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Whale watching is always fun! Hooray!

Well, except for that whole waiting part or the risk of not seeing one at all. But even for researchers whose job it is to stare at the aquatic behemoths all day, a recent whale sighting in Australia was a HUGE DEAL.

The Cetacean Research Unit from Murdoch University has been in the midst of a massive study on the breeding and calving behaviors of southern right whales in the Great Australian Bight. And recently, their drone-tracking cameras happened upon this magical moment:


Aw, look! They're cuddling! GIF via MUCRU/YouTube.

The most obviously awesome part of it — besides the cuddles, of course — was this little white calf.

Southern right whales aren't usually white. According to the BBC, only 5% of right whales are born white, but the gray and black spotting takes over by the end of their first year. The initial white coloring isn't albinism, but there's not really any clear answer on what causes it either. And you certainly won't find any all-white adult southern right whales, which makes this rare sighting all the more amazing.

Photo via Fredrik Christiansen/Murdoch University, used with permission.

There's also the fact that southern right whale populations have been hurting for a long time.

"Save the whales!" is a pretty common refrain because humans kind of decimated these massive, mysterious marine mammals over a few hundred years. But while the sperm whales and the hump whales have been doing pretty well with recovery and repopulation, southern right whales are still having a rough go of it.

The Great Australian Bight, where these photos were taken, is the largest southern right whale nursery in the world — but even that means there's only about 3,000 estimated to be living there, about one-fifth of their pre-whaling population.

Maybe that mama started life out as a white one? She's got the spots to prove it. Photo via Fredrik Christiansen/Murdoch University, used with permission.

That makes it even more amazing that researchers would spot a white calf like they did.

Researchers have counted a whopping 80 or so newborn southern right whales this year. And that's a record-breaking high.

"Last year was one of our lowest years ever recorded, so the fact this year is high is a reassuring factor. [...] To know the whales are having a high year is very important," said Claire Charlton, a researcher from Curtin University, in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"This project will benefit the conservation of southern right whales by teaching us more about their health and reproduction," added Fredrik Christiansen, a researcher from Murdoch University, in an interview with BBC.

"WHALE hello there!" Photo via Fredrik Christiansen/Murdoch University, used with permission.

And that's why these researchers were out taggin' and trackin' in the first place: to figure out why things are looking up for these magnificent leviathans.

Even though we've stopped actively killing whales in the whaling industry, we still can't say for certain how human industrial activity has continued to affect their lives and populations.

Oil drilling in particular is a pressing concern — and it doesn't take a spill for the machinery and noise pollution to do damage to the whales. (Of course, if there is an oil spill, even BP has admitted that it won't be pretty.)

By recording the sounds and movements made by the whales, as well as their reactions to the environment around them, researchers are better able to understand the entire ecosystem now, so they're learning how to keep those whales safe.

Photo via Fredrik Christiansen/Murdoch University, used with permission.

So that's the big question: Has the southern right whale population started to recover because companies like BP haven't been working underwater?

We can't say for certain. But it's likely, and it's worth figuring out before we make things worse.

"We've been assured that the exploration would have no negative impact on the whales [and] we'd like to think that is definitely the case, but we don't know," explained Haydyn Bromley of the Aboriginal Land Trust.

"What we would hate to see is the area devastated because perhaps someone made a mistake, or someone didn't calibrate something properly and next thing you know, this pristine area could be at risk."

The Great Australian Bight is home to hordes of incredible aquatic creatures — 85% of which can't be found anywhere else in the world.

Let's keep those creatures safe.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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