Killer whales surround New Zealand woman in stunning drone footage

When Judie Johnson of Hahei, New Zealand recently took a dip off the coast of Coromandel, she never expected to be surrounded by a pod of orca whales. "There was a shape that went under me, like a huge shape and I thought [it was] dolphins and I was quite excited, and then I saw the great white … Continue reading “Killer whales surround New Zealand woman in stunning drone footage”

When Judie Johnson of Hahei, New Zealand recently took a dip off the coast of Coromandel, she never expected to be surrounded by a pod of orca whales.

"There was a shape that went under me, like a huge shape and I thought [it was] dolphins and I was quite excited, and then I saw the great white color on the back,” she told New Zealand's 1 NEWS of the experience.

At first, the woman was frightened, telling the news outlet she quickly swam to shore because she was fearful the orcas — also known as killer whales — would harm her.

HAWAIIAN MONK SEAL WITH EEL STUCK IN NOSE CAUGHT ON CAMERA IN 'RARE' SIGHTING

"I was also thinking they eat seals and I’m in a black wetsuit," Johnson said.

But moments later, she decided to jump back into the water to complete her swim.

The orcas again surrounded her, twisting and turning whimsically below as she gracefully switched from a backstroke to a breaststroke, drone video captured by Australian tourist Dylan Brayshaw shows, according to 1 NEWS.

"It was so different to anything that’s happened to me before, and I thought, no, this is a life-changing experience,” Johnson recalled, adding at one point during her swim she gazed “directly” into the eyes of the adult orca as the smaller two swam nearby.

"They were as interested and curious about me as I was about them,” she added.

GIRL FINDS DEADLY, 'HIGHLY VENOMOUS' BLUE RINGED OCTOPUS ON BEACH

These sea creatures are “just big dolphins with a fancy paint job,” orca expert Regina Eisert told 1 NEWS, adding they are the largest members of the dolphin family.

While orca whales are carnivores — they feed on seals, sea lions and sometimes other whales, according to National Geographic — they don’t typically attack humans, and there have been no reported instances of a killer whale eating a human, according to the website Whale Facts.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

Dead manatee pulled from South Carolina drainage area

A manatee was found dead near a drainage area in South Carolina this week, an unusual occurrence as these sea creatures typically migrate south in the search of warmer water during the winter.

The manatee, a female that was possibly 3 or 4 years old, was found Thursday in a drainage area near Pawleys Island, The Sun News reported. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials told the newspaper the animal likely “got stuck in a water control structure.”

HAWAIIAN MONK SEAL WITH EEL STUCK IN NOSE CAUGHT ON CAMERA IN 'RARE' SIGHTING

The manatee, which was removed from the water by wildlife officials who used a rope to pull it ashore, was later taken by officials with the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge for a necropsy, or an animal autopsy. The results of the necropsy, which will help to better determine the animal's exact cause of death, have not yet been released.

An animal autopsy was performed on the manatee. (S.C.U.T.E)

“That’s the first time I’ve ever helped with anything like that,” an official with the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge told The Sun News.

During the summer months when the water is warmer, manatees can be spotted near Hilton Head Island where they typically feed in the local marshes, according to The Sun News. But they migrate south during the winter months when the temperature of the water drops.

It’s not clear why the dead manatee did not migrate south. Melanie Olds, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the animal’s smaller size could have prevented it from making the journey.

The creatures do not adapt well to cold water temperatures.

GIRL FINDS DEADLY, 'HIGHLY VENOMOUS' BLUE RINGED OCTOPUS ON BEACH

“Manatees need warm water to survive. In spite of their size, they have relatively little body fat, and their metabolic rate is low compared to other marine mammals. Manatees cannot tolerate temperatures below 20 ° C (68 ° F) for long periods of time. Researchers believe that individuals affected by the cold cannot produce enough metabolic heat to make up for heat loss in the environment,” the organization Save the Manatee explains online.

