Sharks: The perfect tourist magnet

A bin filled with plastic toy sharks are just some of the shark-related items for sale in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass. With growing sightings of great white sharks off Cape Cod, local entrepreneurs are feeding the frenzy with their shark-themed memorabilia and apparel. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A bin filled with plastic toy sharks are just some of the shark-related items for sale in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass. With growing sightings of great white sharks off Cape Cod, local entrepreneurs are feeding the frenzy with their shark-themed memorabilia and apparel. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Great white sharks are having an unusual effect on Cape Cod this summer, and many tourists are eager to chomp down on some shark-related goodies.

The sharks being spotted in growing numbers are stirring curiosity and a new sort of frenzy — a buying frenzy.

Shark T-shirts are everywhere, “Jaws” has been playing in local movie theaters and boats are taking more tourists out to see the huge seal population that keeps the sharks coming. Harbormasters have issued warnings but — unlike the sharks in the movies — the great whites generally are not seen as a threat to human swimmers.

Among the entrepreneurs is Justin Labdon, owner of the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company, who started selling “Chatham Whites” T-shirts after customers who were renting paddle boards and kayaks began asking whether it was safe to go to sea.

“I mean, truthfully, we’ve probably grown about 500 percent in terms of the sale of our shark apparel,” he said. The T-shirts, hoodies, hats, belts, dog collars and other accessories bear the iconic, torpedo-shaped image of great whites and sell for between $10 and $45.

He said his store brings in thousands of dollars in sales of the shark-themed merchandise.

Tourists peer through binoculars in hopes of catching a glimpse of a shark fin from the beaches of Chatham. The resort town has a large population of gray seals — the massive animals whose blubber is the fuel of choice for great white sharks. Local shops sell jewelry, candy, clothes and stuffed animals with shark motifs.

Shark lovers: “(Great) White sharks are this iconic species in society and it draws amazing amounts of attention,” said Gregory Skomal, a senior marine fisheries biologist who also leads the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, who said people are coming in hopes of witnessing the animals in their splendor. “I have not been approached by anyone who has said to me ‘let’s go kill these sharks.’”

Skomal said sharks have been coming closer to shore to feed on the seals, which he said have been coming on shore in greater numbers because of successful conservation efforts.

Confrontations with people are rare, with only 106 unprovoked white shark attacks — 13 of them fatal — in U.S. waters since 1916, according to data provided by the University of Florida.

Still, officials are wary of the damage that could be done to tourism if one of the predators bites a person. Brochures have been distributed to raise awareness of sharks and safe practices in the event of a sighting.

Kids: Laurie Moss McCandless of Memphis, Tennessee, has vacationed on Cape Cod every summer since she was a little girl and doesn’t remember hearing about sharks back then. But her son is obsessed with sharks, she said, and she’s hoping to hear more about them on their vacation in Chatham.

“He loves all his sharks paraphernalia,” McCandless, 39, said as she bought a shark-themed sweatshirt for one of her three children.

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Reported by RODRIQUE NGOWI of the Associated Press from CHATHAM, Mass. Follow Rodrique Ngowi at www.twitter.com/ngowi

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Online:

Cape Cod Tourism: http://www.capecodchamber.org/

Massachusetts Shark Research Program: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dmf/programs-and-projects/shark-research.html

Atlantic White Shark Conservancy: http://www.atlanticwhiteshark.org/

An eye glass holder in the shape of a shark rests on a shelf in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass. With growing sightings of great white sharks off Cape Cod, local entrepreneurs are feeding the frenzy with their shark-themed memorabilia and apparel. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

An eye glass holder in the shape of a shark rests on a shelf in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass. With growing sightings of great white sharks off Cape Cod, local entrepreneurs are feeding the frenzy with their shark-themed memorabilia and apparel. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

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Sailboat freed from Alaska ice

Crewmembers on the Coast Guard Cutter Healy make contact with a mariner aboard his 36-foot sailboat trapped in Arctic ice approximately 40 miles northeast of Barrow, Alaska. The Coast Guard freed the sailboat that was attempting to sail to eastern Canada through the Northwest Passage. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)

Crewmembers on the Coast Guard Cutter Healy make contact with a mariner aboard his 36-foot sailboat trapped in Arctic ice approximately 40 miles northeast of Barrow, Alaska. The Coast Guard freed the sailboat that was attempting to sail to eastern Canada through the Northwest Passage. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)

The U.S. Coast Guard has freed a Canadian sailboat that became trapped in Arctic ice off the north coast of Alaska.

