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Faux Killer Whale Fails to Deter Sea Lions

ABC US News | World News

The basic principle behind a scarecrow seems like it should work just as well in water as it does on land—but residents in Astoria, Oregon have discovered it’s not as easy as you might think.

In an effort to shoo away hundreds of sea lions from crowding the local docks, the Port of Astoria borrowed a 32-foot fiberglass orca whale from a whale-watching business in Bellingham, Wash. The motorized, life-sized replica was equipped with recordings of real life killer whale calls and room enough for a human driver to control the action.

Last week, about 1000 people stood by to watch the voyage of the replica whale. Jim Knight, the executive director of the Port of Astoria, told the Associated Press that the sea lions went “deathly silent” when the vessel shoved off.

Then, the scheme went belly-up. When a cargo ship passed by, the wake caused the orca-boat to capsize. The operator was rescued—and the sea lions?

“They probably think it’s dead now,” Knight said. 

This was the second hiccup for “Fake Willy,” as it’s come to be known. The outboard motor flooded in its maiden voyage which docked the dummy until a replacement could be installed.

Recently, the Port of Astoria has attempted to combat the sea lion population, which has grown significantly in the last few decades. Beach balls, colorful tape, chicken wire and electrified mats have all been tested out.

The fake orca is now back in Bellingham, where it will be repaired and better equipped for rough waters. It will return in August, when the sea lion population is in full force during salmon-spawning season.

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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