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Creepy crawlies, in the form of a venomous spider infestation, has forced a school in Britain to close a week before Halloween.
The Dean Academy, a secondary school in southwest England’s Gloucestershire, said it was closing Wednesday to get rid of the false widow spiders. The spiders are commonly mistaken for their relative, the black widow spider, whose bite can be fatal.
The school said no one has been bitten by the spider but local health authorities have advised it to close for the day to deal with the infestation.
Experts say the Steodata nobilis, a species of the false widow, are becoming more common in the U.K. and are the most dangerous of the 12 species of biting spiders known in Britain.
But they stress that spider bites are rare in Britain, and in most cases the symptoms are mild. The spider’s bite may sting, swell up or cause discomfort like a wasp sting, but has not been known to cause deaths.
“They’re not aggressive spiders, they don’t seek out humans,” said David Lalloo, a professor at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
“Most people won’t get much of a reaction. Some people may feel a bit unwell for a day or two, but that’s very rare,” he said.
Reported by the Associated Press from LONDON.Read More
Lou Scheimer, who founded the Filmation animation studio that produced cartoons including “Ghostbusters,” “Fat Albert” and “He-Man,” has died. He was 84. See an episode of He-Man here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6QpD-MaFuo
The Pittsburgh native behind the cartoon powerhouse died on Thursday, two days before his 85th birthday, Scheimer’s wife Mary Ann said on Sunday.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Scheimer’s company was the largest animation operation in the country in the early 1980s by number of employees.
Scheimer, who graduated with an art degree from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, founded the company in 1962 with a $5,000 loan from his mother-in-law and opened a one-room office in Southern California. His first big hit was “The New Adventures of Superman” and the studio went on to work on series including “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” and “The Archie Show.”
He won a Daytime Emmy Award as a producer of the 1974-75 season of the “Star Trek” animated series.
Scheimer retired several years ago. He is survived by his wife, his daughter, Erika and his son, Lane.
Check out a profile of his company on Wikipedia, including an extensive list of the cartoons produced by it here: Filmation
Watch an episode of Tarzan: Part 1 http://youtu.be/PhLg94nzxIU, Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V80vDorcQwU and Part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6sTUrHIYOs
Reported by the Associated Press from LOS ANGELES
Oh, the glories of Rio that await spectators and athletes at the 2016 Olympics: Those beaches, that music, the dramatic mountains. And then there are a few thousand alligator-like creatures slithering through sewage-like lagoons.
Some 5,000 to 6,000 broad-snouted caimans live in fetid lagoon systems of western Rio de Janeiro, conservationists say, and there’s a chance that visitors could have an encounter with one, though experts hasten to add that the caimans, smaller and less aggressive than alligators or crocodiles, are not considered a threat to humans.
Some of the animals have already taken refuge in ponds being built inside the Olympic golf course, which abuts a once pristine mangrove-filled lagoon that’s now thick with tons of raw sewage pumped from nearby high-end condominiums.
In fact, with two decades of anarchic growth decimating natural habitats, the hardy caimans have become an increasingly common sight in the urban heart of western Rio, drawn in part by the scraps tossed to them by humans.
Olympics: The district is the main hub for 2016 Games and site of the Olympic village, though most events will take place in indoor facilities. One exception is the golf course, where some caimans have taken up residence in lakes. Wildlife on golf courses isn’t uncommon, with alligators spotted on greens in Florida and kangaroos bounding around courses in Australia.
Conservationists say Olympic organizers are beginning to examine what to do about the reptiles on the still-unfinished golf course.
The caimans congregate in a canal in the affluent Recreio dos Bandeirantes suburb that’s sandwiched between two busy thoroughfares. Beach-bound mothers with toddlers in strollers, neighbors out to walk the dog and pizza delivery boys pause on a narrow wooden footbridge over the canal to observe the caimans, whose brown color camouflages them in the brackish, sulfuric waters.
Survival: With few fish surviving in the polluted waters, caiman increasingly rely on handouts from humans, which can range from raw chicken to crackers, sometimes still in their plastic packages. They also feed on birds and the sewer rats that emerge from the culverts.
“Caimans are like tanks, a very old species with a remarkable capacity for renovation that allows them to survive under extreme conditions where others couldn’t,” said Ricardo Freitas, an ecology professor who runs the Instituto Jacare, or the Caiman Institute, which aims to protect the reptiles. “But the fact of the matter is that their days are numbered if things don’t change drastically.”
With a population that’s 85 percent male, a serious demographic problem is looming for Rio’s caimans, said Freitas, who suspects that the uncontrolled release of raw sewage is behind the gender imbalance. Organic matter raises water warmer and among caimans, high temperatures during a certain stage of incubation result in male offspring.
While a few caimans wander from the canal, sometimes getting hit by cars, Freitas said he is aware of only one other person attacked by a caiman, a fisherman who was superficially bitten after he stepped on one.
Freitas himself has grabbed and tagged 400 of the reptiles over the past decade. He wades into the toxic sludge, slips a metal lasso around their heads and taps expertly on their snapping jaws until he’s able to tape them shut. While local caimans average about 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) long and weigh about 10 kilograms (22 pounds), older males can be up to twice as long and much heavier. Still, Freitas has been known to dive into the water to catch some with his bare hands.
“I was only bitten once, on the hand,” he said. “It was fine, although it got super infected because of the state of the water.”
Reported by JENNY BARCHFIELD of the Associated Press from RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil.
A huge cluster of jellyfish forced one of the world’s largest nuclear reactors to shut down — a phenomenon that marine biologists say could become more common.
Operators of the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in Sweden had to scramble reactor number three on Sunday after tons of jellyfish clogged the pipes that bring in cool water to the plant’s turbines.
The pipes were cleaned of the jellyfish and engineers restarted the reactor, which at 1,400 megawatts of output is the largest boiling-water reactor in the world, said Anders Osterberg, a spokesman for OKG, the plant operator.
Jellyfish are not a new problem for nuclear power plants. Last year the California-based Diablo Canyon facility had to shut its reactor two after gobs of sea salp —- a gelatinous, jellyfish-like organism —- clogged intake pipes. In 2005, the first unit at Oskarshamn was temporarily turned off due to a sudden jellyfish influx.
Nuclear power plants need a constant flow of water to cool their reactor and turbine systems, which is why many such plants are built near large bodies of water. Meanwhile, jellyfish blooms (a fancy word for a group of jellyfish), which float where ever the current takes them, get sucked up in the pipes.
Marine biologists, meanwhile, say they would not be surprised if more jellyfish shutdowns occur in the future.
“It’s true that there seems to be more and more of these extreme cases of blooming jellyfish,” said Lene Moller, a researcher at the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment. “But it’s very difficult to say if there are more jellyfish, because there is no historical data.”
The species that caused the Oskarshamn shutdown is known as the common moon jellyfish.
“It’s one of the species that can bloom in extreme areas that . . . are overfished or have bad conditions,” said Moller. “The moon jelly likes these types of waters. They don’t care if there are algae blooms, they don’t care if the oxygen concentration is low. The fish leave . . . and (the moon jelly) can really take over the ecosystem.”
Moller said the biggest problem was that there’s no monitoring of jellyfish in the Baltic Sea to produce the data that scientists need to figure out how to tackle the issue.
Reported by GARY PEACH of the Associated PressRead More