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Too Shallow for Swimming With Sharks

University of Florida student Stefani Luke loved the ocean. She lived to be on the water. She was given a surfboard when she was in high school, but growing up in Ft. Lauderdale didn’t offer her much opportunity to ride any exciting waves. Going to college in Gainesville, Florida would provide her with a chance to take weekend trips to the popular beach town, St. Augustine to check out some waves. 

One stormy Tuesday, Stefani and some friends heard the news about coastal swells reaching up to five feet. They loaded up their boards and began a caravan. There were 11 kids but only 8 surfboards. She was excited to finally have the chance to use her board on some real waves, but she was also very aware of sharks. She was a biology major, recently working as an intern at the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Most of her work there was done in a lab or in area rivers. The biggest risk at her job had been alligators. 

Stefani’s love of the ocean and interest in fisheries compelled her to stay abreast of shark activity along the east coast. She knew that in 2019, reports of shark attacks, either provoked or unprovoked, reached nearly 150. 

The kids arrived at the beach, ready for some refreshing water and salty air. Today was a day to enjoy a day out of school. They unloaded the boards from their roof racks. Stefani waxed her beloved board alongside her good friends. Since there were more kids there than boards, Stefani offered her board up to a friend to try first. She figured she’d just do a little body surfing to warm up her muscles before fully engaging on her board. 

The waves were slightly disappointing. The stories they’d heard about giant waves were exaggerated, topping out at maybe three feet. She swam into the surf and waited. She thought she was a good distance from the surfers with boards. The water was a little colder than expected, and she hadn’t brought her wet suit. She swam parallel to the shore for a bit, to warm up. She ended up swimming close to her friend who’d borrowed her board. She waited in the line up, just beyond the breaking point of the waves. She was ready to body surf and catch some waves. 

The waves were coming in sets of four. She took the first in a set. It picked her up and she swam with it. As she glided in toward the shore she saw the dark shadow of what she knew was a shark. Everyone knows that you don’t panic when you see a shark. You don’t thrash around in the water. You don’t show signs of distress that signal to a shark that you’re easy prey. She forgot all that. All Stefani could think was “I don’t want to get eaten by a shark today!” She swam for her life. She swam fast, and probably a little crazy. 

The realization of her frenzy made her calm down slightly. She dropped the panicky swimming. She stopped swimming to realize that she was only in about a foot of water! She felt very silly, probably looking like a fool to anyone who might’ve seen this spectacle. 

She stood in the water to see her friend that had borrowed her board. Her friend asked with excitement, “Did you see that shark?!” Stefani acknowledged that she had in fact seen it. Her friend offered her the board back. Stefani declined, “No thanks. I like my legs. I like walking”. It was at that moment that Stefani gave her board away. She was done surfing and never tried it again. 



Saskatoon Dog Lost In Blizzard Reunited With Family

Renee Yates



A dog is back into the warmth of it’s home and the loving arms of its owners after spending three days lost in a blizzard, which many feared had killed him.

Despite the worries, efforts to find the Golden Retriever never ceased, and the outpouring of social media support showed that humankind is still helpful and sympathetic.

A cross-country skier returned the year and a half old Golden Retriever after finding him with only minor injuries despite three days in a snowstorm.

It all began in Saskatoon last Sunday when the dog’s owner Julia Neufeldt agreed to let Louie hit the Furdale Dog Park to have some outdoor fun. A close friend had asked to walk the dog they decided to let him go.

However, the fun dog walk led to terror as Louie had wandered off, and they could not find him anywhere. Julia, who was devastated by the news, had become consumed with thoughts of all the possibilities, especially with the vast expanse that they had to search for the Retriever. She added that it felt as though a family member had gone missing, and it was overwhelming.

As desperation kicked in, Julia took to Facebook to share her pain with friends and family, but what happened next blew her mind. It’s like the whole town heard about what happened, and the show of support kept rolling in, and so many searched for the missing pet dog.

Bolster From Social media

Julia said she expected a few dozen friends to share the information if anyone came across the dog. However, the post went viral, and not only friends but total strangers were sharing it and reaching out to the family to lend their support. Julia has a seven-month-old son so venturing out into the snowstorm to search for the dog was not possible.

However, scores of volunteers kept up the search and kept her updated by sending images whenever they spotted the dog. It was hurtful that Louie could be seen but was not accessible. They then lost sight of him, but on Wednesday, everyone decided to make a last-ditch effort to find the dog and get him home.

Julia had joined the search at this point, armed with a blanket and a glimmer of hope that finding Louie was still a possibility. Then the best phone call they could receive came in from the Saskatoon Animal Control Agency. They told her someone had seen Louie.

The cross-country skier was brought to Louie by his dog Banjo, amid their trip. The Animal Control team then linked the skier to Julia, who was delighted and thankful.

