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

Watch Giant Isopods Eat An Alligator


This video is from one of my favorite science blogs, Deep Sea News. They have a lot of great photos of sea animals, including a few bit players in this one. They dropped an alligator in the Gulf of Mexico to see which animals showed up to eat it. The giant isopods are relatives of roly-polys, pillbugs, wood lice, whatever you care to call them.

Open Thread!



The 2nd Plague Comes Early This Year: Florida Toad!

ABC News has the details!

A Florida suburb is being plagued by thousands of poisonous toads.

Experts say the amphibians are bufo toads, also known as cane toads. Residents in the infested Palm Beach Gardens neighborhood worry toxins secreted by the toads will harm their pets and children.

News stations broadcast images of the small toads clogging pool filters, hopping en masse across driveways and sidewalks, and lurking in landscaped lawns.

Resident Jennifer Quasha told WPBF her family first noticed the toads Friday. She said hundreds of them were in her swimming pool.

Mark Holladay of the pest removal service Toad Busters told WPTV that recent rains coupled with warm temperatures sent the amphibians into a breeding cycle.

Holladay said even more toads are likely to spread throughout South Florida in the coming weeks.

NBC 6 South Florida has the video!

Open thread!

* I know I promised a post on the President’s executive order regarding the Golan Heights for tonight. I got behind working on something and will endeavor to get to it tomorrow.