Wild Life


Shark Lifts Boat in Raid on Fisherman's Catch

Sharks have been swimming the oceans unchallenged for thousands of years;
chances are, the species that roams corporate waters will prove just as hardy.

- Eric Gelman

There are no true friends in politics.
We are all sharks circling, and waiting, for traces of blood to appear in
the water.

- Alan Clark

Microsoft is like the great white shark -
a killing machine without soul or conscience that only knows its own hunger and appetites.

- Mitchell Kertzman

Adelaide - A big white pointer shark has attacked a fishing boat off the South Australian coast, lifting the small boat as it tried to steal the catch from two terrified fishermen.  The attack sparked a warning to the public yesterday to take care while swimming and boating in the Spencer Gulf.

The 4.5-metre shark struck as the two men fished for whiting yesterday three kilometres off Port Victoria, on the Yorke Peninsula.  Police said the shark tried to snatch a fish catch bag as the two fishermen pulled it in at the stern of their 3.5-metre fibreglass boat.  "The shark then nudged the side of the boat, flicking it with its tail," a police spokesman said.  "Again it returned, this time rising beneath the boat and balancing it."  One of the fishermen, Harry Ulbrich, said it was a lucky escape.  "I tell you what.  My mate was lucky.  He just grabbed the bag and the shark just missed him," he said.

The attack came after a 2.5-metre shark was spotted swimming around the Port Victoria town jetty on November 25, prompting the council to close the jetty. - AAP

Source: The Dominion Wednesday 13 December 2000

Shark trivia:  The white shark never gets sick.  It has mysterious antibodies that give it immunity to almost every known bacteria.  It is also one of the few animals known to be completely immune to cancer.

See also:

bulletDon't Get Rattled! - "...He pushed it behind the front wheel and out slithered a rattler more than four feet long.  The snake coiled up beside the passenger door, tongue flicking.  Jeff threw a rock at him.  The snake began to rattle its tail, looking from side to side..."
bulletScorpions Are a Major Cause of Death in Iran - some 60 different varieties of the deadly insect can be found in Iran...

It should be noted that, while sharks kill approximately 100 people per year, people kill upwards of 100 million sharks per year.  The most deaths from sharks occur in warm waters - off the coasts of Australia and Florida.  The practice of tourist divers "feeding" sharks, while popular, increases the association of humans with food in the minds (such as they are) of sharks.  In areas where sharks are fed, the sound of a boat motor is enough to bring sharks in a hurry.  If no food is then forthcoming, they seem to feel justified in taking what they can get.

The same thing is true about the black bears in New Jersey if tourists feed them.  See also:

bulletYou Are in Bear Country - "Bears learn very quickly.  Black bears that associate food with people may become aggressive and dangerous.  This may lead to personal injury, property damage and the need to euthanise problem animals..."

Colossal Squid a Formidable Customer

by Paula Oliver

It has eyes as big as dinner plates, swivelling, razor-sharp hooks and a taste for anything that swims by.  A colossal squid, a creature previously thought to lurk only deep in the world's coldest oceans, has been caught on the surface of the Ross Sea by a group of fishermen.  The exact point where the sea monster was found is being kept secret, but it appears that the fishermen were pulling in their catch when they noticed that something large was attacking the fish.  "They knew they were on to something pretty special," said Dr Steve O'Shea, a senior research fellow at Auckland University of Technology.  "I've seen 105 giant squid, but I've never seen anything like this before."

Word of the find travelled fast and yesterday Dr O'Shea was poring over the rare specimen at the Te Papa research lab in central Wellington.  Only six specimens of the so-called colossal squid have been found - five of them inside the stomachs of sperm whales.  Never before has such a large, intact specimen been pulled up.  "It's a true monster of the deep.  This thing leaves the giant squid for dead.  It would kill you if you fell in," said Dr O'Shea.

The specimen's mantle, or cylindrical body, measures 2.5m.  With its arms and tentacles stretched out its length is between 5m and 6m.  Colossal squid, or Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, is an extremely aggressive squid that chases large prey such as Patagonian toothfish.  It has razor-sharp hooks on the inside of its tentacles that can swivel, so when it catches something it twists and shreds it to pieces.  It also uses two large, sharp beaks to eat, and has fins to push it quickly through the ocean.

Steve O'Shea examines the squid's
razor-sharp hooks which shred its prey.

