Tiny Real-Life 'Dragon' Makes A Stunning Rare Appearance

Plenty of strange and fanciful creatures have been invented within the long tradition of lore and mythology, but few real-life beings have been so aptly named after one of those from fiction.
Meet the blue dragon — probably among the most beautiful animals on the planet. And he's a sea slug, no less.

They may be a bit more diminutive than their namesake counterparts are imagined, measuring in at just over an inch fully grown, but this species is no less fearsome. Blue dragons ( Glaucus atlanticus) spend their lives floating upside down in warm ocean currents, attacking their prey with a powerful venom from their wing-like appendages. Their sting is so deadly, in fact, that they're known to take down other venomous marine animals, like the Portuguese man-o-war.

Wikipedia While blue dragons are said to be quite rarely seen by humans, the beautiful, fierce little mollusk was caught on camera just last week after washing ashore on a beach in Queensland, Australia — offering a fleeting glimpse of one of Earth's prettiest inhabitants.



Catastrophic Pacific Ocean Die-Off

Many have heard about some of the die-offs occurring in our oceans, but most have no understanding of how catastrophic the actual reality is.

Fukushima is where all the fingers point as the source of the carnage along the coast, but there is much more to the story. Those who control the US military have virtually no regard for any of the destruction they are wreaking on the entire web of life, including marine life. The US Navy has long since been using live depleted uranium ammunition and devastating sonar devices along the Pacific coast (the US Navy is now also waging electromagnetic warfare along our forests and our coasts). The US (and other nations) have also routinely dumped nuclear waste into our oceans. The excerpt (shown below) from the US Navy’s “Environmental Impact Statement ” is beyond shocking. Their position is this, if there are no studies to prove the harm they are causing, then no harm was caused.
“The study area for consideration of impacts on marine plants and invertebrates includes the open ocean west of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California….Aircraft overflight and training activities are assumed to have no impacts to marine communities, because impacts of sound on plants and invertebrates are unknown and difficult to quantify.”
The statement below was appropriately presented (along with other pressing points) to the US Navy’s EIS staff by concerned Oregon resident Carol Van Strum.
The question of past and current Naval activities is highly significant. For example, the EIS acknowledges that past and present activities off the Oregon coast have involved the use of rounds comprised of depleted uranium. Uranium, depleted or otherwise, is an exceptionally persistent material in the environment. The EIS revelations of Navy use of depleted uranium thus raise very serious concerns about how long the Navy has been using depleted uranium rounds in the Pacific Ocean, how much was used per year, where that use has occurred, and what environmental impacts have already accrued from such use, such as uptake by fish and synergistic effects with other wastes and products from Naval exercises. The EIS mentions none of these issues.
In 2010 I personally spoke to a US Navy Public Relations representative that very cavalierly confirmed the Navy’s use of depleted uranium ammunition for “practice” off of the US West Coast. She seemed to have no idea of the dangers posed by this ammunition, but rather was only repeating whatever she was told.  The US Military has also permanently contaminated vast areas of land masses with its deadly depleted uranium ammunition. An epidemic of birth defects in Iraq and elsewhere is the legacy of this use. But there is an even larger ongoing assault on the ocean, the planet, and all life, global geoengineering/weather warfare. The blatant atmospheric aerosol spraying so clearly seen of the coast of California in the satellite photo below is nothing short of shocking.
Geoengineering is undeniably a major factor relating to the die-off of the oceans. The US military is certainly the single largest participant in the ongoing global climate engineering insanity (though all major powers are involved). Geoengineering is destroying the ozone layer which has subjected the planet to deadly levels of UV radiation greatly contributing to the die-off of plankton populations around the world. The plankton die-off has taken the foundation out of the food chain for marine ecosystems. Geoengineering has also radically altered upper level wind currents which have in turn altered ocean currents. This has contributed to the massive methane release in the Arctic which holds the future of our planet in the balance if it continues. In regard to the Pacific ocean, the altered wind currents have greatly contributed to the record heat buildup. This in turn has fueled the extreme algae blooms, sea bed gassing of methane, hydrogen sulfide (which create hypoxic and anoxic zones), and thus even more marine die-off. There is also the less known form of geoengineering, ocean fertilization, which is also taking its toll on our once thriving seas. Seven decades of highly toxic and destructive global geoengineering programs have inflicted unimaginable decimation to the planet. These programs (combined with the other US military operations already mentioned), have played a major part in the collapse of life in our oceans, most especially in the Pacific. If the oceans die, we die.
Our military brothers and sisters must awaken to what they are participating in, the destruction of their own planet and the health of their own citizens. Military personnel are sworn to protect their countrymen from all threats, foreign AND DOMESTIC. All of us are needed to help awaken the population, this includes the families of military personnel. Pass on credible information to all those that need to see it, every day counts in this battle. Make your voice heard.