“You hope they get out of here before the water gets cold,” Jeff McClary, a co-founder of the South Carolina United Turtles Enthusiasts (S.C.U.T.E), said.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

Hawaiian monk seal with eel stuck in nose caught on camera in ‘rare’ sighting

Talk about a nosey nuisance.

A Hawaiian monk seal was spotted over the summer with an eel hanging out of its nose, according to a photo shared by the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program on Monday.

“Mondays…it might not have been a good one for you but it had to have been better than an eel in your nose,” the group, which is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), wrote.

GIRL FINDS DEADLY, 'HIGHLY VENOMOUS' BLUE RINGED OCTOPUS ON BEACH

Experts with the organization told Hawaii News Now the eel was seen dangling from the seal’s nose near the French Frigate Shoals over the summer. Field researchers — who were in the area at the time to study the seal population there — noted the “rare” sighting and were quick to restrain the animal before removing the lengthy creature from its snout.

The removal process reportedly took less than a minute, according to the publication.

The eel likely entered the monk seal’s nose when it was feeding in coral reefs, as these sea creatures “feed by sticking their noses in coral reefs and digging in sand,” the group told Hawaii News Now, noting "it is possible the eel was defending itself or trying to escape and forced itself into the nose.”

There's also a possibility “the seal regurgitated it and it went out the wrong place. More likely the first…,” the group told the publication.

Officials with the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program said they have reported on the odd phenomenon in the past, explaining it was "first noted a few years back," the group added.

"We have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions. In all cases, the eel was successfully removed and the seals were fine. The eels, however, did not make it,” the organization wrote.

The picture elicited a variety of jokes and comments on social media, many users comparing the sighting to other unusual — and dangerous — trends among today’s youth, such as eating Tide Pods and snorting condoms.

“Where are these young seals learning this eel sniffing stuff from? Video games?” one person joked.

“First it was the cinnamon challenge, then tide pods, then the ice challenge, then snorting condoms, now snorting eels?” a second wrote.

“It starts with Tide Pods….” another said.

Hawaiian monk seals are “one of the most endangered seal species in the world,” according to the NOAA. While recovery efforts have slowed the declining population, the “current numbers are only about one-third of historic population levels."

MYSTERIOUS SEA CREATURE DRAWS 'ALIEN' COMPARISONS WITH ITS SHARP TEETH, SPIKY SKIN

These seals, which are capable of holding their breath for 20 minutes and can dive nearly 2,000 feet, are endemic to the Hawaiian archipelago and are not found anywhere else in the world.

Habitat loss, disease and intentional killing, among other reasons, are all factors which threaten the Hawaiian monk seal species.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

Girl finds deadly, ‘highly venomous’ blue ringed octopus on beach

A warning has been sent out to parents after a young girl unknowingly took home a deadly marine animal that was hiding in a shell on a Western Australian beach.

After a day of playing on Coogee beach, south of Perth, the girl collected some shells to take home.

As her aunt was washing them she discovered a blue ringed octopus was hiding in one of the shells.

Coogee Beach WA Surf Life Saving Club uploaded photos of the dangerous creature to Facebook as a warning for parents to keep an eye on what their kids are doing at the beach.

“A young girl was at the beach this morning in front of our club building sandcastles and collecting shells,” the post read.

“Lucky her Aunty was cleaning the stash of shells when they got home as this critter emerged.

“They look beautiful….but a bite can be deadly.”

Blue ringed octopuses are a highly venomous species and are usually found in tide pools and coral reefs.

The octopus gets its name for its circular, iridescent blue markings, which are usually only displayed when the animal feels threatened and is about to release its poison.

According to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the chemical the octopus releases, which is called tetrodotoxin, aims to paralyze its target.

Two deaths are known to have occurred from a blue ringed octopus bite in Australia, with many more coming very close.

Death usually occurs as a result of lack of oxygen as the toxin paralyzes the muscles but leaves the victim fully conscious.

This story originally appeared in news.com.au.

This strange hum circled the whole world. But nobody heard it.

