Rusty Escandell told CNN that he took the photograph on Sunday, while spending the day with family and friends at a beach near Officers Club Beach at Patrick Space Force Base, but he didn’t realize it until he got home.”I kind of saw a splash behind the surfer, but didn’t think much of it,” he said. “It could have been a fish, could have been anything.”Escandell had taken a burst of photos that showed the ray breaching out of the water.”It was pretty amazing,” he said.His daughter and her boyfriend are both marine biologists and said they’d seen some manta rays in the water after he took the photo, Escandell said.Escandell owns an auto repair shop and lives in nearby Satellite Beach, and said he enjoys taking pictures at the beach fairly regularly.He didn’t know the surfer in the photo, but they’ve talked since the photo went viral.”He’s excited too,” Escandell said.Giant manta rays are the world’s largest rays and can grow to a wingspan of up to 29 feet.The slow-swimming, migratory fish are listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act and as endangered on the IUCN Red List.”Their populations are declining worldwide,” said Jessica Pate, a senior scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation.Pate told CNN that about 50 people have sent her Escandell’s photo over the last few days.She’s just started studying why adult manta rays aggregate off of central and north Florida in the spring.On Sunday, she spotted 64 adult giant manta rays while conducting an aerial survey of the area between Sebastian and Daytona Beach — which includes Satellite Beach.”I’m not sure exactly what’s driving this large aggregation. It could be for mating, it could be for feeding, it could be for both. But that’s what we’re going to conduct a study to figure out,” Pate said.She said it’s also not known why giant manta rays breach, or jump out of the water, it could be a mating ritual, they could be trying to dislodge parasites, or it could be a way of communicating because it makes a loud sound.
In one of the first large studies exploring immunity from natural infection with COVID-19, researchers in Denmark found some surprising trends—including evidence that even those who previously contracted the disease should still get vaccinated. In the study, published March 17 in medical journal The Lancet, researchers took advantage of repeated coronavirus test results from about 4 million people in order to track how often those previously infected with SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—were reinfected. Since the test results were tied to people’s health records, the scientists could anonymize the data and compare those who tested positive during Denmark’s first COVID-19 wave last spring with those who tested positive during a second wave in the autumn. That revealed key findings about reinfection rates in the country.
In the spring, 2% of the 530,000-plus people who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 were positive. Among them, 0.65% tested positive again later that year, compared to 3.3% of those who had tested negative during the first wave. That suggests infection with SARS-CoV-2 provides about 80% protection against reinfection. What’s more, there was no evidence that this immunity waned over the study’s six month follow-up period. But when the researchers broke down the data by age, they learned that this protection wasn’t uniform—protection was only 47% for people over 65 years old. “The result in the elderly surprised me,” says lead researcher Steen Ethelberg of the Statens Serum Institut, Denmark’s equivalent of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “That was, ‘wow, this is actually important; we have to communicate this because you can obviously not count on being protected if you are a senior citizen and have the disease.’” To adjust for the possibility that the tests were picking up the same infection twice, Ethelberg’s team analyzed the results with differing times between the testing. But it came up with similar results, showing previous infection provided about 80-82% protection from reinfection for most adults. The team’s data was collected through last year, before major new SARS-CoV-2 variants emerged, so the findings don’t apply to immunity after infection from these strains. However, Ethelberg is planning to repeat the study with more recent data to see if similar patterns hold up for those infected with the variants. For now, the findings strongly suggest that even if people over age 65 years have experienced COVID-19, they still need to be vaccinated, since their protection from their natural infection may not be sufficient on its own. “They need to take care, and shouldn’t believe that they are immune and still protect themselves,” says Ethelberg. While less urgent, that also goes for anyone of any age who has recovered from COVID-19. “It’s well known that coronavirus infection do not induce 100% immunity,” he says.
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Majestic Photos by Michael Shainblum Frame Yosemite National Park through Rainbow Mist and Thick Fog
March 17, 2021
All images © Michael Shainblum, shared with permission
New photographs by Michael Shainblum (previously) capitalize on the grandeur of Yosemite National Park and cast it in an ethereal light. Shot in winter just after a dusting of snow, the series is serene and dream-like and spotlights the details that sometimes are lost in the vast wilderness: rainbow mist envelops a waterfall, dense fog hangs among a mountain top, and the warm glow of golden hour radiates across a rocky ridge.
Go behind-the-scenes of Shainblum’s visit to Yosemite in this video, and pick up a print in his shop. See more of his candy-colored landscapes and photographs capturing nature’s most majestic features on Instagram.
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Former Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine has died at age 77. He passed away on March 9.The news was announced Wednesday by his physician Dr. Len Horovitz, who confirmed Levine died in his home in Palm Springs, California. It is not clear why the news was not announced until now.Considered one of the world’s greatest conductors, he led the Metropolitan Opera as Music Director for over 40 years before retiring in 2016 due to Parkinson’s disease. Throughout his career, Levine conducted 2,552 performances.He continued as the head of the MET’s Young Artist Development Program before being officially fired on Dec. 3, 2017, at the height of the #MeToo movement. An internal investigation by the Met Opera found that he had engaged in “sexually abusive and harassing conduct” involving four teenagers dating back to the 1960s.Levine filed a defamation suit against the Met, which resulted in Levine receiving $3.5 million after the two sides settled out of court.Despite his disgrace, the Met Opera’s General Manager Peter Gelb recognized his contribution to the Met, stating, “No artist in the 137-year history of the Met had as profound an impact as James Levine. He raised the Met’s musical standards to new and greater heights during a tenure that spanned five decades.”Levine was scheduled to make a come-back performance conducting at Italy’s Maggio Musicale Festival this past January, but the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.#LUDWIGVANGet the daily arts news straight to your inbox.Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE. Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.Latest posts by Michael Vincent (see all) Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.Latest posts by Michael Vincent (see all)