Tag Archives: Hawaii

Are There Snakes in Hawaii?


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Studies show that an invertebrate successfully colonized Hawaii once in every 70,000 years, a plant once in every 100,000 years, and a bird once in every million years.

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The Hawaiian Hotspots. (Image from Tasa Graphics)
The Hawaiian Hotspots. (Image from Tasa Graphics)

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Officially and technically, Hawaii doesn’t have any snakes.

Why?

All Hawaiian Islands are volcanic in origin. Over the past 44 million years, the islands rose up from the ocean floor due to erupting volcanoes. Even today, the youngest island, Hawaii, is still growing from under.

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Hawaii map - Distance from other countries (Source: Padi.com)
Hawaii map – Distance from other countries (Source: Padi.com)

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Hawaii is the most isolated archipelago in the world. The nearest continent, North America, is over 2500 miles (4000 km) away.

The extreme isolation of the Hawaiian archipelago makes it difficult for plants and animals to colonize its islands. The only way for wildlife species to reach the Hawaiian Islands from the rest of the world is to fly or swim across the Pacific Ocean. Chances of surviving the long journey over Pacific by air or sea is virtually small. It would indeed be a miracle to establish a reproducing population on these islands. Since there are no natural predators and diseases in Hawaii, many native plants and animals needed only a few natural defenses to evolve. Studies show that an invertebrate successfully colonized Hawaii once in every 70,000 years, a plant once in every 100,000 years, and a bird once in every million years. This is why it took over millions of years for a very distinct flora and fauna to evolve in Hawaii.

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Map of the Pacific Culture Areas (Author : Kahuroa)
Map of the Pacific Culture Areas (Author : Kahuroa)

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Before humans set foot in the Hawaiian paradise, there were no large animals to eat plants. Harm to the flora and fauna on the islands began about 1500 years ago when settlers started arriving from Polynesia. Mammals such as pigs, dogs, goats and plants brought by them literally devastated many native ecosystems.

It is illegal to own snakes or transport snakes of any kind to the Hawaiian islands. Anyone possessing a pet snake has to face jail up to 3 years and $200,000 in fines. In Hawaii there no natural predators for snakes and large lizards, therefore, if allowed, could pose a threat to Hawaii’s ecosystem by competing with native animals for food and habitat. Some snake species prey on birds and their eggs, and hence could pose a threat to endangered native birds.

Blind Snakes

Hawaii doesn’t officially have snakes. However, there is one snake that does live in Hawaii, the Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops hatmaliyeb) likely an import from the Caroline Islands in Micronesia, an area north of the equator and far west of Hawaii.

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Addison Wynn, a herpetologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History who studies the blind snakes on the Caroline Islands says:

They eat termites and small ants, and there are about 240 or so known species in the world. They spend their lives burrowing so their head is blunt and pointed to push their way through the soil. Their rudimentary eyes can only differentiate between light and dark and exist as pigment spots underneath scales on their head.

These new species extend the known range of blind snakes some 2,000 kilometers out into the Pacific Ocean, into areas where we didn’t know they occurred or could ever occur. We just didn’t expect to find blind snakes out there (Caroline Islands) in the middle of the ocean.

Some other studies that the blind snakes found in Hawaii could have come there from far off the Philippines, about 5300 miles (8530 km) away.

So, other than the blind snakes, it is widely assumed that there are no snakes in Hawaii. Sadly, this is not true. According to a few reports, people have seen some snakes in Hawaii.

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Ornate Tree Snake

The Ornate Tree Snake captured at Hickam Hickam Air Force Base. (Photo by Dr. Allen Allison, Bishop Museum
The Ornate Tree Snake captured at Hickam Hickam Air Force Base. (Photo by Dr. Allen Allison, Bishop Museum)

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On May 23, 2013, military personnel at the Hickam Air Force Base captured a foot-long mildly venomous Ornate Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornate) in a maintenance bay near the airfield.

Since the Ornate Tree Snakes are able to spring from tree to tree, they are also known as ornate flying tree snakes. These snakes are native to South East Asia and related to the brown tree snakes which have devastated the ecosystem in Guam by virtually wiping out the native forest birds. Their diet consists of lizards, mice, bats and birds.

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Boa Constrictor 

This was a snake found ran over on the mainland. (Photo: National Parks Service)
This was the five-foot long boa constrictor found run over on Pali Highway (Photo: National Parks Service)

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On September 22, 2013, a motorist ran over a five-foot long Boa Constrictor on the Pali Highway. Several inspectors of Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) went directly to the area where the snake was found. However, they did not find evidence of any other snakes. Russell S. Kokubun, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture said:

Any snake found in the wild in Hawaii is of serious concern. Boa constrictors may grow up to 12 feet, which is particularly troubling for nearby residents and for the environment.”

