It’s an odd, odd world

Dolphins or sharks?

RED BANK, N.J. – Wildlife officials have added some bite to their warnings against bothering a family of bottlenose dolphins hanging out in two New Jersey rivers: They say sharks have been known to frequent the area as well.

Bull sharks, which can grow to between 7 and 12 feet long and are among the three most likely species to attack humans, have been known to swim in the section of the Navesink River where the 15 wayward dolphins have most recently been staying, said Bob Schoelkopf, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine.

Wildlife officials have been concerned about a worsening pattern of harassment by boaters and people on personal watercraft getting too close to the dolphins, which have been in the area since June. Federal regulations require that boaters stay at least 50 yards away from the dolphins; harassing them is punishable by a $10,000 fine.

He said no one has documented the presence of a bull shark in the river in recent weeks, but “quite a few” injured seals were found in the area showing evidence of having been attacked by sharks.

Big eaters

MASON, Ohio – A man nicknamed “Humble Bob” stuffed himself with 11.5 pounds of a local specialty called chili-spaghetti in only about 10 minutes to claim victory in an eating contest.

Bob Shoudt won $2,500 at the inaugural Skyline Chili Spaghetti eat-off Monday at Kings Island amusement park.

“Humble Bob” dashed to an early lead, sucking down more than two pounds in less than a minute.

Shoudt is ranked No. 5 by the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

He did so well at vacuuming up the pasta mixture Monday that he narrowly beat the federation’s top-ranked competitive eater, Joey Chestnut. Chestnut won this year’s July 4 hot dog-eating contest at New York’s Coney Island with 59 dogs in 10 minutes.

Fake off

TOKYO – Police were trying to determine Tuesday whether they were the victim of a hoax after the body they thought they found at a seaside resort was actually a life-sized doll.

Investigators found what seemed like a body wrapped in a sleeping bag in a forest in Izu City, a seaside resort in central Japan, after an anonymous caller reported seeing it, a Shizuoka prefecture spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

Investigators never actually looked inside the sleeping bag and brought it back to the city police station for a post-mortem examination, the spokeswoman said. Apparently no one doubted a human body was inside until a medical examiner unwrapped it and found the doll, she said.

The Asahi newspaper said the doll was sophisticated and life-sized and wore a brown wig, a blouse and a skirt.

Nasty business

PITTSBURGH, Penn. – City police wrote nearly 200 disorderly conduct citations over a 32-month period for swearing, obscene gestures and other acts deemed disrespectful, a number that a civil rights group said was unacceptable and showed a lack of officer training.

After filing a Right to Know request, the American Civil Liberties Union found 188 such citations between March 1, 2005, and Oct. 31.

“Nobody likes to get sworn at, but you can’t make it a crime,” Witold Walczak, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Pennsylvania, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The ACLU’s request came in connection with a federal lawsuit involving David Hackbart, who was cited after allegedly making an obscene gesture at another driver, and then at a police sergeant. In a recent court filing, the city said the citation was not for Hackbart’s gestures, but because he was blocking traffic.

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