Saturday, May 31, 2008

Record breaking Atlantic halibut

As a fully paid-up monster of the deep, it should have swatted aside any angler with the temerity to try to catch it with a mere rod and line.

But this record-breaking Atlantic halibut bit off more than it could chew when it took on heroic Soren Beck.

As it fought to escape, Mr Beck's small boat had to chase it across the Arctic waters off Norway to prevent either rod or line snapping.

Once the energy-sapping fight was over it took three men to haul the 30-stoner aboard. Back on land, they found it measured 8ft 1in in length, 6ft 4in around the middle and weighed in at 443lb, 24lb more than the previous record for a line-caught halibut.

And if Mr Beck had managed to get it to a British market it would have made around £2,200.

The Dane, who was on holiday, was angling in waters which have given up some giant halibut in recent years.

The biggest, caught by a commercial fisherman, was 63st. Halibut typically reach maturity at ten years and average 3ft 4in in length.

FishWhen the fight was over, it took three men to haul the whopping flatfish on board their boat with the use of a hook on the end of a pole.

The giant fish then fought for his life for an amazing half an hour after he was pulled out of the Arctic circle waters.

FishCato Bekkevold, an expert from the region, said: 'The area where he caught it is famed for cod and coalfish, but last year the Wildwater Camps brought up 80 halibut.

'These halibut can be caught by a variety of methods, but drifting with coalfish or big shad-jigs [a type of hook] baited with a worm have caught the majority.

'There have been some monsters caught by commercial fishermen, with one recently off Norway weighing 314.5kg.

Fish'The biggest in recent times was 329kg caught in the late 90s, and the biggest ever recorded is around 400 kg.

'It is painted in full size at the Halibut museum on the island of Senja.'

Halibut don't recover from over-fishing as fell as other flatfish, and Atlantic halibut are often tagged then released when caught.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Amazing Exotic and Remote Luxury Retreats

Islands Guest author Brian Thibault lives and breathes (and occasionally writes about) international real estate as the CEO of International Listings LLC.

Feeling a little cramped in your thousand square foot Manhattan apartment? Got a few extra million to blow? If so, you too can join the elite of the elite and buy your very own private island. Private islands have always been the mark of the uber filthy rich, and the dream of Joe Everyman running his day-to-day rat race. Maybe it’s not actually owning an island that excited people but the idea itself of being able to afford and own such a rare commodity. What most people don’t realize is that private islands (granted, somewhat less tropical islands) can be bought for as little as $100k, or even rented for weekend getaways.

IslandsIsla de sa Ferradura [Spain] -The Isla de sa Ferradura sits in the Bay of San Miguel just off the North coast of Ibiza, Spain. This 14-acre resort island is fully developed with a hacienda, kitchen, pool, bar, and even a wine bodega. With 300 days per year of sunshine, and a view of the bright blue Mediterrannean Sea, this truly is living large. Most people will never be able to experience even a vacation here - the island rents out for about $230,000 US dollars per week. Price:: $39,700,000 USD

IslandsCabbage Cay [Bahamas] - Cabbage Cay is a private, 35 acre, fee-simple island, located in the World Famous Bonefish flats, within the inner bay of North Eleuthera in the Bahamas. A road has been pushed to the island, so whatever you decide to build on it, your access will be guaranteed for years to come. The island carries up to 24′ elevations. Three sandy beaches, lush vegetation, a protected anchorage area, and abundant exotic wildlife are some of the more amazing amenities. Turtles, fish, and birds abound. Did we mention the sailing is nice in the Bahamas? Price: $2,500,000 USD

IslandsCerralvo Island [Mexico - Gulf of California] - Cerralvo Island is 60 square miles of undeveloped terrain. The island is mountainous as it was a former volcano. It is located in the Cerralvo Channel, in the Sea of Cortez, off the coast of Baja Mexico. These waters are prime for big game fishing. This massive private island could contain several enormous mansions and you still would never see your neighbors. This sandy beach island gets plenty of warm Mexican weather and sunshine, and offers plenty of privacy, yet is only about 30 miles away from the mainland. Price: $35,000,000 USD

IslandsSinger Castle on Dark Island [Canada] - The island sits in the St. Lawrence river between Ontario, Canada and New York, USA. Dark Island isn’t known for its tropical jungle or white sand beaches. The real gem is the 100 year old castle on the island. It was originally built in 1905 as a hunting lodge family retreat by Fredrick Bourne (Then president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company). With towers and secret passages abounding you could literally be your own King of the Castle. The island would be a great getaway from the hustle and bustle, and is still only a short helicopter ride away from New York or Toronto, but it is currently only available for rent. Price: Available upon request - for rent

