Science

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Gray Whale Found Washed Up on Agate Beach

Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2019 at 3:20 PM

This photo of the gray whale washed up on Agate Beach was taken under permits NOAA 19091-01 and CA Parks 18-828-52 . - SUBMITTED BY DAWN GOLEY
  • Submitted by Dawn Goley
  • This photo of the gray whale washed up on Agate Beach was taken under permits NOAA 19091-01 and CA Parks 18-828-52 .
A gray whale was discovered washed up on Agate Beach yesterday amid an elevated number of strandings along the west coast of North America this year that has scientists working to uncover the reason for the anomaly.

The adult male’s beaching comes about two weeks after a humpback whale that was found entangled in fishing nets on Samoa beach, resulting in the animal being euthanized after a specialist determined the female would not be able to survive the trauma.

NOAA Fisheries recently declared what is known as an "Unusual Mortality Event," freeing up resources and triggering a multi-faceted scientific review to figure out why gray whales are dying at higher than normal rates.

Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 212 stranding were been reported along the coast from Mexico to Alaska, with 121 occurring in a U.S., including 34 in California, according to NOAA’s gray whale Unusual Mortality Event” page.

NOAA
  • NOAA
Dawn Goley, a zoology professor at Humboldt State University and director of the Marine Mammal Education and Research Program and the HSU Marine Mammal Stranding Program, says the parks service reported this most recent beaching.

A team has taken blubber samples and other measurements to be sent to NOAA to help determine the cause of death, although — in this particular case — the whale was already well into the decomposition stage, making it harder to pinpoint why the animal died.

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

UPDATE: Humboldt Alert Test Canceled Due to SoHum Outage

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 10:15 AM

It's time for the ShakeOut earthquake drill. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • It's time for the ShakeOut earthquake drill.
UPDATE:

The Humboldt Alert test set for today to coincide with the ShakeOut at 10:17 a.m. has been canceled due to a power outage in Southern Humboldt.

PREVIOUS:

When the Humboldt Alert system triggers at 10:17 a.m. tomorrow, there’s no need to panic. The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services will be testing the warning program as part of the ShakeOut earthquake drill. The alert, the OES notes, “will be clearly identified as a test."

The annual shakeout has millions of people around the world at schools, business, government agencies and more taking the time to “drop, cover and hold on” as a drill for what to do when an earthquake hits. And, if 10:17 a.m. doesn’t work, just pick another time, organizers say.

Not signed up for the Humboldt Alert system? There's still time, just click here.

And with the blackout barely behind us, this is also a great time to look at making sure that survival kit is stocked and ready, especially after the brief glimpse we all just had at what things might look like when the next big one strikes — whether it’s a quake, storm or Public Safety Power Shutoff.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

California Department of Public Health: 'Refrain from Vaping'

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 10:45 AM

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
The California Department of Public Health has issued a health advisory recommending people stop vaping, no matter the substance or source, until current investigations are complete. 

According to a release, as of Sept. 24, the CDPH had received 90 reports of people with a history of vaping who have been hospitalized for “severe breathing problems and lung damage, and two people have died” in California.

The health advisory came one week after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order funding a $20 million public awareness campaign to warn people of the dangers of vaping cannabis or nicotine products.

“We are seeing something that we have not seen before,” said Dr. Charity Dean, acting state public health officer, in the release. “There are numerous unknown factors at this time, and due to the uncertainty of the exact cause, it is our recommendation that consumers refrain from vaping until the investigation has concluded.”

The CDPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, local health departments and healthcare providers are investigating what is making people sick.

In the meantime, health care officials are encouraging people who use vaping products that experience shortness of breath to contact their doctor immediately.

For more information about the risks of vaping click here.

Read the full press release below. 
California Department of Public Health Issues Public Health Advisory Urging Everyone to Refrain from Vaping

Health Advisory Warns About Imminent Public Health Risks

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a health advisory today urging everyone to refrain from vaping, no matter the substance or source, until current investigations are complete. The health advisory follows an executive order signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last week to confront the growing youth epidemic and health risks linked to vaping.
As of September 24, 2019, CDPH has received reports that 90 people in California who have a history of vaping were hospitalized for severe breathing problems and lung damage, and two people have died. Across the U.S., there are more than 500 reports of lung damage associated with vaping across 38 states and 1 U.S. territory, and more reports are coming in nearly every day.

“We are seeing something that we have not seen before,” said Dr. Charity Dean, Acting State Public Health Officer. “There are numerous unknown factors at this time, and due to the uncertainty of the exact cause, it is our recommendation that consumers refrain
from vaping until the investigation has concluded.”

CDPH, along with other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), local health departments, and healthcare providers are working hard to investigate what is in the vape materials that is making
people sick.

Although CDPH regulates manufacturers of cannabis vaping products to ensure they are as safe as possible for those who choose to vape, CDPH warns that all individuals put themselves at risk any time they inhale a foreign substance into their lungs. The risk of vaping for any individual may include serious illness and death. “Vaping is not just a concern for youth; the vaping cases under investigation affect youth and adults alike,” said Dr. Dean.

