Land Shrimp Sighting (Western Europe): What is it?

Land Shrimp Sighting (Western Europe): What is it?

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This approx. 6cm long insect was moving rapidly across the asphalt in a wavy/jumpy motion. It makes me think of a shrimp. It has a kind of widened head like a hammerhead shark.

I got two shots with my smartphone camera. Not the best quality.

What is it?

  • Position: Western Europe
  • Season: Start of Summer (June 20)
  • Time of day: Mid-morning
  • Location: Next to a largish marsh area currently kept as mini natural reserve in the middle of agricultural fields after large-area school buildings got dropped on the landscape. Sadly this area is likely to be marred by additional construction soon, the money is just too good and attracts sharks and brown envelopes.

Gray heron seen for first time in contiguous U.S., as species expands range

This tall waterbird, native to Eurasia, was spotted in Nantucket. Could the species soon establish a foothold in the Americas?

Skyler Kardell gets to watch birds for a living, in his job as a coastal steward on Tuckernuck Island, part of the town of Nantucket, Massachusetts. While patrolling the beach on September 5, observing terns, the 18-year-old spotted what initially looked like a great blue heron, a waterbird commonly seen there. But on closer look, something was off—it appeared smaller and paler.

“It had a shorter neck, shorter legs, and shorter bill than a great blue,” Kardell says. In fact, it looked like a gray heron, though Kardell had only seen one before in a book. But these birds are native to Eurasia and Africa.

“I had my suspicions right from the get-go, but because this identification poses a number of issues, I knew I had to be careful with my excitement,” he says.

Kardell reviewed his initial photographs and returned the next day to Tuckernuck to find the bird, but it was no longer there. That afternoon he took a boat to neighboring Muskeget Island to continue searching with two friends. It was as if the bird was waiting for them. He took more photos and shared them with the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee, which confirmed his initial hunch: definitely a gray heron.

This is the first time the species has ever been recorded in the contiguous United States, scientists say. It shows that gray herons are increasing their range and suggests that the species could one day establish a population in the Americas. The find is surprising not only because of the distance this heron must have traveled, but also due to how difficult it is to discern a gray heron from the great blue heron.

And as unexpected as it is, it’s yet one more example of how frequently birds can find themselves in areas outside their range, so-called “vagrant” birds. This is a tendency that scientists are increasingly accepting as a natural part of their biology, rather than a fluke, says Richard Veit, a director at the Tuckernuck Land Trust, a conservation organization in Nantucket, and an ornithologist at the College of Staten Island in New York City.

Mysterious Underwater ‘Crop Circles’ Found Off the Coast of Australia

Crop circles have always been found where crops are growing (hence the name) and whatever is creating them seems to be partial to the UK, although there are enough sightings scattered across Europe and occasionally in the U.S. to keep from claiming them as an exclusive British phenomenon. It turns out they may no longer be an exclusive on-land anomaly either – an underwater research crew discovered what appear to be crop circles off the coast of Western Australia. Even more interesting, while many suspect the above-ground crop circles are made by aliens to send messages between each other (although why they wouldn’t just text is baffling) but can provide no proof, these underwater crop circles are definitely made by ‘aliens’.

“It is surprising to find the circles … at a depth where there is not much light.”

Elisabet Forsgren, a behavioral ecologist at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, must not be familiar with how normal crop circles appear to be made in the dark of night or she might not be so puzzled by the videos taken by marine ecologist Todd Bond and researchers from the University of Western Australia in Perth at a depth of 100 meters on Australia’s North West Shelf. They were conducting a marine life survey on the North West Shelf (Australia’s largest offshore oil and gas extraction project) when they saw an unusual pattern on the ocean floor … circles in patterns very similar to crop circles.

“We were doing a survey of fish on subsea infrastructure and I knew exactly what they were straight away.”

You can’t fool a marine ecologist like Todd Bond, who knew right away what these circles were … and that they were indeed made by an alien species.

“As far as we know, up until now, there’s only one species of pufferfish that makes these circles and that’s the white-spotted puffer. We recognised the circles from a BBC documentary which had some amazing footage of how these pufferfish make these circles in Japan.”

A common pufferfish puffed

It pays to watch TV! In interviews with Science News and The Daily Mail announcing the publication of his study in the Journal of Fish Biology, Bond describes remembering seeing similar patters in a BBC documentary about the white‐spotted pufferfish (Torquigener albomaculosus), a species found only in the waters around Japan that uses these seafloor circles to send messages about growing crops. Wait … aliens making circles to send messages? Where have we heard this before?

“’The males take about a week to make these quite elaborate nests and then the female will go from nest to nest. She’ll decide which one she wants to lay her eggs at and she’ll lay her eggs at the centre of the circle.”

That’s right – male white‐spotted pufferfish make patterns in the sand to attract females to lay their eggs in what will then become a nest for the next ‘crop’ of white‐spotted pufferfish. (Photos and video here.) But this only happens in Japan … what are these pufferfish circles – 22 in all so far — doing in Australia?

“We don’t know the species that is making the circles in Western Australia, it could be the white-spotted puffer or a different species of puffer. It could be a new species of puffer that we’ve never discovered before, or it could be a local species off the coast that we’ve never actually seen.”

