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Earth News: Week Ending December 29, 2006

Earth News
Week of December 29, 2006
Behemoth Capture
Japanese researchers
caught and filmed a
giant squid near the surface
of the North
Pacific in possibly a first-ever
glimpse of an elusive creature that has
captured the imagination of sailors
and fishermen for centuries. Scientists
from Japan.s National Science
Museum videotaped the capture of a
relatively small female of the species
that measured about 22 feet in length.
We believe this is the first time anyone
has successfully filmed a giant
squid that was alive, said researcher
Tsunemi Kubodera. The legendary
giant squid is the world.s largest
invertebrate. It can grow to be 60 feet
in length and has long been cloaked
in mystery because it lives at such
depths that it is usually seen dead,
washed up on the coast or in pieces
found in the digestive systems of
whales or very large sharks.

Manatee Deaths
Florida wildlife officials
reported that the
states endangered
manatees died at a nearrecord
pace during 2006, mainly due
to the algae bloom known as red tide.
What threw us over the edge is there
was a red tide event in the Everglades,
said state marine biologist
Ken Arrison. Out of the 392 recorded
deaths of the marine mammals as of
Dec. 8, boat collisions had killed 82
while 49 deaths were attributed to red
tide. Scientists have warned the manatee
population is expected to drop 50
percent over the next five decades
because of habitat loss, boat collisions
and red tide. But in February,
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission voted unanimously
to designate the manatee as a
threatened species rather than endangered,
saying the animal.s population
is on the rebound.

Rift Valley Fever
A rare viral disease that
usually affects only cattle
has killed 23 people in
parts of northeast Kenya
and southern Somalia during December.
Kenyan medical experts confirmed
that the disease is Rift Valley
fever, and the government immediately
banned the transport and
slaughter of livestock to help contain
the outbreak. Rift Valley fever, which
causes victims to vomit blood or
bleed to death, passes from livestock
to humans through mosquito bites or
the handling of contaminated animal

Cyclone Season
Two people were killed
when powerful Cyclone
Bondo hit the northern
coast of Madagascar. They
were the first cyclone deaths in the
country since January 2005, when 17
people were confirmed killed and 139
others were reported missing in the
wake of Cyclone Ernest. The western
Indian Ocean is entering into its usual
cyclone season, which will last
through March.

A magnitude 7.0 temblor
off the southern tip of Taiwan
killed 2 people as it
collapsed buildings and
sparked fires. The seismic slip also
ruptured undesea cables, disrupting
telecommunications across Asia.
A cluster of 820 mild earthquakes
jolted El Salvador within four
days, damaging more than 1,500
Earth movements were also felt
in California.s southern desert
resorts, the San Francisco Bay Area,
Scotland, northwest India, India.s
Andaman Islands and Indonesia.s
easternmost Papua province and
Sulawesi Island.

Polar Bears Endangered
The U.S. government has
proposed adding polar
bears to its list of endangered
species due to
threats to the animals. habitat from
global warming. The U.S. proposal
came after a lawsuit was filed by the
Center for Biological Diversity, the
Natural Resources Defense Council
and Greenpeace that claims the government
has failed to respond quickly
enough to the polar bears. plight. H.
Dale Hall, head of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, said at a news conference
that the Bush administration
now agrees with the conservation
groups. assertions that the polar bear
population could fall by more than 30
percent within 45 years due to .the
warming of the climate..

Sleepless Winters
Scientists in Spain say
bears have stopped hibernating
in the country's
northern mountains in
what may be one of the strongest signals
yet of how much climate change
is affecting the natural world. Naturalists
from Spain's Brown Bear
Foundation say that many of the 130
bears in Spain's northern cordillera
which have a slightly different
genetic composition than bear populations
elsewhere in the world .
have remained active throughout
recent winters. The group told the El
Pais newspaper that the change is
affecting female bears with young
cubs, which are now able to find
enough nuts, acorns, chestnuts and
berries on the mountainsides to survive
through winter. They said male
bears in the region are now hibernating
for only a short period of time.

Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
Week Ending December 29, 2006
Distributed by: UPS
©2006, Earth Frenzy Rights Reserv

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