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.
We thought we would take a break here at the Ark in Space. A break from rare species, unusual bugs and dangerous beasties. We thought we would take time out to bring you a real cutefest – something which, as you can see by the title of this post, still raises a question or two. Why bring you this glorious gallery of the cutest kittens on the net? No real reason. Except because we can! Prepare to say aaaw a lot - enjoy!
OK, now we know that this has been done before - however, these are not pictures ripped (and ripped off) from a quick search. As ever, here, all the pictures are licensed through Creative Commons. We would like to thank the photographers for their huge generosity in allowing us to share their photographs with you. You can visit their photostreams on Flickr by clicking each picture!
This strange looking creature, with its immensely long and delicate snout is the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). Until very recently it thrived throughout the Indian sub-continent but now it numbers less than a few hundred in the wild. It seems destined for extinction, like so many other species. Will it be just another victim of what may be seen in the future as the sixth mass extinction event in the history of our planet? Is there a future for the gharial on earth, our ark in space?
The answer is only a tentative maybe. Once it flourished and could be found in all of the major rivers of India and Pakistan. The Indus, which has its source in Tibet and flows through Pakistan and Northern India had gharials along almost its entire length. Now, in this vast river not a single one may be found.
Ask anyone what color an elephant should be and you may get a raised eyebrow (or two) but the answer will normally be grey or greyish – perhaps even black or brown. The more observant might say there is pinkness around some parts of the body such as the ears and trunk. Red would almost certainly not be the answer even though some would swear they had witnessed pink elephants on parade. Yet in the Kenyan National Park of Tsavo East you will find red elephants aplenty.
When dogs are in their training stage a question that comes up a great deal is why do dogs lick their noses? While it is tempting to simply go with the old chestnut of an answer – because they can – there are a number of reasons why a dog might lick its own nose. One thing is for certain sure, however: while they are doing it they often bring a smile to the faces of their human companions. As you can see from this spread of pictures, it is sometimes difficult to resist this particular canine photo opportunity.
You may just have done something of a double take. Yet these small creatures huddled together are indeed bats. They are Honduran White Bats (Ectophylla alba) and they do not easily fall in to a number of bat stereotypes: they do not live in caves and they do not suck blood. Additionally their fur, as you can see, is snow white.
It is found only in a few Central American countries. If you are very, very lucky you might be able to find it in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and, of course, the country from which it gets its name, Honduras.
Yet it is extremely rare and, moreover, it is tiny – the largest examined have never exceeded 5cm in length. Not only that, but its white fur has evolved for a reason: camouflage. (Note: the above was caught by using mist nets in Costa Rica and was later released).
With the Olympics coming up in 2012 one of the buzz words is participation. Certainly, the British Olympic Committee who are organising the upcoming games are very keen to get ordinary people in to participating in sporting activities. It seems the message is getting across – and in the animal world too. Yet while some sports are popular in the human world it seems that it is synchronized swimming which is really taking off among the animal population...
Do you have a pest problem? Then perhaps you should consider calling in the Duck Squad! This team of over 1000 ducks have a serious job – to keep down the number of snails and other pests on the South African winery they call home. Created by Great Big Story, this is a charming portrait of how animals can be used rather than pesticides to keep the grapes growing. The sight of over 1000 ducks ambling through the countryside in formation is quite something!
Sometimes you should take things a little more literally! This charming picture was taken outside of the Dolphin Restaurant in Sultanahmet, Istanbul. We would not dream of giving places which would serve up cat for lunch or dinner a molecule of the oxygen of publicity! Yet, for at least one day there really was cat on the menu at the Dolphin Restaurant!
If you came to this page looking for a feature on George Clooney, Harrison Ford or Sean Connery then sorry to disappoint you – this is the wrong place! This particular silver fox has been around a good deal longer than the movies though its story could be easily made in to a film without a doubt. You could also be under the impression that the silver fox is a species related to the red fox. There, too, you would be mistaken. They are the same species.
If you are of a nervous disposition then you may not want to press play. Otherwise, steel yourself for the remarkable site of a bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois) catching its prey. The worm lives on the ocean floor, burying it body which can grow up to three meters in length in the seabed. It waits and when one of its five antennae is stimulated by an approaching sea creature it attacks. This is done with such speed that it has been seen to slice its prey in half.
You might wonder what the bobbit worm does when the prey is larger than it is. Although it quite often kills its quarry on the first strike the bobbit worm injects a fatal toxin in to the prey animal. This incredible video was shot by Khaled Sultani, filmed with Light & Motion Bluefin pro housing / CX550 with Sola lights.