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Rainbow Boa Constrictor 

A non-venomous rainbow boa constrictor
A non-venomous rainbow boa constrictor

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At about 7 am on November 5, 2013, Victor Palmeri, found a live two-and-a-half foot long non-venomous Rainbow Boa Constrictor on the Nuuanu Avenue sidewalk fronting the Kukui Plaza condominium. Native to Central and South America, rainbow boas can grow up to six feet long. Rainbow boas are known for their attractive iridescent sheen on their scales in the sunlight. Their diet consists of rodents, lizards, aquatic animals, and birds.

It is not known at this time how these snakes found their way to Hawaii.

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‘Worse than AIDS’ – sex ‘superbug’ discovered in Japan called disaster in waiting


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superbug-gonorrhea-aids-sex

Doctors are warning that a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea could be more deadly than AIDS, and are urging members of US Congress to spend $54 million for the development of a drug that would fight it.

“This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly,” Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, told CNBC.

The new strain of gonorrhea, H041, was first discovered in 2009 after a sex worker fell victim to the superbug in Japan. Medical officials reported that the medication-resilient ‘sex superbug’ was discovered in Hawaii in May 2011, and has since spread to California and Norway, the International Business Times reports.

Nearly 30 million people die from AIDS-related causes each year, and the H041 superbug could have similar consequences, according to Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine.

“Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days,” Christianson said. “This is very dangerous.”

The gonorrhea strain has not yet claimed any lives, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have asked Congress for $54 million to find an antibiotic to treat the strain.

In a Capitol Hill briefing last week, health officials said an education and public awareness campaign is crucial in minimizing the effective of HO41. William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition for STD Directors, said that if the ‘sex superbug’ spreads, it could quickly kill many people before a treatment is discovered. And that risk becomes increasingly more likely if Congress does not provide the funds to find a cure, he said.

“It’s an emergency situation. As time moves on, it’s getting more hazardous,” he told members of Congress.

“We have to keep beating the drum on this,” he added. “The potential for disaster is great.”

In the United States, there are 20 million new STD infections each year, which results in about $16 billion in medical costs, the CDC reports. More than 800,000 of these cases gonorrhea infections, most of which occur in young people ages 15 to 24. Gonorrhea is sometimes difficult to detect, since it shows no symptoms in about half of all women. Those who fall ill to the deadly strain may not notice it until it’s too late.

“That’s what’s kind of scary about this,” Smith said.

Although health officials have widely reported that cases of H041 were discovered in California, Hawaii and Norway, the CDC has disputed those claims and told CNBC on Monday that the infection has not been confirmed anywhere outside of Japan. The CDC did, however, make an announcement in 2011 that it was noticing greater gonorrhea bacterial resistance to certain types of antibiotics in Hawaii and California.

CDC officials said that the US and Norwegian cases were treated effectively with antibiotics not routinely recommended and that these cases were mistakenly identified as H041. But the agency continues to urge Congress for research funding, indicating that the risk of infection is high regardless of where the cases occurred.

Christianson is urging people to practice safe sex and get STD tests if they are in a new relationship, since a superbug infection could be around the corner.

“This is a disaster just waiting to happen,” he told CNBC. “It’s time to do something about it before it explodes. These superbugs, including the gonorrhea strain, are a health threat. We need to move now before it gets out of hand.”

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Re-posted from RT.com
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Some Facts About Daylight-Saving Time (DST)


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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DST Countries Map
Daylight Saving Time Countries as of October 2011.

Daylight Saving Time often known as “Summer Time”, “DST” or “Daylight Savings Time” helps to make better use of daylight in the evenings during certain periods of the year.

The clock moves ahead losing one hour in the spring when DST starts, and it falls back one hour gaining an hour when DST ends in the Fall. The transition from Standard Time (ST) to Daylight Saving Time (DST) has the effect of moving one hour of daylight from morning to the evening and the transition from DST to ST effectively moves one hour of daylight from the evening to the morning.

This year on Sunday, March 11 at 2 am, the Eastern Time Zone officially switched from standard time to DST, giving us a later sunrise and sunset. After being in effect for 238 days, or about 65% of the year DST ended today at 2 am.

From yesterday, the time difference between New Delhi, India and Washington DC, USA is -19:30 hours instead of -9:30 hours.

Here are some facts about Daylight Saving Time:

In his article “Daylight saving in ancient Rome,” that appeared in The Classical Journal 13 (6): 450–451, B.L. Ullman (1918-03) wrote about the common practice of saving daylight in the ancient world.

