Where some see a pile of dung, I see a whole ecosystem of rare and beautiful creatures just waiting to board the Photo Ark. It just about makes up for the arduous trek through the mountains of Cameroon to get there! My journey around the world continues tonight in a brand new episode of #RarePBS starting at 9/8C.
People always ask me which animal is my favorite. My answer is: the next one. Big or small, every animal I photograph fascinates me. Like these dung beetles I found while photographing in Cameroon during Episode 2 of #RarePBS. Tune in to @PBS tomorrow night at 9/8C to watch me discover these creatures (in a pile of dung, of course).
This #pollinatormonday is all about keeping our pollinators happy and healthy. As farmers become more efficient at eliminating all plants other than corn, beans and wheat from their fields, there are fewer and fewer places for milkweed and nectar-bearing plants to grow. Important pollinating insects like the butterflies and bees need these plants in order to survive. Without these pollinators, we lose much of our ability to grow the fruit and vegetables we eat. That's why it's so important that homeowners step and 'get growing' now in their backyards by planting a pollinator garden, and taking care of lawns and gardens organically. You'll be amazed at the results, and the good feeling you get knowing that you're doing your part in helping to preserve biodiversity right at home. And remember, “organic” means no chemicals should be used on your lawn like pesticides or weed killers. These not only kill plants and animals, but are detrimental to your health too as the chemicals migrate away from your yard and into groundwater. It’s time to get planting, and get natural. What are you waiting for?
Keep on posting your pollinator garden and monarch pictures with the hashtag #pollinatorhero and see what we can #SaveTogether!
You usually can't just walk up to an animal in the wild and hold up a black or white background behind it. Usually. It turns out some animals are willing to make your day by staying still long enough to snap their picture, like this diademed sifaka in Madagascar. Watch my photoshoot with this adorable and gracious creature in #RarePBS, streaming online on @PBS - link in bio.
I’m thrilled to officially announce the launch of my new website! I invite you all to explore the site and discover more about the Photo Ark, book me for speaking engagements, browse frequently asked questions and so much more. To celebrate, I’m offering a 50% discount on select 20 x 30 signed prints using the code: launch2017. Find the gallery of eligible prints by clicking the link in my bio. Discount valid while supplies last.
I know I am in a race against time. Sometimes I'm able to photograph 30 to 40 species in a few days, but other species disappear before I can get to them. The new @PBS series RARE: Creatures of the Photo Ark looks at factors driving extinction—deforestation, rising sea levels, invasive species, pollution and human development—all impacting creatures essential to the world’s ecosystems. Tune in tonight at 9/8C and learn more through the link in my bio. #RarePBS
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There’s a reason species like this regal fritillary butterfly mimic the monarch’s signature orange and black pattern. The milky substance in milkweed actually protects the monarch butterfly from predators by making it toxic to eat. During its caterpillar stage the monarch ingests many times its body weight of milkweed leaves and the toxins are with it throughout its entire life, making its body poisonous to birds and other predators. The orange and black color of the monarch is a warning sign to its predators that the monarch is bad to eat. In fact, the message is so well known in the animal kingdom that other butterflies mimic the color and patterns of monarchs in order to be completely disregarded by their predators. No one wants to eat something poisonous.
It’s so important to have milkweed for these graceful butterflies to consume so they can continue to exist on Earth. When you plant milkweed, be sure to keep it away from areas where animals are grazing. Most animals know not to eat milkweed because it produces a very unpleasant smell and tastes awful, but it’s best to keep it out of their reach if possible.
In the middle of the U.S., if you have a field that you are wanting to mow containing milkweed, you can protect the butterfly migration by refraining from mowing until at least the third week of September. This way you won’t destroy any monarch eggs on the milkweed, as they already will be hatched and continuing their leg of the migration by this time. For more information on how to plant milkweed and what you can do to help, check out the link in my bio.
Keep posting images of your pollinator gardens with the hashtag #pollinatorhero! Let’s see what we can save together!
The end result may be pretty, but a lot of effort goes into each and every Photo Ark shoot. My work is the subject of a new @PBS documentary RARE: Creatures of the Photo Ark, premiering Tuesday at 9/8C. Don't miss this unique opportunity to go behind the scenes of my shoots, like this one featuring a brown mouse lemur in Madagascar.
Learn more about #RarePBS through the link in my bio
The idea for the Photo Ark, more than 10 years ago, came during a tough time for me and my family. When my wife Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer, I spent many hours at home with the kids, and started taking photographs of the animals inside my house and in my own backyard. I share more of my story, and what drives me every day, in the new @PBS series RARE: Creatures of the Photo Ark, premiering July 18th.