Zen Gardner


Abrupt changes in food chains predicted as Southern Ocean acidifies fast

The Southern Ocean is acidifying at such a rate because of rising carbon dioxide emissions that large regions may be inhospitable for key organisms in the food chain to survive as soon as 2030, new US research has found.
Tiny pteropods, snail-like creatures that play an important role in the food web, will lose their ability to form shells as oceans absorb more of the CO2 from the atmosphere, a process already observed over short periods in areas close to the Antarctic coast.
Ocean acidification is often dubbed the "evil twin" of climate change. As CO2 levels rise, more of it is absorbed by seawater, resulting in a lower pH level and reduced carbonate ion concentration. Marine organisms with skeletons and shells then struggle to develop and maintain their structures.

Using 10 Earth system models and applying a high-emissions scenario, the researchers found the relatively acidic Southern Ocean quickly becomes unsuited for shell-forming creatures such as pteropods, according to a paper published Tuesday in Nature Climate Change.

"What surprised us was really the abruptness at which this under-saturation [of calcium carbonate-based aragonite] occurs in large areas of the Southern Ocean," Axel Timmermann​, a co-author of the study and oceanography professor at the University of Hawaii told Fairfax Media. "It's actually quite scary."
Since the Southern Ocean is already close to the threshold for shell-formation, relatively small changes in acidity levels will likely show up there first, Professor Timmermann said: "The background state is already very close to corrosiveness."

A healthy pteropod - fewer of these likely if emissions trends continue.
 A healthy pteropod - fewer of these likely if emissions trends continue. Photo: NOAA
Below a certain pH level, shells of such creatures become more brittle, with implications for fisheries that feed off them since pteropods appear unable to evolve fast enough to cope with the rapidly changing conditions.
"For pteropods it may be very difficult because they can't run around without a shell,"  Professor Timmermann said. "It's not they dissolve immediately but there's a much higher energy requirement for them to form the shells."
Given the sheer scale of the marine creatures involved, "take away this biomass, [and] you have avalanche effects for the rest of the food web", he said.
Pteropod mollusk found in north Pacific waters.

Pteropod mollusk found in north Pacific waters. Photo: Alexander Semenov
As carbon dioxide levels rise, the impacts seen in the Southern Ocean – and its counterpart regions in the northern hemisphere – can be expected to spread closer to the equator.
Scientists anticipate that a halt in the increase in greenhouse gases will take time to have an impact on slowing the warming of the planet. However, a faster response can be expected in the oceans to any slowing in the pace of acidification.
"The corrosiveness of the water is a very strong function of the atmospheric C02 and there is not much of a delay [to any changes]", Professor Timmermann said.
The paper's release comes about four weeks before delegates from almost 200 nations are expected to gather in Paris, France to negotiate a new global treaty to curb carbon emissions.



