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Tue, 22 May 2018
The World for People who Think



9,191 people died of animal attacks across India in 2017-18 - the highest in 5 years

Charging elephant
© Getty
Charging elephant
Between April 2017 and March of this year, more than 9,100 people have been reported dead because of animal attacks, stings from reptiles and scorpions. This record is considered to be the highest in the last five years, as stated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a query to the Right to Information. This is just the reports telling the rates and there would be many more cases that couldn't have been possible to make it to the medical departments.

This brings to the average of 766 deaths every month for over 12 months. According to the latest received data, from April 2018, there have been more 143 animal bites and attacks that also resulted in deaths in India out of which 140 cases of them were found to be from the rural areas.


Remains of gray whale found near Bowerman Airport, Washington

female gray whale
© Jessie Huggins, Cascadia Research
The remains of a juvenile female gray whale were discovered near the western shore of Bowerman Airport on Monday. It's approximately 24-feet-long.

There was no indication of entanglement, said Jessie Huggins from Cascadia Research. She said it had probably been dead for a couple weeks, and that it was likely one or two years old.

You can view it from the furthest viewing point on the Sandpiper Trail with a good camera or binoculars.

Comment: A day earlier a dead humpback whale washed ashore at Ocean Shores about 10 miles further west of the above discovery.


Post mortem on pygmy sperm whale ashore in Melbourne, Australia

pygmy whale
A dead whale has been taken to a Melbourne zoo for a post mortem to find out how it washed ashore in the western suburbs.

The distressed 2.4-metre pygmy sperm whale was found by a commercial fisherman washed up around Kororoit Creek, Hobsons Bay, on Monday afternoon.

It was later euthanised after environment department and veterinary staff tried unsuccessfully for hours to save it by enticing it into deeper waters.

Department incident spokesperson Shane Vandenborn said the stressed whale was unable to swim unaided and would have drowned without intervention. Its body was taken to Werribee Zoo for an autopsy.

Source: Australian Associated Press


Dog bites affect over 2.7 million people in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh

canine attack
© Angela Antunes / CC by 2.0
Two years ago, a Rajya Sabha committee went to the extent of putting out newspaper advertisements, inviting suggestions from various stake holders to deal with the dog menace in MPs' areas in Delhi.

It is not known whether the move eased the situation or not for the MPs' there. But in Uttar Pradesh, which sends 31 members to the Upper House of Parliament, dog bites continue to be a big public health problem, affecting more than 27 lakh people every year, according to health department sources.

While the killing of more than a dozen children by feral dogs in Sitapur in back-to-back incidents has only brought the problem to the fore in its worst form, on an average, not less than 100 people are bitten by dogs in each district every day, as per a rough estimate.

The state's health department does not compile any data on statewide cases of dog bites, according to director, medical and health, Padamakar Singh.

Comment: See also: Sitapur dog attacks in India: Eight-year-old succumbs to injuries - local death toll increases to 14


Dead humpback whale found at Ocean Shores, Washington

A dead humpback whale washed ashore at Ocean Shores, Wash., on Sunday, May 20, 2018.
© Cascadia Research
A dead humpback whale washed ashore at Ocean Shores, Wash., on Sunday, May 20, 2018.
A dead humpback whale washed ashore Sunday morning at Ocean Shores.

John Calambokidis, senior research biologist with Cascadia Research Collective, said the whale, a young female, was entangled in crab gear, which may have caused its death.

The dead whale was seen floating off shore Friday and was reported to the Coast Guard. It was found washed ashore Sunday morning.

Calambokidis described the whale as 28 and a half feet long and estimated that it was 1 to 2 years old.

The whale will eventually be buried.


3 monk seals found dead off Oahu, Hawaii

Ua Malie previously seen resting with her pup on a beach.
© Nate Yuen/Facebook
Ua Malie previously seen resting with her pup on a beach.
NOAA officials are stressing the importance of reporting monk seal sightings following the discovery of three dead seals around Oahu this week.

The first dead monk seal was discovered Tuesday. NOAA officials say RK60 was found floating offshore in Kaneohe Bay.

The second discovery was made in Laie on Wednesday when a female pup was found dead. A day later, an adult female seal was found dead in Kahuku. That seal has been identified as Ua Malie, and is believed to be the dead pup's mother.

On all three seals, officials conducted examinations to determine the cause of death.

