Hundreds of rescued sea turtles released back into Gulf of Mexico

Hypothermic sea turtles that were on the brink of death last week along the Texas Gulf Coast are recovering and being released back into the wild.

More than 2,000 “cold stunned” turtles were rescued out of frigid gulf waters from New Years Day through Friday, in what is now the largest cold stunning event since 1980.

“I haven’t had much sleep,” said Donna Shaver, Texas Coordinator of the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network.


Shaver organized the enormous rescue effort that spanned almost the entirety of the Texas Gulf Coast. The National Parks Service led the rescues with help from Sea World San Antonio, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, ARK and the Texas Sea Life Center.

The effort was especially difficult Thursday and Friday because many turtles had been exposed to 40-degree water for almost a week.

“I put on Facebook a post asking for help from my volunteers, I was desperate,” said Shaver.


The turtles recovered at three local animal rehablitiation facilities -the Texas State Aquarium, Texas Sea Life Center, and ARK.

Nearly 400 turtles were released back home Sunday afternoon. The event brought 2,500 people to Padre Island National Seashore to watch, much like the popular sea turtle hatchling releases. Hundreds more turtles will be released Monday and Tuesday.

“It’s just release after release,” said Shaver.


Conditions should be much more favorable for the sea turtles this week. After air temperatures dropped below freezing and wind chills hit the teens last week, Corpus Christi’s forecasted high was above 70 for Monday. Warm air will quickly increase shallow water temperatures where many of the turtles live.

While most of the turtles will go back into the wild, approximately 500 were found dead, or died soon after being rescued. The breadth of the cold made it very difficult to get the turtles out of the water, and some were stuck for many hours if not days.

“It’s really hard to get to them all before some perish because our events are state wide,” said Shaver. “Other areas of the country are also having cold stunning but that’s in pockets.”

The remaining turtles that survived but aren’t ready to be released will likely have a slow recovery. According to Shaver, some of them will have to be put down.

“The likelihood of them surviving and being able to survive in the wild is minimal,” said Shaver.

Ray Bogan is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in El Paso, Texas. Follow him on twitter: @RayBogan

Incredible Blackbeard discovery: Stunning find on buccaneer’s ship reveals pirate reading habits

What books did pirates read? Experts have made a remarkable discovery about their reading habits after deciphering paper fragments recovered from the wreck of Blackbeard’s ship.

The find offers a fascinating glimpse into life on board the famous 18th-century pirate’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which ran aground off North Carolina in 1718.

The 16 tiny paper fragments were found in “a mass of wet sludge” that was removed from the chamber of a breech-loading cannon found on the wreck, according to the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The largest of the fragments was only the size of a quarter, officials explained in a statement.


Archaeologists have removed a host of artifacts from the wreck since its discovery at Beaufort Inlet in 1996, including jewelry, tools, and a number of cannons. A spokeswoman for NCDNCR told Fox News that 24 out of 30 cannons known to be at the site have been recovered. However, no breech-loading cannon has been found, despite the discovery of the chamber containing the paper fragments.

File photo - A one-ton cannon which was recovered from the Queen Anne's Revenge shipwreck site, is pulled from the water near Beaufort, North Carolina, Oct. 26, 2011.

File photo – A one-ton cannon which was recovered from the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck site, is pulled from the water with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries research vessel RV Shell Point looking on, near Beaufort, North Carolina, October 26, 2011.  (REUTERS/Karen Browning/N.C. Department of Cultural Resources)

LiveScience reports that the paper fragments found in the cannon were used as “wadding” that would have sealed gas behind a projectile.

Conservators from the NCDNCR’s Queen Anne’s Revenge Lab worked with specialist paper conservators and scientists from the department’s Division of Archives and Records, as well as the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, to conserve the fragile paper fragments. “As the work progressed another discovery was made — that there was still legible printed text on some of the fragments, although only a few words were visible,” explained NCDNCR, in its statement. “The challenge then became not just to conserve the paper fragments, but also to identify where they were from.”


