Part of the most remote island archipelago on Earth, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument supports a reef ecosystem with more than 7,000 marine species and is home to many species of coral, fish, birds and marine mammals. This includes the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, the endangered leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles. A Hawaiian monk seal naps on the beach with a rainbow on the horizon. Photo by Mark Sullivan, NOAA/HMSRP, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.
You never know what you are going to see on America’s public lands. Case in point: This photo from Big Bend National Park in Texas. A mother bobcat perches in a mesquite tree with her large juvenile kittens, teaching them the ropes of feline life in the wilderness. An employee captured this shot not too far from a park road. This family group was likely hunting from the tree where they would have a good view of passing rodents. But maybe they were just enjoying the view! Photo by Big Bend Natural History Association. 😺😺😺
Cute alert! A baby mule deer tries catching a snowflake on its tongue at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado. Mule deer are named for their oversized ears that resemble a mule’s ears. Compared to its cousin, the white-tailed deer, mule deer are larger in size, and have a black-tipped white tail and white patch on the rump. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Partly within the Los Angeles city limits, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California is home to a small population of mountain lions. National Park Service researchers have monitored more than 50 mountain lions in the park since 2002. Roaming freely, these big cats face unique challenges living so closely to urban areas. Photo by National Park Service.