This is a collection of clips captured near Isla Mujeres Island, Mexico. The whale sharks and manta rays in this video gather at Isle Mujeres each year to feed on tuna and snapper spawn.
Sit back and enjoy the wonderful images captured by natural history filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall whose work you may well have seen on Nature and Secrets of the Ocean Realm. It is all quite stunning.
This is a video of my B Leon’s dog Dam, fighting with the neighborhood Gibbon in Thailand near the Mayanmar (Burma) border.
The gibbons's name is Chani (gibbon, Thai), and the dogs name is Dam (black, Thai). Mr Leon did not name the dog, but it is a traditional Thai name for a black dog or cat. He found the majority of pets names in Thailand corresponded to their colors. He did name the gibbon though.
Chani was extremely friendly to B Leon during his stay in Thailand; she would sit on his shoulder and groom his hair, and loved to be swung by her arms or legs. Her strength is phenomenal; yet don't be fooled by how gentle and playful she is with Dam. She was seen to grab birds on the fly with lightening fast reflexes and snap their necks all in a split second. Chani has always been gentle kind and playful and motherly around pets, friends and children. Feeding animals especially monkeys in Thailand is believed to bring a blessing in Thai Buddhism.
They look almost manufactured. Many tortoise beetles have transparent cuticles, the tough but flexible outer covering which gives the insect family its name protects the delicate creature within. The living tissue is often metallic in color and can in some species even change color. The combination is as diverse as it is extraordinary – many look like tiny robots assembled to infiltrate, the ultimate bug. Take a look in at the amazing variations of tortoise beetle our world holds.
Do you want to see something completely jaw-dropping? You may well have seen the annual wildebeest migration on the TV or, if you are very luck for real. Each year these large beasts take part in what is known as the Great Migration – it is one of the most iconic events in Africa. As the wildebeest migrate they must cross over the mighty Mara River.
Yet have you ever seen it done as a time-lapse? This just made my jaw drop – the wonderful footage captures the sheer scale of the migration in a way that I have not seen before. This amazing film was created by Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas a team of brothers from the UK who specialize in wildlife photography.
Here, through a combination of telephoto video clips and wide-angle time-lapse sequences, they aimed to illustrate the scale and drama of this incredible spectacle. They had never before seen a wildebeest river crossing recorded in this way and as far as they know, this could be the first time that time-lapse has been used to reveal the dynamics of a wildebeest river crossing.
It is, I hope you will agree a simply stunning piece of work.
This is one of the most remarkable pieces of film I have seen for a long time. Sure, we are all used to macro photography these days, showing all aspects of insect and arachnid life close up. Yet while that sort of photography needs time and bags of patience this must have been a labor of love indeed.
Funnily enough labor is quite an appropriate word here. This remarkable piece of film shows a spider laying its eggs. Scientifically speaking I should have said a spider ovispositing its egg sac but now you have that you know what it means in everyday speak!
The detail here is stunning – quite remarkable – you can see the eggs inside the spider before their sack is oviposited. Not only that it shows the care that the spider gives its young before they are born and even takes us to the birth itself.
This outstanding footage was taken by Alvaro Mendoza Productions, otherwise known as Amprods, a Spanish production company specializing in nature documentaries and, more specifically, in filming animal behavior.
You are looking at pictures of an incredibly rare bird. This is the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. It is thought that less than one hundred and fifty breeding pairs are alive today. In the next fifteen years this amazingly adapted bird may well slip quietly on to the ever increasing list of species whose extinction has been caused by humans.
Yet if a group of bird experts succeed the spoon-billed sandpiper may pull back from the brink.
Aphids may be the bottom of the food chain but if they were to suddenly disappear so, quite likely, would a host of other species. One of the more unusual aspects of the life of the aphid is that (apart from a handful of species) are all female. This means that reproduction is parthenogenetic and viviparous. That means that growth and development of the embryo happens without fertilization. It also means that the embryo develops inside the body – in fact the females are born with them.
You can see this happening in the above video, an amazing piece of work by John Dunstan. You will also get to see some of the aphid’s many enemies as well as its sometime caretaker, the ant. The camera work here is worthy of a BBC documentary – I was particularly struck by the shots of the insects struggling with single drops of water. Who would have thought that something that is wet to us could be downright sticky to our much smaller neighbors?
Let’s face it – dogs are cool. Yet every so often even our canine friends need a little more protection for their eyes. So, out comes the sun and on go the sunglasses. Your average dog suddenly becomes super cool. Let’s take a look at a bunch of dogs in shades. Why? Because we are just as daft as they and their human companions are, probably!