Dhaka, July 31 (UNB) - Chase Dekker believes the photo he took of a humpback whale "swallowing" a sea lion is the first time that happening has ever been caught on camera, reports the BBC.
The 27-year-old wildlife photographer and marine biologist had taken a boat of whale watchers out on the water in Monterey Bay, California, on 22 July when the incident happened.
"It wasn't a huge group, only three humpback whales and about two hundred sea lions," Chase tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
"We've seen it all the way up to 100 whales with 3,000 sea lions, so it can get really insane."
The animals were feeding on a school of anchovies at the water's surface when the whale ended up with something a little larger in its mouth than it probably expected.
"We were watching them feed for a long time and then eventually the event - as I call it the once-in-a-lifetime event - happened, and I still can't believe it," he says.
"I had about a split second while the whale was coming up to really comprehend that the sea lion was on top of the whale before shooting the rest of the sequence."
Chase is "more than 100% confident" the sea lion swam away just fine after it ended up in the whale's mouth.
Humpback whales don't have teeth, only baleen plates with bristles inside their mouths. They are filter feeders and the bristles filter food from water - and things like sea lions that don't belong in there.
A whale will usually take less than five seconds lunge-feeding, Chase says, but in this instance sunk slowly over 15 seconds with its mouth open, giving the sea lion ample time to swim away.
"The whale never actually closed its jaws around the sea lion, so it shouldn't have been harmed. Very scared, I'm sure, but not harmed."
Chase says that predators in the sea - such as whales, sea lions, dolphins and sharks - have evolved to hunt the same school of fish together. So he believes ending up inside a whale's mouth is a rare experience for any underwater hunter. It's just tiny fish that need to worry.
When Newsbeat spoke to Chase, he was on his way to Tonga to take a group of nature lovers swimming with humpback whales - but he says there's no risk of any people ending up getting swallowed on this trip.
"We swim with the humpbacks but it's a breeding ground so they're not there to feed," he says.
"Pretty much they almost never even open their mouth, while they're there."
The swimmers won't need to worry about whales connecting with them from underneath - but they should keep their eyes on what's going on above them.
"Last year we had a few encounters where the whales did almost breach on us. That's where they leap all the way out of the water, so we'd be in the water and they'd breach really close, which was also just as scary.
"But I've never come close to having a Jonah experience myself."
New York, Jul 31 (AP/UNB) — A mother duck and her nine babies were crossing a New York City street when three ducklings fell through a storm grate and had to be retrieved by police.
The rescue happened Sunday in the bustling Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope.
Witness Lynn Harris told the news site Gothamist people had noticed the ducks and were following beside them, trying to provide a safe escort when the mother duck was spooked by a dog.
That's when three of her little ones dropped through the grate outside a hospital.
A crowd including animal rescuer Sean Casey gathered to help. Police officers opened the grate — but then dropped it into the hole.
A nurse peeked in and shouted, "They're alive!"
The ducks were then taken to a shelter.
Stratham, Jul 31 (AP/UNB) — A New Hampshire police officer says the kitten he was trying to pick up in a parking lot turned out to be a bobcat, which then jumped onto the roof of a Burger King.
Stratham Officer Matt Callahan tells Seacoastonline.com he was on patrol Saturday and saw the "kitten" run under a car. It eventually climbed a tree near the restaurant.
Once Callahan realized he was dealing with a young bobcat, he called state Fish and Game officers.
He also stood in the drive-thru line to alert customers in case the bobcat decided to come down, but it climbed onto the roof and took a catnap.
Callahan says he and the conservation officer climbed up and put the bobcat in a crate. The bobcat was released at a wildlife refuge.
Los Angeles, Jul 31 (AP/UNB) — A conservation organization in San Diego says it has achieved the first successful artificial insemination birth of a southern white rhino in North America, an important step in saving another rhino species from extinction.
San Diego Zoo Global announced that mother Victoria gave birth Sunday to a healthy southern white rhino male calf in the barn at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park after 30 minutes of labor.
"All of us at San Diego Zoo Global are elated with the arrival of this special rhino calf," said Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive science at San Diego Zoo Global.
Victoria was artificially inseminated with frozen semen from southern white rhino Maoto in March 2018 following hormone-induced ovulation. Victoria carried her calf for over a year — 493 days. Mother and calf will remain off exhibit to the public to allow them time to bond for now.
The calf will eventually be introduced to the other five female rhinos at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center — including Amani, another rhino pregnant through artificial insemination due to give birth in September or October.
"Not only are we thankful for a healthy calf, but this birth is significant, as it also represents a critical step in our effort to save the northern white rhino from the brink of extinction," Durrant said.
