May 10, 2009 in Nation/World

Right whales set record for calves

 

Right whales have plenty to celebrate this Mother’s Day – the sea moms gave birth to a record 39 calves this spring.

The New England Aquarium said Friday that the birth surge breaks the modern record of 31 and shows much improvement from 2000, when only one calf was born.

Each birthing season is important because right whales number fewer than 400 and are among the most endangered whales in the world.

Having a calf is no easy task for the 50-foot-long whales, who give birth off the Florida and Georgia coasts.

The moms travel nearly 1,000 miles down the East Coast to warmer waters for their babies, who weigh roughly 2,400 pounds at birth. And the moms can lose up to 30,000 pounds in the first year they are nursing.

Houston

Boy shot in head dies of injuries

A 7-year-old boy who was allegedly shot in the head by a couple who mistakenly thought he and three other people were trespassing on their property died Saturday, authorities said.

Donald Coffey Jr. died Saturday at a Houston hospital, less than two days after the boy was struck in the head by shotgun pellets, Liberty County sheriff’s Cpl. Hugh Bishop said.

Sheila Muhs and her husband, Gayle Muhs, both 45, were charged with second-degree felony counts of aggravated assault in the shootings Thursday. Bishop said the district attorney could upgrade the charges to murder on Monday.

The boy, his 5-year-old sister, their father and a family friend were off-roading near a residential area about 40 miles northeast of Houston when they were shot after stopping in an overgrown area so the children could go to the bathroom.

Authorities said the couple fired after they mistakenly thought the group was trespassing on their property.

Liberty County Chief Deputy Ken DeFoor said Sheila Muhs fired a 12-gauge shotgun once, then handed it to her husband, who also fired once.

Boston

Transit crash spurs cell phone ban

The head of the Boston-area transit authority said Saturday he’ll ban all train and bus operators from even carrying cell phones on board after a trolley driver told police he was texting his girlfriend before a collision Friday.

About 50 people were hurt in the underground crash in downtown Boston, though none of the injuries was life-threatening.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority already bans operators from using cell phones and recently ran an internal ad campaign featuring a poster of an open cell phone that warned employees not to drive “under the influence.”

But general manager Daniel Grabauskas said Saturday the temptation obviously was too great for some.

“I want to remove any temptation by one or two people stupid enough to think a moment of convenience is worth the lives of the people they’re transporting,” he said. “I’m not going to wait for someone to die to institute a policy whose time I think has come.”

Grabauskas said the new ban would apply to anyone working on a train or bus. He said he hopes to have the policy in place within a week.

From wire reports


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