Landscape/Environment Tut

Okay so i got a few notes on how i go about Environments/Landscapes…so i’ll share a method thats easy to work with….bare with me its been a little while since ive drawn them Lol

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First thing you want to start of with in your gradient background…use what ever is your preference. Depends on the setting, ima do some type of desert/dusty place.

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You’ll learn that the Lasso tool is gonna be your bae when it comes to environments…that and its pretty useful. Now your going to be working in three tones, 1.Dark 2.Mid 3.Light and it will always be the darkest at the front fading to light towards the back…make sense? So you will have three layers for each one to make your life easier and Lock those layers so you will only color within that area. Make sure the dark layer is on top. 

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Here is where the fun kicks in…we add our dets, try to stay with each tone and dont end up making it all muddy so you cant distinguish each one. Now you can go about this any way you please, you can paint it all in with one brush ( for some reason people get anal about shit like that, thinking there great for using one brush…i think if you got tools use em if you know how to do it right.) Or you can use custom brushes…since this is a tut ill mostly use custom brushes to slap stuff around. Its up to you really, also use the lasso tool like i said its your bae.

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The lasso can help define things better for you, so i wanted to add a structure type on the third layer. If you want to give an effect that the selection ive made is in front of the background right click your selection and invert it, add some lighting around the edges…only a little though you dont want to over do it.

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Also if you’ve done something on a layer you dont want to mess up or paint on what you can do is create a clipping mask on that layer. Its kinda like locking the layer to that one so you dont go outside of the layer or ruin what you worked on. Make a new layer above the one you wish to attach it to and right click the newlayer, a menu will pop up, your looking for clipping mask. Once you clicked it the layer should look like what ive circled. 

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Once your done working on each layer we are gonna put in some mist effect, this is something that helps separate each section. So make a new layer between each of your three as shown in the image. Like i said you can use what ever method you like, i just use a soft brush or cloud/mist brush to get what i want. 

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Now we are going to add some definition to the image a good one to use is Curves. You can find this where your layer menu is, at the bottom you’ll find it, ive circled what your looking for. On the third image is what will appear when you click curves, all you need to do is drag the little square and you’ll see some magic happen. So adjust it to your preference. If you want you can also mess with brightness/contrast too. ALSO i would recommend adding a person in the image, it gives you an idea of the scale your environment is.

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I was going to end it there but hey, ill show one last thing…its pretty simple. and that is some water reflection, we are going to turn the middle into water instead cause its a little boring right now. I merged all layers but the first one, you then want to make a selection and copy/paste. Free transform in the shortcut is ctrl T and do a vertical flip on it then adjust so its mirroring the top. 

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Now make a clipping mask like i explained earlier on the reflected surface and use the radiant tool…i think its called that lol it gives it more of a water surface like you see. For the image below it i used a custom brush which creates a water effect, aaaaaaaaaand bam you got you water now covering the area…easy huh. 

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And so this concludes the Tutorial and you have the end result. Hopefully that gave some tips on how to approach landscapes…they can be confusing sometimes on where to start. Enjoy and let me know if it was useful or not :P

90 percent of Earth’s species are overlooked in conservation

One of the biggest problems for conservation today is that it ignores 95% of all known species on Earth. Could a company ignored that proportion of its clients or a government so many of its voters? So why does this problem exist in conservation?

Some 90% of all of the Earth’s species are either invertebrates or micro-organisms, and the folly of ignoring the latter is encapsulated by UK Professor Tom Curtis writing in Nature Reviews Microbiology:

I make no apologies for putting micro-organisms on a pedestal above all other living things, for if the last blue whale choked to death on the last panda, it would be disastrous but not the end of the world. But if we accidentally poisoned the last two species of ammonia-oxidisers, that would be another matter. It could be happening now and we wouldn’t even know […]

Ammonia oxidisers are naturally occurring bacteria that are essential for maintaining the most economically valuable nutrient in soil: nitrogen. They are good examples of the other millions of mostly tiny soil species, either microbial or invertebrate, upon which all agriculture and forestry depends.