If you experience difficulty breathing after vaping, contact your doctor immediately. You may also experience other symptoms including: cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. If this happens to you, do not discard any used vaping cartridges you might have, as CDPH is interested in testing the remaining substance in used cartridges. Those cartridges are being collected by local health departments and sent to CDPH labs for analysis.

In California, licensed cannabis retailers are required to sell products obtained from a licensed cannabis manufacturer that have been tested by a licensed laboratory. Cannabis products sold by licensed sources are tested for a variety of chemicals, pesticides, microbial impurities, and heavy metals. Illegal cannabis dispensaries sell unregulated and untested cannabis products and absolutely should not be used.

CDC continues to warn that any tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe. Furthermore, use of cannabis and tobacco products remains especially unsafe for youth, and for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

The Governor’s executive order directed CDPH to launch a $20 million statewide digital and social media public awareness campaign to educate youth, young adults and parents about the health risks associated with vaping nicotine and cannabis products.

CDPH is also tasked with developing recommendations to reduce smoking among young adults and teens by establishing warning signs with health risks where vaping products are sold and on product advertisements.
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Monday, September 23, 2019

Bone Positively ID'd as Belonging to Missing Woman

Posted By on Mon, Sep 23, 2019 at 3:26 PM

250495_1551087595142850_6975468388572319450_n.jpg

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office confirmed today that a human femur found near the mouth of the Eel River in June is that of Sheila Franks, who went missing in early 2014.

The positive identification — first reported by Redheaded Blackbelt — came earlier this month from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services laboratory in Richmond, accord to Lt. Sam Williams.

“The Sheriff’s Office had previously secured DNA from family members and that was used in the comparisons,” Williams said in an email to the Journal. “In September, the Sheriff’s Office received written notice from the DOJ that the bone was in fact a femur belonging to that of Shelia Franks.”

Williams said the coroner’s office was notified when the bone fragment was found by a private citizen June 10 and the area was searched for any other possible remains, but none were found.

Franks, who was 37 at the time, disappeared within a week of Danielle Bertolini, whose skull was found in 2015 by a man who had gone fishing on the Eel River, just upstream from Howe Creek. Both women were last seen with the same man, who has previously been described by law enforcement officials as a "person of interest."

“The cause and manner of death are undetermined at this time. The case is not labeled ‘Homicide,’ however, it is suspicious and is being investigated accordingly,” Williams wrote. “As to a ‘person of interest’ versus ‘suspect,’ no changes have been made to this point. The person of interest is the same in both cases.”

Williams said the investigation is ongoing with the sheriff’s office and the Fortuna Police Department continuing “to work closely together and share information."

The Sheriff’s Office and Fortuna Police Department encourage anyone with information in either case to contact investigators at 445-7251 or 268-2539.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Today's Temps Another One for the Record Books

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 3:08 PM

Well, this summer’s record list just got a little bit longer today, with the National Weather Service reporting that the temperature at the Woodley Island office hit 78 degrees just after 1 p.m. today, taking away another title.

So far this summer, the coast has broken a few records, including the June 11 heatwave where the mercury hit 85 degrees — taking the hottest day ever in June since records began title — and Aug. 13 when another daily record was set at 71 degrees.

Editor's note: A previous version incorrectly stated a famous event that took place on the previous record holding date.
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Monday, June 24, 2019

A Single Quake Hit Saturday Night

Posted By on Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 12:56 PM

The seismograph at Humboldt State University recording of the quake. - REDWOOD COAST TSUNAMI WORK GROUP
  • Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group
  • The seismograph at Humboldt State University recording of the quake.

In case you haven’t heard — or didn’t feel what most of the county did on Saturday night — there was an earthquake. And a good-sized one at that. But just one.

The magnitude-5.6 that struck 3.7 miles off Petrolia was, according to the Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group, what is known as a “strike slip” — when the ground moves in a vertical motion — and was likely associated with the Mendocino fault.

In his assessment of the temblor, geologist Jay Patton notes that “contrary to what people have posted on social media, there was but a single earthquake.”

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the U.S. Geological Survey website showed the temblor as a 5.4 that struck near Rio Dell. Within minutes, the site had re-posted with a more accurate description of the earthquake. It's not uncommon for initial reports to err somewhat in locations and magnitude but some local residents and media outlets took the double post to mean what North Coast residents felt had been two simultaneous quakes.

A magnitude-3.3 had hit nearby about 30 minutes earlier.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Another Record-Breaker on the Books Today

Posted By on Wed, Jun 12, 2019 at 10:40 AM

heat.jpg
Good morning, Humboldt.

According to the Eureka office of the National Weather Service, coastal communities have already seen another record-breaking day, with temperatures at Woodley Island hitting 71 degrees by 9 a.m.

Admittedly, the previous high for June 12 was a low bar at 68 degrees.


