Great Migrations on National Geographic Channel

The seven-part programming event, Great Migrations, is coming to National Geographic Channel starting this Sunday, November 7 at 8pm.

After two and a half years in the field, the National Geographic Great Migrations team has chronicled epic animal migration in 20 countries across all seven continents.  The seven-hour mini series is narrated by Emmy and Golden Globe award winner Alec Baldwin.

Watch the videos below for a preview this fascinating documentary:

Red Crab Migration
The red crabs of Christmas Island must travel five miles on land en masse to reach the water to breed.  For a crab, this distance represents an ultramarathon.  They face many harrowing obstacles along the way, including dehydration, cars, and yellow crazy ants.

Nomadic Elephants
In Mali, a land-locked, arid country in Western Africa, African elephants must migrate in 300-mile circle from watering hole to watering hole in order to survive.

Monarch Butterfly: Growing Up Butterfly
The migratory monarch butterfly will travel south to Mexico for the winter to avoid the frosts which would kill it. Watch the amazing transformation of the monarch butterfly from egg to caterpillar to butterfly before it begins its long trek southward.

Don’t miss Great Migrations on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, November 7, at 8pm.

Saved from the Spill on Nat Geo Wild


An oil impacted Brown pelican being cleaned at a Wildlife Rehabilitation center in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. (Photo Credit: USFWS/Greg Thompson)

National Geographic is once again at the forefront in documenting conservation efforts. This time their cameras turn to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

From National Geographic:

With oil actively gushing into the Gulf’s waters, National Geographic Explorer and wildlife expert Mireya Mayor, together with adventure underwater cameraman Andy Casagrande, join the extensive mission to save struggling creatures at the center of the crisis. Dive into the sludgy mess across the Gulf region with Mireya and Andy as they work to rescue pelicans, sea turtles, dolphins and many other creatures that use the Gulf as a migration superhighway. Along the way, they investigate the science behind the toxins and the anticipated impact they will have on coastal life for years to come. From the marshlands of Louisiana to the beaches and coral reefs of Florida — the beloved home state of both Mireya and Andy — watch their race to protect the injured creatures from an uncertain future, and follow their investigation after the oil spill was ultimately contained.

Tune into Nat Geo Wild on Tuesday, October 5 at 9pm ET/PT for Saved from the Spill.

Expedition Wild Returns

Next Monday, September 27 at 9pm ET/PT, Expedition Wild with Casey Anderson will return to Nat Geo Wild.  The first episode takes place in Yellowstone National Park during the spring.

From National Geographic:

In Yellowstone National Park, baby season is in full swing, and Casey is prepared for the unpredictable. As grizzlies devour elk calves, vigilant mothers must defend their vulnerable newborns from aggressive predators.  Witness the animals learning new skills as newborn bighorn sheep traverse treacherous cliffs and young bison learn to swim. Casey sets out to find ravenous bears as they emerge from their dens, and witnesses a feathered family drama while introducing an orphaned great horned owlet to new siblings. The long winter may be over, but the spring drama is no less wild!

Watch a video of baby bighorn sheep and baby pronghorns:

Watch a video of Casey placing an orphaned great horned owlet with a new family:

Upcoming Animal Programs on NatGeo

There are several very interesting programs airing in the next few days on NatGeo that focus on animals. Be sure to tune in!

My Child is a Monkey
Airing Friday, August 13 at 5pm ET/PT

They wear diapers and ride in strollers but, they’re not babies — they are “monkids.” NGC goes inside the controversy of adopting monkeys as surrogate babies. Many question whether this is animal cruelty or even a danger to the owners. Others are fiercely devoted to these primates they see as part of the family. See just how far these wild monkeys have come from their treetop habitat as we explore this growing phenomenon.

Watch a video clip that outlines some of the issues that come with integrating a wild animal into a human family.

And Man Created Dog
Airing Friday, August 13 at 9pm ET/PT

If humans were as varied as dogs we would range in height up to 22 feet tall and in weight more than 1,000 pounds. In the ultimate canine ancestral story, NGC traces the genetic journey from wolf to dog, taking viewers back 100,000 years to meet the “mother of all dogs.” It’s no accident that dogs evolved this way, as humans have been selectively breeding them for around 14,000 years to serve our needs as laborer, companion, hunter, herder and warrior, as well as to suit our aesthetic fancy.

In this video clip, we meet an incredible therapy dog named Tuesday who helps an Iraq veteran to overcome his debilitating PTSD.

Wild Nights: New Orleans
Airing Monday, August 9, 2010, at 9pm ET/PT

We journey to the “Big Easy,” famous for streets packed with party fanatics, but they aren’t alone. Mireya’s on a treasure hunt to find as much wildlife as possible and even hopes to confirm a rumor about an unexpected urban invader—a feral hog. We’ll follow as she searches through parks, swamps and city streets to find New Orleans’s wildest animals—including large invasive rodents called nutria that have been devouring the New Orleans ecosystem. She goes on a late-night escapade with a city-hired hog-hunting squad to catch hogs in a central New Orleans park, and eats bayou food including frogs and bugs … local style!

Watch this clip of Mireya tracking down the elusive New Orleans urban hog in a residential neighborhood.

Fascinating Creatures Found off Greenland

This frightening creature looks like a monster that would haunt bad dreams, but in reality this fish is less than 7 inches long. The fish is called a “longhead dreamer” anglerfish. Anglerfish are known for for their unique way of attracting prey. The have a growth that hangs in front of their heads which is used to trick smaller fish into coming close enough to eat.

