Stories tagged swimming

Humans...they taste just like chicken: Several reports of otters attacking swimmers in Minnesota this summer are very unusual situations, authorities say.
Humans...they taste just like chicken: Several reports of otters attacking swimmers in Minnesota this summer are very unusual situations, authorities say.Courtesy Dmitry Azovtsev
This may be a preview of the next big summer blockbuster movie, but several swimmers have come under attack by otters this summer. This latest report chronicles how two otters ganged up on a swimmer near Aitkin. Just think of the film possibilities, cute and cuddly otters in one scene suddenly turn predatory in the next. A Department of Natural Resources official did comment that these types of attacks are extremely rare and people in northern Minnesota are much more likely to cross paths with a black bear or mountain lion.

It's Friday, so it's time for a new Science Friday video. (I know, I've missed a few weeks. Sorry about that.) Science Friday
Science Friday
Courtesy Science Friday
"Based on mathematical models of the movement of fish, Maurizio Porfiri, an engineering professor at Polytechnic Institute of NYU, designed a robotic fish. When Porfiri puts the robofish in the lab pool with real fish, the minnows (golden shiners and giant danios) will mill about the robot and even follow it around.
Oct
20
2008

Swimming with a tiger: I think it looks like it would really be a spiritual experience.
Swimming with a tiger: I think it looks like it would really be a spiritual experience.Courtesy o205billege
J/K! You can’t! You totally can’t! No swimming with the tigers for you!

Unless, maybe, you’re a young person, and you haven’t yet entered that clammy pipe that empties out into your grave—that is to say a career. Perhaps you could study zoology, or become an animal handler and trainer, maybe then you could swim with those noble man-eaters.

Because some people are swimming with tigers. There might even be a person swimming with a tiger in a warm Florida pool right now, as you read this in your bleak computer lab or parents’ basement.

It turns out that being a huge tank of water with a five hundred pound tiger, the best swimmer of all the large cats, is somehow way easier and less frightening than being on solid ground with a five hundred pound tiger (obviously), and so “The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species” (TIGERS, if you will), near Miami, Florida, has created a special pool for tigers and their handlers to swim in together.

The tigers at TIGERS would usually only go swimming to retrieve chunks of meat thrown by the trainers. The obvious next step, decided the center’s director, was to put the trainers themselves in the pool. Swimming around together should allow the animals to bond better with the handlers (that’s the hope, anyway), and will give the tigers some exercise. A tiger in the water, the TIGERS director points out, is unable to rear up on its hind legs (behavior that can make training difficult). Humans in the water, I’ve noticed, are also unable to rear up on their hind legs. That seems like it could spell trouble.

One side of the 100,000 gallon tiger/human swimming pool is made of glass, so if anything unfortunate does happen, at least the public will be able to see it.

May
04
2008

A turtle whispers its secrets to the orangutan: Unfortunately, all the turtle's secrets are about shoplifting and dirty magazines. Orangutans already know about that stuff.
A turtle whispers its secrets to the orangutan: Unfortunately, all the turtle's secrets are about shoplifting and dirty magazines. Orangutans already know about that stuff.Courtesy steven2005
Just kidding, I can swim. Not very well, but I swim all right. As far as spearfishing goes, though, I couldn’t do that. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but I could never kill a fish with a stick. Unless it was lying on the ground, or something—then I bet I could really bash the heck out of a fish. I’d really whack its little head in.

Orangutans in a conservation refuge on Kaja Island in Borneo, however, have proven to be adept at both swimming and killing fish with sticks. Neither activity was thought to be possible for the great apes, but naturalists on the island have recently observed them swimming across a river to get at their favorite fruits, and using tree branches to stun fish in the water before eating them. Other orangutans were seen attempting to spear fish with branches, supposedly after seeing fishermen using rods. This is thought to be the first documented occasion of orangutans using tools for hunting.

It was also noted that some of the apes quickly came up with an even more efficient way of collecting fish: stealing them from human fishermen when their lines were unattended. Those damn dirty apes!

Jul
16
2007

Brrrrrrr: Lewis Gordon Pugh gets help getting back into a boat near the North Pole after his 19-minute swim in 29-degree waters. He made the swim to bring attention to global warming and climate change. (Photo from www.investecnorthpolechallenge.com)
Brrrrrrr: Lewis Gordon Pugh gets help getting back into a boat near the North Pole after his 19-minute swim in 29-degree waters. He made the swim to bring attention to global warming and climate change. (Photo from www.investecnorthpolechallenge.com)
Don’t you hate it when you get into the shower and it’s a bit too cold? British adventurer Lewis Gordon Pugh has taken that feeling to a whole new level.

Sunday he swam for nearly 19 minutes in the Arctic Ocean over the North Pole. Water temperatures were 29 degrees (-1.8 Celsius) and have been verified as the coldest waters anyone has ever swum in.

Why did he do it? To bring more attention to the climate change crisis. After his Sunday swim, and warming up a bit, I imagine, he said: “I am obviously ecstatic to have succeeded but this swim is a triumph and a tragedy -- a triumph that I could swim in such ferocious conditions but a tragedy that it’s possible to swim at the North Pole.

“It was frightening,” he continued, as reported on his project’s website. “The pain was immediate and felt like my body was on fire. I was in excruciating pain from beginning to end and I nearly quit on a few occasions. It was without doubt the hardest swim of my life.

In setting the new cold-water swimming record, Pugh broke his own record, which he set in 32-degree water off the coast of Antarctica.

Jun
04
2007

City/wildlife loser: A bald eagle. It was killed after colliding with a helicopter 2,000 feet in the air. (Photo from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
City/wildlife loser: A bald eagle. It was killed after colliding with a helicopter 2,000 feet in the air. (Photo from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
A couple of interesting encounters were noted in the Twin Cities media this past week noting the intersection of city life and wildlife.

First the bad news: a bald eagle was killed Sunday after it collided in mid-air with a helicopter that was going an estimated 80 miles per hour over Shakopee, Minn. Flying at 2,000 feet, the eagle smashed through the helicopter’s windshield and smacked into the chest of the helicopter’s passenger. It then fell to the floor of the two-person chopper and died. The woman passenger suffered cuts and bruises that need to be treated at a local hospital.

Even with a hole in the windshield, the helicopter pilot was able to land his craft safely.

The impact from the encounter with the bald eagle shattered the windshield on the helicopter at 2000 feet. Amazingly, the pilot was able to land the aircraft safely

Now here’s some news where the wildlife came out on top.

City/wildlife winner: A muskie in Lake Calhoun. The lunker fish nibbled on the ankle of a 9-year-old swimmer, drawing blood and chasing the boy from the lake. (Photo from the Minnesota DNR)
City/wildlife winner: A muskie in Lake Calhoun. The lunker fish nibbled on the ankle of a 9-year-old swimmer, drawing blood and chasing the boy from the lake. (Photo from the Minnesota DNR)
On Memorial Day, a 9-year-old Minneapolis boy was swimming at Lake Calhoun, a popular swimming spot in the heart of the city. But he’s never going back there again.

(Cue the “Jaws” music.)

While he was swimming, a lunker muskie mistook his ankle for that day’s lunch. He came out of the lake with blood gushing from his ankle. There was an inch-long incision and three teeth marks around the wound.

But don’t worry, fish attacks of that kind are pretty rare. The last reported case of a similar fish bit episode in the Twin Cities was in 1995, when a 13-pound, three-foot-long muskie bit a girl swimming in Lake Rebecca. That fish was later caught in a trap and moved to another lake.