There was a hum that nobody could hear. It was a seismic event, one that originated off the coast of Mayotte on Nov. 11, a tiny island in the waters between Madagascar and Mozambique.

From there, it circled the entire world, though it was unusual enough (un-earthquake-ish enough) that almost no one noticed, as Maya Wei-Haas reported for National Geographic. A few people paid attention though, and that sparked a hunt for the source of the hum that, she reported, still hasn't been resolved.

The hum, National Geographic reported, was strange for a number of reasons. First, it rang at just a single ultra-low frequency, like a well-tuned bell. Seismic waves usually involve lots of different frequencies. Second, the wave emerged and circled the planet without the usual signs of an earthquake; no one in the area felt any shaking, and the "p-waves" and "s-waves" associated with the hum, the sort of waves that you actually feel during an earthquake, were so faint as to be nearly undetectable. And yet, a Nov. 12 report from the French government found that Mayotte had slid 2.4 inches (6 centimeters) to the east and 1.2 inches (3 cm) to the south. [The 10 Biggest Earthquakes in History]

Scientists have proposed a number of possible explanations for the strange seismic event near Mayotte, Wei-Haas reported. But none is yet anywhere near confirmed. Perhaps a "slow earthquake" struck the area, the sort that doesn't cause much intense shaking because it occurs over a much longer period of time. Perhaps a bubble of magma squeezed past below the surface, or sloshed around in a big hole in the crust in a way that interacted with the local geology to produce the resonant ringing. Researchers even speculated about a meteor strike, though that seems unlikely. For now, the exact cause remains a mystery.

For more on the unusual seismic event, read the full report at National Geographic.

7 Ways the Earth Changes in the Blink of an Eye7 Ambitious Scientific ExperimentsImage Gallery: This Millennium’s Destructive Earthquakes

Originally published on Live Science.

Mysterious sea creature draws ‘alien’ comparisons with its sharp teeth, spiky skin

Hanna Mary was strolling along a beach with her mom and pup close behind when she spotted what she first believed was plastic sheeting. After a rough storm hit Canterbury, New Zealand, last week, Mary anticipated piles of "rubbish" would wash ashore.

But when she inspected the bizarre-looking object Saturday at a Rakaia Huts beach, shrieking after she realized it wasn't just another piece of trash — it was the skeleton of an "alien"-like critter.

"When I pulled it out and saw all the teeth and barbs I was convinced it was a rare deep sea creature," Mary told Fox News. "I was so excited because I love the ocean and it's inhabitants."

20-FOOT SEA CREATURE COVERED IN SHAGGY HAIR WASHES UP ON PHILIPPINES BEACH

Mary snapped several photos of the mysterious creature, capturing it at all angles. She then turned to social media in hopes of determining what type of species it was.

"Can anyone help identify this fish/ray/alien I found washed up at Rakaia Huts???" she inquired on Facebook.

Dozens of people offered suggestions — from a flying squirrel fish to a saw shark.

Hanna Mary posted photos of the creature online, hoping to identify it. (Hanna Mary)

"Alien definitely alien," one user replied.

"I don't know, looks blood creepy," another wrote, in part.

GIANT 'CONTRACTING' CREATURE SPOTTED ON BEACH STUNS FAMILY: 'IT'S ALIVE'

With its wings, small fins on its back, two "legs" on either side and "barbs all over" that look like teeth, Mary had to partially agree with her followers that it was definitely unusual. That's why she decided to take it to a local taxidermist, though he wasn't able to confirm anything.

Malcolm Francis, a fisheries scientist and marine ecologist at National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), told the New Zealand Herald it's a New Zealand rough skate, also known as a Dipturus nasutus.

"They are called rough skate because they are very prickly … it's quite common in Canterbury," Francis, who has been studying fish for more than 40 years, told the newspaper. "It's like flat shark, it has a skeleton made out of cartilage. They spend much of their time on the bottom."

