Home sweet volcano: Alaska fur seals thrive at unlikely spot
October 8, 2019
Alaska’s northern fur seal population for three decades has been classified as depleted, but the marine mammals are showing up in growing numbers at an unlikely location: a tiny island that forms the tip of an active undersea volcano.
California crab fisheries will close for the season in April when whales are feeding off the state's coast as part of an effort to keep Dungeness crab fishery gear from killing protected whales, officials announced Tuesday. The April 15 closure, three months before the crab fishing season normally ends, is part of a settlement reached by the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The center sued the state agency in 2017, saying it was liable for a surge in entanglement of endangered whales and sea turtles because it oversees operation of the fishery on state and federal waters off California's coast.
Just about every week, it seems, scientists publish the unique DNA code of some creature or plant. Just in February, they published the genome for the strawberry, the paper mulberry tree, the great white shark and the Antarctic blackfin icefish. They also announced that, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, they'd produced the genome of Lil BUB, a female cat with a large internet following. That followed a notable advance in January: an improved genome for the axolotl, a salamander renowned for regrowing severed limbs and other body parts.
Alaska Volcano Observatory scientists said that overnight emissions from Veniaminof generated an ash plume up to 15,000 feet. The cloud drifted more than 150 miles to the southeast. The ash emissions prompted an aviation warning. Observatory geophysicist Dave Schneider said that level of emissions would affect mostly smaller aircraft. Ash above 20,000 feet could threaten jet airplanes.
NASA's Opportunity, the Mars rover that was built to operate for just three months but kept going and going, rolling across the rocky red soil, was pronounced dead Wednesday, 15 years after it landed on the planet. The six-wheeled vehicle that helped gather critical evidence that ancient Mars might have been hospitable to life was remarkably spry up until eight months ago, when it was finally doomed by a ferocious dust storm.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Brett Ratcliffe named a new scarab beetle species drogoni, rhaegali and viserioni. The names are Latinized versions of Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion, three dragons owned by Daenerys Targaryen's character in "Game of Thrones." He's a fan of the series, but ultimately chose the names to draw attention to biodiversity and the amount of undiscovered species. "When you create names like these, you do it to gain a little bit of notoriety and bring public attention to it," he said.
Fifty years ago on Christmas Eve, a tumultuous year of assassinations, riots and war drew to a close in heroic and hopeful fashion with the three Apollo 8 astronauts reading from the Book of Genesis on live TV as they orbited the moon. To this day, that 1968 mission is considered to be NASA's boldest and perhaps most dangerous undertaking.
Venezuelan security forces arrested eight people, including two alleged U.S. citizens, following a beach invasion aimed at capturing socialist President Nicolás Maduro, according to information released Monday by authorities, as more than 25,000 troops mobilized to hunt for other rebels operating in the country. Powerful socialist party leader Diosdado Cabello posted on his Twitter account a video of a Venezuelan identified as Josnars Adolfo Baduel, who was also detained, saying two U.S. citizens were among those nabbed. Baduel is shown responding to a security official who asks him about the Americans captured.