A white-spotted pufferfish

Bond suspects these are either a new species or a mutant alien version of the Japanese species because of the depth (the circles are never found below 30 meters in Japan) and the fact that no local pufferfish species are ever seen swimming this deep. However, the underwater camera captured a couple of pufferfish fleeing the area, which is why he suspects they are something never seen before.

Most people only know of the pufferfish in sushi terms – Fugu is the poisonous pufferfish that brave souls attempt to eat without dying. Have these Australian white‐spotted pufferfish fled Japanese sushi chefs and evolved to live at greater depths to avoid Australian sushi lovers? Strange things have happened and it makes more sense that ETs leaving messages for each other on cornfields. For now, marine biologists are content with searching for more of the underwater circles and identifying the species making them.

Rise In Asian Tiger Shrimp Sightings Prompts Scientific Look At Invasion Concerns

SILVER SPRING, Maryland -- The recent rise in sightings of non-native Asian tiger shrimp off the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts has government scientists working to determine the cause of the increase and the possible consequences for native fish and seafood in those waters.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are working with state agencies from North Carolina to Texas to look into how this transplanted species from Indo-Pacific, Asian and Australian waters reached U.S. waters, and what the increase in sightings means for native species.

"We can confirm there was nearly a tenfold jump in reports of Asian tiger shrimp in 2011," explained Pam Fuller, the USGS biologist who runs the agency's Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database. "And they are probably even more prevalent than reports suggest, because the more fisherman and other locals become accustomed to seeing them, the less likely they are to report them."

NOAA scientists are launching a research effort to understand more about the biology of these shrimp and how they may affect the ecology of native fisheries and coastal ecosystems. As with all non-native species, there are concerns over the potential for novel avenues of disease transmission and competition with native shrimp stocks, especially given the high growth rates and spawning rates compared with other species.

"The Asian tiger shrimp represents yet another potential marine invader capable of altering fragile marine ecosystems," said NOAA marine ecologist James Morris. "Our efforts will include assessments of the biology and ecology of this non-native species and attempts to predict impacts to economically and ecologically important species of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico."

The cause of the rapid increase in sightings remains uncertain, Fuller added. The non-native shrimp species may have escaped from aquaculture facilities, although there are no longer any known Asian tiger shrimp farms presently in operation in the United States. It may have been transported in ballast water from ships or possibly arrived on ocean currents from wild populations in the Caribbean or other locations.

Fuller's team at USGS has been tracking reports of Asian tiger shrimp since they first came to the attention of marine scientists and resource managers in 1988, when nearly 300 of them were collected off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida within three months. Scientists tracked the cause back to an isolated incident that accidentally caused an estimated 2,000 animals to be released from an aquaculture facility operating at that time in South Carolina.

It was not until 18 years later that reports of the non-native shrimp resurfaced. In 2006, a commercial shrimp fisherman caught a single adult male in Mississippi Sound near Dauphin Island, Ala. Within months, additional specimens were noted in North Carolina's Pamlico Sound, Louisiana's Vermilion Bay and other parts of Florida and the Carolinas. The species was later reported off the coasts of Georgia, Mississippi and Texas in 2008, 2009 and 2011, respectively.

Scientists have not yet officially deemed the Asian tiger shrimp "established" in U.S. waters, and no one is certain what triggered the recent round of sightings. With so many alternative theories about where these shrimp are coming from and only a handful of juveniles reported, it is hard for scientists to conclude whether they are breeding or simply being carried in by currents.

To look for answers, USGS and NOAA scientists are examining shrimp collected from the Gulf and Atlantic coasts to look for subtle differences in their DNA, information that could offer valuable clues to their origins. This is the first look at the genetics of wild caught Asian tiger shrimp populations found in this part of the U.S., and may shed light on whether there are multiple sources.

"We're going to start by searching for subtle differences in the DNA of Asian tiger shrimp found here – outside their native range –to see if we can learn more about how they got here," said USGS geneticist Margaret Hunter, "If we find differences, the next step will be to fine-tune the analysis to determine whether they are breeding here, have multiple populations, or are carried in from outside areas."

Anyone who sees one or more shrimp suspected to be an Asian tiger shrimp is asked to note the location and report the sighting to the USGS NAS database at

If possible, freeze a specimen to help confirm the identity and contribute to a tissue repository maintained by NOAA.

How to Identify Bloody Red Shrimp

  • Female bloody red shrimp are up to 1.7 centimetres long, while males are up to one centimetre long.
  • Bodies are translucent with bright red to reddish-orange colouring, especially around the head and tail. The colour varies depending on light and temperature.
  • The shrimp are most often seen during the day in shaded waters as reddish swarms of tiny animals.
  • Eyes are large and black, and extend from the body on short stalks.
  • The tail is square with two spines at the end.

The Official National Animal of Netherlands

The lion is widely regarded as a national symbol of the Netherlands. Although lions haven’t existed in Western Europe for thousands of years, this animal was a popular regal symbol of strength and power throughout European history. It has been a part of the country’s coat of arms since its independence in the 16th and 17th centuries. In addition, the black-tailed godwit is the official national bird of the Netherlands. It is a long-legged, long-billed migratory bird that wades into the water to feed.

Burbot Bounce Back

Moureen Matuha points at a group of blotchy brown fish with eel tails and catfish heads huddled together like a pile of sleeping puppies on the bottom of the tank.