IslandsNecker Island [British Virgin Islands] - Virgin Record’s super mogul Richard Branson took private islands to a whole new level in the late 1970’s by purchasing Necker Island. Branson built an unparalleled resort, that now rents for approximately $329,000 US dollars per week. The island is in the Caribbean and surrounded by a coral reef with extremely diverse sea life. The island hosts pristine beaches and vibrant plant life. Rock stars party here, Hollywood notables and Google founders get married here, and the closest you’ll ever come is on a Caribbean cruise line. The 360 degree open bedrooms provide one of the best views of the Sunset you’re ever likely to see. Price: $47,000 USD / day

IslandsMusha Cay [Bahamas] - Musha Cay is actually 4 private islands owned by renowned magician David Copperfield. The islands are located 85 miles southeast of Nassau, Bahamas, and has its own runway for top secret celeb landings. This private island resort has 5 houses. The resort offers activities such as snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, a gym, and walking paths, but you could always choose to sunbathe on one of Musha’s seven gorgeous private beaches. Also, Copperfield reportedly has found the “Fountain of Youth” on the Island… can you really put a price on that? Price: $32,250 USD / day for 12 or fewer people.

IslandsTetiaroa [French Polynesia] - Tetiaroa is located 40 miles north of Tahiti, and is actually an atoll comprised of 12 small islands. The island was made famous by the late Marlon Brando. The island currently has only one full time resident: Teihotu, Brando’s son. The island is mostly undisturbed and boasts a tropical bird sanctuary, but there are currently no accommodations on the island for visitors until the new hotel, aptly named “The Brando“, is completed sometime this year. Price: N/A

IslandsCiftlik Island [Turkey] - Just 250 meters from off the coast line of Turkey in the Aegean Sea sits a gorgeous castle-style house, along with a guest house, and servants quarters. One of the few developed islands in the region with water, electricity and telephone. Although this island isn’t much for beaches, the sunny, warm weather, the proximity to mainland Turkey and Rhodes, and the finished house put this island right up there with the best in the world. Price: Approx. $25,000,000 USD

IslandsPiedade Island [Brazil] - Piedad is only 2.5 hours from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and is one of 365 islands in the Angra dos Reis archipelago. The Island is fully developed with a resort, full time staff, and four beaches to choose from. What makes Piedade Island unique is the location - this island is one of the rare private tropical islands outside of the Caribbean, and is a perfect addition to trip to Brazil. Price: Available upon request - for rent

IslandsNygard Cay [Bahamas] - Think Robinson Caruso. This Mayan architecture tree house island is an affluent traveler’s perfect getaway. The Cay lies on the tip of Lyford Cay in Nassau, Bahamas. With waterslides, pools, hot tubs, tennis courts and an 85 foot yacht, this is an adult playground in the rain forest. This is the only way to vacation in the Bahamas. Price: $42,000 USD / day

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The amazing moment a horse

If it had been an equestrian gymnastics event, she would have scored a perfect 10.

After all, it's not every day you see a horse perform a gravity-defying flip of such dizzying proportions.

horseThe four-year-old mare, called Schattenlady, who had lost her rider moments into a race, went into these spectacular acrobatics as she tried to dislodge her loosened saddle as well.

With crowds at the course in Hanover, Germany, watching in horror, she somersaulted right over before falling flat on her back.

horseBut the show was not quite over for Schattenlady, or Shadowlady, as she is known in English.

Happily was only shaken and bruised and walked away soon after.

And amazingly, both horse and jockey emerged from the acrobatics unscathed.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More than 350 people descended on mass to the Millenium Square garden in Leeds

More than 300 people ran riot and destroyed an award-winning garden after they responded to a campaign for a mass water fight on social networking website Facebook.

With the country basking in its recent spell of fine weather, hundreds descended on the Millenium Square garden in Leeds following a listing on the popular website.

Leeds City Council claim around 350 people armed with water pistols and buckets trashed the garden, which scooped a bronze medal at the 2004 Chelsea Flower Show and is a symbol of the city's enduring partnership with Nelson Mandela and his hometown of Durban.

gardenCouncil chiefs claim years of hard work on the square's stunning centrepiece, establishing the garden's exotic greenery, were ruined in the Bank Holiday water fight.

Videos and pictures of people destroying the garden have been posted on the Facebook site and footage has also featured on YouTube. Organisers even boast of the "success" of their "event", the council said.

Plants were trampled, turf ripped up, water features emptied and filled with foam and the mechanism for the fountains is thought to have been damaged during the rampage.

gardenCouncil CCTV footage will now be handed over to the police.

Councillor John Procter, executive member for Leisure, said: "Our parks staff were distraught when they discovered the wreckage.

"Frankly I'm appalled at the total disregard for people's ongoing enjoyment of this beautiful city centre oasis.

garden"To destroy years of careful cultivation for a couple of hours of so-called "fun" is unforgivable.

