Saturday, December 29, 2012

Your Perfume Smells like My Rectum.

 The other day, I asked my youngest brother why he wore cologne… his response was “So mom won’t know if I showered or not”.  In 2005 a fragrance, originally made for Marie Antoinette, was reproduced in limited quantities which sold for $11,000 dollars per bottle. The featured ingredient was ambergris, a waxy excretion found in the intestine of this 67 foot long critter. While scientists aren’t sure which end it comes out of, once it does, it’s considered ‘floating gold’. Ambergris is used in perfumes to make the scent last longer.

You can thank this critter for that sweet smelling Christian Dior perfume… the Sperm Whale.

Considered the largest predator on Earth, these critters can dive soooooo deep that some have been found tangled up in the transatlantic phone cables, more than a mile below the ocean’s surface. In the deepest and darkest parts of the ocean is where their prey of choice can be found; the giant and colossal squid. Using echolocation to locate prey, old time marines thought that the ‘clicking’ sound they heard was someone hammering a nail into wood. Their repetitive vocalization can be heard from 40 miles away; however, this is not what makes them blog worthy. These critters have one of the strongest family bonds. Whale pods consist mostly of generations of grandmothers, mothers and daughters. Females give birth to one calf every 3-6 years and will raise their young for 13 years. The pod is so closely knit that the calf will be left with the pod while the mother dives for food. If the calf gets hungry during this time he will nurse from another female within the group. If the mother were to die the pod would then raise the orphaned calf. Using this knowledge to their advantage, whalers knew that by harpooning the calf, all other whales in the group would come to its rescue, making this their ideal scenario. Sperm whales were mainly hunted for their ambergris and spermaceti (oil found in the whales head) which was used for cosmetics, candles and machine oil during the 18th and 20th century. It’s estimated that 800,000 whales were killed worldwide during this time. In 1973, Sperm whales became protected under the Endangered Species Act passed by Richard Nixon. They are currently considered vulnerable according to the ICUN, while it’s unlikely that their numbers will return to that of pre-whaling, one can only hope.

This is a neat site I found that shows Sperm whale vocalization!!!

Here’s an awesome video from PBS: Inside Natures giants of a Sperm whale that washed ashore… It’s AWESOME!!!                                                                                                                                 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bring on the Apocalypse

I had a special request from my biggest fan to do the following critter, so in commemoration to him Frank a.k.a Bibi a.k.a. Legalos I thought I would give him a small intro. After leaving Cuba with his high school sweetheart Legalos moved to Venezuela where he raised 6 children. A man who would more than happily give you 75 cents when all he has left is a dollar, I can’t imagine a better person to not only call my biggest fan but my grandfather as well. Love you bibi!

Outliving both the dinosaur extinction and the ice age, 12/21/12 will be easy peasy for these guys… the Orinoco Crocodile.

This heavy weight critter is amongst the largest of the crocodile species with males getting anywhere from 13-16 feet in length and weighing in between 800-1400 lbs. The Orinoco crocodile is endemic to the Orinoco River which flows through Venezuela and Columbia. Lacking sweat glands these guys can be found on the river banks with their mouths wide open as a mechanism for cooling off. Soooo what qualifies the crocodile species as the ultimate survivor… well for starters, they are extremely tough! During territorial fights they are known to tear limbs off their opponents! Unbelievably, those unfortunate one's with a missing arm or leg are capable of living well into their 70’s. The crocodiles incredible immune system is to thank for this! Scientists are actually looking into croc blood as a potential HIV cure. Another ice age  in our future??? That’s not a problem for this critter they can adapt very well to extreme temperature changes as well as starvation. There are numerous examples of crocs not feeding for an entire year and while they get desperately thin they are perfectly capable of bouncing back once food reappears. Surviving Mother Nature’s disasters is one thing, surviving mankind is another. The Orinoco crocodile is critically endangered due to over hunting during the 1940’s and 1960’s. Currently it’s thought that roughly over 500 exist in the wild. Even with conservation efforts put forth by the Columbian government, the comeback of this critter seems extremely grave. This guy may not be the cuddliest of creatures but he is one of the toughest! and hey, everybody loves a tough guy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Days of our Lives: Oceanic Soap Opera

Days of our lives is an American soap opera that has aired on NBC almost every weekend for the past 47 years.  While I personally have never understood the whole soap opera phenomenon, it’s undeniable that millions of Americans tune in each weekend to watch the trials and tribulations of their favorite TV personalities. Living vicariously through these characters, what people may not know is that we have our own REAL LIFE soap opera right in our back yard. Full of excitement, danger and drama these critters deserve an Emmy nomination.

