A Retirement Home for Orcas Could Be Opening in Washington's San Juan Islands

MarkMalleson/iStock via Getty Images
MarkMalleson/iStock via Getty Images

Governments and organizations around the world are taking steps to keep whales out of captivity. Earlier this year, Canada passed a "Free Willy bill" that makes it illegal to hold whale, dolphins, and other cetaceans captive for entertainment. But such laws do little to help the animals that have spent their whole lives performing in places like SeaWorld and are ill-suited to life in the wild. To help them, the Whale Sanctuary Project wants to build a $15 million sanctuary in Washington state's San Juan Islands where formerly captive orcas (also known as killer whales) can thrive, The Seattle Times reports.

The retirement home for whales would allow the creatures to live in their natural ocean habitat while receiving they same care and protection they became accustomed to while in captivity. Instead of living in tanks, they would swim freely around a 60- to 100-acre netted-off cove. Veterinarians would be available to provide the orcas with emergency care, short-term rehabilitation, and food.

The Whale Sanctuary Project plans to start with six to eight orcas in the facility, with the first arriving in late 2020 or early 2021. In order for that to happen, though, the organization needs to get the permits necessary to build the facility off the Washington coast and raise millions of dollars to fund it. In addition to the estimated $15 million construction costs, the veterinary staff would cost $2 million a year.

The plan is ambitious, but it's not unprecedented. In June, the world's first open-water beluga sanctuary—located in Iceland—received its first residents. The two whales, named Little Grey and Little White, were rescued from a Sea World-like attraction in China. The Whale Sanctuary Project is considering building a similar sanctuary for beluga whales in addition to the one for orcas. Before it moves forward with either project, the nonprofit will hold a series of public meetings around the Washington coast to garner support.

[h/t The Seattle Times]

Cat That Went Missing In Portland, Oregon Shows Up in Santa Fe, New Mexico—Five Years Later

Oleksandr Shchus/iStock via Getty Images
Oleksandr Shchus/iStock via Getty Images

A few weeks ago, 31-year-old medical student Viktor Usov answered a call from the Santa Fe Animal Shelter claiming to have found his cat, Sasha, who had wandered off five years ago—and 1300 miles away from New Mexico.

Usov, who lives in Portland, Oregon, first thought it was surely a different cat. But his name was listed on the microchip, and the shelter workers described a black, long-haired, friendly feline that sounded exactly like Sasha.

According to OregonLive.com, after Usov adopted the cat from the Oregon Humane Society six years ago, his tender loving care (and his mother’s acupuncture treatments) helped cure Sasha’s distended stomach and chronically runny nose. Sasha soon became affable and spirited, even forming a friendship with Usov’s labradoodle puppy, Tara.

A year later, when Sasha disappeared during a walk, Usov assumed the worst.

“We waited a week or so, but when we didn’t get a call from the Humane Society and no one returned him, we figured a coyote got him,” Usov told OregonLive.com. “We were upset but we moved on.”

Not only did Sasha evade every coyote from Portland to Santa Fe, he also somehow managed to stay well-fed and healthy during his epic journey south.

“How [he] managed to survive to get here is the million-dollar question,” Santa Fe Animal Shelter spokesperson Murad Kirdar told the Santa Fe Reporter. “I can tell you [he] hasn’t missed a meal.”

While Kirdar thinks Sasha might have hitched rides on U-Hauls, trains, and/or cars, Usov imagines that his beloved pet embarked on a spectacular sightseeing tour of the West.

“He went on a grand American adventure,” he told KGW. “He stopped by the Grand Canyon, Crater Lake; he saw the monuments, all the national parks, definitely Redwood Forest.”

Sasha might be more adventurous than most house cats, but he’s far from the only one who has turned up years later and miles away—find out the incredible lost-and-found stories of Alfie, Crockett, and seven other cats here.

[h/t OregonLive.com]

Maine Man Catches a Rare Cotton Candy Lobster—For the Second Time

RnDmS/iStock via Getty Images
RnDmS/iStock via Getty Images

Just three months after a cotton candy lobster was caught off the coast of Maine, another Maine resident has reeled in one of the rare, colorful creatures.

Kim Hartley told WMTW that her husband caught the cotton candy lobster off Cape Rosier in Penobscot Bay—and it’s not his first time. Four years ago, he caught another one, which he donated to an aquarium in Connecticut. While the Hartleys decide what to do with their pretty new foster pet, it’s relaxing in a crate on land.

Though the chances of finding a cotton candy lobster are supposedly one in 100 million, Maine seems to be crawling with the polychromatic crustaceans. Lucky the lobster gained quite a cult following on social media after being caught near Canada’s Grand Manan Island (close to the Canada-Maine border) last summer, and Portland restaurant Scales came across one during the same season. You can see a video of the discovery in Maine from last August below:

According to National Geographic, these lobsters’ cotton candy-colored shells could be the result of a genetic mutation, or they could be related to what they’re eating. Lobsters get their usual greenish-blue hue when crustacyanin—a protein they produce—combines with astaxanthin, a bright red carotenoid found in their diet. But if the lobsters aren’t eating their usual astaxanthin-rich fare like crabs and shrimp, the lack of pigment could give them a pastel appearance. It’s possible that the cotton candy lobsters have been relying on fishermen’s bait as their main food source, rather than finding their own.

While these vibrant specimens may look more beautiful than their dull-shelled relatives, even regular lobsters are cooler than you think—find out 25 fascinating facts about them here.

[h/t WMTW]

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