Not Free, Bird: Russian Researchers Were Bankrupted by Their Tagged Eagles’ Roaming Charges

ALI1992/iStock via Getty Images
ALI1992/iStock via Getty Images

Steppe eagles have 7-foot wingspans, mainly eat carrion, and never read the fine print on their cell phone plans.

Russian researchers collectively face-palmed when they realized that the trackers on their tagged eagles had been sending text messages from regions outside of their cell service coverage, resulting in exorbitant roaming charges.

As Gizmodo reports, the trackers automatically sent texts with location updates back to the researchers at the Russian Raptors Research and Conservation Network so they could chart the eagles’ summer migration patterns. If you’re thinking it was a little presumptuous for the researchers to assume the birds would stay within the invisible boundaries of good cell reception, you’re right—but they didn’t assume that. In fact, they expected just the opposite: that the birds would spend the summer in a region of Kazakhstan with no cell reception at all. That way, the researchers would receive the backed-up texts whenever the birds flew back through regions with cell service.

To their credit, the plan mostly worked. The majority of the birds did stay in Kazakhstan and transmitted their unsent messages while flying over parts of Russia and Kazakhstan where the researchers had cell coverage. Unfortunately, a few aberrant adventurers soared all the way to Iran, where there was good reception—just not on the researchers’ cell plan. For months, the trackers sent four messages per day per bird, at about $0.77 each.

We don’t know precisely why these specific eagles ventured so much farther than the norm, but it could have to do with the diminishing of their normal breeding range in Russia and Kazakhstan, where more and more land is being converted to farmland.

In a post on the Russian social media platform VK, the researchers wrote that their budget was “completely exhausted,” and launched a fundraising campaign to raise money for the project.

“They really left us penniless,” researcher Igor Karyakin told Phys.org. “We had to take out a loan to feed the tracker device.”

Luckily, donations from avian aficionados should last the birds at least through the rest of the year.

Interested in learning more about the wonders of our fine-feathered friends? Here are 44 fun facts about birds.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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]

What’s Better Than a Dog in a Sweater? A Sweater That Shows an Image of Your Dog in a Sweater

Sweater Hound
Sweater Hound

If you think the sight of someone walking their sweater-clad dog is just about the cutest thing in the world, you’re absolutely correct. But what if that person was wearing a sweater that showed an image of their dog wearing a sweater? If you think that sounds even cuter, you’re in for a treat.

According to People, New York-based apparel company Sweater Hound will knit you a sweater that displays an image of your dog in a sweater—all you have to do is submit your favorite photo of your dog. And, because not all dogs love wearing sweaters in real life, your dog doesn’t have to be wearing a sweater in the photo you upload.

Each sweater is made from a combination of acrylic and recycled cotton, and will prove to your pet that you truly do love them more than anyone else (unless you already own sweaters emblazoned with the faces of your friends and family).

The sweaters, which cost $98 each, come in both child and adult sizes, and you can choose between cream, navy, black, and gray. The options don’t stop there—Sweater Hound offers sweaters that show your dog wearing just a bow tie, a bow tie and a sweater, a Santa hat and scarf, reindeer ears and a sweater, or even a “Super Dog” cape and domino mask outfit.

sweater hound dog wearing a bow tie on a sweater
Sweater Hound

If sweaters aren’t really your style, there are also hoodies and sweatpants decorated with a smaller, logo-sized image of your dog. Or, you could snuggle with your prized pooch underneath a warm blanket bearing a rather giant image of said pooch.

blanket with an image of a dog wearing a bow tie and sweater
Sweater Hound

While the company does specialize in creating dog-related products, they’ll do their best to accommodate people who love salamanders in Santa hats, birds in bow ties, and other pets wearing clothes. You can email them at Hello@Sweaterhound.com to discuss your options.

If you’re hoping to get someone a gift from Sweater Hound this holiday season, you should act fast: You have to place your order by December 4 in order to guarantee delivery before Christmas, and that date will likely change as the days go by.

Adorable, customizable clothing is just one of the many perks of being a dog owner—here are 10 more scientifically proven benefits.

[h/t People]

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