Rare sea creature washes ashore in Southern California

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In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo, provided by UC Santa Barbara, Jessica Nielsen, a conservation specialist, examines a beached hoodwinker sunfish at at Coal Oil Point Reserve in Santa Barbara, Calif. (AP)
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A hoodwinker sunfish is seen on a beach in Santa Barbara, California, U.S., February 21, 2019, in this photo obtained from social media. (REUTERS)
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In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo, provided by UC Santa Barbara, A hoodwinker sunfish lays on the beach at Coal Oil Point Reserve in Santa Barbara, Calif. (AP)
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In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo, provided by UC Santa Barbara, Jessica Nielsen, a conservation specialist, examines a beached hoodwinker sunfish at at Coal Oil Point Reserve in Santa Barbara, Calif. (AP)
Updated 04 March 2019
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Rare sea creature washes ashore in Southern California

  • The fish was just over 7 feet (215 centimeters) long and slightly wider (227 centimeters) from fin tip to fin tip

SANTA BARBARA, California: A 7-foot (215-centimeter) sea creature that washed ashore in Southern California has been identified as a hoodwinker sunfish, a recently identified rare species thought to live in the Southern Hemisphere.
The University of California, Santa Barbara, said an intern spotted the stranded fish last week at Sands Beach in the university’s Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve.
The intern alerted Jessica Nielsen, a conservation specialist at Coal Oil Point who initially thought it was a type of local sunfish and posted photos to the reserve’s Facebook page.
That drew the attention of Thomas Turner, an associate professor in UCSB’s ecology, evolution and marine biology department who examined the fish and posted photos to the iNaturalist online community.
That caught the eye of Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia, who identified the species in 2017 and formally named it Mola tecta but gave it the hoodwinker moniker because it had somehow escaped scientific recognition.
Nyegaard told UCSB in an email that she discussed the images with ichthyologist Ralph Foster of the South Australian Museum but was reluctant to identify the fish as a hoodwinker because the photos didn’t clearly show distinctive features and because it had turned up so far out of its known range.
Nyegaard sent specific instructions to California about what to photograph and tissue samples that should be taken.
Turner and Nielsen were glad to help, but first they had to find the fish, which had been moved by the tide, according to UCSB.
They walked from opposite ends of the beach and found it several hundred yards from its original position.
Nyegaard said she ended up with a large number of extremely clear photos “and there was just no doubt of the ID.”
Sunfish are odd-looking, flat and somewhat oval with fins that resemble little wings.
According to Thomas, the fish was just over 7 feet (215 centimeters) long and slightly wider (227 centimeters) from fin tip to fin tip. Its dorsal fin was just under 2½ feet (75 centimeters) long. He did not measure the weight.


UN campaign asks people to ‘Be the Light’ for refugees this Ramadan

Updated 21 May 2019
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UN campaign asks people to ‘Be the Light’ for refugees this Ramadan

  • The “Be The Light” campaign highlights the stories of three refugees, and their struggles to get safety after being displaced from their homes
  • The UN seeks to raise awareness about these refugee experiences and to raise donation during Ramadan

DUBAI: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched its new global campaign that brings to life stories of refugees in their efforts to find safety.

Launched during Ramadan, the “Be The Light” campaign highlights the stories of three refugees, and their struggles to get safety after being displaced from their homes, in a 90-second short film that will be aired on OSN and TV stations around the world. It is also available online.

The campaign, which was created in the UAE by communications firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K), highlights the concept of hope in the lives of forcibly displaced individuals, which the UNHCR pegged at a nearly 68.5 million. At present, 25.4 million are under the UN agency’s care.

“We want refugees to have the opportunity to look forward. At UNHCR, we are dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees,” Omer Elnaiem, Head of Campaigns and Avocacy MENA at the UNHCR, said in a release.

Elnaiem said the number of refugees “is growing faster than the ability to respond,” and that the holy month of Ramadan is the perfect time to urge people to “Be The Light.”

“We wanted to create a campaign that brought to life the emotional and physical journey a refugee experience,” studio head at H+K MENA Elias Markopoulos said.

The UN seeks to raise awareness about these refugee experiences and to raise donation during Ramadan.

Watch the video here: