The Odd Side – January 23, 2018

Say Cheese! Young Chefs Spar in Grilled Cheese Challenge

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – The youngest of three Maine chefs has taken first place in the inaugural Augusta Agricultural Trades Show gourmet grilled cheese sandwich contest.

The “get Real. get Maine.” cooking contest took place Wednesday, with 10-year-old Jade Eastman taking the top prize with her grilled cheese. The Portland Press Herald reports that the trio of competitors was given 30 minutes to prepare a grilled cheese sandwich, and they were given no advance warning on what they’d be cooking.

Jade received a gift bag from Hannaford Bros. supermarkets for her win. Runners-up Chase Daigle and Ethan Hobart, both 12, got to keep their official competition aprons and chef hats, as did Jade.

The 77th Agricultural Trades Show continues from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday.

Maine Whale Biologist Says Whale Protected Her From Shark

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) – A marine biologist believes a humpback whale shielded her from a 15-foot tiger shark in the South Pacific.

Nan Hauser said she didn’t understand the actions of the 25-ton whale that she met face-to-face in the Cook Islands. Then she saw the shark.

The encounter took place in October, but Hauser didn’t upload the video until Monday. It quickly spread online.

Hauser, president of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation, tells the Portland Press Herald that whales are “altruistic” and often hide seals from predators, but she has never experienced or read about anything about a whale protecting a human.

The Brunswick resident said she was oblivious to the shark during the tense, 10-minute encounter. The whale started to nudge her, and appeared to push her with its head. The animal also appeared to shield her with its pectoral fin.

Her research companions turned off an underwater video drone, fearing she was going to be mauled to death.

But Hauser kept her video rolling.

She suffered some bruises and scratches from the encounter, but was otherwise unscathed. She said that after she swam back to her boat, the whale surfaced nearby.

While Hauser credits the whale for protecting her, she acknowledges she can’t know what the whale was thinking.

James Sulikowski, a marine biologist and professor at the University of New England who has studied tiger sharks, said he’s not convinced that the whale saved her life. “The shark could have just been hanging around,” he said. “There’s really no way of knowing the whale’s motivation.”