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin the American inventor, statesman, and publisher resurrected this idea. During his time as an American envoy to France, on April 26, 1784 Journal de Paris published in its “Économie” section an anonymous light-hearted satire titled “Aux auteurs du Journal” in French translated from the English original. In this satire, Franklin suggested that Parisians could economize on candles by rising earlier than they used to and use morning sunlight. He also proposed taxing shutters, rationing candles, waking the public by ringing church bells, and firing cannons at sunrise.

Franklin wrote under the pseudonyms of “Poor Richard” and “Richard Saunders”. He achieved success publishing a yearly almanac named “Poor Richard’s Almanack“. Being the best-selling pamphlet published in the American colonies, yearly print runs of the almanac reached 10,000. He published this almanac continually from 1732 to 1758. In this almanac, Franklin’s facetiously suggested that people should get up earlier in the summer to take advantage of more sunlight. The axiom “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” has been attributed to him.

George Vernon Hudson
George Vernon Hudson

In 1895, George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist, mooted the idea of modern daylight saving time (DST).

William Willett by Elliott & Fry
William Willett

On an early summer morning in 1907, William Willett, an Englishman, after riding his horse in Petts Wood, near his home noticed many blinds still down, and the idea for daylight saving time occurred to him.

William Willet published a pamphlet “The Waste of Daylight” using his own financial resources. He proposed that the clocks should be advanced by 80 minutes in four incremental steps during April and reversed the same way during September. The evenings would then remain light for longer increasing daylight recreation time, and this could save ₤2.5 million in lighting costs. He suggested that the clocks should be advanced by 20 minutes at a time, at 2 am on successive Sundays in April, and be retarded by the same amount on Sundays in September.

In 1908, the fate of Willett’s proposal involved several political issues in Britain. His idea captivated many persons in high office, including Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, David Lloyd George, James Ramsay MacDonald, King Edward VII (who used half-hour DST at Sandringham), budding politician Winston Spencer Churchill, the managing director of Harrods, and the manager of the National Bank.

Even so, the opposition to Willett’s proposal was  stronger. It included Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith, Sir William Christie (the Astronomer Royal), Sir George Howard Darwin, Sir William Napier Shaw (director of the Meteorological Office), many agricultural organizations, and theater owners.

In 1909, after many hearings by a Parliamentary select committee on Willett’s proposal nothing came out of it.

In the same year, Andrew Peters introduced a DST bill to the US House of Representatives. However, the skeptical US politicians killed it in committee.

Every year from 1911 through 1914, Willett’s allies introduced similar bills to the British Parliament, to no avail.

The outbreak of the First World War made the issue of daylight saving more important because of the need to save coal. By 1916, Germany and its allies enforced daylight saving time calling it Sommerzeit.

Finally, after Britain passed the bill on May 17, 1916 it advanced the clocks by an hour on the following Sunday, 21st May. Subsequently, other European countries adopted daylight saving. Russia waited until 1917.

Sir Winston Churchill in his article “A silent toast to William Willett” in the Pictorial Weekly dated April 28, 1934 argued that daylight saving enlarges “the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people who live in this country.”

The term “summer time” replaced daylight saving time in draft legislation in Britain. Continental Europe uses similar phrases, like Sommerzeit in Germany, zomertijd in Dutch, horario de verano or hora de verano in Spain and l’heure d’été in France. In Italy, the term became ora legale, that is, legal time (legally enforced time) as opposed to ora solare, solar time, in Winter.

The United States adopted daylight saving time in 1918. Two states, Arizona and Hawaii do not observe daylight saving time. In 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act, extending daylight saving time by four weeks.

Many countries near or south of the equator do not observe DST. Kazakhstan dropped DST in 2005 citing negative health effects.

A few studies link an increase in heart attacks when DST goes into effect, and a decrease when it ends.

Still people debate whether DST actually saves energy.

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Fall Back from DST


As I opened my laptop this morning, I remembered I had to fall back on time today. I clicked the clock icon at the bottom of the screen, and the clock applet showed this message: “Daylight saving time ended Sunday, November 04, 2012 at 2:00 AM. The clock went back 1 hour at that time.”

I googled “daylight saving time” and the first item I saw on the screen was:

Daylight Saving Time (United States) began Sunday, March 11, 2012, 2:00am, and ended Sunday, November 4, 2012, 2:00am. Except Arizona and Hawaii. Move your clocks ahead 1 hour in spring and back 1 hour in fall (“Spring forward, fall back”).

The clock moves ahead losing one hour in the spring when DST starts, and it falls back one hour gaining an hour when DST ends in the Fall. This year on Sunday, March 11 at 2 a.m., the Eastern Time Zone officially switched from standard time to DST, giving us a later sunrise and sunset. After being in effect for 238 days, or about 65% of the year DST ended today at 2 a.m.

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