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Year End

They Came From the Deep: Amazing Water-Bound Creatures

Dec 25, 2010 – 5:18 PM
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Lee Speigel

Lee Speigel Contributor

In a year that was filled with stories of a massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Republicans regaining control of the House of Representatives, unemployment distress, worries over home foreclosures, WikiLeaks and cyberattacks, 2010 gave us an overflow of stories about water-bound creatures as well.

Sharks, whales, dolphins, Great Barrier Reef deep-sea marine life and even crocodiles made headlines and provided unforgettable images.

Jaws of Fear
White tip shark
Photolibrary / Getty Images
Egypt imposed a swimming ban at some of its resorts after an attack by an oceanic white tip shark, similar to the one seen here.

That most feared of all denizens of the deep -- sharks -- have frightened humans ever since we've been on this planet. That's understandable, since sharks have been around for more than 400 million years.

In 2010, numerous shark attacks sustained our fear of this ancient predator.

Back in February, a number of sharks attacked and killed a man who was kite surfing off the coast of south Florida.

And then there was 13-year-old Carley Schlentz's encounter at North Carolina's Topsail Island beach when a bull shark grabbed her foot in only 4-foot-deep water, leaving her with 60 stitches.

In early December, Egypt imposed a 48-hour swimming ban at some of its resorts along the Red Sea after an oceanic white tip shark attacked four tourists in shallow water.

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Croc and Gator Encounters
Mark Baker, AP
Marakai, a saltwater crocodile named by a tourist cruise boat owner, waits with his mouth open for food on the Adelaide River 38 miles southeast of Darwin, Australia.

Two related, fearsome animals that, like sharks, have a lineage going back hundreds of millions of years are crocodiles and alligators, and if unsuspecting humans get a little too close to these prehistoric creatures, the results can be fatal. Such is the case of a New Jersey woman who in May was killed by a massive crocodile as she snorkeled in the waters near India's Andaman Islands.

And late in the year, a tragic story emerged from the middle of Congo, where a crocodile snatched acclaimed outdoorsman Hendrik Coetzee out of his kayak while he was leading an expedition on the Lukaga River. His body wasn't recovered.

Related Stories:
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A Whale of a Tale
Southern right whale
A southern right whale jumps toward the deck of a yacht near Hermanus, South Africa.

One South African couple will likely never forget that midsummer day when a 10-meter-long southern right whale leaped out of the water near Cape Town, South Africa, and landed squarely on their 32-foot yacht.

And the country was shocked early in the year when an animal trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., was drowned in front of park visitors by a killer whale that had been involved with two previous deaths.

Related Stories:
Sperm Whales and Other Animal Species at Risk From Gulf Oil Spill

Deep-Reef Alienlike Species
Deep sea crustacean
Justin Marshall, AFP / Getty Images
A deep-sea crustacean, at a depth of more than 1,000 meters, was photographed by scientists in the Coral Sea, north of Australia.

If it's alien species you're looking for, you don't need to travel to outer space to find them. Scientists using high-tech cameras found never-before-seen deep-sea creatures under Australia's Great Barrier Reef -- marine life that may have existed there for millions of years.

Related Stories:
Cockroach of the Sea Wows the Web

Pink Flipper
Pink dolphin
Fame Pictures
Amazon River pink dolphins splash in a tributary of Rio Negro, Amazonia, Brazil.

And let's not forget our friendly, least scary creatures from the deep -- dolphins. But these are something truly special. Wildlife photographer Kevin Schafer became the first person to photograph the rare Amazon river dolphins. Rare, because they live in fresh water, but also because the males have a bubblegum pink color.

Related Stories:
Protests Mount Against Dolphin Slaughter

Monsters or Myths?
Loch Ness Monster
Keystone / Getty Images
This 1934 photo of the Loch Ness Monster taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson was later exposed as a hoax. Despite that, over many decades, thousands of people have reported seeing a large, unknown animal in the 23-mile-long Scottish lake.

No yearly look back at stories about waterlogged creatures would be complete without a couple of items about those little beasties alleged to live in lakes and oceans around the world.

We learned this year that the fabled Loch Ness Monster of Scotland reportedly has relatives in nearby England, specifically in Lake Windermere. Monster hunters attempted -- unsuccessfully -- to use sonar to find the elusive, 20-foot-long unidentified animal that locals have dubbed Bow-Nessie.

Related Stories:
No Sea Serpents Here, Says UK's Royal Navy

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