Below are some very interesting facts about the environment, the species that inhabit it as well as environmental problems and solutions:
• Kingdom: Animalia
• A group of rhinoceros is called a ‘herd’ or a ‘crash’.
Here is a closer look at the five Rhino species:
· Their scientific name is Panthera tigris.
Having a whale of a time learning more about wonderful whales!
|Source: Whales Underwater|
Whales are some of the most amazing species living on this planet and inhabit all oceans of the world.
Here are wonderfully interesting facts about whales:
· Whales belong to the order cetacea, meaning they’re mammals that are fully adapted to aquatic life. They are descendants of land-living animals which returned to water after living millions of years in land.
· They are closely related to dolphins and porpoises.
· Whales are mammals - calves grow inside their mothers. They have hair—though very little of it!
· Like all mammals, whales breathe air into lungs, are warm-blooded (thus, they need to keep their body temperatures high), and feed their young milk.
· They all have flippers designed for swimming, a tail with flukes used for navigating the water and nasal openings (blowholes) for breathing.
· The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth. The biggest one recorded was a female in the Antarctic Ocean that was 30.5 m long (more than 3.5 times the length of a double-decker bus) with an estimated weight of 144 tonnes (about the weight of 2,000 men).
· A Cuvier's beaked whale has been recorded to dive to a depth of 3km for over 2 hours.
· The North Atlantic and North Pacific right whales are the most endangered as there are only about 400-500 North Atlantic individuals currently and fewer than 100 North Pacific right whales. The Western Pacific grey whale may be down to the last 150 whales.
· Beluga whales are known as the canaries of the sea as they make chirping sounds like the little yellow birds.
· The humpback whales that feed in Antarctic waters and swim north to breed off the coasts of Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica make one of the longest confirmed migration of any mammal.
· Sperm whales are seen as the loudest whales (they have been recorded making sounds at 230 decibels).
· Whales can’t sleep for very long as they have to remember to go to the surface for air as needed.
· In order to ensure that whales perform the basic functions to breathe, only one half of their brain will sleep at a time. Through this, they’re able to get the amount of rest that they need and still take care of this function that is necessary for their bodies to survive.
· Whales are believed to be the only mammals that are able to adapt to the changing environment in the waters. This is imperative due to the impact that humans have had on their natural living environment.
· They rely on layers of fat (called blubber) to help them stay warm. In order to generate it they’ll need to consume large amounts of food in the summer months. This way when they migrate to the warmer locations to stay warm they will have the insulation that they need. Most species of whales won’t eat as they migrate so they do lose some of that blubber in the process.
· Whales can have a life span between 40 and 100 years.
· Based on their physical characteristics these three groups are further separated into two suborders: Toothed Whales (the Odontoceti suborder) and Baleen Whales (the Mysticeti suborder).
· Distinctly, all Baleen Whales have two blowholes and Toothed Whales only have one. Because whales have to fill their lungs with air, they rely on a blowhole at the top of their body.
· Here are a few more distinctions between these two types of whales:
· It includes all species of dolphin and porpoise along with whales such as the sperm whale, killer whale (Delphinidae), beluga whale, and narwhal whale.
· They possess teeth and are capable of using echolocation to search for prey and navigate in low visibility areas.
· Strangely toothed whales are only born with one blowhole as opposed to the two blowholes that baleen whales possess. An assumption is that toothed whales developed one of their blowholes into an echolocation system to help them survive in the ocean.
· With regards to appearance, toothed whales characteristically have streamlined bodies designed for fast swimming, but some species do have stockier bodies than others.
· Their teeth are very sharp.
· When it comes to their teeth, the number of teeth that a toothed whale possesses can differ substantially.
· Some toothed whales may also have teeth that are present only in their lower jaw (e.g. the sperm whale).
· Not all toothed whales use teeth to hunt for food - some may only use their teeth to show aggression towards other whales or for self-defence and will consume their prey whole.
· The types of foods they consumes are dependent upon their location.
· Toothed Whales are carnivorous and they have teeth allowing them to easily hunt their prey. They prey on fish, squid, other whales, and marine mammals.
· It includes the humpback whale, bowhead whale, blue whale, and minke whale among other large (toothless) whales.
· They are generally larger than toothed whales both in terms of size and overall weight. However, they don’t have any teeth.
· It is comprised solely of whales that possess baleen plates with bristles.
· Due to a lack of teeth, they hunt for their food by sifting their prey out of the water with their baleen bristles by swimming towards their prey with their mouth open and catching their prey in the bristles which act like a filter by allowing water to escape while preventing their prey from being able to get out of the tightly packed bristles.
· Depending on the whales species, they may either continuously skim the water with its mouth open or lunge towards a large swarm of prey and attempt to capture as many fish or krill as they possibly can in a single gulp.
· When the whale has captured enough prey it will push the water out with its tongue and swallow the remaining food.
· They have a relatively small throat when compared to the size of its stomach and body and they keep to a diet that consists of small, easily consumable prey.
· They have a comb-like fringe, called a baleen, on the upper jaw, which is used to filter plankton, as well as small fish and crustaceans.
· They are frequently found in areas where high quantities of krill and other small digestible ocean animals can be found as they require a constant supply of prey to stay healthy and thrive in the ocean.
Depending on the whales species their physical appearance and features can change dramatically. Their bodies resemble the streamlined form of a fish, while the forelimbs or flippers are paddle-shaped. The tail fins, or flukes, enable whales to propel themselves through the water. Most species have a fin on their backs, more commonly known as a dorsal fin. Beneath the skin lies a layer of fat (blubber), serving as an energy reservoir and as insulation. They breathe through blowholes, located on the top of the head so the animal can remain submerged.
Habitat and Range
Whales live only in water, and tend to stay where it is warmer. This is the reason why they’re observed along the coasts during the winter months. They migrate to other regions so they can keep their body temperatures high enough. Whales live in all of the world's oceans, though their specific range varies by species. Many whales are leaving their natural habitat as a result of climate changes from global warming, humans being in their natural locations in boats, and even the fact that their food sources are becoming scarce in particular areas. Most of the larger giant whales do live in areas that are cold, including the Artic. This is due to the fact that they have a high volume of blubber to help with their body temperatures. There are subdivisions of these whale habitats in the Artic. Some of them live off shore where there isn’t any ice. They go deep enough into the waters, offering them more warmth than the areas that are dense and have ice on the top.
Whales are very large mammals so, unsurprisingly, they consume large amounts of food each day. The diet of whales depends on their species; it can range from microscopic plankton to large marine mammals. They are very good predators and find what they need to fill up on in the waters where they live. Even though, whales do prefer larger fish for their meals, they will resort to consuming the microscopic organisms found in the water if the food supply is scarce. Some types of whales have very large stomachs so they don’t eat every day (for example the Blue Whale can hold up to 2,200 pounds of food). The more aggressive predators (e.g. the Tooth Whales) eat larger fish and other aquatic life. Although, they do have teeth, most of them don’t use them to tear apart their food. Instead, they use the teeth for the killing process only and then end up swallowing their prey whole. The habits vary considerably based upon the species of whale and the region that they live in. Female whales produce milk in the mammary glands that they’re able to feed to their young.
Male whales are mature between 7 and 10 years of age. For females maturity occurs about 5 to 7 years of age. Since the gestation period ranges from 10 to 16 months, it depends on the type of whale and how far they migrate and what their migration time frame is. Males will come to other pods for the chance to mate with their females, reducing inbreeding among these mammals. A female that is mature will generally have a new calf every 2 or 3 years. They typically only give birth to one calf at a time. Twins can be found but this rarely occurs. The calves are born with their fins emerging first. The offspring are born during the migration process in most cases. Some of them consume up to 400 liters of milk every day. Others will consume about half of that amount. They’ll continue to feed from their mother for at least their first year. Thereafter, they will be taught to hunt so that they can get their own food. Generally a calf is about a quarter of the mother’s length. Thus, it means that some of the larger offspring (e.g. those from Blue Whales) will be bigger at birth than other whales will be when they’re fully mature. Young whales tend to have a very good chance of surviving to their own maturity.
Communication and Vocalizations
Whales have a very intriguing method of communicating known as echolocation. When you listen to the sounds that whales make to communicate, you will notice they are very unique. They are able to get their sounds to travel for miles as the sound waves move along in the water and get more power from bouncing off what is found in it. Then the sounds will echo back to the whale that sends them. This form of communication can go one mile each second. Their sounds are very unique. Clicks are part of the basis of such communication as it helps them to navigate through the waters. Since whales create small pods, there are communications that are varied in them. During this mating season, changes in the calls and communications among the whales occur.
Male humpback whales sing the most complex songs and have long, varied, eerie, and beautiful songs that include recognizable sequences of squeaks, grunts, and other sounds. The songs have the largest range of frequencies used by whales, ranging from 20-9,000 hertz. Only male humpback whales have been recorded singing. They sing these complex songs only in warm waters where they breed and give birth. In cold waters, they make rougher sounds, scrapes and groans, perhaps used for locating large masses of krill (the tiny crustaceans that they eat). Singing is another form of communication that only the humpback whales engage in. They are more apt to sing these songs when they are migrating and mating. It is almost like written lyrics that then come to a familiar chorus. These songs can be up to 30 minutes in length. The sounds can travel as far as 100 miles from the location of the humpback whale that created it.
The various whale communications increase during the mating season. The males often sing low songs to the females as a way to court them. These low songs serve as a warning to other males in the area though to stay away. It could be also mean that the female he is interested and lets other males know that they need to find someone else for their own interests.
Echolocation and Navigation
When it comes to navigating the ocean (whether to search for food or avoid collision with nearby objects in dark areas) the toothed whale suborder is capable of navigating the ocean and hunting for food using echolocation, allowing these whales to create sounds and determine the distance, size, density and speed of objects in the areas by interpreting the echo’s frequency and measuring the time it takes for the emitted sounds to come back to them. It also allows cetaceans to coordinate attacks with one another when searching for prey as it allows them to identify where their team is and what they are doing. Toothed whales keep track of the location of specific pod members as they swim below the oceans surface or travel in groups, which is particularly important when a mother wants to keep track of her child. While previously thought to be exclusive among the toothed whale species, research suggests that echolocation may also be present in some baleen whale species, but the extent and capabilities of echolocation among baleen whales remains unknown.
Whales have two primary seasons (with the exception of a few species) of migration that are known as feeding season and mating season. Depending on their location and the time of the year these marine mammals will migrate between the cold and warm climates during these two seasons. During feeding months (the colder months of the year) whales will travel to their local feeding grounds and spend their time consuming as much prey as possible.
Whales have no natural predators in the water and, thus, have been able to live for many years in the water if the conditions are right.
The social structure for whales is one that is very interesting. Whales have the ability to develop a social hierarchy, play games together, teach each other survival strategies and hunt in cohesive well-organized groups. They are avid communicators.
Generally the pods of whales are relaxed and friendly in nature, except during mating season. Many whales, especially baleen whales, tend to migrate long distances from their cold-water feeding grounds to warm-water breeding grounds each year. They travel alone or in groups, or pods, on their annual migrations. Toothed whales often hunt in groups, migrate together and share young-rearing duties.Most whales are quite active in the water. They jump high, or breach, out of the water and land back in the water. They also thrust their tails out of the water and slap the water's surface, which is believed to be a warning of danger nearby.
