Kristys World

channel image

Kristys World



Pacific green turtles are magnificent animals. They are among the largest of the sea turtles in the Galapagos Islands. They are protected by armour, a massive and heavy shell that covers their back and their underside, but unlike some turtles, they are unable to pull their head completely into their shell. This leaves them vulnerable to large predators such as orcas, hammerhead sharks, and Galapagos sharks.
This brave sea turtle was cruising along in the waters off Wolf Island in the Galapagos. It was searching for vegetation such as algae or sea grass to eat but apparently, it realized that it was surrounded by large hammerhead and Galapagos sharks. Wisely, it decided to seek shelter from the predators but what was unusual is that it chose to do so near a scuba diver. This diver was hunkered down in the rocks to observe the schooling hammerheads that occasionally swim around this island in great numbers. The sharks are occasionally curious about the divers, often oblivious, or even wary. The diver was in no serious danger as long as they kept a respectful distance from the school. Venturing out into open water is generally safe as well, as long as the diver does not act aggressively. The sea turtle decided it had better odds near the diver and it zeroed in on them, almost colliding with the camera that was recording the sharks and the turtle's approach. It banked to the left and found a crevice to crawl under. The turtle can hold its breath for more than 30 minutes which is ample time for the sharks to leave the area if they don't sense food hiding in the rocks. The turtle has likely lived as long as it has because it is smart enough to know that a passing school of hammerheads means take cover.
Animals in the Galapagos Islands have not learned to fear humans. Strict rules are adhered to in this place to ensure that the animals and humans coexist with as little effect on the animals as possible. This creates the opportunity for close interactions like this one, on the animals' terms. Seeing a beautiful creature like this one in its own habitat is an unforgettable experience.

Raven is a gigantic Great Dane who lives an ideal life in country home. She has the full run of a 3 acre property and she is taken for daily hikes in a nearby forest where she runs off-leash, following the scent of turkeys, deer, and other forest creatures. She comes home exhausted from her adventures and dreams happily on the couch after each excursion.
Raven has a very unusual reason to be excited when she wakes up each morning. When the door opens, Raven has one thing on her mind. She runs straight to the vegetable garden and finds herself a cucumber. She pulls it off the vine and carries it off into the long grass where she devours it in seconds. She seems to worry that her owners might take it away from her and she tries to find a spot where she is out of sight. But even long grass will not hide a dog the size of Raven. She seems proud that she has her treat and she wags her tail happily when she is "discovered" by her human.
Raven is a fan of many unusual treats and she raids a different part of the vegetable patch each day, depending on her mood. She was once see carrying a giant watermelon out of the greenhouse. She's been discovered with a cantaloupe in her huge jaws. And she's been caught digging for potatoes and carrots too. She has eaten a good portion of the sweet peppers and even some of the pole beans. Her owners are always happy to see her eating healthy and there is more than enough extra produce to share with a dog as wonderful as Raven. They do not plant corn, however, as Raven likes it so much that her people will not see any of it reaching their table.
It's lucky for Raven that the garden is as big as it is. She never gets in trouble for helping with the harvest and in return, the rabbits and raccoons don't seem to come around like they do with the neighbours!

Hummingbirds are one of the most amazing species that you are likely to see in North America. They are tiny, but lightning quick. Although there are 366 species of hummingbirds worldwide and they can range as far north as Alaska, most are found in Central and South America. Many are found throughout North America during the warmer months.
To enable such rapid flight, they also must have rapid metabolisms. They require such a constant food supply that they consume calories without pause during the day. At night, they have adapted to lowering their metabolisms to 1/15th of their normal rate to enable them to survive several hours without food.
While hovering, their wings beat 12 times per second for some species and as many as 80 times per second for others. They are capable of flight speeds up to 54km/h (34mph).
Hummingbirds nest in tiny cup shaped structures made from plant fibres, spider webs, lichens, and moss. The female lays to eggs that are pea shaped. They are the smallest eggs of any bird. The female incubates the eggs for 2-3 weeks before they hatch. Generally, they live 3-5 years, although the bee hummingbird, the smallest species, lives 7-10 years.
These hummingbirds frequent a back yard bird feeder in Southern Ontario.

