Posts Tagged With: nature blog

That is One Big Shark

That is One Big Shark

We are meeting the biggest shark and the biggest fish in the ocean on the 3rd day of shark week! These spotty gentle giants are amazing and we’re excited to share more about them with our campers!

Whale shark, Rhincodon typus, at Daedalus in the Egyptian Red Sea.

WHALE SHARK FUN FACTS: 

  • These plankton eaters filter their food from the oceans, unlike most of their other shark relatives.
  • Whale sharks call tropical waters around the world home.
  • They are known to migrate to find good food sources.
  • The largest fish in the world can grow up to 40 ft long.
  • Like the mako shark, the whale shark is ovoviviparous. They incubate eggs inside and give birth to live young. They can give birth to several hundreds of pups.
  • Whale sharks are covered in spots and each shark’s spots have a unique pattern.
  • Scientist use those spot patterns to ID individuals and study their populations.
  • These giants are listed as ENDANGERED by the IUCN.

 

Whale sharks are thought to have been swimming the world’s oceans for around 60 million years. They weren’t discovered by humans til the 1800s! Because they are popular to swim with in the wild, they are more valuable alive than dead (or for meat). In most places they are protected, which is great, because we couldn’t imagine the oceans without them.

 

 

Categories: adventure, Animals, camp, Children, conservation, education, endangered species, Environment, fish, nature, oceans, science, sharks, Today's Post, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Built for Speed

Built for Speed

We’ll be meeting some excellent species and of course our friend Chompy will stop by! Make sure you check out our Instagram for some fun videos and extra pictures! Today we are meeting one of the fastest sharks in the ocean- the shortfin mako! Let’s learn more about this speed demon!

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SHORTFIN MAKO FUN FACTS:

  • These sleek sharks are found in temperate and tropical oceans worldwide.
  • They can grow up to 12 feet and weigh up to 1,200 lbs.
  • Shortfin makos can swim up 45 mph, making them the fastest shark in the oceans.
  • They are also known for their ability to leap out of water.
  • These carnivores primarily eat boney fish- like tuna. They are apex predators and have no natural predators.
  • Makos are migratory and some individuals are known to make year long migrations.
  • They have a special blood vessel system that helps them keep their body temperature higher than the surrounding water- allowing them to hunt in cold waters.
  • Makos give birth to live young, but they are ovoviviparous- the eggs incubate inside the female and the young feed off any unfertilized eggs.

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These fast predators are listed at VULNERABLE by the IUCN. They are fished for their meat and for their fins. When an apex predator such as the mako is removed from its ecosystem it can be disastrous. To learn how you can help sharks like the mako, check out Shark Savers. 

 

Categories: adventure, Animals, camp, Children, conservation, education, endangered species, Environment, fish, nature, oceans, science, sharks, Today's Post, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BOO!

BOO!

We’re meeting a fantastic little crustacean today! They are almost as much fun to watch on the beach as the birds. Come learn about the little crabs who say BOO! Hehehe!

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GHOST CRAB FUN FACTS: 

  • Ghost crabs are found in burrows they dig in the sand.
  • Their burrows entrances are dug at angle to allow air to flow in. They can be as deep as 4 ft.
  • These omnivores eat insects, clams and other small crabs.
  • They have 360 degree vision- so they can spot predators.
  • They are mostly nocturnal, but they can be spotted during the day- cleaning out their burrows.
  • Ghost crabs are solitary and do not share their burrows.
  • They do need to keep their gills moist and can be found at the water’s edge sometimes just buried in the sand.

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When a little ghost crab comes up behind you and says BOO! Don’t be afraid- they are just playing!

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Suzi and the Sand Dunes

Suzi and the Sand Dunes

We haven’t had a camp fire story this whole summer! We’re sharing a story we’ve shared before!

 

Suzi and Sand Dune Nightmare:

On an evening just like tonight a camper named Suzi, decided to go explore the beach during the night. She wanted to watch a sea turtle come ashore. She wasn’t sure she should go exploring by herself as it was against the rules, but the thought of seeing a mom sea turtle laying her eggs was so exciting that she couldn’t contain herself. She gathered her red flashlight and quietly left her tent.

