(TMU) — As China continues to take extraordinary measures to contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak, “wet markets”—outdoor food markets selling both live and dead animals—have been labeled “ground zero” by authorities in regard to the viral epidemic.
The market facing the most scrutiny allegedly sells the meat of over 100 animals including exotic snakes, live rats, wolf puppies, live peacocks, porcupines, and even koalas, according to images circulating online.
On Wednesday, state authorities banned the trade of live animals at wet markets. The popular Huanan Seafood Market in the central city of Wuhan where the virus is believed to have begun was previously closed on January 1.
Dr. Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese agency charged with controlling and preventing diseases, confirmed that the virus—now known as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)—likely came from “wild animals at the seafood market” but did not go into specifics. The first to suffer from the virus were reportedly the employees at the Wuhan market.
The vast outdoor marketplace is comprised of rows and rows of narrow lanes cluttered with shopkeepers, butchers, and consumers looking for the freshest cuts of uncooked meat. As Business Insider reports, people and animals—both alive and dead—are in constant contact at the market, making it far easier for the virus to spill over from animal hosts into the human population.
Relatively common animals include pigs, hares, chicken, shrimp, and dogs, but an incredible array of exotic cuts can be found including giant salamanders, crocodile tongue, and civets. Chinese consumption of civet meat was the cause of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003, according to AFP. The SARS virus, which originated with bats, was found across wildlife markets in China.
One menu advertising a Wuhan market vendor boasts:
“Freshly slaughtered, frozen and delivered to your door. Wild Game Animal Husbandry for the Masses.”
While Chinese authorities have outlawed the trafficking of numerous wild species—especially since the outbreak of SARS—conservationists claim that the regulations are too loose in general but especially for species that are farmed for commercial purposes.
Exotic species are famously seen as delicacies across China and other Asian countries largely due to the legendary and often unproven medicinal benefits of eating the wild creatures. The consumption of exotic and even live animals is also seen as a symbol of social status.
However, revelations of the live animal sales have even shocked many locals.
One user of Chinese social network Weibo wrote:
“Just took a closer look at the viral wild animal menu – they even eat koalas.”
While another user responded:
“There’s nothing Chinese people won’t eat.”
In a statement made on Wednesday, Dr. Christian Walzer, executive director of the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society’s Health Program, said:
“Chinese scientists believe the Wuhan Coronavirus originated in wildlife sold illegally in a live animal market. This virus is closely related to SARS and it now appears the spill-over to humans followed a similar transmission path. China closed Wuhan markets where this new virus was tracked back to – but similar markets occur in other cities across China and other Asian countries.
If these markets persist, and human consumption of illegal and unregulated wildlife persists, then the public will continue to face heightened risks from emerging new viruses, potentially more lethal and the source of future pandemic spread.
Poorly regulated live animal markets, where wild animals, farmed-wildlife, and domestic animals are transported from across the regions and housed together to sell for human consumption provide ideal conditions for the emergence of new viruses that threaten human health, economic stability, and ecosystem health.”
Beijing is struggling to keep the coronavirus under control, imposing a quarantine on three cities after the virus killed 17 people and infected nearly 640.
Meanwhile, experts have warned it is “quite possible” that the deadly virus will spread to Australia.
“We do have a lot of traffic from China and I think it’s quite possible we will get some cases here but I’m very confident that we’re well prepared to respond if we do,” Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said.
Just moments ago, health authorities in Australia confirmed that a person in Sydney is under quarantine after possibly contracting the deadly coronavirus.
Scientists Catch a Glimpse of a Ultra-Rare Giant Phantom Jelly, With Bizarre Ribbon-Like Arms
Researchers have seen a large deep-sea jellyfish with the assistance of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) named Doc Ricketts off the coast of California, in an extremely rare sighting. The footage revealed the creature’s unique and exquisite features.
The uncommon encounter was documented in November this year, 990 meters (3,200 ft) deep in Monterey Bay, according to a report issued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).
The enigmatic phantom jellyfish was initially discovered in 1899, but scientists did not recognize it as a distinct species until 1960. Scientists still know very little about this creature.
The specimen of the huge phantom jelly has only been seen 110 times in 110 years across the world. According to the MBARI research, despite thousands of dives, their ROVs have only observed this amazing species nine times.
The huge phantom jellyfish has the following characteristics:
The bell of this deep-sea denizen is more than one meter (3.3 feet) broad, with four ribbon-like oral (or mouth) arms that can grow to be more than 10 meters (33 feet) long, according to an MBARI report.
The species is said to inhabit anywhere between the surface and 21,900 feet in depth. It does, however, remain in the twilight zone, which is just beyond the reach of sunlight.
The organism, formally known as ‘Stygiomedusa gigantea’, is found all across the planet except in the Arctic Ocean, according to the experts.
It’s worth noting that, in the past, scientists depended on trawl-nets to examine deep-sea species; but, the jellies, which transform into a viscous goo in trawl nets, were difficult to research using this outdated method. Fish, crabs, and squids are among the only creatures that can be effectively studied from nets.
Researchers may now examine these creatures in their native habitat with high-definition footage thanks to the robot cams. I, personally, prefer this “no-touch” approach.
Watch the mesmerizing video here:
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
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