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Hitchcock Mystery Solved.. I Guess... 

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Old 12-29-2011, 02:09 AM
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Hitchcock Mystery Solved.. I Guess...

Whodunit? A final mystery surrounding the work of film legend Alfred Hitchcock— what triggered the crazed bird flocks that helped inspire his 1963 thriller The Birds— appears solved by scientists.

Dying and disoriented seabirds rammed themselves into homes across California's Monterey Bay in the summer of 1961, sparking a long-standing mystery about the cause among marine biologists. The avian incidents sparked local visitor Hitchcock's interest, along with a story about spooky bird behavior by British writer Daphne du Maurier.

"I am pretty convinced that the birds were poisoned," says ocean environmentalist Sibel Bargu of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She led a team finding that naturally occurring toxins appear to have been the culprit.

Call it the Case of the Poisoned Plankton. Looking at the stomach contents of turtles and seabirds gathered in 1961 Monterey Bay ship surveys, Bargu and colleagues have now found toxin-making algae were present in 79% of the plankton that the creatures ate. In particular, the team finds in the current Nature Geoscience journal that the leading toxin inside the plankton was a nerve-damaging acid, which causes confusion, seizures and death in birds.

A similar algae bloom contaminated mussels that caused the death of four people in Canada's Prince Edward Island in 1987.

Most likely, the 1961 seabirds ate anchovies and squid loaded with the brain-damaging acid. "All the symptoms were extremely similar to later bird poisoning events in the same area," Bargu says.

"This is the most compelling evidence so far that there's a direct link," says University of Southern California plankton expert Raphael Kudela, not part of the study team. In a 2008 report Kudela and colleagues pointed to the toxic acid as the likely 1961 culprit and also first reported that septic tank leaks may have fed the toxic algae, rather than farm fertilizers long blamed. "It is to some extent a natural phenomenon, and the best thing we can do is monitor for the presence of toxins, and treat impacted wildlife," he adds.

In a Hitchcock-style twist, therefore, leaky septic tanks installed amid a housing boom around Monterey Bay in the early 1960s perhaps led to the poisoned birds plummeting from the air in 1961. And they inspired a film that scared the bejabbers out of filmgoers worldwide two years later, one ranked among the American Film Institute's Top 10 thrillers of the last century.

found at http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science...ery/52246616/1

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Old 12-29-2011, 02:38 AM
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Re: Hitchcock Mystery Solved.. I Guess...

I remember watching that scene as a kid and it was pretty powerful stuff, I was convinced a few birds sitting on telephone wires were going to turn into a frenzied flock and peck me to death, the only other movie that had that effect was "Jaws" and it stays with me still, I never would or will swim in the sea, silly I guess.

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Old 12-29-2011, 02:49 AM
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Re: Hitchcock Mystery Solved.. I Guess...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve. View Post
I remember watching that scene as a kid and it was pretty powerful stuff, I was convinced a few birds sitting on telephone wires were going to turn into a frenzied flock and peck me to death, the only other movie that had that effect was "Jaws" and it stays with me still, I never would or will swim in the sea, silly I guess.
i guess its better to be safe than sorry but swimming in the ocean is alot of fun, granted a large fish may decide to eat you at any given moment. I have a similar fear. i find it terrifying to swim in the ocean at night. something about not being able to see anything under the water is unnerving

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Old 12-29-2011, 03:39 AM
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Re: Hitchcock Mystery Solved.. I Guess...

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Originally Posted by kottnmouthalien View Post
i guess its better to be safe than sorry but swimming in the ocean is alot of fun, granted a large fish may decide to eat you at any given moment. I have a similar fear. i find it terrifying to swim in the ocean at night. something about not being able to see anything under the water is unnerving
It didn't help when I was shooting mullet in the harbour (Dont ask) and I was trying to snag one of the fish out which was big in it's own right when it suddenly gets cut in half by God knows what, yep no fucking swimming in the sea for me.

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Old 12-29-2011, 04:49 AM
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Re: Hitchcock Mystery Solved.. I Guess...

Pretty interesting stuff, though I think Steve's story made me perk up a little more than the article.

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