Their astonishing genetic, chemical, metabolic and population properties are those that generate the essential processes, such as nitrogen cycling, that drive all the primary industries. This being so, the primary industries are obviously biodiversity-based industries.

Yet we are confronted every day with a wide range of opinion that agriculture and forestry are the greatest threats to biodiversity. So how bad is this disconnect?

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Pilot Captures Mysterious Glow Over the Pacific: Cause Yet to be Found

Commercial airline pilot JPC van Heijst recently captured a series of unusual photographs he had taken while flying in the North Pacific, just south of the Russian peninsula Kamchatka, late Saturday night. Calling it “the creepiest thing so far in my flying career,” he described the phenomenon as an intense flash of light “directed vertically up in the air.” Twenty minutes later, a cluster of large, red, glowing lights appeared, which seemed to be emanating from the ocean. Baffled, van Heijst reported his observations to Air Traffic Control to investigate the cause. Though an explanation has yet to be found, the predominant theory links the bizarre sighting to massive underwater volcanic eruption. Indeed, the flight path crossed over the “Ring of Fire,” a circular area in the Pacific where over 75% of the world’s dormant and active volcanos are located. 

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Images from Gondwana: Images of an Ancient Land, a book by photographer Diane Tuft.

About the book:

After receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation in 2012, art photographer Diane Tuft traveled to Antarctica to study and document the effects of ultraviolet and infrared radiation on the landscape. Gondwana: Images of an Ancient Land chronicles the extraordinary results of that expedition, with over 50 stunning images that capture Antarctica’s raw, untouched splendor with colors, textures, and compositions that verge on the surreal. Named for the megacontinent that once contained what is now Antarctica, Gondwana presents a living reflection of hundreds of millions of years of Earth’s history, a mythical land as it has never been imagined before.

Watch on futurescope.co

Recycling old batteries into solar cells

A system proposed by researchers at MIT would recycle materials from discarded car batteries — a potential source of lead pollution — into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power.

[read more] [paper]

Rolling Coal: From Anti-Environmentalists in the U.S. to the ISIS in the Middle East

If you missed the media frenzy earlier this summer, “rolling coal" is the term for a rising trend among anti-environmentalist conservatives in the U.S. who alter their truck engines to emit massive black clouds of exhaust, often from smoke stack-like attachments. Owners of coal rolling trucks, who often hail from regions historically associating with coal production, see the trend as a very direct statement against sustainability—and its stereotypically liberal ties. A seller of smoke stack kits for trucks describes rolling coal as a “a way of giving them [liberals] the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.” Now, in a bizarre cultural crossover, Vice News has captured members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, “rolling coal” in a military tank. The group, intending to place Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the leader of a restored caliphate, began making shockingly rapid advances across Iraq and Syria in June. Armed with cash and US weapons seized during its advances in Iraq, and exploiting control over critical water and energy supplies, the ISIS continues to exercise a stranglehold over the region. 

LOS ANGELES — The world is awash in plastic. It’s in our cars and our carpets, we wrap it around the food we eat and virtually every other product we consume; it has become a key lubricant of globalization — but it’s choking our future in ways that most of us are barely aware. I have just returned with a team of scientists from six weeks at sea conducting research in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — one of five major garbage patches drifting in the oceans north and south of the Equator at the latitude of our great terrestrial deserts. Although it was my 10th voyage to the area, I was utterly shocked to see the enormous increase in the quantity of plastic waste since my last trip in 2009. Plastics of every description, from toothbrushes to tires to unidentifiable fragments too numerous to count floated past our marine research vessel Alguita for hundreds of miles without end. We even came upon a floating island bolstered by dozens of plastic buoys used in oyster aquaculture that had solid areas you could walk on. Plastics are now one of the most common pollutants of ocean waters worldwide. Pushed by winds, tides and currents, plastic particles form with other debris into large swirling glutinous accumulation zones, known to oceanographers as gyres, which comprise as much as 40 percent of the planet’s ocean surface — roughly 25 percent of the entire earth.
No scientist, environmentalist, entrepreneur, national or international government agency has yet been able to establish a comprehensive way of recycling the plastic trash that covers our land and inevitably blows and washes down to the sea. In a 2010 study of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers, my colleagues and I estimated that some 2.3 billion pieces of plastic — from polystyrene foam to tiny fragments and pellets — had flowed from Southern California’s urban centers into its coastal waters in just three days of sampling.

