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Stranded Whales Rapidly Dying in Australia



Earlier this week, approximately 200 pilot whales died and only 35 are fighting for their lives after a mass stranding on an Australian beach in Tasmania.

The pilot whales were discovered yesterday on an exposed beach off the coast of Tasmania, Australia’s largest island.

Surprisingly, an even larger pilot whale pod beached itself in the same location in 2020. Few whales survived the mass beaching.

The stranding occurred on Ocean Beach in Tasmania, west of Strahan. Whales were also found stranded on a sand flat inside Macquarie Harbour, south of the town.

Authorities reported yesterday that only 35 of the 230 whales on Ocean Beach had survived. Brendon Clark, the incident controller, said on Thursday afternoon that 32 of the 35 animals had been rescued.

“We still have three animals alive on the northern end beach, but due to access restrictions, primarily tidal influences, we just haven’t been able to access those three animals safely today,” Clark said.

The exposed conditions on Ocean Beach contributed to the high death rate, and for safety reasons, local authorities restricted volunteer participation to those who had previous whale or marine wildlife training or experience.

470 long-finned pilot whales were discovered beached on sandbars and trapped inside the heads of Macquarie Harbour in 2020. This was Australia’s largest-ever stranding of a pilot whale.

Authorities have asked Macquarie Harbour vessel operators to keep an eye out for potential strandings at other locations. Some animals that have been rescued or refloated may rebeach themselves. This is far too often the tragic outcome of whale rescues.

The mass stranding is Tasmania’s second whale disaster in three days. Previously, more than a dozen sperm whales, mostly young males thought to be part of a bachelor pod, were discovered dead on another beach.

Both sperm and pilot whales were thought to be in the area due to abundant supplies of giant squid, a key food source for both whales, that had appeared along the continental shelf.

Rescuers were concentrating on preventing rescued and refloated whales from rebeaching themselves, and local boaters were asked to stay clear.

Local residents and whale enthusiasts have covered the massive beached beasts still on the sands with seawater-soaked blankets and duvets in an attempt to keep the animals alive. It is not always a successful strategy.

Whale strandings have perplexed marine scientists for decades. The largest stranding in Tasmania occurred in 2020, when over 450 pilot whales were discovered.

I have reported numerous incidents of pilot whale beaching, including many along the coasts of the British Isles, as well as numerous other large and small examples from around the world.

Many expert and non-expert theories have been proposed as to why these massive pods of pilot whales – and other species – beach themselves.

Whales may beach themselves if they are sick, dying, giving birth, or confused.

In the case of pilot whales, the pod’s leader and navigator may have become too ill to successfully and safely lead his pod away from the beach and into safer waters.

Natural causes such as earthquakes and storms may play a role, while human factors such as noise may cause a whale to beach itself.

Many whale experts attribute the increase in beaching to climate change, which raises sea temperatures. That is one theory advanced in relation to the numerous Tasmanian beachings.

Pilot whales are classified into two species: long-finned and short-finned. At sea, the two are difficult to distinguish. In fact, the only way to tell the difference between the species is to examine the skulls closely at autopsy.

Neither of the pilot whale species is a whale. They are both extremely large dolphins. Size and weight vary according to species. Pilot whales with long fins are larger than those with short fins.

Adults can grow to be about 21 feet (6.5m) long, with males being three feet (1m) longer than females. Females can weigh up to 3,000lb (1,300kg) and males can weigh up to 5,100lb (2,300kg).

Even most whale experts are baffled as to why so many whales, particularly pilot whales, commit suicide by beaching themselves in large groups.

We do know that female pilot whales are one of the few mammals, other than humans, that experience menopause. Could this have anything to do with it?

Fortunately, neither of the two pilot whale species is seriously endangered. There are at least a million of them in the world.

Man is the only major predator. The Japanese and Faroese islanders continue to hunt and eat them. Some are kept in captivity and are encouraged to perform demeaning jumps and tricks for tourists.

The orca, or killer whale, is another large dolphin that calls itself a whale, in addition to humans. They attack pods of pilots as well as individual animals, but the fights aren’t as predictable as you might think, and pilots frequently come out on top.

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‘Queen’ Founding Member Shares Crop Circle Picture



On May 24th, Brian May, a founding member of the rock band Queen who later earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics, posted several images to Instagram of a crop circle seen near Marlborough, England.

“Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary here in the English countryside?” The photos were captioned by May. “I’d never seen a crop circle before. As a result, I’m always skeptical of them. But yesterday, as we flew back from our production rehearsal space, over a location near Marlborough, there was this. […] Who creates these fascinating works of mathematical art? Is it a hoax? Are they created by extraterrestrials? And… how…? And what is their goal?”
Responses to May’s post have been mixed, with some claiming that the phenomenon is paranormal, while others believe that hoaxers are to blame.

Crop circles have sparked speculation in the modern era since at least the mid-1970s, with theories ranging from hoaxers to otherworldly beings to “earth energies.”

Despite the fact that people have claimed responsibility for certain crop circle formations, mysterious circles of flattened plants discovered in fields date back much further than modern-day hoaxers.

W.Y. Evans-Wentz recorded folktales of faeries coming in the night to thresh farmers’ grain in his 1911 book The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. Similarly, in 1678, an English woodcut pamphlet depicts ‘The Mowing-Devil,’ who is shown mowing crops in a circular pattern.

