Cougar takes the Hollywood limelight
Hats off to National Geographic photographer Steve Winter, for this fantastic photo of a cougar perfectly placed in front of the Hollywood sign.
NatGeo has the full story, including 14 months of waiting for a perfect shot, here.
Photo: Steve Winter / National Geographic
'A last testament' to Africa's wildlife
Times photographer Barbara Davidson sat down recently with renowned photographer Nick Brandt, whose current focus is on the dwindling wildlife of Africa.
Brandt said of his focused choice of subjects:
There is something profoundly iconic, mythological even, about the animals and landscapes of East Africa. There is also something deeply, emotionally stirring and affecting about those vast green rolling plains under the huge skies.
It just affects me, as I think it almost inevitably does many people, in a very fundamental, possibly primordial way.
Photos: Nick Brandt
- by Rowan Hooper
“According to Dante, the Styx is not just a river but a vast, deathly swamp filling the entire fifth circle of hell. Perhaps the staff of New Scientist will see it when our time comes but, until then, Lake Natron in northern Tanzania does a pretty good job of illustrating Dante’s vision.
Unless you are an alkaline tilapia (Alcolapia alcalica) – an extremophile fish adapted to the harsh conditions – it is not the best place to live. Temperatures in the lake can reach 60 °C, and its alkalinity is between pH 9 and pH 10.5.
The lake takes its name from natron, a naturally occurring compound made mainly of sodium carbonate, with a bit of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) thrown in. Here, this has come from volcanic ash, accumulated from the Great Rift valley. Animals that become immersed in the water die and are calcified.
Photographer Nick Brandt, who has a long association with east Africa – he directed the video for Michael Jackson’s Earth Song there in 1995 – took a detour from his usual work when he discovered perfectly preserved birds and bats on the shoreline. “I could not help but photograph them,” he says. “No one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, and like birds crashing into plate glass windows, they crash into the lake.”
When salt islands form in the lake, lesser flamingos take the opportunity to nest – but it is a risky business, as this calcified bird (top) illustrates. The animals are all arranged in poses by the photographer. Above, on the right we have a sea eagle and on the left a dove, in what is surely the most horrific depiction of the “bird of peace” since Picasso’s Guernica.
Brandt’s new collection of photos featuring animals in east Africa, Across the Ravaged Land, is published by Abrams Books.”
(Source: New Scientist)
And kinda terrifying.
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Meet your three new favorite sea sponges.
The “Cookie Monster of the sea,” who’s about three feet tall and squishy, may be our favorite undersea creature (well, creatures) since this piglet squid who was found a few years ago in California’s San Pedro Channel.
So we’ve been trying to get this mommy Basset Hound mix and her puppy adopted for around 2 weeks now. They have been through so much, from living on the streets to ending up lost and inside a animal shelter. And in this process the mommy lost a puppy :( but one still remains.
These dogs are such lovely creatures and deserve a wonderful home. Ive been fostering them for a week now, and today I start my second week that I will foster them.
It is hard for me to foster them because I have three other dogs that do not like the ones that I am fostering, but I try my best.
Anyway they are at the Petsmart in Alhambra, California from 3pm-8pm this coming weekend, and every weekend from now until they get adopted. Please spread the word and help me find these beautiful doggies a permanent and loving home. <3
((((( SIGNAL BOOST )))))
someone near LA please help.. take it from me there are no dogs more lovable than a basset.
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Selections from this year’s Masters of Nature Photography, a book published by Britain’s Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide featuring the winners of one of wildlife photography’s most prestigious contests.
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Cheer up, gloppy blobfish
You may have been voted the world’s ugliest endangered animal. Fine. You may look like a saggy old man who just dropped his ice cream cone. But you’re a winner! And maybe all of that publicity will help save your species.
Photo: Kerryn Parkinson / Australian Museum
It’s National Dog Day!
So of course, celebrate with some of our favorite pups.
Photos: Jens Meyer, ASPCA, Helen Woodward Animal Center / Associated Press, Cheryl A. Guerrero, Bob Chamberlin, Allen J. Schaben, Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times, Noah Seelam / AFP, Getty Images
Can anything save endangered rhino populations?
A startling 90% of Africa’s rhinos live in South Africa, where a new report comissioned by the government finds that anti-poaching efforts have largely failed. Last year, 668 rhinos were killed. So far this year, more than 500 have been poached.
Mavuso Msimang, the country’s resident rhino expert, paints a grim picture for the rhino’s future:
"The data suggest that the banning of legal open trade in rhino horn has not resulted in reduced demand for the horn and has thus not helped the objective of saving the rhino from imminent extinction. Escalation in the slaughter of rhino is proof of this. Consumers simply do not believe that rhino horn has no medicinal value."
So what can be done? The rhino horn trade is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the South African let loose its own stockpile of horns obtained by rhinos that passed away from natural causes in hopes of sending the price of horns in a freefall.
But that’s not to say that loosening restrictions on the rhino trade will work either, as Msimang’s critics point to South Africa’s rampant corruption as a cause for concern.
Photos: Stephane de Sakutin / AFP/Getty Images, Los Angeles Times
Aquatic adventures at the Aquarium of the Pacific
Our own Allen J. Schaben recently took to the enclosed seas at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Equipped with sea-ready photographic gear, he got a firsthand look at the 350,000-gallon Tropical Reef Habitat over a series of dives in June.
And from the sound of it, the whole aquarium scuba diving experience seems pretty great:
"Listening to the pneumatic hiss-whoosh of my own breathing, the various species of this marine world begin to appear. Sharks prowl sandy shoals. Bat rays with 4-foot wing spans soar overhead. Schools of fish whirl like glittering tornadoes. A Queensland grouper large enough to swallow me whole cruises past."
Look through Schaben’s entire experience, and find out how you can go on a dive of your own over at Framework.
Photos: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
A rare look into the world of the “Butterfly Whisperer”
Mark Williams is a well-known figure in the lepidopterist community, both as the founder of the Lepidopterists’ Society, and for his active role in the pursuit of rare and exotic butterflies.
Our own Robyn Dixon headed down to South Africa to document his work, including one particularly heated pursuit of the Lotana blue, a butterfly previously assumed to be extinct.
As for the issue of the butterfly faithful ultimately catching and killing individual endangered specimens? Williams says there’s no conflict inherent in the death needed for research.
"No knowledgeable lepidopterist would find it ironic. In fact, they would mostly likely be flabbergasted if voucher specimens were not collected," Williams said. "Five pairs of rhinoceroses, breeding remorselessly, would not reach a total population of a hundred in 10 years. Five pairs of African monarchs would reach about 36 million in six months. Laypersons don’t understand this, unfortunately."
His latest mission is the hunt to find the “holy grail” of South African butterflies, the Bashee River buff. Said Williams of his new mission:
"It’s 1 1/2 centuries it’s been missing. We don’t even know what the male looks like."
"The cost of the trip is around 20,000 rand [$2,000] to go and look for a butterfly that I might not even find," he said.
Read more in our latest Column One feature
Photos: Hannelie Coetzee / Los Angeles Times
World War II, chemical weapons and…bunny rabbits?
The pretty little island of Okunoshima is known for two things: It was there that the Japanese military once cooked up chemical weapons, a mission so guarded that the spot did not exist on official World War II-era maps. And it is totally overrun by fluffy bunny rabbits.
Read more on the dual identity of Okunoshima, which during WWII hosted extensive Japanese chemical weapons projects, and is now also known by tourists for its extensive rabbit population.
Photo: Emily Alpert / Los Angeles Times