Suzi walked quietly up the beach as not to disturb any turtles or any of the campers. It was hard to see in the dark night and Suzi was not feeling as brave as she wandered father from camp. She was getting cold and she didn’t see a single turtle in the dark of night. She heard a noise from the dunes and she decided to walk back to camp as quickly as possible.  As she walked back she noticed a red glow coming from the sand dunes. She stopped; camp counselors had told everyone that the dunes were off limits, day or night and any camper that went in to them would be sent home. Suzi wanted to investigate where the red light was coming from, but she didn’t want to get in trouble. No one had noticed that she was gone so far, so what would a few more minutes hurt. She couldn’t think of animal that would give off a red glow like that. What if she were to discover a new species? Then no one would be mad at her for going into the dunes, even at night. Her fears slipped away as curiosity and excitement led her in the direction of the dunes and the red glow.

Suzi headed into the dunes with some trepidation. There were predators that lived in these dunes and it was darker back here.  As she walked farther from the sounds of the ocean and deeper in to the dunes; the tall, sharp blades of sea grass cut Suzi on her arms and legs. She could barely see movement of small animals around her in the pitch black night. Those were just regular old ghost crabs and mice Suzi thought. No need to fear them. Suddenly, there was a noise to her right, something much larger! This was no ghost crab coming out of its burrow.  Suzi was beginning to get scared and wanted to go back to her safe tent at camp. As her fear grew, she realized she had lost the red glowing light she’d seen earlier. She looked around and all she could see were sand dunes, sea grass and dark of night. Her heart began to race as the noise grew louder and closer. It’s too big to be a fox, but it could be a coyote she thought.  Suzi knew she did not want to encounter a coyote.  She was lost in the middle of the dunes and she was beginning to panic. The noise from the large animal grew louder and closer yet again! Suzi started to run, but the dunes are no place to run- there were crabs and birds’ nests and all of those sharp sea grass blades. She felt as if she were running in place. As the noise grew closer, Suzi stopped. Instinct told her to get low, so she squatted down as she shook with fear. She was covered in sweat and cuts from the sea grass. Quietly she sat in the dunes with the ghost crabs crawling all around her. For a moment the steps had stopped. Maybe the animal had given up and left. But as soon as Suzi decided to stand up, she could her the footsteps coming closer and closer…

 

 

 

Uh oh! What happened to Suzi? Do you think a coyote got her? Or maybe a secret sand dune monster! We’ll tell you the answer if you ask us on Twitter or Facebook! Time for lights out campers! And stay out of the dunes! Hahahaha!

 

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Sand Dunes

Sand Dunes

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Sand dunes fun facts:

  • Dunes are formed from wind and the tides. They are constantly changing and moving.
  • They protect the inland from storms and high winds.
  • Dunes are home to many animals including, reptiles, birds, mammals and invertebrates.
  • They provide good protection for animal nurseries. Babies are well camouflaged and hidden away from the open beach.
  • Just at the edge of the dunes is where female sea turtles lay their eggs.
  • Grasses that grow in the dunes, protect them from erosion. They have very shallow root systems though and walking on the dunes for even a few feet can destroy an entire grass colony.

You can find birds, insects, invertebrates, mammals and birds throughout the dunes. You can also usually spot wildflowers and other plants along with the grass. These are some of the animals you can see on the dunes:

Marsh Rabbit!

Marsh Rabbit!

Eastern Diamondback Rattle Snake (found on the south eastern coast of the U.S.)

Eastern Diamondback Rattle Snake (found on the south eastern coast of the U.S.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piping plovers are shore birds. They lay their nests near or in the dunes.

Piping plovers are shore birds. They lay their nests near or in the dunes.

 

You can often spot ghost crabs and the holes that lead to their burrows in the dunes!

You can often spot ghost crabs and the holes that lead to their burrows in the dunes!

Purple sandpipers are another bird you'll find!

Purple sandpipers are another bird you’ll find!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: adventure, Animals, camp, Children, conservation, education, endangered species, Environment, nature, oceans, science, Today's Post, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Tiny Crabs

Finding Tiny Crabs

We’re spending this week down on the beach looking for animals that are not easy to spot. Today we’re looking for a tiny crab called the sand or mole crab. Let’s get to exploring!

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MOLE CRAB FUN FACTS:

  • These little crabs are found in the sand where the tide rolls in. They bury themselves just below the surface.
  • They can bury themselves in under 2 seconds! Good luck finding these speed demons.
  • Mole crabs have feathery antenna that filter plankton from the water.
  • Birds and fish like to dine on these little crustaceans.
  • They molt when they grow and must wait for their new shell to harden.
  • Mole crabs can swim or tread water – an unusual adaptation for crabs.
  • Females can produce up to 45,000 eggs!