A marine scientist believes it’s a New Zealand rough skate. (Hanna Mary)

Francis said he was able to determine the rough skate was a male based on it's "legs," which aren't actually legs at all.

"They look like a legs, but they're not," he explained. "They are used to help the male hang onto the female when they are mating."

Mary said many social media users also believe it's a rough skate. However, she hasn't received any confirmation in person thus far. She's planning to take it to an expert for further testing.

"I'm just not sure what to do with it after," she admitted.

New Zealand rough skates often hang out in depths up to 700 feet. (Hanna Mary)

New Zealand rough skates can grow up to nearly 3 feet and typically swim about 700 feet below the ocean's surface, according to Talley's Group, a New Zealand-based agribusiness company. The company noted the species is "considered a delicacy" in the country.

Known for roaming the deep sea, Mary isn't sure how the creature's body made its way to the surface — but she's glad it did.

"Every day [the ocean's] getting more and more destroyed so it's great people get an opportunity to see one of its creatures that they normally wouldn't get to see," she added.

Jennifer Earl is an SEO editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @jenearlyspeakin.

Rotting dead whale had 13 pounds of plastic inside stomach, official says

Park officials were shocked to discover 13 pounds of plastic waste inside the stomach of a dead whale that recently washed ashore in Indonesia.

The rotting 31-foot carcass was discovered at Wakatobi National Park in Southeast Sulawesi late Monday. Rescuers intervened after hearing villagers were beginning to butcher the dead whale, park chief Heri Santoso said.

The animal’s stomach contained 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, two flip-flops, a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other assorted pieces of plastic. Researchers from wildlife conservation group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the park’s conservation academy recovered the items, Santoso added.

SPERM WHALE SWALLOWS 64 POUNDS OF TRASHH, DIES OF 'GASTRIC SHOCK'

“Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful,” Dwi Suprapti, a WWF Indonesia marine species conservation coordinator, said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if plastic consumption was the cause of the whale’s death, Suprapti said.

In this undated photo released by Akademi Komunitas Kelautan dan Perikanan Wakatobi (Wakatobi Marine and Fisheries Community Academy or AKKP Wakatobi), researchers collect data of the carcass of a beached whale at Wakatobi National Park in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. (Muhammad Irpan Sejati Tassakka, AKKP Wakatobi via AP)

The whale’s discovery should raise public awareness about the need to reduce the use of plastics, Indonesia’s coordinating minister of maritime affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said.

“I'm so sad to hear this,” Pandjaitan said. “It is possible that many other marine animals are also contaminated with plastic waste and this is very dangerous for our lives.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ryan Gaydos is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @RyanGaydos.

Shark embryo seen ‘swimming’ inside translucent egg case in ‘very rare’ footage

Using a camera to explore the ocean floor — roughly 820 to 1,200 feet below the surface — off the coast of Puerto Rico last week, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists got a rare opportunity to observe something they hardly see: a live shark embryo.

During the deep sea journey, researchers witnessed 12 different kinds of fish, from bigeye soldierfish to silk snappers with its remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer, the NOAA said in a news release. They also witnessed an array of colorful coral and sponges along Desecheo Island.

But it was a tiny translucent egg case floating nearby that really caught their eye.

"Upon zooming in on this egg case, we were able to clearly see the embryo of a catshark actively swimming within the case," the NOAA described, noting it was attached to a coral branch at the time.

It's a "very rare sighting," as only about 30 percent of shark species actually lay eggs, according to LiveScience. Catsharks, in particular, are also rarely observed since they prefer to hang around depths of anywhere between 1,600 to 2,000 feet, National Geographic reports.

They're the largest shark family, with more than 100 species of the small sharks, which grow up to about 3 feet long.

GREAT WHITE SHARK KILLS DOLPHIN, LOSES MEAL TO EVEN BIGGER SHARK

"Most catsharks live in seas above the upper continental slope, a location that makes it difficult to observe these sharks and collect specimens. Therefore, much information about catsharks remains to be discovered," AnimalDiversity.org reports.