Humans and Whales
The future for whales could be in jeopardy due to the continual destruction of their living areas. As waste is allowed to pollute the waters that they live in they will become less populated. They also have to move to new locations when their own food sources move on. Consequently, they are more likely to get caught up in fixing nets and hit by boats.
Threats to Whales
Whales have also, like most marine creatures, felt the effects of climate change. Sea level rise and changes in sea temperature will leave whales considerably vulnerable, and they may not be able to adapt rapidly enough in order to survive. Moreover, higher water temperatures in the Antarctic Ocean are reducing populations of krill, a small-shrimp-like crustacean. This is the main food source for many large whale species. Whaling is one of the biggest threats to whales. Moreover, various species of small whales are caught as bycatch in fisheries for other species. Exposure to contaminants and pollution threaten whales.
Whales are considered one of the most intelligent animals on earth. Scientists have studied whale intelligence for decades and have learned a lot about their hunting methods, social structure, breeding habits and various other indicators related to what most people would consider social, survival and individual intelligence. Whales can communicate their desires such as wanting to play or an interest in mating, hunting strategies and the location of potential prey and warn other pod members of nearby threats such as sharks or killer whales as well as communicate other important aspects of their lives. When it comes to cetaceans that have developed close relationships with family and friends, these marine mammals can be seen protecting one another from predators and other potential threats. They show deep emotions in their ability to connect with others, morn death and celebrate vitality.
Annually, approximately 2000 whales end up beaching themselves and dying. While many beached whales end up stranded on a beach or sandy environment a whale can end up beaching itself anyplace where the ocean meets land. The causes of most beachings are generally as a result of sickness, a loss of direction, an injury or a deceased whale brought in by the tide. As a whale ends up stranding itself on land it ultimately dies due to dehydration, difficulty breathing (whales are extremely heavy and may be crushed by their own weight) or drowning caused by the high tides when water rises above the whale’s head preventing it from breathing through its blowhole.
BLUE WHALE - Balaenoptera musculus
· Blue Whales belong to the baleen category.
· The blue whale appears to be closer to a grayish blue rather than a deep blue color when at the surface of the water, but when it dives the light distortion of the water gives this whale its deep blue appearance.
· Blue Whales are very large whales that can measure up to 108 feet and weight about 190 tons.
· The tongue alone of a blue whale can weigh as much as an elephant!
· Their heart is about the size of a VW Beetle car and weighs up to 450kg (about the size of a VW Beetle car).
· The new-born calf is about 7.5 m long and weighs about 5.5 – 7.3 tonnes and drinks about 225 litres of its mother’s fat-laden milk (it is 40-50% fat) a day, gaining 3.7 kilograms an hour, until at age 8 months they are 15 m long and 22.5 tonnes!
· The mother and calf may stay together for a year or longer, until the calf is about 13 m long.
· Blue whales reach maturity at 10-15 years.
· Their call can reach levels up to 188 decibels and last up to 30 seconds.
The Blue Whale belongs to the baleen category. Blue Whales are very large whales that can measure up to 105 feet and weight about 190 tons. The Blue Whale is the largest of all the whales in the world. In fact, it is the largest mammal in the world. Yet it is also very slender due to the length of the body. It allows all of that weight to be evenly distributed. As a result, the Blue Whale can move very fast in the water. To help a Blue Whale move around with ease, they have very long flippers. They average from 10 to 13 inches in length when one is fully mature. They are able to move at a rate of about 30 miles per hour through the water when they want to. A normal pace for them though is more along the lines of 12 miles per hour.
Blue Whales tend to be the loners of the world of whales. Occasionally, a pair of them can be observed, but not more than that. Most frequently will be a mother and her baby. At times it may appear though that they form large clans, but it is due to the abundance of food in a given region though than their behaviors relating to interactions with each other. They can only remain under water for about 20 minutes before surfacing for air. As a result they are very often watched by those interested in seeing large sized whales.
They daily consume very large amounts of small krill and other life forms. They search for squid and will feed on it alone when it is plentiful. On average, they will daily consume about 8,000 pounds of food each day. Because baby Blue Whales consume anything from 100 to 150 gallons of milk from their mother each day, feeding them is a full time job.
There are several subspecies. Thus, they’re often misidentified as another type. They are mainly found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Some have been identified along the Indian Ocean as well. They used to be found in all the bodies of ocean water out there, but their numbers have dropped considerably.
They have a very long season when it comes to the mating process. It begins in the late autumn and runs through the winter. Females are mature at about 10 years and males are mature around 12 years of age. A female will have a calf every two or three years. The offspring are about 23 feet long at birth and can weigh up to three tons.
Conservations efforts have been in place for the Blue Whale since the 1960’s. Their numbers are now around 12,000. They can live a very long life of up to 80 years in the wild if such conservation efforts take place.
HUMPBACK WHALE – Megaptera novaeangliae
|Source: National Geographic Kids|
It’s one of the most recognized of them all due to the hump over the dorsal fin. They have an average size of 52 feet long. There is quite a difference in their sizes depending on location when it comes to weight. Those that live in cooler regions can be up to 40 tons whiles those in the tropical areas are about 30 tons. They have a very long tail that can be up to a third of body length. They have huge flippers that are often referred to as wings do to the position of them as they leap out of the water. Their heart has four chambers.
They tend to do plenty of great moves and flips in the air effortlessly as they rise to the surface for air. Another characteristic is to lift up the head and not the rest of the body, giving the appearance that they are very curious about their surroundings. They are extremely social, and sing louder than most other. Their songs can be heard for several miles. They form very small and intimate groups and stay in the same groups for most of their lives, too.
They have a more detailed feeding system than any other whale. They feature grooves on the throat, allowing it to open up and to expand when they eat, thereby taking in huge amounts of water. The filtering system keeps the food and pushes the water out. They’re seasonal feeders. They cut down to almost nothing when they migrate. They consume from 3,000 pounds of food daily if available. They have a very detailed system within their pod to help them with hunting for food, called bubble net feeding. They create a circle under the water with their bodies and then blow bubbles. The bubbles trap the small sea life that they would like to consume. This mass of prey will rise up and then they eat it with ease. This is particularly helpful since they don’t swim very fast (up to 9 miles per hour), but they can reach up to 16 miles per hour at times.
They are generally found at the surface of the ocean waters. They migrate long distances. Because they move slowly, it takes them a while to complete the process. However, they do move steadily towards their destination with almost no time to stop and rest.
After conception it can be close to 11.5 months before the calf is born. Caring for these calves can be hard though due to them consuming many gallons of milk every day. Their mating process is somewhat unknown, except for the deep, eerie songs that the males will belt out for courting process of it.
Gloomily, there are very few Humpback Whales left. It is estimated that there can’t be more than 15,000 of them in the world. Conservation efforts have been initiated to help them to climb back up there. One can live up to 50 years in the wild if they have the umbrella of protection that they need.
GRAY WHALES - Eschrichtius robustus
They are the second largest whale. They migrate huge distances. In fact, some may even rival the humpback for distance travelled. Some travel a round-trip of between 16,000–20,000 km (10,000–12,400 miles) every year between their winter calving lagoons in the warm waters of Mexico and their summer feeding grounds in the cold Arctic seas, however a female grey whale has recently been recorded as having made an even longer round-trip of 22,500km (14,000 miles) migrating between the east coast of Russia and the breeding grounds of Mexico. In its lifetime (that’s about 40 years), they travel a distance that is equivalent to going to the moon and back!
Despite their size, the fin whale is known as the "greyhound of the sea". They can reach speeds of up to 20mph (32kph)! Whales have their own hierarchy in their groups that is very closely followed. They are excellent parents to their offspring and they are able to communicate with a variety of sounds. They value their relationships with each other.
The physical design of the whale is very complex yet this why they are able to survive in the water. Nevertheless, they have some characteristics that make them quite familiar in various ways. They primarily depend on their flippers and their dorsal fins to help them move in the water and to stay balanced. They have blowholes at the top of them where they take in air. Then they can be submerged under the water for a period of time before they need to take another breath.
NARWHAL WHALE - Monodon monoceros
The Narwhal Whale is a toothed whale. It fits in about the mid-range when it comes to sizes of whales. One of their dissimilar characteristics for the males is a tusk that is very long and straight along the jaw. Mature males are up to 3,500 pounds with females much smaller at 1,800 pounds. When they are young, they are black and white but by the time they are mature they will be completely white with some patches.
They can dive very deeply in order to help regulate the body temperature as the water will be warmer where it is deeper. They can spend a lot of time underneath thick sheets of ice too before they have to find a crack in it for air or come completely to the surface. They can dive from
2,600 feet to 4,900 feet. They are social mammals and gather in large groups. There are normally 10 to 15 in a clan. When there are several males, they may rub tusks with each other in a manner. While they migrate seasonally, they have a very short distance that they follow. This is believed to be due to the specific foods that they consume. They are more precise about what they consume than most other forms of whales out there.
They have a very specialized diet and this is why they don’t migrate. Some of the most popular foods that they consume include cod, halibut, squid, and shrimp. Their diet will depend on what time of year it happens to be. In the winter months they will consume what are known as flatfish under the layers of ice. One of the biggest threats out there to this particular type of whale is global warming. As the layers of ice in this area melt there is less of a food selection. Climate changes can make it hard for them to find enough food to survive on at times.
You will mainly find the Narwhal Whale out there around the Artic areas. They have been found to reside around Canada and Russia. The most recent count is approximately 75,000 of them.
Very little is actually known about the reproduction process for the Narwhal Whale. This is due to the time of year when they do it and the limited access available to humans in such remote areas. It is believed that the gestation period is from 10 to 16 months in length. It is also believed that the young only nurse from 4 to 6 months rather than the first year of life which is standard for whales.
SPERM WHALE - Physeter macrocephalus
|Source: Smithsonian Magazine|
· It’s the largest of all toothed whales.
· When people observe a sperm whale, they usually think of the story of Moby Dick.
· Sperm whales are great divers as adults can stay underwater for almost two hours and dive to depths of 2,000 metres or more. They eat squid, which can live very deep in the ocean, so sperm whales have to dive down into the deepest parts of the sea to catch them.
· The sperm whale’s huge head (it is up to a third of its overall body length, houses the heaviest brain in the animal kingdom - up to 9kg).
The Sperm Whale is the largest of toothed whales, and many people immediately think of the story of Moby Dick when they see one. It is well known for the grayish color that it features. The unique body design also offers a very large head with rows of sharp teeth. Full grown, one is about 67 feet in length and will weigh close to 56 tons. They only have one blowhole and a brain that weighs close to 20 pounds. This is the largest brain of any animal on Earth. The flippers of the Sperm Whale are extremely large. They get their name from the fact that they produce Spermaceti Oil. This is produced in their heads.
It holds the record for being able to dive deeper than any other whale. It can go to the depths of 3,300 feet. They form pods with very strong emotional bonds. It is very interesting to observe how they interact with each other and how they care for one another. They nurture their young and even care for those that have been injured or become ill. Many people think that the Sperm Whale is very lazy. It often is seen engaging in a behavior called logging. This is a position where they remain just below the surface of the water. The tail will be completely submerged though. They simply float in this position and are very calm. They are often seen moving at a speed of about 3 miles per hour. However, they can move close to 25 miles per hour for short periods of time if necessary. A sperm whale's sound lasts for only around 100 microseconds (a microsecond is 1 millionth of a second).
