Sturgeon jumps on boat, kills girl, 5, and injures two others

Published July 05, 2015

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Florida officials are investigating a sturgeon strike that killed a 5-year-old girl and injured her mother and older brother.

All three were on a boat on the Suwannee River in Dixie County Thursday night when a huge sturgeon jumped out of the water and smacked into them.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this time,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission regional director Andy Krause said. “This is a terrible tragedy.”

A spokeswoman for the agency said many details are still under investigation, theGainesville Sun reported Saturday.

Wildlife officials identified the dead girl as Jaylon Rippy of Trenton, Fla.

She was airlifted to a Gainesville Hospital, along with her mother, Tanya Rippy, 31, and her 9-year-old brother Trevor.

 

The boy suffered a broken arm, WCJB-TV reported Saturday.

The mother sustained injuries to her face mostly around her eyes, the station said.

The Sun said Jaylon’s father, who was on the boat, was not injured.

WCJB reported that Jaylon and her family were on a friend’s boat. The sturgeon hit them as they were helping the friend take the boat out of the water near the Joe Anderson Boat Ramp in Fanning Springs.

Wildlife officials said Jaylon is the first fatality recorded from a sturgeon strike on the Suwannee River. Several others have been injured by jumping sturgeon this year.

The most recent incident took place Friday when a Sanderson couple was struck while boating on the Sante Fe River heading eastbound from the Suwannee. Colleen Harvey, 42, and her husband Charles, 41, were taken to the hospital.

The fish are known for leaping more than 7 feet above the water. They can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds and can cause serious injuries.

The Sun said sturgeon usually return from the Gulf to the Suwannee in the spring and that low river levels this year are causing the sturgeon to jump more frequently than in recent years. The newspaper said scientists can’t explain why the fish jump but they are confident the fish are not trying to attack boaters.

WCJB said family friends have established a fundraising page on GoFundMe to help the Rippy family raise money to defray funeral and medical costs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Originally posted here

 

Alligator kills 28-year-old Texas man during late-night swim

A man has died after an alligator attacked him during a late-night swim at a Southeast Texas marina.

Police in Orange, near the state line with Louisiana, say 28-year-old Tommie Woodward was swimming in a bayou early Friday morning when the attack occurred.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies and a Texas game warden found his body nearby about two hours later.

Police said the man was swimming with a woman, but Justice of the Peace Rodney Price told KFDM-TV in Beaumont that she only jumped from a dock after the man screamed for help.

Price says a sign warns people not to swim in the area and that the man was bitten soon after he jumped in.

The woman was not hurt.

Originally posted here

Former Boston Herald editor injured in North Carolina shark attack

A former editor-in-chief at The Boston Herald suffered serious injuries after he dramatically tried to fight off a 7-foot shark Wednesday off the coast of North Carolina.

Andrew F. Costello reportedly came face-to-face with the monster while vacationing with his family at the coastal town of Ocracoke.

Costello, 68, was swimming with his son around noon when the attack occurred.

“I could see from where I was standing that he had a big baseball-sized chunk of flesh taken off of his leg right above his knee and there was a lot of blood everywhere,” Jackson Fuqua, 15, who witnessed the attack, told The Boston Herald.

“I saw a big trail of blood from the water to where the man was laying down on a beach towel. There were a lot of EMS workers all around him and they were frantically trying to help him and work to close the wounds he had,” Fuqua told the paper.

Costello suffered wounds to his ribcage, lower leg, hip and hands, according to the paper. He is reportedly in fair condition at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

“He’s doing well,” his niece told the paper. “He’s smiling.”

Costello is the seventh person attacked along the North Carolina coast in three weeks, the most in at least 15 years. Most swimmers were attacked in shallow water. The injuries ranged from minor injuries to the heel and ankle of an 8-year-old boy in Surf City, to unspecified but initially critical injuries to an 18-year-old man bitten Saturday on a national seashore about 25 miles north of Cape Hatteras.

There have been at least 10 shark attacks in the Carolinas so far in 2015, according to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida. The first reported attack this year occurred on May 15 off South Carolina at Sullivan’s Island, and two shark attacks were reported 90 minutes apart on June 14, when a 13-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy each lost an arm while swimming at Oak Island in North Carolina.