Months of research revealed that the fragments were from a 1712 first edition of the book “A Voyage to the South Sea, and Round the World, Perform’d in the Years 1708, 1709, 1710 and 1711,” by Captain Edward Cooke.


Paper fragments recovered from the wreck (North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources).

The book is a “voyage narrative,” a genre popular in late 17th and early 18th century literature. Cooke’s work describes his adventures on an expedition made by two ships, Duke and Dutchess, which sailed from Bristol, England, in 1708. The expedition’s leader, Captain Woodes Rogers, also published an account of the journey.

Both Cooke and Rogers describe the rescue of Alexander Selkirk from an island where he had been marooned for four years, which inspired Daniel Defoe’s famous 1719 novel “Robinson Crusoe.”


“Although books like these voyage narratives would have been relatively common on ships of the early 18th century, archaeological evidence for them is exceedingly rare, and this find represents a glimpse into the reading habits of a pirate crew,” explained NCDNCR in its statement. “The historical record has several references to books aboard vessels in Blackbeard’s fleet, but provides no specific titles; this find is the first archaeological evidence for their presence on QAR [Queen Anne’s Revenge].”

An image of Blackbeard first published in the 1700s.

 (N.C. Department of Cultural Resources)

The vessel was a French slave ship when it was captured by Blackbeard in 1717 and renamed Queen Anne’s Revenge. The pirate, whose real name was Edward Teach, was killed by Royal Navy forces in November 1718, five months after the Queen Anne’s Revenge sank.

Experts are still working to conserve, record and document the paper fragments. A display about the discovery is planned as part of NCDNCR’s Blackbeard 300th anniversary events this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Egypt reopens ancient library in Sinai after renovations

Egypt reopened on Saturday an ancient library that’s filled with a treasure trove of centuries-old religious and historical manuscripts at St. Catherine Monastery in South Sinai.

The ceremony at the UNESCO World Heritage site, attended by Egyptian and Western officials, comes after three years of restoration on the east side of the library that houses the world’s second-largest collection of early codices and manuscripts outside of the Vatican, Monk Damyanos, the monastery’s archibishop, told the Associated Press.

“The library is now open to the public and scholars,” Tony Kazamias, an adviser to the archbishop, said, adding that restoration work is still underway.

The Associated Press reports that the ancient library holds around 3,300 manuscripts of mainly Christian texts in Greek, Arabic, Syriac, Georgian and Slavonic among other languages. It also contains thousands of books and scrolls dating to the 4th century.

During the library’s renovation, archaeologists apparently found some of Hippocrates’ centuries-old medical recipes. The ancient Greek physician is widely regarded as the “father of Western medicine.”


This Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 photo shows a view of Saint Catherine monastery in South Sinai, Egypt,  where there was a  ceremony for the opening of the ancient library.  The inauguration ceremony, attended by Egyptian and western officials, comes after three years of restoration work on the eastern side of the library that houses the world’s second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts, outnumbered only by the Vatican Library, according to Monk Damyanos, the monastery’s archbishop.  (AP Photo/Samy Magdy)

This Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 photo shows a view of Saint Catherine monastery in South Sinai, Egypt, where there was a ceremony for the opening of the ancient library.  (AP)

“The most valuable manuscript in the library is the Codex Sinaiticus, (which) dates back to the 4th century,” the Rev. Justin, an American monk working as the monastery’s librarian, told the AP. “This is the most precious manuscript in the world,” referring to the ancient, handwritten copy of the New Testament.

The library also held some ancient paintings which are currently on display in the monastery’s museum.

“There are beautiful paintings in the manuscripts. When you turn the (pages) there is a flash of gold and colors. It is a living work of art,” said Justin.

The officials also inaugurated the Mosaic of the Transfiguration situated in the eastern apse of the monastery’s great basilica. Its mosaic covers 46 square meters and features a rich chromatic range of glass paste, glass, stone, gold and silver tesserae. Jesus Christ is depicted in its center between the prophets Elias and Moses. The 6th century mosaic was created at the behest of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who also requested building the monastery.

