Tag-Archive for » flora and fauna «

Meanwhile, in Russia…

Yup, that’s a nekkid woman swimming in below-freezing seawater.

The rationale:

Braving sub-zero temperatures, she has thrown caution — and her clothes — to the wind to tame two beluga whales in a unique and controversial experiment.

Natalia Avseenko, 36, was persuaded to strip naked as marine experts believe belugas do not like to be touched by artificial materials such as diving suits.

The skilled Russian diver took the plunge as the water temperature hit minus 1.5 degrees Centigrade.

The taming of the whales happened in the Murmansk Oblast region in the far north-west of Russia at the shore of the White Sea near the Arctic Circle branch of the Utrish Dophinarium.

An area of the sea is enclosed to stop whales and dolphins getting out and instructors tame the mammals before they are transported to dolphinariums around the world — a practice many animal conservationists consider cruel.

– “Princess of whales: How a naked female scientist tries to tame belugas in the freezing Arctic.” Daily Mail, 16 June 2011.

Let’s assume that their theory is correct and that the belugas do not enjoy contact with artificial materials, such as diving suits.  This would be an argument for taking off one’s gloves, at best.  What other parts of the human body do belugas need to be familiarised with?

The staff at whatever aquarium or zoo these captured belugas end up in are going to be wearing wetsuits, after all.

Category: Diversions  Tags: ,  Comments off

You have insulted my wife, sir. I demand satisfaction!

Rouse, Andy. King Penguins squabbling over female, Falkland Islands. 2006. (Times of London, 1 April 2010.)

From a Times article promoting the Wild Planet exhibition in Brighton from March 12th through September 26th.

Africa from above

The vistas and wildlife of the former British East Africa, sourced from the Flickr photostreams of AnotherOz and Jose Cortes III.

Kilimanjaro, originally uploaded by AnotherOz.

Victoria Falls, originally uploaded by AnotherOz.

Ngong Hills, originally uploaded by AnotherOz.

JF6N1652, originally uploaded by Jose Cortes III.

IMG_2986, originally uploaded by Jose Cortes III.

IMG_3621, originally uploaded by Jose Cortes III.

For more aerial shots of African wildlife, see the Okavango, the view from above – 2009 set from Mr. Cortes.  And for more high-altitude aerial photographs of landmarks and landscapes around the world, see the Aerial Shots set from AnotherOz.

Category: Ars Gratia Artis  Tags: , ,  Comments off

Carl Akeley’s African expeditions, 1896-1927

Adventurer archetype Carl Akeley (1864-1926) was an exceedingly productive taxidermist, sculptor, explorer and inventor.  His interest in ornithology begat a need to preserve specimens, so young Akeley read up on the subject and taught himself the basics of taxidermy.  He subsequently landed a job with science education supplier Ward’s Natural Science Establishment, then further refined his craft in jobs with a series of increasingly prominent museums.

Hearing of his achievements the British Museum in London offered him a position, but on his way, he stopped in Chicago where he was enticed to join their Field Museum of Natural History instead. Winning Carl over by the promise of African travel, he led two major expeditions while in their employment, the first in 1896 and later in 1905.

– “Carl Akeley.”  Wild Film History.  Web.  17 February 2010.

Chicago’s Field Museum has posted 136 of Akeley’s hand-coloured slides and black-and-white photographs to Flickr, a selection of which I have excerpted below.  See their Africa Expeditions set for more.

View of trees, hills, grass. Lake Elementeita, Mau Escarpment, British East Africa, c1906. Flickr: originally uploaded by The Field Museum Library.

Trees and scenes, mountain in background. Diorama accessory study. Voi, British East Africa, c1906. Flickr: originally uploaded by The Field Museum Library.

View on river shore with large canoe or boat, abandoned. Mombassa, British East Africa, c1906. Flickr: originally uploaded by The Field Museum Library.

Expedition camp, three tents with members inside. British East Africa, c1896. Flickr: originally uploaded by The Field Museum Library.

Small child in front of tents, holding an unidentified object. British East Africa, c1906. Flickr: originally uploaded by The Field Museum Library.