Shark experts say the recent spate of attacks along on the coast of the Carolinas is due to so many more people getting in the water. Americans made 2.2 billion visits to beaches in 2010, up from 2 billion in 2001, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimate.

Roger Rulifson, a distinguished professor of biology and senior scientist at East Carolina University, said recently that there have been reports of small bait fish coming closer to shore this summer, which attracts sharks. There have also been reports of larger numbers of sea turtles along the coast, which sharks also like to eat, he said.

Laura Irish Hefty of New Hope, Pa., said she was about 100 yards away when she saw a crowd gathering on the beach and went to investigate. She said her husband, David, saw blood on both legs of the latest victim, who turned out to be Costello.

Swimmers were back in the water at that spot within a couple of hours after the attack, Hefty said.

“Nobody seems to be that scared,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Originally posted : here

Man bitten by shark in North Carolina is 7th victim this summer

A shark bit a 68-year-old man several times Wednesday in waist-deep water off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, officials said, the seventh attack in the state’s coastal waters in less than three weeks.

A hospital spokeswoman had no report of his condition Wednesday afternoon.

The man suffered wounds to his ribcage, lower leg, hip and both hands as he tried to fight off the animal, said Justin Gibbs, the director of emergency services in Hyde County. The attack happened around noon on a beach on Ocracoke Island, he said.

“The individual was actually located right in front of the lifeguard tower when it occurred,” said Gibbs, who said witnesses reported the animal was about 7 feet long. “He was pulled under by the shark. He was bit several times.”

He was swimming in waist-deep water with his adult son about 30 feet offshore, the National Park Service said in a news release. There were no other swimmers injured.

The man is the seventh person attacked along the North Carolina coast in three weeks, the most in at least 15 years. Most were attacked in water similarly shallow. The injuries ranged from minor injuries to the heel and ankle of an 8-year-old boy in Surf City to unspecified but initially critical injuries to an 18-year-old man bitten Saturday on a national seashore about 25 miles north of Cape Hatteras.

More on this…

  • Why the spike in shark attacks and what do we do?

Shark experts say the recent spate of attacks along on the coast of the Carolinas is due to so many more people getting in the water. Americans made 2.2 billion visits to beaches in 2010, up from 2 billion in 2001, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimate.

Roger Rulifson, a distinguished professor of biology and senior scientist at East Carolina University, said recently that there have been reports of small bait fish coming closer to shore this summer, which attracts sharks. There have also been reports of larger numbers of sea turtles along the coast, which sharks also like to eat, he said.

Laura Irish Hefty of New Hope, Pennsylvania, said she was about 100 yards away when she saw a crowd gathering on the beach and went to investigate. She said her husband, David, saw blood on both of the man’s legs.

The man was treated on the beach for about 20 minutes until he was stabilized and carried off the sand and beyond the dunes to a road, Hefty said. An emergency helicopter flew him to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, about 85 miles east of the barrier island.

Swimmers were back in the water at that spot within a couple of hours after the attack, Hefty said.

“Nobody seems to be that scared,” she said.

Originally posted : here

Why the world will see more shark attacks

Why the world will see more shark attacks

This undated publicity image released by Discovery Channel shows a great white shark near Guadalupe Island off the coast of Mexico. (AP Photo/Discovery Channel, Andrew Brandy Casagrande)

Shark attacks like the one that killed a young surfer on Sunday are rare, but according to experts, they’re only going to increase in number. In fact, the rate of “unprovoked” shark attacks has been steadily rising for the last century.

No, sharks aren’t developing a particular taste for humans: It’s the expanding human population that’s actually to blame. “If we look at the number of shark attacks in any given place in any given year and compare that to population growth in those areas, we find that shark attacks match the growth curve of the human population in that region,” shark researcher George Burgess tells NBC News.

Meanwhile, the human population will near 11 billion by 2050, while some shark species are also growing in number in light of efforts to thwart overfishing.

At the same time, water activities are more popular than a generation ago, sending humans into shark turf, Burgess writes at the Conversation. “More sharks and people are likely to be in close proximity to one another, leading to more attacks,” a Florida State University researcher says, noting the number of attacks per 100,000 beach visitors remains stable.