The fact that the Sperm Whale can dive so deep helps tremendously when it comes to feeding. They are bottom feeders and easily access what is at the bottom of the waters. Common prey includes squid, fish, eels, and even an occasional octopus. Many Sperm Whales have been noted to have scars all over their heads. They are believed to be the result of squid that attack when they are going to be eaten. They can easily consume up to a ton of food daily. They are often heard making sounds in the waters. It was once thought that these were only to communicate with each other. It is now believed that some of these sounds are actually used to attract prey to them in the murky waters where they don’t have good visibility.
You will find the Sperm Whales in most oceans out there. They enjoy both the tropical and the cooler bodies of water.
Female Sperm Whales only have offspring every 5 years so with low numbers of them it is hard for them to increase. Other females will assist with the birth which is quite fascinating for animals to be a part of. These calves drink milk for up to two years which is twice as long as other baby whales.
The females are very protective of their young. The work together to make sure that they are well cared for to. One or two of the females will dive to bring food to the young while other females care for all of them. The young can’t dive as deeply for food due to their need to surface frequently for air. As it gets older that capacity will increase and they can get their own food.
Since the Sperm Whale is endangered, there are plenty of conservation efforts out there for it. There are about 200,000 of them remaining at this time. However, it is easier now that the demand for oil from whales has dramatically diminished. Their numbers initially dropped though due to aggressive hunting by whalers.
BELUGA WHALE - Delphinapterus leucas
|Source: National Geographic Kids|
Belugas are toothed whales. They’re about 13-15 feet in length. It has a whitish color and has a type of formation to the head that is sticking out slightly. It is a toothed whale and has quite a bit of flexibility for movement around the head. The males can weigh up to 3,500 pounds with the females smaller at around 2,600. Many people mistakenly believe that it has a dorsal fin, but it’s categorized as a ridge instead of a fin. They have short flippers and a long tail. The older they get, the longer the tail will become. Adult beluga whales are easily distinguished by their often pure white skin, their small size and their lack of dorsal fin. Belugas have a broad, rounded head and a large forehead. They have a five-inch-thick layer of blubber and a tough dorsal ridge that helps them travel through sea ice waters. They have broad, paddle-like flippers and notched tails. Unlike other cetaceans, belugas can move their head up, down, and side-to-side because their cervical vertebrae are not fused. This adaptation is believed to help them manoeuvre and catch prey in silt-laden or ice-covered areas.
They have a very high pitched sound, used for socializing. Interestingly, they spend more time interacting with each other than any other type of whale. The males are inclined to form large clans with thousands of them during migrations. Females along with their babies form their own clans but tend to keep them smaller in size. They remember their mothers and bond year after year. They can dive thousands of feet into the waters. Most of the time, they stay closer to the top. They have to surface for air approximately every 20 minutes. They will dive deep in order to find food as they can get down and back up very quickly. Belugas forage for food in the water column and on the seabed, typically takes place at depths of up to 1,000 feet, but they can dive to at least twice this depth. Belugas congregate and travel in groups from 2-3 to as many as several hundred.
Belugas are known to use sound to find their prey. They swim slowly so that it can find the food it desires, consisting mainly of fish. During the migration process, their pattern tends to follow the salmon. But, they do consume crab, squid, and even shrimp when it’s available. They are opportunistic feeders, feeding on salmon, eulachon, tomcod, smelt, char, rainbow sole, whitefish, saffron and arctic cod, herring, shrimp, mussels, octopus, crabs, clams, mussels, snails, and sandworms.
Distribution and range
They are well adapted to their arctic and sub-arctic environment. They are mainly found in Russia, Canada, Alaska, and Greenland and move to shallow bays during summers. They do migrate quite a distance in the winter though to get to warmer waters. They’re able to find cracks in the ice so that they can get air as needed when they come up from the depths of the water. They’re distributed throughout seasonally ice-covered arctic and subarctic waters. They inhabit waters off the shores of Russia, Greenland, Canada, Norway, and the United States (Alaska). They are found close to shore or in the open sea. During the summer months in some areas they gather in the estuaries of rivers to feed and calve. Some are migratory within their limited range, while others remain residents of a specific area.
They also use sound to communicate and navigate by producing a variety of clicks, chirps and whistles.
The majority of the time, the females can conceive from February and May. The baby will nurse from its mother for about 2 years before venturing on its own. Young belugas are usually dark grey in color. The grey progressively lightens as they grow up - reaching their permanent color by the age of seven for females and nine for males. Calves nurse for about two years. The mating season is from late winter to early spring. The gestation period is 15 months and the number of offspring is one calf.
Although it’s difficult for an accurate count as they’re so widely distributed, it is estimated that their numbers are in the hundreds of thousands.
All of these whales found in Alaska are protected due to them being on the endangered species list. They can survive in the wild for about 50 years, but there are less than 100,000. This particular whale has a predator other than humans which is rare: they’re often hunted by polar bears and killer whales. They biggest conservation efforts involve keeping the waters free from pollution.
Because they eat marine species that are most common each season, they play an imperative role in the health of the overall ecosystem. Furthermore, they are one of Alaska’s most well-known marine animals and a key draw for tourists and residents traveling along the coastal areas in the state.
Some of the other species include:
The fin whale (nicknamed the razorback) is the second largest animal in the world.
The smallest of the baleen category is the Minke Whale. They aren’t likely to be more than 30 feet long or to weigh more than 7 tons.
They are dark black in color most of the time. Some of them are a dark gray. There are two species of the Pilot whale, but it is often very hard to tell them apart.
They can weigh up to 100 tons as well as be up to 60 feet long.
|Source: Australia Animal Learning Zone|
Today the bowhead whale is also called with several other names including Greenland right whale, Arctic whale, polar whale, steeple-top and Russian whale.
|Source: Animilia Life|
• Class: Mammalia• Order: Perissodactyla
• Family: Rhinocerotidae
• There are five species of rhino and 11 subspecies of rhino: three are from southern Asia (Indian (greater one-horned), Javan and Sumatran Rhinoceros) and two are from Africa (Black and White Rhinoceros).
• White rhinos: Ceratotherium simum (southern white rhinoceros), Ceratotherium cottoni (northern white rhinoceros). IUCN lists these as subspecies of Ceratotherium simum.
• Black rhinos: Diceros bicornis.
Subspecies: Diceros bicornis bicornis, Diceros bicornis brucii, Diceros bicornis chobiensis, Diceros bicornis ladoensis, Diceros bicornis longipes, Diceros bicornis michaeli, Diceros bicornis minor, Diceros bicornis occidentalis.
• Sumatran rhinos: Dicerorhinus sumatrensis.
Subspecies: Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrisoni, Dicerorhinus sumatrensis lasiotis, Dicerorhinus sumatrensis sumatransis.
• Javan rhinos: Rhinoceros unicornis.
• Greater one-horned rhinos: Rhinoceros sondaicus.
Subspecies: Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus, Rhinoceros sondaicus inermis, Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus.
PopulationCurrent estimated populations for each species are:
• White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum): 20,165
• Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis): 4,880
• Indian Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis): 3,624
• Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis): 140 - 210
• Javan Rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus): 35 - 45
The name rhinoceros means ‘nose horn’. It comes from the Greek words rhino (nose) and ceros (horn).
• Rhino species go back at least 50 million years. Some of the world’s first rhinos didn’t have horns and roamed through North America and Europe.
• They have a lifespan of about 35 to 40 years.
• They have an extended “vocabulary” of snorts, grunts, growls, squeaks, and bellows.
• The largest rhino species is the white rhino and is the second largest land mammal after the elephant. Adult males weighing up to a massive 3.6 tons.
• The average rhino measures about 60 inches at the shoulder and can weigh form 1 to 2 tons.
• The smallest rhino species is the Sumatran rhino.
• Rhinos are odd-toed (three toes) ungulates, which mean they are mammals that have hooves.
• Rhinos are more closely related to horses than hippos.
• The rhino has a symbiotic relationship (where two animals work together to help each other) with oxpecker. It picks parasitic ticks out of the rhino’s skin. It even creates a commotion when it senses danger which then alerts the rhino. The bird also screech loudly when humans approach.
• For all its bulk, the rhino is very agile and can quickly turn in a small space. Rhinos can run about 40 miles per hour and only run on their toes.
• Relative to their large body size, rhinoceros have small brains.
• Rhinoceros have thick, sensitive skin due to sunburns and insect bites.
• Rhinos have poor eyesight (they will sometimes charge without an apparent reason), but very well-developed senses of olfaction (smell) and hearing. They find each other by following the trail of scent they leave behind on the landscape.
• A rhino finds it difficult to detect someone standing only a hundred feet away if the individual remains still. But if that person makes the faintest sound or the rhino is able to smell the person, it will certainly detect him, even at a far distance.
• They have specialised upper lips, which is prehensile (capable of grasping). It is adapted for feeding from shrubs which it strips the leaves and shoots from.
• Their horns can grow as much as three inches (eight centimetres) a year.
• Rhinoceros horns are made from a protein called keratin. It is the same substance that fingernails and hair are made of. Strong mineral deposits run up the core of a rhino's horn, similarly like a stick through a popsicle.
• Black rhinos, white rhinos and Sumatran rhinos have two horns. Javan rhinos and greater one-horned rhinos have one.
• They use their horns in battles for territory or females, and to defend themselves from lions, tigers and hyenas.
• Specifically, females use their horns to protect their young, while males use them to battle attackers.
• They can’t sweat and will roll in mud or dust to keep it cool as well as provide them with a protective coating of mud against biting insects.
• Females use their horns to protect their young, while males use them to battle attackers.
• Rhinos can grow to over 6 feet tall and more than 11 feet in length.
• The difference in lip shape of the black and white rhino is related to their diets.
Habitat and Range
Rhinos are found in parts of Africa and Asia. Their preferred habitat varies, from savannas to dense forests in tropical and subtropical regions. Black and white rhinos are found primarily in the southern and eastern countries of Africa. The white rhino’s habitat is the grassland and open savanna. The black rhino lives mainly in areas with dense, woody vegetation.
Sumatran rhinos are found only in small areas of Malaysian and Indonesian swamps and rain forests. Javan rhinos were once found in a number of Asian countries. But they only live in Indonesia and Vietnam nowadays.
The Indian rhino (Greater one-horned rhino) once roamed across most of the Indian subcontinent, but today is only found in in the swamps and rain forests of northern India and southern Nepal.
Rhinos live in home ranges that occasionally overlap. Feeding grounds, water holes and wallows (water where rhinos wallow in the mud) are frequently shared.
No known rhino species have ever inhabited the South American or Australian continents.
DietThey are herbivores (consume vegetation only). They need to have a tremendous amount to fill their large bodies. They need to live within 5 km of water as they need to drink water daily. In dry conditions they will dig for water using their forefeet. As a result of the structure of their mouths, they can’t easily graze compared to other animals. Instead, they tear up and eat clumps of long grasses. Their snouts are differently shaped to accommodate dissimilar types of food. For example, black rhinos mostly eat trees or bushes as their long lips enable them to pick leaves and fruit from up high. White rhinos have flat, square-shaped snouts and are ideally suited to graze on grass.
• They are territorial animals. They use scent as a signal, spraying urine along paths and using communal dung heaps to mark their territory.
