World Cup visitors enjoy a look at village life

A man plays the flute in the Tatuyo indigenous community near Manaus, Brazil. Here, the villagers lead a hybrid life, maintaining the ancestral traditions of their assorted tribes while enjoying some of the advantages of urban life. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

A man plays the flute in the Tatuyo indigenous community near Manaus, Brazil. Here, the villagers lead a hybrid life, maintaining the ancestral traditions of their assorted tribes while enjoying some of the advantages of urban life. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

At the sound of an approaching boat, the people of Aldeia Indigena Tatuyo, a small village in Brazil, run out to greet their visitors, feather headdresses bobbing, loincloths and grass skirts rustling. Riding atop two of the women’s heads, baby monkeys grab fistfuls of hair as they clutch on for dear life.

The villagers are far removed from the global spectacle taking place in Manaus, Brazil, one of the World Cup host cities. Here, in the Amazon rainforest, the two worlds meet. People smile at one another and snap souvenir photos.

The community of palm-roofed houses is home to nine families who moved to the riverside plot some 15 years ago from deep inside the rainforest. Their old home was near Brazil’s border with Colombia. The villagers lead a hybrid life, maintaining the ancestral traditions of their assorted tribes while enjoying some of the advantages of urban life.

They hunt wild pigs, deer, the large rodents known as capybaras and other forest animals. They fish in the inky waters of the Rio Negro River and grow some crops. Visits by outsiders provide supplemental income, and they hope that before World Cup play wraps up in Manaus, with Honduras to face Switzerland on Wednesday, some of the international soccer fans will come to glimpse their way of life.

While they normally wear the shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops that are standard fare throughout Brazil, the villagers change into their ceremonial finest to receive tourists. The men and boys don loincloths embellished in the back with bunches of freshly cut leaves and rattling anklets made from hollow seeds. The women and girls wear graceful skirts of dried grass.

Everyone wears graphic face paint that melts with sweat during the aerobic ceremony of chants and rhythmic dances. The celebration is held in the village’s central building, a dark lodge infused with the smell of smoke, and visitors snap away madly with their cameras while the more outgoing join in the dancing, much to the children’s amusement.

Other visitors try to coax the baby monkeys off their owners’ heads and onto their own, with extremely limited success. Sometimes visitors join in the high-adrenaline, co-ed soccer matches that are the afternoon entertainment of choice for the villagers.

After about an hour, the tourists pay a small fee, generally ranging from about $5 to $10 a person, depending on the size of the group, and hop back aboard their boat.

“It’s nice to have visitors,” said Cecilia Godinho, a Guanano tribeswoman whose husband founded the village after accompanying an ailing relative to the hospital in Manaus. “We learn from them and I hope they learn from us, too.”

Reported by JENNY BARCHFIELD of the Associated Press from ALDEIA INDIGENA TATUYO, Brazil

Boys play soccer in the Tatuyo indigenous community near Manaus, Brazil.  (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Boys play soccer in the Tatuyo indigenous community near Manaus, Brazil. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

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More great white sharks than expected

 A NOAA report says great white abundance in the area has climbed since about 2000. The scientists report the shark’s growing numbers are due to conservation efforts and greater availability of prey.  (AP Photo/NOAA, Greg Skomal)

A NOAA report says great white abundance in the area has climbed since about 2000. The scientists report the shark’s growing numbers are due to conservation efforts and greater availability of prey. (AP Photo/NOAA, Greg Skomal)

A study of great white sharks finds their numbers are surging in the ocean off the Eastern U.S. and Canada — bad news if you’re a seal, but something experts say shouldn’t instill fear in beachgoers this summer.

The study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist says the population of the notoriously elusive fish has climbed since about 2000 in the western North Atlantic.

The scientists behind the study say the upswing is due to conservation efforts, such as a federal 1997 act that prevented hunting of great whites, and greater availability of prey.

“The species appears to be recovering,” said Cami McCandless, one of the study authors. “This tells us the management tools appear to be working.”

Great whites owe much of their fearsome reputation to the movie “Jaws,” which was released 39 years ago Friday. But confrontations are rare, with only 106 unprovoked white shark attacks — 13 of them fatal — in U.S. waters since 1916, according to data provided by the University of Florida.

The great whites are important to ocean ecology. They are apex predators — which means they’re at the top of the food chain — and help control the populations of other species. That would include the gray seal, whose growing colonies off Massachusetts have provided food.

The report also illuminates where people encounter white sharks — mostly between Massachusetts and New Jersey during the summer and off Florida in the winter, it says.

They also migrate based on water temperature and availability of prey, and are more common along the coast than offshore, the report states.

Reported by PATRICK WHITTLE of the Associated Press from PORTLAND, Maine

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A polar bear’s point of view

The first video of life on Arctic sea ice from a polar bear point of view has been released by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The agency released a clip recorded by a camera attached to the collar of a female polar bear without cubs in the Beaufort Sea north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The necks of polar bear males are wider than their heads and collars slide off.

The clip shows the bear pursuing a seal under water, dunking a frozen seal into seawater and interacting with a male who might be a suitor.

The cameras are part of a study to find out how polar bears, listed as a threatened species, are responding to sea ice loss from global warming. Scientists in the Beaufort are generally limited to about six weeks of field work each spring, between the time it’s light enough to work and before ice begins to break up.

