Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.3 Earthquake hits the Bougainville region, Papua New Guinea.

5.4 Earthquake hits the northern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.3 Earthquake hits the northern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.3 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.3 Earthquake hits the northern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.2 Earthquake hits South Island, New Zealand.

5.1 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.0 Earthquake hits the northern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.0 Earthquake hits the northern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Bismarck Sea.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

New England, USA – Winter Storm Mars is expected to dump as much as a foot of new snow along the New England coast through Tuesday morning. The storm has affected schools and travel, as officials are yet again warning residents to be careful if they venture out into the storm. Cape Cod and other parts of the coast were battered by flooding and strong winds Monday morning. Huge waves hammered Scituate, while some roads were rendered impassable by all the water that came ashore. Blizzard conditions were unofficially met by 1 p.m. Monday in Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Hyannis, Plymouth and Chatham, according to the National Weather Service. All across eastern Massachusetts, authorities warned people to stay off the roads if possible, as motorists would be at risk from not only slick roads but also falling tree limbs and power lines due to the strong winds.

Wildlife

Sea turtles with tumours fill Florida hospital

As the population of green sea turtles rebounds in and around the Florida Keys, cases of fibropapillomatosis have exploded too, filling the corridors of the United States’ oldest rescue and rehab facility, known simply as the Turtle Hospital.

“When I first started here 20 years ago, I would do six to eight of these a month,” says veterinarian Doug Mader, as he injects a local anaesthetic, then cuts off the cauliflower-like growths with a carbon dioxide laser.

“Now we are doing six to eight a week,” he says as the air fills with the smell of saltwater, alcohol wipes and burning flesh.

The young patient writhes on the operating table, kicking its flippers. A team of medical attendants turns it over, revealing an underbelly cluttered with tumours, some as big as golf balls.

This endangered green sea turtle, about two years old and too young for the staff to know yet whether it is male or female, is infected with fibropapillomatosis, a potentially deadly disease caused by a type of herpes virus.

Experts still don’t understand quite how the virus spreads, or what causes it, though some research has pointed to agricultural runoff, pollution and global warming.

Each turtle can require several operations to remove all the tumours, which cover their necks, underbellies, and eyes, blinding them and making it hard for them to find food.

Green sea turtles were first listed as endangered species in 1976, but are now nesting in record numbers — 28,000 nests counted last year in Florida, up from fewer than 500 decades ago.

Albino turtle found on Australia beach

Wildlife volunteers say they were stunned to find an extremely rare albino turtle on a beach in Australia.

The tiny creature was one of 122 hatchlings from a green turtle nest on Castaways Beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The volunteers from Coolum and North Shore Coast Care were surveying the nest on Sunday when they found it.

“It was very chipper and just took off into the water as happy as can be,” said group president Linda Warneminde.

Ms Warneminde said typically only one in 1,000 green turtles survived to maturity and experts believed the chances for an albino turtle were even lower.

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Space Events

Death by Meteorite?

For the first time in recorded history, a meteorite is reported to have killed a person.

The incident happened Saturday (Feb. 6) when an object, thought to be a meteorite, hit a college campus in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India. The impact killed a man and injured three others.

Officials found a 4-feet-deep (1.2 meters) crater in the ground that contained “bluish black” rock fragments.

The force of the impact broke windows in neighbouring classrooms and cars, and prompted college officials to cancel classes until Wednesday (Feb. 10).

Wildfires

Birds of prey spread bush fires deliberately

Birds of prey in Australia are suspected of starting fires to drive their prey from undergrowth.

At least two raptors, the black kite and the brown falcon, have been seen swooping on smouldering twigs and embers, and carrying them on to unburnt ground, scientists have been told, in what would be the first case of animals deliberately using fire.

The birds swoop on small marsupials and large insects as they are flushed from the bush by the flames.

Bushmen, rangers and aboriginals have provided researchers with accounts of the birds starting fires in northern Australia.

Disease

Zika virus infection – Maldives

On 7 January 2016, the National IHR Focal Point of Maldives notified WHO of a case of Zika virus infection with onset of symptoms in June 2015, in a patient returning to Finland.

Zika virus infection – Region of the Americas

Between 27 and 30 January 2016, PAHO/WHO was notified of cases of Zika virus infection in Costa Rica, Curaçao, Jamaica and Nicaragua.

Guillain-Barré syndrome – Brazil

On 22 January 2016, the National IHR Focal Point of Brazil notified PAHO/WHO of an increase of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) recorded at the national level.

Data from the hospital-based surveillance system reveal that, between January and November 2015, 1,708 cases of GBS were registered nationwide. While a number of states reported significant increases in reported cases – especially, Alagoas (516.7%), Bahia (196.1%), Rio Grande do Norte (108.7%), Piauí (108.3%), Espirito Santo (78.6%), and Rio de Janeiro (60.9%) – other states reported stable or even diminishing number of GBS cases as compared to 2014. Most of the states in Brazil are experiencing the circulation of Zika, chikungunya, and dengue virus.

Guillain-Barré syndrome – France – Martinique

On 25 January 2016, the National IHR Focal Point of France notified PAHO/WHO of 2 cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) in Martinique.

At present, available information is insufficient to interpret the observed differences in GBS incidence globally and among Brazilian states. The potential cause of the reported increase of GBS incidence in certain Brazilian states remains unknown. Case-control studies are ongoing to determine the cause of the increase. These studies may provide evidence that corroborates or disproves a causal relationship between Zika virus, GBS and other congenital malformations. WHO continues to monitor the epidemiological situation and conduct risk assessment based on the latest available information.

Hawaii Island declares state of emergency over dengue fever outbreak

The mayor of Hawaii Island has declared a state of emergency after more than 250 confirmed cases of dengue fever on the island since late October. The emergency period will be in place for 60 days or until further notice from officials.

Officials are using mosquito control measures along with public education and outreach to break the cycle of infection and transmission.

Dengue fever is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The disease causes flu-like symptoms such as high fever, nausea and joint and muscle pain. In severe cases it can cause bleeding from the nose or gums, persistent vomiting and can be fatal, according to Health Canada.

Symptoms typically appear three to 14 days after a bite, and protecting yourself from mosquito bites is the best way to avoid infection. There is no vaccine or medication to prevent infection.

Dengue fever is not spread from person to person.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Bromo (East Java, Indonesia): The eruption continues in the form of intermittent small to moderate strombolian-type explosions and minutes-long phases of more or less vigorous ash venting alternating with strong degassing. Only few incandescent ejecta are being seen at night, but ash emissions are comparably intense and aviation color code of the volcano remains at orange.