Field Notes: The secret lives of basking sharks

Basking sharks will break you. That’s an unfortunate lesson that’s been learned the hard way for centuries, among fishermen and researchers alike. It’s probably not for the reasons you imagine, because these are not your average sharks (although it is my duty as a shark biologist and conservationist to inform that you have more of…

Connections Matter: The Utility of Social Networks

Think back to your high school days, and the social interactions that come to play in the high school arena (scary and traumatic, I know, but just humor me here). Who did you find yourself making friends with? Were there clubs or sports teams that structured your friend groups? On a group level, were there…

Sunday Sketch: Big Horn Sheep

Bighorn sheep have double layered skulls to protect themselves during (literally) head-to-head combat. Their horns can weigh up to 14 kg (30 pounds!). Males fight battles with their heavy heads and horns, sometimes to the death, to win access to females. Now that’s a heavy concept! Sketch and fact contributed by Lea Pollack Source: Bighorn…

Enrichment is in the Eye of the Beholder

What is Enrichment? Animals have evolved and adapted to live in complex environments with a wide variety of engaging stimuli: diverse plants, other animals, sounds, smells, problem-solving scenarios, and dynamic space, just to name a few. The natural history of animals has resulted in the development of species-specific repertoires of highly motivated behaviors, which are…

Field Notes: Busy Bees and a Busier Grad Student

For the last 10 months or so, not a single day has gone by where I haven’t spent some amount of time thinking about honey bees, reading about honey bees, working with honey bees, or listing off cool honey bee facts to anyone willing to listen.  If you’ve been following the blog in recent months, […]

Creature feature: Spotted sandpiper

Across the animal kingdom, it’s tough to be a mom.  Not all species exhibit parental care (or care about their young at all after the eggs are laid), but in those that do, usually the moms get stuck doing the bulk of the work.  In mammals, moms not only have to carry the baby in…

Sunday Sketch: Long Distance Penguins

Does your long distance relationship have you pining for your partner? Well, at least you aren’t a southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome). These marine birds mate for life, but don’t spend much time together other than during the mating season, which is only 20-30 days long. Talk about difficult travel logistics: GPS trackers show that penguins…

Field Frame Friday: Forest monkeys

Commonly known as the red-tailed monkey, Schmidt’s guenon, or the black-cheeked, white-nosed monkey, this primate species (Cercopithecus ascanius) ranges across much of Central Africa. This male, named Kinky for the bend in the end of his tail, was photographed in the Issa Valley, part of the Ugalla Region, Tanzania. He was one of a couple…

Field Frame Friday: Silent shadow

Mossel Bay, South Africa is a known hotspot for great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). More mature individuals gather in this area during the winter months in this region, likely drawn by the abundance of pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) that are found on small rocky islands, as seen in the background here. This photograph was taken…

Field Frame Friday: Gelada battles

Herein lies one of the many fights between the dominant leader male of the “D” group, Demon, and his predecessor turned “grandpa”, Devil. The geladas (Theropithecus gelada) of the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia typically live in one-male unit groups, however, the dominant male occasionally allows a predecessor to stay on or a follower to tag…