Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.1 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Ceram Sea, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the North Atlantic: Invest 96L is an area of disturbed weather in the North Atlantic that has the potential for further tropical development.

In the Eastern Pacific: Tropical Storm Frank is located about 875 mi…1410 km W of the southern tip of Baja California with maximum sustained winds…40 mph…65 km/h. Present movement…WNW or 290 degrees at 9 mph…15 km/h.

Invest 91E is an area of disturbed weather in the East Pacific that has the potential for further tropical development.

Newsbytes:

Nepal – In Nepal, flash floods and landslides have swept through villages, killing at least 58 people over the past two days, home ministry official Yadav Koirala told Reuters on Wednesday.

Wildlife

Two Humpback Whales Rescue a Seal Under Attack by Killer Whales

According to a first-hand account written by Robert L. Pitman of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

At one point, the team witnessed a pod of killer whales (orcas) trying to knock a Weddell seal off an ice floe, presumably to eat the hapless seal.

The orcas teamed up and swam alongside each other, creating a wave that knocked the tasty-looking seal into the water — a typical hunting strategy used by killer whales.

“At one point, the predators succeeded in washing the seal off the floe,” the scientists wrote. “Exposed to lethal attack in the open water, the seal swam frantically toward the humpbacks, seeming to seek shelter, perhaps not even aware that they were living animals.”

Next thing they knew, one of the humpback whales rolled over, scooping up the seal onto his chest just before the killer whales reached their prey.

“Then, as the killer whales moved in closer, the humpback arched its chest, lifting the seal out of the water. The water rushing off that safe platform started to wash the seal back into the sea, but then the humpback gave the seal a gentle nudge with its flipper, back to the middle of its chest. Moments later, the seal scrambled off and swam to the safety of a nearby ice floe,” wrote the scientists.

Ep r rlpitman photo 16x9

Mozambican poachers target SA rhinos

The depletion of elephants and rhinos in Mozambique has prompted poachers there to target rhinos in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, a report has revealed.

The report says, besides crossing into South Africa, the Mozambicans also take advantage of rhinos that stray into their country.

“Today, the only rhinos that occur in Mozambique are those that cross the border from the Kruger National Park. Rangers refer to them darkly as ‘the suicidal ones’. There are estimated to be about twenty of them wandering across every day and, on average, ten are killed by poachers on Mozambican soil every year,” the report says.

According to the report, while some conservationists are worried about rhino poaching, Mozambique’s most pressing environmental problems is illegal logging and elephant poaching.

Experts say insatiable demand for timber in China has seen trees harvested on such a scale in Mozambique that some believe the country will be stripped of its forests “in just a few years”.

A report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found that 93% of logging in Mozambique in 2013 was illegal and that “without major reforms, Mozambique’s forests and forest economy are staring down the barrel of a very bleak future”.

The report, written by Global Initiative rhino investigator Julian Rademeyer, reveals that elephants in Mozambique have been slaughtered on a massive scale, with numbers falling by 48% in just five years – from more than 20 000, to just 10 300.

“The Niassa Reserve which, at 42 000 square kilometres, is twice the size of the Kruger National Park, was hardest hit. In 2012, there were an estimated 12 000 elephants there. Today only about 4 500 remain,” reads the report.

Branding Mozambique as a country in crisis, the report cites rampant corruption, a weak judiciary, an ineffectual and criminally compromised police force, and powerful criminal syndicates, as factors fuelling poaching and other transnational crimes.

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Mysterious Purple Sea Orb Stymies Scientists – Researchers aboard the E/V Nautilus were surprised to stumble across a mysterious purple blob during an exploration of Arguello Canyon near the Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary.

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Space Events

Solar Flare

The sun fired off its strongest solar flare of 2016 during an active weekend that saw three eruptions from star’s surface.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – California, USA

A bulldozer operator was killed Tuesday while helping battle a wildfire near Big Sur, as a northern California blaze consumed more than 23,000 acres.

The fire is one of two infernos devouring drought-stricken California, prompting thousands of evacuations and a massive response from fire agencies. In total, 6,000 firefighters are combating the pair of wildfires.

The fires have sent thick smoke as far away as the Bay Area and Las Vegas, and triggered air quality warnings in those areas.

The second fire, in Santa Clarita Valley northeast of Los Angeles, grew to 38,346 acres by Wednesday and killed one man, whose body was found over the weekend in a burned sedan in the driveway of his home. Both fires began Friday.

Disease

Lassa Fever – Nigeria

The Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health is reporting an increase in Lassa fever in 2016 to date, according to the latest data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. During the first six months of 2016, the west African country reported 744 suspected Lassa fever cases with 72 lab-confirmed and 87 deaths.

Cholera in Sudan

Hundreds of cholera cases have been reported in South Sudan in the last two weeks, leading to the death of 14 people.

The UN and its partners have responded by implementing a vaccination campaign aimed at reaching more than 14 000 people and creating rehydration and treatment centres, the UN reported on Wednesday.

With the conditions favourable for transmission of cholera due to increased population displacement, overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitation, this outbreak could further exacerbate an already weak health system which is also battling malnutrition, measles and malaria.

The risk of further spread of diseases is a major concern. With the coming rains, it is realistic to expect an increase in malaria and water-borne diseases.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Chikurachki (Paramushir Island): A new eruption was reported by Tokyo VAAC who discovered new ash emissions from the volcano since yesterday morning. The ash plume observed on Himawari 8 satellite imagery rose to estimated 18,000 ft (5.4 km) altitude and drifted over 150 km to the NE passing the southern part of the Kamchatka peninsula. Based on satellite imagery, it seems that the eruption started as a violent explosive event yesterday at 03:20 UTC (14:20 afternoon local time). The ash plume reached Kamchatka’s southern tip 3 hours later, spreading at an average of approx. 30 knots. Chikurachki, one of the many active and rarely directly observed volcanoes in the Kurile Arc, has often produced short-lived, but sudden and very violent explosive eruptions in the past years.