KTUU-TV reports the 36-foot Altan Girl out of Vancouver was attempting to sail to eastern Canada through the Northwest Passage.

It became trapped in ice 40 miles northeast of Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States.

The Coast Guard cutter Healy reached the sailboat, and with the Altan Girl in tow, on Saturday cut a 12-mile path through ice to open water.

The sailboat’s owner says he intends to wait in Barrow for better weather and to restock supplies.

The Healy is on a National Science Foundation-funded research mission in the Arctic. The Coast Guard says the cutter is continuing with its research.

Reported by the ASSOCIATED PRESS from ANCHORAGE, Alaska.

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Handmade Canoes? Why Not?

Canoe building hobbyist Karl Koch of North Londonderry Township shows one of the many wooden vessels he's made throughout the years. He currently enjoys fishing from this 15-foot red cedar strip canoe he built in 2008. (Lebanon Daily News)

Canoe building hobbyist Karl Koch of North Londonderry Township shows one of the many wooden vessels he’s made throughout the years. He currently enjoys fishing from this 15-foot red cedar strip canoe he built in 2008. (Lebanon Daily News)

Most people who want an item bad enough will break down, go out and buy it. Others, however, simply aren’t wired that way.

Karl Koch, age 75, certainly has a mind and drive of his own, for as long as the task is doable, he prefers to build whatever it is he wants with his own two hands. Take for example the four – soon to be five — wooden canoes the retired schoolteacher has built all by himself, just for fun.

Koch’s first canoe, a heavy canvas-hulled 15-footer, was finished in 1963 and lasted him nearly 50 years before giving it away to a younger man with a stronger back. Koch then built three more wooden crafts since 2005, and he’s currently working on a 14-foot strip canoe, which needs just a few more finishing touches.

“When I graduated from Penn State in 1961, a friend of mine bought an old broken canoe for $5 at a yard sale,” Koch explained. “It had a huge, gaping hole in the bottom, but he went out and fixed that thing and boy was it beautiful.

“For two years, I marveled over my friend’s canoe, until one day I decided I would build my own. So I bought a 35-cent canoe building plan I saw advertised in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and that’s how it all began.”

As Koch sat on a shaded bench outside his family’s North Londonderry Township home the talented handyman recalled the mistakes he made on his first canoe.

“I used a table saw to cut the boards, which wasted lumber. I sanded some spots too thinly, and if I hit a rock, that canvas started taking on water fast,” he explained. “It wasn’t sealed right.”

But over the years Koch solidly patched up the old canoe so it no longer leaked and the boat really handled well.

Canoe Two: Later, he started in on his second project, a watertight plywood bind-and-seal kit canoe, which he gave this one to his niece.

Canoe Three: His next was a strip canoe, Koch said. “They are lighter, more beautiful, and you have more flexibility in building exactly what you want.”

“The whole process takes about 200 hours depending on how hard you want to work at it,” said Koch. “I really wanted a red cedar canoe, and to me, it didn’t matter how long it took, so I just built one.”

But even this third attempt did not completely satisfy the mindset of the always-improving craftsman. He found that he built the gunwales a little too high for his liking, and they caught the wind too much, making the craft a bit tippy. He gave this one to his son and started over again with a few adjustments.

Canoe Four: On his fourth attempt, Koch got it right. The lower-riding 15-footer he now uses is perfect for him to handle, it steers well and is light enough for him to portage to the water using the wooden wheel and axle system he rigged up for easy transport.

