80-Person Human Chain Saves Swimmers From Florida Rip Current


On July 8, teamwork between 80 strangers on a beach saved the lives of almost a dozen swimmers in Panama City, Florida. When 10 people got caught in a rip current offshore, beachgoers formed a human chain to rescue them from drowning, according to The Washington Post and the Panama City News Herald.

Roberta Ursrey and her husband, mother, nephew, and sons were swimming at the beach on Saturday when her sons got caught up in a rip current and began screaming for help. The rest of the family swam out to help, only to get caught up in the current themselves. Others who attempted to rescue them got caught in the current, too. Ursrey told the News Herald that the water was about 15 feet deep.

There was no lifeguard on duty, but other swimmers back on the beach came up with a plan to help: People began forming a human chain out into the water. It started with just a few volunteers and finally grew to about 80 people in total, some of whom couldn’t swim themselves. Still, they ventured into the surf to help save the exhausted swimmers, who had been treading water for at least 20 minutes.

Jessica Simmons and her husband Derek used boogie boards to swim past the human chain and reach Ursrey's children, Noah and Stephen, and pass them back along the chain toward the beach. Roberta Ursrey blacked out before she eventually reached the shore with the help of Jessica. Roberta's mother, Barbara Franz, had a heart attack in the water.

An hour after the first individuals got caught up in the current, all 10 of the swimmers were taken back to shore. Several were taken to the hospital and were in stable condition as of July 11.

According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association, rip currents are the cause of more than 80 percent of the rescues lifeguards perform on beaches. In the U.S., approximately 100 people drown each year as a result. The fast-moving waters are difficult to navigate, even for the strongest swimmers, and many people who try to save others from rip currents drown in the process—making this rescue method a particularly impressive and effective choice.

[h/t The Washington Post]

You Can Buy an Extinct Volcano in Devon, England, for $60,000

People buy private islands, so why not buy a private volcano? Posbury Clump, a 250-million-year-old inactive volcano located in Devon, England, could be yours for the seemingly reasonable price of about $60,0000.

As Smithsonian reports, the volcano is 500 feet tall at its peak and surrounded by 4.9 acres of woodland (holly, oak, and ash trees), so you get sweeping views of the English countryside. The wooded outcrop and rolling hills make Posbury Clump look less like a volcano and more like a forest. Architects used the basalt stone from a former on-site quarry to build two of the area's most famous structures: Crediton Church and Medland Manor.

Because of its unique potassium-rich lava and other rare geological features, Posbury Clump has been designated a site of scientific interest, and as such has been formally marked for conservation.

Currently, only a few houses reside in the area, but Posbury—settled during the Iron Age, between about 800 BCE and AD 100—once housed convent Posbury St Francis, which was a part of the Posbury Clump estate. Those interested in possibly purchasing the volcano can contact agent Jackson-Stops. The cost is £50,000, or around $60,800, which is about what you'd pay to rent a studio apartment in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood for one year.

Just remember: If you do buy the volcano, you won't be the first person to purchase such a thing. According to Atlas Obscura, famed cartoonist-turned-oddities-collector Robert Ripley tried to purchase Parícutin (a baby volcano that suddenly sprung up from a cornfield in Mexico) in 1943, but was beaten to the punch by muralist Gerardo Murillo. Several individuals have privately owned New Zealand's active Whakaari volcano, and people privately own volcanoes in California and Oregon, too.

Reality Bites: A Humongous Tick That Chases Its Prey Has Been Found in the Netherlands

ironman100/iStock via Getty Images
ironman100/iStock via Getty Images

Humans have long been discouraged from tolerating the parasitic behavior of the tick. These pathogen-ridden arachnids latch onto their hosts for a blood buffet while transmitting a variety of diseases through their bites. Typically, ticks in infested areas wait for their hosts to stand or pass by and hope a bare leg presents itself.

But not all ticks are so passive. In the Netherlands, there have been reported sightings of Hyalomma marginatum, a kind of Andre the Giant of ticks that are twice the size of a more common species, Ixodes ricinus (sheep tick). Worse, they don’t sit idle. If they want to bite you, they’ll run after you.

The non-native species has been spotted twice in the past month. One was in Drenthe, a province in the northeastern part of the country, and the other was found in Achterhoek. They measure up to 0.2 inches but can grow to 0.7 inches when engorged with the blood of their hosts. The ticks are known to hide in brush. When they spot a potential meal, they run toward it. H. marginatum can detect a victim from up to 30 feet away and track it for 10 minutes before abandoning pursuit.

The species is typically found in northern Africa and Asia as well as parts of southern and eastern Europe. How did they get to the Netherlands? Researchers theorize they hitchhiked on migratory birds. And while their appearances have been scarce, they’re still a cause for concern. H. marginatum is known to harbor the virus that causes Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, which lists uncontrolled bleeding among its undesirable symptoms. The ticks, which were collected for analysis, tested negative for that disease but one was positive for the bacteria Rickettsia aeschlimannii, which causes spotted fever.

There have been no sightings of H. marginatum in the U.S., but native ticks remain a perpetual concern. If you’re outdoors, it’s always a good idea to monitor yourself for ticks and take steps to remove them safely.

[h/t LiveScience]