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)