Before General Hospital and All My Children there was… the PACIFIC SALMON.

Carried away tail-first downstream and dumped into the ocean… this is the beginning of the salmons life. While some will stay within a few hundred miles of their natal stream, others will travel 2,500 miles away roaming the Pacific Ocean. Alas, this critter isn’t just an ordinary fish that lives and dies in the ocean… NOPE…these guys are best known for having the most extreme migration in the animal kingdom. They will spend the majority of their adolescent lives (which is anywhere from 6 months to 7 years depending on the species) exploring the vast open ocean, then it’s back to their birth grounds where some salmon have been observed traveling 45 miles a day  just to return to the rivers mouth. This is where the REEL excitement begins! THE SALMON RUN: a desperate, every fish for himself, race up stream against time. Once the battle begins Salmon will not stop to eat instead they derive their energy from fat reserves,  they will travel on average 275 miles upriver to reach their spawning grounds. Unfortunately, not all these persistent little guys will make it out to the love fest; some will be eaten by bears that patiently wait for them at the river’s edge, some will be caught by fishermen and some will starve to death. By the time those lucky few make it back home they are starved, exhausted, covered in scars and ready to relax?!?! But, the salmon, with bruises, torn fins and hooked jaws, will expend their last bit of energy in a mass spawn before they die. Females will lay anywhere from 2,500 to 7,000 eggs in hopes that some will survive to repeat this voyage. The salmon run, exemplifies one of the most beautiful and dramatic life cycles that nature has created… and…they are on the brink of extinction. Over harvesting, agricultural pollution, ocean warming, and habitat damage have all contributed to the devastating blow in their numbers. Keep this daytime drama airing and don’t let these guys get cancelled!
PBS did a wonderful documentary about the Salmon and thier collapsing populations
This is a short clip about the Salmon from BBC Natures Great Events: The Salmon run

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

If you don’t know how to tell her you like her

In today’s high tech society dating has become LAZYYYYY. What happened to courtship and being wooed? Now it’s just profile views and misconstrued text messages. GET IT TOGETHER BOYSSSS!!!!! Anything worth having is worth working for! So… if after numerous attempts of trying to get her attention (telling her about your Star Wars collection or inviting her over for a CPR refresher course) have failed then the next best thing is to show her your dancing skills.

Lace up your dancing shoes cause this guys going to teach you how to bust a move… the BROLGA CRANE.
Living in the open swamp lands of Australia, this critter isn’t just long legged and handsome. These monogamous birds are best known for having the most elaborate courtship displays in the animal kingdom. At around 2-3 years of age, Brolga’s begin searching for that lucky lady!  Once she’s spotted, males will lay down their most impressive dance moves, which begin by the tossing of grass into the air. Head bobbing, flapping, prancing, jumping, pirouetting, bowing and wing shaking are all part of this critters eye catching routine.  If she accepts, than each year no matter how long they’ve been together they will dance with one another. Sounds like something out of The Notebook right? Although this performance is primarily a mating practice, pairs will dance year around, scientists believe that this helps strengthen the couples bond. While they are typically found in small family groups of 3-4 which includes both parents and juvenile offspring, family groups of up to 1000 will gather together during non- breeding seasons in order to feed.  So… how can we apply this to our dating lives, just remember; couples that dance together STAY together.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

For years sailors have told stories of vicious sea monsters big enough to swallow a ship whole. Considered one of the “fathers of science fiction”, Jules Verne in 1870 wrote the novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea which took the world by storm. This classic work of fiction narrates the story of Captain Nemo and his submarine the Nautilus which is attacked by a giant squid...OBVIOUSLY this isn’t the entire story, just the most memorable part. His novel began a genre revolution of adaptations and variations of his book made into films, comic books and graphic novels

Hold on to your undies because this guy isn’t just part of science fiction… the Colossal Squid.

