A wildlife camera in Zion National Park has given a whole new meaning to the term "selfie."
OK, so it's not technically a selfie since the squirrel didn't…Read More »
take its own picture. But this photo is so darn cute, so why care? Camera traps such as this one are used for capturing wild animals on film when researchers are not present. These cameras are used in ecological research for studying bird nests, capturing proof of rare species, estimating population size and learning about habitat use.
Zion National Park certainly has wildlife worth watching, and not just squirrels. Zion is home to 68 species of mammal, ranging from the petite kangaroo rat to the sturdy, surefooted bighorn sheep. The most frequent mammal sightings are mule deer, foxes, bats, bighorn sheep and rock squirrels.
Located in southwestern Utah, Zion National Park encompasses some of the most scenic canyon country in the United States. Within its 229 square miles are high plateaus, a maze of narrow, deep sandstone canyons and the Virgin River. Zion also has 2,000-foot (610 meters) Navajo Sandstone cliffs, pine- and juniper-clad slopes, and seeps, springs and waterfalls supporting lush and colorful hanging gardens.
Smile when walking through these canyons, you might be on camera.
The Belfast Zoo recently welcomed two African pygmy goats, a smaller female kid named Aziza (which means "precious" in Swahili) and a larger male kid named…Read More »
Adunbi (which means "pleasant" in Nigerian).
African pygmy goats, which hail from West Africa, measure between 19 inches and 23 inches (50 to 63 centimeters) in length when fully grown.
"Aziza and Adunbi are a wonderful addition to the herd of African pygmy goats and to the zoo farmyard," zoo curator Alyn Cairns said in a statement. "Aziza is always happy and very friendly to keepers and the other goats. Adunbi, however, has a much bolder personality. He is extremely mischievous, and a bit of a trouble maker and he likes to climb on top of things, including the other goats." [Related: World's Cutest Baby Wild Animals] Less «
The Alcantara is a 32-mile-long (51 kilometers) river in Sicily. Several thousand years ago, lava flow from nearby Mount Etna…Read More »
, the largest active volcano in Italy, blocked the river bed. The lava cooled and crystallized into columns, and over time, the river cut a channel through the easily erodible columns, creating extraordinary gorges and ravines.
Photographer Loren Haury captured these fascinating ice patterns along Oak Creek in Sedona, Ariz. The delicate crystal structures formed in frozen pools…Read More »
along the streambed.
"As water slowly drained from the pools during the night, layers of ice were left suspended from the rocks," Haury told Live Science. "For scale, the ice feathers radiating from the rock on the lower left are about 3 [inches (7.6 centimeters)] long. By noon, all the ice had melted."
Haury captured this photo of the eye-catching scene on Sept. 13, 2005, using an Olympus C60 handheld camera.
"I had to work fast, because the interesting crystals and fine structure would quickly melt when patches of direct sunlight moved over the ice," he said. [Related: Gallery of Awe-Inspiring Glaciers] Less «
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Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/U.S. Geological Survey
The Bikini Atoll is a tiny island that forms part of the Marshall Islands in the western Pacific. Sixty years ago, on March 1, 1954, the U.S. Army detonated…Read More »
The 15-megaton explosion was the most powerful at the time, and was 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II. The blast, which created a mushroom cloud of superheated air, vaporized everything on three islands and dug an enormous crater that measured 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) wide and 260 feet (80 meters) deep, according to NASA.
A total of 23 nuclear bomb tests were conducted on the Bikini Atoll between 1946 and 1958. During these years, natives were moved to other islands in the archipelago. The explosion and the subsequent public outcries provoked diplomatic negotiations that resulted in the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which prohibited surface tests. In the 1970s, several attempts were made to decontaminate the Bikini Atoll, but today the islands remain uninhabited, according to NASA.
Last week, a flight over Telaquana Lake in south-central Alaska caught some amazing views of the ice below.
Telaquana Lake is located in the Lake Clark…Read More »
National Park and Preserve, a land of stunning beauty where volcanoes steam, salmon run, bears forage, craggy mountains reflect in shimmering turquoise lakes, and local people and culture still depend on the land and water of their home.
Telaquana Lake is part of the historic Telaquana Trail, which native peoples used to travel from Telaquana Lake to Lake Clark. The trails connected all major villages in the area to each other and to seasonal camps. Today, the Telaquana Trail is mostly traveled by intrepid backpackers.
High above the trail, the park's volcanoes are a constant source of scientific research. The active volcanoes are continually monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Volcano Observatory. Redoubt Volcano, the highest summit in the Aleutian Range, has erupted five times since 1900, and most recently erupted in 2009, spewing ash across south-central Alaska and mudflows down the Drift River.