Of 72 unprovoked attacks in 2014, 52 occurred in the US, though less than one person dies in the US from shark attacks each year on average, compared to six deaths worldwide, LiveScience reports.

Burgess says he’s “confident” attacks will become more common in the next 15 years. If you’d rather avoid a shark encounter, don’t swim at dusk, dawn, nighttime, or near where someone is fishing.

And leave flashy jewelry on the beach; sharks may confuse shiny pieces with fish scales. (A fisherman’s rare catch: a shark with 300 teeth.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Why the World Will See More Shark Bites

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Originally posted : here

17-year-old boy bit by shark in North Carolina; sixth attack in 2 weeks

A 17-year-old boy was the victim of another shark attack off the North Carolina coast Saturday, the second attack in as many days and sixth in the past two weeks, officials say.

The boy suffered injuries to his right calf, buttocks and both hands while swimming in the Outer Banks, rescue personnel and park rangers said. The boy was swimming with others when he was bitten but no one else was hurt.

The unidentified teen was treated at the scene before being airlifted to a Virginia hospital, the park service said.

Just a day prior to the Outer Banks attack, a North Carolina man was bitten on the back of his leg in Avon while playing in the surf with his children. A 43-year-old man was also attacked by a shark near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina Friday. Both men were treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Sharks have attacked several children along North Carolina’s coast this month, including a 13-year old girl who lost her left arm below the elbow and a 16-year old boy who lost his left arm above the elbow, about 90 minutes apart, at Oak Island.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

 

Originally posted : here

8-year-old boy attacked by shark off North Carolina; 4th attack in weeks

An 8-year-old boy was attacked by a shark Wednesday off the coast of North Carolina, marking the fourth such encounter off the state’s coast in the past two weeks.

The boy suffered superficial injuries to his foot and leg at the Surf City beach, but news of the encounter spread quickly in the town that does not have an official lifeguard staff, WRAL.com reported.

Larry Bergman, the town manager, told the station that he’d close the beach if there was “a big hazard.”

He told the station that those at the beach swim “kind of at their own risk.” He said the town has increased police beach patrols.

The boy was treated at the scene. Afterward, his parents took him to an emergency room to have the wounds cleaned.

“Police and EMS felt like it wasn’t a serious bite,” Bergman said.

The child had been swimming about five blocks from a fishing pier. Town policy prohibits people from swimming or surfing within 300 feet of a fishing pier, Bergman said.

On June 11, a 13-year-old girl suffered small cuts on her foot from a shark bite at Ocean Isle Beach. Three days later, two separate shark attacks occurred within 90 minutes at Oak Island, N.C. Both victims, ages 12 and 16, had an arm amputated after the attacks. One victim had been swimming about 100 yards from a fishing pier when she was attacked.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Originally posted : here

Mystery solved: Why large dinosaurs avoided the tropics for millions of years

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212 million years ago northern New Mexico was dry and hot with common wildfires. Early carnivorous dinosaurs were small and rare, whereas other reptiles were quite common. (Victor Leshyk)

New research has revealed why it took more than 30 million years for large Triassic dinosaurs to populate the tropics after they first appeared on Earth, ending a mystery that has kept researchers baffled for decades. Using new geological evidence culled from Ghost Ranch, N.M., researchers from the University of Southampton in the U.K. have found that an extremely unpredictable hot and arid climate due to elevated carbon dioxide levels (four to six times of what they are today) kept large herbivorous dinos at bay until after 200 million years ago.

“For several decades, researchers have noticed a curious case: large plant eating dinosaurs seemed to be much more common at high latitudes during the Triassic,” Jessica Whiteside of the University’s National Oceanography Centre in Southampton told FoxNews.com. “However, it has only been in the past decade that we’ve realized they’re completely missing from the tropics, where only a few small carnivorous dinosaurs dwelled.”

According to Whiteside, researchers had suspected that climate had played a role, though no one had developed a detailed environmental record from the same sediments that also preserved extensive fossil vertebrate records (including small dinosaurs) – until now.  “Our major finding is that wild swings in climate and extremes of drought and intense heat have implications for survivability of Triassic vertebrates, including early dinosaurs.”

