1. Only 140km away from our house here in Tenerife the Canary Island of La Gomera continues to face forest fires. In total 5000 people have been evacuated from towns in La Gomera and neighbouring Tenerife. As fires spread they come ever closer to Garajonay National Park endangering the laurel forests described by regional agricultural spokeswoman Nancy Melo as “incalculable ecological value” (eitb.com). The forest, declared a national heritage site in 1986 is said to date back 11 million years. It includes a very rare type of subtropical forest that used to cover most of Europe.
2. After experiencing a forest fire here in Tenerife, more news of forest fires surfaces around the globe. More than a dozen forest fires have spread across the western states in America. One blaze alone destroyed over 28,000 acres between two national forests in Washington State. Hundreds have fled across many states including Washington, Idaho and California. According to New York Daily Times As of Wednesday, nearly 43,000 wildfires had been reported in the U.S. this season, burning a total of 6.4 million acres, or 10,000 square miles. Firefighters continue to fight the blaze.
3. Over a year since the Fukishima Daiichi power plant accident in Japan in March 2011, mutations have been discovered in butterflies. Adult butterflies exposed to the radioactive material have developed smaller wings and abnormal eyes. Six months after the first initial collections of butterflies, a further group collected showed a mutation rate of double that of the butterflies from the previous generation. The study will continue to measure the ongoing effects of Fukishima.
4. Hundreds of fish have been killed in the Spike Islands, Widnes. This environmental disaster has wiped out an entire stock devastating anglers. Anglers claim the slow response of the Halton Council to the algae bloom caused the deaths of upwards of 1,500 fish worth thousand of pounds. The council has rejected this allegation. Fish species involved in the loss include carp and breem who died from a lack of oxygen caused by the algae bloom.
5. In other news the BBC has reported an increase in the rate at which Arctic ice is melting. New results indicate an increase of 50% compared to the initial 900 cubic km a year recorded in 2004. Some areas in Greenland have recorded an ice loss of 3m a year.
6. In Sydney, a female humpback whale and her calf have reportedly been hit by a ferry travelling to Manly. Both were spotted sporting scars shortly after the ferry was taken out of action after hitting an ‘unknown object’. As the humpback population continues to recover after extensive commercial whaling it is a reminder of the other risks marine life face.
7. In other whale news, an extremely undernourished female fin whale has died after becoming stranded on a beach in Cornwall. He whale reportedly had a number of other injuries spanning its body and a decision had be made to put down the animal but it died of natural causes before anything could be done.
8. In Brazil, animals living in areas of rainforest cut off from larger areas of jungle by roads etc are dying off faster than previously expected. Each patch of forest visited had on average only 4 of the 18 types of mammals surveyors expected. This comes as bad news for conservation efforts protecting various species. Scientists are urging for better conservation.
9. In Chad, Elephant poaching is continuing as poachers slaughtered more Elephants on August 3rd. This time 4 or 5 elephants were killed and at least 2 injured. Among the injured is a mother elephant, vets plan to track her to extract the bullet from her leg and assess whether she has enough milk for her calves.
10. Maui’s dolphins are still endangered despite New Zealand’s’ conservation efforts. There only remain 55 Maui dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) on the coastline. Less than 20 are breeding females with numbers declining and low reproductive rates making the increase in numbers difficult with the ever-present danger of fishing nets. Measures are under scrutiny from the International Whaling Commission while efforts continue to increase numbers.