The “longhead dreamer” anglerfish is one of 38 fish species found around Greenland for the first time. It is thought that rising water temperatures and increased deep-sea fishing has brought more new species into the area.

To see many of the new creatures visit National Geographic.

Wildlife Photographer Presents “Polar Obsession”

Polar Obsession by Paul NicklenNational Geographic wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen came to the Garde Arts Center in New London, CT on April 16th to talk about his experiences capturing images on the polar caps.  Animal Fact Guide editors P.A. Smith and Abi Cushman had the pleasure of attending.

Often Nicklen was exposed to harsh conditions while on expeditions, many times risking his life to attain his captivating images.  Yet Nicklen relayed these powerful stories while interjecting humorous remarks.  His anecdotes were hugely entertaining and inspiring.  He spoke of his up close encounter with an enormous female leopard seal who tried to feed him penguins.  At one point, the seal had placed a dead penguin on his head waiting for him to eat it, and he’d continued to take photos of her with the lifeless bird resting there, all the while tearing up with laughter. In the photo, you can see the penguin’s feet at the top of the frame.

Throughout his talk, Nicklen stressed the simple truth that man-made climate change is negatively affecting both polar regions.  The dramatic loss of the polar ice has an enormous impact on entire ecosystems.  It starts with the microorganisms that inhabit the multiyear ice (ice that builds up over several years).  These phytoplankton are eaten by zooplankton, and in turn they are consumed by fish. Next in the chain are larger animals such as whales and seals.  Without the ice, the phytoplankton cannot thrive, and the ripple continues throughout the chain.  Many of the animals towards the top of the chain, such as polar bears, also rely on ice for breeding and hunting.

In light of this sad situation, Nicklen urged the audience to get involved in conservation, to start a revolution and save these ecosystems.

To learn more about Nicklen’s work and view his amazing photographs, purchase his book Polar Obsession. It contains many of the stories behind his photos.

Garde Arts Center, New London, CT

Editor P.A. Smith in front of the Garde Arts Center in New London, where wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen spoke.

Inventor of Crittercam Presents “A Wild Point of View”

Greg Marshall: A Wild Point of View

Crittercam inventor Greg Marshall speaks about his invention at the Garde Arts Center in New London, CT.

Greg Marshall, the inventor of Crittercam (a compact camera/data collecting device that attaches to animals), came to New London, CT on March 19th to speak about his invention and the insight it has provided into animal behavior.  Animal Fact Guide editors P.A. Smith and Abi Cushman, who reviewed the Crittercam exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science last summer, had the opportunity to attend this fascinating presentation.

In his talk, entitled “A Wild Point of View,” Marshall described how he first came up with the idea of Crittercam. On one expedition, he noticed a suckerfish attached to the dorsal fin of a shark.  He noted that the shark appeared to behave in a way unaffected by the suckerfish, and from there, he made the connection that it was  possible to attach a camera in an unobtrusive manner as well.

Throughout the presentation, Marshall stressed the importance that the Crittercam not impact the animal.  This was essential not only for the well-being and safety of the animal but also because they wanted to be sure to collect true data about how animals actually behave in the wild. If the animals acted differently in response to having the device attached to them, the data they collected would be compromised.

The Crittercam, which has become more and more streamlined and compact  as years pass, collects more than just video imagery.  The device collects a wealth of data such as temperature, light levels, pressure, and audio.  This supporting information allows scientists to more fully comprehend what they see in the video footage.

Greg MarshallThis unique view into animal behavior has led to many new discoveries.  For example, they learned about the feeding patterns of several marine animals.  In the instance of king penguins, they found that the penguins would dive deep and look up towards the ice to spot the fish silhouetted by the light shining through.  In this way, they acted in a similar way to a hawk circling above land and swooping in to catch their prey, but in reverse.  In the instance of humpback whales, they discovered that the whales would dive deep, drive fish towards the surface,  blow bubbles around the school forming a “net” to herd them, and then use their fins to scare the fish into their open mouths.

Marshall delivered an excellent presentation, providing interesting and sometimes humorous anecdotes about his experiences in the field. If you have the opportunity to hear him speak in your area, we recommend you attend.

You can also view the Crittercam exhibition which is currently on display at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago until April 11. From May 22 to January 5, 2011, you can see Crittercam at The Wildlife Experience in Parker, Colorado.

For more information, see National Geographic’s Crittercam website and National Geographic’s Crittercam event page.

True Colored Dinosaurs

Recently scientists have announced the discovery of the true color of two dinosaurs.

One group of researchers used electron micrography to determine that Sinosauropteryx, a turkey-sized carnivore, had reddish-orange feathers and striped tail.

Another group of researchers determined that Anchiornis huxleyi, a chicken-sized dinosaur, had black and white wings and red crown – similar some woodpeckers. This group used scanning electron microscopes to study pigment samples from fossilized feathers.

To read more and see additional photos, visit National Geographic here and here.

Scaly-Eyed Gecko

The country of Ecuador is the home to many exciting animals, even ones no one knew existed! Recent exploration by U.S. and Ecuadorian researchers have found more than 30 new species. Among the new species is the scaly-eyed gecko, which, even when full-grown is small enough to sit atop the eraser of a pencil. These geckos crawl along the forest floor, making them difficult to spot.

Researchers worry that deforestation and global warming could wipe out many of Ecuador’s unique creatures.

To read more, and to see a complete list of the newly found species (including a frog with see-through skin!), visit National Geographic.com.