Saturday, January 30, 2016

Honduran Rain of Fish

Honduras is a small country in Central America, south of Mexico. The country is largely Roman Catholic, thus a place where people still believe in miracles. Whether miraculous or not, there is something going on in the Departmento de Yoro in Honduras. Something known as the Lluvia de Peces has been happening annually there for more than 100 years. In English, the Lluvia de Peces means "Rain of Fish."

Lluvia de Peces, or Rain of Fish, typically happens in the spring or early summer. Dark storm clouds roll into the area and the sky opens up. It downpours heavily for as long as three hours. Whether that rain actually includes fish is unclear. What is nearly certain is that after the rain there are thousands of fish flopping around on the ground. It seems too strange to be true, but locals, researchers and even a National Geographic team have reportedly confirmed it. Still, it may be one of those things you have to see to believe.

Local legend says that the Honduran Rain of Fish is a miraculous answer to the prayers of Father Jose Subirana. In the mid to late 1800s, the area was suffering greatly from poverty. Father Subirana, who was a visiting missionary, prayed that the people get ample food to end their hunger. God answered his prayers by making it rain fish in the Departmento do Yoro. Thus began the Rain of Fish, or so the story goes.

National Geographic supposedly sent a team to Honduras to investigate the Rain of Fish in the 1970s. They confirmed that the event was taking place and attempted to explain it. The team found that the fish were not from local waterways, but they were freshwater, not saltwater, fish. This meant they had to have come from rivers, lakes, ponds or streams. Another interesting find was that they were all the same blind species of fish. That led them to believe that the fish were coming up from underground, rather than raining down from the sky.

Note: The writer of this article was unable to find the National Geographic issue that this information was published in, though there are several reliable claims to its existence. Unfortunately, without it, it is impossible to say if the researchers actually looked to see if the fish were coming from the sky or not. If you know the month and year this information was in National Geographic, please leave a comment for us.

The underground theory makes sense enough, but it is interesting that no one has found the source of the flopping fish during or after these storms. If there is an underground river and the fish are finding their way to the surface, there must be an egress point. Another popular theory is that wind spouts created by the storms are carrying the fish from the ocean. The problems with this theory are many, even without the evidence reportedly collected by National Geographic: The ocean is nearly 200 miles away from the location of the Rain of Fish. The waterspouts would have to start over a school of fish once a year, sometimes more, for more than a hundred years. The wind would have to carry the fish all the way from the ocean to the same area once a year, sometimes more, for more than a hundred years. That is like a tornado forming over a flock of birds every year, during the same months and then carrying the birds to the exact same area every time.

There have been other reports of animal rains around the world for some time. However, the Rain of Fish is the only known animal rain that takes place yearly, or on any schedule. In fact, it is the only known animal rain that is not a single event, but a series of them. This could be further evidence of the fishes' underground origins or it could mean that miracles really do happen in Honduras.


Milles, Carlie, America and Geography, retrieved 6/29/11,

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cloud Forests: Endangered Habitat

Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve
Photo by JDPEcuador
Cloud forests are some of the most magical looking environments on Earth. Their beauty is the first and most noticeable thing about them. However, beyond the layers of mist and cloud that often blanket the trees of these forests, there is much more to be seen. There is beauty in the life of these forests and the life they provide to the organisms in and around them. Unfortunately, we may not have them to enjoy for much longer.

Cloud forests are mountain forests that exist in tropical and sub-tropical climates. They appear at altitudes between 1,600 and 10,000 feet, with the lower cloud forests appearing on mountainous islands in the ocean. The trees within these forests are 50 feet or more in the lower altitudes. Cloud forests in higher altitudes have shorter trees.

One of the most important and interesting things about cloud forests is the water that they use and produce. The forests actually collect the water from the mists and clouds that hover and move through their trees. This water is then taken into the forest and provided to local life - even humans. The La Tigra cloud forest in Honduras supplies 40 percent of the water that 850,000 nearby humans use. For this reason, cloud forests are sometimes called "nature's water towers."

There is quite an abundance of life in cloud forests. However, an estimated 80 percent of the varieties of life forms in cloud forests have gone undocumented. There simply has not been much study on the flora and fauna of cloud forests. We do know that some endangered species, such as gorillas, make their homes in cloud forests. Other species are found only in cloud forests. That means that if the cloud forests disappear, so will these animals and plants.

Some experts have calculated that it may take as little as a decade for all of the cloud forests to vanish from the Earth. Changes in the amount of water available to the forests through mists can cloud would change the ecosystem. Deforestation -- which is occurring in some cloud forests -- would remove the cloud forests altogether. It is feared that global warming and pollution will transform the lush, misty, water producing landscapes into dry forests and then perhaps worse.

Because of the obvious threats to the world's cloud forests, the Cloud Forest Conservation Alliance was formed. The alliance helps raise awareness of the problem and aid in conserving these fairy tale forests. A lot is going to need to change and quite a bit of research will have to be crammed into a short time. If we only have ten years, we have a lot of work to do if we want to lessen the impact we are having on this planet.


Cloud Forest Conservation Alliance, retrieved 6/21/11,

Roach, Joan, Cloud Forests Fading in the Mist, Their Treasures Little Known, retrieved 6/21/11,

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Survival of the Cutest Ensures Some Species Get No Attention From Conservationist Campaigns

“Survival of the cutest” is a term that is used to describe the seemingly inappropriate balance when it comes to conservation awareness. In other words, cuter endangered animals seem to be more likely to garner media attention, and therefore public donations, regarding their plight. “Survival of the cutest” is also a term that is sometimes used to describe how selective breeding has made domestic dog breeds “evolve” for cuteness, rather than function. However, the purpose of this article is to discuss the former definition of the phrase.