She had a mixture of emotions from shock to relief at getting back the dog safely. According to Julia, Louie has lost a few pounds but is poised to recover. He has a torn ACL but will get a surgery done soon.

She has since shared the great news with newfound friends on Facebook, and the encouragement and complimentary messages continued to flow.

Julia says her family is still in astonishment at how people rallied around despite not knowing them. She says this act of kindness outshines any negative news.

In the meantime, Louie will have to stay put for a while, but he is being fed, pampered, and showered with love. Julia adds that the little things that would bug her, like Louie wanting to run in and out of the house continually, are now minuscule after what they just endured.

She says the empty nest feeling has dissipated, and they are happy to have him in the warmth of the house again.

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A Team of Surgeons In London Have Successfully Separated Conjoined Twins

Kelly Taylor



Marwa and Safa, two conjoined twins, have returned home after a thriving separation surgery. The surgery was done in London at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Three major surgeries have been performed on the beautiful girl twins. It took about 50 to 60 hours for the doctors to complete the whole procedure.

As informed by the doctors, conjoined twins are rare and happen only one out of 60k births. Conjoined twins are also referred to as craniopagus twins. A large majority of conjoined twins usually die after 7 or 8 years of age.

Thanks to the doctors that they have managed to succeed in the operation. A group of 100 people in Great Ormond Street Hospital, including nurses and other staff, took care of the twins.

The surgery was carried out in February 2019. All the medical expenses were paid by a Private donor, Murtaza Lakhani. He is a wealthy and kind businessman from Pakistan and extended his helping hands to save the girls.

The two girls, Marwa and Safa, have been taking regular physical therapy to boost the mobility after the operation. Since the completion of the surgery in 2019, both the girls and their mother have been living with their uncle in London to conduct the post-surgery treatments. The girls, now aged three, have some learning difficulties, as told by their physiotherapist.

However, the girl’s mother, Zainab Biwi, is very optimistic about her children. “God in the face of the doctors have saved my children,” said by her in an interview. She also added that the doctors had tried so much to make the operation a successful one, and she can’t thank them enough regarding that.

When asked the lead surgeon, Owase Jeelani, about the operation, he said that he and his entire team is delighted to bring the smile back on the mother’s face. However, he also mentioned some of his uncertainties regarding the conjoined twins. He stated, “I think Marwa has done well and carries on making progress. When I look at my family, I feel that maybe it was the right thing to do, but for Safa, as a single person, I am a bit unsure.”

By answering how much he got scared before the surgery, Dr Jeelani made us learn that he is still troubled by his choices in the operation theatre. The girl twins had a common blood vessel connecting their brains, and only one of them could receive the critical blood corpuscles. Doctors gave them to Marwa, who was weaker than Safa. But as a result, Safa suffered a stroke, and now she has permanent damage in the brain. Dr. Jeelani feared she might not be able to walk ever.

He also said that both girls’ outcomes would have probably been better if they were separated earlier. But it took several months to raise the fees of the surgery.

In January, the same surgical team has operated on another pair of conjoined twins from Turkey and were successful. The twin boys, named Yigit and Derman Evrensel, have responded to the treatments better than the twin girls.

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The Incredible Way One Man Saves a Woman from Being Body-Shamed…

Kevin Wells



As a working mother and wife, Savannah Phillips had her share of challenges, but she overcame them to produce a viable career and contribute to her family’s wellbeing. Unfortunately, she also had her own limitations that were all to vivid in her mind, especially as she found herself traveling more and more due to her work. The simple fact was, Savannah was a larger woman. And while in most cases that was not an issue, the condition created particular issues for her when flying. Because of her size, Savannah regular chose seats without people next to her, but it wasn’t always available.

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Guam Rehabs Beautiful Sea Turtle in Touching Story of Man and Nature Working Together

Renee Yates



Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western section of the Pacific Ocean. Guam is an environmentally diverse island that ranks as the largest island in Micronesia and the largest of the Mariana Islands. While this geographically complex territory is fascinating in its own right, our interests lead us to a sea turtle named Shelly who found herself in undesirable circumstances off the waters of Gab Gab Beach adjoining Naval Base Guam at Apra Harbor.

Let’s bring our story back in time a little bit so that we can understand how Shelly came to be where she was as well as what the Guam Department of Agriculture Division of Aquatic Wildlife Resources (DWAR) did to save the beautiful animal.

First and foremost, our story starts at the United States Naval Base in Guam, located off the Apra Harbor. This base was combined with the Andersen Air Force Base in 2009 to create what is known as the Joint Region Marianas. Shelly was in the waters right off Gab Gab Beach in Guam when she began to experience troubles. According to a biologist at DWAR, Shelly weighed in at 50 pounds and is estimated as between 15 and 20 years-old.