 

Have you ever spotted these crazy crabs on the beach? They aren’t easy to see, but they are an important part of the food web of the beach!

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Pipe Up for Sandpipers

Pipe Up for Sandpipers

Another popular bird that we love to watch run up and down the beach is the sandpiper. They are so funny with their little legs and high speed running! Let’s learn more about them.

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SPOTTED SANDPIPER FUN FACTS:

  • These funny little birds have an usual mating style. The females actually establish territory for nests.
  • The males incubate the eggs and raise the young. Sometimes females will help.
  • Females can actually lay several clutches of eggs in a season- often from different males. Each male that fathered the clutch will rear those chicks.
  • Sandpipers are known for their teetering motion. It is not known why they do this.
  • These little carnivores eat insects – including flying ones and crustaceans buried in the sand.
  • They are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN.

 

Who knew these little birds have such neat role reversals? Lady sandpipers are pretty cool as are the busy males!

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This is Urchin!

This is Urchin!

Hehehe! We love a good pun! Ok, well maybe learning about our last echinoderm the sea urchin, isn’t so urgent, but it is cool!

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SEA FUN FACTS:

  • Like their other echinoderm relatives, sea urchins are divided in to equal parts- being 5.
  • They have 5 rows of tube feet with suckers on the end that they use to move and then attach to rocks or the ocean floor.
  • All urchins have spines, but not all of them are venomous.
  • These omnivores eat plankton and algae. In turn they are prey for other animals including otters and sun stars.
  • The sea urchin’s mouth is on the bottom of their body and their bum is on the top.
  • Urchin is an old word for hedgehog. Named after the spiny mammal, you could technically call them sea hedgehogs!
  • Sand dollars are actually a type of urchin!
  • Sea urchins also have tiny claws in between their spines. They use these to help protect them and to hold shells and other objects to help them camouflage.

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Sea urchins are really cool for an animal that looks just like a colorful pin cushion! These amazing creatures can live up to 30 years and the Red Sea urchin is known to live up to 200 years. Crazy!!!

Categories: adventure, Animals, camp, Children, conservation, education, Environment, nature, oceans, science, Today's Post, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Eat that Cucumber

Don’t Eat that Cucumber

Who’s excited to meet today’s echinoderm? It’s a pretty crazy looking one! Let’s meet the sea cucumber!

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SEA CUCUMBER FUN FACTS:

  • Sea cucumbers have tentacles around their mouths. They use those to grab small waste materials or tiny animals in the oceans.
  •  Sea cucumbers can discharge a sticky substance to ward off predators. They can also expel their internal organs to deter a predator. Don’t worry They regenerate those.
  • They have no faces or eyes.
  • Sea cucumbers take in water through their bum to extract oxygen using respiratory trees.
  • They also poop calcium carbonate, a building material for coral.
  • These not too exciting animals are important for breaking down too much organic material in the ocean floor. They are often called nature’s vacuum cleaners.

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While they don’t look like much and really they aren’t much more that a tubular eating & pooping machine, they are one of the oceans’ under appreciated animals.

 

Categories: adventure, Animals, camp, Children, conservation, education, endangered species, Environment, nature, oceans, science, Today's Post, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s an Octopus in Your Coconut

There’s an Octopus in Your Coconut

We’re meeting a neat little octopus today during Cephalopod Week! These little invertebrates are called the Coconut Octopus- can you guess why?

 

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COCONUT FUN FACTS: 

  • These octopus are not very big- usually around 6 inches long.
  • They are known to find coconuts and shells and use them to hide in.
  • They are also 1 of 2 species of octopus known to walk (yes- walk on the ocean floor) with 2 arms (bipedal). This happens when the octopus uses their other arms to carry their preferred hiding mechanism.
  • Scientists also consider their use of shells and coconuts tool use. They are using them to protect themselves.
  •  These carnivores eat clams, shrimp and crabs.
  • They are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN.

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We love these amazing animals. Octopus are known for their intelligence and to learn that some of them are tool users is even cooler.

Categories: adventure, Animals, camp, Children, conservation, education, Environment, nature, oceans, octopus, science, Today's Post, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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