&ldquoThese burbot are napping. They actually nap,&rdquo said Matuha, a University of Idaho doctoral student studying environmental science in Moscow. &ldquoBut it&rsquos chaos when you feed them.&rdquo

Burbot are staging a comeback in Idaho. Ken Cain, a professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences and associate director of U of I&rsquos Aquaculture Research Institute, has helped rebuild Idaho&rsquos burbot population. The fish numbered fewer than 50 in the Idaho wild in the early 2000s, but a conservation effort led by the Kootenai Tribe has increased Idaho&rsquos wild population to around 20,000 adults. The repopulation effort was so successful the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will initiate a recreational burbot fishery in 2019 along the Kootenai River.

Now Cain wants to shift from conservation to commercial aquaculture. Currently, burbot are not farmed commercially for food in the United States.

&ldquoWe have to domesticate the fish,&rdquo said doctoral student Neil Ashton in national resources. &ldquoWe are trying to fine-tune their growth and reproductive biology for the aquaculture setting.&rdquo

Life as a Larvae

Baby burbot present a challenge for aquaculture because they go through what scientists call a larval stage once hatched.

&ldquoWhen they hatch, they are so small you can&rsquot feed them an artificial diet like young trout or salmon,&rdquo said Cain, who is in U of I&rsquos College of Natural Resources. &ldquoThey are basically the size of an eyelash.&rdquo

Instead, baby burbot feed on small plankton called rotifers before graduating to brine shrimp and later artificial pellet feed. Ashton, who is from Seattle, Washington, has spent the past few years tweaking burbot diets and nursery conditions to increase survival rates.

&ldquoA fish can carry a million eggs, and survival is low in the wild,&rdquo Ashton said. &ldquoWe are getting up to 20 percent survival through larval stages. That is a really good percentage for these fish.&rdquo

But raising live food is labor-intensive and expensive compared to pellet feed. Cain hopes researchers can reduce the time baby burbot spend eating live food by either selecting for fish that grow fast or introducing smaller dry diets at earlier stages in the life cycle.

Once they do start feeding on larger food, burbot can become cannibalistic, eating their fellow burbot. Ashton learned he could discourage this behavior by providing an abundance of food and removing any large fish from the tank.

In the future, the team will test how different commercial feeds affect burbot growth and health. For example, the Soy Aquaculture Association has provided a grant to look into soy-based food as a more sustainable protein source for aquaculture. The data gained will inform the feeding recommendations Cain provides to fish farmers.

Ice, Ice Burbot

Burbot are a coldwater fish. Adults only spawn in late winter when the water is just above freezing. If the water temperature rises even a few degrees, most eggs won&rsquot hatch.

On the plus side, Cain said the fish will likely grow well across northern states. But inducing a spawning event and caring for eggs and larvae can be tricky. Matuha is varying temperature and day length, which is short in late winter, to see if adult burbot spawn outside of their regular spawning time.

In addition, the team wants to create sterile fish. They shock the eggs with quick changes in temperature and pressure to induce genetic changes that result in sterilized fish. The researchers are now testing how far along in development they should wait before shocking the eggs.

&ldquoIn some areas there may be concerns about them escaping and becoming invasive species,&rdquo Cain said. &ldquoIf we can produce sterile fish, producers may be able to grow them in places where they might not otherwise be allowed.&rdquo

In addition, Ashton said the energy the fish usually put toward growing sex organs would be shifted to increased body size.

The Fish Technology Program at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls and a handful of fish farmers are growing the fish in aquaculture environments usually used for trout. Like many trout farms in Idaho, spring water flows through their tanks at 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

&ldquoWe have found that burbot grow really well in this water,&rdquo Cain said. &ldquoIt is a good way for trout farmers to diversify what they are producing.&rdquo

Burbot and Chips

In 2017, Cain&rsquos group worked with U of I Aquaculture Extension Specialist Gary Fornshell, The College of Southern Idaho and Leo Ray, owner of the Idaho Fish Breeders company, to provide burbot to a southern Idaho restaurant. Roughly 150 customers who ordered burbot &ndash a mild, white meat &ndash completed surveys and overall the fish received rave reviews.

&ldquoIf you wrap it in bacon, it tastes a lot like a scallop,&rdquo Ashton said.

As part of her project, Matuha, who is from Uganda, will continue studying the potential markets for burbot, including surveying other Northwest restaurants. She will also investigate other uses for the fish. In Europe, the eggs are used as caviar, the skin made into designer leather purses and the liver sold as a delicacy.

&ldquoCan we look to Europe to see what they have done and the feasibility of selling these items here?&rdquo Matuha asked. &ldquoMaybe Americans will not be interested, but it would be good if there&rsquos another way to contribute money to the industry.&rdquo

This project was funded under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture award 2016-38500-25755 given to the University of Washington and awarded to the University of Idaho by the Western Regional Aquaculture Center. The total amount of federal funding for the project is expected to be $417,000, which amounts to 100 percent of the total cost of the project to date $60,900 has been provided.

Animal Diversity Web

The blacktip shark is widespread in all tropical and subtropical continental waters. These waters include: the Western Atlantic Ocean (including the Caribbean Sea), the Eastern Atlantic, the Indo-West Pacific (Southeast Asia and Australian waters), Central Pacific (Hawaiian Islands), Eastern Pacific (Californian coast) as well as in the Red Sea (Compagno, 1984).


