Canada Passes 'Free Willy' Bill Outlawing Whales and Dolphins in Captivity

iStock/Rpsycho
iStock/Rpsycho

In response to accusations of animal cruelty, aquariums around the world are moving away from keeping large marine mammals in tanks. On Monday, June 10, Canada made a huge leap toward that goal. CNN reports that Canada's House of Commons passed a bill that bans holding whales, dolphins, and porpoises in captivity, barring special circumstances.

The so-called "Free Willy bill," named after the 1993 film that follows an orca freed from an amusement park, makes capturing and breeding cetaceans for entertainment punishable by a fine up to $150,000 USD. The exceptions to the rule are animals that are in need of rehabilitation, that have been licensed for scientific research, or that are unable to survive in the ocean on their own. The bill has been moving through Canada's legislature since December 2015.

Animal rights activists argue that highly social, intelligent mammals like whales and dolphins are unsuited to life behind glass walls. The 2013 documentary Blackfish, which focused on the captive orcas at SeaWorld, drew the issue into the international spotlight. In 2016, SeaWorld announced that it would end its killer whale breeding program.

Canada's Free Willy bill has already earned approval from the nation's Senate, but it must return there to receive "royal assent" before it can become law. Similar initiatives have been launched in the U.S.: In 2016, California passed a law making it illegal to hold orcas in captivity for "display, performance, or entertainment purposes."

[h/t CNN]

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

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A Prehistoric Great White Shark Nursery Has Been Discovered in Chile

Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
solarseven/iStock via Getty Images

Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) may be one of the most formidable and frightening apex predators on the planet today, but life for them isn’t as easy as horror movies would suggest. Due to a slow growth rate and the fact that they produce few offspring, the species is listed as vulnerable to extinction.

There is a way these sharks ensure survival, and that is by creating nurseries—a designated place where great white shark babies (called pups) are protected from other predators. Now, researchers at the University of Vienna and colleagues have discovered these nurseries occurred in prehistoric times.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, Jamie A. Villafaña from the university’s Institute of Palaeontology describes a fossilized nursery found in Coquimbo, Chile. Researchers were examining a collection of fossilized great white shark teeth between 5 and 2 million years old along the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru when they noticed a disproportionate number of young shark teeth in Coquimbo. There was also a total lack of sexually mature animals' teeth, which suggests the site was used primarily by pups and juveniles as a nursery.

Though modern great whites are known to guard their young in designated areas, the researchers say this is the first example of a paleo-nursery. Because the climate was much warmer when the paleo-nursery was in use, the researchers think these protective environments can deepen our understanding of how great white sharks can survive global warming trends.