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River Monsters

4 Feb

This Baby Animal Can Grow Up to be 1,400 Pounds

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Zainab Akande from thedodo.com)

Did you know? The tiny, baby version of this massive sea creature is small enough to fit on the tip of a human finger.

In an incredible photo by Juan C. Levesque, a marine biologist, we're given a close-up look at the "gladiator of the sea," as Levesque calls him. In other words, a swordfish.

"Overall, swordfish grow rapidly in early years, but then their growth slows with age, which occurs around age 8 or 9," Levesque explained in a post for Florida Sportsman. According to Levesque, on average, swordfish can grow up to a whopping 14 inches per year. Thankfully, he goes on to do the math for us.

"It has been reported that swordfish can top 14 feet and 1,400 pounds in weight, but these large fish are rare these days," Levesque said, adding that female swordfish tend to have the upper hand compared to their male counterparts; they grow faster and bigger, and live longer. Sorry fellas.

"In my 7 years collecting data on commercial fishing vessels, the largest swordfish I ever saw captured was around 500 pounds; it was caught near West Palm Beach, Florida," he said.

Whether at 500 or 1,400 pounds, it's still surreal to think that a baby this small …

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… can grow up to be this big.

Continue reading >

13 Jan

Fossils of Giant Ancient Crocodile Found in Tunisia

This is a massive discovery, both literally and figuratively. Paleontologists in Tunisia have found the fossil remains of the world's largest sea-dwelling crocodile, a species that before now had be completely unknown.

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The group, lead by Federico Fanti of the University of Bologna and supported by the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration, have named this new species Machimosaurus rex, or M. Rex for short. From the fossils they found, they have estimated that this prehistoric beast measured up to 30 feet long and weighed over 30 tons. The skull alone is five feet long. Their complete findings have been reported in the journal, Cretaceous Research.

"It's just big. It's almost the size of a bus," said Fanti to the Washington Post about the crocodile. "It definitely was at the top of the food chain at the time, at least in this particular locality."

The fossil was found just inches below the surface on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Tunisia.

While the sheer size of this crocodile is impressive, this discovery also rattles preconceived notions about mass extinctions during the Jurassic Period. While the group of crocodiles M. Rex belongs to were thought to have gone extinct 150 million years ago, these new findings show that M. Rex actually lived 130 million years ago. 

Fanti said that while previous studies hypothesized a mass extinction of marine reptiles between the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the discovery of M. Rex proves otherwise.

"That's leading us to consider the mass extinction theory is wrong and that we should better understand what's going on at the end of the Jurassic period," Fanti said.

M. Rex may be extinct, but there are still some monster crocs out there, just like the one Jeremy Wade came face-to-face with!

4 Jan

Blast Fishing's Threat to the Aquatic Ecosystem

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Photo Credit: iStockphoto

An “explosive” form fishing is increasing concerns over human and animal welfare.

A recent story from National Geographic highlights the dangers surrounding blast fishing, in which fishermen use explosives to kill and gather fish.

Blast fishing is illegal, but is still practiced in parts of the world, notably in Tanzania. There, some fishermen throw explosives overboard that are capable of destroying anything within a 30 to 100-foot radius in the water. Any fish that are killed as a result float to the surface, allowing fishermen to rake in an easy haul that can bring in thousands of dollars in profit.

Continue reading >

24 Dec

Scientists Thrilled to Find 'Extinct' Sea Creature Alive and Well

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Hudson Hongo from thedodo.com)

After disappearing for more than a decade, one critically endangered species has suddenly returned.

Unseen since 2001, the short-nosed sea snake was presumed by many to have gone extinct, so scientists were understandly surprised recently when a pair of the creatures were spotted off the coast of Australia.

"We were blown away," said marine biologist Blanche D'Anastasi, "these potentially extinct snakes were there in plain sight."

Better yet, the snakes were courting, said D'Anastasi, "suggesting that they are members of a [larger] breeding population."

On Monday, D'Anastasi and her colleagues at James Cook University announced the rediscovery of the short-nosed sea snake and a related species in the scientific journal Biological Conservation.

But while the sea snakes aren't extinct, they're still far from safe. For one, researchers still don't know what caused populations of the once-common sea snakes to drop by 90 percent since the 1990s.

"This discovery is really exciting, we get another chance to protect these two endemic Western Australian sea snake species," said D'Anastasi. "But in order to succeed in protecting them, we will need to monitor populations as well as undertake research into understanding their biology and the threats they face."

Learn more about the world's endangered species here and take the pledge the #StartWith1Thing to help save the world's animals. 