The Mountain of Blue Fire

Nature has a way of continually surprising us and inspiring awe within us, and it seems there are just as many fantastical wonders to be found in the natural world as there are in that of the supernatural. Here among nature’s great mysteries and incredible spectacles are all manner of spectacular displays of power, destruction, and beauty, often all of these combined. One of the weirdest, and yet at the same time most undeniably gorgeous and breathtaking is to be found at a volcano in Indonesia, which is the source of one of the most amazing natural light shows on earth. It is a place where the raw power of nature, its fury, and its most magnificent beauty come together to weave into a spellbinding display that is hard to really put into words.
Lying within the Banyuwangi Regency of East Java, Indonesia, and nestled within a 20 km wide caldera known as the Ijen caldera, is a group of active stratovolcanoes known as the Ijen volcano complex, which reaches its highest point with the 2799 m high Gunung Merapi stratovolcano. Although the caldera itself is home to numerous picturesque coffee plantations, waterfalls, and quaint hot springs, the areas of the volcano complex resemble the face of another distant planet with its jagged rocky landscape, craggy cones, craters, ridges, and sulphur spewing vents littering its desolate facade. To the west of the larger Gunung Merapi stratovolcano, the name of which translates to the ominous sounding “mountain of fire,” is another volcano called Kawah Ijen, with a crater that has a diameter of 722 meters (2,369 ft), a depth of 200 meters (660 ft.), and a total area of 0.41 square kilometers (0.16 sq. mi).
The Kawah Ijen crater
The Kawah Ijen crater
At first there is not much to particularly differentiate Kawah Ijien from the rest of the rough and rugged surrounding moonscape, but there are several features here that make it stand out. One is a 1 km wide crater lake with striking turquoise water which from a distance may seem quite charming and inviting, but in actuality is the world’s largest highly acidic lake, with sulfuric acid laced water that can dissolve an aluminum can within 30 minutes and which is known to belch forth deadly gases from time to time without warning, causing birds to suddenly fall from the sky or even killing humans who get too close. The lake is always wreathed in a thick smog of dangerous, noxious fumes that mar its otherwise otherworldly beauty.
Kawah Ijien is also notable for its incredible amount of sulfur, with which the atmosphere is so thickly laden that it causes irritation and inflammation of the eyes for those who come here and in most cases necessitates wearing a gas mask. These vast sulfur reserves are the target of a huge mining operation in the bottom of the crater. The mining is highly dangerous, perilous work, with miners braving temperatures surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit, noxious gagging fumes, unstable rocky footing, potential eruptions from the active volcano slumbering below their feet, lethal volcanic gases which can bubble up at any moment from the bowels of the earth, and very few safety measures in place due to the largely freelance nature of the work. The men don’t even wear gas masks as they toil away choking on hazardous fumes next to smoking, active volcanic vents.
Sulfur mining at Kawah Ijien
Sulfur mining at Kawah Ijien
It is also back breaking, intensive physical labor. Miners use pipes to drain out deep red liquid molten sulfur and then allow it to cool into chunks of yellow, solid sulfur, after which they laboriously break the chunks down by hand into smaller pieces and load up baskets with up to 90 kg. (200 lbs) of the stuff. The heavy baskets are then carried by hand up to the top of the crater through a gas choked narrow trail and a grueling 3 km hike (1.86 miles) to a sugar refinery in Paltuding Valley, where the sulfur is weighed and the miners paid according to how much they have brought, with a miner normally making around a meager $13 a day. The sulfur will typically end up being used for vulcanizing rubber and bleaching sugar. A typical miner, many of which are mere children, will make 2 of these harrowing trips a day, and this exhausting, unforgiving labor, along with the highly dangerous conditions, nonexistent safety measures, and the constant unprotected inhalation of toxic gases and fumes, give the typical sulfur miner here a life expectancy of not much more than 30 years of age.