#mahatmagandhi #gandhi #india #leader #leadership #forest #environment #mothernature #nature #earth #planet #eco #gogreen #mirror #reflection #humanity #soul #spirit #spiritual #hope #war #peace #love #lifestyle #consumerism #earthpics #quotes #quote #life #searchoflife

The Case Against Eating Fish by Richard H. Schwartz

Many people, including some who call themselves vegetarians, think fish are less capable of suffering than mammals and birds. These would-be vegetarians may avoid eating mammals and birds while continuing to eat fish, sometimes arguing that the problems associated with the production and consumption of other animal products don’t apply to fish. After all, they reason: fish aren’t raised in the cruel confinement of factory farms; unlike the raising of “livestock,” fishing doesn’t cause soil erosion and depletion, require deforestation to create pasture land and land on which to grow feed crops, or require huge amounts of pesticides and irrigation water; also, fish flesh is generally lower in fat than other animal-derived foods and is a healthy food. All of these assumptions are either wrong or problematic.

Let us consider typical vegetarian arguments that address treatment of animals, health risks, and environmental sustainability, as they apply to fish “production” and
consumption. Even though by definition fish (and other aquatic animals) have never been considered part of a vegetarian diet, the reasons to avoid their consumption as you will see are compelling.

Compassion for Animals

Fishers and animal rights advocates have long debated whether or not fish can feel pain. Among the overwhelming evidence that fish can suffer is a recent report by a team of marine biologists at Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute. The report was published by the Royal Society, one of Britain’s leading scientific institutes. The researchers found that rainbow trout possess pain receptors and react to a harmful substance (in this case, acetic acid) with “profound behavioral and physiological changes … over a prolonged period, comparable to those observed in higher mammals.” The researchers concluded that their findings “fulfill the criteria for animal pain.” Their conclusion is also consistent with common sense: fish, like other animals, need to be able to feel pain in order to survive.

Methods of catching and killing fish are clearly abusive. When fish are hauled up from a considerable depth, the sudden change in pressure on their bodies causes painful decompression that often causes their gills to collapse and their eyes to pop out. As soon as fish are removed from water, they begin to suffocate.

Hooked fish struggle because of pain and fear. As described by Tom Hopkins, professor of marine science at the University of Alabama, getting hooked on a line is “like dentistry without Novocain, drilling into exposed nerves.”

Fish who are “farmed” rather than caught experience more-prolonged suffering. Today in the United States, (to maximize profit,) most “farmed” trout, salmon, catfish, and other fish are raised in the same sort of intensive crowding found in commercial chicken and pig operations. Like the chicken-flesh industry, fish “farming” involves large-scale, highly mechanized production. Thousands of fish are crammed into ponds, troughs, or sea-floating cages, so that fish farmers can raise the greatest possible number of fish per cubic foot of water. In most cases, each fish is allotted a space scarcely larger than their body.

Farmed fish are fed pellets designed for unnaturally rapid weight gain. Under these abnormal intensely crowded conditions, fish suffer from stress, infections, parasites, oxygen depletion, and gas bubble disease (similar to “the bends” in humans). In an effort to prevent the spread of disease among the fish, producers give them large amounts of antibiotics. Even so, many fish die before slaughter. For economic reasons and to reduce fish feces, most farmed fish are starved for days or weeks before they are slaughtered.

Fish are not the only animals to suffer because of people’s appetite for their flesh. Egrets, hawks, and other birds who eat fish commonly are shot or poisoned to prevent them from eating the captives of these large open pools. Also, many sea turtles, dolphins, sea birds, and invertebrates suffer horrible deaths in commercial fishing nets.

