INDEPENDENT 2024-03-03 04:39:37


Lone killer whale kills and eviscerates great white shark in 2 minutes

Scientists have published dramatic footage of the moment a lone killer whale hunted and ate a great white shark off the coast of South Africa, in the first documented incident of its kind.

Researchers said the “unprecedented” display of predatory prowess unfolded in a matter of just two minutes, from the moment the orca struck the shark on its pectoral fin to the extraction of the fish’s nutrient-rich liver.

The attack occurred off the coast of Mossel Bay in South Africa on 18 June 2023 and involved a killer whale who has previously been observed by scientists, nicknamed Starboard, attacking a juvenile great white shark.

“The astonishing predation, off the coast of Mossel Bay, South Africa, represents unprecedented behavior underscoring the exceptional proficiency of the killer whale,” said Dr Alison Towner from Rhodes University, who led an international research team on the discovery.

While it is not uncommon for orcas to hunt down large animals individually, and there are documented cases of killer whales predating great whites as a group, the Mossel Bay incident is the first time an orca has been recorded killing a great white shark on its own.

It offers insights into the predatory behavior of orcas, suggesting that their hunting strategy of plundering great whites for their livers could be driving sharks away from certain areas along the coast around Cape Town.

The video of Starboard single-handedly hunting down an 8.2ft juvenile great white shark was captured by a tourist boat passing closely at 2pm and the sequence of events was journaled and studied in the African Journal of Marine Science.

Almost an hour after arriving, Starboard appeared near the surface and at around 3pm the researchers and tourists witnessed the male orca grip the left pectoral fin of a shark and “thrust forward with the shark several times before eventually eviscerating it” within less than two minutes, it said.

A few moments later, it again emerged: this time with “a bloody piece of peach-coloured liver in its mouth”.

Starboard’s other male companion, Port, was around 329 feet away from the site of the attack and did not get involved.

“Killer whales, or orcas, usually team up when they hunt, although they can hunt solitarily,” Dr Towne said. “The unusual aspect was witnessing Starboard, the killer whale, hunting a white shark alone and in a remarkably rapid timeframe.”

The duo has been under scientists’ watch since they were seen in drone footage in 2022 working together to hunt down white sharks. Traveling vast distances along South Africa’s eastern coastline, reaching as far as Namibia, researchers believe they began targeting great whites as early as 2015. It wasn’t until 2022 that aerial footage documented the orcas killing a great white shark, according to Towner.

“This sighting revealed evidence of solitary hunting by at least one killer whale, challenging conventional cooperative hunting behaviors known in the region,” said Dr Towner.

“These are groundbreaking insights into the predatory behavior of this species,” she said. “The presence of these shark-hunting killer whales possibly ties into broader ecosystem dynamics. Rapid developments in this phenomenon make it challenging for science to keep pace.”

One of the scientists who witnessed the attack, Dr Primo Micarelli, a co-author of the new study from the Shark Studies Centre and Siena University, said: “Seeing Starboard carry a white shark’s liver past our vessel is unforgettable.

“Despite my awe for these predators, I’m increasingly concerned about the coastal marine ecology balance,” Mr Micarelli said.

The livers of great whites are massive organs, comprising about a third of their body mass, and rich in lipids. The orcas discard the remainder of the carcass, exhibiting selective feeding behavior observed in other carnivores like harbor seals, brown bears, and wolves.

Bob Mortimer shares irreparable damage caused by ‘very unhealthy year’

Bob Mortimer has shared the extent of his medical issues after telling his fans he’s “not very healthy right now”.

The comedian, who had major heart surgery in 2015, first opened up about his ongoing medical issues in September 2022, revealing that he ended up in hospital after filming Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing.

Mortimer’s health issues meant he had to be replaced for an episode of the lifestyle series. The TV star chose his friend Lee Mack to join Whitehouse – a decision that divided viewers who complained about the lack of chemistry between the pair.

At the time Mortimer revealed his health issues, he also said he had recently discovered that his rheumatoid arthritis had returned after 29 years.

However, it was an illness that Mortimer got in 2023 that led to him having what he described as “a very, very, very unhealthy year for me”.