The black-throated blue warbler is a spectacular bird that delights bird watchers and nature enthusiasts. A rare sight at the back yard feeder, this little fellow was migrating north for the summer when he decided to stop for some orange treats. These warblers spend their winters in the Caribbean and their summers in North America. The feeder had been set up for orioles that also make their way to Ontario, Canada and nest here for the spring and summer.

Orioles will frequent their favourite feeders and will even bring their young to feed once they have grown accustomed to a steady supply of treats.
The black-throated blue warblers are typically insect eaters, frequenting the lower canopy of the forests and picking insects off the underside of leaves. They prefer caterpillars, crane flies, and spiders. They also eat berries and seeds in winter months.

Black-throated blue warblers are generally monogamous birds and the male will often follow the female once he has mated with her to prevent fertilization by another male. This is known as "mate guarding". If a female allows a second male to mate with her, she is less likely to receive help from the male later as she protects her eggs and cares for the young.

Cameron is a seasoned diver with experience in many oceans around the world. He has descended beneath the waves in Mexico, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Canada, Belize, and the waters around the Galápagos Islands. He has encountered marine animals of all kinds on his adventures but dolphins hold a special place in his heart. As he made his way to the surface from a dive at Darwin Island, he was thrilled to meet a pod of dolphins that had circled the island and reached his dive group as they were getting ready to leave the water.

Cameron made the decision to swim along the surface and spend some time with the curious dolphins. As many as 100 individuals passed by, with some of them making an obvious effort to come close and inspect Cameron. There was one baby in the pod that swam near enough to him to provide a rare and exciting look at something that few people are lucky enough to witness.

This dolphin pod has come to this remote area to feed on the fish that are abundant around the island. Three strong ocean currents collide here, creating an upwelling that brings nutrients from the depths of the ocean to the surface. This creates a unique ecosystem that attracts an abundance of fish and small predators. The larger animals, such as sharks and dolphins thrive here with such a rich supply of food. The dolphins hunt in a pod for maximum efficiency. They also enjoy the social interaction and the protection that is offered by others in the family.

Cameron's bucket list has one more check mark after this breath taking encounter.

Seahorses are beautiful little animals that are fascinating to watch. But seeing them close up in the wild is something that few people have experienced. These lucky scuba divers in Fiji have found a small population of the elusive creatures hiding among the weeds on an sandy embankment. They are drifting carefully over the sand in search of them.
Seahorses are fish but they do have scales like other fish. Instead, they have skin that is stretched over bony plates. These bony plates also serve as protection from predators. These are one of the few fish that swim upright. They propel themselves through the water by using their dorsal fin. They grip weeds and structures using their prehensile tails, hanging on in this manner to resist the current. Masters of camouflage, they blend in well with their surroundings. They are even capable of growing and reabsorbing spines as needed, depending on the vegetation and structure on which they are spending time.
The most unusual thing about this animal is that the males carry the eggs until they hatch. The female deposits her eggs in the male's brood pouch where fertilization occurs. The eggs obtain nourishment from the yolk sacs and also from the male until they mature and are released. The male also supplies calcium that is needed for the formation of bones. and he facilitates gas exchange and waste transport as the young grow. After 2-4 weeks, the young are expelled through muscular contraction. The female continues to visit the male during the gestation period. Within 24 hours of delivering the young, the male is ready to receive another batch of eggs for fertilization and incubation. The young will be set out on their own and they need no care from the parents after birth. Less than 0.5% of young will survive to adulthood, but this is a comparatively high survival rate when compared with fish eggs that are abandoned and left unprotected during the time required to develop and hatch.
The fact that the male incubates the eggs allows the female to develop a new clutch of eggs in the meantime, increasing the amount of offspring that a breeding pair can produce.
Seahorses are well adapted for feeding within patches of vegetation. Their long shouts allow them to snatch food from the water around them and also to capture prey that hide in smaller spaces within the weeds. Because they have very basic digestive systems and no stomachs, they digest food slowly. In order to survive, they must eat constantly. Their preferred diet is small crustaceans, such as shrimp.
Seahorses are unique and beautiful creatures that are a delight to discover while exploring in the ocean.

