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Dragonfly Delight: A Life Cycle in Superb Macrophotography

Monday, 23 July 2018

The sight of a dragonfly on the wing is one of the more remarkable that nature has to offer. Here, with the help of some astounding macrophotography, we take a look at the life cycle of the dragonfly as well as its remarkable and unusual physiology.

The gorgeous colors of a dragonfly – these majestic insects of the air, have been a source of inspiration – and fear – to people for thousands of years. The order to which they belong is called Odonata. Many people regularly go ‘oding’ just as others go birding or butterfly collecting. Their life is cycle as unusual as their looks are striking.

Please Help Keep Ark in Space Online!

Saturday, 21 July 2018

You may or may not know this but Ark in Space is curated by just one person – and that person would be me! There are a number of expenses that the site incurs each month and so, with my cap in my hand, I’m going to beg a favor.

If you enjoy Ark in Space, please consider helping out with the cost of running the site.  As you can guess, it takes a lot of time and effort, too!

Below this post you will see a button which will enable you to make a contribution safely and securely. You can give as little or as much as you like – I’m not going to limit your choices! Anything will be gratefully received and will help to ensure that I can carry on bringing you all the great features, photographs and videos about the natural world that makes the site what it is.

So, if you read or watch something that you have really enjoyed, please think about sending us a small donation. Thanks!

Best regards

Robert-John


PS: The donation page is set to US dollars as that is where we get most of our traffic from. So, if you are outside the USA please remember to calculate the amount from your currency first!

Image Credit

The Mermaid’s Necklace: The Amazing Egg Cases of the Whelk

In centuries gone by beachcombers would come across this strange sight – a paper-thin chain of circular capsules – seemingly abandoned on the shore.  The chances are that they knew exactly what they were but we can imagine that one fisherman, perhaps to entrance the girl he was courting, hit on a romantic name for this definitively non-ovate leftover; the mermaid’s necklace.  The name stuck – of course it would, it allows a wonderful jump of the imagination. We can only guess how many stories were woven around them and told to starry-eyed children. Did they know that they were looking at the egg cases of the very creature they had enjoyed for dinner on numerous occasions?

Image Credit Wikimedia

Land of the Strays


There are around two million dogs living on the streets of Costa Rica.  By any standards that is something of an issue but what to do in the face of such overwhelming numbers?  Lya Battle decided that she would start to look after some strays and soon there were too many to fit in her suburban home.  Fortunately her grandfather had left her a farm which she then turned in to a sanctuary.  Now over 1,000 dogs call it their own. As you can imagine, feeding time is probably the most complicated part of looking after so many dogs! Land of the Strays is a wonderful, warm-hearted short documentary directed and produced by Adrian Cicerone.

Fix and Release: Helping Canada’s Freshwater Turtles

Thursday, 19 July 2018


For two hundred million years they did their own thing.  Then we came along. Dr Sue Cartsairs runs a small turtle trauma center in Ontario.  Often the turtles have been run over by vehicles and it is the job of her center to try and even the odds for survival for the turtles in this day and age.  In other words, to fix and release them.  As Dr Carstairs points out many of these turtles are over a hundred years old and as such deserve the chance to get back to the water and continue living their long, long lives. As well as a great insight in to practical not to mention pragmatic conservation, Fix and Release (by Scott Dobson) is visually very beautiful.

For me the most amazing part of the film was seeing the eggs being taken out of a turtle which had not survived its injuries.  Once extracted the eggs were placed very carefully in a box and then left to incubate and hatch.  Then they are released in to the wild (turtles are born independent). Amazing. If you would like to find out more about how to help Ontario’s fresh turtles then click here.

Blood Island: The Freed Chimps of Liberia

Sunday, 15 July 2018


In the 1970s the New York Blood Center conducted experiments on chimps in Liberia.  Many were infected with diseases like hepatitis and so when the experiments ended the chimps could not be released back in to captivity.  Instead they were taken to a group of inland islands to live out their lives there.  Yet the money was cut off, leaving the chimps to starve.

Blood Island is the story of how this dreadful situation was turned around – although as you will see the solution does not extend to the length of life a chimpanzee might enjoy.  At the center of this story of the chimps, however, is one of redemption for one of their former captors.   Produced, edited and filmed by Lindsey Parietti, Blood Island is testimony to both our inhumanity to our fellow creatures and also our resolve to help them.

Birds of Oostvaardersplassen


Are you in need of a few moments of relaxation? Then look no further. Oostvaardersplassen in the Netherlands covers about 56 square kilometers and, surprisingly, did not exist until the polder was created in 1968.  Amazingly it is now internationally important as a waterfowl habitat.  Benfilm visited this amazing place in May of 2018 and this beautiful, peaceful and relaxing video footage is the result.  Go and get a cup of something to sip while you reflect on the beauty we still have in this world…

Why Cats Like Boxes So Much

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Cats like to hide.  That is because they employ something called crypsis to keep themselves safe and sound.  A cryptic animal, like a cat, uses its anatomy and behavior to hide from anything which might predate them. It is different from camouflage as this can also be employed by predators and is used by many animals, including big cats, to more effectively attack prey.  A house cat uses its natural flexibility to hide in places a predator might not consider. A box is just that. Inside it, a cat feels invisible, and that is exactly how he likes to feel.

Perhaps these exceptions don't quite prove the rule, but let's go with it.

The Dead Leaf Butterfly - Camouflage King of the Asian Tropics

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Although the title of this article has already given the game away, take a close look at the ‘leaf’ above.  Dead and withered, its dark veins still stretch across the parchment thin remains of its once emerald resplendence. Yet a closer look reveals a head, eyes and legs.  This isn’t at all what it appears to be – and that is exactly how nature intended.

Image Credit Wikimedia
This incredible butterfly can be found – if you look hard enough – from India to Japan; anywhere in the Asian tropics.  Its taxonomic name is Kallima inachus but it is also known as the orange oakleaf or Indian oakleaf. Unsurprisingly, its most common name is the dead leaf butterfly.  This disguise (mimesis) is intended to confound predators – you can’t eat what you can’t see. Yet just wait and see what appears once it opens its wings…

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