Blacktip sharks are common tropical, warm-temperate, inshore and offshore sharks (Stafford-Deitsch, 1987). They are often found on or near the continental and insular shelves. Blacktips are also commonly found close to the shore, in estuaries as well as river mouths (Stafford-Deitsch, 1987). They are also found in shallow muddy bays, mangrove swamps of high salinity, lagoons, coral reef dropoffs and in areas found far offshore (Compagno, 1984). Blacktip sharks usually stay in waters shallower than thirty meters and can handle freshwater environments but are rarely found in them (Compagno, 1984).

Physical Description

Blacktip sharks are relatively large sharks, grey in color with a long pointed snout. They have small eyes. The teeth are narrow, erect and narrow-cusped serrated upper anterolatheral teeth (Compagno, 1984). Blacktips lack an interdorsal ridge and have relatively large pectoral fins (Compagno, 1984). The first dorsal fin is large with a black tip on the rear. The second dorsal fin is much smaller yet contains a black tip as well. Usually, most fins on the black tip sharks contain black tips (with the exception of the tail-fin) (Stafford-Deitsch, 1987).

  • Other Physical Features
  • ectothermic
  • heterothermic
  • bilateral symmetry
  • Range mass 30 to 100 kg 66.08 to 220.26 lb


Female blacktips are viviparous and contain a yolk-sac placenta. The number of offspring per litter ranges from 1-10 (usually 4-7)(Compagno, 1984).

Gestation of the young lasts anywhere from 10-12 months (Compagno, 1984). The young are born in late spring or early summer. Pregnant females move inshore to drop their young in nursery and pupping grounds. Young are believed to be produced in alternate years by each female blacktip (Compagno, 1984).



Blacktip sharks fast-swimming sharks that often travel in schools. They are active and usually found in near surface waters of shallower marine areas (Taylor, 1993). Blacktips are often confused with related spinner sharks because of their feeding method. A blacktip often shoots itself through the surface water and can rotate up to three times around its axis snapping in all directions in hope of attaining food (Compagno, 1984).

Food Habits

Blacktip sharks are primarily fish eaters (Taylor, 1993). The prey species include a number of bony fishes including sardines, menhaden, herring, anchovies, ten-pounders, sea catfish, coronetfish, tongue-soles, threadfins, mullet, spanish mackeral, jacks, groupers, snook, porgies, mojarras, emperors, grunts, slipjaws, butterfish, croakers, soles, tilapia, triggerfish, boxfish and porcupine fish (Compagno, 1984). Occasionally blacktips even consume small sharks. They also consume other aquatic organisms such as guitarfish, skates, butterfly rays, stingrays, eagle rays, squid, cuttlefish, octopi, crabs and lobsters (Compagno, 1984). Blacktips are quite prone to feeding frenzies when there is competition between sharks for a common abundant food source (Stafford-Deitsch, 1987).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Blacktips are used as a food source for human consumption. Their hide can be used to make leather goods. Due to the high vitamin content of the liver oil, it is used for vitamins. The dead carcasses can also be used as fish meal (Compagno, 1984).

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There have been instances of blacktip attacks on humans, though these instances are very rare. It is also common for blacktips to get caught in shrimp trawl nets (Compagno, 1984 Taylor, 1993).

Conservation Status

As is true with many species of shark, blacktips have experienced reductions in their numbers. This is due to overfishing and killing of the shark. The blacktip however is still a relatively abundant species of shark and is currently not protected by federal law.


William Fink (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Nicholas Thomas (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


the body of water between Africa, Europe, the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), and the western hemisphere. It is the second largest ocean in the world after the Pacific Ocean.

body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.

structure produced by the calcium carbonate skeletons of coral polyps (Class Anthozoa). Coral reefs are found in warm, shallow oceans with low nutrient availability. They form the basis for rich communities of other invertebrates, plants, fish, and protists. The polyps live only on the reef surface. Because they depend on symbiotic photosynthetic algae, zooxanthellae, they cannot live where light does not penetrate.


Copagno, L. 1984. Sharks of the World . Rome, Italy: United Nations Development Programme Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Stafford-Deitsch, J. 1987. Shark . 730 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109.: Sierra Club Books.

Taylor, L. 1993. Sharks of Hawaii: Their Biology and Cultural Significance . 2840 Kolowalu Street Honolulu, Hawaii 96822: University of Hawaii Press.

Bizarre Paranormal Mysteries of World War I

Wars can be wellsprings of unsolved mysteries and unexplained phenomena on top of all the death, with bizarre, puzzling tales blooming up out of the battle torn earth and scattered amongst the landscape of fighting and killing. Most often overshadowed by the historical records and news of politics, battles and intrigue permeating war, these cases have nevertheless managed to flit about the periphery of these tragedies. One of the most intense, horrific wars of human history certainly has its own dark patches of weirdness haunting it, and World War I is pervaded by all manner of strange phenomena and bizarre tales.