This porcupine puffer fish is casually swimming over the coral reef in Indonesia, but something important is happening as he does so. The wrasses that are following and swimming around him are cleaning his body of parasites and dead skin. This is a vital service for many fish and animals in the ocean. They have no way of keeping themselves free of lice, and all manner of parasites. This fish would be weakened and vulnerable to health problems without the cleaner fish.
Many fish will seek out an area with wrasses or crabs and they will then adopt an upright, floating position to allow the smaller creatures to pick at their skin and even their teeth. Rotting food in the jaws and teeth of larger fish would also cause them discomfort and health problems. The relationship between the cleaning wrasses and the larger fish is a complex one that is mutually beneficial. It involves a great deal of trust as the smaller fish will often enter the mouth or gills of the larger fish. Surprisingly, this trust seems to never be violated. The wrasses understand that they will not be eaten.
Porcupine puffer fish have a unique adaptation that allows them to inflate their bodies with air or water, increasing them to several times their usual size. They have spines that stand erect, making it almost impossible for all but the largest of predators to swallow them.
But the most effective defense that they have is much more lethal. Their organs contain a highly potent neurotoxin (tetrodotoxin) that is 1200 times more lethal than cyanide. The porcupine puffer fish accumulates this toxin when it consumes food that contains a certain bacteria.
The porcupine puffer fish is a slow moving fish with no ability to be ferocious, but with such effective means of defense, they have very few predators. The ocean is a complex world and the animals who live here are equally complex and mysterious.

Our lives are full of moments where we must interact with each other and make compromises for the sake of coexisting. We face complicated social involvements that require some give and take to get things done and to benefit everyone. A life full of selfish decisions and actions would make everything harder for all involved. But occasionally, this compromise is difficult and emotions and pride get the better of us all. Tact an diplomacy gives way to anger and resentment and the sparks fly.

This is what happened here in a simple and easily solved dilemma. As cars made their way through the parking lot, two met bumper to bumper and reached an impass. Onlookers could hear horns honking and impatient voices. It seemed that either could have backed up a little to make way, but the moment became tense and both dug in their heals. Cameras came out as people watched the exchange. Two grownups should have been able to resolve the matter without a spectacle.

The man in the car with the trailer has difficulty in backing up. And in fairness, he has not blocked anything but his own lane. He wants to go forward and around the corner. The lady coming around the curve has entered into the middle of the lane and she could either adjust to her right, or back up out of the way. But she has her sights on a parking spot that is being blocked by the car and trailer. She may be afraid to back up, but she has the option to veer out and to her right. The car and trailer could pull forward and completely resolve the matter.

What she does not like is the escalation in his voice as she hesitated and tried to decide what to do. Her initial reaction was to stop and do nothing. The man honked. She stared at him. He gestured and told her to move her car. And this is where it seemed to become unfriendly. Her passenger got out of the car, stood in the lane and began smoking a cigarette. She said she could not move as she was waiting for him to get back in. This was clearly a move of defiance.

The camera recorded the moments that followed that initial meeting and up to that point. The man's impatience is now at a peak as the minutes have dragged on.

Traffic has built up behind both vehicles. Backing up now is tricky for the woman, and impossible for the man. Other horns honked. The man began to swear and the passenger of the woman's car makes a deliberate show of taking his time getting back into the car. Spectators began to talk about intervening with advice or a reprimand. The cars behind both vehicles backed up and out of the way, leaving just the two in the predicament.

The man finally got into the vehicle and the woman made a very slow move forward and out of his way. For Canada, this is an unusual display of impatience that left people shaking their heads. What had gone on for nearly 5 minutes was a seemingly needless showdown.

Who is more to blame in this scenario? Is it the man with his rude demands, or the woman with her reluctance to move her car over to the right?

The spotted salamander is abundant in the forests of North America, yet they are rarely seen. They hide underground, or deep under leaf litter, feeding on worms and insects at night, usually without venturing into the open. They emerge during breeding season in March to May each year, when the ice has barely melted on the nearby vernal ponds.

The salamanders leave their cover to make their way en masse to the water where they breed. On a rainy night, as if every salamander for miles is answering the same call, on the same schedule, they begin a trek over open ground. It is a trip that renders them vulnerable to predators. But nature calls and the salamanders such as this one will answer that call.

