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SCIENCE FILE | Earthwatch / A Diary of the Planet

March 27, 1997

Marine Deaths

More carcasses of marine mammals washed onto the shores of Mexico's Sinaloa state, and environmentalists asked the government to crack down on the perpetrators responsible for pollution causing the deaths. The Group of 100 said that in addition to the latest 15 dead dolphins discovered, whales, sea lions, giant squids and pelicans are being killed in the Gulf of California. It is suspected that chemicals used by drug traffickers to mark their maritime shipments for airborne detection are responsible for the deaths.

Locust Threat

The International Red Locust Organization warned southern African states that breeding locuststhreaten several parts of the region. Regional Chief Afete Gadabu told reporters in Lusaka, Zambia, that the hoppers endanger crops from Mozambique and Malawi's Lake Chilwa Plains to Tanzania and Zambia. Officials are monitoring wind patterns to predict the path of the ravenous insects.

Earthquakes

Pakistan was rocked by three strong earthquakes, the most powerful killing at least 15 people in the mountainous Bajaur district near Afghanistan.

Hundreds of buildings were wrecked by a magnitude 6.0 temblor that rocked Jakarta and Indonesia's West Java province.

Earth movements were also felt in central and northern Japan, northern Iran, Crete, southern Italy, northern Chile, the island of Hawaii and a wide area of Southern Californa.

Space Junk

Leading space officials urged the United Nations to complete an international treaty to stop the proliferation of space debris that threatens to turn the heavens into a junkyard. Scientists attending a European Space Agency conference told of the growing number of defunct satellites and other clutter that increase the risk of collision with manned spacecraft. The U.N. is working on a five- year plan to require anyone launching a spacecraft to remove it after the mission, shift it to a less desirable orbit, or bring it safely back to earth.

The Birds

In scenes reminiscent of the Alfred Hitchcock film, aggressive jackdaws are terrorizing the western Romanian town of Turda. Private television Pro- TV reported that hundreds of the birds have settled near a park, attacking children and stealing food from people's hands. One worried mother told reporters: "It is really dangerous. We no longer dare go to the park with our children." The mayor asked hunters to shoot the pesky birds, but they only managed to down a few. Poison is now being considered by the town council.

Additional Sources: U.S. Climate Analysis Center, U.S. Earthquake Information Center and the World Meteorological Organization.

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