A baby western lowland gorilla clings tight to his mother, Kwanza, at the Belfast Zoo in Northern Ireland. The little one, named Baako, was born on Aug.…Read More »
3, 2013. Animal keepers say they are delighted with how the baby gorilla is progressing.
The arrival of the bundle of joy last year marked the first time in 16 years that a western lowland gorilla was born at the Belfast Zoo.
"We knew that Kwanza was pregnant last year but we were also aware that she was a first time mum, which comes with its own set of risks," zoo curator Julie Mansell said in a statement. "For the first few months Kwanza cradled the newborn on her stomach but Baako is gaining confidence and is beginning to climb on her back and is also beginning to bond with the rest of the gorilla group, including father Gugas, Kamili and Delilah." [Related: World's Cutest Baby Wild Animals] Less «
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Credit: Jack Green, National Science Foundation
A stunning sunrise at McMurdo Station in Antarctica is made more dramatic by waves of nacreous, or polar stratospheric, clouds. These formations are polar…Read More »
clouds in the second layer of Earth's atmosphere, at altitudes between 49,000 feet to 82,000 feet (15,000 meters to 25,000 meters).
While beautiful to behold, polar stratospheric clouds are surprisingly destructive, and play a key role in the formation of ozone holes over Antarctica and the Arctic, according to the Australian Antarctic Division, a branch of the Australian government's Department of the Environment. Polar stratospheric clouds provide a surface for chlorine gases in the atmosphere (from man-made chlorofluorocarbons and other pollutants) can react and form molecules that destroy ozone.
In this photo, taken on Aug. 25, 2013, work crews at McMurdo Station prepare the outpost's ice runway, called Pegasus, for incoming flights, according to the National Science Foundation. [Related: Stunning Photos of Antarctic Ice] Less «
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Credit: Dartmouth College
Qori Kalis, the largest glacier of the largest ice mass in the tropics, peaks out of its valley, with boulders left behind from glacial retreat in the…Read More »
foreground. Qori Kalis is part of Peru's Quelccaya Ice Cap, which has been shrinking rapidly. A new study published in the journal Geology finds that the ice loss is due directly to warmer temperatures, not to some other factor such as changes in snowfall or humidity. Tropical glaciers are very vulnerable to climate change and are vanishing around the globe. A study published in 2013 found that the lowest altitude glaciers of the Andes may be gone within years or decades. [Ice World: Gallery of Awe-Inspiring Glaciers] Less «
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See the Spectacular Sea Caves of Apostle Islands
Credit: National Park Service
A couple of weeks ago was the first time in five years that the ice on Lake Superior was thick enough to visit the spectacular sea caves of …Read More »
Some of the best sea caves of the Great Lakes are located on the shorelines of the Apostle Islands. Inside the caves visitors will find an icicle fantasyland. The chambers are filled with millions of delicate icicles, and the needlelike formations change from chamber to chamber and from day to day. Visitors can also see stunning frozen waterfalls inside the sea caves.
At the windswept beaches and cliffs of this National Lakeshore, there are 21 islands and 12 miles (19 kilometers) of mainland that host a unique blend of cultural and natural resources.
Visitors have been flocking to the sea caves in droves, but before heading to the caves, call the Ice Line at (715) 779-3397 - extension 3, for the most current ice condition information.
Two elephants at the San Diego Zoo, in California, share a special moment over their breakfast. Mila, an African elephant, and Mary, an Asian elephant…Read More »
shared the same yard for the first time on Feb. 18.
Animal keepers have slowly been familiarizing the elephants with one another, first letting them smell each other and then interact through a protective barrier, zoo officials said. Since the elephants seem to get along, zookeepers will continue to let Mila and Mary interact before beginning introductions with other members of the herd, according to officials from the San Diego Zoo. [Related: The 5 Smartest Non-Primates on the Planet] Less «
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It Came From Space
Credit: Mila Zinkova
Can you guess what this is?
These colorful speckles make up a thin section of a meteorite that fell to Earth. Meteorites are fragments…Read More »
This is a section of a chrondrite meteorite photographed under a microscope. The vibrant crystals will change color depending on how the microscope's filters are rotated, which is why these specimens are so beautiful and intriguing to explore.
Chondrite, or stony, meteorites are the most common type of meteorite, making up more than 80 percent of the space rocks that fall to Earth. Chondrites are formed from dust and small grains of material that were present in the early solar system. [Related: Fallen Stars – A Gallery of Famous Meteorites] Less «
Miguel Claro captured the stunning scene in the Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve on June 15, 2013. Alqueva has been designated a "Starlight Tourism Destination" by the Starlight Foundation, which means the region is characterized by the excellent quality of its starry skies.