Cat Gordon, a conservation officer at U.K.-based organization Shark Trust, believes the embryo could be anywhere from four to five months old.

"The shark moves backwards and forwards to bring in oxygenated seawater through small slits along the edge of the egg cases and it will also open and close its mouth to pump water over the gills," Gordon told the Daily Mail.

"Egg cases are attached to invertebrates or algae via long strands that coil around a solid base during the few months until hatching. After completing its development, the shark pup will emerge from the case and will be ready to swim in order to maximize its survival chances," NOAA explains.

Jennifer Earl is an SEO editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @jenearlyspeakin.

Dead sea lions, some with gunshot wounds, washing up along shore near Seattle

Since September, at least 13 dead California sea lions have been reported dead along the shores of Puget Sound near Seattle, including six with gunshot wounds and another discovered Tuesday with its head cut off, according to conservation groups.

The Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, a group that responds to dead or stranded sea lions, confirmed seven of those dead sea lions are suspected to have died from “acute trauma” caused by humans, the Seattle Times reported.

Earlier this month, the carcass of a bullet-riddled sea lion washed up along a West Seattle shore and another was found the following day.

“Honestly, I just could not go to look after what I had seen the day before,” said Randie Stone, who discovered a dead sea lion Nov. 14. “To me, this is such a heinous act.”

NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency tasked with managing marine resources, has confirmed the deaths of five sea lions, including four that suffered gunshot wounds, a spokesman said.

The federal government estimates that between 1998 and 2017, about 700 California sea lions have been found with gunshot or stab wounds.

A local marine conservation group announced a $5,500 reward to catch those responsible for the sea lion shootings, Seattle's KING-TV reported.

Robin Lindsey, of the Seal Sitters, said reports of shootings usually increase along with fish runs.

Video

During the fall and spring, sea lions shootings have been reported in Puget Sound when males migrate from the Channel Islands in Southern California to forage for food, NOAA Fisheries spokesperson Kristin Wilkinson said.

“According to those who live and work along the Elliott Bay and Duwamish waterfront, shots are being heard even more frequently this year,” Lindsey wrote in a Nov. 21 posting on Seal Sitters’ Blubberblog.

The sea lions can found primarily along the West Coast and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Previously hunted for pet food and pelts, California sea lions were once on the brink of extinction, but their population has rebounded from less than 90,000 in 1975 to more than 250,000 in 2014.

Rotting dead whale had 13 pounds of plastic inside stomach, official says

Park officials were shocked to discover 13 pounds of plastic waste inside the stomach of a dead whale that recently washed ashore in Indonesia.

The rotting 31-foot carcass was discovered at Wakatobi National Park in Southeast Sulawesi late Monday. Rescuers intervened after hearing villagers were beginning to butcher the dead whale, park chief Heri Santoso said.

The animal’s stomach contained 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, two flip-flops, a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other assorted pieces of plastic. Researchers from wildlife conservation group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the park’s conservation academy recovered the items, Santoso added.

SPERM WHALE SWALLOWS 64 POUNDS OF TRASHH, DIES OF 'GASTRIC SHOCK'

“Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful,” Dwi Suprapti, a WWF Indonesia marine species conservation coordinator, said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if plastic consumption was the cause of the whale’s death, Suprapti said.

In this undated photo released by Akademi Komunitas Kelautan dan Perikanan Wakatobi (Wakatobi Marine and Fisheries Community Academy or AKKP Wakatobi), researchers collect data of the carcass of a beached whale at Wakatobi National Park in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. (Muhammad Irpan Sejati Tassakka, AKKP Wakatobi via AP)

The whale’s discovery should raise public awareness about the need to reduce the use of plastics, Indonesia’s coordinating minister of maritime affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said.

“I'm so sad to hear this,” Pandjaitan said. “It is possible that many other marine animals are also contaminated with plastic waste and this is very dangerous for our lives.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ryan Gaydos is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @RyanGaydos.