Health Considerations

Many people who eat fish erroneously believe that it’s a healthful food. In a 1997 survey commissioned by the National Fisheries Institute, more than half of the 10,000 surveyed households cited health benefits among their primary reasons for eating fish.

What are the actual health effects of consuming fish? Fish flesh contains omega-3 fatty acids which appear to be heart-protective. However, there are healthier plant based sources of these acids, especially flax seeds, and, in lesser amounts, canola, soybean, walnuts, tofu, pumpkin, and wheat germ. Further, these plant foods provide health-promoting fiber and antioxidants. And they don’t contain the toxic heavy metals and carcinogens found in fish flesh.

In any case, the possible benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are largely limited to people at risk of heart disease, and for pregnant and breast feeding women. The largest study of cholesterol levels, carried out in Framingham, Massachusetts, showed that people with cholesterol levels below 150 have virtually no such risk. Because people on well-planned vegan diets generally have cholesterol levels below 150, the best way to maintain cardiac health is to follow such a diet, thereby ensuring that artery blockages don’t occur in the first place.

As a result of human pollution of aquatic environments, eating fish flesh has become a major health hazard. Industrial and municipal wastes and the agricultural chemicals flushed into the world’s waters are absorbed by the fish who live there. Big fish, such as tuna and salmon, eat smaller fish. So, in general, the bigger the fish, the greater the accumulation of toxic chemicals throughout their flesh. Pollutants that concentrate in fish include pesticides; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); toxic metals such as lead, cadmium, chromium, and arsenic; dioxins; and radioactive substances such as strontium 90. Because of biological magnification during movement up the food chain, pollutants can reach levels as high as 9 million times that of the water in which they live. These pollutants have been linked to many health problems, including impaired behavioral development in children. Nursing infants consume half of their mother’s load of PCBs, dioxin, DDT, and other toxic chemicals. These toxins have been linked to cancers, nervous system disorders, fetal damage, and many other damaging health effects. Dr. Neal Barnard, director of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), describes fish as “a mixture of fat and protein, seasoned with toxic chemicals.”

Higher mercury levels in mothers who eat significant amounts of fish have been associated with birth defects, mental retardation, seizures, cerebral palsy, and developmental disabilities in their children. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis released in 2004 indicated that about 630,000 of the 4 million children born annually in the U.S. are at risk of impaired motor function, learning capacity, memory, and vision - due to high levels of mercury in their bloodstreams.

The Food and Drug Administration and the EPA have advised that groups most sensitive to mercury - women of childbearing age and young children – should not eat swordfish, king mackerel, or shark because they’re high in mercury. Removing fish from the diet eliminates half of all mercury exposure and reduces one’s intake of other toxins.

“Farmed” salmon contains even more contaminants than flesh from wild-caught salmon. As reported in Science, an analysis of over two tons of flesh from salmon “farmed” in different countries indicated toxic levels of PCBs, dioxins, and banned insecticides such as toxaphene. The risks are so great that the EPA’s guidelines suggest that no one should eat flesh from “farmed” salmon more than once a month. The authors of the Science report warn that girls and young women should eat even less because pregnant women can pass on fish-flesh contaminants to their fetuses, impairing mental development and immune-system function. Two studies published in 2003 in the journal Chemosphere also reported elevated levels of PCBs, and certain chemicals, including flame retardant, in flesh from “farmed” salmon. Most salmon in U.S. markets today are farmed.

It’s easy to understand how industrial toxins accumulate in the flesh of ocean-dwelling fish, but how did farmed salmon get so contaminated? Most farmed salmon are fed pellets made from fish hauled up from the polluted sea floor. It takes 3 to 4 pounds of wild fish to produce just one pound of “farmed” fish.

"Farmed" fish also are fed dyes to give their flesh a pink color, as well as massive amounts of antibiotics to stave off bacterial diseases and sea lice. Farmed salmon are fed more antibiotics, per pound, than any other animals reared for slaughter. This contributes to increasing numbers of drug resistant bacteria, making it more difficult to treat some human diseases.