Scientists and researchers believe that the Earth is currently in the midst of the biggest mass extinction since an asteroid impact (or some other catastrophic event) wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If they are correct, and evidence shows that they are, this would be the sixth mass extinction on Earth of which we are aware. Many people realize that we (humans) are at least partly to blame for this mass extinction. So, many people are becoming more conscious of the plight of endangered species and some are doing what they can to help. However, as stated above, there seems to be a great deal of selectiveness involved in the spreading of conservation awareness.

You’ve probably heard of the decreasing population of some penguin species, the Great Panda, snow leopards, various tiger species, polar bears, etc. Of course, some of these animals are dangerous predators, but they sure are cute, aren’t they? Have you ever heard of the decreasing populations of the Antigua ground lizard, the Wyoming Toad (listed as extinct in the wild), the Iowa Pleistocene snail (once thought to have been extinct, now listed as endangered) or the Kihansi spray toad (extinct in the wild)? You most likely have not. There are researchers who believe that the reason you have not heard of them is because of the mechanism that is “survival of the cutest.”

There are countless conservation groups out there whose logos feature cute and fluffy creatures. Many of these conservation groups are solely dedicated to saving these cute and fluffy creatures. While it is very important to save these endangered animals, it is equally important that we save those endangered animals that aren’t so cute and fluffy. Many organizations rely on donations from the public to fund their conservation efforts. If these donations are only being given to “save the pandas” and “save the penguins” type efforts, what hope do endangered snake, insect and other creepy, crawly species have?

All animals are important to their respective ecosystems and a lot of species rely on each other for survival. In other words, that cute and fluffy creature you so wish to save may, in the wild, prey on an endangered species that isn’t so aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps it may be more important to rescue  what we can of the food chain than it is to just save the animals that look good in our zoos.


Rockets, Rusty, Survival of the Cutest, retrieved 2/14/10,

Mass Extinctions, retrieved 2/14/10,

Wyoming Toad, retrieved 2/14/10,

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

5 Facts About Hurricanes

Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricanes are among the most feared storms that occur on Earth. They are destructive, powerful and deadly. What hurricane facts science does possess do very little to protect us from their awesome power as evidenced by the aftermath of such hurricanes as 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

1. A hurricane by any other name is still a hurricane

Hurricanes have several names, though the storm is the same. Depending on where you are in the world, people may call a hurricane a hurricane, severe-tropical cyclone, severe cyclonic storm, tropical cyclone or typhoon. All of these names signify storms with winds of 74 miles per hour or greater.

2. Being in the eye of a hurricane is not as nice as it seems

One of the most interesting facts science knows about hurricanes is that the very center of these powerful storms can be as calm as a clear day. The eye of a hurricane can measure anywhere between 5 and 120 miles across. Inside of this eye, there are often weak winds, though there are sometimes strong winds within the eye. There is significantly less rain if there is any rain at all. Seems nice, right? Well, lurking right outside of the eye is the eyewall, which is the strongest part of a hurricane. If you find yourself in the eye, you have already seen the worst of the storm, are about to see the worst of it or both.

3. The NOAA has actually tried to weaken hurricanes

As science fiction as it seems, the NOAA, with the help of the U.S. government, actually took what they know about hurricanes and tried to use it to create hurricane-altering technology. The project was called PROJECT STORMFURY. The method they concocted involved dumping silver iodide into hurricanes in what they called "seeding clouds." For all intents and purposes, PROJECT STORMFURY was a failure. Since then, the NOAA has reverted to learning more about hurricanes instead of trying to change them.

4. Hurricanes can come in packs

In both August of 1893 and September of 1998, there were four hurricanes in the Atlantic at one time. That is the most ever in recorded history. In 1893, the hurricanes remained unnamed, but we know one was responsible for the deaths of at least 1,000 people in the United States. As for the 1998 pack of hurricanes, they were Karl, Ivan, Georges and Jeanne. Georges killed roughly 400 people when it made landfall in Haiti.

5. Hurricanes are monstrously strong

One of the hardest things to learn about hurricanes is their maximum wind speed potential. That is because the winds can be so strong that they destroy measuring devices. Wind speeds in a hurricane get up to more than 160 mph. How much more is not certain.

The winds of hurricanes are enough of a destructive force to kill. However, one of the most terrifying hurricane facts has nothing to do with wind. It has to do with rain. A powerful hurricane can dump more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain in one day.

Since these storms have been studied, we have come to know quite a bit about hurricanes, though there are surely many more hurricane facts we do not know. Whether or not any new hurricane information will prevent human deaths is another matter, but that tends to be the aim of much hurricane research.


Landsea, Charles, What was the largest number of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean at the same time?, retrieved 3/1/11,

Hurricane, retrieved 3/1/11,

Facts about the Eye of a Hurricane, retrieved 3/1/11,

Landsea, Chris, What is a hurricane, typhoon or tropical cyclone?, retrieved 3/1/11,

Landsea, Chris, Has there ever been an attempt or experiment to reduce the strength of a hurricane?, retrieved 3/1/11,