A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Don't Pass Up Earthweek in the Sunday Asbury Park Press

The Asbury Park Press has a weekly syndicated feature called Earthweek: Diary of a Planet, edited by Steve Newman. Today my better half pointed out some interesting Earthweek items on page AA3 of this morning's paper, so I dug around the Internet to see if I could find more information to go along with a few of the more interesting environmental and nature stories. Here's what I found.

ORCA Staff examining beached dolphin (Earthweek)
Beached dolphin in Peru (treehugger.com)

Sonar devices used in seabed oil exploration off the coast of northern Peru is the likely culprit in a series of mass dolphin beachings along the beach at Lambayaque, according to an expert at the Organization for Research and Conservation of Aquatic Animals - Peru (ORCA Peru), as published this week by Earthweek. The total deaths in the past three months is 3,000, with the most recent surge of beachings at 461 deaths, according to PEJ.

The River Rye in Yorkshire is drying up due to extreme drought, so, according to the video below, some dedicated souls are capturing fish trapped in isolated pools and moving them upstream. The pools would otherwise condemn a couple of desirable native species. The teams give them a good zap of electricity to stun them, then they net the fish and move them. I found a short interview of one of the organizers, but I couldn't find any video of the volunteers at work.

To get an idea of just how dry it is in England, check out this recent video.

Earthweek has an odd story about big snakes entering people's homes in Namibia to watch tv and otherwise cause havoc. The piece is apparently drawn from a recent article in The Namibian. The Namibian includes more details from an interview with a regional snake expert named Stuart Hebbert, who attempts to gently debunk what the villagers are saying about big snakes being dropped from helicopters.  He suggests the more likely scenario is that recent floods increased the rodent population, thus attracting the snakes. The funniest part of Hebbert's interview, left out by Earthweek, was when he asked why someone would want to drop snakes from a helicopter in the first place.

Lest you think snakes don't watch tv, there are countless stories, photos, and videos online of snakes doing just that. Check out the video below showing a ball python enjoying an episode of the Colbert Report for one example.

Teachers might want to consider using this feature in their science classes if they aren't already doing so. I learned quite a bit by attempting to add value to these stories and publish a short blog item. A student assignment could be to discover and publish additional aspects of a typical weekly Earthweek item. This could involve updating or broadening the abbreviated Earthweek item by finding more detailed media coverage, including reports, video footage, or photographs. A student could also identify prominent players, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), involved in the issue at hand. The process certainly would give students hands on experience with standard research methods, including comparison and prioritization of that fire hose of information called the Internet, as well as a familiarization with the eternal struggle to discern and rank the source freshness and reliability of each piece of reporting selected for a blog


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