November 6, 2013

Orcas off the coast of Alaska.     Photo: John Skee / Flickr

Watch: Alaska Fishermen Free Orca

Whale cooperated

A video has surfaced of three shrimp fishermen rescuing an orca stranded on rocks in Klakas Inlet, near Ketchikan, Alaska. The 16-foot female whale had been part of a pod that was hunting seals in shallow water.

“We realized that she was definitely stuck,” Jason Vonick, who was told Good Morning America. “For the next four hours we just stayed with her and kept her calm and put water over her to keep her cool.”

The men agree that the whale seemed to understand they were helping her. “She never fought us,” Vonick says. “She just sat there docile and calm the whole time and let us do what we needed to do. If we stopped petting her, she’d cry some more.”

Nearby orcas also seemed to get the message. A group of them—including a large male—observed the situation from as close as five feet but never behaved aggressively. 

The female whale lost strength quickly and had trouble holding up her head, but by the time the tide came in, the men were able to use oars to pry her off the rock.

“When we realized we could actually move her, we just grunted and groaned and used a lot of force and got her free,” says Vonick, who posted a video of the whole incident on YouTube.

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Rural Colorado barn     Photo: chedder/Flickr

Rural Colorado Votes in Favor of Secession

Five counties could create 51st state

Five rural Colorado counties voted in favor of secession in Tuesday's polls. The ballot question, which appeared in 11 Colorado counties, asked voters if their county commissioners should take action to secede from the state, according to The Denver Post. While unlikely, if this gathering of counties were to secede, a 51st state would be created in northern Colorado.

The five counties that voted in favor of the 51st state include Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Phillips, Yuma, and Washington County. Although many are resigned to the fact that secession will fail, they hope the publicity will draw attention to rural Colorado's grievances. Many of the rural-county voters were not in favor of stronger gun laws and new renewable-energy standards.

"The heart of the 51st State Initiative is simple: We just want to be left alone to live our lives without heavy-handed restrictions from the state Capitol," 51st state advocate Jeffrey Hare told The Denver Post.

Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper, responded to the voting in a statement to 9News.

Rural communities are hurting, but it's not because of background checks on guns sales, civil unions for gay people or expanded renewable energy. In fact, these are popular proposals across communities large and small. The same is true of our efforts to protect water for agricultural uses, expand broadband into rural areas, and promote tourism and economic diversity across the state.

A state has not successfully seceded since Maine split from Massachusetts in 1820.

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Two juvenile Silver Carp in captivity. Wildlife officials this invasive species has migrated to Lake Michigan.     Photo: E rulez/Wikimedia

Asian Carp Detected in Lake Michigan

Invasive species's DNA found in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

New evidence suggests that invasive Asian carp may have made their way into Lake Michigan. Biologists announced Tuesday that they collected a water sample containing DNA of Asian carp in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. But there’s disagreement about how it got there. It could be from the mucus, scales, or bodily waste from the fish or droppings from birds that have eaten the fish.

“Our sample is a smoke detector,” Nortre Dame biologist Chris Jerde told The Associated Press. “A couple of more samples is a fire.”

The four types of wil Asian carp are notorious for devouring copious amount of plankton. Their presence in Lake Michigan would upend the natural food chain that supports a $7 billion fishing industry.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will take more sample from the area to determine if the fish has broken through the electric barriers designed to halt it’s northward migration.

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“It’s a fantastic privilege to be a little mosquito flying in front of that big mountain,” the 54-year-old aviator said Wednesday.     Photo: greenguitarmon/YouTube

Watch: Homemade Jetpack Flies over Mount Fuji

It actually works.

Swiss aviator Yves Rossy flew his self-constructed jetpack over Mount Fuji nine times last week. He jumped from a helicopter and fired up the four jet engines strapped to his back, then soared on a set of carbon-fiber wings spanning two meters over the 12,388-foot mountain.

“It’s really impressive. It’s a perfect form, a huge mountain, a huge volcano, a presence that you can feel on ground and also in the air,” says Rossy, or "Jetman," as he's known.

The 54-year-old captain with Swiss International Air Lines adds Mount Fuji to the list of flights, alongside the Grand Canyon, the English Channel, and the city of Rio de Janeiro.

His jetpack, 132 pounds, can reach speeds of up to 185 miles per hour. On his flight over Mount Fuji, he reached 12,000 feet. Unlike the jetpacks being developed in New Zealand, Rossy's model required him to deploy a parachute at over 2,500 feet to land.

"It is such a contrast flying free with just a wing on my back, compared to being enclosed in a cockpit as an airline pilot," Rossy told ABC News. "It's hard to describe the emotion and feeling of having an opportunity like this. It's spiritual, it is immense."

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