21 Dec

Venomous Sea Snake Found on Southern California Beach

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Another venomous yellow-bellied sea snake has been found on a beach in Southern California. This snake was found 30 miles south of Los Angeles on Bolsa Chica State Beach. The Surfrider Foundation, the group who found the snake, says this species has only been found in California two other times, once in the 1970s and once in October. This snake was already dead when found. 

Experts believe this year's dramatic El Nino is warming the water and bringing these snakes so far north. Yellow-bellied sea snakes are found in warm tropical waters around the world except for the Atlantic Ocean. These snakes are completely pelagic, which means they are able to live and give birth in open water. 

Their venom is highly potent and the Surfrider Foundation is posting warnings on social media about handling the snakes if they're found. 

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Watch the foundation's video about the snake below:

15 Dec

This Year's Biggest Catches that Made Us Think Twice Before Jumping in the Water

Just when you think you've seen it all, another fisherman pulls a monster out of the ocean! From gigantic group to massive muskie, there have been some memorable catches this year! Some memorable enough to make us think twice before going for a swim! 

Massive, 280-Pound Wels Catfish Caught in Italy: In February, Dino Ferrari caught a massive wels catfish, weighing in at 280 pounds and measuring 8 feet, 8 inches in length!

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9-Year-Old Boy Catches a River Monster: Talk about the catch of a lifetime! 9-year-old Keegan Rothman caught a 10-foot-long, 600-pound, 75-year-old white sturgeon while on a fishing trip with his father.

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Woman Catches Two Pacu in CaliforniaSay what? These two pacu were caught on a fishing pier in Sacramento. Authorities suspect they were bought at a local pet store then released by their owner into the ocean.

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Continue reading >

14 Dec

Catfish Swallows Tank-Mate in One GIANT Gulp

Sometimes hunger strikes and there's nothing you can do to satiate your need but turn on those around you. Meet the gulper catfish that embodies "hangry". 

First, he checks out one of his tank-mates. Gives him a little nudge, letting him know who's boss.

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Then BAM, swallows him head first-- a real power move.

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Unfortunately, this catfish didn't think very far in advance. His hunger overpowered his judgment.

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He's so bloated, he can't even swim! 

Sadly, there is no followup to this video. The fate of the hangry catfish remains unknown.

This incident, though incredible and shocking, is quite a normal occurrence for owners of gulper catfish. These bold fishies can easily devour and digest ones half their size and often get too big for their britches and eat ones even larger though they cannot properly digest them.

Check out the entire attack below: 

Check out another massive, scaly monster! 

10 Dec

Baby Elephant Learns Why You Don't Stick Your Whole Trunk in the Water

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Ameena Schelling from thedodo.com)

A baby elephant recently had a very close escape from a hungry crocodile.

Zimbabwean farmer Francois Borman, who photographed the incident in October, said the thirsty calf had run up to the water for a drink as the rest of his herd trailed behind him.

"He ran straight in and flopped down into the shallow, muddy water, rolling and splashing about," Borman said. "It didn't have a worry in the world."

Because the calf was so young, he didn't know how to use his trunk yet and thrust his whole face in the water to drink with his mouth — making him the perfect target for a waiting crocodile.

The calf ran up to the water, clumsily trying to drink ...

... and quickly found himself in the mouth of a hungry crocodile.

10 Dec

Curious Pufferfish Discovers He Really, Really Likes Being Pet

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Ameena Schelling from thedodo.com)

For some reason, people like to gauge how much they like an animal by how much it wants to be petted. That's probably the not the best measure of relatability, but this little fish would pass with flying colors.

Last year, a group of divers were exploring off the Hawaiian island of Oahu when they came across a very curious little pufferfish. The adventurous fish swims in and out of the divers, accepting a few gentle touches.

At one point he appears to get a bit agitated — and puffy — and swims off, but then comes right back to say hello again.

Continue reading >

12 Nov

Fly Fisherman Catches 57-Inch Muskie

While out fishing on a Minnesota lake, Robert Hawkins caught the fish of a lifetime. He reeled in a 57-inch, 50-pound muskie on his fly fishing rod. On top of that impressive accomplishment, this fish might also set the world record for the biggest muskie caught while fly fishing. Hawkins, owner of a local fly shop, caught this fish on a fly he made himself. After snapping a few photos, the fish was released back into the lake. 

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Muskie, or muskellunge, are a species of large, uncommon, freshwater fish native to North America. They are the largest member of Esocidae, the pike family. 

The current record-holding fish weighed over 54 pounds and was 56 inches long. It hasn't been announced if Hawkins's fish broke the record.

Jeremy Wade dreamt of catching a muskie. Well, he finally did! Watch the catch here:

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