USEPA Photo by Eric Vance
This week, our top Earth snapshots include an amazing Alaskan flyover, the Space Station's peaceful view of Russia and Eastern Europe -- and a red tide that's causing havoc in Florida. The EPA maintains these controlled growth chambers (above) in Corvallis, Ore. They enable researchers to study the effects of air pollution, heavy metals and toxic substances on plant life.PHOTOS: Massive Mayfly Invasion Marauds Midwest
This image of Alaskan forest land was shot from a Piper Cherokee aircraft by NASA scientists. They're conducting an aerial survey of 174,000 square miles of forests in the Alaskan interior, which are difficult to reach on the ground.BLOG: A Huge Alaska Quake Could Devastate California
From the International Space Station, an astronaut captured this view of the southern Baltic sea. Russia, Poland and Lithuania are in the foreground, while Norway, Denmark and Sweden are seen in the distance.PHOTOS: Costa Concordia's Final Journey
USDA photo by David Kosling
California is suffering through a severe drought. This image, taken back in February, shows a dried-up riverbed along Highway 99 near Bakersfield.NEWS: Southwest Groundwater Disappearing at 'Shocking' Rate
Kim Parsons/NOAA Fisheries
A group of killer whales, also known as orcas, are seen swimming here in a tight pattern. NOAA scientists recently published a study of killer whale genetics, in which they reported that the creatures form distinct sub-populations that don't have much cross-breeding.VIDEO: Whales Get Sunburned, Too
Typhoon Rammasun, AKA Glenda, battered the Philippines in mid-July. The storm is seen here in a satellite photo.BLOG: How Do Summer Superstorms Form?
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Staff; Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
A sergeant major fish and an angelfish swim in a reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. These fragile underwater habitats are threatened by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the water, due to climate change.NEWS: When Fish Go Deeper They Glow Brighter
A red tide off the coast of Florida has killed thousands of fish along with sea turtles and crabs,reports the AP
. The algal bloom is caused by a marine organism,
which is naturally occuring buttoxic to humans and wildlife
.PHOTOS: Earth Shots: Must-See Planet Pics (July 18)
For years, residents of Moab have claimed, on April 1, that the head of a serpent-shaped popular rock formation near Arches National Park had fallen off.
No April Fools this time: The head really is gone, most likely having tumbled off during recent thunderstorms.
“It’s sad and it’s unfortunate,” Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Megan Crandall told the Associated Press, adding that officials have kept in mind that “those same forces that made it eventually would contribute to its demise.”
Believed to have been formed about 245 million years ago, it was likely scaled by climbers for the first time in the 1990s, according to Outside Magazine. It was considered safe up until the recent storms that likely crashed it.
“It wasn’t like it was teetering or tottering or anything like that,” Crandall said.
Lisa Hathaway, a Moab climber, told The Salt Lake Tribune that many climbers were incredulous when the news broke, waiting for the punch line.
Still, “it was really a surprise to no one that that tower, at least the cap rock, was going to come off at some point in time,” she said.
The Cobra was popular among climbers because it was easy to get to and a manageable height at about 30-50 feet. (Plus, what climber doesn’t want a photo climbing a snake’s head?)