The eggs are laid in the vernal pools where they develop and hatch into tadpoles. The eggs of the spotted salamander hold a symbiotic relationship with an algae that grows within them. This provides energy and oxygen as the eggs mature. This is necessary because some of the eggs have a membrane that will not allow for oxygen to pass through from the surrounding water.
Salamanders can live for up to 32 years in the wild. They must remain sheltered from the sunlight during that entire time.

Their skin must remain moist for them to survive.

This busy little bee is working her tail off to gather pollen from sunflowers as winter rapidly approaches. The colder weather tells these little creatures to work faster so that they will be able to make enough honey for the winter. Bumblebees are social animals, similar to honeybees, but their nests consist of up to 50 individuals. In comparison, honeybee colonies may consist of 20,000 to 80,000 worker bees.

Bumblebees actually feed on nectar. They are unable to digest the pollen. But pollen is used to make honey, which feeds the colony during winter months. Bees secrete a waxy substance from their abdomen that resembles dandruff. These flakes are gathered and molded to form wax pots and cells for honey storage. Occasionally, the wax is also used to line the outside of a nest.

Of all the bees, bumblebees are capable of flight at the lowest temperature. They have insulated nests and they are capable of shivering to warm up.
Bees are incredibly complex creatures, often referred to as biological robots due to their ability to complete tasks and display cognitive ability, despite the fact that brains consist of far less neurons than the human brain. Many scientists have proposed that the function of the bee brain would be a better model for artificial intelligence than the human brain.

Bees are a wonder of nature and they are mesmerizing to watch. And whether we love them or fear them, there is no denying that we are dependent on them for our survival.

Manta rays are among the most majestic of all the ocean's creatures. They grow to incredible sizes with wing spans of up to 7m (21 feet). They glide seemingly effortlessly with slow flaps of their enormous wings. Flapping quickly, they instantly reach impressive speeds when needed.

Manta rays are fish, and they have the highest brain to body mass ration of all fish. They are gentle creatures that long ago lost the ability to sting. They outswim or dive to avoid predators. They are capable of diving very deep.

Manta rays have specially designed cephalic fins that they unroll when feeding to funnel water into their open mouths. Zooplankton are filtered on their gill rakes and then ingested by the rays. Most of this feeding occurs at depths between 200 and 1000m (600 and 1000 feet) in the deeper ocean known as the mesopelagic zone.

Because they have cartilaginous skeletons that do not preserve well, there are few fossilized records of manga rays. This leaves large gaps in our understanding of mantas and their lives over time.

Mantas produce one or two pups every second year. These low reproduction rates make the mantas susceptible to environmental changes and overfishing. Populations of manta rays have declined because they are sought for gill rakers that are believed to have medicinal properties. They are now considered an endangered species.

Aurora is a 6 month old golden retriever puppy with a beautiful and playful disposition. She adores her giant friend, Raven, a 3 year old Great Dane who still believes that she is a puppy herself. This is Aurora's second trip to the family cottage, situated on a remote island in Ontario, Canada. The dogs have free reign here and they run through the trees and along the beach, cavorting until it's nap time. They rest in front of a roaring fire in the stone fireplace until it's time to play some more. It is truly a dog's life and they love every minute of this time in paradise.

Aurora has found a long stick that has washed up on shore. It's been chewed by the local beavers and it seems to have a scent or an appeal of some sort. She proudly carried it over to Raven and invited her to play tug of war with it. Raven is a patient and gentle giant who is happy to play with Aurora all day long. She happily tugs at the stick, being careful not to overpower her smaller friend. But Raven sees that her family is getting ready for a boat ride. They are about to set off on a cranberry picking adventure and Raven knows that it's time to forget about the stick. As she walks away, Aurora also figures out that they are going somewhere.

In an adorably clumsy roll, Aurora tips over backwards and flops in the leaves. She tries to right herself but the stick makes it difficult. She leaves the stick and follows her family as they head down to the dock.

