MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFFS: Disaster Precursors And Warnings From Mother Nature – The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior, Migratory Patterns, Attacks, Deaths, And Appearance Of Rare Creatures!

April 17, 2015 – EARTH – The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

Rare deep sea oarfish washes up on marsh in Aramoana, New Zealand

Department of Conservation services manager David Agnew with the ”bizarre” fish that was discovered washed ashore at Aramoana. Photos by Gerard O’Brien.

A 3m, self-amputating, vertically swimming, serpent-like ”bizarre” marine specimen has washed up on the salt marsh at Aramoana.

Department of Conservation service manager David Agnew said he got a call from Aramoana resident Don Gibbs, who discovered the fish on the salt marsh side of the spit.

He went to have a look and said he had never seen anything like it before in his eight years in Dunedin and 20 years with Doc, during which he has mostly been stationed along the coastline in New Zealand.

”It’s very unusual looking.”

University of Otago NZ Marine Studies Centre manager Tessa Mills confirmed the fish was an oarfish, which have been known to grow to 11m long.

 Photos by Gerard O’Brien.

”They are usually found in deep water in tropical temperatures but I think they do come up to feed on the surface.”

She said it was unusual that it had been found washed up in a cold water area.

Marine studies programme director Sally Carson said the fish was one of the most ”bizarre, rare fish”.

She said the oarfish hangs vertically in deep water and is known to ”self-amputate” by biting off its own tail.

”Why it would do that I have no idea,” she said.

According to Wikipedia, not much is known about the oarfish.

Myths have surrounded the fish, with people around the world mistaking it for a sea serpent – there has even been a suggestion the Loch Ness Monster could be an oarfish.

Mrs Carson said DOC was looking after the oarfish and the marine centre had ”passed on the information” to see who would be interested in further study of the fish.

Otago Museum has for decades displayed a preserved oarfish in a deepwater creatures dioarama. – Otaga Daily News.

2 pieces of humpback whale found on Uran shore, India

A dead humpback whale

A 20-feet-long humpback whale was washed ashore in two parts near Danda village in Uran on Monday. A dead turtle of 2.5-feet diametre was also found in the vicinity.

“The whale’s body was decomposed. It must have been in the sea for many days, which is why it was also broken into two,” said Bharat Patil, a local.

Marine biologists said that a humpback whale has been spotted off the Uran shore after three years. Earlier, in April 2012, a 40-feet-long humpback was found dead on the Pirwadi beach of Uran.

Marine life specialist D Stalin said excessive fishing and movement of too many fishing and commercial vessels in the Arabian Sea pose threat to humpback whales, dolphins and sharks. They can be fatally injured by high-speed boats and their big propellers. “Our government has not given any serious thoughts on their preservation. Oceans are an important feature for survival of life but we continue to abuse marine zones,” he said.

In 2012, two more dead whales were found on the coast of Mumbai and Raigad. Experts said it was likely that the same family of humpback whales were fatally injured by the propellers of a barge or a ship. Even in the latest case, the humpback could have been hurt by a passing ship.  – The Times of India.

Man fights off cougar to save girlfriend’s large dog in Priddis, Canada

Elvis Xerri and Boomer

Elvis Xerri is nursing a few bruises after fighting off a cougar that attacked his girlfriend’s dog on his acreage southwest of Calgary early Monday — but acknowledges his injuries could have been a lot worse.

“It scared the crap out of me. I can’t believe I did that,” Xerri said. “Would I do it again? For sure, because I wouldn’t want to be a bystander. Was it smart? Probably not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.”

Xerri said he and his girlfriend Jacqui were asleep at his property in Priddis. Boomer, Jacqui’s nine-year-old Bernese mountain dog, was dozing outside below their open bedroom window with the exterior lights on.

All of a sudden, at around 3 a.m., Xerri awoke to Boomer’s yelps and jumped to action wearing only his underwear.

“I was thinking it was a coyote attacking him. But it was the largest cougar I’ve ever seen, on top of the dog,” he said, estimating the animal to be about five feet long.

Adrenalin kicked in and Xerri found himself jumping on top of the big cat, startling it and grabbing its scruff.

“I threw it about five or six feet,” he said.

But the cougar was undeterred, and this time wrapped its mouth around the dog’s head and tried to drag the canine into the trees, Xerri said.

Once again, Xerri threw himself at the cougar, screaming. He managed to scare off the cougar, which dodged him and ran off into the woods.

All the while, Jacqui and Xerri’s 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter were inside the home listening to the commotion. They were all relieved to learn Xerri and Boomer escaped with only minor injuries.