"We will be pulling out all the stops to make sure everything is put right.

"It will stretch parks staff to the limit when they are already working hard on this year's Chelsea garden and the bedding and container planting for the city's summer displays."

gardenStaff have been busy assessing the damage and spent much of yesterday morning jet-washing masses of mud away from the area.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

X-ray of the python who swallowed a pussy

This amazing X-ray picture shows the skeleton of a kitten inside a python's stomach after being devoured in one gulp by the predator.

Eight-week-old tabby Kohl was seized by the slithering assassin while in the garden of her owner's home in Australia's tropical Northern Territory.

The snake was found with a "bulging belly" by 14-year-old Taara McLaren after she ventured out to feed her pets at 7am yesterday.

SnakeDespite Kohl having a skull three times the size of the 5ft-long python, the reptile was able to dislocate its jaw to swallow the kitten after wrapping itself around and strangling its prey.

Three other kittens from the same litter and five adult cats were unable to stop the savage attack in Darwin suburb of Tiwi.

Cat owner Asha McLaren told The Australian newspaper: "It wasn't a very nice feeling to think that this happened in our back yard.

"My daughter went out to feed the cats and they normally all come running at the sound of the dish, but Kohl was missing.

"She then looked around and saw the snake. She called out to me, saying there was a big snake and that she thought it had eaten Kohl.

"When I went out I couldn't believe it. It had a bulging belly and when we couldn't find Kohl anywhere it was obvious he'd been eaten.

"It was very sad as he was my favourite. He was just gorgeous."

SnakeMs McLaren said they quickly put their other cats in the house and snake catcher Gordon Canning was called out to collect the python.

He said it was unusual for a python to target a cat, but the kitten did not have a chance against the reptile.

He said pythons usually strike at their prey and squeeze it to death before devouring it whole.

"The cat would have been suffocated within minutes," he explained.

"The snake did well - usually it is the other way around with snakes falling victim to cats."

Mr Canning said the snake would be kept at the Ark Animal Hospital in Yarrawonga until it digested its feed.

"At the moment it cannot move very quickly so it could easily be targeted by predators," Mr Canning said.

"Once it has finished digesting the cat, which will probably take about a week, we will release it back into the wild."

Mr Canning urged people to be cautious in their back yards as snakes were on the move as the breeding season nears.

He has been called out to catch more than 100 snakes since becoming Darwin's first 24-hour snake catcher three weeks ago.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Computer keyboards: Harbour harmful bacteria

How your computer's keyboard can be FIVE times dirtier than your toilet seat

Computer keyboards can harbour more harmful bacteria than a lavatory seat, it was claimed yesterday.

Many users are at risk of becoming ill with stomach bugs, according to the consumer group Which?

It warned that 'qwerty tummy', named after the first six letters on a keyboard, could sweep through workplaces after tests on equipment in its own London offices showed alarming results.

KeyboardOne keyboard was so dirty that a microbiologist ordered it to be removed, quarantined and cleaned.

It had 150 times the acceptable limit for bacteria and was five times as filthy as a typical lavatory seat.

Anyone who eats a sandwich or piece of fruit having been tapping on such a keyboard can pick up bacteria that could lead to a stomach upset.

The scientist swabbed 33 keyboards for food poisoning bugs e.coli, coliforms, staphylococcus aureus and enterobacteria and compared the results to those found on a lavatory seat and lavatory door handle.

Four of the keyboards were considered a potential health hazard and one was 'condemned'.

Two had 'warning levels' of staphylococcus aureus and two others had 'worryingly elevated' levels of coliforms and enterobacteria, 'putting users at high risk of becoming ill from contact'.

The expert said the findings were typical of offices all over Britain.

Which? computing editor Sarah Kidner said: 'The shocking results revealed that some of these keyboards were harbouring harmful bacteria that could potentially give their users a stomach upset.

'The germs found could cause food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhoea.

'The main cause of a bug-infested keyboard is eating lunch at desks, as the food deposits encourage the growth of millions of bacteria.

'Poor personal hygiene, such as dodging hand washing after going to the lavatory, may also be to blame.

'Most people don't give much thought to the grime that builds up on their PC, but if you don't clean your computer, you might as well eat your lunch off a lavatory seat.'

Which? found that one in ten people never clean their keyboard, while 20 per cent never clean their mouse.

Around half cleaned their keyboard less than one a month.

The modern practice of 'hotdesking', in which staff sit at different desks every week, means that workers do not know who has been using their keyboard before them.

Miss Kidner said workers and home PC users should give their keyboards a regular clean, adding: 'It's quite simple to do and could prevent your computer becoming a health hazard.'

Which? says users should unplug computers before wiping surfaces with a damp, soft, lint-free cloth.

Keyboards should be unplugged, turned upside down and shaken.
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