Tag Archives: Natural Wonders

The Way Sperm Whales Sleep

Swiss wildlife photographer Franco Banfi and a team of scuba divers were following a pod of sperm whales off the coast of Dominica Island in the Caribbean Sea, when suddenly the large creatures became motionless and fell into vertical slumber. This phenomenon was first discovered only in 2008, when a team of biologists from the UK and Japan inadvertently drifted into a group of sperm whales floating just below the surface, completely oblivious to their surrounding. It was only when one of boats accidentally bumped into one of the whales, did the animal woke up and the entire pod scurried off.

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Lake Kavicsos, Hungary

Kavicsos Lake, or “pebble lake” in Hungarian, is a scenic lake about 2 km across located south of Budapest, just a 30-minute ride away from the city center. The lake sits at the site of a former pebble quarry, and hence its name.

About twenty years ago, the quarry closed and the excavated pits filled with rainwater creating the lake. Since then nature has reclaimed the area and rich wildlife has taken root in and around the lake. In 1996, the lake was sold to a private organization but there are still some unspecified legal battles among the parties involved.

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One of the numerous islands in Lake Kavicsos. Photo credit: Alexander H. Szabo / Aerial National Police

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The Humongous Fungus

Beneath the soil in the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon, the United States, lurks a very large fungus that has been slowly weaving its way through the roots of trees for centuries to become the single largest living organism known to humans.

The fungus, Armillaria solidipes, remains mostly underground, hidden from sight, but every autumn just after the rains it sends up clusters of small yellow-brown mushrooms from the bases of trees it has infected. These mushrooms, commonly called “honey mushrooms”, are the most visible part of the fungus seen by the casual observer. The bulk of the fungus lies underneath the forest floor—a vast network of black filament-like structures called rhizomorphs, that creep through the soil, feeling out new root systems to colonize. The … Read the rest

The Dolerite Columns of Coastal Tasmania

The coastline of the southern Tasmania, in Australia, is composed of stunning rock columns that protrude up to 300 meters from the sea level. These rocks are what geologists call dolerites, with its distinct elongated shape and hexagonal columns.

Dolerites form when molten rocks pushed up from the deep underbelly of the earth cools quickly and crystallizes to form small visible crystals in the rock. When the rate of cooling is just right, the rocks shrink in volume, causing the creation of cracks. The cracks allow the rocks in the interior to cool, resulting in more cracks. At the end, you get a large block of rock with long vertical and symmetrical cracks creating five or six sided columns. The columns can be just a few … Read the rest

The Fainting Goats of Tennessee

Unlike humans, animals rarely faint from surprise, panic attacks or any other strong emotional stress. But there is a breed of goat that appears to do so.

When startled, the so-called “fainting goat” collapses on its side. They fall over, often with legs comically raised towards the sky. After laying motionless on the ground for a few seconds, they recover and bounce back on their feet as quickly as they fell. This curious reaction to fright has made fainting goats the popular subject for many viral, and often humorous, internet videos.

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Photo credit: www.kidsdiscover.com

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Enormous Iceberg Stranded in Canadian Town

Icebergs are not a rare sight off the east coast of Canada. Indeed, there is an area stretching from the coast of Labrador to the northeast coast of the island of Newfoundland that has been nicknamed the “Iceberg Alley” for the sheer number of icebergs that floats into the vicinity during spring and early summer. But even longtime residents did a double take when an astonishingly big one ran aground near the village of Ferryland, this week.

The big chunk of ice towers 150 feet. It’s the largest Iceberg Alley has ever seen.

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Photo credit: Greg Lock/Reuters

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Coco de mer: The Forbidden Fruit

In the islands of Praslin and Curieuse, in the Seychelles, grows one of the most exclusive palm trees in the world. The coco de mer (Lodoicea maldivica) has tall slender trunks that rise more than 30 meters above the ground. At its crown is a mass of fronds, with leaf blades fanning out nearly five meters across. On mature individuals, the leaves are often fringed at the edges. Their withered ends hang from the palm below the vibrant, healthy green crown.