Indonesia is a beautiful country, made up of more than 17,000 unique and fascinating islands. It is home to 275 million people. The island of Bali is considered the cultural centre of Indonesia and it brings in 80% of the tourism dollars for the entire republic. Bali is a busy island and the hectic hustle and bustle of daily life is obvious on the streets each day. The majority of people here get around on scooters and small motorcycles. They weave in an out of traffic, often with two or more people on them. They can be loaded with bags or boxes as well because this is how most deliveries are made here.

But this dog owner was taking her best friend along for the ride and it seems that this furry fellow is a fan of riding along with her. The dog sits perfectly still on the foot platform with his tail hanging over one side and his face sticking out on the other. At one point he lets out a yawn, suggesting that he's completely at ease on the scooter.

Dave and Kristy are scuba divers with a love for the ocean and all of the creatures who live there. They are on a dive that has taken them to 30m (90 feet) beneath the waves along the edge of a pinnacle in Papua New Guinea. The water is crystal clear and the visibility is spectacular. They explored the corals and saw fish of indescribable beauty and varied colour.

After being this far beneath the surface, breathing pressurized air, scuba divers build up a quantity of nitrogen in their blood that must be expelled. To return to normal pressure at the surface without ascending slowly enough will cause immediate and catastrophic effects on their neurological function. For safety, these divers must ascend to 6m (18 feet) and wait three minutes until the gases in their blood return to safe levels. This part of a dive is often the most boring part as the divers generally hover in open water near the boat.

But occasionally, the safety stop provides an interesting look at marine life that does not remain under cover and protection of the coral. These fish are platax, commonly referred to as batfish. They prefer to swim in the open ocean, near the surface and away from structures. They will often congregate under boats and regard scuba divers with curiosity from a distance. These fish have decided to take a very close look at Dave and Kristy and they provide a beautiful close up view of their beautiful colour. The fish seem interested when the divers wiggle their fingers. They also take enough of a liking to Kristy to follow her to the boat.

Rattlesnakes are often villainized, striking fear in hearts of people around the world. In fact, ophidophobia, fear of snakes is the second most common fear among people. Only the fear of public speaking is more overwhelming or more common.

Snakes have been depicted in stories and movies as threatening and dangerous for thousands of years. They have been blamed for all manner of horrible situations, dating back as far as biblical times. With many species of snake being dangerous, if mishandled, it is no wonder that people are so fearful. But snakes are rarely a hazard unless provoked, with the exception of larger predators like anacondas or pythons.

Ontario, Canada has only one venomous snake. The Massissauga rattlesnake is equipped with a venom that could make a person ill, but only very rarely could it kill a full grown human. In almost all cases, the snake was startled, stepped on, or handled carelessly. This is a young Massassauga rattler who has taken up a position to bask on a rock beside a dock at this family's cottage. Being well acquainted with nature, they know that the snake can do them no harm as long as they keep out of striking range and give the snake no reason to be alarmed. Snakes prey on small rodents such as mice and young rats. Humans would never be considered a food source and rattlesnakes are not aggressive, except in self defence.

Even still, nobody wants to get bitten, so it is highly recommended that long pants and shoes be worn in wooded areas in cottage country in case of events like this one. Fortunately, rattlesnakes have adapted so that they possess a hardened tail that emits a buzzing or rattling sound when they shake the tip of their tail rapidly. Unlike what we hear in movies, the sound resembles a bee buzzing loudly rather than a baby rattle in the hands of an excited child.

Rattlesnakes are extremely beneficial animals, keeping rodent populations at bay. This helps prevent the transmission of parasites and disease and helps avoid the cost of damage due to rodents in our living spaces. If you get a close look at a rattlesnake, observe it from a safe distance and consider yourself lucky. Normally shy and reclusive, it is a rare opportunity to find one out in the open like this beautiful creature.

Toadfish make a vibrating croaky sound that can be heard and felt by divers for a long distance. These fish inhabit the waters of the Caribbean and other oceans around the world. This elusive fish was filmed in Belize, hiding under coral. They emerge partway from under the ledges to croak and call to prospective mates. The sound of their mating call is unmistakable.

Scuba divers can hear the sound of a toadfish and they can actually feel the vibration in their chest. The toadfish is rarely seen, but divers will try to zero in on their location to get a look or even a photograph. Often, the divers will tell each other excitedly that they heard the sound of a close toadfish.