Thought once to have been stuff from legends very little is known about this critter. Scientists believe the colossal squid can weigh over 1,600 lbs and reach lengths of over 43 feet!?! Bigger than a school bus, we might need something larger than a california king bed to snuggle up with this guy. Living in deep (3,000-6,000 ft) and frigid Antarctic waters, fragments of beaks, tentacles and partially digested bodies found in the stomachs of sperm whales were the only proof of this elusive creature. It wasn’t until 2007, when a fishing boat off the coast of New Zealand accidentally caught one that scientists were finally able to put the pieces together. Hauled on board by the fisherman and kept frozen until they reached the Te Papa Museum in New Zealand, this was the first time that a live specimen could be studied. And…what did they find??? Well, SHE weighed 1,000 pounds, had a length of 33 feet, had eyes approximately 13 inches in diameter, had 26 swiveling hooks on the end of each tentacle and was ONLY a baby. Like tree rings, squid contain an equilibrium organ which grooves as they age ... and she was only 18 months old. Scientists also discovered that these gigantic creatures have a slow metabolism signifying that they move slower than once thought. Contrary to beliefs, this new found knowledge indicates that these guys are more like floating blobs than monstrous beasts. So… while we are still in pursuit of the Colossal Squid one thing is for certain; these guys would make some tire sized calamari.
To learn more here’s a link to the Te Papa Museum where the specimen is up for display:
Discovery Channel created a documentary of the squid that was caught off the coast of New Zealand it’s called Colossal Squid/Squid invasion it’s a 2 episode series … you can find it on Netflix’s… check it out!!!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wiser or more wise?

Being called wise is pretty much always associated with age… “Listen to your elders, they're wise like an old owl.” Yessss, we’ve all heard this saying! However, the irony of it is that owls don’t live very long. With a mean life period of 20 years, these guys only live a quarter of a human’s life span. Sooo… after an hour of blankly staring off, a 30 minute nap and some extraneous brain exercises, I came to the conclusion that there is another critter that deserves the prestigious label of being “Wise”.

Grab your walkers because this critter is going to make your grandma look like a spring chicken… the Galapagos Tortoise.

These charismatic critters are local residents of the Galapagos. They are the largest land tortoise with some exceeding 5 feet in length and over  550 lbs. Charles Darwin was quoted saying "These animals grow to an immense size ... several so large that it required six or eight men to lift them from the ground". STOP and REWIND… DARWIN?!?!?!  As in, evolution DARWIN???  The answer is yes! This critter can live well over 160 years in captivity.  Currently the oldest living tortoise is Jonathan who’s thought to be 178, this would have made him a year old when Darwin was circumnavigating the globe in search of evolutionary evidence.  Leading an uncomplicated and boring life, most of their day is wasted away grazing (they eat between 70-80 lbs per day), sun tanning and sleeping (16 hours a day). With a slow metabolism and large internal storage devices these critters can survive a year without food and water.  Stored on board ships because of this unique survival ability (no maintenance and fresh meat), the tortoise was a favored food source for sailors, pirates and whalers during the 15-17 century. During these years it was estimated 200,000 tortoises were killed. Considered Vulnerable according to the IUCN, successful breeding programs have brought their numbers up to around 15,000 individuals. Remember, common courtesy rule number 1:  Respect your ELDERS!!!!

Meet Lonesome George the last of his sub-species:
If you would like to learn more about Galapagos Conservation click here:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Coca-Cola owes me a fortune!!!

In 1922, this critter became an iconic figure for a household name. Appearing in the “northern lights” commercial this guy turned into one of the most popular symbols of Coca-Cola advertising. Sporadically seen in commercials and on bottles for the next 70 years, Coca- Cola can thank there 67 billion dollar business to this celebrity.
Put on your parka and welcome… the Polar Bear.