Possibly the most renowned feature of coco de mer are its enormous seeds—the largest and heaviest seeds in the plant world. But it is the shape and not the size of the seeds, that makes coco de mer famous; the seeds bear an … Read the rest

These Massive Tunnels Were Dug By Giant Sloths

Across northern South America, there are hundreds of colossal tunnels large enough for humans to walk through, but they weren’t dug by men. Nor they were formed by any known geological process. But their creators have left evidence all around the walls and ceilings—giant claw marks.

Geologists call these tunnels “paleoburrow,” and they are believed to have been dug by an extinct species of giant ground sloth.

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A large paleoburrow in Brazil. Photo credit: Heinrich Frank

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Lahaina Noon: When Shadows Disappear

Notice anything odd about this picture? The sun is out as you can tell by the shadows under the cars and on the walls. But why aren’t the yellow poles casting any shadows?

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It appears as if someone cut out the poles from another picture and pasted it here. That, or it’s a screenshot from a badly rendered videogame where the developer forgot to turn on the shadows. But I can assure you it’s a real picture, and it was taken in Hawaii.

The reason why there are no shadows is because the sun is directly overhead. The Hawaiians call this phenomenon the Lahaina Noon.

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Venta Rapid: Europe’s Widest Waterfalls

At just 2 meters tall, the Venta Rapid, or Ventas Rumba in Latvian, is one of the smallest waterfalls in the world. But its low height is compensated by its impressive width. At its widest, which happens during spring floods, Ventas Rumba is up to 270 meters wide making it the widest waterfall in Europe. Even during summer, when there is less water, the falls are about 250 meters wide.

The Venta Rapid flows over a layer of Devonian dolostone. Below it is a more fragile dolostone that has been slowly eroding away undercutting the harder layer on top creating overhangs, which fall down from time to time. As a result, the waterfall is slowly receding and as the stream in the central part is more … Read the rest

The Fluorescent Rocks of Sterling Hill Mining Museum

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum in New Jersey, United States, is known for its variety of immersive and educational exhibits, but is best known for its massive collection of fluorescent minerals.

The fluorescent exhibits are displayed along the walls of the so-called Rainbow tunnel that was excavated in 1990. The walls of the tunnel are lined with rare minerals that glow bright green and red under ultraviolet light.

The museum was originally an old zinc mine, and one of the oldest in the country, having opened in 1739. When the mine closed in 1986, it was purchased by Richard and Robert Hauck and opened as a museum in 1990.

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Photo credit: noaamichael/instagram

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Chaiten: The Town Buried By A Volcano

Early in the morning of May 2, 2008, a volcano located about 10 km to the north of the town of Chaitén, near the Gulf of Corcovado in southern Chile, rumbled to life after nearly 10,000 years of inactivity. The plume of volcanic ash rose to 17 km and blanketed the entire town. At that time about 4,000 people were living in Chaiten, who were immediately evacuated. The Chaitén volcano continued to erupt for the next several days becoming increasingly violent. The ash column became 30 km tall and drifted across Chile and Argentina and over the Atlantic Ocean.

The town of Chaiten was not significantly hit by the eruption until heavy rainfall swept the ash and mud deposited in the crater and on the flanks … Read the rest

Isa lake: The Two-Ocean Lake

The Isa Lake Viewpoint, located about 8 miles east of the Old Faithful Area along the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park, is not a terribly exciting place. On the way to the Old Faithful geyser, you can alight from your vehicle and stand on the edge of a thin sliver of water filled with waterlilies and fallen logs. By the side of the lake is a Continental Divide elevation sign, and an interpretive sign describing the significance of the Continental Divide and Isa Lake.

‘Continental divide’ is a geographical divide on a continent, often in the form of a mountain ridge, such that rivers and lakes on one side of the divide drain into one ocean or sea, and those on the other side … Read the rest