Seven Snorkeling Grandmas Discovered a Deadly Sea Snake Population

Velvetfish/iStock via Getty Images
Velvetfish/iStock via Getty Images

If you found out your favorite snorkeling spot was home to 5-foot-long venomous snakes, you’d probably scope out safer waters somewhere far, far away—but a dauntless group of grandmothers did just the opposite.

While studying the small, harmless turtle-headed sea snake in New Caledonia’s Baie des Citrons, two researchers sighted several greater sea snakes (Hydrophis major). The much larger, potentially lethal species proved elusive, and the scientists saw only about 30 of them over three years.

Then, in 2017, seven local grandmothers in their sixties and seventies had an idea. According to a press release, the self-styled “Fantastic Grandmothers” suggested to the researchers—Claire Goiran of the University of New Caledonia and Rick Shine of Macquarie University—that they observe and photograph the greater sea snakes on their regular snorkeling excursions.

snorkeling grandma photographs sea snake
Monique Mazière and Sea Snake 79, nicknamed "Déborah."
Claire Goiran/University of New Caledonia

“As soon as the grandmothers set to work, we realized that we had massively underestimated the abundance of greater sea snakes in the bay,” Goiran said in a press release.

Because of noticeable differences in their patterns, it’s easy to tell greater sea snakes apart in photographs. Not only did the women identify more than 249 greater sea snakes in the bay, they also helped shed light on their breeding habits and offspring. Shine told CNN that the women are a “powerful example” of how members of the broader public can enrich scientific discoveries.

snorkeling grandma photographs sea snake
Claire Goiran/University of New Caledonia

“The incredible energy of the grandmothers and their intimate familiarity with ‘my’ study area have transformed our understanding of the abundance and ecology of marine snakes in this system,” Goiran said. “It’s a great pleasure and privilege to work with them.” The scientists published their findings in the journal Ecosphere.

Fantastic Grandmothers
The Fantastic Grandmothers, from left to right: Geneviève Briançon, Aline Guémas, Monique Zannier, Monique Mazière, Sylvie Hébert, Cathy Le Bouteiller and Marilyn Sarocchi.

Fortunately, the Fantastic Grandmothers swam away from the study unscathed. In fact, there’s never been a recorded incident of a greater sea snake biting someone in the area, which Goiran believes implies a “benevolent disposition.”

The idea of a warm-hearted, cold-blooded venomous reptile seems strange, but perhaps not as weird as these really weird snakes.

[h/t CNN]

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 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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Move Over Dogs, Goats, and Peacocks: Llamas Are the Hot New Therapy Animal

jensenwy/iStock via Getty Images
jensenwy/iStock via Getty Images

Possibly because Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and the rest of the reindeer are pretty busy at this time of year, Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Portland, Oregon, is offering guests the chance to hang out with a few jolly llamas instead.

The Washington Post reports that the friendly, festively dressed llamas belong to Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas, which usually brings them to hospitals, rehabilitation centers, senior communities, hospice care, special-needs organizations, and even schools. According to the organization’s website, the visits help “alleviate loneliness, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress.”

And, though the clinical benefits to the Kimpton’s guests haven’t been proven, hotel manager Travis Williams confirms that everyone definitely loves spending time with the quirky quadrupeds. Last year, after overwhelmingly positive reactions to the llama visits, the hotel decided to bring them back.

“Once we saw the joy that it brought people, we just kept going,” Williams told The Washington Post.

While it might seem like the use of llamas for therapy is a characteristically Portland-ish idea, it’s not the only place you can find them. The New York Times reports that 20 llamas and alpacas are registered with Pet Partners, a national nonprofit organization for therapy animals, and many others are owned and trained by private family farms across the country.

Jeff and Carol Rutledge, for example, have 13 llamas and alpacas on their property in Stockdale, Texas, outside San Antonio. Three of them are registered therapy animals, having passed a test that includes being touched by strangers and staying unaffected while people argue near them.

During their visits to assisted living facilities, veterans’ homes, and other events in the area, the Rutledges have observed the animals having a profound effect on residents’ behavior. One man, who is nonverbal and recovering from a motorcycle accident, will murmur as he grooms one of the llamas. And the Rutledges’ high-school-aged daughter, Zoe, even did a science experiment for her 4-H club that showed the residents’ blood pressure is lower after visiting with the llamas.

While there’s not a very high chance of seeing therapy llamas in airports just yet, you might be lucky enough to see something a little smaller—like LiLou, San Francisco International Airport’s first therapy pig.

[h/t The Washington Post]