In fact, the comedian went so far as to tell his co-star Paul Whitehouse in a new interview: “You know what? It was worse than my heart period.”

Last year, Mortimer got shingles, a skin infection that causes a painful rash and is caused by the varicella-zoster virus – the same virus that causes chickenpox.

He revealed in a new article featured in Metro on Friday (1 March) that he’s lost the usage of several muscles, which has left him with a “terrible feeling” that he might no longer be able to exercise by going for runs.

He said: “The muscles I’ve lost, I’ve lost… But other ones can compensate for it, you know what I mean?”

Mortimer said that, while he “can make the other muscles stronger”, he has “a terrible feeling I’m never going to be able to run again”, adding: “You know that I used to like to run, Paul.”

In 2015, the TV star had a triple heart bypass operation after he was diagnosed with coronary heart disease.

Gone Fishing was born when Whitehouse, who Mortimer had known for 30 years, invited his longtime friend fishing to get him out of the house after the surgery.

Paul vs Bourland LIVE: Latest fight updates and results tonight

Jake Paul scored a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland on Saturday, stopping the professional boxer before Amanda Serrano’s title defence was cancelled at the last moment.

Paul, 27, quickly split his fellow American’s guard with repeated jabs, before adding right hands to the body and head to wobble Bourland, 35, against the ropes. Bourland, who entered Puerto Rico with a 17-2 pro record, scrambled around in a bid to recover, but he was eventually overwhelmed in the corner.

As Paul poured on punches, Bourland fell to his knees, and the referee stepped in to wave off the cruiserweight bout. With that, YouTube star Paul moved to 9-1 as a pro. The result in San Juan marked his second straight win against a pro boxer, with the “Problem Child” having knocked out Andre August in round one in December. Before Saturday (2 March), Bourland had not fought since September 2022.

Paul vs Bourland was set to be followed by a main event between Serrano and Nina Meinke, but the unified featherweight title fight was cancelled in a bizarre scene. After Paul stopped Bourland, Meinke entered the ring in her fight gear, while Serrano arrived in sunglasses and a hoodie. A ring announcer revealed that the main event had been cancelled, and that the crowd would receive 100 per cent refunds.

Champion Serrano, 35, said she had not been cleared to compete by doctors, owing to an eye injury. Re-live updates from Paul vs Bourland and the bizarre cancellation of Serrano vs Meinke, below.

Train fares increase by nearly 5 per cent as passengers ‘punished’

Train fares are due to rise by nearly five per cent, despite rail cancellations currenly among the highest levels for 10 years.

In the year leading up to 3 February, figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show that the equivalent of 3.9 per cent of services in England and Wales were cancelled.

This only narrowly fails to beat the worst performance of 4.1 per cent in records which date back to 2014.

Public transport campaigners claimed passengers are being “punished” and will be “angry” at Sunday’s price hikes given the current cost of living crisis.

Persistent strikes, infrastructure failures and faults and an increase in severe weather have all impacted the reliability of services.

The increase in fares could add £190 to an annual season ticket from Woking to London, taking the cost from £3,880 to £4,070.

It could also see flexi season tickets for travel between Liverpool and Manchester on two days per week over a year rising by £92.60 from £1,890 to £1,982.60.

Chris Page, who chairs pressure group Railfuture, said: “Why are rail passengers being punished year after year with inflation-busting fare rises?

“No matter that there’s a cost of living crisis, no matter that we’re facing a climate emergency, the government seems more determined than ever to price us off the railway and on to the roads.”

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “This fare rise will be tough for passengers to stomach given the shocking state of rail services up and down the country.

“Since coming to power in 2010 the Tories have hiked fares by almost twice as much as wages, and now passengers are being asked to pay more for less.”

Campaign for Better Transport campaigns manager Michael Solomon Williams said: “At a time when we urgently need to encourage people to take the train, the public will rightly be angry to discover that it has just become even more expensive to do so.

“We know that people will decide to drive or fly if the train is too expensive, so this is bad news for our personal finances, the wider economy and the environment.”

Rail minister Huw Merriman said last month that the government had attempted to “split the balance between the UK taxpayer and the fare payer” in relation to fare rises, which he described as being “well below inflation”.

