Entries in wildlife (130)

Wednesday
Aug242011

Great migrations of the animal kingdom: part two

Continuing this week’s theme of amazing animal migrations, today it is the turn of those winged wonders that cover some incredible distances year in, year out. Migration is often associated with flight, and it is no surprise when you consider that birds hold some of the most incredible records when it comes to annual voyages around the world.

Arctic Tern Between Greenland and Antarctica

Currently the record holder of the longest migration of any creature on the planet, this tiny bird has been found to travel distances up to 44,000 miles ever year in its journey between Greenland and Antarctica. Previously too small to be recorded accurately, this illustrious title was thought to belong to the Sooty Shearwater, which is not far behind with a recorded migration of about 40,000 miles. The Arctic Tern can live for up to 30 years, meaning that over its lifetime an individual probably travels a total of about 1.5 million miles, equivalent to three trips to the moon and back. A truly out of this world, head-terning traveller.

Monarch ButterflyBetween Canada/USA to Central Mexico

Not all migrations by air are those of birds: the journey of the Monarch butterfly is one of the most amazing and interesting occurrences in the natural world. A normal Monarch butterfly only lives for between 4-5 weeks. However, once a year, a special Methuselah generation of individuals is born. This individual is remarkably able to live for up to eight months, the equivalent of a human living to the age of 525. The reason for this unbelievable phenomenon is the need to migrate. This special generation must fly between 1,200-2,800 miles south from their breeding grounds in Canada and the USA, to Central Mexico, to avoid the harsh winter. Guided by the sun’s orbit, the butterflies have been known to cover distances of up to 80 miles per day, an amazing feat for such a small creature.

The arrival of the butterflies in the forests between the states of Mexico and Michoacan is a true natural wonder. Here they hibernate from mid-November to mid-February, when they begin the journey back. However, the Methuselah generation cannot make the return journey on its own, eventually dying on the way. In another incredible twist to the journey, a succession of normal generations take over the flight, gradually making their way north. The individuals that return to the original breeding grounds have never been there themselves, with a sense of orientation thought to be passed on genetically from the great, great grandparents that first set out on the migratory trip. Wow. 

By Alex Prior

Monday
Aug222011

Great Migrations of the Animal Kingdom

This week we’re looking at some of the most incredible mass migrations in the natural world. With so many amazing journeys to choose from, deciding which ones to explore was far from easy.

Kicking things off today with the marine world, be sure to stay tuned this week to learn more about some of the most iconic and awe-inspiring voyages undertaken by land and air.

Pacific Salmon Run – North America and Canada
 
All five species of Pacific salmon migrate between freshwater and saltwater during their life cycle. Having made the journey from the freshwater streams in which they are born to the sea, they then return to these freshwater sites to lay their own eggs. Different ‘runs’ exist within the different species of Pacific salmon, with the Adams River sockeye run being one of the most famous. During their strenuous and lengthy spawning mission, the salmon face many different dangers, such as starvation (they do not feed once they leave their saltwater habitat) and hunting by humans, bears, otters and eagles. Man-made dams are increasingly posing a problem to the salmon. As if this was not enough to contend with, the salmon then fight one-another once they arrive at the breeding grounds.

Sardine Run – Southern Africa
 
This annual extravaganza is one of nature’s most impressive spectacles. The ‘run’ begins in the cool waters south of the African continent, where large shoals of sardines form before moving north into the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean. This mass migration of hundreds of millions of sardines is brought about by the movement of their main food source, plankton. As a cold-water current moves to the north, the sardines have no choice but to follow. This in turn attracts a vast array of predators to the area such as dolphins, sharks, sea birds and the immense Bryde’s whale, creating what has been dubbed ‘the greatest shoal on Earth’. The BBC’s incredible footage of the phenomenon is a truly amazing watch.

By Alex Prior

Friday
Jul152011

The evolution of the wildlife documentary: part two

Following on from Wednesday’s look back at the early days of natural history television, today we're going to take a look at the state of wildlife documentaries in recent years.

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Wednesday
Jul132011

The evolution of the wildlife documentary: part one

This week Frontier takes a look at the ongoing relationship between wildlife and film. In this feature, we explore the history of the wildlife documentary from its humble beginnings in the late 19th century through to the big-budget offerings we see on our screens today.

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Friday
Jul082011

10 interesting discoveries this decade

Thursday
Jul072011

Discover threatened species with Frontier pt. 2

Wednesday
Jul062011

Fighting for Survival – Endangered Animals

Monday
Jul042011

10 Significant Extinctions this Decade

Wednesday
Jun292011

Should wild animals be used in circus performances?

Wednesday
Jun152011

Koalas under threat

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