In a six-month investigation, Consumers Union found that nearly half the fish tested from markets in New York City, Chicago, and Santa Cruz, California were contaminated by bacteria from human or nonhuman feces. In addition, fish often contain disease-causing worms and parasites.

Even when carefully handled and continually refrigerated, dead fish rapidly rots. Fish often stay on trawlers for long periods before being brought to markets.

Fish flesh contains large amounts of protein. While most people think this is positive, the average American consumes excess protein, which has been linked to a number of health problems, including kidney stones and osteoporosis. Unlike fats and carbohydrates, protein can’t be stored by the human body. Any consumed protein that exceeds the amount that can be used on a given day is broken down and excreted. After someone eats concentrated protein, such as a salmon steak or fish fillet, their blood must be cleansed of protein wastes, such as urea, ammonia, and amino acid fragments. Since cleansing requires calcium, the excess protein from fish causes the loss of calcium through the urine. Continued year after year, this calcium loss may result in thin bones that easily fracture: osteoporosis, a condition that affects 15 million Americans. Due to lower acid production, vegetable protein generally causes much less calcium loss.

Fish contain none of the protective phytochemicals found only in plant-derived foods. Also, fish flesh has no fiber and virtually no complex carbohydrates. Lack of fiber may contribute to a number of diseases related to digestion, such as diverticulosis and colon cancer.

While fish is generally lower in fat than other animal-derived foods, not all fish is low in fat. Fifty-two percent of the calories in salmon flesh are from fat. In the case of many fish, such as catfish, swordfish, and sea trout, almost one-third of the calories are from fat. While fish fat is generally unsaturated and therefore doesn’t increase cholesterol in the blood of consumers, it does contribute to the build-up of toxins. Studies show that diets heavy in fish do not reverse arterial blockages. In fact, blockages often continue to worsen in patients who regularly eat fish.

Environmental Impact

Another very serious, and escalating, problem is the impact that fishing and fish “farming” have on the environment. Modern commercial trawlers are the size of a football field, with huge nets (sometimes miles long) that scoop up everything in their path. They can take in 800,000 pounds of fish in just one netting. Trawlers scrape up ocean bottoms, destroying coral reefs. Half of the fish and other sea creatures (including some protected species) obtained through commercial fishing are fed to animals reared for food, including “farmed” fish. Each year, about 30 million tons of aquatic animals - maimed, dying, or already dead - are simply tossed back into the ocean.

Commercial fishing fleets are rapidly destroying aquatic ecosystems. As a result, the number of large predatory fish has dramatically declined over the last 50 years. Once-huge populations of tuna, swordfish, and cod have dwindled to mere remnants. Dalhousie University biologist Ransom Myers has stated, “Unless we seriously control industrial fishing worldwide, many of the species will go extinct.” The ocean’s biodiversity rivals that of tropical rainforests. In effect, humans are clear-cutting these environments. Waters that once teemed with life are now so barren that they’ve been compared to a dust bowl.

Plummeting fish populations have ripple effects throughout the marine ecosystem. Predator-prey relationships have been disrupted. For example, a decline in pollack in western Alaska has caused a 90 percent decline in Steller’s sea lions, who are now listed as endangered. Because of the decrease in sea lions, who are orcas’ primary prey, orcas have been eating more sea otters. As a result, sea otters have declined by 90 percent since 1990.

As vessels scour increasingly fished-out waters, international confrontations are increasing. Russians have attacked Japanese vessels in the Northwest Pacific. Scottish fishers have attacked a Russian trawler. Norwegian patrols cut the nets of three Icelandic ships in the Arctic, and the crews exchanged shots. The United Nations has reported a sharp increase in piracy and armed robbery directed toward ships, many of them fishing vessels.

"Aquaculture," too, has a significant negative impact on the environment. First, native fish are displaced as introduced fish invade spawning grounds and compete for food. Interbreeding pollutes the genetic pool. According to the National Fisheries Research Center, "aquaculture" has contributed to 68 percent of fish extinctions worldwide.