• Rhinos make use of dung piles or middens and scrapes (spray-urination sites). The middens are used by more than one rhino and by both black and white rhino.
• A dominant male rule over an area of land but the male will allow some sub-dominate males to live on his territory. Females roam freely around several different territories.
• Though rhinos are often solitary, they do occasionally form groups.
• Rhinos are ill-tempered especially when they are constantly disturbed.
• Rhinos communicate with squeaks, snorts and grunts (and poop).
• When rhinos are happy, they make a loud "mmwonk" sound with their mouths.
• When rhinos spend time with their young and other rhinos, their behaviour is more gentle and playful.
• Rhinos spend their days and nights grazing and only sleep during the hottest parts of the day.
• Under the hot African sun, white rhinos take cover by lying in the shade.
• Rhinos are also wallowers: When they aren't eating, they find a suitable water hole and enjoy a cooling mud soak. Rhinos rely on mud to protect their skin from biting pests and the blistering sun.
• Rhino use their horns for self-defence and attacking opponents or predators. When attacking, the rhino lowers its head, snorts, breaks into a gallop reaching speeds of 30 miles an hour, and gores or strikes powerful blows with its horns.
• Some rhinos use their teeth – not their horns – for defence.
• A breeding ritual is undertaken by the male rhino to attract a female: He brushes his horn over the ground, charge at bushes, rushes back and forth and frequently sprays urine. They usually fight during courtship, sometimes leading to serious wounds inflicted by their horns. A female frequently, and aggressively, reject them but then later succumbs. After mating, the pair goes their separate ways.
• They mate at any time of the year.
• Every two and a half to five years, a female rhino will reproduce.
• Female rhinos carry their young for a gestation period of 15 to 16 months.
• They usually have one calf. Sometimes they have twins.
• They can actually walk 10 minutes after they are born.
• At birth, they are quite big, at 88 to 140 lbs (40 to 64 kg).
• Although they nurse for a year, calves are able to begin eating vegetation one week after birth.
• The closest rhino relationship is between a female and her calf. Mother rhinos are very nurturing but will protect their calves fiercely and will keep it hidden for a couple of weeks due to the fear of being trampled on.
• The young stay with them until they are approximately 3 years old.
• As they mature, it may leave its mother and join other females and their young, where it is tolerated for some time before living completely on its own.
• A spotted hyena and lions are serious threats.
• Loss of habitat has also played a significant role in decreasing rhino population numbers.
• But human beings are the deadliest of all. Rhinos rank among the most endangered species on Earth and are threatened to extinction due to poaching. They are killed for their horns, which are sold in the illegal wildlife trade.
• For the Sumatran rhino in particular, over-hunting has occurred for such a long time that the remaining population is broken into disconnected groups, unable to breed and to continue adding to the species genetic diversity.
• Three of the five rhinoceros species are listed as being critically endangered (the list's highest risk category). These are Black, Javan and Sumatran Rhinoceros. They have a 50% chance of becoming extinct in three generations.
• Even though conservation has been successful, a lot can still be done to ultimately bring back the Rhino population to what it once was so that they can thrive and avoid being lost forever.
Here is a closer look at the five Rhino species:
• The white rhino’s name comes from the Dutch word “weit” which means wide and is talking about their wide, square muzzle. The name of the white rhino is sometimes said to be a corruption of the Dutch word “wijd” but nobody really knows where the names come from.
• They are also the largest land mammal after the elephant.
• They are the largest rhino species and can weigh over 3500 kg (7700 lb). It grows to 12 to 13 feet (3.7 to 4 meters) long and up to 6 feet (1.8 m) from hoof to shoulder. It weighs around 5,000 lbs. (2,300 kilograms). A white rhino can stand 6 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh almost 8 thousand pounds or the same as 50 average-sized men. The white rhino grows to 1.8m and weighs over two tons.
• White rhinoceroses are grey.
• White rhinos live on Africa's grassy plains.
• They are the most abundant rhino species. But about 11,000 white rhinos survive in the wild, and many organizations are working to protect this much loved animal. The white rhino once roamed much of sub-Saharan Africa, but today is on the verge of extinction due to poaching.
• White rhinos are "near threatened," which means they may be considered threatened by extinction in the near future.
• Southern white rhinos have an increasing population; there are 20,405 southern white rhinos. However, the northern white rhino is considered "extinct" in the wild.
• The white rhino has a wide mouth. It has a squared lip. The white rhino has a long, flat upper lip perfect for grazing on grasses. They mainly eat grass and can even eat plants that are toxic to other animals. White rhinos graze on grasses, walking with their enormous heads and squared lips lowered to the ground.
• White rhino have long necks and wide mouths for eating grass.
• They have two horns on their head. The longer horn sits on top of the nose. A white rhino's horns are slightly smaller than a black rhino’s. The foremost more prominent than the other.
• The prominent horn for which rhinos are so well known has been their downfall. Many animals have been killed for this hard, hair-like growth
• White rhino tends to be much more social and lives in groups as many as a dozen individuals. They live in extended family groups, particularly females and their calves, and can sometimes be seen in large numbers.
• Females reproduce only every two and a half to five years. Their single calf does not live on its own until it is about three years old.
• White rhino groups stand in a circle facing outwards to form a barricade with calves near the centre.
• The Black Rhino is also called the Hook-lipped Rhinoceros.
• They are grey. Interestingly, they frequently assume the colour of the local soil in which they wallow.
• Adults roam within specific areas, called home ranges or territories.
• They are solitary animals and usually live by itself except for females and their offspring.
• Black rhino are shy, keeping to thicker bushy areas.
• They are active mainly at night.
• Black rhinos feed at night and during the dawn and dusk. They do more of their feeding and drinking during the cool hours of the night than during the day.
• Under the hot African sun, they take cover by lying in the shade.
• The black rhino has a pointed upper lip.
• They have short necks and hooked lips which make browsing branches easier.
• It has a hooked lip which allows it to feed on trees and shrubs. Black rhinos are browsers that get most of their sustenance from eating trees and bushes. They use their lips to pluck leaves and fruit from the branches.
• They are browsers, using their pointed upper lips like a miniature elephant trunk to twist off low-growing branches of trees and shrubs. Black rhinos are browsers that get most of their sustenance from eating trees and bushes. They use their lips to pluck leaves and fruit from the branches.
• They eat woody trees, shrubs and herbs.
• They must drink at least every two to three days. If succulent plants form a large part of their diet, they can go without drinking for longer.
• It’s the most aggressive species of its family.
• Despite their enormous bulk, they can charge at great speeds of 50km per hour. Black rhino are the fastest kind of rhino with a top speed of 55km/ hour.
• They stop growing when they are about seven years old.
• They have two horns. The foremost more prominent than the other.
• The front horn can grow to 20 to 51 inches (51 to 130 centimeters), while the rear horn can grow to about 20 inches.
• The longer horn sits on top of the nose.
• Black rhino grow to 1.6m tall, weigh up to 1 400kg.
• Black rhinos fight each other and have the highest rate of death among mammals in fights among the same species. Fifty per cent of males and 30% of females die from these intra-species fights.
• Females reproduce only every two and a half to five years. Their single calf does not live on its own until it is about three years old.
• They use a variety of sounds to convey emotion: snorts for anger, huffs for greetings and even confused squeaks. They also leave behind piles of pungent droppings to mark territory.
• They are sometimes bad-tempered, but are actually just shy and inquisitive. They will run towards anything unusual in their surroundings, but usually run away if they smell humans.
• Some individual rhinos are very nervous and a female with a calf will charge anything she considers a potential threat.
• The black rhino once roamed most of sub-Saharan Africa, but today is on the verge of extinction due to poaching.
|Source: Rainforest Alliance|
• They are also known as the Sunda Rhino or the lesser one-horned rhino.
• It is the world’s rarest land mammal.
• The Javan Rhino is only found in the lowland tropical rainforests of one location in the world, the Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia.
• It used to roam all over Asia from northern India, through to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and another Indonesian island, Sumatra.
• They are herbivores (only eat vegetation). They eat a huge variety of different leaves, young shoots and twigs that grow in unshaded areas and they eat a lot of it.
• It is estimated that they eat up to 50kg (110lb) every day.
• It has a pointed upper lip that helps it to grab food.
• They have a single horn measuring up to 20 cm long.
• The Rhino uses its horn to scrape mud from the sides of wallows, to get food from plants and to protect its head when travelling through thick vegetation.
• If the horn breaks off it will just grow back.
• They are smaller than the Indian Rhino but still weigh about 1.5- 2.3 tonnes.
• They have grey or grey- brown skins with thick folds, making them appear like they are wearing armour for battle. But, as they spend the day bathing in mud holes most of the time their skin will appear black.
• The Javan Rhino is a shy animal.
• Instead of sound, the Javan Rhino communicates with the sense of smell using dung heaps and urine spraying. Sometimes, they drag the dung with their hind foot for several meters. They us their dung and urine to communicate instead of sound.
• Pregnancy of a Javan Rhino lasts between 16-19 months.
• Sadly, these ancient beasts are becoming ever so rare with only 60 individuals left in the wild.
• In the wild they can live up to 35-40 years.
• They are classified as Critically Endangered.
• The Sumatran Rhino is also known as Hairy Rhino or Asian Two-Horned Rhino.
• The remaining populations can be found in the hilly areas of tropical rainforests on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Kalimantan province of Borneo.
• They used to roam parts of Asia from India to Thailand, Lao, Cambodia and the Indonesian islands, Java and Borneo.
• It is the smallest and the hairiest of the of the rhino family.
• They weigh approximately 800 kg (1760lbs) which is less than half of the African Rhino and only grow to around 1.5 meters (5 feet). It grows to 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3 m) long and up to 4.8 feet (1.5 m) from hoof to shoulder. It weighs around 1,765 lbs. (800 kg).
• Usually, their reddish-brown skin is covered in patches of short, dark coarse hair with longer, thicker hair around their ears and tail.
• It is the only Asian rhino that has two horns.
• The larger horn known as the “nasal” or “anterior” horn grows from the nose, measuring between 15 - 25 cm (5.9 - 9.8 in). The other, much smaller horn is located between the eyes called the “posterior” horn only measuring about 10cm (3.9 inches). a Sumatran rhinos horns are about 10 to 31 inches (25 to 79 cm) for the front and less than 3 inches (7 cm) for the rear.
• Their horns help them to pull down vegetation to eat and for scraping mud from the sides of wallows. They will eat leaves, twigs, bark and fruit, but they have also a bit of a sweet tooth for mangos and figs.
• They are solitary and territorial animals. Males will claim up to 5000 hectares as home turf, sometimes overlapping territory with females, who claim 1000-1500 hectares.
• To avoid bumping into each other they will mark their territory with dung and urine, and by scraping the ground with their feet.
• They can live for up to 30-40 years in the wild, but as they are so rare this is only an estimate.
• Sumatran Rhinos will only give birth to one calf at a time. In the wild, Sumatran Rhinos can give birth every 3-4 years but in captivity it is very rare.
• Calves will stay with their mothers for 16- 17 months. Sometimes, after leaving their mothers, young Sumatran Rhinos will join together before braving the solo lifestyle.
• The Sumatran Rhino is Critically Endangered. However, like its cousins, the Black Rhino and the Javan Rhino, they have been aggressively poached for their horn putting their survival at risk.
