Category Archives: Tsunamis

Owen the Hippo and Tortoise Mr. Mom

Repost from the old site.

I bet you did not know that the horrible Tsunami that hit South and Southeast Asia a while back, killing 275,000 humans, also hit Kenya. It did. There are lots of critters still running around in Africa that the increasingly advanced Africans have not yet killed off.

There are hippopotamuses and giant tortoises. These tortoises are really giant, not like our desert tortoises here in California that are about as big as a football.

During the tsunami, the baby hippo, Owen, 350 pounds, and its hippo Mommy (name and weight unknown) got swept down the Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean. Though hippos can swim ok, they don’t like floods and tend to die in them. Owen’s Mom got killed, and Owen landed in the Indian Ocean. Then the tsunami waves swept him ashore with lots of other critters.

Somewhere in all this mess, Owen landed on top of a giant tortoise, male, age 100, name unknown. He probably landed on his shell and they both rode the tsunami waves onto the beach where they both kicked back and caught some rays of exhaustion until they were rescued.

Even though the tortoise is a dude, Owen either could not figure that out or didn’t care. He decided that Tortoise was his new Mom. They bonded well, and Tortoise, though being a guy and all, does not mind being Mr. Mom. They eat, swim and sleep together.

Owen follows Tortoise just like he followed his Mom, and he growls at anyone who tries to approach Tortoise. Hippos stay with Mom for four years, so Owen will probably live at home for another few years before moving out.

I thought it was interesting that Owen showed so many advanced emotions in these photos. He shows tenderness, love and kindness, and appears to be trying to kiss Tortoise, though I can’t see how any animal could kiss a tortoise. Tortoise either also has advanced emotions, or has undecipherable reptilian emotions, or I’m hallucinating. But some tortoises do mate for life, which is awfully advanced behavior for a mere reptile.

Photos at the link.

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Filed under Africa, Animals, East Africa, Kenya, Mammals, Mother Nature, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, Reptiles, Tsunamis, Wild

The Japanese Nuclear Catastrophe

By now most of you have probably heard of the Japanese nuclear disaster. A huge earthquake, one of the largest of the last 200 years, hit Japan, plus a gigantic tsunami. The tsunami breached 40 foot seawalls and melted them like sandcastles at high tide. The earthquake and tsunami killed ~17,000 people – ~7,000 are officially dead and ~10,000 are missing and probably dead. Almost everyone died from drowning in the tsunami, since Japan has the strictest earthquake standards on Earth. Drowning must be a Hell of a way to go.

The disaster completely creamed a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, which is right on the coast. The plant was nailed first by the earthquake and then by the tsunami. The result has been a catastrophe. Several of the reactors are in partial meltdown. Partial meltdown is really a misnomer. A meltdown is a meltdown. There are full meltdowns and partial meltdowns. A full meltdown is when the reactor completely melts down. In a partial meltdown, the reactor only partly melts down. Either way though, the reactor melts down.

This interview with Michio Kaku, a famous US physicist who has a popular radio show and writes popular books, is one of the few sensible things I have seen written on the catastrophe. Right now, the news is full of breathless reports about efforts to cool the melting down reactors off by dumping water on them with helicopters. They are also spraying water on them with fire trucks. From the news, you get the impression that this is actually supposed to work. According to Kaku, it’s pointless. He says it’s like shooting a squirt gun at a forest fire.

Also, all of the talk of a meltdown is somewhat misplaced. Even if the reactors melt down completely, they are still entombed on their concrete and steel shells, so the radiation can’t escape. The problem is that the shells around three of the reactors have already cracked from heat and repeated explosions.

He also points out that there are limits to what the brave workers trying to save the day can do. There are scores of workers working actually inside and around the plant with little protective gear. There is pretty good protective gear that can be worn around hot reactors, but the problem is that the gear really warms you up, and it’s already very hot inside the reactor, so you can’t wear the full outfit.

The radiation being emitted in and near the reactor is the equivalent of 2,000 chest X-rays/24 hours. That’s nearly lethal as it is. I am afraid that some of these heroic workers are going to sicken or die as a result of their effort.

As radiation levels rise, Kaku points out, at some point, it’s just too hot radiation-wise to send workers in. If you sent any workers in at at all, they would have to go in as a suicide, or should I say kamikaze mission. Either that or just abandon ship and pull all the workers out of there.