Officials walk around the main hall of the newly opened Saint Cathrine Ancient Library in South Sinai, Egypt on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. The inauguration ceremony, attended by Egyptian and western officials, comes after three years of restoration work on the eastern side of the library that houses the world’s second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts, outnumbered only by the Vatican Library, according to Monk Damyanos, the monastery’s archbishop.  (AP Photo/Samy Magdy)

Officials walk around the main hall of the newly opened Saint Cathrine Ancient Library in South Sinai, Egypt on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017.  (AP)

St. Catherine’s, where the monastery is located, is an area revered by followers of the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Like the Old City of Jerusalem, it has become a popular destination and an attraction not only for pilgrims, but also tourists from the world over.

The 6th century monastery, one of the oldest in the Christian Orthodox religion, is home to a small number of monks who observe prayers and daily rituals unchanged for centuries. Its well-preserved walls and buildings are of great significance to the studies Byzantine architecture. It’s situated at the foot of Mount Sinai, also known as Jebel Musa or Mount Horeb, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Shark attacks newlywed on her honeymoon, video goes viral

A couple on their honeymoon experienced sheer terror when the bride was attacked by a nurse shark that took a bite out of her arm.

A video shot by the husband shows the woman happily swimming in the Caribbean water when a shark suddenly appears in front of her and bites her.

Frantically, she swims away recoiling in pain.

“I felt a whoosh of water, something clamped down on my arm and I assumed my husband was playing a prank on me,” said Sarah Illig in comments obtained by The Sun.


“Less than a second later I realized how much it hurt and looked past where my goggles were blocking my side vision to see the shark (bigger than myself) latched on to my arm,” she added. “I pulled away and got out of there.”

The video was shot by her husband, Evan Carroll, and has been viewed more than 750,000 times on YouTube.

Nurse sharks are generally thought to be less harmful to humans than other species such as great whites, but a study in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery shows nurse sharks rank fourth in documented bites.

‘Monster’ planet discovery stuns scientists

Astronomers have discovered a planet the size of Jupiter orbiting a star that’s only half the size of the sun — a celestial phenomenon that contradicts theories of planet formation.

NGTS-1b, a massive, 986-degrees-hot ball of gas revolving around a red M-dwarf star 600 light years from Earth, is the largest planet compared to the size of its star ever found.

The discovery contradicts theories that a star so small could form a planet so large. Scientists previously theorized that small stars could form rocky planets, but they did not gather enough material to form planets the size of Jupiter.


As red M-dwarf stars are the most common type in the universe, scientists now believe there may be many more planets like this.


Artist’s impression of planet NGTS-1b with its neighbouring sun (credit University of Warwick/Mark Garlick)

NGTS-1b was spotted by an international collaboration of researchers using the Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) facility in Chile, according to a report from the University of Warwick.

It is about 2.8 million miles away from its star — only 3 percent of the 93-million-mile distance between Earth and the sun. A year on NGTS-1b — the time it takes to revolve around its star — occurs every 2.6 Earth days.


“The discovery of NGTS-1b was a complete surprise to us. Such massive planets were not thought to exist around such small stars,” said the lead author of the research, Dr. Daniel Bayliss of the University of Warwick’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Group. “This is the first exoplanet we have found with our new NGTS facility, and we are already challenging the received wisdom of how planets form.”

“NGTS-1b was difficult to find, despite being a monster of a planet, because its parent star is small and faint,” said Warwick Professor Peter Wheatley. “Small stars are actually the most common in the universe, so it is possible that there are many of these giant planets waiting to found.

“Having worked for almost a decade to develop the NGTS telescope array, it is thrilling to see it picking out new and unexpected types of planets. I’m looking forward to seeing what other kinds of exciting new planets we can turn up.”