• The Sumatran Rhino has been roaming planet Earth longer than any other living mammal, but time is running out for these ancient creatures.
• They are most active at dawn and dusk, during their meal times.
• After a long hard feeding session, they will spend most of their time relaxing in mud baths.
• They bathe for between 80 and 300 minutes every day! This mud wallowing is an essential pastime as if it helps them keep cool and protects their skin from diseases and insects.
• Their favourite pastime is wallowing in mud baths where they relax for up to 300 minutes per day!
• Fewer than 250 are left in the wild.
• The Sumatran rhino is the closest living relative of the ancient woolly rhino.
Greater one-horned Rhino
• The greater one-horned rhino's horn is 8 to 24 inches (20 to 61 cm).
• When a greater one-horned rhino is threatened it slashes and gouges with its long, sharp incisors and canine teeth of its lower jaw.
• The greatest concentrations or densities are in India’s Kaziranga National Park, where visitors can typically see more than a dozen individuals at one time and as many as 50 in a single day!
• They are vulnerable as they may become endangered unless circumstances improve.
• The total population estimate in 2007 was 2,575 individuals, according to the IUCN.
• Fortunately, their population is increasing; there are 3,333 greater one-horned rhinos in the world.
· Their scientific name is Panthera tigris.
· Their status is Endangered.
· They are renowned for their power and strength.
· The tiger it is one of nature’s most feared predators as they are capable of killing animals over twice their size.
· Tigers have been known to reach the age of 26 years in the wild.
· They are very good swimmers and have been known to kill prey while swimming. They often cool off in lakes and streams during the heat of the day.
· The roar of a Bengal tiger can carry for over 2km at night.
· Tigers are powerful and fast over short distances.
· They rely primarily on sight and sound rather than smell.
· All tigers can purr, but only as they breathe out, unlike their tame, domestic relatives which purr as they breathe both in and out.
· Tigers are the largest members of the cat family.
· They sport long, thick reddish coats with white bellies and white and black tails.
· Their heads, bodies, tails, and limbs have narrow black, brown, or grey stripes.
· Within each subspecies, males are heavier than females.
· Tigers use their distinctive coats as camouflage (no two have the same stripes).
· Tigers used to roam across most of Asia. Historic tiger range ran from Turkey through South and Southeast Asia to the far eastern shores of the continent.
· They are now restricted to just 7% of their original range, in isolated forests across 13 countries, and are only found in South and Southeast Asia, China and the Russian Far East.
· Tigers occupy a variety of habitats from tropical forests, evergreen forests, woodlands, and mangrove swamps to grasslands, savannah, and rocky country.
· In the early 1900s, there were around 100,000 tigers throughout their range.
· Today, an estimated total of around 3,000 exist in the wild.
· Tigers live alone and aggressively scent-mark large territories to keep their rivals away. The size of the territory is determined mostly by the availability of prey.
· Although individuals do not patrol their territories, they visit them over a period of days or weeks and mark their domain with urine.
· Tigers mostly live solitary lives, except during mating season and when females bear young.
· They typically hunt alone and stalk prey.
· A Bengal tiger can eat 21kg of meat in a night and can kill the equivalent of 30 buffaloes a year.
· One tiger nearly requires to eat an average magnitude deer each week to sustain itself.
· The tiger relies heavily on its powerful teeth for survival. If it loses its canines (tearing teeth) through injury or old age, it can no longer kill and is likely to starve to death.
· They are ambush predators that rely on the camouflage their stripes provide.
· They are powerful nocturnal (more active at night) hunters that travel far to find buffalo, deer, wild pigs, and other large mammals. It also preys on monkeys, lizards, and occasionally porcupines.
· If the kill is large, the tiger may drag the remains to a thicket and loosely bury it with leaves, then return to it later.
|Source: NBC Washington|
· In tropical climates the mating season is mostly from around November to April; during the winter months in temperate regions.
· Tigers attain sexual maturity at age three or four for females and at four or five years for males.
· Gestation: 103 days.
· On average, tigers give birth to two or three cubs every two years.
· Females raise cubs with little or no help from the male.
· Cubs follow their mother out of the den at around 8 weeks and become independent at around 18 months of age.
· They leave their mothers at about 2 ½ years and disperse to find their own territory.
· Mothers guard their young from wandering males that may kill the cubs to make the female receptive to mating.
· If all the cubs in one litter die, a second litter may be produced within five months.
· Juvenile mortality is high —about half of all cubs do not survive more than two years.
· Bengal tiger: Less than 2,000
|Source: Tigers world|
· Indochinese tiger: 750-1,300
· Siberian tiger: Around 450
|Source: Tigers in Crisis|
· Sumatran tiger: 400-500
· Malayan tiger: 600-800
|Source: A-Z Animals|
· South Chinese tiger: Extinct in the wild
· Caspian tiger: Extinct
· Javan tiger: Extinct
· Bali tiger: Extinct
GREAT WHITE SHARK
|Source: Kids Konnect|
Other names for this lethal predator include: White Death, Great Pointer or White shark.
Scientific Name Carcharodon Carcharias
|Source: NSW Government|
It is well-known for its size, reaching upwards of 6.4m (21 ft) in length. Females are larger than males. Their weight limit is approximately 3,000 kg (7,000 lb). It is the fourth largest shark, following the megamouth shark, the basking shark and the whale shark.
It's famous for its dark to light grey upper body and all white lower half. To a seal swimming on the surface, the shark would resemble the murky depths below it and if seen from below, the stark white belly would resemble the light from above, known as countershading.
|Source: Mirror UK|
It has a long pointed conical snout, similarly sized upper and lower lobes of the tail and a mouth filled with serrated teeth. The jaws of the sharks are lined with rows of teeth just beneath the gum. It is composed of nearly pure muscle, with very little fat. It stores fat in the liver for emergency use or for travelling long distances without eating.
The Great White’s behaviour is not well known. But some have been found to have bites matching other Great Whites, suggesting that a proximity warning is given with a light bite. Spy hopping is frequently done as the shark breaks the surface of the water and looks above the ocean for prey. Research suggest that it has to do with smelling for prey, as smell travels faster through air than water.
They also breach whereby they, usually while attacking, charge from below the prey at up to 40kmph (25mph). This results in huge sharks breaking the surface of the water while grabbing the prey, flying up to 3 m (10 ft), above the water.
|Source: The Animal Globe|
They are carnivorous, preying on nearly any fish in the ocean, but preferably fat rich animals. Juvenile (younger than 15) sharks hunt and eat small fish because the cartilage in their jaws isn’t mineralized to withstand the force for a stronger bite. Older sharks are able to hunt larger prey, such as elephant seals, sunfish and even whales. They also scavenge food, consuming off the dead carcasses of, for example, whales. This particular species is warm-blooded and although it doesn’t keep a constant body temperature, it needs to eat a lot of meat to regulate its temperature.
HABITAT & DISTRIBUTION
Their distribution is widespread, found in every ocean and sea across the world. They are commonly found as far north as the Upper Atlantic and Pacific, just south of Arctic waters and as far south as the southern tip of Australia. The Great White is considered native to the Mediterranean states, United States, sub-Saharan coastal states, South America and the Australian states. They stay close to coastal shelves, preferring to hunt off the coastline. They spend their time in temperate waters all over the world, but have made fleeting trips into colder water in the north.
|Source: Animal Fact Guide|
Sharks reach reproductive maturity at 15 years. Females are ovoviviparous (they hatch their eggs internally then give birth once their pups are strong enough). Pups are oophagous (they eat the weaker eggs while gestating). After mating the female develops several eggs which hatch in her womb. They give birth between spring and summer and have specific breeding grounds. They have anywhere between 1-5 pups. Pups are roughly 1 ft. long when they are born and weigh around 5kg. Their jaws are strong enough to kill within their first month of life.
Their numbers have steadily declined, though there is no exact number of population size. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, their status is currently Vulnerable but it is on the cusp of being labelled endangered due to over-fishing.
|Source: HD Desktop Wallpapers|
|Source: Shark Facts|
It is indisputable that sharks are some of the most majestic creature of the marine world. Sharks are an apex predator and they are at the top of the marine food chain and, consequently, regulate species populations that are below them. Sharks have been around for 400 million years (pre-dating dinosaurs and even trees). Their Conservation Status is Threatened. Frequently there is a misconception about them. Although they still remain dangerous species, attacks on humans are more commonly rare and they are far more scared of than we could ever be of them. There are more than 465 known species of sharks in our oceans. More worrisome is the fact that shark populations have declined considerably and has cascading effects throughout the ocean’s ecosystems. In fact, they are amongst the most threatened marine vertebrates on Earth, with some species facing extinction as they face numerous human threats.
Scientific Name Selachimorpha
It features include a torpedo-like body shape, large distinctive dorsal fin and gaping tooth filled jaws. They are highly sophisticated. Their general anatomy is fairly consistent in all the various species.
Sharks boast five to seven gill slits on the sides of the head, unlike most fish that only have one gill. They rely on a large oil filled liver for buoyancy and takes up around 30% of their total body mass, using it in conjunction with forward movement to control vertical position.
Chondrichthyes have skeletons made up of cartilage rather than bone, and lack a swim bladder. Cartilage is lighter, more durable, and flexible than bone, contributing to their overall agility whilst also saving energy. This is vital when sharks must constantly move to prevent sinking.
Sharks have powerful jaws. The jaws of sharks are not attached to their skull. It moves separately with independent upper and lower jaws, allowing them to lift their head and thrust their mouth forward to bite its prey. The surface of shark’s jaws have extra support in the form of tiny hexagonal plates called ‘tesserae’ – calcium salt deposits which give shark cartilage more strength.
Their teeth are sharp and pointy. Sharks may have up to 3,000 teeth at one time and are fully embedded into the gums. A shark bites with its lower jaw first and then its upper. Each type of shark has a different shaped tooth depending on their diet. Interestingly, sharks never run out of teeth – they continuously grow multiple rows of replacement teeth in a groove inside of the jaw, and are usually replaced one at a time as opposed to entire rows. It is estimated that some sharks may lose 30,000 or more teeth in their lifetime, with replacement rates varying from several days to several months.
The shape and size of the teeth vary depending on their purpose. There are four main types of shark teeth:
· Needle-like teeth are found in sharks whose diet consist of small to medium sized fish and are effective at gripping onto agile and slippery fish.
· Serrated, wedge like teeth are found in larger species that feed on larger prey. It is effective at cutting off chunks of flesh for easy swallowing.
· Teeth which serve no purpose are found in plankton feeders (for example the basking and whale shark who uses their gills to filter feed).
· Dense, plate like teeth are used to crush the shells of prey (for example bivalves and crustaceans). Includes smaller sharks like nurse or angel sharks.
Fins and Tails
The majority of sharks have 8 rigid fins:
◾A pair of pectoral fins that lift the shark as it swims
◾One or two dorsal fins offering stability
◾A pair of pelvic fins offering stability
◾An anal fin offers stability
◾A caudal fin (tail) that propels the shark forward
The shark’s tail provides its forward motion, with speed and acceleration dependent on shape and size. Some tails have large upper lobes for slow cruising with short and sudden bursts of speed, whereas others have larger lower lobes for continued pace.
Their skin is made of denticles and not from ordinary fish scales and act as an outer skeleton for easy movement and for saving energy in the water. It is constructed like hard, sharp teeth and help to protect the shark from injury. Sharks wounds heal quickly.
