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Texas couple finds 57-year-old message in bottle on beach

A Texas couple walking along the beach found a message in a bottle dropped into the Gulf of Mexico 57 years ago by a Galveston laboratory, the Houston Chronicle reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Candy and Jim Duke found the bottle along the Padre Island National seashore near Corpus Christi, KXAS reported. While instructions said to break the glass, the couple removed the message without shattering the bottle.

"My husband and I go out there almost every Saturday morning. We get there before sunrise to take photos, and then drive down the beach to search for treasure," Candy Duke told the Chronicle. "That's where we found the bottle, at around marker 22."

The bottle was part of a 1962 "drift study" by the Galveston Laboratory of the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, now known as the National Marine Fisheries Service, the newspaper reported. Research was being conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration andthe bottle was one of several thousand released, KXAS reported. It was part of study of water currents and the movement of shrimp to determine the rate and flow of surface waters in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, the Chronicle reported.

"The study was done in the early days of shrimp management. It looked at where adult shrimp live, offshore, versus where juvenile shrimp live, inshore. The idea was, if you look at surface currents, you could connect the two," NOAA acting lab director Matthew Johnson told the newspaper.

The Dukes posted a video on Facebook that showed them removing the message.

According to the Chronicle, the message read, in part: "These releases are part of a study to determine the role that water currents play in the movement of young shrimp from offshore spawning grounds to inshore nursery grounds. The person finding this bottle should complete the enclosed postcard and mail it at the first opportunity. A 50-cent reward will be sent for each completed return."

"I told them not to send us the 50 cents," Candy Duke told the Chronicle. "I want to make a shadow box with the bottle and photo to hang in our house."

Photos: Super wolf blood moon lunar eclipse delights skygazers

The only total lunar eclipse this year and next came with a supermoon bonus. On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America, where skies were clear.

Super wolf blood moon: 10 stunning photos from the lunar eclipse

Astronomy buffs got a special treat Sunday as a combined lunar eclipse, blood moon and supermoon added a red glow to the night sky.

>> PHOTOS: Super wolf blood moon lunar eclipse delights skygazers

>> Super wolf blood moon: A viewing guide for the coolest sounding lunar eclipse

Social media users are sharing their snapshots with the hashtag #SuperBloodWolfMoon. Here are some of our favorites:

>> Read more trending news 

1. San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Photo by @PatrickDillons, Twitter

2. New York City

Photo by @maximusupinnyc, Instagram

3. Austin, Texas

Photo by @zandi_photography, Instagram

4. Toronto

Photos by @TorSunphoto21, Twitter

5. Walland, Tennessee

Photo by @OneLanePhoto, Twitter

6. Colorado

Photo by @jason_odell, Twitter

7. Birds Hill Provincial Park, Manitoba, Canada

Photo by @ryanlucenkiw, Instagram

8. Olin, Iowa

Photos by @BillWeirCNN, Twitter

9. Martinez, California

Photo by @jcfphotog, Twitter

10. New York City

Photo by @guygabriel57, Instagram

Genealogy, forensics help California police ID murder victim after 31 years

Homicide investigators in California have finally put a name to a young woman found brutally slain near Anaheim more than 31 years ago. 

The remains of Tracey Coreen Hobson, 20, of Anaheim, were positively identified Tuesday, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The identification was made using DNA technology and forensic odontology.

“Forensic genealogy has provided a new tool for investigators to work cases from a different angle to bring closure to families,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said in a statement. “We will never stop investigating these types of cases and seeking justice for victims of crime.”

A passerby stumbled upon Hobson’s skeletal remains Aug. 30, 1987, in a grassy area about 50 feet off Santa Ana Canyon Road in unincorporated Anaheim, Sheriff’s Office officials said. The body, which investigators believe had been in that location for about two months, was found with no identification and the only items recovered in the area were a length of cord and a red handkerchief.

>> Read more trending news

Hobson had been stabbed in the torso and her hands had been removed, authorities said in a news release. Clumps of her blonde hair were found at the scene.  

Extensive investigation -- including Orange County’s first clay model facial reconstruction -- failed to either identify the victim or determine who killed her and, despite periodic reviews of the case, it went cold, the news release said

The California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services was able to extract DNA from the remains in May 2005, at which time it was uploaded to national and California databases of missing people. The sample was compared to that of several possible candidates over the years, but no match was found. 

Investigators again tried to identify the victim in 2017 by developing new images of the woman in conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC, and the National Missing and Unidentified Person System, also known as NamUs. Still, Hobson remained unidentified, authorities said

It wasn’t until August 2018 that investigators decided to try investigative genealogy, the breakthrough technique that has helped solve several cases, including that of the notorious Golden State Killer. They partnered with the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit, volunteer-run forensic genealogy group that works to identify victims of crime who have gone nameless for years. 

Since its inception in 2017, the organization has positively identified six men and women. 

The DNA Doe Project tentatively identified Hobson on Nov. 14, after obtaining DNA believed to be from a family member and matching it to the sample taken from her remains, the news release said. Odontology, or the study of her teeth and bite pattern, confirmed the match. 

Hobson’s family has been notified of the identification, authorities said. 

DNA Doe Project officials thanked the Sheriff’s Department for entrusting them with the case, which was called Anaheim Jane Doe before Hobson was identified. They also thanked the NCMEC and NamUs for their help, as well as the experts and lab workers who worked to bring closure to Hobson’s loved ones. 

“Our condolences go out to Tracey’s family,” a statement on the group’s Facebook page read.

Sheriff’s Department investigators are now focusing on the last months of Hobson’s life in an effort to find her killer. Anyone with information on her or the case is asked to contact Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS, or 855-847-6227, or visit the Crime Stoppers website at

Praying mantises under Christmas tree infest Virginia home

It was a Christmas gift that, unfortunately, kept on giving.

>> Read more trending news 

A Virginia woman had to deal with more than 100 praying mantises that got loose from a box under her Christmas tree, WJLA reported.

“Bugs,” Molly Kreuze, of Springfield, told the television station. “Crawling on the walls, crawling on the ceilings. Just kind of moving.”

The insects got loose from a brown egg-case that was under the tree’s branches, WJLA reported.

Kreuze, who is a veterinarian, has been using a box and envelope to catch the critters. She is feeding the captured bugs fruit flies and wants to find a home for them.

“In my Googling, I discovered people really like praying mantises,” Kreuze told the television station. “They are useful, they eat other bugs, people use them for organic gardening.

“I hope to find them a home. I don’t want them.”

Frenchman begins quest to cross Atlantic Ocean in barrel

A 71-year-old man from France has begun his quest to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a barrel-shaped orange capsule, relying solely on currents and tradewinds to steer him to the Caribbean, the BBC reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Jean-Jacques Savin embarked from El Hierro in the Canary Islands. He is documenting his trip through a Facebook page and plans to post daily updates, including GPS coordinates, The New York Times reported.

Savin’s cabin includes a kitchen, storage and a sleeping bunk, the BBC reported.

Savin, who lives in Arès in southwestern France, is riding in a capsule that is about 10 feet long and nearly 7 feet wide that is held upright by a concrete ballast, the Times reported. A solar panel generates power so Savin can communicate and post GPS coordinates, the BBC reported.

In his latest Facebook post, Savin said the barrel was “behaving well,” according to the BBC.

Savin told the French news service Agence France-Presse in a telephone interview that "The weather is great. I've got a swell of 1 meter and I'm moving at 2-3 kilometers per hour. I've got favorable winds forecast until Sunday."

Savin has previously crossed the Atlantic four times on a sailboat, the Times reported.

For New Year’s Eve and his birthday (Jan. 14), Savin packed foie gras, a bottle of Sauternes white wine and a Saint-Émilion red, he told AFP.

Savin hopes to complete his trip in three months and wants to land on a French island.

"Maybe Barbados, although I would really like it to be a French island like Martinique or Guadaloupe," Savin said. "That would be easier for the paperwork and for bringing the barrel back."

'Christmas Comet' 46P/Wirtanen: 5 stunning photos of the celestial phenomenon

Comet 46P/Wirtanen, also known as the "Christmas Comet," brightened the night sky this weekend, coming within 7.2 million miles of Earth on Sunday. 