While some dismiss these as folkloric inspiration for modern-day hoaxers, others see them as proof of a phenomenon that predates man-made imitation.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the crop circle photographed by May.


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DoD Announces Expanded Effort to Investigate UFOs



According to a press release issued by the Department of Defense (DoD):

Due to the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2022, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), amended her original directive to the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security on July 15, 2022, by renaming and expanding the scope of the Airborne Object Identification and Management Group (AOIMSG) to the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).

USD(I&S) Hon. Ronald S. Moultrie informed the department today of the establishment of AARO within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, and named Dr. Sean M. Kirkpatrick, most recently the chief scientist at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center, as its director.

The AARO’s mission will be to coordinate efforts across the Department of Defense and other federal departments and agencies in the United States to detect, identify, and attribute objects of interest in, on, or near military installations, operating areas, training areas, special use airspace, and other areas of interest, and, as needed, to mitigate any associated threats to operational safety and national security. Anomaly, unidentified space, airborne, submerged, and transmedium objects are included.

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security (USD(I&S)) Ronald Moultrie will lead the AARO Executive Council (AAROEXEC), which will provide oversight and direction to the AARO along the following primary lines of effort:

1. Surveillance, Collection and Reporting
2. System Capabilities and Design
3. Intelligence Operations and Analysis
4. Mitigation and Defeat
5. Governance
6. Science and Technology

This newly reported expansion of the Pentagon’s UFO investigation program follows low congressional trust in their investigative efforts.

Following the release of the much-anticipated preliminary assessment report on UFOs by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last year, many in the intelligence community were critical of what they saw as the report’s failure to offer any concrete explanations for most of the incidents examined, particularly in light of concerns about secret Russian or Chinese technology.

The Pentagon then promised to revamp the task force in charge of investigating UFOs, which resulted in the formation of the AOIMSG, which has since been renamed the AARO.

This reflects Congress’ growing interest in UFOs, which was most recently demonstrated during a House Intelligence Subcommittee hearing on the subject last May—the first of its kind in more than 50 years.

The congressional hearing allowed lawmakers to question the Pentagon about unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP)—the current government term for UFOs—and for government officials to explain their current position and outline plans to investigate the issue further.

During the hearing, there were few mentions of extraterrestrials, though the Pentagon did express a particular interest in reports containing unusual flight characteristics such as incredible speed, transmedium capabilities, and undetectable means of propulsion.

Since the existence of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which reportedly ran from 2007 to 2012, was made public in 2017, congressional interest in UFOs has skyrocketed.

Interest in the encounters between Navy pilots and UFOs grew, and in 2019, several senators, including Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), then vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were briefed on them.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, led at the time by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), then included a directive in their Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 ordering the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to create a report on “unidentified aerial phenomena” in consultation with the Secretary of Defense.

That bill resulted in the formation of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), which was in charge of producing the aforementioned preliminary assessment report.


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The Marlborough Monkey is a Cryptid Fans Classic



The latest documentary by researcher and filmmaker Karac St. Laurent, The Legend of the Marlborough Monkey, takes a fresh look at an older and often overlooked series of cryptid sightings in New Hampshire.

Most people don’t think of Bigfoot sightings in the northeastern United States, but St. Laurent has made a compelling case for taking the subject seriously while still having fun along the way.

The film is a tribute to the classic cryptid documentaries of the 1970s, and it was shot to look like an 8mm film being watched on a VHS tape. With thematic music and Robert Ready’s absolutely perfect deadpan narration, viewers could be forgiven for not immediately recognizing this as a documentary shot in 2021.

Despite its aesthetic, the film is very much a product of modern investigation, and St. Laurent conducts field investigations using equipment anachronistic to the 1970s, both solo and in collaboration with Small Town Monsters alum Aleksandar Petakov.

When some filmmakers might have been content to show only the interviews with researchers and witnesses included in the documentary, the field investigations were a nice touch. Folklorist John Horrigan is an especially bright addition to an already entertaining documentary, and his unique blend of wit and historical storytelling could have carried the film on its own.

Horrigan, interestingly, coined the term “The Marlborough Monkey” to describe the hairy humanoid being reported by New Hampshire residents in the 1990s, based on one account in which the witness said the creature looked like an orangutan. Those reports never stopped, and sightings of ‘The Marlborough Monkey’ are still being reported today.

St. Laurent, however, does not stop with stories; similarly to his first documentary, Release the Bodette Film, a variety of evidence is presented for the viewers to peruse. Much like that film, the viewer is ultimately left to decide what to believe, despite the fact that the vast majority of the film approaches the subject from a staunchly materialistic standpoint. Petakov makes a passing reference to high strangeness during an interview late in the film, but otherwise the assumption is that if something strange is going on, it’s most likely an undiscovered primate. This isn’t necessarily a negative, depending on your point of view, and those who prefer materialist science in the hunt for cryptids will appreciate the film’s mainstream take on the phenomenon.

That viewpoint is consistent with the 1970s-era documentaries to which it pays homage, and given the evidence presented, there’s never any sense that the investigation should be taking a different path. If The Legend of Boggy Creek is one of your favorite documentaries, check out The Legend of the Marlborough Monkey.

The Legend of the Marlborough Monkey has a run time of 43:14 and will be available to watch for free on the Crash-Course Cryptozoology YouTube channel starting at noon on September 12th. Expect it to be available on DVD around Thanksgiving.


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