These “wild swings in climate” included raging wildfires that would sweep the dry landscape and continually reshape the vegetation that large plant-eating dinosaurs like Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, and Brontosaurus would have fed on. These fires occurred every few dozen years and would reach temperatures up to 1112 degrees Fahrenheit. While these conditions suited smaller carnivorous dinosaurs such as Coelophysis just fine, the larger plant eaters decided to temporarily forgo equatorial areas for the higher latitudes.

“The large, plant-eating forms (the long-necked sauropodomorphs, predecessors of the giant Jurassic sauropods) are found from Late Triassic age sites in Europe, South America (Brazil and Argentina), South Africa, and the polar regions,” Whiteside said. “Essentially everywhere from the same time period except the tropics.”

The team culled their evidence from an area that’s no stranger to hot and arid climates– Ghost Ranch, N.M.  The scenic 21,000–acre retreat – famous as the place where artist Georgia O’Keefe painted for most of her career –  was located close to the equator 205-215 million years ago at 12 degrees North (it lies at 36 degrees North today).

According to Whiteside, the locale is an ideal spot for fossil hunting: “Ghost Ranch has a well-sampled vertebrate fossil record that includes early dinosaurs, as well as sediments appropriate for the investigation of the fossil pollen/spores, charcoal, and isotopes.”

After collecting rock samples that had been deposited by rivers and streams during the Late Triassic Period, Whiteside and her team analyzed the rocks by crushing them and putting them through chemical separation, measuring the stable isotopes of the elements carbon and oxygen. “The abundance of each element isotope (Carbon-13 to Carbon-12 and Oxygen-18 to Oxygen-16) is measured in a mass spectrometer,” Whiteside explained, “which separates isotopes by mass using an electromagnet; these isotopes are then counted by high-precision detectors.”

To estimate wildfire temperatures at the time, the researchers measured how much light reflected from the charcoal under a light microscope (this reflectance relates directly to the temperature at which it burned). As for the fossilized pollen and spores, after being extracted and chemically separated from crushed rock samples, they were mounted on glass slides and studied under a light microscope.

As cool as they sound, Whiteside pointed out that while none of these approaches are “bleeding edge”– the charcoal and isotopic methods have been around for the last 10-15 years or so – it was the way they put the data together that was novel.

“What’s most unusual about our study is the integration of the fossil vertebrates, fossil pollen/spores, fire temp estimates from fossil charcoal, organic carbon isotopes, and pCO2 [partial pressure of carbon dioxide] estimates into a single integrated record,” she said. This record would go on to depict a hot, dry, wildfire-ravaged climate that no large herbivorous dinosaur would stick its big toe in – or at least not until 200 million years ago.

Not only do these new findings answer a decades-old mystery, they also act as a warning. Though the carbon levels recorded over 200 million years ago were a few times higher than what they are today, they are predicted to reach those heights again in the next 100-200 years.

“Rapid climate swings and extremes of drought and intense heat driven by increasing atmospheric CO2 levels have as much ability to alter the vegetation assemblages supporting modern human populations, as they did for the large plant-eating animals in the Triassic (i.e., dinosaurs),” Whiteside explained. “[This] data therefore suggests there are potentially profound challenges to human sustainability in the future if we experience the high CO2 conditions predicted to develop.”

Polar bears now eat dolphins, thanks to global warming

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An adult male polar bear feeds on the head of a white-beaked dolphin on a fjord on Svalbard, (© Samuel Blanc /www.sblanc.com)

Faced with a rapidly changing habitat, polar bears are adapting with a new entrée: For the first time, a polar bear was seen preying on a white-beaked dolphin carcass that had been trapped in the ice in Svalbard, a group of Norwegian islands in the Arctic Ocean.

In April 2014, a male polar bear with a full belly was spotted near a recently devoured white-beaked dolphin, which could have weighed 120 to 680 lbs. and measured 5 to 9 feet long, the researchers said in an article published online June 1 in the journal Polar Research. The bear was also seen with another white-beaked dolphin’s thawing carcass, which he was likely saving for a later meal.