>> On See the year’s brightest comet as it flies by Earth this weekend

Photographers flocked to social media to share their stunning shots of the celestial phenomenon. Here are some of our favorites:

>> Read more trending news 

1. Bleikvassli, Nordland, Norway

Photo by Tommy Eliassen, @tommyeliassen, Instagram

2. Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

Photo by Kevin Palmer, @krp234, Twitter

3. Grand Mesa Observatory, Whitewater, Colorado

Photo by Tom Masterson, @transient_astro, Instagram

4. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Photo by Jack Fusco, @jackfusco, Instagram

5. Ohrid, Macedonia

Photo by Stojan Stojanovski, @stojan2s, Instagram

Male birth control gel study: Clinical trial tests new contraceptive

The University of Washington School of Medicine is one of three sites in the United States enrolling couples in the first clinical trial testing the efficacy of male contraception. 

>> Watch the news report here

The contraception, in the form of a gel, is applied to the man's shoulders. The study looks at whether application of the gel can prevent pregnancy for a year. 

>> On Learn more about the clinical trial here

The trial is being conducted jointly by the Population Council, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute. 

>> Read more trending news 

According to a news release from UW, studies have shown that more than half of men would use a male contraceptive if it is reversible and uncomplicated. 

Read the news release here.

'Touchdown confirmed': InSight lands on Mars

The InSight lander successfully landed on Mars on Monday, NASA said.

"Touchdown confirmed. InSight is on the surface of Mars!” NASA reported from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

>> Read more trending news 

It was the moment of truth for a NASA project that has been ongoing for six months, the culmination of a 295 million-mile, six-month voyage

Anxiety was high at NASA, which last attempted a landing on the red planet six years ago.

>> Timeline for the InSight lander’s mission

"I am completely excited and completely nervous, all at the same time," InSight project manager Tom Hoffman said Sunday during a news conference at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. "Everything we've done to date makes us feel comfortable and confident we're going to land on Mars. But Mars could always throw us a curve ball.”

NASA launched the InSight lander on May 5. The mission, which cost $850 million, will study the deep interior of Mars and will help scientists understand the formation and early evolution of Mars and other rocky planets, including Earth.

What makes the landing perilous is that the InSight lander must go from 12,300 mph to 5 mph in six minutes, according to

>> InSight lander mission: Frequently asked questions

During that time, the spacecraft must fire its descent engines, deploy its parachutes, and hopefully land upright on the Martian surface, according to the The Associated Press.

Even after the spacecraft lands, the InSight team won't know that the stationary spacecraft's solar panels have deployed until 8:35 p.m. EST at the earliest, reported. That’s when NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter will be in position to relay confirmation to Earth. 

Only 40 percent of the missions ever sent to Mars have successfully landed on the planet, and the U.S. is the only nation to land a craft on the surface, NASA officials said. “Since 1965, it (the U.S.) has flown by, orbited, landed on and roved across the surface of the Red Planet.”

Leonid Meteor Shower 2018: 9 must-see photos of the celestial light show

The annual Leonid meteor shower peaked this weekend, offering a stunning natural light show.

>> On Leonid Meteor Shower 2018: How to see this weekend’s celestial spectacle

Skygazers took to social media to share their photos of the celestial phenomenon. Here are some of our favorites:

>> Read more trending news 

1. Llyn Padarn, Snowdonia, Wales, United Kingdom

Photo by @gareth_mon_photography, Instagram

2. South Stack, Wales, United Kingdom

Photo by @bigolivesphoto, Instagram

3. Cannon Beach, Oregon

Photo by @lestertsaiphotography, Instagram

4. Coleman, Alberta, Canada

Photo by @bound_for_mountain, Instagram

5. Blauen, Germany

Photo by Stephane Vetter, Facebook

6. Lone Mountain, Big Sky Resort, Montana

Photo by @davepecunies, Instagram

7. The Rumps, Cornwall, United Kingdom

Photo by @chrisfletcherphotography, Instagram

8. Oregon

Photo by @thezachhayes, Instagram

9. Llyn y Dywarchen, Snowdonia, Wales, United Kingdom

Photo by @_belial, Instagram

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