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Oarfish, including the 36-foot-long (11 meters) giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne), normally elude human eyes in the depths of the oceans. However, a lucky group of tourists recently filmed two oarfish in the shallow, coastal waters of Baja, Mexico. The oarfish observers were kayaking as part of a cruise with the Shedd Aquarium. Oarfish live around the globe in temperate and tropical waters, down to 3,000 feet (915 meters) below the waves. Yet, despite the fishes' wide distribution, oceanographers and other humans rarely glimpse the four known species of oarfish in the deep sea habitat they prefer. Most encounters with oarfish occur when the animals wash up dead on the beach, or sick in...

LONDON - Britain's Princess Anne said gassing badgers was a "much nicer" way to cull them rather than shooting them, in an interview to be aired Sunday. Credit: Flickr Queen Elizabeth II's daughter discussed the recent pilot badger culls -- which took place in Gloucestershire, southwest England, where she lives and farms -- aimed at curbing the spread of tuberculosis in cattle. An independent report on the pilots found the level of culling needed to bring about a reduction in bovine TB had not been achieved by the shooting of free-running badgers. Anne, 63, told BBC television that "most of the people who did it in the past will tell you that gas is a much nicer way of doing it, if...

Why Zebras Have Stripes

PARIS - Zebras have stripes to deter the tsetse and other blood-sucking flies, according to a fresh bid to settle a debate that has raged among biologists for over 140 years. Credit: Thinkstock Since the 1870s, in a dispute sparked by the founders of evolutionary theory Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, scientists have squabbled over how the zebra got its trademark look. Are its stripes for camouflage, protecting the zebra with a "motion dazzle confusion effect" against hyenas, lions and other predators in the savannah? Do the stripes radiate heat to keep the zebra cool? Or do they have a social role -- for group identity, perhaps, or mating? But a new study, published in the...

OSLO - Norway maintained on Tuesday its quota of previous years to hunt up to 1,286 whales in its waters in 2014, despite whalers repeatedly catching less than the limit. Credit: AFP/Getty Images "This year too, we have decided on a quota which guarantees continuity and a good framework for the whaling sector," Fisheries Minister Elisabeth Aspaker said in a statement. Norway formally objected to the 1986 commercial whaling moratorium and does not consider itself subject to it. The Scandinavian kingdom and Iceland are the only countries in the world to hunt whales for commercial purposes. Both nations argue that the whale species they hunt have a sufficiently large population to not be...

THE HAGUE - The United Nations' top court on Monday ordered Japan to end its annual Antarctic whale hunt, saying in a landmark ruling that the programme was a commercial activity disguised as science. The Hague. Credit: Associated Press Tokyo said it would honour the ruling shortly after it was handed down at the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), but did not rule out the possibility of future whaling programmes. "Japan shall revoke any existent authorisation, permit or licence granted in relation to JARPA II (research programme) and refrain from granting any further permits," ICJ presiding judge Peter Tomka ordered. Tokyo was accused of exploiting a legal loophole in the...

THE HAGUE - The UN's top court will rule Monday whether Japan has the right to hunt whales in the Antarctic, in an emotive case activists say is make-or-break for the giant mammal's future. Credit: Getty Editorial Australia in 2010 hauled Japan to the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Tokyo of exploiting a loophole by hunting whales as scientific research, despite a 1986 ban on commercial whaling. Australia has asked the world court to order Japan to stop its JARPA II research programme and "revoke any authorisations, permits or licences" to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean. During hearings last year, Australia accused Japan of doing nothing more than "cloaking...