Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Singapore Night Safari organic gara rufa fish foot spa

 By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

We just got back from Singapore, where among other things, we visited the Night Safari zoo. There will be a separate post about that. You aren't allowed to take photos during the Night Safari.

However, we did have the fish foot spa after, and we were allowed to take pictures of this.

Surprisingly, I was the one who insisted on our getting the fish spa. But the one who enjoyed it most was Ed, my husband. At the start it really TICKLES, but he didn't seem to be bothered by it at all.

 Above, you can see that I lifted one foot, but the lady encouraged me to soldier on. She said the first two minutes are really ticklish, but afterwards you get used to it.
 She was right. By the third minute, I found myself actually enjoying those gara rufa fish sucking on my feet. They take out the hardened skin and then leave your feet really soft afterwards. Once you get used to it, it can be really soothing.
 You can see that more of the fish were gathering around Ed's feet, since he kept them perfectly still the whole time.
 See what I mean...This was one of the times I lifted my feet.

Gara Rufa fish are freshwater carp fish that originate in Turkey. They have no teeth, so they really just suck on your feet. For some 400 years, these fish, which also abound in Syria, Iran, Pakistan and Iraq were used to treat people with skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. In some countries they have whole swimming pools where people can get in and the Gara Rufa suck at their entire bodies.
 But for me, the fish sucking on my feet were just fine. These fish have no teeth, and it is debatable whether they are actually eating all the outer skin of the feet. Some filter systems in tanks of these fish which were used for pedicures showed lots of skin that was not eaten. The theory behind this is that they are actually nibbling for food and when there is none underneath, they back off and other fish behind them get into the feet to do the same thing.

This would be similar to the tendency of fish to look around rocks and corals for food.
Many presume that gara fish are starved so that they will respond more to sucking out the outer skin layers of the body when used in spas. Actually, a reputable spa will feed the fish, and the tendency to gather around the human feet would simply be part of its instinct to look for food whether they are still hungry or not.
 There have been some health issues raised with these types of foot spas and a number of states in the U.S. do not allow them. Issues revolve around hygiene and the possibility of getting an infection. The way I saw it, this is a rare way to experience Singapore, and you can find hygiene issues in beauty parlors and dangers in crossing streets and flying planes. So I went for it.
I don't know if it was my imagination or not, but the fish struck me as an organic reflexology treatment. Afterwards, my feet felt very good, they didn't ache at all, and even a persistent back ache was gone. My husband and I felt completely rested.

Tonight I touched my husband's feet and they were softer than they had ever been before. So there was some good that came out of it. Certainly, for me it was a very interesting foot massage.

For more info on health and safety issues go to: One article says it's safe, another warns it may not be.

Here is also a video of a swimming pool of these fish where people dip their whole bodies inside:

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nazca booby birds’ chick abuse parallels human child abuse, Wake Forest University study says

 By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

The Nazca boobies, which reside in the Galapagos Islands, were found to experience a cycle of birdie abuse not unlike that of humans and children, according to a study by Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Nazca boobies live in colonies on the shores of the Galapagos Islands and usually raise only one birdie at a time. The birdie is often left alone while they parents look for food at sea. As a result, other adult birds often bully the unattended birdies by pecking and biting them, sometimes until they bleed. Incidents of sexual abuse were also recorded. Female adult birds tended to be more aggressive than males.

When the birdies become adults themselves, those that experienced abuse as chicks tend to become abusers themselves, replicating the cycle abusive behavior on other unattended birdies.

The study, which appeared on the October issue of The Auk, which is an ornithology journal, was led by Professor Dave Anderson. He and his team  conducted the experiment over three breeding seasons, and tracked the birds with the use of leg bands for identification.

Why do the birdies grow up to become abusers themselves?

The reason may be physiological, the study speculates, citing a separate study that was published in Hormones and Behavior. The latter study, headed by doctoral student Jacquelyn Grace, noted that after birdie abuse, the avian stress hormone corticosterone rises dramatically.

Extrapolating from the Grace study, the Wake University team speculated that there could be physiological reasons behind why the Nazca boobies that were abused as children become child abusers themselves as adults.

Grace speculated that the findings of her study may help to shed light on the dynamics behind human child abuse and the human cycle of violence as well.

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