These lucky divers were searching for several evenings when they came upon this one in plain view. They signaled each other and gathered around for what might be the only sighting that each diver will ever have of this animal.

Toadfish are a favourite food of dolphins. Dolphins are attracted by the mating call and they will track them by sound and vibration to catch them. Toadfish are also alerted by the clicks and pops of the dolphins and they will decrease their mating calls by as much as 50% when dolphins are nearby.

Toadfish are bizarre looking creatures with an unforgettable appearance. The ocean is full of fascinating and unique animal life. Only the lucky few get to experience this world firsthand.

Josie is an adorable calf who lives on a beautiful farm in Ontario, Canada. She has the happiest life that a cow could have. Her herd wanders freely over lush green pastures with rolling hills and forested areas for shade. They have ponds full of fresh water to drink from and lots of clean, country air. They graze as they wish and snooze in the

sun whenever the mood strikes. They even have a protective bull who watches over them as they enjoy their peaceful life.
Josie is the daughter of Linda, a seasoned mother who has always done her best for her babies. But Linda's milk supply has been a little lacking this time around and she simply doesn't produce as much as her calf needs. This farm hand visits the meadow every morning, soon after sunrise to give Josie her breakfast. Josie has learned the routine and she strolls over, licking her lips in anticipation. She eagerly drinks the whole bottle in record time and then she wanders back to her mother and the herd.

Linda is a patient and trusting mother who doesn't object to Josie getting served her breakfast.

Farming is a difficult profession that requires long hours of hard work. At the mercy of the weather and the growing season, farmers harvest their crops when they can. Their ability to work quickly and smoothly can make the difference between profit and loss. Working together is crucial to make the most of their machinery.
This drone shows what farming looks like from a bird's eye view. As the combine mows down the corn, the cobs are processed and the kernels are fired into the truck. With precision, the driver of the truck keeps the trailer lined up with the combine to fill the trailer in a uniform manner. Judging when it is nearly full, the combine driver pauses so the truck can pull away and allow a second truck to take its place. Like clockwork, these workers move smoothly, not wasting any time as they keep the machinery and the harvest moving.
Getting food from the fields to the table is a noble and respectable profession. It's about more than making enough money to turn a profit, it's about feeding a nation and keeping our people healthy. The more we understand how hard these good folks work, the better able we will be to appreciate what they provide for us.

Bull sharks are big animals and they are very intimidating with their stocky bodies and huge moths full of razor sharp teeth. They are sharks with a reputation for being aggressive feeders. Dominant in the waters of Fiji, only a tiger shark holds a more commanding presence. They are strong and very capable hunters.

These large shark frequent the area to the south of the Island of Viti Levu in the Republic of Fiji. Scuba operations here conducted feeding demonstrations for tourists and researchers. These sharks are eager volunteers in this controlled fish feeding that is conducted on a ledge in 20m (60 feet) of water. The guides use closed bait buckets that can be opened with cables in order to release fish scraps that the sharks quickly devour. Scuba divers who watch are able to see sharks'
feeding behavoiur.

Although there conflicting opinions about shark feeding operations, the benefits here are difficult to ignore. In previous years, fish stocks were in balance when the Fijian people were the only ones harvesting fish on the local reefs. Sharks were seen as competitors and a threat to their food supply. Protecting the sharks represented a loss to the people and an impediment to the survival of the people.

Outside commercial fishing operations came and offered lucrative deals for the rights to fish in the coastal waters. This depleted fish supplies at an alarming rate, causing an even greater need for the money that the fishing operations offered.
Conservationists and shark lovers found that the sharks could provide the answer. Scuba diving tours offer the possibility of generating revenue without harming sharks or fish. The sharks are worth a lot in terms of tourist dollars and it became obvious that they needed the protection of the people living here. The income generated was more than enough to offset the money lost by limiting commercial fishing operations. The fish populations rebounded and the natural balance of the reef was restored. The Fijian people that own this land are thriving from the tourist revenue. The fish processing companies are also paid for the scraps that would otherwise be discarded. This creates significant revenue and it returns the biomass to the ocean, giving a boost to the food chain on the reef.