The upper side of a shark is normally dark to blend in with the water from above and their undersides are white or lighter coloured to blend in with the lighter surface of the sea from below which helps to camouflage them from predators and prey.
Their size vary from 17cm (Spined Pygmy Shark) to 12 metres (Whale Shark).
Most shark species are carnivorous. The range of prey is exceptionally broad, including small bivalves, crustaceans, plankton, krill, marine mammals, and even other sharks (for example, a tiger shark might eat a bull shark, a bull shark might eat a blacktip shark and a blacktip shark might eat a dogfish shark). Generally sharks eat live prey, but have been known to feed on large whale carcasses. Sharks also have a very acute sense of smell that allows them to detect blood in the water from miles away. The gentle giants (for example the whale and basking shark) feed on plankton, filtering the water and trapping small organisms with sieve-like filaments. Sharks eat normally alone, but sometimes one feeding shark attracts others and all begin to try to get a piece of the prey. Some shark species attack and surprise their prey (such as seals and sea lions) from below.
|Source: Animal Fact Guide|
Sharks occur in all seas and have adapted to living in a wide range of aquatic habitats and varying temperatures. Some species inhabit shallow, coastal regions, others live in deep waters, on the ocean floor and in the open ocean. They mostly avoid fresh water. An exception is the bull and river sharks that swim between sea and fresh water. They are normally found to a depth of 2,000 meters, with some existing even deeper. ‘Pelagic’ sharks (for example the Great White) prefer large open waters. ‘Benthic’ sharks (including the wobbegong) are seen skating along the ocean floor. Typically, sharks are confined to their suited habitat for their whole lives. But some migrate short distances or entire oceans for feeding or breeding purposes.
Only a few species are solitary hunters (including the great white) but, they too, often coexist at active hunting or breeding grounds. Most execute a range of social behaviour, hunting in packs or congregating in large numbers. Sharks characteristically cruise at an average speed of 8km per hour because they need to move in order to breathe. This forces water over their gills, delivering oxygen to the blood stream. Conversely, some shark species have adapted to benthic living, resting on the sea bed, and pumping water over their gills. Interestingly, they never enter a true state of sleep. Their eyes remain open and even track the movements of their surroundings during periods of inactivity. Some species are even able to ‘sleep swim’ by being unconscious while meandering around the ocean as a result of swimming being coordinated by their spinal cord and not their brain. Most sharks are particularly active at night when they hunt. Some shark species are solitary, while others display social behaviour. For example, hammerhead sharks school during mating season around seamounts and islands.
|Source: Animal Fact Guide|
Sharks have excellent senses. Two-thirds of a shark's brain is dedicated to its smell sense. They are able to detect a drop of blood from very far away and it gives them the ability to determine the direction of a particular scent based on the time it takes to reach one nostril compared to the other. Their nostrils are primarily used for smelling (as opposed to breathing) and are located on the underside of their snout.
Furthermore, they have great eyesight. New research shows that sharks may be colour-blind. A mirror like layer in the back of the eye called the tapetum lucidum doubles the intensity of incoming light and allowing them to see remarkably well in dim conditions. They don’t blink, even though they have eyelids. They rely on surrounding water to clean their eyes. When hunting or being attacked, some sharks have tough membranes that slides over and protects the eyes. Species that don’t have this membrane, roll their eyes backwards when striking prey.
Sharks do have ears which are located within a small opening on each side of their head, but it isn’t visibly present. Sound travels faster in water and sharks rely on it to alert them to prey or danger which can detected from over 800 feet away.
They are able to feel vibrations in the water using a line of canals that go from its head to its tail and are filled with water and contain sensory cells with hairs growing out of them. These hairs move when the water vibrates and alerts it to potential prey. Sharks also have a sensory organ called the "ampullae of Lorenzini" which they use to "feel" the electrical field coming from its prey.
Sharks mostly live 20-30 years. They mature slowly and reach a reproductive age from 12 to 15 years. Sharks are a k-selected species (they produce a small number of larger, more developed young), resulting in a relatively high survival rate. Nevertheless, mating between sharks is still rarely observed, especially between the larger species such as the great white. Many species only give birth to one or two pups at a time and have difficulty recovering after their populations have declined.
There are also different ways that sharks come into this world, including: eggs are laid (like birds); eggs hatch inside the mother and then are born; and pups sharks grow inside the mother (like humans).
Baby sharks are called pups. Shark pups are born with fully-fledged sets of teeth. Sharks don’t care for their babies after they are born, but they do search for a safe place where they can lay their eggs or give birth. Soon after birth, they swim away to feed and live on their own.
It is problematic to estimate population numbers since there are many dissimilar species spanning a large geographic area. But it is undeniable that overall shark numbers are on the decline due to several threats they face in the wild. Their lifespan is about 20-30 Years in the wild.
|Source: Animal Wikia|
Giant Pandas are some of the most beloved and beautiful animals in the world. They are one of the world’s best known species because of their black and white coat and prominent black eye patches. However, the ‘Bamboo Bear’ is among the shyest and rarest animals in the world.
|Source: Animal Fact Guide|
Genus and species: Ailuropoda melanoleuca (meaning 'black and white cat-foot').
Scientists weren’t really sure if giant pandas were indeed bears or possibly closer related to raccoons. But studies of panda DNA have confirmed the panda's relationship with bears and are now classified as part of the bear family because of their similarity to other bears in their general looks and the way they walk and climb.
The giant panda was once widely found throughout southern and eastern China, as well as neighbouring Myanmar and northern Vietnam. They once lived in lowland areas, too, but due to human activities such as farming, forest clearing, and other development they are restricted to the mountains. Giant pandas they naturally inhabit the remote, mountain forests. Due to expanding human populations and development, the species is restricted to 20 isolated patches of bamboo forest in six mountain ranges in China's Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Wild pandas still remaining live in the Minshan and Qinling mountains.
|Source: Animal Fact Guide|
Giant pandas live at elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 feet in broadleaf and coniferous forests with a dense understory of bamboo. Torrential rains or dense mist throughout the year occur, often covered in heavy clouds. High bamboo forests are cool and wet—just as pandas like it and perfect for their needs. They will climb 13,000 feet (3,962 m) up the mountains of their home area to feed on higher slopes in the summer. Giant pandas make their dens from hollowed-out logs or stumps of conifer trees found within the forest.
They are also called great pandas, parti-coloured bears, bamboo bears, and white bears. It has a body typical of bears. Giant pandas are distinguished from other pandas by their large size and black-and-white colouring. Giant pandas are identified by their distinctive black and white colouring. It has black fur on ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, and shoulders. The rest of the animal's coat is white. Speculation about why they are black and white relates to the bold colouring provides effective camouflage into their shade-dappled snowy and rocky surroundings. Their thick, woolly coat keeps it warm in the cool forests of its habitat. Giant pandas have large molar teeth and strong jaw muscles for crushing tough bamboo. They have a special bone that extends from their wrists called a “pseudo-thumb” to hold and manipulate bamboo.
|Source: National Geographic Kids UK|
They are about the same size of an American black bear, giant pandas stand between two and three feet tall at the shoulder (on all four legs), and reach four to six feet long. Males are larger than females, weighing up to 250 pounds in the wild. Females rarely reach 220 pounds.
There are an estimated 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild and is extremely endangered. More than 300 pandas live in breeding centres and zoos. Because Giant Pandas in the wild or rare and elusive, most of what we know about them comes from studying zoo animals.
Giant Pandas are omnivores as they eat both vegetation and meat. They have especially an insatiable appetite for bamboo as a wild giant panda’s diet consist almost exclusively (99 per cent) of bamboo. There are about 20 different species of bamboo that pandas will eat and is the most important plant in their life. They eat half the day—a full 12 out of every 24 hours!—and relieves itself dozens of times a day. Due to the low nutritional value of bamboo, pandas need to forage and eat 10-20 kg (20-40 lb.) a day to satisfy their daily dietary needs. The giant panda's stomach is ideal for digesting bamboo. The walls of the stomach are extra-muscular to digest the wood of the bamboo. The stomach is also covered inside with mucus that prevents it from being punctured by splinters. Occasionally pandas will eat other available food and the balance comprises of other grasses and, occasionally, small rodents, fish, birds, or musk deer fawns. A panda eats while sitting upright, in a pose that resembles how humans sit on the floor. This posture leaves the front paws free to grasp bamboo stems. An evolutionary trait is their protruding wrist bone that acts like a thumb to help hold bamboo while they munch on it with their strong molar teeth. The giant panda has the largest molar teeth of any carnivore. Their strong jaws are capable of crushing bamboo stems up to 4 cm in diameter. They use their teeth to peel off the tough outer layers of the stalk to reveal the soft inner tissue.
Water: Wild giant pandas get most of the required water from bamboo, a grass whose contents are about half water. But they need more than just what bamboo can provide. Therefore, they also drink fresh water from rivers and streams that are fed by melting snowfall in high mountain peaks.
Adult giant pandas are normally solitary, but they are able to communicate occasionally through scent marks, calls, and sporadic meetings. Offspring stay with their mothers until they are about three years old.
|Source: International Business Times|
Giant Pandas living in the wild, have shorter lifespans than in zoos and is approximately 20 years. Zoo pandas can live up to 35 years.
Giant pandas reach breeding maturity when they are four to eight years old. They may be reproductive until about age 20. Female pandas ovulate only once a year, in the spring. The only time she is able to conceive is a very short period of two to three days around ovulation. In this short time, male and female pandas find each other through scents and calls. Female giant pandas give birth in a nest of bamboo after five months (between 95 and 160 days) after mating. In her lifetime, she may successfully raise only five to eight cubs. It is possible to give birth to two young, but only one usually survives as the mother can’t care for both.
The new born cub is blind, hairless, and tiny, weighing only 85-140 g (3-5 oz.) (about the size of a butter stick) and the length of a pencil (about 15 cm). They are born pink/white, and develop their much-loved colouring later. They only open their eyes six to eight weeks after birth.
|Source: Huffington Post Australia|
Except for a marsupial (such as the kangaroo), a giant panda baby is the smallest mammal new born relative to its mother's size. The mother takes great care of her fragile and tiny cub by cradling it in one paw and holding it close to her chest. Interestingly, for several days after birth, the mother does not leave the den not even to eat or drink.
|Source: Daily Mail|
Mothers are protective and careful tending to her cub as it is completely helpless and can’t move much on its own for nearly 3 months. A cub is nutritionally weaned at one year, but not socially weaned for up to two years. Cubs may stay with their mothers for up to two to three years until it is independent enough to establish its own territory.
Sadly, the giant pandas’ naturally slow breeding rate prevents a population from recovering quickly from illegal hunting, habitat loss, and other human-related causes of mortality.
Pandas are frequently seen eating in a relaxed sitting posture, with their hind legs stretched out before them. Although they appear to be sedentary, they’re skilled tree-climbers and efficient swimmers. They do not roar like other bears. Giant pandas are loners and have a heightened sense of smell to let them know when another panda is nearby so it can be avoided. If another comes into close contact, they will swat, growl and even bite. Their territory is about 1.9 square miles (5 square kilometers) and they mark it by secreting a waxy scent marker that they rub on their territory. Males will use their smelling ability to find a female when they are ready to mate. When they are not eating for almost half the entire day, they either sleep or rest.