World War I broke out across our planet between the years of 1914 and 1918, and spread like a disease from a diplomatic crisis in Europe to infect all the world’s great economic powers of the time with the determination to kill, who were inexorably drawn in to what would be one of the most voracious, bloodiest, and costliest wars in all of history, and which mostly eventually devolved into more or less a battle of attrition and marked the rise of horrific, brutal trench warfare. The world was engulfed in warfare at the time, waged between the Allies, eventually consisting of the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as the United states, Japan, and Italy, and their enemies the Central Powers, including The German Empire, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria. The carnage that ensued would ultimately change the map of our world, dissolve the German Empire, Russian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, and leave an estimated 16 million people dead and large swaths of the landscape in ruin, and it is here from this storm of bloodshed that some decidedly weird accounts originate.

By far one of the more widely circulated and well-known purported strange occurrences of World War I supposedly happened during the bloody Battle of Mons, in Belgium, in 1914, in which the British Expeditionary Force met the advancing German 1st Army in ferocious battle on the French border, at first managing to drive the enemy back somewhat but ultimately suffering heavy casualties at he hands of the well-trained, well-equipped and more numerous enemy forces. In August of 1914, suffering a great toll under the withering assault by the persistent, overwhelming Germans and hobbled by the withdrawal of their French Fifth Army allies, the British decided to finally retreat. It was then that some rather mysterious and wondrous reports of some decidedly odd things are said to have happened.

Troops in the trenches of World War I

As the British fell back under fierce, unrelenting enemy fire, English soldiers claim that various mysterious apparitions began to appear to them over the battlefield. The surreal, ghostly entities were variously described as angels, bowmen, or even St. George himself or St. Michael holding a great glowing sword, and in one case even Joan of Arc, and they were all said to descend down between the retreating British and their enemies to allow them a safe escape. Descriptions that came in varied, with some soldiers swearing they had seen literal angels prowling through the gloom of smoke and battle, others saying that they had been mighty and colossal angelic figures that loomed high over all they surveyed like mountains, while still others claimed to have seen just roving bright lights, but all who saw these mysterious apparitions credited them with thir survival.

One retreating British unit claimed that they had been joined by a spectral army of bowmen who were described as looking as if they had come from the time of Agincourt 500 years before, and which lashed forth with a rain of shadowy arrows upon the Germans. It was even claimed that German prisoners would later corroborate these claims, saying that they had been confronted by ancient looking warriors wielding bows and dressed in armor. Hundreds of dead Germans were allegedly found later strewn about the battlefield with no visible physical wounds, leading to suspicions that some sort of poison gas had been used. Another report told of giant winged entities that bloomed out of the smoke to frighten the Germans away as the British skittered off to safety. One report was relayed to a nurse by an injured corporal, who claimed:

Quite plainly in mid-air a strange light which seemed to be quite distinctly outlined and was not a reflection of the moon nor were there any clouds. The light became brighter and I could see quite distinctly three shapes, one in the center having what looked like outspread wings. The other two were not so large, but were quite plainly distinct from the center one. They were above the German line facing us. We stood watching them for about three-quarters of an hour. All the men with me saw them. I have a record of fifteen years’ good service, and I should be very sorry to make fool of myself by telling a story merely to please anyone.

In other reports lost soldiers told of glowing angels both male and female and dressed in white appearing to them to guide the way, and in still others there was talk of strange amorphous clouds of flickering light that spread out to block the retreat of the enemy or spook the horses of their cavalry to send them running away in fear. In most cases light bathed beings would fan out and chase off the German enemies in some fashion. Many captured Germans would later allegedly concur that something strange had been going on, reporting seeing the entities themselves roaming about, and claiming that they were unable to be shot and killed with their conventional weapons. Reports of these specters were so common at the time that they became a worldwide media sensation, and were seen by many as a sign from God, a heavenly force sent in to save them from the darkness of defeat. Indeed, the British lost far fewer men than they had any right to during the battle, which was seen as evidence that it was all true. Before long, the reports of the “Angels of Mons,” were being heavily used by Allied media to illustrate that theirs was a righteous cause condoned by God Himself in the face of the evil Germans and their sinister cabal.

Of course, there has been much debate as to the veracity of these reports, and it does seem a little convenient that they should come at a time when Allied morale in the face of their ruthless enemy was low. It has also been pointed out that this could have all been put down to mass hallucinations and hysteria fueled by all of the death, tiredness and fear that was flying about during the fighting, bolstered by religious superstition and strong, desperate hope for some sort of savior. Further complicating matters is the fact that although such reports were widely circulated at the time, most of them could not be tracked to any concrete source, and later attempts to actually find any live firsthand witness were mostly met with failure, with the military saying that their identities were being protected and leading many to suspect that the whole story of the Angels of Mons could have been designed and carried out as morale boosting propaganda bolstered by unfounded rumors amongst the soldiers, after which it spun off into myth and legend. Whatever the case may be, it is all quite the bizarre story indeed, and still manages to capture the imagination to this day.

Another story of ghostly forces fighting can be found within the pages of James Wentworth Day’s 1954 book Here are Ghosts and Witches. In the account, Day describes a very peculiar experience in November of 1918 at Bailleul, Flanders. He claims that he and another witness, a Corporal Jock Barr, witnessed spectral French and German soldiers atop a hilltop who seemed to be reenacting a World War I cavalry battle from 1914. Throughout the whole violent, eerie encounter there was no noise and the ghosts did not seem to actually harm each other. When locals were asked about the incident they simply said that around that time of year the spectral forces would always come out, do battle, and then vanish. Although this is all presented amongst supposedly real ghostly occurrences, it is uncertain just how much veracity the account holds, as Day was well known for his love of spooky folklore and his propensity for exaggeration.