Fish “farming” also depletes natural resources. Modern commercial fishing is extremely energy-intensive. It requires as much as twenty calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce one calorie of energy from fish. Moreover, where fish are grown in artificial ponds, vast amounts of water are required to replenish oxygen and remove wastes. Rearing a ton of fish for slaughter requires eight tons of water. Producing one pound of flesh from captive fish requires three to four pounds of flesh from wild fish, so people who eat farmed fish contribute to the decimation of free-living fish populations.

"Aquaculture" also results in enormous pollution. The intense accumulation of wastes from fish farms can pollute the local marine environment and spread illnesses. Researchers at the University of Stockholm have found that pollution from fish farms can extend to an area much larger than the farm itself. In Scotland, for example, caged salmon contaminate coastal waters with untreated waste equivalent to that produced by 8 million people.

Because it requires massive water use, “aquaculture” routinely is conducted on coastal land that is the prime breeding and spawning ground for many free-living fish. Much coastal land has been cleared of forests, swamps, and rice patties to make room for fish “farms.”

Antibiotics given to farmed fish harm nearby seas and oceans. When farmed fish, laden with antibiotics, escape and breed with free-living fish, aquatic ecosystems may be thrown out of balance because of the mating of wild and farmed fish. Escaped fish raised in intensive confinement may spread disease to free populations of fish.

The “production” and consumption of fish flesh causes great suffering to fish and other animals, harms human health, threatens aquatic biodiversity, wastes natural resources, and invites international conflicts. A shift away from eating fish is both a societal and moral imperative.

Many thanks to Joan Dunayer, Jay Lavine, M.D., Michael Greger, M.D., and Dawn Carr for their valuable suggestions regarding this article.

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Their Town Was Lost In Another Century Until A Very Modern Threat Broke The Spell

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Pollination is a strange thing to us humans. Whereas we accomplish reproduction by simply locating a member of the opposite sex and copulating, plants have to utilize a third party. The most familiar cases include insects like bees and butterflies. More unique examples include birds, bats, and even lizards. Many plants forego the need of an animal and instead rely on wind to broadcast copious amounts of pollen into the air in hopes that it will randomly bump into a receptive female organ. This has worked quite well for terrestrial plants but what about their aquatic relatives? Water proves to be quite an obstacle for the methods mentioned above. Some species get around this by thrusting their flowers above the water surface but others don’t bother. One genus in particular has evolved quite a novel way of achieving sexual reproduction without having to leave its aquatic environment in any way. 

Meet the Vallisnerias. Commonly referred to as tape grasses, this genus of aquatic plants has been made famous the world over by their use in the aquarium trade. In the wild they grow submerged with their long, grass-like leaves dancing up into the water column. Where they are native, tape grasses function as an important component of aquatic ecology. Everything from fish and crustaceans all the way up to manatees utilize tape grass beds. They stabilize stream beds and shorelines and even act as water filters. 

All this is quite nice but, to me, the most interesting aspect of Vallisneria ecology is their reproductive strategy. Whereas they will reproduce vegetatively by throwing out runners, it is their method of sexual reproduction that boggles the mind. Vallisneria produce either male or female flowers. The female flowers are born on long stalks that reach up to the water surface. Once there they stop growing and start waiting. Because of their positioning, water tension causes a slight depression around the flowers at the surface. The depression resembles a little dimple with a tiny white flower in the center.

Male flowers are quite different. Much smaller than the female flowers, a single inflorescence can contain thousands of them. As they mature underwater, the male flowers break off from the inflorescence and float to the surface. Like wind pollinated terrestrial plants, Vallisneria use water currents to disperse their pollen. Once at the surface, the tiny male flowers float around like little pollen-filled rafts. If a male flower floats near the dimple created by a female flower, it will slide down into the depression where it comes into contact with the female flowers thus, pollination is achieved. Once pollinated, hormonal changes signal the stem of the female flower to begin to coil up like a spring, drawing the developing seeds safely underwater where they will mature. Eventually hundreds of seeds are released into the water currents.

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Photo Credits: eyeweed (http://bit.ly/1v8SVOJ

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