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Japan Says to Try again with 'Scientific' Whaling Programme

Japan's top whaling negotiator said Tuesday Tokyo would try again to justify its "scientific" Antarctic Ocean hunt after a panel of experts said the government had not proved why it needed to kill the mammals.

Joji Morishita, Japan's commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), said he and his fellow officials would do their best to meet demands for evidence their hunt is scientific, with the Japanese government determined to restart what it claims is research.

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Philippines Says Chinese Reclamation Damaged Reefs

China has wrought widespread environmental damage in the South China Sea with its construction of artificial islands on disputed reefs, the Philippines said Monday.

The construction works have destroyed 300 acres of coral reefs, resulting in an estimated $100 million in annual economic losses to coastal states, Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said.

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Japan's Nuclear Industry Pledges to Refire Reactors

Japan's pro-nuclear lobby pledged Monday that 2015 would be the year reactors are restarted, despite public wariness that has lingered since the Fukushima disaster.

Industry officials and supporters said the country desperately needs atomic power to play its part in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and ensure a stable electricity supply.

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Maltese Hunters Celebrate Spring Bird Vote Victory

Thousands of Maltese hunters took to the streets in celebration Sunday after narrowly winning a referendum on the controversial tradition of spring hunting, in which migrating birds are killed before they can breed.

"I am very, very happy," said a jubilant Diana Abdilla, who was in central Qormi with her father, brothers and boyfriend -- all of them hunters.

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SpaceX to Send Cargo Ship on Sixth Supply Mission

SpaceX is sending its unmanned Dragon cargo ship on its sixth official supply mission to the International Space Station on Monday, should the weather behave itself.

The U.S. space transport company will also seek to recycle the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket by landing it on an ocean platform soon after launch, set to take place from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 4:33 pm (2033 GMT).

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Malta Votes on Controversial Spring Bird Hunt

Malta voted Saturday in a referendum that could end the controversial tradition of spring hunting in which birds migrating across the Mediterranean are killed before they can breed.

The issue has stirred passions for years in the island nation, with supporters defending it as a longstanding custom and opponents attacking what they see as a cruel practice that often flouts the law.

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Mass Beaching Fuels 'Unscientific' Japan Quake Fears

The mass beaching of more than 150 melon-headed whales on Japan's shores has fueled fears of a repeat of a seemingly unrelated event in the country -- the devastating 2011 undersea earthquake that killed around 19,000 people.

Despite a lack of scientific evidence linking the two events, a flurry of online commentators have pointed to the appearance of around 50 melon-headed whales -- a species that is a member of the dolphin family -- on Japan's beaches six days prior to the monster quake, which unleashed a towering tsunami and triggered a nuclear disaster.

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Florida Takes Aim at Cat-Eating African Lizards

A cat-eating lizard native to Africa is being targeted by Florida state wildlife officials who say the creatures, known as Nile monitors, could be dangerous to pets and people.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday it is "increasing efforts to locate and remove them," particularly along canals in Palm Beach County, north of Miami.

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Study: Inbreeding Helps Gorillas Survive

Inbreeding is generally considered dangerous, but for endangered mountain gorillas in central Africa the practice has helped them survive by reducing harmful genetic mutations, researchers said Thursday.

Habitat destruction and hunting have seriously cut down on the population of gorillas in the mountains of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. By 1981 there were just 253 left.

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Ocean Acidification Blamed for Earth's Biggest Die-off

Ocean acidification was a key driver of the greatest mass extinction on Earth some 250 million years ago, scientists said Thursday.

The changes to the Earth's waters were caused by a rash of volcanic activity, wiping out more than 90 percent of life in the oceans and two-thirds of land animals, said the authors of the study in the journal Science.

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