As deadly and dangerous as all of this sulfur is, it is this sulfur which is responsible for one of the most surreal and spellbinding natural spectacles in the world. As this huge amount of sulfur comes forth from the earth and reaches the surface, at high pressures and temperatures of more than 600°C (1,112 degrees Fahrenheit), it hits the lava and oxygen in the air and is ignited. This causes it to spectacularly blaze to life in stunning blue flames that can be up to 5 meters (16 feet) high and which cast the mountainside in an otherworldly blue glow. This already astounding natural light show is made even more dreamlike when portions of the sulfur condense to liquid and continue to burn as it flows along, creating rivers of blue flame that meander down the mountain in a breathtaking display of nature’s power and beauty. The flames are always present here, but the blue violet fire is only visible at night, when it appears most nights of the year. Although such burning sulfur can be seen to a limited extent in other places around the world, such as Yellowstone National Park, nowhere else is it as incredibly dramatic or on as grand a scale as it is at Kawah Ijien, and this is by far the largest such display in the world.
Although the phenomenon has been well known in the area for a long time, with the miners long even working at night by the light of these incandescent flowing flames, it has mostly been brought to the attention of the outside world due to the stunning photographs of the display taken by French photographer Olivier Grunewald. Grunewald first heard of Kawah Ijien’s awe inspiring fiery blue rivers through a photo he saw taken by the president of Geneva’s Society for Volcanology, Régis Etienne, in 2008, which shows the silhouette of a child miner illuminated by the ghostly glow of the blue flames. The haunting image stayed with him, and Grunewald became fascinated, almost obsessed, with documenting the miners working among the flows of blue fire spilling down the mountain. He would later join forces with Etienne to brave the harsh conditions of the crater and shoot a documentary on the phenomena and the plight of the miners over the course of 6 trips and 30 nights. The documentary was shot under grueling, inhospitable conditions, during which several cameras were corroded by acid and the team was constantly plagued by the harmful fumes despite wearing gas masks, and even after shooting was completed it took three weeks to get rid of the thick smell of sulfur clinging to them. Grunewald told National Geographic magazine:
The main problem was the acidic gases that whirled constantly in the crater. The night seriously increased the difficulty as well, because it became almost impossible to see when dense gases arrived—at times, we were stuck in gas plumes for over an hour without being able to see our hands.
The results speak for themselves. During the course of making the documentary, Grunewald was able to catch by far the most striking, surreal, and beautiful images ever taken of this bizarre phenomenon, as well as to illustrate the hash life of the sulfur miners who live and die among the enchanting flames. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this magnificent and mesmerizing  gallery of pictures speaks volumes. It is hard not to be enthralled by this display of nature’s audacious fiery splendor. Making the photographs even more impressive is that they were not touched up or altered in any way, and Grunewald did not use lens filters when shooting any of this. It is no wonder that when the pictures were released they gained immediate acclaim and enchanted practically everyone who saw them, as well as causing tourist numbers to Kawah Ijien to skyrocket.
These streams of blazing molten sulfur are certainly enough to make one want to see them with their own eyes, but before packing your bags there are some things to seriously keep in mind. Although Kawah Ijien has not fully erupted since 1817, when its volcanic fury displaced the crater lake and inundated several villages, it is nevertheless an active volcano and over the ensuing years has experienced many phreatic eruptions, which are explosions of steam, water, ash, and rock fragments caused when magma heats ground or surface water. The crater is also heavily pervaded by numerous toxic, deadly gases including sulfuric dioxide which, depending on the wind conditions and concentrations, can cause anything from eye irritation, to sore throats, respiratory problems, dizziness, feinting, or even death. The crater lake itself has been known to suddenly release large clouds of lethal gases, and it is not uncommon to see birds drop dead in mid-flight over its alluring turquoise surface. It is highly recommended that visitors where a gas mask and check conditions beforehand when visiting Kawah Ijien, just to make sure that it is fully safe to approach. If none of this intimidates you and you still have the resolve to go, then you can expect a 2 hour hike to the rim of the crater and an additional 45 minute climb down into the crater proper over difficult terrain permeated by sulfuric smoke and gases. However, by all accounts from people who have made the journey here all of the risk and hardship is absolutely worth it to see the once in a lifetime spectacle of nature’s greatest light show.

Mysterious Universe
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