Sperm whales eat the species, but a whale washed up on the Mahia Peninsula recently showed evidence of gouges and cuts from a battle with a squid.  Scientists have known for some time that the species existed in the deep, cold ocean south of New Zealand, but they are surprised that this one was found on the surface.  Dr O'Shea said the formidable squid has the largest eyes in the animal kingdom.  The specimen is an immature female and although it is difficult to predict how large it could get, Dr O'Shea said he would expect it to reach 1½ times its present size.  "I'm not exaggerating.  This is a killer squid.  From a science point of view, this is absolutely priceless."

The specimen will be preserved whole and could eventually be put on display, possibly at Te Papa.  Dr O'Shea said the find showed that the colossal squid was lurking further north than previously thought.

Killer squid:

bulletThe colossal squid caught in the Ross Sea weighed 150kg and is only the second intact specimen found.
bulletIt is a carnivorous killer that aggressively chases its prey.
bulletIt is larger, quicker and more formidable than a giant squid.
bulletThe creature is known to eat large fish like the Patagonian toothfish, while it is itself eaten by sperm whales.
bulletIt uses long tentacles lined with razor-sharp hooks to capture its prey.
bulletThe species has the largest eyes of any animal.

Source: nzherald.co.nz 3 April 2003 large photo credit J L Rotman/Corbis; small photo credit Mark Mitchell

See also:

bullet Spirit Away - the article at the bottom of the page is about the most deadly creature on earth.  (And I'll bet you can't guess what it is...)

A Square Meal

Local farmers in Zentsuji, Japan prepare on Thursday to pack cubic watermelons they cultivated to better fit refrigerators.  The melons are grown in glass moulds.  They sell for US$82 each.

Source: USA Today Friday 15 June 2001

Unfortunately, the article didn't state what normal watermelons of the same approximate size sell for in Japan, so I don't know how much of a premium their shape commands.  Perhaps it might be cheaper to make round refrigerators?

Source: Funny Times November 2001 funnytimes.com

Eighty three dollars?  Inflation, maybe?

Farmers Working on Rectangular Peppers

The shape of things to come - square watermelons for easier storage
have now been developed in the United Arab Emirates (AP)

Rectangular peppers and courgettes could be on their way after a successful experiment to grow square watermelon and other vegetables for easy storage.  Cube-shaped tomatoes and cucumbers have also been produced in Abu Dhabi.  The experiment was carried out at a model farm and will now be extended to farms across the United Arab Emirates.

Ali bin Mohammed bin Rassas Al Mansouri, assistant under-secretary for forestry at the Court of the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, told the Khaleej Times: "The experiment has proved 100% successful.  Now, in addition to square melons, we also have cube-shaped tomato and cucumber.  People don't have to struggle any more to fit large round fruits like watermelon in their refrigerators or in boxes for export."

The experiment was first carried out in Japan where farmers in Zentsuji came up with the idea of making a cube-shaped watermelon which could easily be packed and stored.  They inserted the melons into square glass cases while the fruit was still growing on the vine.  The square boxes allow full-grown watermelons to fit on refrigerator shelves.

Mr Mansouri says the UAE's experiment was aimed at doing away with the packing and storing problem.  He said melons were grown in the glass boxes and the fruit then naturally assumed the same shape.  The square or cube-shaped fruits or vegetables occupy less space, especially while during export.

Fruits and vegetables such as pepper and courgettes will now be grown in rectangular and other shapes.

Source: ananova.com/news Tuesday 9 July 2002

Pyramid Power

Watermelons usually sit awkwardly and take up a lot of space in a refrigerator.
Also, the traditional oval watermelon was too difficult to stack.
The Japanese solved this by developing the square watermelon a few years back.
Now in a complete twist, comes the completely opposite problem, the pyramid shaped watermelon.
Good luck stacking these things!  Source: www.2loop.com

Unfortunately, odd shapes appear to have an adverse effect on sweetness.  Only 800 - 1,000 square watermelons are harvested per season, mainly sold as decorations.  Because the method of cultivation is difficult, only 5 - 10 pyramidal melons are produced yearly - but they sell for US$650 each.  Next up - "human-faced" melons...

Oh, and star and heart-shaped cucumbers...

Source: pingmag.jp 12 July 2007

Tart Hearts

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