Reports of ghosts or apparitions of some sort appearing on the battlefields of World War I in the darkest hours are plentiful. In one account from the battlefield of Mons, two British soldiers who lie dying in the bloody muck beneath them claimed that as they were wounded and helpless they spied the ghostly form of an old woman dressed in a bonnet and a bright blue skirt stalking about and always seeming to wander right into their line of fire. At first they thought they were going mad until a third soldier claimed to see the woman too, and chillingly stated that it was his dead mother and that he believed she had come for him. Just as he made this unsettling revelation he is reported to have been blown to bits by shrapnel.

While in this case it seems the ghost was their to collect her son’s soul, there are other accounts of benevolent dead family members, comrades, or friends appearing in battle to offer help as well. One rather sensational account printed in the Liverpool Echo was a sighting made by an entire company of men, who swore that their dead commanding officer had appeared to them on the battlefield. The officer in question had sustained grievous injuries from a grenade blast in a prior battle, including two missing arms blown from his body, from which he would die on the way to the hospital, yet nevertheless suddenly appeared before the company commander, who walked forward to get a better look before the apparition vanished. Startled and disbelieving his own eyes, the officer frantically rushed along a trench to the company headquarters, where he asked if anyone else had seen the dead man too. One of the men responded:

See whom? Do you mean the Colonel? Yes, we saw him, standing still, looking down the trenches just here we looked at him for fully a minute, and suddenly HE WAS NOT THERE. Can’t make it out at all. All of the men saw him too, and I don’t know if you noticed it or not but he had BOTH his arms.

Another such ghostly account comes from a soldier’s letter home, in which he described having his life saved by the ghost of his mother. The soldier claimed that in the heat of battle his mother had appeared and urged him towards her. As the dumbstruck soldier had shambled in her direction, not knowing what to make of what he was seeing, an artillery shell hit near where he had been standing before his sighting. The soldier wrote, “Had it not been for you, I certainly would have been reported missing. You’ll turn up again, won’t you, mother, next time a shell is coming?”

In still another account a soldier claimed that he had been apparently saved by the spectral presence of his deceased brother. On this occasion, in April 1917, a soldier in the 42nd Battalion of the Canadian Black Watch, a Corporal Will Bird, was fast asleep on the cold, hard dirt floor of a dugout at Vimy Ridge, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. The area was the location of the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge, fought between Canadian and German forces. Bird woke to a pair of hands gently shaking him, which he thought at first to be those of a squad mate, but upon opening his eyes he was instead greeted by the visage of his brother, Steve, who had died while serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France in a battle a couple of years earlier.

The dead brother allegedly urgently beckoned Will to follow him, which he did. He followed the ghostly apparition over the scorched, bombed out moonscape of the no man’s land until they reached the husk of a destroyed building on the fringes of the battlefield wasteland. At this point, the dead brother Steve took a long, thoughtful look at Will and then vanished into thin air. Scared, puzzled, and exhausted, Will did not have the inclination to make his way all the way back to his own dugout, and instead slept there in the ruins. When he awoke a few hours later he reportedly started his journey back to his group, but when he arrived he found a bombed out shell where the dugout had been and body parts strewn all about by the men who had been “dismembered beyond all recognition.” No one had survived, except Will that is, because he hadn’t been there, led off into the dark gloom away from danger by his dead brother. Bird would later on in life write a book about the experience, called Ghosts Have Warm Hands.

These last two accounts were written of by the author, historian and military researcher Tim Cook, who has compiled many such spooky, supernatural cases during the war into a study in The Journal of Military History. According to Cook, such cases were not so unusual among these scared men in a bloody, frightening land far from home. He thought such stories were born of fear and uncertainty, mixed with the death all around them, and that these tales could not only boost morale and offer a ray of hope in the otherwise deep dark oblivion of the ravenous war they faced, but also give them something they could try and make sense of among all of the senseless carnage. Cook says of such paranormal accounts during World War I:

As a threshold borderland, the Western Front was a place for such spectral thinking and haunting, where the strange was made ordinary, where the safe was infused with danger, where death was natural and life fleeting. The unnatural, supernatural, uncanny and ghostly offered succour to some soldiers, who embraced these ‘grave beliefs’ to make sense of their war experience. It was a common response for some soldiers who lived in a space of destruction and death. As I read the memoirs, letters, and diaries of soldiers I kept encountering the uncanny, the supernatural, and even the spectral.

Or maybe they were just ghosts? Who can say? The poet Robert Graves gave several of his own personal accounts of ghosts, one of which occurred in June of 1915 as he had dinner with his fellow troops at Béthune, in Northern France. As they ate, Graves says that he saw an old comrade of his, a Private Challoner of the Royal Welch, standing there at the window smoking a cigarette, which was odd since Challoner was very dead at the time, having been killed at Festubert the previous month. Shocked, Graves ran outside but saw no one there, merely a cigarette butt still smoldering on the ground. He would later say of the strange encounter, “I could not mistake him or the cap badge he wore yet no Royal Welch battalion was billeted within miles of Bethune at the time.”