The northern white rhino is a distant subspecies of the southern white rhino. Only two northern white rhinos currently remain on Earth — both female.
Scientists say the southern white rhinos will be serving as surrogates for northern white rhino embryos. The reproductive system of rhinos is very complex, but researchers are optimistic that a northern white rhino calf could be born from these processes within 10 to 20 years.
In May, scientists at the Polish zoo Chorzow successfully completed a procedure where they transferred a northern rhino test tube embryo back into a female southern white rhino whose eggs were fertilized in vitro. However, the embryo transferred at Chorzow zoo is smaller than expected. It remains to be seen whether it will implant in the mother's uterine lining and result in a pregnancy.
"There are a lot of technical problems that will be solved, but it will take time," Cesare Galli, whose company specializes in artificial reproduction of horses, told The Associated Press in June .
The last male northern white rhino, named Sudan, died in March 2018. Scientists had preserved frozen sperm samples from several males they are hoping to use to revive the species.
Rhinos have long been from poached because of their horns, and several sub-species are at risk of extinction. Southern rhinos are classified as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
Conservationists say rhinos are important for the survival of many other species because of the role they play in landscaping their native habitat.
St. Petersburg, Jul 30 (AP/UNB) — Russia's second city mixes ornate magnificence and cruel poverty. Vyacheslav Rasner straddles the extremes — becoming an unexpectedly popular tour guide after surviving a decade of homelessness.
With his full white beard and head of messy hair, the 68-year-old Rasner looks like he could have stepped from one of Dostoevsky's accounts of St. Petersburg's lower depths. But his erudition and affection for the city shine through.
Each day, Rasner takes up his post outside the Admiralteiskaya subway station at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m., waiting for clients who want him to lead them around part of the city's main avenue, Nevsky Prospekt. Sometimes he gets as many as 30 people for a single tour.
Rasner's excursion mainly covers the detailed histories of about 15 lesser-known buildings next to each other along the avenue. It's a good education for visitors who have already seen the city's more-renowned sights. But many tourists who join Rasner's tours are mainly excited about his personal story.
Alexander Kazhayev, 28, who traveled to St. Petersburg from Penza, about 800 kilometers away, said he came to see the man whose trajectory has become well known to Russians via the internet.
"I am proud of that man, who is already a legend now, because he is not begging with an outstretched hand but instead makes his living while sharing his valuable knowledge with other people. All this tour experience is so unusual and emotional," Kazhayev said.
"Many people work as city guides, but this man really comes from underground. He is special, and it is obvious that he likes what he does," said another visitor, Viktoria Volosnova.
Rasner used to work as a geography and biology teacher, and freelanced on weekends as a city guide. Then, at age 57, he lost his space in a communal apartment due to a real estate scheme. For about 10 years after that, he lived at a deserted construction site in central St. Petersburg, also taking care of stray dogs and cats.
He said the most difficult part of that life was the long, cold winters and chilly springs. He didn't suffer much from hunger, because he says there were always kind people who helped with food.
At some point, Rasner decided to get back to his city-guide work experience, changing his situation both financially and socially.
"My idea is that I should share the knowledge about my city with other people," he told The Associated Press. "When people are in a hard situation, like they lose their home, they should still stay optimistic and they should act. Acting is life. They should invent something to change the situation."
Rasner's popularity as a guide grew after a volunteer at a private charity for the homeless, Nochlezhka (Night Shelter), created a social-media group about him on Vkontakte, Russia's popular analogue to Facebook.
About a year ago, a woman whom Rasner called his "fan" helped him find a home at a social services building.
Some habits from his homeless years seem to have lingered. Although he now has a spacious two-bedroom apartment that he shares with a neighbor and two cats, it is messy and malodorous.
At the same time, he seems almost obsessively punctual, sticking to a daily routine, including visits to the place where two kind women used to feed him for years, and still do.
Alexander Voronov, a social work expert at Nochlezhka, said Rasner's case helps counter negative stereotypes about the homeless.
"Usually, people think that homeless people are lazy, addicted to alcohol or drugs, have no education and are non-cultural. However, Rasner practices the creative work of a tourist guide, and has a lot of knowledge about the city and its architecture," Voronov said, adding that Nochlezhka's clients have also included former opera singers, writers, marketing experts and business executives.
People often can't imagine how vulnerable they are to the up and downs of fate, Voronov said.
"There are situations when everything collapses at one moment: People lose their job, lose their real estate property due to some deceit, lose their social ties. Their return to normal life is a matter of their psychological strength, ability to adapt and preferably help from outside," Voronov said.