These shark feeding tours also represent an opportunity to educate people about the sharks and their benefit to the ocean. Guides provide interesting facts about the role they play in the ecosystem and the effect that losing sharks would have on the planet. Guides also explain that they are not the cold blooded killers that we have believed them to be.
After seeing these majestic creatures close up, it is hard not to fall in love with them and to develop a healthy respect for these beautiful animals.

Johanita and her family are exploring an archaeological site in Ecuador, being led on a guided tour of ancient ruins. An unexpected bonus of this tour is that a herd of alpacas roams free on the enormous expanse of rolling hills. They have learned that some of the visitors have brought salt with them. The guides hand out salt which is given to the alpacas to supplement their diet. The alpacas flock around the guests to get their share.

Johanita's family is experiencing this for the first time. They have struggled with Johanita's health as she battled a brain tumor that required numerous surgeries since she was diagnosed at 18 months of age. Johanita has spent a great deal of her life in hospital or recuperating at home. She is now enjoying a long stretch of good health and her family has been taking advantage of this to have more family time.

Dave and Kristy are also visiting from Canada and this tour was the perfect opportunity for the two families to share an experience that none of them would forget. Johanita's brothers watched and laughed along with Johanita as her giggles lit up the faces of everybody around her.

Hermit crabs are fascinating creatures with a very unique way of protecting themselves from predators. Instead of growing an exoskeleton like most crustaceans, hermit crabs are soft bodied crabs that would be defenseless without the protection of an abandoned shell that was created by another animal. But there is a lot more math and science involved in the selection of the shell than scientists once realized. The process of swapping shells can also involve a complex event that requires the cooperation of many hermit crabs working together in what scientists call a vacancy chain.

Hermit crabs wander the ocean floor at various depths, eating decaying animal and plant matter, keeping the ocean clean and limiting bacteria growth. They provide a valuable service for all who call the ocean their home. As they eat, the hermit crabs grow and eventually they become large enough that they can no longer fully conceal their vulnerable bodies in their current shell. When the shell no longer provides adequate cover, the crab will search for a larger one. If it finds an empty shell and the fit is a good one, the exchange will take place quickly as the crab abandons the old and fits into the new. The abdomen curls around inside to secure the shell in place and the crab will continue on.

The hermit crab knows that the ideal shell will allow for a certain amount of growth and that it also cannot be too heavy. The ideal weight ratio seems to be a shell that is roughly 60% of the crab's bodyweight. If the shell is heavier than this, there is a metabolic cost of carrying it and the crab will grow more slowly. Where this is a serious disadvantage is in attracting females. IN competition, the larger crab gets the girl and this advantage for reproduction rights is crucial. The crab will select his new shell based on size and also weight or density.

This becomes even more interesting when a hermit crab comes upon a good shell that is too large for him. He will wait patiently beside the new shell for up to eight hours. Other crabs will come along and inspect the empty shell. They might also reject the shell if it is too large and they will line up beside the first crab to wait. This can continue until the chain of waiting hermit crabs reaches as many as 20 individuals. Unbelievably, they all line up in order of size in what is known as a vacancy chain. When a crab comes along that accepts and moves into the shell that is sitting vacant, he will abandon his old shell. If his old shell is a better fit for the first crab arrival, the waiting crab will quickly make a switch, followed closely by the others in rapid succession. The crabs will all find themselves in new quarters very quickly, which is crucial to staying protected from predators during the process. Each will then go on his way, eating and growing until the next time they need a new shell.

Unfortunately for some hermit crabs, they might find themselves evicted from a very desirable shell. Crabs will gang up on the male with the ideal shell and they will work together to pry him out. They will then battle for dominance with the new shell being the prize.

When shells are scarce, hermit crabs have been known to use debris or even litter for shelter. If they climb inside containers and cannot get out due to slippery surfaces, they perish. A dead crab emits an odour that attracts other hermit crabs, signaling that a shell is available due to the death of the former owner. This can be fatal to other crabs in the process who will also climb inside and die.

Hermit crabs are interesting and more complex than we once thought. Who would have guessed that they would need to employ math skills to determine the best house for their needs?!

Reef sharks reach an impressive 3m (10 feet) in length and can weigh more than 125kg (275lbs). They are formidable hunters with a mouth full of sharp teeth. Watch as these sharks in Belize look for some handouts from these scuba divers. So cool!

