Northwest Digest

Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2006

String of quakes not rare for Aleutians

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UNALASKA - Dozens of earthquakes have struck the western Aleutian Islands in the past several weeks in what earthquake experts have said is not an uncommon event.

The quakes have most been confined to uninhabited areas of the island chain in southwestern Alaska. However, the strongest occurred on Saturday, also near Amchitka, and was felt by residents of Adak Island. Adak is 200 miles east of Amchitka and home to about 300 people.

Saturday's earthquake had a magnitude of 6.7. Most of the others have registered in the 5 magnitude range, including numerous aftershocks.

Paul Whitmore, director of the National Weather Service's West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, said it's not uncommon for series of quakes to rock the Aleutians.

Earthquakes occur in the Aleutians because the chain of islands sits along the Aleutian-Alaska megathrust, the boundary between the North American tectonic plate and the Pacific Ocean plate.

Two of the eight largest earthquakes in the past century have occurred in the Aleutians.

Grizzly returns to enclosure at resort

GOLDEN, British Columbia - Boo the runaway grizzly bear has returned on his own to his enclosure at a resort, apparently because of the ease of getting food and the end to the mating season, officials said.

After nearly three weeks on the lam after busting out of confinement, the 4-year-old bear ambled back into the 22-acre artificial enclosure Saturday, said Michael Dalzell, sales and marketing director at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort outside this town on the western slope of the Canadian Rockies.

"We believe he came back because he recognizes this as his comfort area and a reliable source of food," Dalzell said Monday.

Resort operators should have plenty of time to figure out how to keep Boo from getting loose again, he said.

"We feel that now that mating season is over, his urge to escape will be minimized," Dalzell said.

Boo escaped twice within two weeks last month, the second time on June 25, when he bashed a nearly 400-pound steel door off its four bolts, destroyed an electrical box while tearing through two electric fences and scrambled over a 12-foot fence anchored with two feet of steel below ground.

Between escapes, resort operators and officials in the provincial Environment Ministry contemplated neutering him, but he made his second getaway before they could act.

'Brown tide' blooms in inland waters

SEATTLE - Scientists say a bloom of deadly "brown tide" that makes a surprise visit to Washington's inland waters a few times each decade, killing fish and then quickly heading out to the ocean, swept through the area last week.

The brown tide is blamed on an single-celled organism called Heterosigma that sometimes blooms in late June or early July when water conditions are just right. This year's plankton bloom was the first major event since 1997, but not nearly as bad as an occurrence in 1991, when fisheries reported millions of dollars in dead fish.

"We lost a small percentage of our fish. This wasn't anything like '89 or '91," said Kevin Bright, a biologist who has worked for American Gold Seafoods in Anacortes ever since they lost most of their stock in net pens during the 1989 plankton bloom.

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