WTF Fun Fact 13520 – Fish Cut Off Power

A fish cut off power to a New Jersey community. But how?

In Sayreville, Fish Cuts Off Power

On a seemingly ordinary day in Sayreville, New Jersey, a power outage caught residents off guard. The culprits behind this surprising event? An osprey and its slippery prey—a fish. The osprey’s catch fell onto a transformer’s coils, causing misalignment and, consequently, a power disruption for around 2,000 residents.

While this isn’t the first time an animal has triggered a power disruption, a fish isn’t typically a culprit. Or, in this case, we might be better off blaming the osprey for accidentally losing its meal.

Jersey Central Power & Light’s spokesperson added a touch of humor to the situation, remarking, “If you’ve ever dropped your ice-cream cone at the fair, you know the feeling,” empathizing with the osprey’s unexpected plight.

The Feathered Fiasco

Evidence pointing to an osprey’s involvement came from the puncture marks on the fish, suggesting it had been caught by the bird’s talons. It’s worth noting that ospreys, once endangered in New Jersey, have been on the rebound. Recent counts indicate 733 nesting pairs in the state. This resurgence has led utility companies, like Jersey Central Power & Light, to routinely inspect equipment for osprey nests, relocating when necessary.

The Sayreville police added a humorous touch to the incident, sketching the osprey as the “suspect” on Facebook. Alongside, they depicted the fish, now named Gilligan, behind a “police line do not cross” tape.

The playful post described Gilligan as a “hardworking family man” and urged residents not to approach the osprey, highlighting its potential “danger.”

This event underscores the need for proactive infrastructure management, considering the unforeseen challenges wildlife can present. For Sayreville residents, this story serves as a quirky tale of the day a fish cut off power and cast their town into darkness.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “New Jersey community loses electricity after bird drops fish on to power lines” — The Guardian

WTF Fun Fact 13247 – The Fish with a Unicorn Horn

Scientists in China have discovered a new species of fish with a unicorn horn. Named “Sinocyclocheilus longicornus,” the lives in pitch-black caves, has no scales, tiny eyes that are likely non-functional, and a unicorn-like horn sticking out of its head.

What’s the story behind the fish with the unicorn horn?

Scientists discovered the fish in a remote cave system in Guizhou Province in southwestern China. The discovery was made by a team of scientists led by Dr. Meng Wu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who specialize in studying subterranean life forms.

Sinocyclocheilus longicornus is a type of cave fish, which means it has adapted to living in a dark, aquatic environment without any access to sunlight. Like other cave fish, Sinocyclocheilus longicornus has evolved certain physical traits to help it survive in this challenging habitat. For example, it lacks developed eyes and pigmentation, since these features are not necessary in a pitch-black cave.

However, it’s the “unicorn horn” made of bony tissue that’s stirring up curiosity. Scientists believe the fish use the horn for fighting or as a way to sense their environment.

Why is this discovery important?

The discovery of Sinocyclocheilus longicornus is just one example of the ongoing research into subterranean life forms and the unique adaptations that allow them to thrive in the dark, hidden corners of the world. As scientists continue to study these organisms, we may gain new insights into the evolution of life on Earth and the incredible resilience of living things in the face of extreme environmental conditions.

Furthermore, the discovery of a new species of cave fish is particularly exciting for scientists. It highlights how much we still have to discover about life on Earth. Despite centuries of exploration and research, there are still many corners of the planet that remain largely unexplored. This is particularly true of the deep, dark recesses of the world’s caves and other subterranean environments.

Finally, the discovery of Sinocyclocheilus longicornus serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting these unique and fragile ecosystems. Caves and other subterranean environments are home to a wealth of unique species that are found nowhere else on Earth. Mining, tourism, and other human activities can disrupt the delicate balance of these ecosystems. The result is irreparable harm to the species that live there.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Unicorn-like blind fish discovered in dark waters deep in Chinese cave” — Live Science

WTF Fun Fact 12701 – Like A Fish Out Of Water

We may not all love bees, but we can’t live without them since they pollinate the crops that make the food we eat (among other integral ecological roles). That makes protecting them integral to our future.

In California, that means considering them “fish” for conservation purposes.

The law is a weird thing sometimes. In this case, it required some creative thinking in order to make sure bees got protected status under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).

Others had argued that the Act protects only “birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and plants” – in other words, not insects like bees. They won the original court case, but it was just overturned by a Sacramento Court of Appeal.

According to Reuters:

“While ‘fish’ is ‘commonly understood to refer to aquatic species, the term of art employed by the Legislature … is not so limited,’ Associate Justice Ronald Robie wrote for the appeals court.
CESA itself does not define “fish,” but the law is part of the California Fish and Game Code. The code’s definition includes any ‘mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate (or) amphibian,’ Robie wrote. All those categories ‘encompass terrestrial and aquatic species,’ and the state legislature has already approved the listing of at least one land-based mollusk, the opinion said.
‘Accordingly, a terrestrial invertebrate, like each of the four bumblebee species, may be listed as an endangered or threatened species,’ Robie wrote, joined by Acting Presiding Justice Cole Blease and Associate Justice Andrea Lynn Hoch.'”