Scuba divers consider themselves fortunate to catch even a brief glimpse of a whale shark in the open ocean. They are gentle and magnificent creatures that dwarf a human. Their great size and majestic appearance inspires awe in all who are lucky enough to swim in their presence. For many underwater adventurers, it is a bucket list item to see a whale shark.

This scuba diver has travelled from Canada to the remote waters in the Galapagos Islands, hoping to see these sharks up close. As he swims through the ocean, 70 feet beneath the waves, he is amazed to see a gigantic female coming straight at him. The whale sharks cruise silently through these waters, coming from all around the globe to give birth. So much of what brings them here and how they bear their young remains a mystery, but scientists and nature lovers know that this is one of the best places in the world to see them. This naturalist is recording the sharks and their distinctive patterns which can be used for identification of the individuals. As the shark draws nearer, the diver must paddle backwards to avoid a collision with the giant animal. Although this will not likely cause him injury, he is cautious in the presence of such a massive creature. He is also being respectful of the rules that prohibit touching the sharks or interfering with them in any way.

This large shark is unaffected by his presence and she seems confident that he will move for her. For the shark to alter its course would require a great deal of effort.

These gentle giants of the ocean must be protected at all costs. The more we learn and understand, the better we will be able to prevent the loss of them forever.

Tortoises in the Galapagos Islands grow to an enormous size, often weighing as much as 417kg (919 lbs). In order to grow to this size, these animals are voracious eating machines, consuming massive amounts of vegetation each day. Slow moving, the tortoises cannot travel great distances or travel rapidly, so it is necessary for them to be able to survive on a wide variety of vegetation.

These are known as elephant ear plants, a large leafed plant with a robust stalk. The plant has microscopic hairs that cause irritation in the mouth and lips of most animals. The tortoise is not affected by this and it has a great fondness for these plants as we can see by the tortoise's reaction to finding his friends eating these delicious stalks.

This is Floreana Island in the Galapagos. A subspecies of giant tortoise that once thrived here has gone extinct. Scientists have brought other tortoises to this island and they have been working hard to establish protected areas for the tortoises where the researchers can employ selective breeding of a hybrid subspecies descended from the now extinct subspecies. This will enable them to closely create a population of tortoises with similar characteristics and genetics, effectively "resurrecting" the extinct subspecies. Of great importance is the recent discovery of a tortoise subspecies on Isabela Island that are descended from the parents of the extinct tortoises that once lived on Floreana. This will also assist in recreating similar genetics in newborn tortoises.

Tortoises are able to live for nearly 200 years under ideal conditions. Their longevity is what ensures the survival of the species, allowing a mature tortoise to breed and produce a great number of offspring in its life. Small tortoises are heavily predated by birds, lizards, dogs, and rats but once they reach maturity, few animals are able to cause them harm.

These tortoises are beautiful and gentle creatures. They are one of the most iconic species of animals in the Galapagos Islands.

Elephants are beautiful and peaceful creatures. Despite their great size, they are gentle and docile beasts, when not feeling threatened. They are an animal that inspires awe and wonder in all who see them.

These elephants live on a protected safari where they are free to roam and enjoy playtime in the river on a sunny day.

Indian elephants can reach a height of 3.5m (11.5ft) and a weight of over 5,000kg (11,000lbs). They are classified as megaherbivores, consuming up to 150kg of plants each day. They are picky eaters, consuming fresh shoots and tender stalks while discarding roots and more fibrous portions of their food. They are skilled at using their trunks like hands to manipulate their food.

Expansion of human population and degradation of suitable elephant habitat remains a serious threat to these beautiful animals. Habitat loss leads to increasing conflict between elephants and humans in many areas.

Sadly, elephants are still hunted for their ivory, despite laws that are aimed at protecting them. This leads to a decline, particularly in the numbers of males, reducing not only the population of elephants, but the gene pool as well.

Watching these majestic creatures in the river gives us a wonderful view of the beauty and magnificence of these gentle giants. To lose them forever would be beyond tragic.


Created 3 years, 6 months ago.

113 videos

Category Pets & Wildlife

Kristys World