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Massive 5-ton ‘earthquake bomb’ from WWII explodes as Polish Navy tries to defuse it

A massive bomb that was dropped in WWII has dramatically exploded after it was discovered to be lying at the bottom of a canal.

Elias Marat

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A massive bomb known as Tallboy that was dropped by British air forces has dramatically exploded after it was discovered to be lying at the bottom of a canal in Poland.

Known as an “earthquake” bomb, the 5.4-ton Tallboy packed a massive 2.4 tons of explosives – equivalent to roughly 3.6 tons of TNT – and was dropped by Royal Air Force pilots (RAF) in an attack on the Nazi German heavy cruiser Lützow during the final weeks of the war in April 1945.

The RAF deployed several Lancaster bombers from its “Dambusters” squadron to drop a dozen Tallboys on the Lützow, but one of the bombs failed to detonate.

The ship sank but managed to survive the attack in the final days of the war as a stationary gun battery versus advancing Soviet forces before it was finally captured and scrapped a few years after the war.

The bomb was discovered last year at a depth of 39 feet (12 meters) with its nose popping out when the area surrounding the port city of Swinoujscie, near the Baltic Sea, was being dredged.


Demolition experts with the Polish Navy had tried to defuse the massive bomb on Tuesday through the method of deflagration, which involves heating the explosive device until it safely burns.

However, the bomb ended up exploding in the canal, sending a towering plume of water into the air.

Fortunately, navy divers were a safe distance away from the bomb and nobody was hurt by the huge blast.

Over 750 residents were evacuated from the area surrounding the Piast Canal as authorities imposed a 1.5-mile (2.4-km) exclusion zone around the bomb to prevent any injuries.

The Polish Ministry of Defense began the bomb removal operation on Monday, with navy personnel moving residents as divers assessed how best to handle the dormant Tallboy.

Like much of Europe, Poland faced severe bombing from Allied pilots while it was under Nazi occupation during World War II.

Between 1940 and 1945, U.S. and British air forces are believed to have dropped some 2.7 million tons of bombs on Europe, with half of that amount being dropped on Germany alone.

The extensive bombing campaign was a part of the effort to paralyze the industrial and war-fighting capacity of Hitler’s Germany by striking major blows at the Third Reich’s infrastructure, crippling countless railheads, arms manufacturing facilities, oil refineries, and logistics centers.

As many as 10 percent of the bombs dropped by Allied aircraft failed to explode, leaving thousands of tons of unexploded ordnance strewn across the former battlefields of Europe.

Over 75 years after World War II and a century after World War I, unexploded munitions are still frequently discovered in countries like Germany and Austria, typically during consruction work.

In 2017, about 11 tons of unexploded ordnance was recovered from the lakes and rivers in Austria while 659 kilos were uncovered in the mountains from the furious battles between Austrian and Italian troops in World War I.

The Tallboy discovered in the Polish canal is believed to be among the largest individual pieces of unexploded ordnance since another Tallboy was recovered in 1958 during the renovation of the Sorpe Dam in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

Animals

Idaho Senate Approves Bill to Kill 90 Percent of State’s Wolves in “Brutal War”

Elias Marat

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Idaho’s legislature is swiftly moving forward with a bill that critics say would sanction a “brutal war” on wolves whereby up to 90 percent of the current wolf population would be killed in a bid to protect the interests of the state’s ranchers.

On Wednesday, the Idaho senate passed the measure by a 26-7 vote. The bill will now move forward to the House chamber, reports Associated Press.

Since teetering at the brink of endangerment years ago, wolf populations were removed from the state endangered species list in 2011. Since then, they have thrived despite Idaho allowing hundreds to be killed by hunters, trappers and state measures to control their numbers. Over the past two years, the wolf population has held steady at about 1,500.

According to federal guidelines, wolf recovery numbers require about 150 wolves in the state.

Republican supporters of the bill said during senate debates that the wolf population has grown entirely out of control, endangering the numbers of deer and elk available to hunters and harming the state economy.

“We’re supposed to have 15 packs, 150 wolves. We’re up to 1,553, was the last count, 1,556, something like that. They’re destroying ranchers. They’re destroying wildlife. This is a needed bill,” said Republican state Sen. Mark Harris. 

However, critics have blasted the move as rash and potentially damaging to the state’s wildlife.

The Idaho Senate’s sudden move to pass this bill in the eleventh hour incentivizes the cruel deaths of more than 1,000 wolves across the state,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. 

“This brutal war on wolves must be stopped, and we urge the House to deny this bill,” Zaccardi added.

Maggie Howell, the head of the Wolf Conservation Center, also described the move as the latest in a hostile and extreme campaign against wolves that fails to take into account the creatures’ value to the local ecology.

“Beyond the wanton cruelty and devastation the passage of this bill would bring to wolves, this legislation poses a threat to wolves nationwide,” she told the New York Times. “With the Trump administration’s decision to transfer wolf management authority from the federal government to the states, Idaho’s policies can influence expectations about wildlife management beyond its borders.”

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Animals

As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists

Elias Marat

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The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.

However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.

While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.

The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.

The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes –  but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.

“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.

To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.

However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.

These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.

The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.

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Animals

Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever

Elias Marat

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Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.

Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.

In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.

At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.

“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.

“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”

The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.

Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.

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