The case is Almond Alliance of California et al. v. Fish and Game Commission et al, Xerces Society For Invertebrate Conservation et al, intervenors; California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, No. C093542.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Bees are ‘fish’ under Calif. Endangered Species Act – state court” — Reuters

WTF Fun Fact 12606 – Octopuses Getting Punchy

Octopuses are incredibly smart. In fact, we’re only just now starting to learn how their complex brains work.

Take this factoid, for example. Octopuses need so much intellectual stimulation that those in captivity require games and puzzles to keep them from eating off their own arms out of boredom!

But did you know octopuses also have a bit of a mean streak?

Researchers have observed the creatures punching fish in the past – everything from a warning “boop” to a “curl up and let ’em have it” punch. Punching is pretty rare, but in many cases, the researchers could ascertain some reason for the punch. Usually, the octopus was trying to keep the fish from spoiling its meal.

However, sometimes octopuses punch fish for revenge. And revenge isn’t something we usually think of as relevant to underwater creatures.

More recently, Eduardo Sampaio recorded the underwater action. He also concluded that some octopuses seem to haul off and punch their hunting partners for no reason at all. That is, they don’t stand to benefit in any way from punching the fish.

Sampaio even posted a video to Twitter to illustrate the punching action:

So, apparently, “throwing a sucker punch” is yet another factoid we can add to humanity’s ever-growing list of things we know about but can’t explain when it comes to octopuses.

– WTF fun facts

Source: “Octopuses Punch Fish, Sometimes For No Apparent Reason” — NPR

WTF Fact 12428 – A Goldfish Can Hold a Grudge

Sorry, Ted Lasso, but “be a goldfish” might not be the best advice for those ready to hold a grudge. Despite the widespread belief that a goldfish has a memory of just a few seconds, it’s simply false.

We’re not sure who made it up or when, but the first sign that it’s a made-up “fact” is that the information changes based on where you are in the world. Some say the goldfish has a 10-second memory, while others say it’s just 3 seconds. Regardless, none of this has ever been proven by science.

However, scientists have studied goldfish and tried to ascertain how long their memories might be. And you might be alarmed to know that these ubiquitous fish retain can memories for days, months, and even years. There are 60 years worth of research to back up those facts.

Of course, we can’t know exactly what goldfish think, but it’s not all that challenging to test the memory of just about any creatures through experimentation.

Culum Brown is an expert in fish cognition at Macquarie University in Australia. He told Live Science: “We’ve known about the reasonably good memories of goldfish since the ’50s and ’60s. Despite what everybody thinks, they’re actually really intelligent.”

Brown believes that one of the reasons we are so ready to believe that goldfish have almost no memory span is the way we treat them. If a fish had a 3-second memory, that boring glass bowl wouldn’t be cruel. And assuming they’re unintelligent allows us to rest easy believing our scaly pets don’t need any stimulation. Unfortunately, that’s just not true.

According to Brown, goldfish are often used in fish cognition and memory experiments. Research has shown that goldfish can remember where their food comes from, how to manipulate situations to get rewards, and even make their way through mazes.

Maybe it’s time to upgrade that fishbowl. – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “Do goldfish really have a 3-second memory?” — LiveScience

WTF Fun Fact 12402 – Self-Cleaning Fish

An experiment published in the journal PLOS Biology showed for the second time that fish could recognize themselves in the mirror. Scientists injected the cleaner fish (Labroides dimidiatus) with a substance that “tattooed” them with brown marks on their scales. When they spotted their reflections, they were triggered to try and scrape off the marks.

This goes far beyond simple mirror recognition. Fish mirror self-recognition (MSR) would give the creatures a characteristic only shared by two other creatures – humans and chimpanzees.

Previous research drew the same conclusions but was not conclusive since the sample size was small and not all of the fish exhibited the behavior. But the recent replication study remedied those inadequacies and added more evidence to the theory that fish are self-aware.

Not everyone is convinced, though. Some researchers are still skeptical that the behavior was not the result of self-awareness but rather a physical reaction to being tattooed by the scientists.

When interviewed by IFL Science, the lead researcher, Professor Masanori Kohda of Osaka City University, said, “During the long 50-year history of mirror tests of animals, this study is the first test that uses the mark to which the subject animals pay attention. Hence, this fish shows the highest passing rate for mark-test, exceeding that of chimpanzees, dolphins, and elephants.” – WTF Fun Facts

Source: Fish Cleaning Themselves In A Mirror May Have Just Demonstrated Self-Awareness — IFL Science