Watch a Massive Whale Breach a Few Feet Away From a Man's Boat

RobertPlotz/iStock via Getty Images
RobertPlotz/iStock via Getty Images

Gloucester, Massachusetts—about a one-hour drive from Boston and two hours from Cape Cod—is a popular spot for whale watching. According to 7 Seas Whale Watch, which hosts boat tours from mid-April to mid-October, the waters off Gloucester are great places to see humpback, finback, and minke whales. As WCVB Channel 5 Boston reports, a Massachusetts man recently caught a spectacle on camera that even experienced whale-watchers would be impressed by.

The video below recorded by Doug Shatford shows a massive whale breaching from the sea surface just a few feet from his boat. Breaching occurs when a whale thrusts its body out of the water. They perform the behavior for several reasons, including to communicate with other members of their species and to stun prey. The whale in this scenario appears to grab a mouthful from a school of fish as it rises from the sea.

Gloucester is located between two major whale feeding centers called Stellwagen Bank and Jeffreys Ledge. Strong currents colliding with the steep sides of underwater cliffs results in something called upwelling, which happens when cool, nutrient-rich water from the seabed is sucked to the surface. When this water is exposed to sunlight, plankton blooms form that attract the same small sea animals large whale love to eat. That's why the waters outside Gloucester are considered one of the world's prime whale-watching locations.

The breach captured by Shatford is a rare sight, but it only displays a fraction of what whales are capable of. Despite weighing up to 40 tons, humpback whales can jump completely out of the water, as this video demonstrates.

[h/t WCVB Channel 5 Boston]

100 Dachshunds Competed in Cincinnati’s Annual ‘Running of the Wieners’

NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images
NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images

Every year, to kick off Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, 100 dachshunds compete in heats to decide who the fastest dachshund in the Midwest is. This year marks the 43rd annual Oktoberfest—one of the biggest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Germany (more than 500,000 people attend the three-day event).

On the afternoon of Thursday, September 19, 100 wiener dogs (and their owners and handlers) gathered in downtown Cincinnati for the 2019 "Running of the Wieners." The dogs, dressed in hot dog costumes, ran 10 heats, which lasted 75 feet or five seconds each. The winner of each heat advanced to the final round, where the top three finishers were decided.

Maple, a long-haired, one-year-old dachshund, ran his way into first place—and into our hearts.

Maple’s owner, Jake Sander, told WCPO that Maple is one of five dachshunds in the family, and that he learned to run fast by chasing his brother around. Leo and Bucky, two other doxies, placed second and third, respectively.

Besides the Running of the Wieners, Zinzinnati also hosts the World’s Largest Chicken Dance. However, the wiener dogs are more fun to watch.

Photographer Captures Polka-Dotted Zebra Foal in Kenya

Frank Liu
Frank Liu

Zebras are known for their eye-catching patterns, but this polka-dotted foal recently photographed in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve really stands out from the herd. As National Geographic reports, the zebra baby likely has pseudomelanism, a rare pigment condition that's been observed in the wild just a handful of times.

Nature photographer Frank Liu saw the zebra foal while looking for rhinos in the savannah wilderness preserve. After initially confusing the specimen for a different type of animal, he realized upon closer inspection that it was actually a plains zebra born with spots instead of stripes. The newborn foal was named Tira after the Maasai guide Antony Tira who first pointed him out.

Zebra foal with spots walking with mother.
Frank Liu

Zebra foal with spots.
Frank Liu

A typical zebra pattern is the result of pigment cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for the black base coat, and melanin, which gives the animal its white stripes. (So if you've ever wondered if zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes, the answer is the latter). In Tira and other zebras with pseudomelanism, the melanocytes are fully expressed, but a genetic mutation causes the melanin to appear as dots rather than unbroken stripes.


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Though rare, this isn't the only time a zebra with pseudomelanism has been documented in nature. Pseudomelanistic zebras have also been spotted in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, but Liu believes this could be the first time one was found in the Masai Mara preserve.

Zebra stripes aren't just for decoration. The distinct pattern may act as camouflage, bug repellant, and a built-in temperature regulation system. Without these evolutionary benefits, Tira has a lower chance of making it to adulthood: Pseudomelanistic zebra adults are rarely observed for this reason. But as Liu's photographs show, the foal has the protection and acceptance of his herd on his side.

[h/t National Geographic]

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