Moon is key to when jellyfish hit beach: Israeli study

JERUSALEM, Israel (AFP) — Swimmers wanting to avoid being stung by jellyfish may want to watch the sky as much as the sea after Israeli researchers found a link between their arrival and the phase of the moon. The Israeli study found the lunar calendar is a key determinant of when jellyfish arrive on the Mediterranean country’s shores. In the middle of the lunar months — the days before and during the full moon — […]

How earthquakes happen

Seismic activity is concentrated along fault lines ­­ areas of fracture in the Earth’s crust ­­ generally found near ridges or tectonic plate boundaries. Constantly in motion, these huge plates sometimes collide, forcing one beneath the other. The resulting friction creates energy along the fault lines, which eventually become unstable and rupture, sending out a shock wave. The energy released is felt as an earthquake. After the initial jolt, aftershocks can strike as neighboring plates […]

Myanmar’s peacock: a national symbol dying off in the wild

by Reuben EASEY YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — Embraced by kings and freedom fighters alike, Myanmar’s peacocks have long been a national symbol of pride and resistance — but they are becoming ever harder to spot in the wild. Ornithologist Thet Zaw Naing is worried. Every year that goes by, Myanmar’s national bird becomes a less familiar sight. “They always walk on the ground and they sleep in trees at night,” he tells AFP. “And before […]

NASA says 2016 heat to take its toll on Arctic Sea ice

  (REUTERS)  Record-breaking warm temperatures in the first half of 2016 have primed the Arctic for another summer of low sea ice cover, said NASA on Friday (August 19). “Globally it’s been the warmest year on record,” said NASA scientist Walt Meier from Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland “That’s resulted in an earlier melt of the Arctic sea ice and an opening of the ocean. And so we’re on track for one of […]

Harley-Davidson in $15m pollution settlement with US

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – US motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson on Thursday entered a $15 million settlement with US authorities who accused the company of making and selling illegal devices that increased air pollution from its bikes. The company, the iconic American manufacturer of large and loud motorcycles, agreed to buy back and cease selling so-called “super tuners,” which improved performance but increased hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions. The company has produced and sold about 340,000 […]

July was Earth’s hottest month in modern times: US

  MIAMI, United States (AFP) – by Kerry SHERIDAN Soaring temperatures worldwide made July the Earth’s hottest month in modern times, setting a new high mark for global heat in 137 years of record-keeping, US government scientists said Wednesday. The report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came just two days after the US space agency NASA released its climate data, which also found July was a record-breaking month. “July is typically the hottest month for […]

Research finds Greenland shark can live for around 400 years

(Reuters) The Greenland shark, a big and slow-moving deep-ocean predator that prowls the waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic, can claim the distinction of being the planet’s longest-living vertebrate, with a lifespan perhaps reaching about 400 years. Its extremely sluggish growth rate, about four-tenths of a inch (1 cm) per year, had already tipped off scientists that it lived a very long time, and research published on Thursday (August 11) calculated the Greenland shark‘s […]

Not all is green in Mexico City’s Aztec garden district

by Pauline DE DEUS MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — Colorful gondolas lazily ferry tourists around the floating gardens of Mexico City’s Xochimilco district, but not all is green in this idyllic vestige of the Aztec empire increasingly choked by urbanization. Criss-crossed with natural canals and artificial islands, Xochimilco is the last reminder of how the Aztecs lived 500 years ago at the time the Spanish conquistadors arrived, when Mexico City was mostly covered in water. […]

Spiders and scorpions join fight against superbugs

A British lab is searching for new medicines in the poisonous secretions of some of the world’s deadliest creatures, addressing the increasingly desperate challenge of finding viable new drugs.  Over-prescription and over-use in farming of antibiotics has given rise to so-called ‘superbugs’, multi-drug resistant infections that can evade even the medicines designed to kill them. Experts have warned since the 1990s that lethal superbugs were on the horizon, but few drugmakers have attempted to develop […]

Activists slam ASEAN roadmap to stop smog

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) – Southeast Asian nations agreed to a roadmap on Thursday to combat acrid haze from Indonesian fires that cloaks vast swathes of the region every year, but the move was greeted by activists with scepticism. Further doubts were raised about the agreement with the Indonesian environment minister skipping the one-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur attended by environment ministers from the the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a 10-member regional bloc. Malaysia’s […]

Illegal bird trade threatens Indonesian species: report

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Tens of thousands of endangered Indonesian birds are being sold illegally at markets across the country, a wildlife trade watchdog warned Thursday, flouting laws aimed at protecting these species from extinction. Wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC recorded nearly 23,000 birds for sale at five markets in three major cities on the main island of Java. More than two dozen species identified in the survey were fully protected under Indonesian law, meaning […]

‘Alarming’ bleaching of Maldives corals: conservationists

GENEVa, Switzerland (AFP) — Coral reefs in the Maldives are under severe stress after suffering mass bleaching this year as sea temperatures soared, a top conservationist body warned Monday. Around 60 percent of Maldives’ coral colonies have been bleached, with the figure reaching 90 percent in some areas, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said in a statement. It cited data from a survey it carried out with the Maldives Marine Research Center […]