Sylvia Earle once called coral reefs “…a jeweled belt around the middle of the planet.” The water that falls on our heads and crops, the air we breathe, even that calm afternoon breeze, it’s all fed by the oceans. Coral are one of the cornerstones of marine life, acting as both architectural and biological anchors of shallow ocean communities.
Felix Salazar gives us good reason to pause and consider their well-being with his beautiful collection of macro photos of coral (full gallery at the link). Life beneath the waves is already pretty foreign to us as it is, and it only becomes more alien when viewed up close.
But it’s not alien. These coral are here, on Earth, and their health helps define the health of the whole planet. We’ve got to save them.
Narwhals, finally explained.
Narwhal tusks are the result of some fascinatingly odd evolutionary anatomical migration. The “tusk” is actually not a tusk at all, but actually a single canine tooth that made its way to the forehead of an otherwise completely toothless whale. Males can have two tooth-tusks on rare occasions, while females usually have no tusks (but sometimes grow a small one).
These tusks can be up to 10 feet long, and their use, if there is any, is unknown. They are hollow, spiral, and are perhaps to only straight tusks in the animal world. One of the most fascinating parts of narwhal tusk evolution is that they always end up on the left side of the forehead. Somehow this gene can sense when it is on the left side of the body and be activated only there.
Check out Why Evolution is True to read more about the amazingly odd forehead-tooth of Monodon monoceros, the “one tusk, one tooth” whale.
(image via Ed Yong on Twitter)
Fat Bird #8: Cardinal
Another one of my favorite birds. Also the most requested Fat Bird.
You can see the rest of my fat birds at sirmikeofmitchell.com
A few animal differences. I love porpoises! In case this one’s too tiny to read, here’s a link to the comic on my site.
I try not to make mistakes like these on porpoise, but I moth dove known it was bound to happen eventually.
- Corgi/Australian Cattle Dog
- Corgi/Australian Shepherd
- Corgi/Basset Hound
- Corgi/Black Lab
- Corgi/Border Collie
- Corgi/English Bulldog
- Corgi/German Shepherd
- Corgi/Golden Retriever
- Corgi/Jack Russel
- Corgi/Long Haired Dachshund
- Corgi/Shiba Inu
- Corgi/Toy Poodle
The Whale With a Human Voice
NOC is the name of a beluga whale who’s been all over the news lately. He has a particular talent: he tries to the mimic human voice. In the audio above, you hear him communicating not via a whale’s normal nasal squeaks and whistles, but by vibrations of the larynx, just like us.
Sure, it’s unintelligible. But researchers think that it’s unmistakably a copy of the human voices he’s heard while in captivity at San Diego’s National Marine Mammal Foundation. He vocalizes randomly for the most part, sometimes to himself, and sometimes when human handlers are around … but never to other whales. Once, a diver got out of the water after hearing the sounds, thinking a fellow handler had ordered him out!
NOC was actually able to learn a new way of making sound, using a whale’s version of vocal muscles and a completely new way of moving air through his throat. Not only that, it’s at frequencies lower than this species normally uses.
Belugas and other social whale species like dolphins probably use “vocal learning” abilities like this to communicate with members of their species from different groups, and we’ve seen blue whales that can teach mating calls to members of other pods. But this sort of trans-species learning might be unprecedented.
Simply remarkable. Cetaceans never cease to amaze.
The name alone, translating into “vampire squid from hell”, injects fear into the hearts of many land-lubbers. But don’t let the other-worldly appearance and scary nomenclature fool you.
This squid was recently found to survive on a diet of plankton feces and marine debris. Which makes sense, considering that it lives over 3,000 feet below the surface of the ocean, where oxygen and the food sources that depend on oxygen are scarce. But not exactly the kind of diet that makes me shake in my SCUBA boots.
It’s still crazy-looking, though. I bet it scares the heck out of that debris.
Nellie the sea otter stacks cups at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium [x]
#NO BUT THE WAY HE KEEPS LOOKING UP AT THE GUY LIKE #WHY WOULD YOU PUT THESE TOGETHER LIKE THIS #THEY ARE OBVIOUSLY STACKED WRONG #DO I HAVE DO DO EVERYTHING FOR YOU #HERE TAKE THEM #A THANK YOU WOULD BE NICE #GOD LEAVE ME ALONE TO CUDDLE
reblogging for the caption
Animals Would Win All The Gold Medals
Bluefin Tuna vs. Phelps and other human inadequacies in this great slideshow from The Nature Conservancy.
(via Jennifer Ouellette)