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9 Things You Should Know About the People and Places That Make Our Clothes

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by Kelsey Timmerman, author of Where Am I Wearing?

In the past I didn't give much thought to where my clothes were made or who made them. But after riding a roller coaster with garment workers, bowling with them, meeting their families, and sharing bowls of rice prepared over gas stoves during power outages, I can't help but care. But let's back it up a bit.

On my global quest to answer the question "Where Am I Wearing?" I picked my favorite items out of my wardrobe and traced them back to where they were assembled. I went to Bangladesh to visit the factory where my underwear was made, Honduras for my favorite T-shirt (it's got a pic of Tattoo from Fantasy Island), Cambodia for my all-American blue jeans, and China for my flip-flops.


Over the next few days I'll be sharing some of my experiences. But first, let's get some basics out of the way"¦


1. 97% of our clothes are made abroad.

2. Eighty-five people have a hand in making a single pair of our blue jeans.

3. The garment industry accounts for 75% of Bangladesh's and Cambodia's exports.

4. Those frayed edges and holes in your pants that give them that cool worn look are the result of a twenty-something girl sitting all day at a powered grinding stone.

5. The average garment worker in Cambodia earns $50/month and supports seven people.

6. Garment workers don't like bowling. (More about that later this week.)

7. Over half of the world's footwear is made in China "“ eight billion pairs.

8. One-third of American consumers are willing to pay more for clothes produced under good working conditions.

9. You only get one honeymoon. Don't take your new bride to a garment factory on yours. Trust me.

Learn more about Kelsey at whereamiwearing.com. You can pick up his fascinating new book from Amazon.com. A PDF of the first chapter is available here.

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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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