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Seal Poop Keeps Shutting Down a Cape Cod Beach

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Beachgoers in picturesque Wellfleet—a Massachusetts beach town nestled on Cape Cod—have been disappointed several times this month by the errant bowels of marine mammals. The beach failed multiple water sample tests, which revealed high levels of the bacteria coliform, an indicator of unsanitary conditions. The culprit, according to CapeCod.com (spotted by the killer poop-dar of an Atlas Obscura reporter), is probably seals, who apparently can’t stop pooping everywhere.

Coliform bacteria, including fecal coliform, isn't dangerous on its own, but indicates the likely presence of disease-related organisms. All area swimming beaches are tested weekly, and only Wellfleet failed this recent round of sampling. It’s the first time it’s closed in years, according to the Cape Cod Times.

While scientists can’t trace the fecal coliform back to a specific species—land mammals are just as likely to be responsible as sea mammals, since their poop can wash into the water after storms—they think that in this case, those cute seals are the poo-prit.

“We do have seaweed that floats in and out and traps seal feces so it could be a function of seaweed plus seals,” Suzanne Grout Thomas, the beach’s administrator, told CapeCod.com.

“When it came down, it was fast and furious,” she told the Cape Cod Times of the recent rains, but the description could just as easily be about the animal poop that no doubt rushed down to the water in the process.

The beach passed its third test and opened back up on Tuesday (August 30), so it's safe to go back in the water—at least for now.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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Animals
If You Want Your Cat to Poop Out More Hairballs, Try Feeding It Beets
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Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get your cat to poop out its hairballs instead of hacking them up? If so, you’re likely a seasoned cat owner whose tolerance for gross stuff has reached the point of no return. Luckily, there may be an easy way to get your cat to dispose of hairballs in the litter box instead of on your carpet, according to one study.

The paper, published in the Journal of Physiology and Animal Nutrition, followed the diets of 18 mixed-breed short-haired cats over a month. Some cats were fed straight kibble, while others were given helpings of beet pulp along with their regular meals. The researchers suspected that beets, a good source of fiber, would help move any ingested hair through the cats’ digestive systems, thus preventing it from coming back up the way it went in. Following the experiment, they found that the cats with the beet diet did indeed poop more.

The scientists didn’t measure how many hairballs the cats were coughing up during this period, so it's possible that pooping out more of them didn’t stop cats from puking them up at the same rate. But considering hairballs are a matter of digestive health, more regular bowel movements likely reduced the chance that cats would barf them up. The cat body is equipped to process large amounts of hair: According to experts, healthy cats should only be hacking hairballs once or twice a year.

If you find them around your home more frequently than that, it's a good idea to up your cat's fiber intake. Raw beet pulp is just one way to introduce fiber into your pet's diet; certain supplements for cats work just as well and actually contain beet pulp as a fiber source. Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York, recommends psyllium powder to her patients. Another option for dealing with hairballs is the vegetable-oil based digestive lubricant Laxatone: According to Dr. Liff, this can "help to move hairballs in the correct direction."

[h/t Discover]

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