ORR figures show the Westminster administration provided £4.4bn of funding to train operators in Britain in the year to the end of March 2023.

Last July’s retail price index measure of inflation, which is traditionally used to determine annual fare rises, was 9 per cent.

The consumer prices index, which is a more commonly used inflation figure, was 6.8 per cent in July 2023 but fell to 4 per cent in January. Westminster and the Welsh government set the cap for rises in regulated fares at 4.9 per cent.

These include season tickets on most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance routes and flexible tickets for travel around major cities.

Train operators set unregulated fares such as Advance singles, although their decisions are heavily influenced by the government due to contracts introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rises in these fares are expected to be similar to those for regulated fares. The Scottish government will increase ScotRail fares by 8.7 per cent from 1 April.

Drones and AI part of Hunt’s £1.8bn Budget efficiency push

Jeremy Hunt has announced a “public sector productivity drive” in a bid to improve services without ramping up government spending.

The government says its new measures are part of its plan to move on from the “high spending and high tax approach” that was necessary to “get the UK through the shocks of Covid and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.

The plans are announced just days before Mr Hunt will deliver his spring Budget in which he is widely anticipated to introduce further tax cuts in the hope of boosting electoral prospects.

The £800m investment in public services represent a “new focus” on the “long-term decisions required to strengthen the economy and give people the opportunity to build a wealthier, more secure life for themselves and their family”, the Treasury said.

The announcement features a number of cost-saving measures, including the implementation of artificial intelligence and digitisation across government and the creation of 200 additional child social care places in England.

The government said the measures will also “free up thousands of police officer hours spent on admin” by rolling out time-saving technologies like drones. It will also see over 130,000 patients, including those waiting for cancer results, receive their test results sooner.

It said the changes, due to be in Wednesday’s Budget, have the potential to deliver £1.8bn worth of benefits to public sector productivity by 2029.

Mr Hunt is facing pressure to prioritise tax cuts over further public spending as Conservative backbenchers warn the chancellor that only tax-cuts can reverse their electoral fortunes.

But hopes of large tax cuts have been dampened as economists have warned against any reductions in public sector spending.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that tax cuts would be “very challenging to achieve” considering Britain’s ageing population and mounting debt pile, while the Institute for Fiscal Studies said the chancellor should not announce the tax cuts unless he can “provide more detail on its spending plans”.

Recent forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have given the chancellor less fiscal headroom than previously thought, leading him to consider unexpected tax rises such as abolishing the non-dom tax status.

Last week the OBR informed the government that it would have about £13bn of fiscal headroom in the spring Budget, of which Mr Hunt will leave about £6bn in reserve.

Typically, chancellors leave themselves £25bn of headroom to cope with changes in interest rates and inflation without needing to change tax and spending policies, but the chancellor’s room for manoeuvre has been heavily impacted by inflation falling faster than expected, resulting in lower tax revenues, and increased borrowing costs.

The plans announced on Sunday show the chancellor is still eyeing up ways to reduce public spending as the treasury suggest that the proposed measures could return the UK to pre-pandemic levels of productivity.

As part of the measures, the Department for Work and Pensions will “move away from paper-based communications” and planning applications will be sped up through the use of a new AI pilot.

The government also plan to invest £170m into the justice system which it says will save up to 55,000 hours a year of administrative time through the digitisation of jury bundles and the introduction of new software and more robust data.

Introducing the plans, Mr Hunt said: “We shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking more spending buys us better public services.”

“There is too much waste in the system and we want public servants to get back to doing what matters most: teaching our children, keeping us safe and treating us when we’re sick,” he added.

“That’s why our plan is about reaping the rewards of productivity, from faster access to MRIs for patients to hundreds of thousands of police hours freed up to attend burglaries or incidents of domestic abuse.”

Darren Jones MP, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the treasury, said: “Nothing in Britain is better off after 14 years of Conservative economic failure.

“Millions of people are stuck on hospital waiting lists, our schools are crumbling and our streets are less safe. And yet all the chancellor is offering is more spin without substance.”

He added: “It’s time for change. Only Labour offers a long-term plan to grow our economy to deliver more jobs, more investment and to put more money in people’s pockets.”