Yes, we all know the Polar bear, so it should be no surprise that at one point I would blog about this sweet and loveable guy. Adapted to living in one of the most extreme environments, this guy calls the Arctic Circle home, sweet home. The Polar Bear is one of the largest land carnivores, weighing between 550-1700 lbs and a height between 8-10 feet, this is one critter best loved from afar. With a thick layer of fur and blubber allowing for insulation and buoyancy, scientist once considered categorizing them as sea mammals. Sea mammals…like whales? You may be thinking, that’s correct these excellent swimmers have been spotted in open Arctic waters 200 miles away from land. Polar bears are so well padded and insulated that to prevent overheating even in sub-zero temperatures, they tend to walk slow and spend lots of time resting. One of their most humanistic features is that these guys are known to throw temper tantrums. Researchers have observed them throwing chunks of ice, kicking snow and growling in disappointment after losing prey they’ve been trying to catch. Sound like anyone you know? So where’s the problem you might be saying to yourself, there are plenty of seals and they have no predators! What’s the big deal? THE ICE CAPS PEOPLE!!!!!! The ice caps are melting, with the current crisis of global warming the Polar bear's are in danger of becoming extinct. Already red listed as an endangered species; As the ice caps melt Polar bears have to swim farther and farther to find suitable habitat and prey.We may not be responsible for the things that have happened up to this day, but we are responsible for the things that will happen from here on out.
CLICK ON THIS LINK!!!!! Reducing your carbon foot print is one of the best ways to not only help the polar bears, but any plant and animal threatened by global warming. It’s free and gives you tips on how to live green:
Greenpeace: save the Arctic campaign:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Aye-Aye you got a minute?

Remember that kindergarten rule we all learned when we were like 6 years old? The one about not saying anything if it’s not nice? Well, for some reason once we became adults we developed this idea that this rule no longer applies to us. Sooo, I’m going to go ahead, and remind you all… If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. Categorized as one of the most unusual creatures (I think he’s adorable),

Let’s put our middle fingers together for this guy... the Aye-Aye.

Endemic to Madagascar, these nocturnal critters are best known for their elongated middle finger. And no, they don’t use it to pick their nose. Instead they have an extraordinary adaption for capturing grub (they also eat fruit and nectar). By tapping on the bark of trees they listen for hollow cavities left behind by wood burrowing grub. Once dinner is targeted they gnaw into the bark with their super sharp front teeth and then using that bony middle finger they fish out the prize. Not only can the Aye-aye use his big leathery ears to hear the grub moving around but scientist believe they can even feel the vibrations of grub stirring as they tap on the wood!? Dinner anyone?? This critter balances between Near Threatened and Endangered on the ICUN red list due to habitat loss and superstition; No, that’s not a misprint! I said superstition. The Malagasy people believe the Aye-aye is a symbol of death and any who lay eye on him is doomed. In order to escape this fate the "demonic creature" must be exterminated, so typically they are killed on sight. Let’s show those villagers what we think about their myth and flick them off Aye-aye style.

This video is a clip from Nat Geo: Freaks on land. Happy grubbing!
This is a video of a baby Aye-aye born at the Philadelphia Zoo. Talk about ADORABLE!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Real woman love a good MOUSTACHE

Moustaches have been around for a VERY long time. While the origins of where and when they came into fashion are blurry, paintings and sculptures of ancient Greeks sporting the stache are numerous. So let’s just say that they’ve been around since roughly the 6 century BCE. Thought to represent wisdom, virility or rank it’s no surprise that we would have our very own…

Mustached critter… the EMPEROR TAMARIN.

