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Sea Lion Ballet

Sunday, 19 March 2017


Watch the underwater ballet of playful sea lions on Anacapa Island in Southern California. These graceful creatures twist, turn, glide, dive and contort their bodies in all sorts of positions. Just as curious of us as we are of them, these sea lions love to approach divers - locking in eye contact, blowing out bubbles, and also barking - a very odd sound to hear underwater!

Part of the Channel Islands National Park, Anacapa is located eleven miles off the coast of Southern California. This trip was operated by EcoDivers on the Spectre dive boat - and this very cool video was created by Scott McFarlane.

Breaking the Rules: Pollen Thieves!


This is a pretty amazing animation which shows that nature was many millions of years ahead of us when it comes to some traits that we consider human.  In this case, it is theft.  Some plants have evolved so that a particular insect can take its pollen from it flowers and so further the species.  However, there are a number of species out there who pay little or no attention to the ‘wishes’ of the flower.  They sense pollen and they want it!

What do they do? They grab hold of the flower and rip it open, so gaining access to the corolla tube and then they access the precious nectar from there. However, sometimes their act of desecration will still result in pollination, as this amazing video shows.  Breaking the Rules was created by Divulagare.

The Pygmy Goat - Not So Gruff

Who is the gruff looking buck above? There is something familiar about him but this is no standard goat, no sir. This is the pygmy version and as is a cousin of the variety we generally picture when the animal comes up in conversation. Welcome to the world of the pygmy goat.

The Kermode Bear: Spirit Bear of British Columbia

Saturday, 11 March 2017

This is not a polar bear which has decided to migrate to warmer climes.

This is a remarkable sub-species of the North American Black Bear. It is the Kermode Bearr - also known as the spirit bear.

Living along the shorelines and central interior of British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, around ten percent of Kermode bears have white or creamy coats. They are revered among the native peoples of the province.

Pronounced kerr-MOH-dee, the lighter Kermode bears are not albinos. They appear much brighter than most of the population because of recessive alleles.

This rare genetic trait doesn’t hold them back either – the paler bears are better fishers than their brown counterparts. It is thought this is because the fish cannot perceive the threat from above due to their coloring. A brown bear might stand out more against the clouds – that much is true.

The Wolf Eel: The Old Man of the Sea

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Picture one of those double-take moments when you have to look again in a mixture of curiosity and alarm. Then imagine that you are thirty meters underwater when that happens. Over the years, divers off the coast of California have had many such moments when they suddenly come across the huge face of an old man peering at them from the rocky reefs below. Yet this is not anything approaching a subaquatic nightmare: it is the face of an extraordinary creature, the wolf eel.

The Swimming Pigs of the Bahamas

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Exuma, a district in the Bahamas is stunningly beautiful.  It consists of almost four hundred small islands, positioned languidly along 250 miles of the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba.  Many of the islands are uninhabited.  Yet one of them, Big Major Cay has a population that might surprise you.  There are pigs on the island and when they are not doing their best impression of beach bums they take to the water.  These are the swimming pigs of the Bahamas.

Many people dream of the Bahamas as their ultimate holiday destination.  For these lucky pigs, however, what was probably intended only as a brief prelude to their place on the dinner table has become a life of lazy leisure.  When they are not enjoying the beach they take to the water to retrieve food thrown from passing yachts.  They may not qualify for the next Olympic games but they know how to do a rather graceful piggy paddle.

Wildlife in Highspeed

Sunday, 5 February 2017


This is one of those videos that, when it ends, you sit there for a few seconds just willing there to be more…  Created by director and cinematographer Alan Nogues, Wildlife in Highspeed focuses in on the wildlife of New Caledonia, a French territory consisting of hundreds of islands in the South Pacific.  So many of these moments would be over in the blink of an eye: however, Nogues’ ability to capture them at 1000 frames per seconds ensures that we get to savor them.

The Bizarre Hammerhead Worm: Substrate Predator Extraordinaire

Some people just don’t like worms despite the fact that their usefulness to humanity is long established and recorded.  Worms aerate the soil, break down organic matter and even excrete fantastic fertilizer. Yet still they are hated: if accidentally picked up they are flung away with Olympian exuberance, often with ear-shattering shrieks as accompaniment. What, then, would those haters make of this, the bizarre hammerhead worm?  Prepare to meet a strange beast indeed – not to mention one of the messiest eaters on the planet.

