The Sideshow
  • White whale mimicked human voices

    Nearly 20 years ago, a beluga whale named NOC was recorded mimicking human speech. While NOC didn't say anything recognizable, the whale's sounds were a lot like distant conversation or a murmur at a party. The whale sounded so much like a person that a diver got out of NOC's tank because he thought someone from above water was trying to tell him something.

    According to researchers at the National Marine Mammal Foundation, which recently published a paper on NOC's unique manner of speech in the journal Current Biology, the whale's talks lasted for several years until it reached maturity. As quoted in Scientific American, the paper concludes: "We do not claim that our whale was a good mimic compared to such well known mimics as parrots," but it is an example of vocal learning nonetheless. "It seems likely that NOC's close association with humans played a role in how often he employed his human voice, as well as in its quality."

    Marine biologist Sam Ridgway of the National Marine Mammal

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  • This year's underwater pumpkin carving contest had a political theme. (Florida Keys News Bureau)In advance of Monday's final presidential debate, divers carved two pumpkins into the likenesses of President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

    The carvings were part of an underwater pumpkin carving contest held in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which brought out 42 divers.

    "I decided to carve Mitt Romney because of the debates and all the other fervor surrounding the elections," contestant Cat Rambo said in comments provided to Yahoo! News. "I think it's on everyone's mind right now."

    The Obama pumpkin carving was created by fellow diver contestant Manuel Garcia.

    "We have both Mitt Romney and Obama pumpkins, but we don't want to declare any winners here today," said contest organizer Amy Slate, owner of the Amoray Dive Resort in Key Largo. "We're gonna leave that to the debates and to the election."

    Slate, however, did concede that the political carvings made sense after last week's contentious debate, since "they always take political pokes at

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  • Some of this year's Friskies finalists, eagerly awaiting the results (YouTube)Cat lovers across the Internet are getting a chance to vote for their favorite feline videos of the year.

    The Pet Collective has put together "The Friskies," narrowing down literally thousands of cat videos to 12 finalists spread out over four categories:

    "Catness" (the essence of cat behavior), "Catcom" (funny felines), "Catventure" (an indoor cat on the kind of adventure only cats can have) and "Catchall" (a miscellaneous category for cool cat videos that don't fit into the other categories).

    All of the videos are worth checking out, including this nominee in the "Catcom" category, in whicy Lulu the cat attacks a singing birthday card:

    Voting is open now and will continue through Nov. 9.

    Along with viewer feedback, the videos will be rated by a team of judges, including comedian Michael Showalter.

    The winner in each of the four categories will take home $2,500, and a grand-prize winner will receive $15,000 for best video of the year.

    Along with the prize money for the people

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  • Van Gaal admits Di Maria struggling at Man United
    Van Gaal admits Di Maria struggling at Man United

    Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal confessed that Angel di Maria is struggling to adjust to English football after substituting him at half-time of United's 2-0 win over Sunderland. After a promising start to his United career, following a club-record £59.7 million ($92.2 million, 82.3 million euros) transfer from Real Madrid, the form of the Argentina international has dipped. Di Maria has scored just once for United since the start of October and, after an ineffective first half against Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday, he was taken off at the interval by Van Gaal.

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