Five days ago, Kaku suggested that the only remaining option was probably to bury the reactors in 30,000 tons of concrete, boric acid and sand. This was the fate of the reactor at Chernobyl. Wild.

A couple of days before the reactor mess, as gas prices were skyrocketing in the US due to the Libyan civil war, Republicans were all over the airwaves calling for a massive increase in nuclear power in the US as an antidote to rising fuel prices. As you can’t run a vehicle on nuclear power, I don’t understand their grandstanding. Two days later, Fukushima hit, and the Republicans are now eating their words.

Well, they ought to be, but instead they are on counteroffensive about how nuclear power really is safe, safe, safe, safe. Yeah right. We are told that only a couple score died at Chernobyl. Actually, deaths are Chernobyl have ranged from 400,000-1 million and are apparently ongoing. Out of a vast pool of nearly a million workers sent in to clean p the mess, ~12% of them are already dead, killed by radiation.

But we are told that Three Mile Island didn’t kill a soul. That’s probably not true, but no one knows. Afterward, a wave of strange illnesses swept through Central Pennsylvania, including large tumors that grew very rapidly. Many animals, domesticated and wild, died. Whole flocks of birds dropped out of the sky.

In the best case scenario, Fukushima is already worse than TMI. That’s not good.

After all this, maybe you want to know how I feel about nuclear power. How about we in the US quit building these damned things for starters? As far as shutting down existing ones, I am less certain. I will have to see how this Fukushima mess plays out.

Ian Walsh has a very provocative piece noting that he is still pro-nuclear power even if it kills. He figures it’s either that or global warming via fossil fuels and global warming is going to kill a Hell of a lot of humans by itself. An interesting POV, and I have no comment on the matter.


Filed under Asia, Earthquakes, Environmentalism, Eurasia, Global Warming, History, Japan, Modern, Mother Nature, NE Asia, Politics, Regional, Republicans, Russia, Science, Tsunamis, US, US Politics

Video of the Tsunami from Japan

Video is on the video site.

Really frightening video of the tsunami that followed the earthquake in Japan. Notice where the water level is at the beginning of the video and then see where it is at the end of the video. I think maybe you can see a man riding on a piece of flotsam about halfway through the video, but I’m not sure.

They say that 10,000 died in the earthquake/tsunami. Do we know how many were killed by the earthquake itself and how many were drowned in the tsunami?

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Filed under Asia, Earthquakes, Japan, Mother Nature, NE Asia, Regional, Tsunamis

Tsunami Kills 134 People in Samoa

An incredibly huge 7.9-8.3 magnitude earthquake hit the South Pacific early on Tuesday.

The tsunami caused some waves that were 5 feet above height, and there were deaths from the tsunami in both American Samoa and Western Samoa, over 100 deaths in Western Samoa and 34 deaths in American Samoa. 1 New Zealander, 3 Koreans and 1 Australian were among the victims. 6 Australians and 1 Koreans were still missing. 5% of the Australians living in Samoa were either killed or missing. Another 145 people were injured and whole villages were wiped out.

Fautasi was one village that was completely obliterated. There were at least 5 dead in the village, and the death toll there could go into the 100’s in that village alone. The village of Salesatele was destroyed, and 37 bodies have been found there.

A reporter saw at least 20 bodies in the southeastern town of Lalomanu. The town and surrounding region were flattened. There were 7-8 dead in Malaela, and many are missing. There were also many dead in Vailoa and Aleipata.

The village of Sau Sau Beach Fale was wiped out. There were also an unknown number of deaths in Talamoa. 40 bodies had been brought to the local hospital in Apia. 20 bodies were seen in a hospital in the city of Upolu. 100 bodies were reported from the southern coast alone and the total was rising all the time.

Tsunamis were recorded at Apia and Pago Pago in American Samoa. Tsunami waves 15-20 feet high struck Tutuila Island, where Pago Pago is, and moved up to 1.6 miles inland. The National Park Service office on the island was completely obliterated. 80% of the park workers are volunteers are missing.

Hawaii was spared by the tsunami, but waves 1-2 feet higher than normal hit the California coast a couple of hours ago.


Filed under American Samoa, Earthquakes, Mother Nature, Pacific, Tsunamis, Western Samoa