Graves would have another brush with the paranormal when he was on leave in Wales, where he was staying with a woman who had lost her son in battle. Graves stayed in the son’s room, which was reportedly left exactly the way it had been when the doomed soldier had gone off to fight, with fresh clothes and even cigarettes left out every day by the grieving mother as if he would return at any time. As creepy as this was, Graves agreed to sleep in the room, but he would later regret it when he was constantly awakened at night by inexplicable bangs, thuds, knocks, and raps emanating from the floor and walls around him. The following day Graves decided that he had had enough, and later said of the bizarre evening, “In the morning I told my friend “I’m leaving this place. It’s worse than France.””

If any of these accounts are real, then it shows that perhaps some of the dead linger on about the places of their violent deaths, and other reports seem to suggest that other mysterious and even evil forces can linger there as well, perhaps suckling and feeding off of the potent fear and madness of war. One strange account comes from the paranormal writer Dennis Wheatley, who also happened to have served on the Western Front during World War I. In his 1973 book The Devil and All His Works, Wheatley describes a strange and frightening experience he had during the war which he claims happened as he and his unit took up shelter in the abandoned ruins of a bombed out mansion after the fierce fighting at the Battle of Cambrai. Apparently the decrepit, burned out building was a ghoulish affair to begin with, with bloodied German uniforms scattered about, apparently discarded there by the troops who had occupied it. One night Wheatley claims that he was working after dark building a makeshift mess when he was gripped by a profound, inexplicable dread that forced him to retreat from the premises, and he would later proclaim that it had been a demon which he referred to as “an elemental,” which he believed had been attracted to the strife, death and violence of the location.

A similar story comes from the book An Onlooker in France 1917-1919, and was told by the war artist William Orpen, who in November of 1917 was at the battlefield of Somme to work on a painting of nearby Thiepval Wood. Although the fierce battle had ended more than a year before, the area was still apparently littered with human remains and the stench of decay, its soil permeated with the blood of the fallen and signs of the carnage everywhere. As he painted, Orpen claimed that he was constantly beset with the heavy, stifling feeling of being watched, and a strange unshakable sense that there was a force or presence there with him. He also said that although it was midday and sunny, the day nevertheless had a dark pall over it, some quality of murkiness as if viewed through darkened glass. After being steadily unsettled by all of this for several hours, he claimed that he had then been rushed by an unseen hostile force, which had sent the startled artist flying backwards to hit his head on the ground. When he came to his senses the ghostly presence was gone. He too believed that he had been attacked by some demon or supernatural entity that was drawn to and feasting upon the lingering death there.

Besides angels and ghosts, some really strange phenomena during World War I are really hard to truly classify. One account is the disappearance of an entire regiment at Gallipoli, Turkey in 1915. in August of this year, the British 5th Norfolk Regiment, also known as the Sandringhams, marched into the hellish Dardanelles campaign of the war. Made up of mostly soldiers employed by the estate of King Edward VII and led by the land agent Frank Beck, the regiment proceeded to march into battle and vanish without a trace. In later decades, some veterans would claim that between six and eight “loaf shaped clouds” had descended over the soldiers during the battle, which hovered over the troops before producing a fog which the battalion marched right into and never emerged from, with the strange objects then rising up into the sky to apparently take the whole contingent of over a hundred men with them. Turkish authorities would later claim that they had had nothing to do with the disappearance or the fate of the men. It is a case which I have covered here at Mysterious Universe before, and although it may be more wartime legend it is fascinating nevertheless.

Forces fighting at Gallipoli

While it is unclear as to just what happened to “The Vanished Battalion,” or whether it was UFOs or just a spooky bit of war folklore, it is not the only far out story of unidentified flying objects from the war, and just about as dramatic is that time the Red Baron shot down a flying saucer. Wait, what? Let me explain. The so- called Red Baron was the German ace pilot Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen, who was both renowned and feared for his unrivaled flying skills, often considered to be “the ace of aces” and racking up at least 80 air combat victories. In the book UFOs of the First World War, by Nigel Watson, there is a curious account that seems to show that human pilots were not the only ones the Red Baron hunted down and engaged. The story goes that as he was flying over the Belgian trenches in the spring of 1917 with fellow pilot Peter Waitzrick, the Baron spotted an unidentified object that was described as “an upside down silver saucer with orange lights” hovering in clear blue skies. After a moment of awe, fear and wonder, the Red Baron did the human thing and opened fire upon it, and Waitzrick, who reportedly saw the whole thing, described what happened next thus:

We were terrified because we’d never seen anything like it before. The Baron immediately opened fire and the thing went down like a rock, shearing off tree limbs as it crashed into the woods.

It gets even weirder still. As they passed over the wreckage two humanoid figures were supposedly seen to climb out of the otherworldly wrecked craft and scurry off into the trees, after which they were not seen again. Waitzrick would keep the whole bizarre story to himself until 80 years later, in 1999. There are certainly some suspicious aspects of the whole tale, not the least of which is that Waitzrick chose to come out with his amazing experience after 8 decades of silence to The Weekly World News, which many readers will recognize as perhaps not the most trustworthy of news publications. Also, the planes they were piloting were claimed to be Fokker triplanes, which is odd since these planes would not be used in the war until some months after the alleged event, in August of 1917. Perhaps Waitzrick just didn’t know anyone who would take his story seriously and didn’t know any better so it just happened to be that the Weekly World News picked it up, and perhaps with the planes his memory after nearly a century was not what it once was, but one thing he seems to be quite sure of is that the infamous Red Baron shot down a UFO, saying:

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Baron shot down some kind of spacecraft from another planet and those little guys who ran off into the woods were space aliens of some kind.

