Quick Takes: A whale of a find | WORLD
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Quick Takes: A whale of a find

Beachcombing dog sniffs out rare—but strange—ocean treasure

Illustration by Ellice Weaver

Quick Takes: A whale of a find
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The nose knows. A U.K. man made a rare find when his dog dropped her ball and began furiously investigating a clump of seaweed during a recent beach walk in Ayrshire, Scotland. “She doesn’t usually drop her ball, so I knew there was something there,” Patrick Williamson told a reporter. The dog had sniffed out a clump of ambergris, a rare secretion that forms in the intestines of sperm whales and is highly valued in the perfume industry. Sometimes known as “floating gold,” ambergris typically carries a lofty price: A 21-pound chunk discovered earlier this year was valued at more than $500,000. At that rate, Williamson’s much smaller 5.5-ounce find could be worth $8,000 or more.

Under false pretenses

The Law Society of Kenya’s Nairobi Branch raised public alarm Oct. 12 after it discovered a man was winning every case he tried in court—but he wasn’t really a lawyer. According to the lawyers’ guild, the impersonator stole the identity of a practicing lawyer and began trying cases on his own in 2022. The unnamed man’s plot unraveled after the real Brian Mwenda Ntwiga attempted to update his law society profile only to find someone else had tampered with his account. Despite his lack of legal credentials or education, the impersonator won all 26 cases he argued in Kenyan courtrooms.

Sticker shock

Connor Cato didn’t think he was driving that fast. Savannah, Ga., police pulled Cato over in September for driving 90 mph through a 55-mph zone. But the ticket Cato received listed his fine at $1.4 million. Later Cato called the court to see if he truly had a bankruptcy-inducing fine, and court officials told him the $1.4 million number was simply a placeholder figure and a judge would assess Cato’s true fine when he appears in court in December. Georgia law dictates Cato’s fine cannot exceed $1,000.

Hungry heist

This was one shoplifter a Canadian shop owner was not willing to confront. Jay deGoesbriand said a black bear entered his Vancouver Island convenience store at 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 9 and sniffed through a display of chocolate bars before finally plucking a small bag of gummy bears off the shelf. The bear left without paying. “Mr. Bear then went out in the parking lot and ate it,” deGoesbriand told the CBC, noting he watched the quick robbery while drinking coffee behind the counter.


American astronauts returning to the moon won’t just be national heroes—they’ll be fashion icons. The luxury fashion brand Prada announced in October it is partnering with Axiom Space to help design spacesuits for the future NASA-led Artemis III mission to the moon. Engineers and designers from the Italian fashion house aim to experiment with materials and techniques to afford astronauts more flexibility while moonwalking without sacrificing protection from the elements. The current prototype for the planned 2025 space mission ­features a white suit with blue and red piping on the legs.

On the wrong track

Many criticize the European Parliament as a Mickey Mouse institution—and a wrong turn while transporting hundreds of members of the body nearly made it so. During a chartered train trip carrying MEPs from Brussels, Belgium, to Strasbourg, France, conductors accidentally turned onto the wrong track and took the delegation to the Disneyland theme park outside Paris on Oct. 16. One official reported that after the train arrived at Disneyland, the conductor had to go to the other end to back out. Despite the accidental side trip, German MEP Daniel Freund declared on social media, “We are NOT a Mickey Mouse Parliament.”

Can’t fool me

Johnny Yates had only a whiteboard and dry erase marker with which to evade authorities Oct. 14. Yates, wanted on multiple charges by Florida’s Polk County Sheriff’s Office, decided the direct approach might be best. Before hiding in his house, Yates wrote a message on the whiteboard saying “Johnny Yates does NOT live here” and placed it by the front window. Deputies searched Yates’ home anyway and found him hiding in a modified chest of drawers. Writing on Facebook, an official with the sheriff’s office sarcastically criticized Yates’ attempt at misdirection: “Gee … a dry-erase board never lied to us before—should we believe it?”


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