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Wed, 20 Sep 2017
The World for People who Think



Shark attacks fisherman at lagoon in Samoa

A young man from the village of Nofoali'i has survived a shark attack which has left villagers deeply disturbed.

The young man was fishing in the lagoon on Friday afternoon when he was attacked, villagers told the Sunday Samoan yesterday.

It was not possible to get a comment from the family of the man attacked.

But one of the villagers who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the incident has left villagers concerned, especially since many of them depend on fishing for their daily upkeep.


Humpback whale dies after stranding near Henties, Namibia

The female humpback whale stranded north of Henties Bay yesterday.
A female humpback whale was stranded about a kilometre north of Henties Bay on Sunday night.

Estimates of locals who approached the animal during low-tide are that it was about ten metres long and still alive when spotted early yesterday morning.

According to representatives of the Namibian Dolphin Project, the pressure of the whale's heavy soft body on its organs as it lay on the sand where it had beached, may have caused organ failure and by midday yesterday it was dead.

According to the project, which studies whales, dolphins and turtles along Namibia's coast, humpback whales migrate along the Namibian coastline between their feeding grounds in the Antarctic and breeding grounds off west Africa.


Humans lost ancient viral defense mechanism

© KU Leuven
Insects and plants have an important ancient defence mechanism that helps them to fight viruses. This is encoded in their DNA. Scientists have long assumed that vertebrates - including humans - also had this same mechanism. But researchers at KU Leuven have found that vertebrates lost this particular asset in the course of their evolution.

The possibilities encoded in our DNA are expressed via RNA. Conversely, RNA interference (RNAi) can also suppress the expression of a specific gene. Insects and plants use this RNAi mechanism to defend themselves against viruses, among other things. With a little help, insects and plants can even be made resistant to certain diseases through this RNAi mechanism. Examples include so-called genetically modified crops.

It seems only logical to assume, then, that humans can be protected against specific diseases in a similar way. However, past experiments to this effect have proven to be a challenge. Researchers from the Animal Physiology and Neurobiology unit at KU Leuven have now shown why this is the case.


Electric eels leap to deliver painful, taser-like shock

The electric eel has always been noted for its impressive ability to shock and subdue its prey. It's recently become clear that electric eels also use a clever trick to deliver an intense, Taser-like jolt to potential predators: they leap from the water to target threatening animals, humans included, above water. Now, a researcher reporting in Current Biology on September 14 has measured (and experienced) just how strong that jolt can be.

Those stunning leaps make for a more painful experience because they prevent the eels' electrical discharges from weakening as they dissipate through the water.

"We've known these animals give off a huge amount of electricity, and everybody thought that was really amazing," says Kenneth Catania of Vanderbilt University. "But they aren't just simple animals that go around shocking stuff. They've evolved to produce stronger and stronger electrical discharges, and in concert they've evolved these behaviors to more efficiently use them."


Disappearance of North Atlantic right whales from winter breeding grounds a mystery for scientists

© Center for Coastal Studies/NOAA
There are only about 500 North Atlantic right whales in existence
Scientists are at a loss to explain one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale — why the animals are disappearing from their usual breeding grounds off the southeastern United States.

Usually, right whales spend the winter in their breeding grounds off Florida and Georgia.

Before 2011, more than 200 right whales were spotted in the area each year. In 2017, there were just seven.

"How tough can it be to find 200 whales? Apparently pretty tough," said Jim Hain, senior scientist at Associated Scientists at Woods Hole, located near Falmouth, Mass.

It's just one of the many puzzles these leviathans present to researchers.


Humpback whale dies off Port Macquarie, New South Wales

© Matt Attard
Dead whale washes up on Nobbys Beach, Port Macquarie
A 12 metre, 18 tonne adult humpback whale rescued after being entangled in fishing rope off Shelly Beach on Sunday, September 17 has died.

The whale struggled throughout the night to return out to sea after being freed but died and washed close to shore at Nobbys Beach on Monday morning.

Marine Rescue Port Macquarie and an ORRCA Marine Mammal and Rescue crew with the assistance of National Parks and Wildlife and police closed off Nobbys Beach to co-ordinate a tow out to sea operation.

With an outgoing tide and increasingly dangerous surf conditions, the tow out to sea plan was abandoned.


Surfer bitten by shark in Ponce Inlet, Florida

A shark bit a man surfing in Volusia County on Saturday.

Volusia County Beach Safety officials said a shark bit a 28-year-old man Saturday afternoon.

The Melbourne man was surfing in 8-foot deep water near the jetty in Ponce Inlet when he was bitten on his left foot, officials said.

The man was taken to Halifax Hospital with several lacerations to the top and bottom of his foot.

Officials did not release the name of the man injured.


Attacked by 12 stray dogs for hours an 8-year-old boy succumbs to injuries in Maharashtra, India

Site of the incident
In a tragic incident, an eight-year-old boy died in Bhiwandi in Thane district of Maharashtra today after being mauled by stray dogs.

The incident took place near a dumping ground in Kamatghar locality. Source said that about 12 dogs attacked the boy for around two hours.

The deceased has been identified as Niraj Yadav, who is a resident of Kene village near Bhiwandi.

Following the incident, the boy was rushed to a private hospital from where he was referred to Thane civil hospital.

Niraj succumbed to his injuries on his way to the hospital


'Gigantic mob' of agitated bees hospitalize six people in Monterey Park, California

© Global Look Press
Six people were hospitalized after a swarm of bees attacked people on the outskirts of Los Angeles on Saturday, forcing authorities to cordon off the area.

Firefighters were called to the incident shortly before 5pm on Saturday following reports that people were being stung by bees in the parking lot of a grocery store in Monterey Park, a city in the suburbs of LA.

Local news outlet KTLA reports that the attack started after a wild beehive in the lot was disturbed.

The chief of the city's fire department, Mark Khial, told the news outlet that two women were "completely covered" by the insects.

Comment: See also: It's our home now! Swarm of honeybees take over car in Hull, UK and they don't want to leave


Swallow-tailed gull from the Galapagos Islands turns up 4,000 miles away at Richmond Beach, Seattle

© Morgan Edwards
Swallow-tailed gull
It has all the appearances of Hollywood paparazzi — clusters of people with cameras with long lenses mounted on tripods, others using binoculars, and some just waiting in anticipation.

All this has been happening on beaches from Seattle to Edmonds to Everett, not in search of a movie star, but a swallow-tailed gull, a bird nearly 4,000 miles from its home in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of South America.

News of local sightings quickly spread among the birding world, earning a "rare" designation on the American Birding Association blog.

"There have been people here from all over the country — California, the East Coast," said Winston Rockwell, of Everett. "People made flights out here just to see that bird."

It's only the third time the gull has been spotted in America. The others were in California's Monterey County in 1985 and Marin County in 1996.