(Extremely Tongue-in-Cheek) Respite Open Thread: Encouraging Arson By Vermin Procyon-Lotor-Americans

I’m glad the little guys escaped safely, but if you’ve ever lost power due to a coon (or squirrel) taking down a transformer, you’ll get the joke…

Saturday Morning Open Thread: In Sympathy With Loons

Gary Bennett gently removed the 2-week-old loon from a box and cupped the chick in his gloved hands as the boat drifted Monday in the sparkling waters of Messalonskee Lake.

Then came the high-pitched cry from the baby, whom he had named Jordan. Just three days ago, Bennett, who runs Snow Pond Cruises on the 9.5-mile-long lake, had captured the chick after noticing a grape-sized tumor on its leg. An animal rehabilitation center in Freedom surgically removed the tumor and Jordan was returned with a clean bill of health.

Monday afternoon, the chick’s parents paddled near the boat and responded with a series of distinctive wails that loons are known for when searching for a mate or a baby. The eerily serene wails heralded an emotional reunion for both human and bird, as Jordan came back to the waters of the lake and back to its parents.

Bennett, 68, is a registered Maine guide and licensed commercial boat operator who has lived on the lake for 33 years and has been running Snow Pond Cruises since 2014…

The loon is known as one of Maine’s most beloved birds, with a population in steady rebound in recent years. Maine Audubon has estimated that there are some 3,200 adult loons and 400 loon chicks in the southern half of Maine, which is the part of the state covered by the annual count…

Full story and pictures at the link. Loons only hatch one or two chicks at a time, so it’s not surprising they’d be more open to reuniting with a ‘stolen’ chick than a passerine with half a dozen other offspring to protect.

Holiday Saturday Evening Open Thread

I love the way otter dude whips out his clam, like a man in a suit jacket pulling out his cigarette case. (Doesn’t offer to share his clams, you’ll notice.)

Also, the tweet text is a sneaky snarky feminist riff… as anyone who’s tried to find a dress that’ll let you carry your wallet & phone already knows.

Friday Morning Open Thread: The Cetacean ‘Spy’ Who Came In From the Cold

Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries official Jorgen Ree Wiig told The Washington Post that the beluga “was the first thing I saw outside of the window” of his patrolling ship in the morning. Speaking from the city of Hammerfest, he said the whale had moved only about 25 nautical miles within the last week and appeared to enjoy the proximity to humans, which he noted was “strange” for a beluga.

Contrary to the species’ normal behavior, the beluga had allowed residents to pet its nose over the last few days.

The whale was first spotted by Norwegian fishermen last week, when they noticed that the whale defied normal behavior by persistently harassing their boats. The fishermen subsequently spotted a strange harness wrapped around the whale’s body.

Wiig said an inscription on the harness they later recovered read “Equipment St. Petersburg.” He said he had handed the harness over to Norway’s special police security agency (PST).

No details over the status of this probe have been made public, and the PST did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday…

In this part of Europe, nobody would be surprised if the latest Norwegian discovery did indeed turn out to be the fallout of a military experiment gone wrong. Since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, there have been creepy reminders of the Kremlin’s massive military apparatus lurking on Europe’s eastern outskirts: mystery submarines; unidentified jets, including one that almost crashed with a passenger plane; and strange troop movements…

Per the Guardian, this beluga could well be a escapee, or a ‘washout’ dumped by its former captors:

During their research the Murmansk sea biology research institute concluded dolphins and seals were much more suited to the training and arctic climates than the beluga whales. The whales were deemed too sensitive to the cold and did not have the same “high professionalism” of seals, which had a far better memory for remembering oral commands.

But it was Vice’s Motherboard that reported a key detail:

From their patrol ship, Rind, the men tried enticing the whale with cod fillets. While seemingly comfortable around humans, even allowing them to touch it, the whale wasn’t getting close enough…

In a final effort, Hesten dove into the water and undid one of the straps. Using a tool “handcrafted to free entangled whales,” he pulled on one end of the harness while Wiig pulled on the other from a rope that he’d affixed to a different strap.

“Suddenly, it was loose! First we thought that the rope had been ripped apart but then we saw the most enjoyable thing in the water: the whale was loose from the harness,” Wiig said…

Not to mention the most Norwegian quote of the week:

(My late mother-in-law emigrated from Norway. After many years of uncertainty, I don’t pretend to understand Norwegian humor, but at least I can pick up when it’s happening.)

Late Night Open Thread: Good Riddance, #Tax Day