Cute Camouflage: Eastern Screech Owl of Shenandoah
Credit: National Park Service
This adorable little owl blends in perfectly with its wooded habitat. If not for the one open eye, this Eastern Screech Owl would disappear into the trees.…Read More »
Eastern Screech Owls (Megascops asio) are the smallest resident birds of prey in Shenandoah National Park, weighing only about 5-8 ounces (140 to 230 grams). That’s about the size of a couple of candy bars. These birds are active all winter, leaving their cozy tree-cavity nests at night in search of food. In winter, there is usually an abundance of mice and shrews, but other popular dinners — frogs, salamanders, small snakes, lizards, moths, caterpillars and other insects — are hiding out until spring. Wiley Screech Owls in Shenandoah have been observed on frosty autumn mornings walking around farm fields, picking off inert grasshoppers like grapes.
Just 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is a popular place for urbanites to escape. Cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas and quiet wooded hollows await adventurous hikers or leisurely family picnickers. The park encompasses 200,000 acres of protected lands.
Look closely and you just might see an Eastern Screech Owl staring back at you.
Some of the sweet treats included red, heart-shaped Jello molds for the beluga whales, heart-shaped ice sculpture displays consisting of clams, scallops and krill for the sea otters, and special Valentine's Day gift boxes full of tasty clams for the Asian small-clawed otters, according to officials from the Georgia Aquarium.
If you're starting to feel the wintertime blues, perhaps this neat shot of a cup of hot cocoa will brighten your day. Amateur photographer…Read More »
Hans-Jürgen Heyen snapped this photo of colorful bubbles in his cocoa on a spring day in Meerbusch, Germany.
Heven noticed the shimmery bubbles while enjoying the midday sun in his garden on April 28, 2013. The thin film over the surface of the bubbles diffracts or bends sunlight, causing the iridescent colors to appear. [Related: Photos of Amazing Rainbows] Less «
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Happy Anniversary, Landsat 8!
Credit: Earth Observatory
The Landsat 8 satellite launched into orbit on Feb. 11, 2013, and mission scientists are celebrating the earth-watching observatory's one-year anniversary…Read More »
This map was one of Landsat 8's first views of the United States, and researchers created the image using observations taken by the satellite's Operational Land Imager in August 2013, according to NASA. Landsat 8 collects data in 115-mile-wide (185 kilometers) swaths, which is why the map looks like it was created from a bunch of strips.
The satellite's orbit follows a predetermined track, and it takes 233 passes and 16 days for the observatory to cover all the land on Earth. This means every land surface on the planet has the potential to be imaged once every 16 days, according to NASA officials. [Related Gallery: 101 Stunning Images from Orbit] Less «
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Credit: Raqqasah Shruti Chakravarti
This tranquil view of a gleaming, rainbow-colored sky over Bangalore, India, was captured by amateur photographer Raqqasah Shruti Chakravarti just before…Read More »
sunset on Oct. 26, 2013. These colorful formations, known as iridescent clouds, occur when sunlight hits water droplets in the atmosphere.
Snow is a great insulator. So is fur — something this red fox certainly must appreciate!
The fox was photographed in the Alaska Peninsula and Becharof…Read More »
National Wildlife Refuges, which were established to conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity, including brown bears, the Alaska Peninsula caribou herds, moose, sea otters and other marine mammals, salmon, shore birds and other migratory birds, and raptors, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons.
The fox in the above photo might have been stalking prey, or it might have been building a cache of excess food, which foxes are known to bury under snow for later consumption. Red foxes are adapted to snow, and are stronger than many other foxes that compete for the same prey.
How do foxes know where to hunker down in the snow? A 2008-2010 study of 84 red foxes found that successful hunting under snow appeared to involve an alignment of the fox with the Earth's magnetic field.
Lenticular clouds form when waves of moist, fast-moving air are pushed upward over high mountains by strong winds. At this higher altitude, water droplets in the moist air cool and expand, and the water vapor condenses. As the air passes over the mountaintop and descends to more uniformly humid conditions, pancake-type lenticular clouds form.
Credit: Christina Castiglione, Smithsonian's National Zoo
This adorable female gray seal pup was born last month, on Jan. 21, at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. Shortly after her birth, Zoo keepers noticed the…Read More »
newborn pup was not gaining weight while nursing from her mother, so veterinarians have been hand-feeding the baby seal.
"In the first days of this pup's life we did not see her gain as much weight as we would have expected," Ed Bronikowski, senior curator at the National Zoo, said in a statement. "It is still a tenuous time, but the pup's weight is now heading in the right direction. We celebrate every pound that she gains."
Last week, animal keepers announced the pup now weighs 44 pounds, which is up from her birth weight of about 35 pounds. In the wild, gray seals typically nurse from their mothers for about 15 to 21 days, and gain a significant amount of weight in the process. [Related Gallery: Seals of the World] Less «