Such a gallant image, I know!!! It’s thought that they were named because of their resemblance to the German Emperor Wilhem II. Living in groups of 2-8, it’s the eldest female who runs the show. Tamarin’s inhabit the tropical forest regions of South America, their diet consisting mostly of fruits, insects and small vertebrae. What makes these critters unique? and no it’s not the AWESOME moustache, it's how the young are raised. While the eldest female is the only one to mate in the group with the highest ranked males, ALL members of the group contribute to infancy care. Signaling with her tongue, the males are more than happy to relieve her of her motherly duties, they will carry and groom the newborn until she returns. You’re thinking it, and I’m just going to say it out loud, he’s PERRRRFECT!!!! While currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, there biggest threat is deforestation due to construction. Let’s get it together people help stop deforestation and respect the STACHE!
I’m posting 2 links the first one is a clip from the BBC show Clever Monkeys. The second is a link to the Greenpeace website and the efforts being made to stop deforestation… there’s also a donate button on the right (hint, hint)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Mohammed Ali shrimp

Imagine that today you decide that your house needs a little “sometin, sometin” as my mother would say! You think to yourself, “I know what I need, I need a fish tank”!! So you go out spend a gazillion dollars on a fancy glass tank, import some live rocks and some tropical fish… because let’s face it fresh water fish are a little boring looking. You set everything up and by the time you’re done its time to hit the sack. As you get ready for bed, fantasizing about the next time your friends come over and how your going to impress them with your newly acquired tropical fish knowledge, you say to yourself “WINNING!!!” and slowly drift off to sleep imagining tropical fishes swimming around you. The next morning, you eagerly race out of the room to go feed the new additions to your family only to find that A. the fish are all gone and B. your tank has a crack on it and consequently is leaking aquarium water all over the floor!?!?

My fellow critter lovers… it’s my pleasure to introduce to you the very misunderstood
Mantis Shrimp.
Living among live rocks this little guy is more often than not unintentionally brought into an oblivious tank owner’s aquarium. Don’t let this sweet face fool you! This critter packs a powerful punch. Also known as the thumb splitter, the mantis shrimp is capable of thrusting out its club like claws in a jack-in the box fashion impaling any obstacle in its way. To put things in prospective for those of you that aren’t currently infatuated with this handsome guy their attack is equivalent to that of a .22 caliber bullet. Extremely aggressive and territorial they are more than willing to take down any animal that comes to close for comfort. As if having guns for arms isn’t enough they also have exceptional vision. I know, I know those googley eyes aren’t just for gazing into. Having the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom they are capable of distinguishing over 100,000 different colors (that’s ten times more than you and I)and all waves of CPL (circular polarized light) in retrospect our most advance machines today can only detect CPL in a few colors, the mantis can detect CPL in all colors. I’m sure right about now your going what the hell is CPL. Prepare to be astounded… CPL is used in blu ray disc's and high tech cameras to allow for that super crisp picture, imagine seeing the world like that on a day to day basis!  Oh AND for the romantic in all of us, some of these guys mate for life. Soooo… yeah he might shatter the aquarium and kill off any living creature in the tank… but come on, this is one sailor that’ll love you for life!
Here's a cool video of a mantis shrimp breaking open a clam :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Light Bulb

On August 29 at 12:14 AM I drove to my friends (Jen) house to pick up contacts, contact solution and to use her hole puncher. By the time I arrived she was 98.7% asleep and potentially sleep walking when she opened her front door. None the less she let me in and handed me my stuff. As I awkwardly stood around not sure if I should just thank her and leave she said, “you can stay and talk to me for a little if you want.” Thinking back now I’m pretty sure she meant that as a rhetorical offer. However, I was more than eager to jump on her bed and explain my daily learning’s in excruciating detail. I covered all my favorite topics like dolphin migration, sloths and conservation. Somewhere during those 30 minutes of my blabbering and her half asleep “aha” I mentioned how one in every four animals is a beetle. At this point she adjusted her “listening” position opened one eye and said “oh, that’s interesting I didn’t know that.”SEE IT???? There, there it was… the domino effect, the eureka moment, THE LIGHT BULB that started everything. Like a rocket shooting into the atmosphere my brain was running at a trillion miles a second, so fast, that the speed of light would need a red bull to keep up. I realized right there at the foot of her bed that very few people (in relation to the worlds 8 billion inhabitants) truly understand the beauty of the creatures that surround us! I thought, if I could just tell people about what makes each creature unique, then maybe they will take the time to read an article about the environmental issues that we are facing today instead of giving them a sideway glance while flipping through the Sunday paper. I said it once and I’ll say it a million times; education is the key to conservation. I personally think Dr. Seuss said it best – “I am the lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”