preserving nature

This picture of Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in Colorado is a perfect combination of stone, sand, snow and light. The Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) Mountains were named by early explorers for the crimson light that often appears on them at sunrise or sunset. The red color is especially vivid when the mountains and dunes are covered with snow. Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.

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Terrific waterfall, Chile

Is everyone wearing green today? Nature’s light show displays a fantastic emerald ripple above Denali National Park in Alaska, a great place to see the Northern Lights. Says photographer Carl Johnson, “Having great aurora borealis images to show for a night out in the cold cannot truly capture the thrill of just being out there and witnessing this amazing phenomenon.” Photo courtesy of Carl Johnson. #StPatricksDay

7 Underwater Facts for World Oceans Day

Today is World Oceans Day, a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival. Together, let’s honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans!

1. While the Earth’s oceans are known as five separate entities, there is really only one ocean.

2. The ocean contains upwards of 99% of the world’s biosphere, that is, the spaces and places where life exists.

Both above GIFs are from the TED-Ed Lesson How big is the ocean? - Scott Gass

Animation by 20 steps

3. Jellyfish are soft because they are 95% water and are mostly made of a translucent gel-like substance called mesoglea. With such delicate bodies, jellyfish rely on thousands of venom-containing stinging cells called cnidocytes for protection and prey capture.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How does a jellyfish sting? - Neosha S Kashef

Animation by Cinematic

4. Plastics & litter that make their way into our oceans are swiftly carried by currents, ultimately winding up in huge circulating ocean systems called gyres. The earth has five gyres that act as gathering points, but the largest of all is known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ and has grown so immense that the oceanic garbage patch can shift from around the size of Texas, to something the size of the United States. 

From the TED-Ed Lesson The nurdles’ quest for ocean domination - Kim Preshoff

Animation by Reflective Films

5. The 200 or so species of octopuses are mollusks belonging to the order Cephalopoda, Greek for ‘head-feet’. Those heads contain impressively large brains, with a brain to body ratio similar to that of other intelligent animals, and a complex nervous system with about as many neurons as that of a dog.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why the octopus brain is so extraordinary - Cláudio L. Guerra

Animation by Cinematic

6. Some lucky animals are naturally endowed with bioluminescence, or the ability to create light. The firefly, the anglerfish, and a few more surprising creatures use this ability in many ways, including survival, hunting, and mating.

From the TED-Ed Lesson The brilliance of bioluminescence - Leslie Kenna

Animation by Cinematic

7. Sea turtles ultimately grow from the size of a dinner plate to that of a dinner table. In the case of the leatherback sea turtle, this can take up to a decade. Happy World Turtle Day!

From the TED-Ed Lesson The survival of the sea turtle - Scott Gass

Animation by Cinematic Sweden

The sloping dunes and curving shadows at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado make this special park a photographer’s dream. Ranger Patrick Myers has been capturing amazing scenes here for years. With golden sunrises, epic blue skies and every color sunsets, taking pictures never gets old. Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.

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Located just a few short miles from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta, Georgia, lies a nature preserve called Constitution Lakes Park. Inside this nature preserve is several ponds surrounded by wetlands. Meandering through the lakes are little trails for visitors to walk down. One such trail is the aptly named “Doll’s Head Trail,” which is the work of a local carpenter, Joel Slanton. Joel strongly encourages visitors to the preserve to bring along their own doll heads and trinkets to add to the unique trail. However, everything added to the trail must be found in the nature preserve thus cleaning up the preserve and recycling!

From the bottom of the deepest glacial fjord to the summit of its highest peak, Glacier Bay National Park encompasses some of our continent’s most amazing scenery and wildness. If we need a place to intrigue and inspire us, this is it. Alaska’s Glacier Bay is a living laboratory, a designated wilderness, a biosphere reserve and a world heritage site. It’s a marine park, where great adventure awaits by boating into inlets, coves and close to its dynamic, namesake glacier. It’s also a land park, with its snow-capped mountains, spectacular glaciers and vast forests. Photo by National Park Service.

The beauty of nature is a joy we can all share. Every sunrise is a chance to reflect on how we are all connected to the world we live in. For tens of thousands of years, humans have changed, and have been changed by these lands and waters. At Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida, first came the Calusa, followed by European explorers of the 1500s, then the Miccosukee, Seminole and other settlers to the area. The rugged terrain challenged many early travelers as they established the watery wilderness of the swamp as their home. Photo by National Park Service.