· It is a highly specialized animal, with unique adaptations.
· When danger from predators (such as brown bears and wild dogs) is imminent, pandas can take refuge in the nearest tree due to its paws being broad with long retractile claws and furry undersides which help to grip when climbing.
|Source: How Stuff Works|
|Source: Pure Travel|
· The giant panda does not hibernate. However, it will shelter in caves or hollow trees in very cold weather.
· Even though they are regarded as cute and cuddly, they are just as dangerous as any other bear.
· The panda also has a significance for World Wildlife Fund because it has been WWF's logo since our founding in 1961.
The giant panda is listed as endangered in the World Conservation Union's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Species. There are about 1,600 left in the wild. More than 300 pandas live in zoos and breeding centres, mostly in China.
One of the primary reasons why pandas are endangered is due to the fact that habitat destruction frequently occurs as the population grow and development takes place. This forces them to live in smaller, less livable areas. It also leads to food shortages and possibly starvation because bamboo varieties bloom at different times of the year and then they won’t have anything to eat during the time it normally blooms. Clearing of areas for crop cultivation and infrastructure, and logging for timber and fuel wood occur. Fragmenting of forests isolates panda populations and prevents them from breeding. As human settlements curb the pandas’ habitat, it hampers pandas’ ability to migrate and which could also lead to starvation. Another reason is the natural die-back of the local variety of bamboo.
What is being done to conserve pandas?
Sanctuaries have been established with sufficient space for 500-600 pandas in order to increase pandas’ numbers. Scientists are studying the animal’s habits and instituting conservation programs. One crucial way to ensure pandas’ survival is to establish new reserves and extending existing ones. Bamboo corridors have been developed to link isolated pockets of forest, allowing the pandas within them to move to new areas, find more food and meet more potential breeding mates. China has a network of 67 panda reserves, which safeguard more than 66% of the giant pandas in the wild and almost 54% of their existing habitat.
CRUCIAL ROLE IN FORESTS
Pandas play a decisive role in the bamboo forests where they roam because they are able to spread seeds and facilitate vegetation growth. One of the many reasons that we must save this species is the fact that we are primarily responsible for them being endangered. Another reason is the fact that we will provide a lifeline for a host of other endangered animals, including the golden snub-nosed monkey, takin and crested ibis that share the forests with the panda.
This distinctive black and white animal is adored all over the world. There is still much more that can be learned from these elusive animals. It is important that they are protected indefinitely. So, please do your part to save these wonderful animals.
· Giraffe Camelopardalis means ‘one who walks quickly, a camel marked like a leopard’.
· The giraffe is the tallest mammal in the world - at an average height of around 5 m (16-18 ft.).
· It is characterized by its long legs, long neck, and distinctive spotted pattern.
· No two giraffes have the same spot pattern.
· The distinctive spots on their fur is a good camouflage to protect the giraffe from predators. When they stand in front of trees and bushes the light and dark colouring of its fur blends in with the shadows and sunlight.
· When giraffes walk, they move both legs on one side of their body and then both legs on the other side.
· Their height helps it to keep a lookout for predators across the wide expanse of the African savanna.
· A giraffe’s neck is 1.5 – 1.8 metres and contains the same number of vertebrae at a human neck.
· The sex of the giraffe can be identified from the horns on its head. Both males and females have horns but the females are smaller and covered with hair at the top. Male giraffes may have up to 3 additional horns.
|Source: HD Wallpapers Act|
· The hair that makes up a giraffes tail is about 10 times thicker than the average strand of human hair.
|Source: World Atlas|
· Giraffes only need to drink once every several days as they get most of their water from the plants they eat.
· They are ruminants, meaning they have more than one stomach. In fact, they have four stomachs, the extra stomachs assisting with digesting food.
· Even new-born babies being taller than most humans.
· Female giraffes carry a baby for 15 months and give birth while standing up.
· Newborns are about 2 m (6 ft.) tall and weigh 70 kg (150 lb.).
· Their young endure a rude welcome into the world by falling more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) to the ground at birth.
· Baby Giraffes stand within half an hour and after 10 hours can run beside their family.
· Giraffes spend most of their lives standing up.
· They sleep and give birth standing up.
· They have a very short sleep requirement by spending between 10 minutes and two hours asleep per day.
· Giraffes are sociable, peaceful animals which rarely fight.
· It is extremely dangerous to drink at a water whole as they have to spread their legs and bend down in an awkward position that makes them vulnerable to predators. Thus, the giraffe's stature can be a disadvantage, too.
· Giraffes live primarily in savanna areas in the sub-Saharan region of Africa.
· Typically they roam the open grasslands in small groups of about half a dozen.
· They live up to 25 years in the wild.
· Giraffes are listed by IUCN’s Red List as a species of least concern.
|Source: Oak Trees US|
· They face several threats such as loss of habitat due to logging for firewood. They are also hunted for their meat, hides, and tails.
Dolphins are extraordinarily intelligent marine mammals and one of the most iconic species of the marine world. Here are just a few more interesting facts about these fantastic species:
|Source: HD Animal Wallpapers|
· Their coloration varies, but are normally grey in colour with darker backs than the rest of their bodies.
· There are 43 different species of dolphins that have been recognized.
· The body of a dolphin is designed to help them move through the water quickly and without exerting huge amounts of energy. They rely on their pectoral fins and the fluke (tail) to help them navigate through the water.
· Echolocation allows them to communicate in the water by identifying sound waves. It is a complex ability that stems from the melon that is located in the head of a dolphin.
· Dolphins have very good vision, and they are able to see what is around them both in the water and when they are above the surface of it.
· They have excellent hearing with the ability to hear about 10 times better than humans.
· The sense of smell isn’t well developed for them though.
· The sense of touch is very sensitive for dolphins and they use it for bonding within their pods.
· They rely on a combination of their senses to avoid danger, to find food, and to socialize.
· The name dolphin comes from the word womb, and it is believed to be the Greek saying for fish with a womb.
· The young are called calves
· The female adults are cows.
· The male adults are bulls
· A group of them is often called a pod.
· Dolphins are carnivores
· They consume an assortment of prey including fish, squid, and crustaceans.
· They use echolocation to find prey and often hunt together by surrounding a school of fish, trapping them, and taking turns swimming through the school and catching fish.
· Dolphins will also follow seabirds, other whales, and fishing boats to feed opportunistically on the fish they scare up or discard.
· Even though dolphins have 100 teeth, they don’t use them for eating. They do use them to get the fish though and then they swallow them. They can consume up to 30 pounds fish per day.
· They do what is necessary to get the food for the pod members. It can include jumps, zig zag patterns, circles, and a combination of efforts.
· With an exceptionally high fat content, dolphin and other cetacean meat provides great nutrition for predators who stalk.
SizeThe larger ones can weigh about 11 tons and be close to 30 feet long. The smaller ones are about 90 pounds and 4 feet long. Between those two spectrums you will find all weights and lengths. The species as well as their location play a huge role in their overall size.
Range· They are found typically in shallow seas of the continental shelves.
· Most species live in shallow areas of tropical and temperate oceans.
· Five species live in the world's rivers.
· Most of the species of dolphins live in saltwater but there are some that are able to do well in the freshwater locations.
· They are mainly found in the freshwater of the Amazon River.
· They tend to live in the shallow water by the coast and they tend to live in warmer locations.
Behaviour· Dolphins are well known for their agility and playful behaviour
· Many species will leap out of the water and spy-hop (rise vertically out of the water to view their surroundings). Some of them leap up to 30 feet in the air.
· Dolphins live in social groups of five to several hundred.
· They have to come to the surface to for water at different intervals to get air. This can be from 20 seconds to 30 minutes between when they get air.
· They are curious.
· To prevent drowning while sleeping only half of the dolphin’s brain goes to sleep while the other half remains awake so they can continue to breathe!
· They form strong bonds within their pod.
· They have been known to help humans in a variety of circumstances including rescues and with fishing.
· Dolphins are extremely social creatures and actually seem to depend on this interaction while hunting, mating, and defending themselves and their pods.
Reproduction· Mating Season: Throughout the year, though in some areas there is a peak in spring and fall.
· Gestation: 9-17 months depending on the species. When it is time to give birth, the female will distance herself from the pod, often going near the surface of the water.
· Number of offspring: Usually one calf; twins are rare.
· As soon as the calf is born, the mother must quickly take it to the surface so it can take its first breath. The calf will nurse from 11 months to 2 years, and after it is done nursing it will still stay with its mother until it is between 3 and 8 years old.
|Source: PC Wallpapers|
· Dolphins give birth to live young, and nurse them with mammary glands, though it boggles the mind to imagine nursing underwater.Some Dolphin Species include:
· Bottlenose Dolphin
· Striped Dolphin
· Chinese White Dolphin
· Clymene Dolphin
· Commerson’s Dolphin
· Dusky Dolphin
· Fraser’s Dolphin
· Pacific White Sided Dolphin
· Pantropical Spotted Dolphin
· Rough Toothed Dolphin
· Irrawaddy Dolphin
· River Dolphins
• An estimated 50-80% of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface and the oceans contain 99% of the living space on the planet. Less than 10% of that space has been explored by humans.
• They provide 80 per cent of the world's oxygen.
• Tiny marine plants called phytoplankton release half of all oxygen in the atmosphere through photosynthesis.
• The oceans account for 96% of all the water on the surface of the Earth, the remainder being freshwater, in the form of rivers, lakes, and ice.
• The ocean absorbs approximately 25% of the CO2 added to the atmosphere from human activities each year, greatly reducing the impact of this greenhouse gas on the climate.
• Total carbon deposits in coastal systems such as such as mangroves, salt marshes, and seagrass meadows may be up to five times the carbon stored in tropical forests.
• About 90% of floating debris in the ocean is plastic. It can take hundreds of years for these plastics to break down at sea.
• About 8 million tons of plastics enter our oceans every year.
• Over 100,000 turtles and marine mammals, such as dolphins, seals and whales, die each year from ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic debris.
FACTS ON ILLEGAL TRADE ON WILDLIFE
· 100,000 African elephants were killed in 2010-2012, out of a population estimated at less than
· Illegal trade in wildlife is worth $15-20 billion annually, and is one of the largest illegal trades in the world.
· Poachers in Africa killed at least 1,338 rhinos in 2015, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
· Rhino poaching in South Africa increased by almost 9,000% or 90-fold between 2007 and 2015 from 13 rhinos killed in 2007 to 1,175 rhinos killed in 2015.
· An estimated 170 tonnes of ivory was illegally exported out of Africa between 2009 and 2014.
· Between 2002 and 2011 there was a 2/3 plummet in Forest Elephant population due to poaching.
· Since 2009 there has been a 60% decline African Savannah Elephants in the United Republic of Tanzania and a 50% decline in African Savannah Elephants in Mozambique.
· Chimpanzees are now extinct in Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo.
· 3,000 Great Apes are lost from the wild every year and have disappeared from Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo; over 70% of all great ape seizures are orangutans.
· Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is estimated at 11-26 million tonnes of fish each year, worth between $10 and $23 billion, causing depletion of fish stocks, price increase and loss of livelihoods for fishermen.
· Pangolins are the most illegally trafficked mammal in the world with over one million animals taken from the wild in the past decade.
· 40% of all intrastate conflicts in the last 60 years were linked to natural resources and over 80% of major armed conflicts in the last 50 years occurred in biodiversity hotspots.
