Boy Escapes Orca

by Jordan Niednagel
S: (8-19-05)

It's this columnist's favorite animal, and one that would asbolutely terrify anyone swimming in the water. Such fear, however, is unfounded, as not one fatality has yet been recorded as a result of an attack. I am talking about the killer whale, Shamu herself, and in a recent occurence this mammal of sleek beauty proved yet again that man, if in her path, has nothing to fear.

"I looked underwater and there was this huge head right in front of me," said 12-year-old Ellis Miller, speaking of his encounter with an orca in Helm Bay near Ketchikan, Alaska. The animal, estimated to be over 25 feet long, actually bumped him, but did not bite him.

"If it had wanted to take him, it would have," said Gary Freitag, volunteer coordinator with the National Marine Fisheries Service's Marine Mammal Stranded Network. As stated before, t here has never been a documented fatal killer whale attack on a human. The only relatively well-documented bite was one suffered by a surfer in California in the early 1970s, which he survived.

This Month...

Champ Spotted
Yet Again
The mystery of Lake Champlain has yet again resurfaced and has even been filmed by ...

Scientists Gamble Global Warmning
They're placing their bets, and either side doesn't intend to lose. The wager ... whether ...
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In John Ford's opinion, researcher of killer whales with the Canadian Department of Fisheries in British Columbia, "I suspect that the whale that approached thought he was a harbor seal splashing."

"He's about the first person I know of that's actually been approached and touched," said Craig Matkin, a Homer-based marine biologist and co-director of the North Gulf Oceanic Society.

Indeed, anyone who has watched nature programs can recall images of killer whales nearly beaching themselves to attack seals and sealions. This specimen was probably about do to the same thing; that is, until it realized it wasn't dealing with any sealion.

Ellis was only in about four feet of water when the encounter took place, where his sister, Arntzen, said she was stunned to see a dorsal fin more than 6 feet tall break the water's surface just a few yards behind Ellis.

On a distant boat, Ellis' father, Kevin, could see the massive shape heading towards his son. "Seeing (Ellis) swimming over there and seeing this pressure wave and this fin, this huge fin come up right behind him, it was just amazing."

"I turned around, HUH! And it's there," said Ellis.

The whale bumped him on the left side of his chest and shoulder, and then arched around him, swimming away, where another six killer whales could be seen near the shore.

Needless to say, Ellis will never forget the encounter.

Champ Spotted Yet Again

by Jonathan Drake
S: Burlington Free Press (8-18-05)

The mystery of Lake Champlain has yet again resurfaced, and has even been filmed by two fisherman who were caught totally by surprise.

It was July 11th, the water was like glass, and they were fishing for salmon just west of the mouth of the Ausable River on the New York side of the lake
when they noticed something on the surface a healthy distance away. What they first thought could be a floating tree or a possible fish suddenly moved, leaving behind a sizeable wake. They saw it again later, this time capturing video and photographs.

The two men, Dick Affolter and Pete Bodette, do not claim they saw the legendary Champ, but they do claim they saw something.

"We saw something on that lake we've never seen before," according to Bodette. "Is what we saw the same thing other people saw, and they called Champ? I don't know."

"I said to Dick, 'Just troll over to that thing.' As a joke I said, 'Watch that thing take off when we get close to it.' Sure enough, we got to about 20 or 30 yards and it just slowly submerged."

"That's a humongous fish. Humongous," he remembers telling Affolter. They both estimated the creature to have been about 15 feet long. Their recordings clearly show what appears to be something of significant size, with one frame revealing what looks like the head of an alligator breaking the surface.

Overall, the evidence is inconclusive, and Champ continues to elude human detection. As TA has espoused for years, however, the existence of Champ in Lake Champlain is as highly probable as any significant cryptid out there (hidden animals), with high pitches having been recorded last year in the depths of the lake.

Until conclusive evidence is found, however, skeptics will remain.

Scientists Gamble Global Warming

by Josef Long
S: Guardian (8-19-05)

They're placing their bets, and either side doesn't intend to lose. The wager ... whether planet earth will heat up or cool down over the next decade. Russian solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev have agreed to the $10,000 wager with British climate expert, James Annan

According to Mashnich and Bashkirtsev, global warming is overstated, and they believe that global temperatures are directed more by changes in the sun's activity than by the emission of greenhouse gases. The earth warms and cools in response to alterations in the number and size of sunspots, they say.

Most scientists discredit the theory, but the Russian duo is confident they will win.

Annan, on the other hand, is himself looking forward to the paycheck. "There isn't much money in climate science and I'm still looking for that gold watch at retirement. A pay-off would be a nice top-up to my pension."

To determine the champion, they will compare the average global surface temperature recorded by the United States climate center between 1998 and 2003 with temperatures yet to be recorded between 2012 and 2017. If it drops, the Russians win, if it lifts, the Brit will win.

Unfortunately, we'll have to wait nearly 12 years to see who's right.


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Quote of the Month
"Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin's argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study. "

Stephen Jay Gould
Professor of Geology and Paleontology, Harvard University. 'Evolution's erratic pace.' Natural History, vol. LXXXVI(5), May, 1977, p. 14.

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