Young cheetah growling at camera, teeth bared. British Somaliland, c1896. Flickr: originally uploaded by The Field Museum Library.

Young mammal, possibly Bovidae Oryx. British Somaliland, c1896. Flickr: originally uploaded by The Field Museum Library.

Berbera at night. Berbera, Woqooyi Galbeed, British Somaliland, c1896. Flickr: originally uploaded by The Field Museum Library.

Akeley died during his fifth and final African expedition, and is buried in Albert (now Virunga) National Park.  He left behind an enormous and meticulously catalogued collection of specimens—his crowning achievement.  Today, three-quarters of a century after it was first opened to the public, that collection of 28 stunning dioramas continues to amaze visitors to the American Museum of Natural History.

In total, Carl launched five collecting trips to the African subcontinent, joining Theodore Roosevelt on his 1909 expedition while he was working for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Filmed by Cherry Kearton for the feature, With Roosevelt in Africa (1910) it also provided many specimens still on display in the museum in a wing named in Carl’s honour – the Akeley Hall of African Mammals.

– “Carl Akeley.”  Wild Film History.  Web.  17 February 2010.

DDB: Telus “Hippopotamus” Ad (2005)

This is my current ear-worm.

I have a general dislike of hippos, since they are the second most deadly animal in Africa (after malaria-carrying mosquitoes).  But Hazina here—a resident of the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove, B.C.—is edited cleverly enough to appear cute and far less cantankerous than her wild cousins.

Category: Media  Tags:  Comments off

I wonder if this is how pandas got stupid…

Everyone loves the cuddly panda, despite the fact that it is one of the world’s dumbest animals.  Pandas eat something their digestive systems are not built to handle—they have the GI tract of a carnivore, but eat mostly bamboo—which has only 2% of the daily nutrition they need to survive.  They are also one of the few mammals that tends to forget how to reproduce (hint: Tab A goes into Slot B), both in the wild and in captivity.

Now we learn that some rare white tigers are experiencing a similar endumbening.

Zookeepers in China say their tigers have grown so tame that they’re frightened of the chickens they’re supposed to eat,” Ananova.com reports. “The Chongqing Wild Animal Park has five rare adult white tigers which were originally trained to perform tricks for visitors, reports the Chongqing Morning Post.” Keepers have been throwing them live chickens to encourage the cats to follow their natural instincts, but without success. They’re now forcing the tigers to stay outside 12 hours a day to toughen them up. And they are planning to introduce a wild tiger to show the domesticated big cats the ropes.

– Kesterton, Michael.  “Stop loafing, kids, your inner hamster and starry-eyed men.” Globe & Mail, Social Studies, 20 November 2009.

The wild tiger will probably die of embarrassment once it sees what its captive brethren have become.  If a carnivore forgets how to be a carnivore, perhaps it’s better for the species if we don’t try to save that particular animal.

Battle at Orpen

Flickr user mgdonny captures a roadside battle between water buffalo and lioness in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

DSC01337, originally uploaded by mgdonny.

DSC01387, originally uploaded by mgdonny.

DSC01412, originally uploaded by mgdonny.

DSC01414, originally uploaded by mgdonny.

DSC01632, originally uploaded by mgdonny.

Suffice to say the lean and under-nourished lioness appears to have lost that particular engagement.  See the whole Flickr set for more.

Category: Ars Gratia Artis  Tags: ,  Comments off

Hidden Nature

I’m amazed at how shadows can not only affect our way of viewing an object, but make that object into something else entirely. This crab claw, at just the right angle to the sun, becomes a swan! (brasstom | Learn By Blogging)

I’m amazed at how shadows can not only affect our way of viewing an object, but make that object into something else entirely. This crab claw, at just the right angle to the sun, becomes a swan! (brasstom | Learn By Blogging)

Let me say right away that this is not my photo; I discovered it on the net last winter while searching for something else.  It originated on a blog called Learn By Blogging, which appears to have gone defunct after only two posts on the same calendar day.

I’m preserving it here (with its original title and caption) because it speaks to me in a metaphoric way, and it would be a shame to let such serendipity pass into the ether, unlamented.

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