The astronomers’ report, ‘NGTS-1b: a hot Jupiter transiting an M-dwarf’, will be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The massive asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was even more devastating than anyone imagined

The massive asteroid that is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs was one of the most significant events in Earth’s history, and without it there’s a really good chance humans might never have existed at all. With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine how the space rock’s impact could have been even more devastating than scientists have assumed, but new research suggests exactly that, and paints an even more dire picture of what life was like on Earth in the years that followed.

Results of the study, which focused largely on the impact of the asteroid itself and the amount of various gasses that were ejected during the event, was published in Geophysical Research Letters.

To get an idea of just how dramatic the climate shift would have been in the days, months, and years following the impact, scientists have relied on computer models of the collision. The data comes from knowledge of the impact site, which is now the Chicxulub crater located near the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in present day Mexico.

Previous computer models of the asteroid strike were not as refined as the new version, which takes into account the speed of the gasses that were released. The velocity at which the various material was sent skyward has a huge impact on whether or not it was able to enter the atmosphere and affect the climate on a longer scale. The antiquated models simply assumed all gas that was ejected made it into the atmosphere, which doesn’t appear to have been the case.

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According to this newest round of data, the impact would have released significantly more sulfur gas than previously though, by a factor of three, which would have had a devastating effect on Earth’s temperatures. Previous estimates suggested the planet’s temperature plummeted by as much as 47 degrees Fahrenheit, which would have spelled doom for many, many species, but this new study hints that it might have been even colder than that.

It’s terrifying to consider what would happen to humanity if such an event were to take place today, and we’ve been incredibly fortunate to not have a repeat thus far, but we can never be certain what the future holds.

New discovery hints at still further treasures hidden at famous shipwreck

The ship bound for Rome sunk in 1BC and was first discovered off the coast of Greece in 1900. And yet the Antikythera shipwreck is still providing new discoveries.

The Guardian reports an expedition to the site last month turned up a silver tankard, a human bone, and much more. Perhaps most exciting: the arm of a bronze statue and evidence that the remains of at least seven bronze statues are still buried there.

Previous bronze statues found at the Antikythera shipwreck were dated to the 4th century BC. Bronze statues from that time period are extremely rare, with only about 50 known in the world, according to Gizmodo.

National Geographic reports that based on the positioning of the fingers, the newly discovered arm may belong to a statue modeled on a philosopher. Recovering the rest of the statue—and the others at the site—won’t be easy.

The Antikythera shipwreck is 180 feet underwater on a slope and has been buried by boulders from a succession of earthquakes starting in the 4th century AD.

It will take a lot of time and money to move the boulders, recover the statues, and reconstruct them. Also discovered in last month’s expedition was a mysterious bronze disc that the dive team originally thought could be a missing component of the famous Antikythera Mechanism.

The mechanism, often called an “ancient computer,” could predict eclipses and the movements of various heavenly bodies and was discovered at the site. However, X-rays of the disc show it’s engraved with a bull and was likely a piece of decoration for a statue or the ship itself.

The next expedition to the Antikythera shipwreck is scheduled for spring 2018. (An odd item was found at the site in 2016.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Famous Shipwreck May Still Hold Priceless Treasures

Mars once had a lake 10 times larger than the Great Lakes

Scientists have known for some time that Mars once had lots and lots of water — in fact, some of it is still there — but exactly where it existed on the planet has been pretty difficult to figure out thanks to billions of years of surface erosion. Now, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has discovered one place on the red planet that held a whole bunch of the life-giving liquid: an incredibly massive lake that, during its peak, held ten times the amount of water of all the Great Lakes, combined.

It’s an incredible discovery, and one that could help inform future exploration of Mars in the hopes of finding evidence that life once existed there. The idea that Mars was one a life-giving planet much like our own is one that has tantalized scientists for a long, long time, and if they ever hope to prove it, they now have a promising lead on where to start looking.

But even if Mars never hosted living organisms, its colossal lake could still help inform researchers painting the picture of life’s origins here on Earth. “Even if we never find evidence that there’s been life on Mars, this site can tell us about the type of environment where life may have begun on Earth,” Paul Niles of NASA’s Johnson Space Center explains. “Volcanic activity combined with standing water provided conditions that were likely similar to conditions that existed on Earth at about the same time — when early life was evolving here.”