These dolphins rarely venture so far north in the Arctic; they prefer the sub-Arctic, which has less sea ice and more open water. “If it had been a more usual sea-ice year, I do not think the dolphins would have been that far north in the spring,” said Jon Aars, primary author of the study and a research scientist at the Norwegian Polar Institute. [See Stunning Photos of the Polar Bears Eating Dolphins on Svalbard]

The surface water temperature of the Arctic Ocean surrounding Svalbard has increased significantly over the past 45 years, leading to decreases in summer sea-ice cover over the entire Arctic Ocean and extreme melting during 2007, according to research published in 2008 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Prior to this study, the white-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) had not been spotted in winter or spring so far north in Svalbard. Although the fjords and coast of northern Svalbard are usually covered by ice, they were ice-free in the winter of 2013 to 2014, according to the study.

The dolphins likely made their way to this northern area when the ice had melted, but were trapped when strong northerly wind packed drift ice onto the fjords, the researchers speculated. Similar dolphin entrapment has been recorded off the coast of Newfoundland, a Canadian island off the east coast of the mainland, as reported in studies in 1957 and 1996.

The polar bear observed feeding on a dolphin likely grabbed its prey from an oval-shaped hole in the sea ice measuring about 2 feet by 2.5 feet. The hole was covered with slushy ice, and surrounded by sea ice a little more than half a foot thick. The hole marked the only break in solid sea ice, and was likely a “breathing hole” kept open by the dolphins after they made their way to the fjord during the ice-free stint. Breathing holes can be miles apart, and the researchers found no other open cracks or holes in the vicinity. Dolphins can be trapped in the ice and drown, or killed by whales and bears while catching a breath of air.

“We were surprised, as we had not thought we would see dolphins in that area that time of year, and also because polar bears [had previously not been] recorded taking or eating dolphins,” Aars told Live Science in an email. “We were not so surprised of bears being able to take dolphins, given the dolphins were there.” He noted that polar bears are also known to devour belugas and narwhals, both of which are larger than the dolphins.

Frozen dolphin carcasses could provide a significant source of food for the polar bears, which may lose access to their usual meals of ringed and bearded seals as climate change impacts their habitat, the researchers concluded. During the ice-free summer and autumn following the first April siting, at least seven different white-beaked dolphin carcasses were discovered in the same area as the first. “With longer periods without sea ice, bears will look for alternative food sources,” Aars said.

Adult male polar bears can weigh 775 to 1,300 lbs., and female polar bears can weigh around 330 to 650 lbs. When standing on all fours, polar bears are between 3.5 and 5 feet tall; an adult male can tower at 10 feet when standing on its hind legs

Originally Published here

North Carolina youths in stable condition after losing limbs in shark attack

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June 14, 2015: Emergency responders assist a teenage girl at the scene of a shark attack in Oak Island, N.C.. (Steve Bouser/The Pilot, Southern Pines, N.C. via AP)

Two North Carolina kids were reported in stable condition late Sunday after losing limbs in separate shark attacks approximately two hours apart.

Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace told the Wilmington Star-News that a 12-year-old girl lost part of her left arm and might lose her left leg, while a 16-year-old boy lost his left arm. Brain Watts, Brunswick County’s emergency management director, told the paper Sunday that both victims were out of surgery. Wallace said the girl was not from the area, but was visiting family. There was no immediate information about the 16-year-old boy.

Brunswick County Dispatchers said that they received the call at 4:12 p.m. and several agencies responded to the scene including Oak Island Police and the Air Link Helicopter. The second incident was reported at 5:30 Sunday.

The Oak Island town manager sent an ATV to get everyone out of the water, the mayor said, adding that the Brunswick County Sheriff’s office was going to send a helicopter up and down the coast to patrol.

Steve Bouser and his wife were at the beach, and just beginning a week’s long vacation, when he said people began yelling, “Come in! Get out of the water! Get out of the water!”

“I saw someone carry this girl (out of the water) and people were swarming around and trying to help,” he told The Associated Press Sunday evening. “It was quite terrible.”

There was a lot of blood he said and that people were trying to apply makeshift tourniquets to stop the bleeding. He added that people were asking her questions to try to keep her conscious. It was “quite nightmarish,” he said.

“It was so much like a scene from Jaws,” his wife Brenda added, he said.

Originally published here