Thursday, January 18, 2007

--A great white shark that spent 137 days at a California aquarium is back in the Pacific Ocean today. It's only the second time that one of the feared predators has been released after such a long time in captivity.

The male shark measured 6 feet 5 inches long and weighed 171 pounds when released Tuesday, compared with 5 feet 8 inches and 103 pounds when he arrived at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Aug. 31. He is one of two great whites to survive more than 16 days in captivity in 50 years of attempts by aquariums around the world, experts in Monterey said.

In 2005 the aquarium released a female great white shark it had kept for 198 days.

Like the shark released this week, she wore a tracking device. In one month's time she swam more than 200 miles south of Monterey and more than 100 miles offshore. She also dived to depths of more than 800 feet.

Blessing the Animals

--Thousands of people and pets lined up at Catholic churches across Spain for the annual blessing of the animals.

There were lots of dogs and cats, of course; some of them dressed up for the occasion. Bunnies and birds also turned out in good numbers.

In addition to pampered pets, work animals and farm livestock also received the blessing, which owners believe results in good health for the coming year.

Yesterday was the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot, a patron saint of animals.

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