“He’s good. We took him to the hospital and he just had some teeth marks on his skull from where the cougar was trying to drag him,” Xerri said.

“He’s alive. I was worried about Jacqui. She’s not used to the country, and if she lost her dog that way, it would be really traumatic.”

Xerri said he had a feeling there was something lurking around outside because earlier in the day his golden retriever was barking all afternoon.

He said he has seen wildlife on his property — including bears, lynx and coyote — but he has never gotten that close to a cougar before.

And he’s worried if a cougar attack happens again, it will be against his children.

“I’ve seen them at the end of my driveway where my kids get picked up for the school bus,” he said.

Xerri plans to report the incident to wildlife officers in hopes they can find the animal and relocate it.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Alberta Fish and Widlife still had not received a report but noted officers were looking into the incident, said a department spokesman.

“We’re glad there were no serious injuries,” said Dan Laville in an emailed statement. “Public safety is a priority for Fish and Wildlife officers, and any sightings of cougars or other dangerous wildlife should be reported to the 24-hour Report A Poacher hotline at 1-800-642-3800.”

He said there have been two instances of “livestock predation” involving cougars over the past several months in the Priddis area.

Earlier this month, wildlife officials said they were noticing a steady rise in conflict between cougars and people in cities, towns and on private land throughout Alberta.
Laville advised people in cougar or bear country to make a lot of noise to avoid surprise encounters, to carry bear spray, and not to wear headphones or do anything else that might hinder their ability to hear or see wildlife. Dogs should be leashed and children kept close by. He also recommended that people travel in groups.

“Never run away from cougars or show fear by screaming. Always fight back and never give up if a cougar makes contact,” he added.

Meanwhile, wildlife experts in the Canmore area are also reminding residents to keep an eye out after a cougar was recently spotted in the Peaks of Grassi neighbourhood.

Tyler McClure with Bow Valley WildSmart said a resident was sitting at her kitchen table Thursday morning when she saw a big cat moving through her backyard.

“It’s not uncommon to be seeing animals moving there as it’s up against a wildlife corridor,” McClure said. “A spring comes upon us and plants start to open up, animals start to become more active on the landscape.”

He said the sighting is a good reminder that wild animals, such as cougars, can be found within Canmore’s town limits.

He added Bow Valley residents can report sightings to the Report-A-Poacher line or Kananaskis Emergency Services at 403-591-7755.  – National Post.

Six-year-old girl mauled to death in second stray dog attack within days in Guntur, India

Stray dogs in India

In a shocking incident, a six-year-old girl was attacked and killed by a pack of street dogs at Kakumanu village panchayat in Guntur district on Wednesday.

The girl, S K Kousar, was going to meet her aunt, who was working in the fields, around 10 am when a pack of 10 dogs pounced on her and bit her indiscriminately, resulting in her instant death.

According to reports, a shepherd, who was passing by, first heard the cries of the girl and rushed to the spot in the minority colony in the village. Though he managed to drive away the dogs, it was too late as the girl had succumbed to the injuries by then. She was bitten all over the body and her innards had come out.

On being informed, the girl’s family rushed to the spot, but they were able to take only her lifeless body home.

Blaming the death on the negligence of the civic officials, who allegedly failed to take proper measures despite repeated complaints over the severe stray dog menace, the villagers, along with the family members and relatives of the victim, staged a dharna on the Guntur-Kakumanu road blocking traffic for nearly four hours. “We have been complaining to the officials about the dog menace for six months now, but to no avail. We are afraid of venturing out even during the day, leave alone nights, as the stray dogs attack pedestrians and vehicle users without any provocation,” a protestor said.

Collector Kantilal Dhande, along with the district panchayat officer and ZP chairperson Janimuna Shaik, visited the spot and assured to take action to curb the menace. Dhande also announced a compensation of ‘4 lakh to the bereaved family. The protest was then withdrawn.

Agriculture Minister P Pulla Rao and Social Welfare Minister R Kishore Babu also expressed their shock over the death of the girl and directed the officials to rush to the spot and provide necessary assistance.

It may be noted that Kousar was the second girl to come under dog attack in the colony within a span of a few days. The first victim, another minor, was still undergoing treatment at the Guntur Government General Hospital. Coming from an economically-poor family, villagers had to pool money for her treatment.  – The New Indian Express.

World’s last male Northern White Rhino placed under 24-hour armed guard in Kenya

Armed rangers are white rhino’s protectors.  ©

After the decimation of his species by poachers, Sudan the rhino finds himself in an extremely precarious position: He is the last male northern white rhinoceros on the planet.