It has a self-woven deer rawhide seat, custom-built kayak-style paddles, and it perfectly clears the back of Koch’s little Volkswagen Jetta, which he uniquely uses for transferring his wooden vessel to various local lakes, streams and rivers.

“I fish this one pretty hard, as you can see from the nicks on the Kevlar scratch pads,” said Koch. “It’s muddy and dinged up pretty good, but it looks beautiful when it’s wet, and that’s when it really matters.”

Canoe Five: As for Koch’s fifth canoe in progress, which currently resides in his shop among an assortment of homemade snowshoes, woven milkweed ropes and “hobo-style” camp stoves, it may well be his last stint at canoe building.

“I think this might be my final one, but you never know,” Koch said with a smile. “I’m just a farm kid at heart, and I’d rather work with my hands than watch television. Building stuff is in my blood.”

Reported by TYLER FRANTZ of The (Lebanon) Daily News from NORTH LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania.

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This beautiful bug is wrecking American forests

An emerald ash borer is just a bit smaller than a penny, but the little bug packs plenty of punch. Scientists say it is responsible for destroying thousands of ash trees in the United States. (Submitted)

An emerald ash borer is just a bit smaller than a penny, but the little bug packs plenty of punch. Scientists say it is responsible for destroying thousands of ash trees in the United States. (Submitted)

Legions of tiny, shiny green monsters have invaded parts of Pennsylvania, leaving forests of dead and dying trees.

The emerald ash borer, a small metallic green beetle native to Asia and Russia, was first found in the U.S. in June 2002, in Michigan. Scientists believe it hitched a ride in a packing crate.

Now the beetle has spread to 22 states, including 51 counties in Pennsylvania. There’s no known cure for a tree after it has been infested by the bug.

“It’s an extremely destructive pest,” said Sven-Erik Spichiger, an insect specialist for the state Department of Agriculture. “Obviously when it gets to an area you’re looking at 99 percent-plus mortality of all ash tree species.”

Ash uses: Pennsylvania’s native ash is a straight-grained hardwood harvested for lumber and other uses. Among them: furniture, baseball bats — including the famous Louisville Slugger — hockey sticks and tool handle. The ash borer has “absolutely” changed how the ash wood industry operates, Spichiger said.

Ash is also used as firewood. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is urging campers and people with wood stoves not to move firewood. Instead people need to “burn it where you buy it,” an effort that can help stop the spread of the ash borer. The insect is quite hearty too — itcan live in cut ash wood for up to two years, Spichiger said.

Animal help: Some species of woodpeckers eat ash borers, and will start to peel the outer layer of bark off the ash trees. If you see severe woodpecker damage on an ash tree, it’s a sign the ash borers are present, Spichiger said.

But the birds don’t eat enough to stop the ash borer or get it under control.

“There’s not anything natural that’s keeping up with it so far, or they wouldn’t be having the problems in other areas,” Brown noted.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry is trying to help, too: It is releasing stingless wasps, which prey on the ash borers. The wasps can help control the pest, but it will take a long time, he said.

How to help: For information on the emerald ash borer, visit www.emeraldashborer.info or stopthebeetle.info.

The state Department of Agriculture is also on the lookout for another invasive species, the Asian longhorned beetle, which is black with white spots and long antennae; it affects maple trees.

Sightings of these or any other potentially invasive insects should be reported to the department at 1-866-253-7189 or badbug@pa.gov.

Reported by By ELIZABETH SKRAPITS of the Wilkes-Barr Citizens’ Voice in WILKES-BARR, Pennsylvania.

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The blood of young mice can help the old

These images show 3-D reconstructions of brain blood vessels in, from left, a young mouse, an old mouse, and an old mouse who was exposed to the blood of a young mouse. Older mice got stronger, exercised longer and performed better mentally after they were injected with blood from young mice. (AP Photo/Lida Katsimpardi)

These images show 3-D reconstructions of brain blood vessels in, from left, a young mouse, an old mouse, and an old mouse who was exposed to the blood of a young mouse. Older mice got stronger, exercised longer and performed better mentally after they were injected with blood from young mice. (AP Photo/Lida Katsimpardi)

If Mickey Mouse is feeling his age at 86, scientists may have found just the tonic: the blood of younger mice.