Meanwhile, per the usual, inland temps are even higher — another heat advisory is in effect from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. — and there is a chance that the afternoon could bring some isolated thunderstorms to the interior reaches of Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

UPDATE: Hot! Hot! Hot! Heat Advisory Until 7 p.m.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 3:09 PM

heat_6_.png
SECOND UPDATE:

According to the Eureka office of the National Weather Service, coastal communities have another record-breaker in Wednesday, with temperatures at Woodley Island hitting 71 degrees by 9 a.m. Inland temps are even hotter.

Read more here.

UPDATE:

Eureka tied the highest temp for the month of June, hitting the 85 degree mark, but the record won’t be official until 5 p.m.

PREVIOUS:

A heat advisory issued by the National Weather Service in Eureka is in effect until 7 p.m. tonight, including coastal areas.

According to a tweet earlier today, temperatures at the Woodley Island office reached 83 degrees, just two degree shy of the record for the month of June, but easily surpassed the date’s high of 69 set back in 1963 by hitting 73 degrees by 9:30 a.m.

The Eureka office reported in a thread on the post. “Yesterday the high was 81, which ranks 4th (39th all-time). We'll see what today reaches!”

Cooler temperatures are expected to return later in the week.
Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect the correct high temp for June.
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Monday, June 10, 2019

Yurok Tribe Awarded UN Honor for Forest Management Practices

Posted By on Mon, Jun 10, 2019 at 4:21 PM

Yurok fisheries technician Nick Folkins records data on Coho salmon in a recently restored stretch of McGarvey Creek. The Yurok Tribe implements large-scale river restoration projects throughout the Klamath River Basin. - COURTESY OF THE YUROK TRIBE
  • Courtesy of the Yurok Tribe
  • Yurok fisheries technician Nick Folkins records data on Coho salmon in a recently restored stretch of McGarvey Creek. The Yurok Tribe implements large-scale river restoration projects throughout the Klamath River Basin.
The Yurok Tribe recently became the first indigenous community in the United States to be awarded the Equator Prize by the United Nations Development Programme, which honors “innovative nature-based solutions for tackling climate change, environment and poverty challenges.”

“We are honored to receive recognition for our traditional ecological knowledge and western science-based approach to managing the temperate rainforests in our region,” tribal Chair Joseph L. James said in a release about the June 5 announcement. “Our tribe is rebuilding biodiversity in our forests and restoring resilience within our community. This time-tested strategy for rehabilitating critical habitats can be duplicated all over the world to reduce the impact of climate change.”

Created by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the United Nation Development Programme “works to eradicate poverty while protecting the planet” by helping countries “develop strong policies, skills, partnerships and institutions so they can sustain their progress,” according to the program’s webpage.

The Equator Prize, awarded since 2002, comes with a $10,000 award and the opportunity for each of this year’s 22 winners from around the world to send two representatives to attend a week-long summit in New York City during the 74th UN General Assembly. The honorees will also be recognized at a ceremony Sept. 24.

The Yurok Tribe was selected for reclaiming more than 60,000 acres of ancestral lands that were stolen in the 19th century and clear-cut over the ensuring decades. Those forests, according to the tribe, are now managed by Yurok citizens to “re-create the diverse ecological conditions that existed on these lands for millennia” and provide for “the production of traditional foods, medicines and basket materials, as well as carbon sequestration.”

Engrained in the Yurok Constitution's principles to "preserve and promote" the tribe's culture, language and religious beliefs — which includes the reintroduction of the California condor as well as restoring their land's natural resources — the tribe financed the purchase with its carbon-offset forest project, which was the first developed under California protocols for the state’s cap-and-trade system back in 2014.

“We are blending the knowledge of ancestors with contemporary science to fix our forests and improve ecosystem health within our homeland,” said James. “We are very grateful for the recognition of this essential endeavor. We have made tremendous sacrifices to reclaim our right to determine our own destiny and be a strong steward of our land.”

Read the full release from the Yurok Tribe:

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Otters are Coming! The Otters are Coming!

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2019 at 10:53 AM

The otter sculptures ready to be shipped. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • The otter sculptures ready to be shipped.

A shipment of 100 otter sculptures is heading toward the North Coast, according to Jeff Black, who created the North Coast Otter Public Arts Initiative. All the way from Jolly Roger Sculptures in the Philippines, the arrival of the 3-foot-tall sculptures standing ready for an artist's touch will kick off a public art initiative scheduled for next summer.


The initiative will combine art and citizen science to “promote clean water and healthy habitats where we live and play,” using a fun scavenger hunt across five counties in the North Coast, a junior ranger program and an Eo Day/Otter collaboration to support the River Otter Citizen Science Project. The initiative is a celebration of otters, Black said.


Black is still continuing his search for sponsors and hosts, as the scavenger hunt will incorporate business across Humboldt, Del Norte, Siskiyou, Mendocino and Trinity counties. To learn more about hosting or sponsoring an otter click here.

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