According to The Independent, the 40-year-old animal has been put under 24-hour armed guard in the Kenya game conservancy where he lives. There is hope that Sudan will one day be able to produce progeny — and possibly save his kind from extinction.

Sudan and two female rhinos of his subspecies are cared for by rangers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The trio are reportedly three of the last five remaining northern white rhinos in the world. Two other females live in captivity.

To protect him from poachers, Sudan has been fitted with radio transmitters, reports The Independent. The rhino’s horn has also been removed as an added precaution. “The only reason his horn has been cut off is to deter poachers,” Elodie Sampere of the conservancy told The Dodo. “If the rhino has no horn, he is of no interest to poachers. This is purely to keep him safe.”

In 1960, there were more than 2,000 northern white rhinos roaming the earth, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. Poaching, however, reduced this number to 15 by 1984. Poachers aren’t just dangerous to rhinos, whose horns can reportedly fetch prices of $75,000 per kilogram or more, but also to the people who try to protect them.

In a January interview, Simor Irungu, a ranger who guards Sudan and other rhinos at Ol Pejeta, explained just how perilous his line of work is. “With the rising demand for rhino horn and ivory, we face many poaching attempts and while we manage to counter a large number of these, we often risk our lives in the line of duty,” Irungu told the website World of Animals.

To provide their rangers with the best possible training and equipment, Ol Pejeta launched a GoFundMe campaign last month. Thus far, the campaign has raised about $7,700. – Huffington Post.

Fish kills reported due to bitterly cold winter in Pennsylvania

Dead fish

Evidence of how brutal this winter was is showing up at ponds in Pennsylvania, including one in Luzerne County.

Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Commission says the bitterly cold winter killed off nearly the entire fish population at Harris Pond in Sweet Valley. Harris Pond is a popular fishing spot for those who live in and around the Sweet Valley area of Luzerne County.

“That’s bad. That’s terrible. A lot of people fish in there. The public fishes there a lot,” said John Kobal of Sweet Valley.

Hundreds of dead fish have already been cleared from the pond, but if you walk along the water’s edge more are still surfacing.

Harris Pond isn’t the only place dealing with dead fish.

“My buddy he has a little pond and all his fish died. It’s small. That’s the first I heard and then down at Harris Pond,” Kobal added.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission says it has received more than 100 phone calls about ponds filled with dead fish throughout the northeastern part of the state.

“It happens in shallow ponds when we have severe winters. Basically all the oxygen gets used up and the fish die,” said Robert Wnuk with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Wnuk added that it’s known as a “winter kill,” and it’s something they’ve dealt with before.

“It doesn’t happen a lot, only when we get these really severe winters when you have really prolonged ice and snow cover. That’s what keeps the pond from replenishing the oxygen,” Wnuk added.

The Fish and Boat Commission will restock ponds, like Harris Pond, in the summer. However it says it will take years for the fish population to return to what it once was. – WNEP.

No big surprise: Bird populations around Fukushima plummet after nuclear disaster

Bird populations may have declined to a large extent in Japan’s Fukushima province due to the disaster that occurred there in 2011. Scientists have taken a closer look at bird populations and have found that since the March 11 earthquake, which caused the nuclear catastrophe, bird populations have plummeted.

“We were working with a relatively small range of background exposures in this study because we weren’t able to get into the ‘hottest’ areas that first summer after the disaster, and we were only able to get to some ‘meium-hot’ areas the following summer,” said Tim Mousseau, one of the researchers, in a news release. “So we had relatively little statistical power to detect those kinds of relationships, especially when you combine that with the fact that there are so few barn swallows left. We know that there were hundreds in a given area before the disaster, and just a couple of years later we’re only able to find a few dozen left. The declines have been really dramatic.”

Scientists have taken a closer look at bird populations and have found that since the March 11 earthquake, which caused the nuclear catastrophe,
bird populations have plummeted.   © Taramoto

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica gutturalis) in Japan. © Alpsdake/Wikimedia Commons

The scientists also analyzed how the response of bird species differed between Fukushima and Chernobyl. One contrast was that migratory birds fared worst in the mutagenic landscape of Chernobyl than year-round residents, whereas the opposite was true for Fukushima.

“It suggests to us that what we’re seeing in Fukushima right now is primarily through the direct result of exposure to radiation that’s generating a toxic effect-because the residents are getting a bigger dose by being there longer, they’re more affected,” said Mousseau. “Whereas in Chernobyl, many generations later, the migrants are more affected, and one possibility is that this reflects differences in mutation accumulation.”

