Friday, February 19, 2016

Yosemite firefall appears to be flowing lava on shoulder of El Capitan

Conditions were perfect for the stunning phenomenon called firewall at Yosemite.
Conditions were perfect for the stunning phenomenon called firefall at Yosemite.
Photo by 
Shank0205 

In a stunning phenomenon, Horsetail Fall in Yosemite only looks as if it is on fire or flowing lava down the cliffs on the shoulder of El Capitan.

The popular illusion occurs only in February and conditions must be just right—setting sun, flowing waterfall, clear skies—or the Yosemite firefall, as it is referred to, could be a dud.

For several photographers, however, conditions have been favorable this month as evidenced by the striking photos by Instagram user Shank0205 and Sangeeta Day.

“It’s the way the sun happens to hit that causes the waterfall to glow in such a way,” Yosemite National Park ranger Ashley Mayer told CNN.

For Day, she realized how lucky she was to be there when conditions were perfect and to capture the firefall in full bloom.

“I’ve met photographers who said that they have been coming for 11 years only to see this happen two or three times,” Day wrote on Facebook.

“The phenomenon was supposed to happen at around 5:30 in the evening, but I was there at 2 p.m. to find a spot. I finally settled for a tiny space under a thorny bush. When the fall started glowing, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

“For 10 minutes, all of us sat there mesmerized by this spectacle. When it ended, a few of us had tears in our eyes. Some people were clapping. And others were just ecstatic to finally get a chance to see it after trying for years.”
Sangeeta Day took this image of Yosemite firefall and posted it on Facebook


Day’s image of the Yosemite firefall was shared by Bay Area media and other outlets, but Shank0205 might have produced the best of the bunch.

“This is quite honestly the best shot I've seen in a LONG time,” Garrett Hoyer wrote on Shank0205’s Instagram page. “This is someplace I want to go badly!”

Replied Shank0205, “This was my first visit to Yosemite and I’m happy I got to witness this beautiful work of nature.”

So when’s the best time to view this work of nature called Yosemite firefall? The Yosemite National Park website said middle-to-late February is optimal.

“However,” the Yosemite website wrote, “the effect depends on conditions for the year, and photographers may be luckier before or after that time frame depending on the amount of water flow in Horsetail Fall, and the cloud cover.”


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Monday, November 9, 2015

Great white shark attacks shark cage with lightning speed



A great white shark rammed a shark cage with lightning speed in the famous shark-diving locale of Gansbaai, South Africa, recently, giving divers an adrenalin rush they won't soon forget.

Spencer Reilly, an American on his honeymoon, captured the scary, heart-stopping video and posted it on YouTube:



As is custom with shark-diving operations, the great white shark was lured toward the cage with bait, which was being pulled away from the fast-charging shark.

“That should not have happened really, they don’t like the shark to get too close to the cage, but there was low visibility and the shark came at the bait extremely fast,” Reilly told 9News.

“It was not too scary because it happened so fast, and then it was pretty exhilarating.”

It is encounters such as this one that keeps luring tourists to the adventure. 

Marine Dynamics Shark Tours, one of several shark-diving operators in the region, described the shark-diving it offers off South Africa:

“Gansbaai is a small coastal town a short two hour scenic drive from Cape Town which has earned itself the title of Great White Capital of the world. With Great White Sharks inhabiting the area for 12 months of the year, going Shark Diving in Gansbaai is a year round adventure not to be missed.”

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Great white shark attacks shark cage, attempts to eat it



Mossel Bay in South Africa is a popular destination for shark cage divers to get up close and personal with great white sharks, but Hillary Petroski got more than she bargained for when a great white shark attempted to eat the cage she was in.

Somehow, with a shaky hand, Petroski managed to capture the scary footage of the great white shark, which she said was closer than it appears:


“The round buoy attached to the side of the cage was bent in half,” she told Jukin Media, according to GrindTV. “Some of the lining of the outside blue barrier bar was bitten through as well.

“We saw roughly eight different sharks, some multiple times, in the 30 minutes we were down. It was my first time diving with sharks and it was quite the up-close-and-personal experience!”

Fortunately, the great white shark gave up and swam away, leaving behind a few scary memories.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Crocodile misses out on dinner—twice—due to elusive prey



Twice, a crocodile in a river in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia had dinner right at the tip of its nose, only to be denied by the quick reflexes of its prey.

Crocodiles are ambush predators that use the water to sneak up on unsuspecting prey, in this case a warthog and an antelope, both quenching their thirst at a local watering hole. But not for long. Watch the split-second elusiveness of the animals:



Amazingly, the warthog did a quick sidestep and raced off. The antelope, aka a bushbuck, sprung backwards to escape the snapping jaws of the crocodile, which has a bite more powerful than a great white shark.

This time the crocodile went hungry, but we suspect it eventually filled its belly. 

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rabbit runs into and across an avalanche, and somehow survives

A white rabbit (circled) races across an avalanche in amazing video. 

