Two Stranded Sailors and Their Dogs Were Rescued After Five Months in Shark-Filled Waters

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

What was supposed to be a boat trip to Tahiti for sailors Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava turned into an ordeal of nearly five months spent adrift in the Pacific. But the two survived to tell the tale. They were finally rescued by the United States Navy on Wednesday, October 25, along with their two dogs, Gizmodo reports.

Appel and Fuiava—who are both from Hawaii—left Honolulu for Tahiti on May 3, a journey of more than 2700 miles as the crow flies. Shortly after launch, rough weather caused their engine to fail, but the two women decided to continue the trip by sailing. At some point, the vessel lost a mast, and the two couldn't call for help, as their phone had fallen overboard. After around two months at sea, the sailors began sending out futile distress calls while subsisting on a year's supply of dry food stored on their boat.

Sharks attacked the weakened vessel at night. It was "very depressing, and it was very hopeless," Appel told media outlets after her rescue, according to Gizmodo.

Luckily, a Taiwanese fishing vessel eventually spotted their boat as it drifted about 900 miles southeast of Japan, and its sailors contacted the U.S. Coast Guard in Guam. Navy ship USS Ashland arrived the next morning, and crew brought Appel, Fuiava, and their furry friends on board.

Tasha Fuiaba, an American mariner who had been sailing for five months on a damaged sailboat, climbs the accommodation ladder to board the USS Ashland.
Tasha Fuiaba, an American mariner who had been sailing for five months on a damaged sailboat, climbs the accommodation ladder to board the USS Ashland.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

Sailors help Zeus, one of two dogs who were aided by the ship USS Ashland.
Sailors help Zeus, one of two dogs who were aided by the ship USS Ashland.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

Command Master Chief Gary Wise welcomes aboard Jennifer Appel.
Command Master Chief Gary Wise welcomes aboard Jennifer Appel.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

Appel and Fuiava received food and medical care, and will remain on board until the Ashland's next port of call.

"They saved our lives," Appel said in a statement. "The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the navy] on the horizon was pure relief."

Watch a video of their rescue below:

[h/t Gizmodo]

FYI: The FDA Has Ceased Its Food Inspections

istock.com/Olivier Le Moal
istock.com/Olivier Le Moal

It may be safe to eat romaine lettuce again, but The Hill is reporting that the FDA is suspending "most food inspections" amid the current partial government shutdown.

As the government shutdown rounds out its third week, the effects have begun to take a toll on both minor and major scales. Government workers are missing paychecks, affordable housing contracts are expiring, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not able to cover all of its usual duties. According to the official FDA website, around 55 percent of their $5.4 billion budget comes directly from federal funding, with the other 45 percent coming from industry user fees.

With fewer resources for protecting the nation's food supply, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has had to delegate most workers to investigate "high risk facilities," such as those that produce seafood or cheese.

In 2018, nearly a dozen different products were cited for salmonella contamination, including raw turkey, pre-cut melon, and even Honey Smacks cereal. The FDA also warned of a possible salmonella outbreak from eggs last May.

Though the FDA will continue to inspect foreign manufacturers and products, the agency generally conducts roughly 160 food inspections per week. They look for any possible contamination due to various unclean circumstances, and that is only the beginning of a much longer process if foods actually need to be recalled. The FDA also investigates cases sent to them by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); after an illness or outbreak has been reported, the FDA works to trace where the contaminant could have come from before recalling and pulling problematic products from the shelves. All of this takes a lot of work, as we recently reported.

[h/t The Hill]

America's Paper Towel Obsession, Explained

iStock.com/Eerik
iStock.com/Eerik

At this point, the Brawny man can probably afford something nicer than a flannel shirt. Americans spend roughly $5.7 billion annually on paper towels, using them to clean up everything from spilled coffee to baby dribble to windows. Roll after roll is unspooled from a paper towel holder, makes a detour into a mess, then winds up directly in the garbage.

Are we really so lazy that we can’t wring out and reuse a sponge, a cloth wipe, or washable napkins? Or has Big Towel brainwashed us into believing that paper towels are simply the most convenient method of keeping things clean?

The question was recently explored by The Atlantic's Joe Pinsker, who noticed that Americans make up nearly half of the world’s paper towel use. (Second-place France spends just $635 million per year on discarded towels, little more than a tenth of what the U.S. shells out.) Pinsker wondered if it was due in part to population, but even on a per capita basis, we still spend more on towels than any other country in the world. Countries with comparable economies don’t buy as much as we do.

It turns out that the reasoning behind our alleged paper towel obsession may reside in how we problem-solve. In using a disposable towel, a mess can be immediately addressed and discarded, leaving no trace or obligation to clean our cleaning supplies.

There may also be pragmatic reasons: Using one-time-use towels reduces the chances of cross-contamination. (Imagine a sponge covering a bacteria-covered surface, then being set aside for reuse later.) And in a public bathroom setting, paper towels may actually be more hygienic than hand dryers, which can spread bacteria.

If you have a paper towel addiction, one tip Pinsker passed along is to consider reusing them. (Provided, of course, the mess wasn’t made up of raw meat or fish.) Sturdier paper towels can sometimes stand up to multiple applications before they start to break apart. You can also try using fewer towels by folding one in half and taking advantage of what’s known as interstitial suspension to trap water between the layers.

[h/t The Atlantic]

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