Sharks. Living inside a volcano. If this was a movie, it'd be 'Shark-cano.' But it's real.

There comes a time in all of our lives when we must admit the tragic truth: Sharknados are not real.

Sharks rain from the sky like teardrops from my eyes. GIF from "Sharknado 2."


Neither are Sharktopuses or Mega Shark and Mecha Shark or any other such fantastical creatures of SyFy Original Movie fame — except for two-headed sharks (which could arguably occur as natural mutations) and avalanche sharks (which, with climate change, you never know).

It's OK. It can be difficult accept the harrowing reality of our CGI-monster-less lives.

But dry your eyes, brave soldier! For hope has risen like a phoenix from the fiery depths of the South Pacific....

GIF from "Sharknado 2."

Scientists recently discovered a certain sharp-toothed surprise while exploring an active underwater volcano.

That's right. Underwater volcano.

Oceanographer (and National Geographic Society/Waitts Grant recipient) Brennan Phillips led an expedition into the South Pacific to learn more about Kavachi, a submarine volcano near the Solomon Islands that was actively spewing as recently as 2014.

Phillips and his team knew that the summit was somewhere around 100 feet below sea level and that it was capable of shooting plumes of magma nearly a quarter-mile into the air, forming temporary islands on the ocean's surface.

But no one had ever explored Kavachi up close before. They wanted to learn more.

A submarine volcano erupting. GIF via Smithsonian Ocean Portal.

Unfortunately, it's hard to study underwater volcanos. 'Cause, ya know. Underwater. And also volcano.

They sent underwater cameras to look inside the crater and discovered that Kavachi wasn't the only thing that was active.

There were vol-crab-nos...

GIF via National Geographic/YouTube.

...and lava-rays...

They were calling it a "sixgill stingray." But we all know the truth. GIF via National Geographic/YouTube.

And f---ing SHARK-CANOS!

THE RARE MAGMATIC HAMMERHEAD. GIF via National Geographic/YouTube.

That's right, I said shark-canos. As in plural, baby.

This one's called a "silky shark," and frankly, I don't blame him for hanging out in a submarine volcano because shark-cano is waaaaaaaaaay more badass than "silky shark." GIF via National Geographic/YouTube.

Yes, these hyper-evolved geo-aquatic mutant hybrids are real. But that's ... about the only thing we know about them.

"These large animals are living in what you have to assume is much hotter and much more acidic water, and they’re just hanging out,” Phillips said. "What sort of changes have they undergone? Are there only certain animals that can withstand it? [...] Do they get an early warning and escape the caldera before it gets explosive, or do they get trapped and perish in steam and lava?

While we have yet to witness any shark-canos riding like rockets out of the ocean on geysers made of molten rock, we have discovered their one major weakness:

It's us.

Shark attacks against humans are incredibly rarewe're talking maybe 30 a year, 40 tops. You've got about a 1 in 11.5 million chance of experiencing your very own "Jaws" encounter.

That's not at all. There has not been a single record instance of a shark-cano attack in the entirety of human history. This is likely due to the fact that it's hard for living people to make it 200 feet underwater into the belly of a volcano, but still.

For the most part, sharks are all like:

GIF from "Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show."

and then us humans are all like:

GIF from "Snakes on a Plane," which isn't technically a SyFy Original Movie, but still counts in terms of absurd animal-based B-movies.

Humans kill more than 100 million sharks every year. It's gotten to the point where 1 in 4 shark species are endangered.

If the tables were turned, you'd be hiding in a volcano too.

There's a much better chance of survival down there, which when you think about it, is really saying something.

To enjoy these magnificent creatures in all their glory, check out National Geographic's full video of the real-life shark-cano discovery:

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Woman shares breakup letter to foot before amputation.

It's amazing how even the most harrowing of decisions can be transformed with a good sense of humor.

After suffering an ankle injury during a horseback riding accident at age 13, Jo Beckwith had exhausted all other options to escape from the lingering pain from the fracture, leaving her with no better choice than to amputate.

She could have buckled under the weight of such life-altering news (no one would blame her). Instead, Jo threw a farewell party the day before her surgery. Some of her friends showed up to write a goodbye letter, fun and lighthearted messages scribbled directly onto the ankle.

@footlessjo

The messages that came into #amputation with me! #funny #therapeutic #disability #amputee #fypシ


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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."