Strictly speaking, the hammerhead is a flatworm. They come in many species not to mention shapes and sizes but all have one thing in common – they are immensely predatory (but more of that later).  They belong to a family called the Geoplanidae which are commonly known as land planarians.

Maleo - The Bird That Can Fly The Moment it Hatches

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Beneath the red hot sand of an Indonesian island something stirs.  A large egg is hatching and soon the newborn creature will dig its way out to the surface and take its first gulps of fresh air.  Yet no parent watches over it. This sounds as if it should be a young turtle, thrusting its flippers sideways as it makes its desperate lurch towards the ocean.  It is not, however. This is a bird.  More remarkable still is that when it emerges the chick will already be able to fly.

The Maleo is a surprising bird.  Although it only numbers around ten thousand in the wild – and close to zero in captivity – it is remarkable amongst our feathered friends for the unique way it cares for its young.  Instead of incubating their eggs, the Maleos lay theirs in the baking sand of Sulawesi island – the only place in the world in which they can be found in the wild.  It sounds like an April Fool trick, but be assured, this bird is very much alive and kicking.  Whether it will be around in another fifty years, however, is altogether a different question.

The Monkeys of Gibraltar


The rock of Gibraltar is shared between two primate species: people and monkeys. The Barbary Macaques (the only wild monkey population in Europe) came to live on the upper rock long before the latest human inhabitants, the British, arrived, and now, 300 years on, there are tensions between the two. Attempts to expel the monkeys from the town with peashooters are in vain, as the animals rise to the challenges of the new game. This leads the government to resort to more drastic tactics.

The Rise of the Common Crane Migration


During the 18th and 19th century the Common Crane almost disappeared from Western Europe. We drained their wetland habitats and hunted them. But right now over 300.000 Common Cranes migrate each year from their breading habitats in Scandinavia to Southern Spain.   The numbers rise each year too – but as you will discover from this wonderful short by Tim Visser Creations, although we helped to restore the number of cranes to their former heights, it was purely accidental conservation.

Jaçana – The Big Foot of the Bird World

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The tropical zone of planet Earth contains many wonderful species which have adapted over time to their environment.  The Jaçana (the c is pronounced like the one in façade) consists of eight species; all are found within the tropical zone and all in possession of something quite special which equips them take best advantage of their habitat.  At home in shallow lakes with lots of vegetation, the Jaçana has evolved enormous feet and claws.  They are, literally, the big foot of the bird world.  Once seen, never forgotten.

The vegetation which floats upon many shallow lakes in the world’s tropical zone contains a veritable smorgasbord for any bird able to reach them.  Most are home to a huge variety of insects and other invertebrates.  Yet the vegetation which houses this feast is what disables access to it.  Now, if only a bird could walk on the vegetation without submerging it (and itself) with the weight, all this food would be theirs for the taking.  Enter the Jaçana.

Saving the Last Wilderness


The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to many remarkable creatures.  In the language of the original Alaskans it means sacred place where life begins.  It is vast, serene and other-worldly yet our own world is impinging on it more and more.  Can this lovely place be saved before its pristine beauty is destroyed forever?  There are many who wish to see its preservation – as this superb film by Florian Schulz shows.  Sit back, grab a coffee and open your mind to wonder - this contains some of the best wildlife photography you can see.  For more information about how to help save this place, visit We Are The Arctic.

The Rhino Guardians


In 2016 Dan Sadgrove traveled to South Africa to visit The Black Mambas - the worlds first all female anti-poaching unit operating in the Balule Game Reserve in South Africa. Coming from disadvantaged communities and breaking strong patriarchal tradition, these courageous women focus on eliminating illegal wildlife trade through conservation, education and the protection of wildlife, helping to ensure the long term survival of threatened and endangered species in the area. Each day they patrol up to 20km, unarmed, looking for poachers, wire-snares, and break-ins along the fence line. Their lives are at constant risk from poachers and the dangerous wildlife they protect.