The lake was discovered thanks to the detection of huge mineral deposits hiding underneath the surface. It is believed that those minerals were the byproduct of volcanic underwater vents, much like those that exist deep in Earth’s oceans. On our planet, those hydrothermal vents actually host life, but it’s unclear whether the same was true for ancient Mars.

At the moment, the idea of a massive Martian lake with hydrothermal features is incredibly exciting, but we’re still a long way from actually finding anything suggesting the existence of life there. There are no current plans to actually investigate the site, dig, or study the area beyond what is already being done, but that could change.

Cancer in elephant is being treated with unprecedented approach

An Asian elephant in the El Paso Zoo in Texas has undergone two successful rounds of electrochemotherapy.

The elephant, 50-year-old Juno, underwent her second successful treatment Friday. She was diagnosed with a malignant mass in her right mammary gland in January; she underwent her first electrochemotherapy treatment in March.

“The El Paso Zoo is on the cutting edge in terms of the cancer treatment they are providing Juno,” Dr. Jospeh Impellizeri, of Veterinary Oncology Services, said in a statement. “This type of treatment on large, exotic animals isn’t getting done anywhere else—not even Europe. It’s incredible.”

The treatment was performed by Impellizeri, along with two veterinarians from the El Paso Zoo and the zoo’s staff.

According to the zoo, this is only the second recorded case of a cancerous mass in an elephant.

“The make up of elephants is that they’re able to sequester those tumors and they don’t metastasize all over their body. But we did want to treat this cancer simply because it was uncomfortable for her,” said El Paso Zoo Director Steve Marshall.


The electrochemotherapy treatment uses a chemotherapy drug that’s infused into the tumor before an electric pulse draws the chemotherapy directly into the cancer cells. Juno was put under anesthesia for an hour and a half for the treatment but is now alert and walking, according to the zoo.

The tumor is very big and the zoo said the electrochemotherapy allows for multiple treatments, unlike invasive surgery.


“We broke the tumor down into four quadrants and treated each quadrant with the electrochemotherapy,” Impellizeri said in March after the first treatment. “This is an extremely large tumor, the largest I’ve ever treated, but if you break it down into quadrants, you can treat it like four or five smaller tumors.”

Treating the tumor and giving an accurate prognosis is a challenge for the zoo. There is no record of a malignant mammary gland tumor in all of veterinary literature, and cancer of any kind is extremely rare in elephants, according to the zoo.  As a result, the zoo can’t predict how the cancer will progress and using ultrasounds and x-rays to determine if the cancer is spreading isn’t possible because of Juno’s size. However, the zoo expects Juno to survive.

“It does not take on the characteristics of a tumor that’s going to spread throughout her body, but it was growing in size,” said Marshall.

Juno’s treatment was featured on Nat Geo Wild’s show Animal ER in August.

Gorgeous, majestic white giraffes spotted, captured on video for first time ever

A pair of rare white giraffes were spotted in Kenya and captured on film for the first time ever.

The giraffes, a mother and its child, have white skin due to a condition known as lueucism. The condition prevents pigmentation in skin cells and causes skin to turn white and pale.

The giraffes were filmed walking around the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservacy in Kenya’s Garissa county. Several times during the video, the mother giraffe appears to recognize she is being filmed and looks directly at the camera.


In a blog post, Hirola Conservancy said this was the first time the white giraffes had been spotted by a number of its community rangers. The post also noted that the giraffes were first reported by a local villager.

“The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards in front of us while signalling the baby giraffe to hide behind the bushes,” the post read.

White giraffes have been spotted twice before. In January 2016, the first report of a white giraffe came from Tarangire National park, Tanzania. The second time was in March of 2016 in Ishaqbini conservancy, Garissa county, Kenya.

This is the first time the creatures are believed to have ever been captured on video.