Video of a professional snowboarder riding out of an avalanche near Snow Valley Lodge in Kamchatka, Russia, also captured the incredible moment when a white rabbit scampered into and across the avalanche.
Snowboarder David Carrier Porcheron, aka DCP, was being filmed as part of a movie organized by Helipro, a Russian tourist company for winter and summer activities.
Difficult to see at first, the footage of the white rabbit posted by Helipro on Vimeo zoomed in to get a closer look at the brave bunny, revealing “the best survival technique.”
Here is the amazing video, aptly accompanied by the popular ditty from 1939 “Run Rabbit Run”:




“What a ‘hare’-raising experience,” one commenter wrote under the Vimeo post.
“Pretty wild. Rabbit’s got skill,” another said.
“Awesome rabbit—I would not have made it,” yet another stated.
Someone asked whether the rabbit actually did make it all the way across, and Helipro gave the assurance that it did, saying, “He survived and has a beautiful life in Kamchatka!”
First appeared on GrindTV 



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Monday, April 20, 2015

Tourists can't believe what this zebra is about to do

Zebra at Kruger National Park is walking into an ambush of lions

When lions hunt, they need to be close to their prey because they can only run fast in short bursts. So when an unsuspecting zebra in Kruger National Park started walking toward a hiding pride of lions, the lions had to be salivating. The zebra appeared doomed.

A group of tourists on safari at the famous South Africa game reserve knew the lions were waiting in ambush mode and were incredulous that the zebra didn’t notice them. Here’s the video one of the tourists shot that is aptly entitled “Lions miss the easiest zebra meal ever” (warning for minor expletive):


It was an adrenaline rush for both zebra and tourists, as the zebra apparently caught sight of the lions just in the nick of time, bolting off before walking right into the lions’ jaws.

The incident occurred on the H6, a tar road near Satara that cuts through very open plains where zebras and blue wildebeests are very common and attract lions—and tourists.

The tourists had these reactions:

“You blew it guys.”

“They had him right there.”

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Spider crabs build huge pyramid on ocean floor in Australia

A pyramid of spider crabs. Photo courtesy of Pink Tank Scuba


PT Hirschfield and some friends were diving near the Blairgowrie Pier in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, in Australia when they encountered a most unusual sight: close to 1,000 spider crabs crawling over each other to make a huge pyramid on the ocean floor.

It’s the time of year when all the spider crabs gather for a mass migration and simultaneous molt, so the divers were on the lookout for the congregating spider crabs and found this (one minute of video captures the essence):


The odd behavior comes as a pre-migration act, but not much is known about it.

“Unfortunately, not much official research is done on the spider crabs so it's more guesswork based on observation than anything,” Hirschfield told GrindTV. “I hope to spend a solid week underwater with them when the migration proper happens to continue studying them more closely, but the pre-migration stages remain somewhat of a mystery.”

Hirschfield added that the sight of a spider crap pyramid is “pretty unusual, at least in the shallows. I’m not aware of anyone having seen a pyramid this high, though who knows what happens at depth?

“The behavior I observed was really just a lot of climbing and a few scuffles as crabs got in each other’s faces…A few of the crabs in the pyramid were also adorning themselves with sponges becoming decorator crabs, which is a camouflage mechanism.”

All pre-migration behavior is short-lived. Hirschfield recently saw a couple thousand spider crabs in the shallows at the start of a two-hour dive and they had all but vanished by the end of the dive.


So it is unlikely that the pyramid lasted very long, making the encounter that much more special.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Bizarre-loooking oarfish washes ashore in New Zealand

A rare oarfish washed ashore on a salt marsh in New Zealand.
Photo courtesy of David Agnew/Department of Conservation


Oarfish rarely wash ashore, but when one does the bizarre-looking sea creature usually creates a bit of a stir, as one did the other day on the southeastern coast of the south island of New Zealand.

Don Gibbs was walking along the salt marsh in Aramoana when he encountered on the beach an unusual sea creature that some have previously mistaken for some sort of sea serpent.

Gibbs phoned Department of Conservation service manager David Agnew and asked him to come take a look, according to the OtagoDaily Times.

“It was very unusual looking,” Agnew told the Daily Times.

In his 20 years at DOC, Agnew had never seen anything like it, so on Thursday morning he contacted Tessa Mills of the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and asked if she could identify the sea creature.

“From his description I guessed it would be an oarfish and when his photos came through it was confirmed,” Mills told GrindTV. “There are thought to be only two species and this is the southern one, Regalecus glesne.”

This oarfish was nearly 10-feet long, but they can grow up to 32 feet.

This oarfish was nearly 10 feet long, but they can grow up to 36 feet; an 18-footer was discovered off California in 2013. Oarfish are typically found in deep water in tropical oceans.

Not surprisingly, the find created quite a buzz.

“There has been lots of social media interest and comments and questions on the find,” Mills told GrindTV. “And I have spent most of today talking to newspapers and TV channels.”

Everybody wanted to know more about the oarfish.

“Little is known about the oarfish,” Mills said. “When this was dissected, its stomach was full of krill. Other specimens have also been found stuffed full of krill.

“They have been some caught on video in recent years and they have been observed swimming vertically with their pectoral fins out to the side, which is how they get their name `oarfish.’”  

Mills said it is rare to find an oarfish washed up in this area—only five reports of them over the past 150 years, the last being in nearby Dunedin in 1998. 


“The oarfish was in great shape,” Mills said. “Its stomach was full, so it did not starve to death. It seems the strandings often occur after earthquakes or storms, and we have just had a storm here, so I think it just got washed in and stranded on the salt marsh.”

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