Natural disasters boon, bust for marine animals

The latest in grim tsunami news comes via Sri Lankan sea-turtle researcher Kithsiri Kannangara, whose turtle hatchery was completely wiped out by the enormous waves, which have produced more tragedies than the ancient Greeks. In addition to a large leatherback turtle, seven rare green turtles, and some $500,000 worth of equipment, Kannangara lost 20,000 turtle eggs, set to hatch the day of the tsunami. And, in more bad tidings for the now-even-more-endangered reptiles, conservationists worry about destruction of the sandy Indian Ocean beaches many sea turtles use for nesting. If you’re eager for some disaster-related news that doesn’t make you want to gouge your eyes out, we offer this tidbit: Florida biologists say last year’s unusually busy hurricane season may have been a boon for manatees living in coastal waters. The four hurricanes that hit the Sunshine State over a period of six weeks kept the manatees’ usual No. 1 predator — boaters — off the water and unable to strike the large, slow-moving mammals, keeping the number of boat deaths at its lowest since 1998.