The Algarve… but make it luxury. The ultimate indulgent break guide

What does a luxury break look like to you? Chances are, it involves a picture-perfect beach, with miles of golden sands and crystal-clear waters. Perhaps some secret coves, lush lagoons and picturesque villages too. Add in mouth-watering food, incredible local wine, state-of-the-art spas and a spot of designer shopping, and you’ve got all the ingredients for the ultimate, five-star luxury holiday – and you’ll find it all in the Algarve.

Located on Portugal’s southern coastline, the Algarve is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations – famously loved by families, sun-seekers (it enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year) and golfers. It’s also the ideal location for a luxury break. Between five-star resort settings and Michelin-starred restaurants, world-class leisure facilities and one-of-a-kind natural wonders, you’ll find everything you need for a truly exquisite experience.

To help you settle on your perfect holiday, travel experts Jet2holidays offer retreats in more than 50 amazing destinations in their Indulgent Escapes portfolio, including the Algarve. From beachfront boltholes to rural retreats, each hotel in this outstanding collection boasts a five-star rating and is hand-picked for its superb location and service.

With breaks including return flights, generous 25kg baggage, and return private hotel transfers*, all with a low £60pp deposit**, these stays are tailor-made. Plus, you can enjoy thoughtful extras such as complimentary priority lanes passes at your UK airport, two in-flight drinks✝ and a £10pp onboard voucher✝✝, for the ultimate luxury package holiday. Each one is ABTA and ATOL-protected, while Jet2.com has been voted Best Airline – UK by Tripadvisor and Jet2holidays is Which? Travel Brand of the Year 2023.

Here, we explore the best luxury experiences in the Algarve, from five-star stays and Michelin-starred cuisine to soothing spas and blissful boutiques.

The very best holiday starts with accommodation to match, and the Algarve has a huge array of luxury stays to choose from, including intimate hotels, private villas and wellness retreats.

For complete indulgence, set your sights on the region’s selection of luxury resorts, all designed with total relaxation in mind – whether that involves a round of golf, a spot of fine dining, cocktails by the pool or some nourishment in the spa. Couples and honeymooners can enjoy clifftop hideaways featuring wellness centres, poolside cabanas and buzzy bars. While families might prefer to stay in a lavish apartment complex, complete with on-site children’s entertainment and babysitting facilities. All set against a backdrop of stunning sea views, of course.

The Algarve might be famous for its vast beaches and warm climate – but it also holds a reputation as a must-experience foodie destination. From seafood hotspots with incredible ocean views to award-winning restaurants and hidden-gem tabernas, there are gourmet experiences to suit every taste. Sample freshly netted fish in the picturesque port of Olhão, enjoy a meal with a view in Vilamoura’s glitzy marina, or tempt your taste buds in the many upscale options in Quinta do Lago.

Fans of grand gastronomy will be spoilt for choice, as the region has an impressive eight Michelin-starred restaurants – two of which have a coveted two stars. It’s perhaps not surprising that the chefs here are so inspired – such is the incredible array of fresh and local produce available. Grilled sardines are a speciality (there’s even the annual Sardine Festival in Portimão), while signature local dish Cataplana combines succulent clams with onion, tomatoes, seafood, white wine and sausage.

For a real treat, look out for fresh oysters from the Ria Formosa lagoon and octopus from the village of Santa Luzia – dubbed the ‘octopus capital’ of Portugal. And while it may not be fine-dining per se, you can’t visit the Algarve without trying one of its most famous dishes: peri-peri chicken.

There’s plenty to wash it all down with too, as the Algarve has four distinctive wine areas: Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira. Best known for its red wines, you should also be sure to try the famous fruity digestif, Medronho, produced in the Monchique mountains.

Luxury is all about enjoying fabulous things, and you won’t be short on beautiful sights around here – starting with the miles and miles of blissful beaches. From the famous aquamarine waters of Praia da Marinha in the central Algarve to the dramatic golden cliffs of Albufeira’s Praia da Falésia, as well as the soft sands of Vilamoura, it’s easy to secure your slice of paradise.