The Red Baron, Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen

Other UFOs encountered during World War I are the so-called “Flaming Onions” which were typically described as glowing green balls that would zip around, do flips, and very often chase aircraft, easily outpacing and outmaneuvering them but not actually attacking in any way. This strange phenomenon was purportedly seen throughout the war by both sides of the engagement, and it always terrified those who experienced it. One theory as to what the Flaming Onions were is that they might have been flares fired by the Germans, but flares typically do not actively chase aircraft and seasoned pilots can usually recognize flares as such. They remain a curious unexplained mystery of the war.

Besides spaceships and weird lights, another baffling aerial phenomenon reported during the war began with a very strange sighting made by a Lieutenant Frederick Ardsley as he was on a morning patrol in northern France on January 9, 1918. As he flew along, another biplane of the same make and model as his own positioned itself next to him, and when he looked to see who was in the cockpit he was surprised to see a beautiful woman with long flowing blonde hair blow him a kiss and do a Can Can dance in her cockpit before swiftly flying away. Ardsley attempted to chase the mysterious pilot, but she was reportedly a far superior pilot and was able to easily lose him. Unbelievably, the mystery woman would show up at other times during the war and engage German pilots, usually easily beating them and shooting them down, and sighted by both pilots and civilians alike. Some reports even say that her plane was impervious to bullets or that she would vanish into thin air. She came to be known as “Lady Sopwith” or “The Valkyrie,” and became legendary. No one knows who she was or whether this is all just another wartime myth.

Another inexplicable account is the strange phenomenon of the zombie-like ghouls of the No Man’s Land of the war. These ghoulish maniacs were said to haunt the empty tracts of war-torn land between sides, where no one dared to tread, where they prowled about looking for new victims. They were mostly said to be deserters who had wandered off into this crater blasted wasteland, and these defectors of all nationalities are said to have banded together out in the blood-soaked moonscape of the No Man’s Land to live underground in dim tunnels, where they went insane and began to emerge to kill, loot, and eat the fallen. Some thought they were not even human at all, but rather some sort of revenants or demons from Hell itself, but whatever they were the end result was always the same these ghoulish creatures raiding fresh corpses to take their equipment and feast on their flesh, or even by some accounts attacking and killing soldiers from both sides of the fight.

No Man’s Land in World War I

One of the most sensational accounts of these mysterious figures was given in the book The Squadroon, and describes a whole platoon of soldiers walking across No Man’s Land only to be grabbed from below by unseen forces and pulled down one by one as if sucked into the earth itself amidst screams of pain and terror until there was no one left and no sign that anyone had been there at all. It has also been variously reported that the Allied forces took this threat seriously, going so far as to gas the whole area in a bid to kill off the freakish marauding thugs. I have written of this phenomenon in much more detail here at Mysterious Universe before, and although it stinks of a war legend born from the chaos of the battlefield and exaggerated at best, it is all still rather disturbing and spooky nonetheless.

From the depths of our darkest, shameful pieces of history, from among the fighting and death there often spring many such tales of the unexplained, yet the nature of the untamed chaos of war often makes it difficult to know which are perhaps factual and which are merely the mutated progeny of tired and addled minds consumed, demented and twisted by atrocities and fear. Peering through the fog of war it is often hard to differentiate fact from fiction, and the lines between where reality begins and feverish fantasy begins can become blurred. Making matters more complicated is that accurate records are often not kept of these anomalies, instead being spread through word of mouth and second or third hand accounts, and concrete sources can be elusive, not to mention the fact that these soldiers were there to fight, not chronicle the unexplained, making these oddities more of a distraction for them than anything else. These alleged events have become faded and obscured by history. It is quite possible we will never know to what extent any of these tales are real, but they continue to lurk there between the pages of history books, intriguing yet evasive as they stay in the shadows.

DNV releases its aquaculture forecast to 2050

DNV has launched its marine aquaculture 2050 forecast report at NASF.

CEO Remi Eriksen explained that the classification society was often asked for its views of the long-term prospects for aquaculture by investors, operators, suppliers and regulators.

“Rather than provide ad hoc answers, I asked DNV’s ocean space program to research and produce a detailed outlook,” he said.

Its model considers population growth and changes in living standards to estimate the future demand for food.

It then forecasts the role of marine aquaculture in meeting this demand through the main species and technology options involved, Eriksen said.

DNV predicts that global marine aquaculture production will more than double by 2050 and approach the level of capture fisheries.

It also expects Asia will continue to dominate the market, but Europe and Latin America will match it for finfish production.

Eriksen also said that within the finfish sector, we will see “new innovative production technologies emerging offshore and onshore for high-value species”.

Onshore production will have a 25% share of the total finfish market by mid-century, he added.

This growth in marine aquaculture will require a tripling of feed production “which can only be achieved if you find alternatives two unsustainable feed”, DNV said.

“That requires scaling-up production of entirely new ingredients in combination with Marine and agriculture-based ingredients from sources with a smaller climate footprint.”

With mounting pressure on wild catch, there are high expectations that marine aquaculture will meet growing global demand, Eriksen concluded.

Watch the video: 14 19 01 2011 Δυτική Ευρώπη (October 2022).