The findings are published in the Journal of Ornithology.Science World Report.

Unofficially it’s 365 rhino killed already in South Africa this year

Rhino drinking

With officials figures hard to come by and a change from regular monthly reports to ‘quarterly or so’ reports its difficult to find out the current situation on rhino poaching in South Africa. Even with reports and statistics now being published on a quarterly basis the South African government is still finding excuses not to publish the figures.

This is so with the first set of rhino poaching statistics due to be published for 2015. The press conference and publication due today has been postponed because the departments that were to be involved in the press conference had ‘timetable clashes’.

With a current investigation going on that will probably lead to South Africa asking for a legal rhino horn trade market at next years CITES meeting it is obviously beneficial to cloud the waters where the scale of the poaching epidemic is concerned.

With official figures hard to come by then unofficial reports need to be used as an indication about the effectiveness of anti-poaching activities.

One of the unofficial statistics compiled on rhino poaching in South Africa is put together by OSCAP (Outraged Citizen Against Rhino Poaching) who have their own system in place to monitor rhino deaths and court cases.

While today’s official rhino poaching figures have been postponed OSCAP have released their figures to South African newspaper The Citizen. OSACP figures show that in the first 3 months of 2015 365 rhinos have been killed for their horn.

This would indicate that the poaching trend continues upwards and unless something major happens then 2015 year figures will beat the record 2014 annual death of 1215.

Taking into account seasonal surges of rhino killings and the upward trend it is possible that 2015 will see over 1500 rhinos killed – our estimate based on OSCAP figures for the first quarter is that 1504 rhinos may be killed by the end of this year.

If OSCAP estimates are current then it offers a reason why the Environment ministry is so slow to publish official figures. A continuing increase in rhinos being killed will not help them in their arguments to initiate a legal trade in rhino horn.

Before the country can push for a highly-regulated trade in rhino horn it has to demonstrate that it can protect wild rhino from poaching to prevent illegal rhino horn entering the market.

Regular and consistent reporting of rhino poaching stats should be made so that the world fully understands the scale of the poaching problem and the threats faced by the species.  – Wildlife News.

Billions of barrel jellyfish appear in coastal waters off Cornwall, UK

Making waves: Billions of barrel jellyfish have been spotted in water off the coast of Devon and Cornwall

This week’s warm weather may have tempted you to take a dip in the UK’s usually chilly waters.

And if you had, you wouldn’t have been the only one swimming around the coastline.

Billions of jellyfish have appeared in our waters, apparently attracted by the higher sea temperatures.

Invasion: Experts believe the barrel jellyfish, which can grow up to six feet, have
been attracted by the warmer waters and a lack of predators

Hundreds of the barrel jellyfish – each the size of a dustbin lid – have been hauled in by fishermen on the Devon and Cornish coast, with dozens of sightings reported to the authorities.
Passengers aboard a sea life cruise were stunned after coming across a giant swarm of thousands of the jellyfish – the largest species found in south-west England – over a mile in length on Wednesday.

The jellyfish, which can grow up to six feet and weigh 55lb, were sighted just off Pendennis Point near Falmouth, Cornwall.

Keith Leeves, captain of AK Wildlife Cruises, said: ‘It was eerie and a little unnerving.

There were thousands of them. I’ve never seen anything like that in all the years I’ve been doing this – it was spectacular.

WATCH: Huge barrel jellyfish swims ast driver in Dorset.

Experts say their stings are not powerful enough to do any serious harm, but warn swimmers that it is best not to touch them.

Matt Slater of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust said it was ‘difficult to say what is causing their appearance, but it could be because there is more plankton for the jellyfish to feed on because of warmer waters’.

Steve Hussey, from the Devon Wildlife Trust, says the increase could be because of fewer predators in the region’s seas.

‘The leatherback turtle is struggling at the moment, which means there are less of them to eat the jellyfish.’ – Daily Mail.

Zimbabwean hunter trampled to death by elephant

Hey, that’s one less hunter to contend with.

A Zimbabwean professional hunter was killed by a bull elephant in the north of the country, his company said on Thursday.

Ian Gibson was killed on Wednesday by the elephant he was tracking with a client in the lower Zambezi Valley, Chifuti Safaris said in a statement posted to the website.

The bull charged Gibson from a distance of less than 100m, the statement said.

“Feeling he was quite close to the elephant, Ian and his tracker Robert continued to follow the tracks in the hopes of getting a look at the ivory,” Chifuti Safaris said.

“They eventually caught up to the bull, spotting him at about 50m-100m. The bull instantly turned and began a full charge.