The first signs of a potential problem with Shelly came as a result of the Environmental Division of the Navy Base. Ann Colt, a resource specialist inside of the division stated, ‘We will be able to track her movements and learn about where she goes to feed and to reproduce.” This type of tracking technology is incredibly important both from an academic standpoint as well as a safety standpoint. By being able to track the turtle, Colt and the rest of the team at DWAR will be able to learn about the animal, track for potential problems, and develop potential solutions in the future using their scientific data.

Shelly was originally acquired for rehabilitating after a blockage within her intestinal system was found. The team at Underwater World would be tasked with helping Shelly to rehabilitate to return to nature. They would provide the massive turtle with a type of mineral oil to get rid of the blockage. From that point forward, UnderWater World’s Rafael Calderon, a Senior Aquarist with the company, focused largely on feeding and rehabilitating the turtle until she was able to accomplish both tasks for herself.

Calderon grew quite close to Shelly during their ten months of rehabilitating together. Calderon stated that he would see her every day for the full ten months that she was under his care. His focus the entire time was on returning the turtle to nature so that it could return to its habitat and focus on repopulating. Calderon admitted that he would be sad to see the creature go, though he understood the importance of the work he was doing as a conservationist and researcher.

If you ever see a sea turtle in the wild, you will probably be advised to leave it alone. Turtles must be returned to the place that they were picked up and any interference could bother or otherwise distress the animal. If you do see a turtle in distress, on the beach or in the water, contact the local authorities to have them take care of the animal.

At just 20-years-old, Shelly was returned to the wild while still in her youth. While few sea turtles survive and thrive all the way to old age, their natural lifespan is estimated to sit somewhere between 50 and 100 years old.

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Chicago Business Owner Uses Pandemic Scheduling to Fly At-Risk Animals to Safety!

Renee Yates



When the coronavirus pandemic first truly hit the United States, nobody knew how things would shake out. Flash forward nearly an entire year later and we still aren’t sure exactly what the future may hold. With that being said, the past eight months haven’t been wasted entirely. Some people like Eduard Seitan, a restaurateur from Chicago, used their pandemic downtime to help those most at risk and vulnerable, including sick and injured animals. Before we dive into that aspect of the story, let’s first introduce you to Eduard Seitan.

Seitan would find his way to the United States at a young age after having immigrated from Romania when he was only 19-years-old. Fresh-faced and completely at a loss concerning the English language, Eduard knew that he was facing an uphill challenge in his new country. In fact, Eduard couldn’t speak a single word of English. Despite his linguistic limitations, Eduard knew that he could turn his fortune around by working hard.

After working for a few months at a construction job site, Eduard would find his way to a popular Italian restaurant named Club Lucky, due to his own Italian background. Eduard would work as a food runner until he was eventually promoted to the position of head server. A few short years later, Eduard would partner with a friend to establish the One Off Hospitality Group, leading to the Michelin-starred Blackbird and more than 10 other spots throughout Chicago.

Now one of the most prominent self-made restaurateurs in Chicago, Eduard Seitan isn’t letting his position hold him back during the pandemic. When life essentially shut down in March, Seitan and his team would quit drawing salaries to preserve as many employees as possible. Still, two restaurants would end up being shut down. Seitan said, “It was so hard for us.” More than 100,000 restaurants throughout Chicago have already closed on a long-term basis at the time of this writing.

As winter approaches, Eduard knows that dining outdoors will be all but impossible. While his businesses continue to fight against the ongoing pandemic, Eduard has taken to the air to continue making an impact of his own. Seitan flies as a member of the Pilots N Paws program, a nonprofit network of volunteers that pilot at-risk dogs and cats to no-kill organizations around the country. Additionally, Pilots N Paws will literally take animals off of the euthanization list to bring them to forever homes throughout the nation.

For his own part, Seitan has helped to save over 40 pets that were to be euthanized at their local Chicago shelter. Seitan has frequently spoken out against animal abuse and how the very description can fill him with rage. As a result, Seitan knew that he wanted to truly give new opportunities to animals so that they could live fulfilling lives in homes brimming with love and affection. Along the way, Seitan points out that the dogs enjoy the ride and ‘do really well’ once the plane gets into the air.

Seitan has long called the air his ‘happy place’ and now he is returning there frequently with the pandemic opening up his schedule. October 14th saw Seitan fly Frank, a German pointer, and Hero, a mixed-breed, to Ohio where they would join a prison-dog program. The animals would be introduced to individuals serving their time, in return, the dogs will be trained and treated to love and affection.

Eduard Seitan has a pair of rescue dogs of his own and he frequently volunteers alongside the team at Chicago Animal Care and Control.

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