The Gelada: Unique Primate from the Roof of Africa

Sunday, 8 January 2017

High up in the Ethiopian mountains lives the Gelada.  It lives nowhere else and although its closest living relative is the baboon, with its hairless face and short muzzle the gelada looks more like a chimpanzee.  Isolated in these remote Ethiopian Highlands (often called The Roof of Africa) this primate has developed a way of existence (one might call it a culture) all of its own.

To begin with the gelada is a graminivore which means that it only eats grass.  Fortunately, the highlands in which they live are cooler and a lot less arid than many parts of Ethiopia and they rarely experience any kind of food shortage.  They will also become granivorous when the grass is in seed.  In fact, they actively prefer the seed to the grass – it is probably a welcome change.

The Birdman of Chennai


Twice a day, Joseph Sekar goes to the roof of his camera repair shop in Chennai, India, and feeds 8,000 parakeets. That's right, 8,000 birds, twice a day. He spends 40% of his income on feeding the birds, who were displaced after the 2006 Southeast Asia floods. It's a lot, but for Joseph, nothing brings more joy than watching the birds fly and knowing they are well-fed and healthy. He's the Birdman of Chennai—and he couldn't be happier.

The Cutest Moments of 2016


We don’t just publish serious reportage and videos about animals on this website – there is plenty of room for cute on the Ark in Space too!  So, Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary in Australia has furnished the world with this – the cutest moments from 2016 of life on the farm.  If you don’t go ‘aaaw’ about ten times through this video then you are probably quite heartless!  Enjoy!

Why Galapagos Iguanas Take a Huge Gamble

Wednesday, 14 December 2016



Life, it is said, is something of a gamble.  If that is indeed the case, then the high risk takers are probably the Galapagos iguanas.  Survival is the name of the game – this is not like stargames or any of the online games we can enjoy without the threat of our imminent demise.  This is something altogether different.

When the hatchling iguanas emerge they are small but identical in every other way to adults.  Their eggs are laid away from the sea to avoid them being washed away.  This comes at a price, however.  As soon as the hatchlings try to make a move they attract the attention of a very unwanted predator!

This remarkable footage shot for the Life on Earth II series by the BBC shows the iguanas’ enemy, the racer snake, forever on the lookout for a meal.  When a hatchling is spotted the snakes make a dash from their retreats to try and secure a meal.  What is even more astonishing is that the snakes look like they are working together as they pursue the new-borns.

However, they are not.  The racer snakes, too, are taking something of a gamble.  If an iguana is caught the snakes do not share the meal, as lions would do in the wilds of Africa.  The iguana is eaten whole and that means that only one snake can have the meal.  This means that even if ten snakes pursue a baby iguana only one will be able to partake of the feast!

It’s almost enough to make you feel a little sorry for the snakes – but not quite, I suspect.  Life on the Galapagos islands can be short and harsh but the gamble that these incredible iguanas take usually pays off and, as you can see in the video above, many get to join their parents by the sea-shore.

Fight!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Sometimes it is simply play, at others it is in deadly earnest.  Yet when animals fight there is something that draws us to watch despite the potential fatal outcome.  Perhaps it appears to something visceral and basic in our instincts - or perhaps we just like to watch a good old fashioned tooth and claw fight.

Image Credit Flickr User Tambako the Jaguar
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Mohandas Gandhi  
The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. Muhammad Ali 

Sea Lebrities: The Sea Lions of Pier 39

Sunday, 23 October 2016

We often read about people taking over the natural habitat of other species but it is rare to come across a case where the animals come back and reclaim their territory from us.  Yet this is exactly what has happened in San Francisco.  Local Californian Sea Lions have always been present in the city’s bay but had been pushed out to Seal Rocks, a small formation at the north end of the Ocean Beach.  Pier 39’s K-Dock was developed and opened in 1978.  Little did we know that the sea lions also had their eyes on this particular piece of seaside real estate.

They bided their time but their opportunity to move in (or back, if you argue that their presence along the Californian coastline predates human occupation by tens of thousands of years) came just over a decade later in 1989.  It was then that it was decided that the docks needed refurbishment.  In order to facilitate this all the boats had to be removed from Pier 39.  This left large open spaces inside the Bay.  A small number of sea lions saw their opportunity.  They metaphorically weighed anchor from the stony slopes of Seal Rocks and began to arrive at Pier 39.

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