“Ian and Robert began shouting in order to stop the charge. At very close range, Ian was able to get off one shot before the bull killed him,” the statement said.

The elephant was understood to be in musth, which means the bull had a surge of testerone and would have been particularly dangerous.

Fellow hunters posted condolence messages on hunting community websites.

Wrote Steve on “Good guy; the best, actually. Godspeed, my friend. Godspeed.”

Safaris said: “Ian Gibson was a fine man and one of the most experienced professional hunters on the African continent. He will be deeply missed by all.”

The company also reportedly lost a professional hunter in 2012, when Owain Lewis was killed by a buffalo. – News24.

Pensioner finds snake in his oven in Halliwell, UK

Find: The 65-year-old scooped up the reptile and put it in a plastic food recycling box.  © Getty/Facebook/GMPBoltonNorth

David Atherton scooped up the reptile and put it in a plastic food recycling box and alerted police after he watched it fall to the floor and curl up

A pensioner ready to enjoy a meal of pie and chips was shocked to discover a three foot snake slithering around inside his oven.

David Atherton was about to put his meal inside the cooker when he saw the black and white banded California king hanging at the side.

The 65-year-old scooped up the reptile, put it in a plastic food recycling box and alerted police after he watched it fall to the floor and curl up.

RSPCA officers retrieved the snake the same evening and it has been given a temporary home with a local conservationist.

Mr Atherton, from Halliwell, near Bolton, Greater Manchester, revealed his sister Margaret, 73, who has a phobia of the animal, had to be taken to hospital with heart problems after becoming distressed when she heard of the incident.

He said: “Her phobia is so bad she cannot even look at a snake on TV, let alone see one in real life.

“I would not like to hazard a guess as to what would have happened if she had been the one to open the oven and see it.

“It could have been much worse.”

He added: “When I pulled down the oven door I saw the snake hanging down from the side and and at first I thought it was part of a food packet, but then I realised what it was.

“There is a small gap between the oven and the fitted cupboards, which must be what it came through.

“You could not make it up and I must confess it is not something that happens every day.”

Experts said the banded California king snakes can grow up to 6ft in length and were commonly kept as pets.

RSPCA inspector Melissa Furey said the organisation commonly see a big influx of snakes coming out in April, as the weather gets warmer.

She added: “It is the time of year when they come out basking in the sun – this is the second escaped snake in just over a week which has made an appearance in Greater Manchester.

“Pet owners need to be responsible and make sure they have the correct equipment – vivariums with locks – because snakes are really good escape artists and can slip through the smallest of gaps.”

It comes after a teenager was left terrified after discovering a 6ft-long snake in her bathroom in Rochdale.

Karen Marriott dialed 999 after her 16-year-old daughter Hannah uncovered the six-foot long reptile curled up on a bath mat on top of a radiator. Daily Mirror.

Wolves attack sheep flock on the edge of Roquebillière town, France


Wolves have attacked a flock of sheep just yards from houses in the Alpes-Maritimes town of Roquebillière.

The pack killed 12 sheep and injured many others in the attack early on Tuesday morning, the first time wolves have attacked so close to houses.

Farmer Daniel Nicolao, 59, told Nice Matin that 21 sheep were either killed or injured – and the injured animals were so badly hurt they were going to be slaughtered.

The Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage told the paper that so far this year there had been 128 wolf attacks and they had killed about 300 animals, with many of the attacks being near Roquebillière, a spa town in the Vésubie valley just 30km from Nice.

Mr Nicolao said he would get compensation but told the newspaper: “I don’t give a damn about compensation, it’s my sheep that matter. Do you know how much work that means! I’m going to get my rifle, and I’ll fix the problem. You watch!”

He added that the pack had attacked every one of the sheep in the flock, meaning they had had young wolves with them and were teaching them to hunt.

“Today they are in the field next door – next year they’ll be doing our dustbins!”

The attack happened just 50m from the home of Roquebillière mayor Gérard Manfredi and only yards from a house where a family slept, separated only by a wire fence.
Mr Manfredi was not available to speak this morning, but told TF1 news that “it was the first time an attack had happened directly in the village, just 50m from my own house and 100m from the church”.

WATCH: Scenes from the aftermath of the attack.

Last year 2,800 sheep were killed in Alpes-Maritimes, the department most affected by wolves, which have spread since arriving over the border from Italy.

There are thought to be about 200 wolves in France, where they are a protected species, much to the disgust of Nice mayor Christian Estrosi who called on the prefect to “allow hunters and shepherds the freedom to shoot wolves”. – Connexion France.

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