News Stories

Stay Away From the Beach

If you're getting ready for a final trip to the beach inAugust, be prepared. Researchers have found that it can beeasier to get sunburned when standing up than while lyingdown sunbathing. And a "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico iscausing shark attacks along the Texas coast.

The dead zone has appeared in the gulf every year for thelast 30 years, caused by the increased use of nitrate-basedfertilizers, which get into the water and kill off so muchoxygen that sea life can't survive. Three people have beenbitten by sharks in Texas this year, because hungry sharksare searching for something to eat.

Marine biologist Nancy Rabalais says, "Fish and swimmingcrabs escape from the dead zone. Anything else dies?Thehigher number of sharks in shallow waters may very likely bedue to the low oxygen being close to the shore at the timeof the attacks. The available habitat for the sharks isdefinitely less when the low oxygen is so widespread."

Is it safe to stay on the sand? Researchers have decided weget more ultra-violet radiation from sun exposure than theyonce thought, especially when the sun is low in the sky.There's a new sunscreen that really works, but despite thefact that it's available over the counter in the rest of theworld, it'sillegal here.

Duncan Graham-Rowe writes in New Scientist thatmeteorologist Peter Hoeppe measured the UV radiation hitting27 surfaces inclined at different angles at three differentlocations and took readings every two minutes. He found thatparts of the body receive higher doses of UV thanresearchers realized. Depending on the position of the sun,a person can get more of it standing up than lying downsunbathing. He says, "In many cases dermatologists areunderestimating the amount of UV exposure."

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