The vibrant colors of the spanish shawl nudibranch are stunning, but they also serve an important purpose. Scientists believe that the orange cerata (horn like structures) on the nudibranch’s back help to camouflage it as it feeds on colorful polyps and anemones. The spanish shawl is one of the only sea slugs capable of swimming. It does so by flexing its body back and forth which allows it to gracefully navigate throughout the water.
Photographed at the REEF, a research experience & education facility at @ucsantabarbara.
Pemba flying foxes are found only on Pemba Island off the coast of Tanzania. Due to deforestation and excessive hunting, their population had dwindled to only a few hundred individuals in the 1990s. Many conservation efforts began to help maintain the species, and in 1994 a captive breeding group of pemba flying foxes were brought to @phoenixzoo. Since then, the wild population has rebounded and in 2011 it had increased to over 20,000 individuals.
Due to old age, all of the Pemba flying foxes from the breeding program have passed away except this one who was born at the zoo thanks to the program. She isn’t lonely though. She has very dedicated keepers and a “flock” of stuffed bats to keep her company.
The superstar of this #pollinatormonday is this female blue-tailed day gecko. On the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, the rare Trochetia plant is being saved from extinction by this lizard. This plant used to be pollinated by a nectar-sipping bird called the olive white-eye, but sadly the bird is nearly extinct, and now the plant almost entirely relies on this little gecko for pollination and seed dispersal. The shrubby plant does its part by providing the lizard a safe place from predators and providing nourishment through it's colored nectar, then the lizards transfer the pollen on their scales to the next blossom.
The phenomena of pollination via lizards has been explored in recent studies, and lizards are now being more widely recognized as pollinators-- especially to island species of flowering plants. Scientists speculate that the high density of lizards on islands due to lack of predation has resulted in fewer insects to feed the lizard population. This has caused a necessary expansion of their diets to include nectar and pollen, thus growing their roles as pollinators. Let’s give it up for the little-known blue-tailed gecko!
Don’t forget to keep on posting your milkweed and monarch photos with the hashtag #pollinatorhero. We have been making such great progress together! Some of my favorite pollinator heros this week have been @playingbythesea, @jedi_mom_tricks and @phplpics. Keep it up everybody!
Mandrills are very devoted and attentive mothers. They groom their babies, tirelessly protect them, and provide nourishment for them through milk. While most of the infant care comes from the mother, other members of the baby’s family including aunts, sisters, cousins and sometimes even the father will take turns grooming, carrying, and playing with them.
This species can be found in a small range in west central Africa. Their population is declining at a dangerous pace due to the loss of their forest habitat, as well as intensive hunting for meat, which is highly prized by people in certain areas. They are protected under CITES and the African convention, but more protection for mandrills and their habitat is needed for this species to survive in the long term.
Photographed at @gladysporterzoo.
A Florida panther at @naples_zoo. While the Florida panther is a majestic creature, they’ve been feared by humans and persecuted for centuries. By the 1970’s, their population dropped to fewer than two dozen. Thankfully, conservation programs have been very successful in growing the Florida panther population to more than 180 individuals. Their fight continues though. Vehicle collisions are the number one threat to Florida panthers-- last year at least 34 were killed on the road. Visit panthercrossing.org to learn of the importance of slowing down, scanning the road, and being aware that these beautiful animals could be trying to cross.
This panther, named Uno, was found on the side of the road in 2014, emaciated and blinded after suffering gunshot wounds to his hind quarters and face. He was taken to @naples_zoo to be treated and made a remarkable recovery. A true survivor, Uno now lives in his own special habitat at the zoo that's tailored to his unique needs. The Naples Zoo is helping all Florida panthers by spreading awareness of the complex issues surrounding them in a state with more humans arriving every year.
I’m delighted to report that, in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, our Mayor Chris Beutler and the City Parks and Recreation Department have been seeding new parkland (and some older parks as well) with a mix of prairie grasses and wildflowers in order to benefit pollinators like bees and butterflies to create a more healthy landscape. Click the link in my bio to learn how you can do the same in your yards!
We love bees, so the hero of this #pollinatormonday is the bumblebee. Bees are perhaps the most well-known pollinator, and this is because they are very good at their jobs. The common eastern bumble bee's wings beat 130 times or more per second, and the beating vibrates flowers until they release pollen, which gets stuck on their fuzzy bodies and is then moved along to the next flower it visits. This kind of pollination is called “buzz pollination”, and helps plants produce more fruit.
It is estimated one in every three bites of food we can thank bees for, and up to $15 billion worth of food production in the U.S. is dependent on pollination by bees of all kinds. That’s a lot of buzzing!
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #pollinatorhero in your milkweed and monarch photos! Some of my favorite pollinator heros this week have been @trumaebelle, @mike_hendley and @rosabellagarden. Keep up the great work, everyone!