Older mice got stronger, exercised longer and performed better mentally after they were injected with blood from young mice, or even just with a substance that’s more abundant in younger blood.

Someday, if more research goes well, this may lead to a way to treat some infirmities of old age in people. In the meantime, scientists have a warning for do-it-yourselfers.

“Don’t try this at home,” said Saul Villeda of the University of California, San Francisco, an author of one of three papers published online Sunday by the journals Nature Medicine and Science.

He worked with mice that were roughly the equivalent of people in their 20s and 60s. Researchers repeatedly injected the older mice with blood from either the younger animals or other aged mice. Those that got the young blood did better in learning and memory tests than the mice given the older blood. For example, they performed better at recalling where to find a submerged platform in a maze.

Villeda said the researchers are trying to figure out what’s in the young blood that made the difference.

Reported by MALCOLM RITTER of the Associated Press from NEW YORK.

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What happens when it gets hot? Look at Arizona

Cracks formed in the dry bed of the Stevens Creek Reservoir in Cupertino, Calif. A new study is suggesting a link between climate change and both the intensifying droughts and the polar vortex blamed for a harsh 2013-2014 winter that has just ended in many places.  (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Cracks formed in the dry bed of the Stevens Creek Reservoir in Cupertino, Calif. A new study is suggesting a link between climate change and both the intensifying droughts and the polar vortex blamed for a harsh 2013-2014 winter that has just ended in many places. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

“The Reality of a Hotter World Is Already Here,” Smithsonian magazine headline reads.

After the brutal winter we just went through, Jerry Adler’s article in the May issue of Smithsonian magazine offers a reality check for Americans. Starting with the premise that the globe is, in fact, warming, the writer visits Phoenix to see how people cope with relentlessly increasing heat. And it’s not a pretty picture.

“The first thing you learn about the future is that it will apparently be lived indoors,” he writes. Air conditioning is vital in Phoenix, where temperatures from June to September are routinely higher than 100 degrees; even at night, they often don’t drop below the 90s. Newcomers “have to learn the hard way what happens to a soda can left inside a car parked in the sun, or to dogs whose owners take them out on sidewalks without protective booties.”jd-greatbigworld

The main point of the article is what heat does to our personalities.

There is a reason that when people are furious we say they are “steamed” or “hot under the collar,” and when they are calm we say they have “cooled off”: Studies indicate that each additional degree of heat is associated with increased social disruption. An evolutionary psychologist in Phoenix tried this experiment: Once a week he had a volunteer stop her car at a green light, and he counted the seconds until the car behind started honking. Temperature proved to be an accurate predictor of rage: The hotter it was, the faster and angrier came the response.

Adler says studies have linked higher temperatures with all kinds of aggression, such as property crime and personal violence, “up to and including war.”

In this combination of March 2014 photos, a slackline walker enjoys the sunny and warm weather in Duesseldorf, Germany; a jogger runs on the snow-covered grounds of the Washington Monument in Washington; and a worker, suffering from heat exhaustion, leaves her shift early at the salt evaporation ponds in Anse-Rouge, Haiti. U.S. federal forecasters calculated that for most of the Earth, March 2014 was one of the hottest Marchs on record - except in the United States. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Susan Walsh, Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this combination of March 2014 photos, a slackline walker enjoys the sunny and warm weather in Duesseldorf, Germany; a jogger runs on the snow-covered grounds of the Washington Monument in Washington; and a worker, suffering from heat exhaustion, leaves her shift early at the salt evaporation ponds in Anse-Rouge, Haiti. U.S. federal forecasters calculated that for most of the Earth, March 2014 was one of the hottest Marchs on record – except in the United States. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Susan Walsh, Dieu Nalio Chery)

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