Black Cat

Mountain lion kills biker near North Bend, Washington

A cougar
© Dreamstime
A cougar
A mountain lion attacked two bikers, leaving one dead Saturday, according to King County Sheriff's officials.

See a photo of the mountain lion here (WARNING: Graphic).

Emergency crews responded to a report of a mountain lion attack in the foothills near North Bend around 11:20 a.m. Saturday, Eastside fire officials said.

Comment: Just to show the rarity of this kind of attack on people another report from The Seattle Times contains the following pertinent extract:
This was just the second fatal cougar attack in the state in the last 94 years, according to the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Interestingly, Wikipedia lists only 20 fatalities due to cougar attacks in North America between 1890 and 2011. Prior to 1990 most involved children while for the 3 most recent decades fatalities totaled 9 but with only one youngster killed

Are they becoming less wary and aggressive toward adults humans?.

See also these other reports from the last 5 years of non-fatal attacks on people: Jogger uses rock to battle cougar in attack on Vancouver Island, Canada

Cougar attacks pipeline worker near Grande Prairie, Canada

A third cougar attack within a month leaves six-year-old California boy injured

Teenager attacked by cougar in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Some wild animals are losing fear of humans: Biologist recovering after cougar assault in Grand Prairie, Alberta

Cougar attack in British Columbia leaves woman in critical condition

Man fights off cougar with skateboard; Parks Canada tracking animal

Hiker attack by mountain lion reported near Waynesboro, Virginia

Man sustains minor injuries after attack by mountain lion near Libby, Montana

Mountain lion sought after apparent attack on homeless man, Perris, California

Mother pulls mountain lion off her 5-year-old son near Aspen, Colorado


Are octopuses aliens?

maldive octopus

Maldive octopus
Octopuses are strange, smart creatures that certainly seem alien-what with the tentacles, camouflage, and shape-shifting skills. Still, the idea that they actually came from outer space would seem to fall strictly into the realm of sci-fi; an update of HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu, say.

But in these interesting times, real life reads like fiction. Recently, a group of 33 scientists worldwide - including molecular immunologist Edward Steele and astrobiologist Chandra Wickramasinghe - published a paper suggesting, in all seriousness, that octopuses may indeed be aliens.

The paper, published in the March issue of the the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, is controversial, obviously, and the vast majority of scientists would disagree. But the paper is still worthy of discussion-for one, as a thought exercise, because outlandish ideas are often initially rejected. And in provoking us with seemingly bizarre theories, it forces us to acknowledge that there are aspects of life on Earth for which classic evolutionary theory as yet has no explanation.

Comment: See also:


Sitapur dog attacks in India: Eight-year-old succumbs to injuries - local death toll increases to 14

canine attack
© Angela Antunes / CC by 2.0
After battling for life for over 24 hours, Sonam, 8, succumbed to her injuries inflicted by a pack of feral dogs in Khairampur village of Sitapur's Manpur area on Friday morning. With her death, the toll since November has risen to 14. Of these, eight were killed and six severely injured only this month.

"The girl died around 8 am on Friday morning at Sitapur district hospital," said Om Prakash, station officer (SO), Manpur police station. "She had suffered multiple injuries on throat and hands and according to doctors, throat injuries proved fatal. She remained unconscious throughout," said the SO.

The girl was attacked when she had gone to attend nature's call along with some other children near her village at around 6.30 am. "Group of villagers who were irrigating the field nearby rescued the girl after hearing her screams. However, by then the pack of dogs had already badly injured her," said the SO.


Dead juvenile whale found at Long Beach, New York

The carcass of a juvenile whale that officials said is possibly a humpback, lays in the Long Beach surf on Friday, May 18, 2018. Marine experts will conduct tests on the whale on Saturday, May 19, 2018.
© City of Long Beach Public Works
The carcass of a juvenile whale that officials said is possibly a humpback, lays in the Long Beach surf on Friday, May 18, 2018. Marine experts will conduct tests on the whale on Saturday, May 19, 2018.
A team of marine experts will analyze the carcass on Saturday. The animal's cause of death remains unclear and onlookers are urged to stay away.

The carcass of a juvenile whale that could be a humpback washed up in Long Beach, officials said on Friday, potentially a sign that the spike in whale deaths that began in 2016 continues.

People should stay at least 150 feet away from the whale, which washed ashore near Lafayette Boulevard, advised the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society in a statement.

The creature "still poses a safety threat in the surf and is a protected species," the Hampton Bays-based nonprofit said.