To get a little more off the beaten track, hire a car (we recommend a sporty little number for the full luxury experience) and drive the spectacular coastal roads. Alternatively, head inland to the jaw-dropping mountain landscapes and whitewashed villages.

You could even charter a boat and explore the hidden treasures of the region’s coastline, coves and sea caves. Meanwhile, Ria Formosa natural park – a maze of canals, islands, marshland and beaches – is one of Portugal’s natural wonders and a protected haven for wildlife. It’s great for hiking, bird-watching and snorkelling. The coastal town of Olhão is the perfect starting point to explore the lagoon.

For total tranquility, take a ferry to Ihla Deserta — which translates as ‘deserted island’ — where there are no homes or cars, just one wooden building that houses a renowned sustainable restaurant.

Feeling energetic? Take a swing at some of the best golf courses in Europe, sign up for a surf school, or work on your serve at one of the many tennis courts.

Looking to pick up some unique souvenirs? Or perhaps to treat yourself to a few designer threads? The Algarve has plenty of opportunities for retail therapy, be that in upscale boutiques and large shopping malls, or historic markets and artisan workshops.

Trendsetters should venture to the designer stores of Quinta do Lago, or browse the fashion and jewellery stores at Vilamoura Marina. Faro, Loulé, Portimão and Albufeira all have shopping centres, and there’s even a large designer outlet, where you can browse well-known brands at discounted prices.

Perusing the Algarve’s vibrant markets is another must. With so many to choose from, you can buy everything from fresh fish, olives and cheese to hand-crafted jewellery, ceramics and antiques.

For another way to unwind, you’re never too far from a spa in the Algarve. The medley of luxury hotels boasts incredible wellness facilities, where you can relax with a massage, get a rejuvenating facial, glam up with a manicure, or soothe your muscles in a hydrotherapy pool, hot tub or sauna. Afterwards, order a sundowner cocktail by the pool, sit back and revel in the sweetness of doing nothing.

To make it even easier for you to enjoy the ultimate break in the Algarve, Indulgent Escapes by Jet2holidays provides the perfect luxury package holiday looking look after you at every stage of your journey through their VIP customer service.

Fly to the Algarve from 11 UK airports: Belfast International, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool John Lennon, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle. To find out more and start planning your trip, visit Jet2holidays

*Unless otherwise stated.

**On bookings made ten weeks or more before departure. Full payment required by balance due date.

Excludes champagne which is payable. One drink per person, per flight. T&Cs apply.

✝✝£10 voucher only available on Jet2shop products, excluding cigarettes and tobacco, non-transferable for cash. One per person above the age of two, per booking. Cannot be used on the in-flight menu.

Rishi Sunak is right to defend free speech and democracy

Rishi Sunak was right to try to set out the boundaries of freedom of expression in his unexpected statement in Downing Street on Friday night. He was right to warn that there are undemocratic elements that are trying to hijack the debate in Britain about the conflict in Gaza.

He was right to argue, as The Independent did yesterday, that it was alarming that the by-election in Rochdale returned a member of parliament who downplays the horror of what happened on 7 October. He was right to warn that “Islamist extremists and the far right”, feeding off each other, are trying to exploit events in Israel-Palestine to try to undermine Britain, “the world’s most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy”.

He was right to take a stand against intimidation, and he was even-handed in condemning chants and slogans that make Jews feel unsafe on our streets, but also the abuse of visible Muslims for actions of terrorists for whom they are not responsible.

Rwanda plan costs soar to £500m – but will it ever work?

Immigration remains a major concern for voters, particularly those precious members of the electorate who opted to vote Conservative at the 2019 general election. Yet despite successive pledges, a procession of “tough” home secretaries, strong rhetoric, a constant flow of new laws, and the personal intervention of the prime minister, the news flow on the issue has rarely been favourable. The latest developments seem to be no different…

The latest figure squeezed out of the government by the National Audit Office, an independent watchdog doing crucial work, suggests that more than £500m will be spent on the scheme even before a single refugee is deported. The bulk of the money is irrecoverable; some £370m has been pledged to Rwanda under the terms of the Economic Transformation and Integration Fund, with no conditions on individuals being sent over.