etna produced a
new phase of explosions that sent
black ash belching from its southeast
crater. Two flows of lava reached the
Valle del Bove, but none of the activity
threatened any populated areas.

Tropical Cyclones
An area of disturbed
weather to the east of the
Solomon Islands formed
rapidly into Tropical
Cyclone Xavier — the season’s first
in the South Pacific. The storm later
passed just to the east of Vanuatu.
• Hurricane Paul drenched the
southern tip of Baja California before
making landfall in northwest Mexico’s
Sinaloa state.

German Fireball
Police near the German
city of Bonn believe a fire
that destroyed a cottage
and injured an elderly man
was probably ignited by a meteor,
which eyewitnesses say crashed to
the ground in a blazing arc. Siegburg
police spokesman Burkhard Rick
said the Bochum Observatory told the
agency that the Earth was in the field
of a “meteoroid splinter” at the time
of the impact. It added that the meteor
was most likely a bolide (meteoric
fireball) no more than 0.4 inch in
diameter. Such bolides usually burn
up in the Earth’s atmosphere before
reaching the ground.

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Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
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