“It’s all information that we wouldn’t be able to get otherwise,” said Todd Atwood, research leader for the USGS Polar Bear Research Program, from his office in Anchorage.

The collars were attached in April and collected eight to 10 days later as a test run of how they eventually will be deployed for longer periods. Cameras were attached to two bears in 2013, but the batteries could not handle Arctic temperatures, Atwood said.

Atwood said the 38 to 40 hours of video from the neck cameras have yielded surprises — such as the female bear and a male tussling with a seal carcass in what might be courting behavior.

“The fact that they appear to be playing around with their food, we’re not sure what that means,” he said.

Other footage shows a bear pursuing a seal underwater. Polar bear hunting behavior generally is thought to consist largely of waiting beside a breathing hole or collapsing lairs of ringed seals.

The female at one point drops a frozen seal carcass in seawater and scientists speculate she’s trying to thaw it out, Atwood said.

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Reported by DAN JOLING of the Associated Press from ANCHORAGE, Alaska.

Online:

USGS polar bear point-of-view video: http://bit.ly/SgU3OV

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Enjoy the view from Planet Earth

This NASA photo was taken over 841 orbits of the Hubble Telescope and shows about 10,000 multi-colored galaxies. (AP Photo/NASA)

This NASA photo was taken over 841 orbits of the Hubble Telescope and shows about 10,000 multi-colored galaxies. (AP Photo/NASA)

The Hubble Space Telescope, which orbits Earth and takes pictures of deep space, has captured our cosmos at its most colorful.

A new NASA panorama photo is showing the world how deep and far the universe has gone.

The image is special because it mixes what we can normally see with objects only visible in the ultraviolet light spectrum. This type of light is normally not visible to the human eye. Using special lenses, this light shows up in the photo as bright baby blue with spinning galaxies, which are about 5 to 10 billion years old, not too old or young in cosmic terms.

The speckled photo is also special in another way — it wasn’t done with one snap of the camera. Instead, it’s a composite of more than 800 photos taken by Hubble and that allowed it to show about 10,000 multi-colored galaxies.

Hubble astronomer Zolt Levay said by adding ultraviolet and infrared to the pictures, people can now see the universe in the broad spectrum of color “and then some.”

CLICK HERE FOR A HUGE VERSION OF THE PICTURE!

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Online:

Hubble: http://hubblesite.org/

Reported by The Associated Press from WASHINGTON.

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What’s that up in the sky? A swarm of bugs

Weather officials in Albuquerque say a mysterious presence that showed up on its radar the last few nights has turned out to be of the insect variety.jd-greatbigworld

The National Weather Service says a swarm of grasshoppers were detected over Albuquerque’s West Mesa for the fourth night in a row on Friday.

Meteorologist Chuck Jones says the swarm got caught up in winds heading southwest and is being carried as high as 1,000 feet.

Jones says the grasshoppers likely hatched weeks ago and are now grown, leading to their ability to trigger radar images.

Officials say last year’s monsoon season and a drier winter created the ideal environment for the grasshoppers to hatch.

Technicians initially thought their equipment was malfunctioning when they saw several unexplained clusters.

Reported by the Associated Press from ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.

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Soccer puts focus on the plight of armadillos

Biologist Rodrigo Cerqueira holds an rolled-up armadillo, named Ana Botafogo  at the Rio Zoo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The three-banded armadillo is in danger of extinction.. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Biologist Rodrigo Cerqueira holds an rolled-up armadillo, named Ana Botafogo at the Rio Zoo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The three-banded armadillo is in danger of extinction.. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)


A Brazilian environmental group has launched an effort to save the endangered three-banded armadillo, the mascot for the World Cup that starts next month.

Liana Sena, one of the coordinators of the Caatinga Association, said the armadillo is in danger of extinction, largely because of deforestation and hunting in its habitat in the shrub lands of northeastern Brazil. Its meat is considered a delicacy by many in the region.

Those risks in large part are why the armadillo was chosen as World Cup mascot. Another is that when it’s frightened, it rolls up into a ball small enough to fit into one hand, looking like a tan soccer ball.

Its hard shell protects it from its natural predators, jaguars and foxes, but it becomes easy prey for hunters since it does not dig a hole to hide in, she said.

“We hope the World Cup’s mascot will help society and government become more aware of the importance of saving the armadillo and its natural habitat from extinction,” Sena said.

The mascot is called “Fuleco,” derived from the Portuguese words for football and ecology. It carries the colors of the Brazilian flag — the armadillo is portrayed as yellow, with green shorts and a blue shell and tail. It is dressed in a white shirt emblazoned with the words “Brazil 2014.”

“We hope our project will take the armadillo off the list of endangered species in 10 years,” Sena said, adding that if nothing is done to save the animal it will be extinct in 50 years.

She said the project’s first task is to make a population estimate of the species and update its distribution map.

The next step, she said, is to create environmental conservation units for the armadillo and introduce environmental education classes in the region’s schools.

Reported by STAN LEHMAN of the Associated Press from SAO PAULO, Brazil.

Brazil's three-banded armadillo is in danger of extinction, largely because of deforestation and hunting in its habitat in the shrub lands of northeastern Brazil, according to the Caatinga Association. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Brazil’s three-banded armadillo is in danger of extinction, largely because of deforestation and hunting in its habitat in the shrub lands of northeastern Brazil, according to the Caatinga Association. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

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