· In 2011, a subspecies of Javan rhino went extinct in Vietnam, while the last western black rhinos vanished from Cameroon the same year.(Source: Official World Environment Day 2016 website).
Here are a few interesting facts about forests:
· Forests cover about one third of the world’s land mass.
· Forests provide an array of ecological, economic, social and health benefits and are essential for meeting people’s needs.
· Forests act as natural water filters.
· Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants, and insects.
· They provide shelter, jobs, and security for forest-dependent communities. Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood, food, fiber, water, fuel, shelter, and income.
· It provides clean air and water and regulate the climate. Contributing to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and humidity in the air.
· They help to tackle climate change.
· Deforestation continues at an alarming rate - 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually, an area roughly the size of England.
· Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
· Forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater
· Healthy forests are critical for building resilience—the ability to bounce back from storms and other natural disasters.
· Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
· Forests minimize soil erosion on site, reduce sediment in water bodies and trap or filter water pollutants in the forest litter.
|Source: Artic Kingdom|
· Polar bears are fantastic swimmers.
· They have pretty small tails (7-12 cm long).
· Their whole body is covered with fur except for their nose tip and paw pads.
· Polar bears are fast and can run at 25mph for short distances, usually while charging prey
· There are 20-25,000 polar bears remaining in the Arctic.
· Polar bears are perfectly suited to their environment because they have furry, anti-slip feet and heat-conserving ears.
· Their fur is thick, two-layered, and oily to repel water and prevent their coats from freezing.
· Interestingly, their fur is white because the sunlight is reflected back down the hair-shaft to heat the skin.
· They moult every year whereby they replace their fur completely
· Their skin is black in order to soak up the sun’s heat efficiently.
· A polar bear is well insulated by a thick layer of fat under the skin, especially in water.
· Their ears are furry but smaller than other bears’ so that they can retain heat more effectively and help keep them warm in winter temperatures that can reach -30OC.
· Its nose is a valuable hunting tool because most of the food occurs under the ice.
· They also have an amazing sense of smell. In fact, they can smell a seal up to a km away – even under the ice!
· Their nostrils close when they’re under water.
· Polar bears need to eat about 2kg of fat each day.
· They are the biggest of all bear species.
· Males (boars), weigh up to 800kg.
|Source: Polar Bear International|
· Alarmingly, 64 % of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900.
· Freshwater species populations declined by 76 % between 1970 and 2010.
· The wetlands that do still remain are often so degraded that the people who directly rely on them for fish, plants, and wildlife – often the very poor – are driven into even deeper poverty.
· Some birds remain at a particular wetland all year long while other birds migrate from wetland to wetland.
· Many wetlands serve as a reservoir for excessive rainfall to prevent flooding.
· Wetlands can be made of freshwater, saltwater, or a combination of the two.
· Wetland biomes typically remain humid and moist at all times making it the perfect home for many animals.
· There is more animal diversity in the wetland biome than any other biome type.
· Wetland biomes are responsible for keeping rivers at a normal level. They hold water and then release it to the river as needed.
· We depend on wetlands to supply freshwater for our daily needs, but more than one billion people around the world depend directly on wetlands to earn an income.
· Coastal, marine, and inland wetlands are declining fast. Approximately 40 % have been degraded in just over 40 years and is continuing at an accelerated rate of 1.5 % annually.
· Recycling and composting diverted nearly 70 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2000, up from 34 million tons in 1990-doubling in just 10 years.
· It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminium than it does to make it from raw materials. Making recycled steel saves 60%, recycled newspaper 40%, recycled plastics 70%, and recycled glass 40%. These savings far outweigh the energy created as by-products of incineration and landfilling.
· In 2000, recycling resulted in an annual energy savings equal to the amount of energy used in 6 million homes (over 660 trillion BTUs). In 2005, recycling is conservatively projected to save the amount of energy used in 9 million homes (900 trillion BTUs).
· A national recycling rate of 30% reduces greenhouse gas emissions as much as removing nearly 25 million cars from the road.
|Source: Recycle UK|
· When one ton of steel is recycled, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved.
· Recycling one aluminium can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours
· A 60-watt light bulb can be run for over a day on the amount of energy saved by recycling 1 pound of steel.
|Source: Dreams Time|
· If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
· The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year!
· The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
· The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.
· Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!
· Recycled paper supplies more than 37% of the raw materials used to make new paper products in the U.S. Without recycling, this material would come from trees. Every ton of newsprint or mixed paper recycled is the equivalent of 12 trees. Every ton of office paper recycled is the equivalent of 24 trees.
· The 17 trees saved (above) can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Burning that same ton of paper would create 1500 pounds of carbon dioxide.
· The construction costs of a paper mill designed to use waste paper is 50 to 80% less than the cost of a mill using new pulp.
· Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year!
· Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.
· 11 recycled PET (POLYETHYLENE TERAPHTHALATE) plastic bottles can make 1 pair of men’s trousers pet .
· Every month, we throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper. All of these jars are recyclable!
· The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours or a compact fluorescent bulb for 20 hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.
· A modern glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose -- and even longer if it's in the landfill.
· Mining and transporting raw materials for glass produces about 385 pounds of waste for every ton of glass that is made. If recycled glass is substituted for half of the raw materials, the waste is cut by more than 80%.
Reference: Recycling Revolution
|Source: Day Wallpaper Word press|
· African elephant habitat has declined by over 50% since 1979, while Asian elephants are now restricted to just 15% of their original range.
· Without intervention, African (classified as vulnerable) and Asian elephants (classified as endangered) face extinction.
· An elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory.
|Source: Africa Green Media|
· Every birth is a celebration and deaths of loved ones are mourned. Elephants have death rituals. If it dies, they dig a shallow grave and cover the body with soil or branches and can show signs of depression.
· In the wild, each day is filled with socializing, exploring, playing, and participating in other activities.
· Elephants live up to around 70 years, with females mostly fertile between 25 and 45.
· Female elephants are social animals, living in herds with their relatives.
· Males usually live alone.
· All elephants need an expansive amount of space and rave to roam very far in search of food and water to sustain themselves.
· The average elephant drinks more than 200 litres of water per day
· African elephants mainly eat leaves and branches of bushes and trees, but also eat grasses, fruit, and bark.
· Elephants can communicate over long distances by producing a sub-sonic rumble that can travel over the ground faster than sound through air.
· Males need to reach 20 years of age in order to successfully compete for mating.
· The elephant has the longest gestation period of any mammal at 22 months.
· When the calf is born it weighs around 115kg and will be suckled by the mother for another 22 months after that. Most females only reproduce once every four to nine years.
|Source: A Cute A Day|
· When an elephant calf is born, it is raised and protected by the whole matriarchal herd.
· Young elephants wean after 6 to 18 months, although they may continue nursing for over 6 years.
· Elephants are the world's largest land animals.
· African elephant males are the biggest of the bunch, weighing in at up to 6 tonnes, while smaller Asian elephants can still tip the scales at 5 tonnes.
· The biggest can be up to 7.5m long, 3.3m high at the shoulder, and 6 tonnes in weight.
· The trunk is an extension of the upper lip and nose and is used for communication and handling objects, including food.
· Tusks occur in males and females which are used in fights and for marking, feeding, and digging.
· African elephants have very large ears, allowing them to radiate excess heat. Their ears can reach up to 1.5 metres in diameter.
· Elephants are the only animal to have four forward-facing knees.
· Elephants have a very acute sense of hearing and can hear through the soles of their feet and the sides of the trunk as well as their ears.
· A typical elephant brain weighs 5kg
· Elephants can be distinguished by the number of toes on their feet. The African forest elephant and the Asian elephant both have five toenails on the front feet and four on the back. The larger African bush elephant has four or five on the front and three on the back.
· An elephant's trunk has more than 100 000 muscles.
AFRICAN PENGUIN (Spheniscus demersus)
|African penguin (Spheniscus demersus)|
· The African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is a medium-sized penguin, and the only penguin species breeding on the African continent.
· The African penguin has a robust, heavyset body, and this species is black on the back and white below, with variable black markings on the breast and belly.
· Juvenile African penguins are slate blue on the upper surface, gradually turning darker and developing the adult black-and-white facial pattern in the second or third year.
· Penguins have small muscles at the base of each feather that enable the feathers to be held tightly against the body whilst in water, forming a waterproof layer; alternatively, on land the feathers are held erect, trapping an insulating layer of air around the body
· To protect its nest against the heat, the African penguin often nests in burrows or in the shade of boulders or bushes.
· In South Africa the breeding season is between March and May.
· Nests are situated in burrows or depressions under boulders and bushes, where they will receive some protection from the potentially harsh temperatures
· The clutch size of the African penguin is usually two, and both adults take it in turns to incubate the eggs for a period of about 40 days; penguins have a bare patch of skin on the lower abdomen (known as the ‘brood patch’) which allows greater transfer of heat to the eggs.
· The African penguin feeds on fish such as anchovies and sardines. The African penguin can reach speeds of 20 kilometres per hour in the water and travel from 30 to 70 kilometres in a single trip; average dives last for 2.5 minutes, reaching depths of 60 metres.
· Penguins have waterproof coats that need to be constantly maintained by preening, when a waxy substance is distributed from the base of the tail. Even with these measures, the plumage is replaced yearly, and African penguins come ashore to moult over 20 days between November and January in South Africa.
· The African penguin is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.
(Source: Arkive Organisation – African Penguin - http://www.arkive.org/african-penguin/spheniscus-demersus/)
· The largest living species is the Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri). On average adults are about 1.1 m tall and weigh 35 kg or more. The male Emperor Penguin stays at home looking after the egg whilst the female hunts for food. They are exceptionally insulated with various layers of scale-like feathers. They are fantastic divers and forage at depths from 150 to 250 metres and last about 5 minutes.
|Emperor Penguin (Source: Wikipedia).|
· The smallest penguin species is the Little Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor) which stands around 40 cm tall and weighs 1 kg.
|A Little Blue Penguin (Source: Wikipedia).|
· Interestingly, Royal and macaroni penguins lay two eggs because the first is too small and, therefore, discarded.
· Penguins are extremely social animals
· They breed in large colonies for protection purposes (there’s safety in numbers) and can range from 200 to hundreds of thousands.
|A large colony of King Penguins (Source: Wikipedia).|
· Nesting sites vary between species, and can include sea ice, rock, and beaches.
· Penguins have adapted to help reduce heat loss through the feet and prevent the feet from freezing when they are standing on ice.
· Penguins moult once a year to replace worn feathers so as to keep their plumage looking good and moult all their feathers at the same time.
· Most penguins are monogamous and have distinct calls, enabling them to locate their mates in large groups.
· The black and white parts of the body are there for camouflage when they swim. From above, their black backs blend into the dark ocean water and, from below, their white bellies match the bright surface lit by sunlight, helping to avoid detection by predators and hunt for fish unseen.
· Penguins are able to drink salt water because they have special gland which can filter salt from the blood stream.
· Penguins do not have teeth, but have a tongue that is covered with backward-facing fleshy spines, helping them to snap the slippery fish.
· They’re extremely powerful swimmers with streamlined bodies and flipper enable them to travel with great speed underwater to catch fish, squid and crustaceans, including krill.
and the impacts of climate change have a negative impact on the overall penguin populations.
|(Source: Happy Feet Movie)|