Mar 31

Now in its seventh year, Earth Hour is a global event symbolising solidarity in the fight against one of the greatest threats to our planet – climate change.

In 2011, more than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries switched off their lights for WWF’s Earth Hour, sending a powerful message to global leaders that the world wants immediate action on tackling climate change. Hundreds of millions of people are set to join in again this year, with many going ‘Beyond the Hour’ to commit to lasting action for the planet.

Earth Hour 2012 takes place at 8:30 pm local time on Saturday 31st March, so get ready to flick those switches and join in the fight for a healthier planet! Here at ARKive, we’re taking a peek at a few species which are pretty good ambassadors of energy conservation and efficiency, as well as a species which functions quite well without light!

Mexican tetra

Mexican tetra image

The Mexican tetra lacks functioning eyes

The Mexican tetra is a primarily carnivorous fish, of which there are two different forms. One of these forms lives in dark caves, and as a result it does not have functioning eyes. If this fishy fellow can survive without light its whole life, I reckon we can cope for an hour or so!

Sea otter

Sea otter image

Sea otters often hold their paws out of the water to retain heat

Sea otters are able to keep warm by having the densest fur of any mammal, with about one million hairs per square centimetre of skin. While resting on its back, this marine mammal is often seen holding its paws out of the water; this helps to reduce the amount of body heat lost to the water, and can also help keep the sea otter’s body temperature up by absorbing radiant heat from the sun.

Emperor penguin

Emperor penguin image

Emperor penguins huddle together to keep warm in harsh, icy winds

Emperor penguins live in one of the harshest environments on the planet, braving temperatures as low as -60°C. In order to survive the extreme cold, penguins often huddle together in large groups to conserve body heat. The penguins rotate positions within the swarm of feathery bodies, so that no single individual is constantly on the colder exterior of the group.

California condor

California condor image

California condors soar on thermals created in their arid environment

The California condor may be big and bulky, but it is an energy-efficient flyer. It takes advantage of the hot air currents formed in its arid environment, and simply uses its large wings to soar on these thermals, expending little energy in doing so. This species has also developed its own answer to air-conditioning; the California condor urinates on its own legs to take heat away from its body through evaporation. The cooled blood is then circulated through the rest of the body.

Cheesman’s gerbil

Cheesman's gerbil image

Cheesman's gerbils are well adapted to conserving water

Cheesman’s gerbil lives in desert areas where water is a luxury, and this rodent has developed a highly efficient digestive system which enables it to extract as much water as possible from its food.

Dung beetle

Dung beetle image

Dung beetles are some of nature's best recyclers

Dung beetles are rather ‘green’ creatures, as they play a huge role in the removal and breakdown of dung in the environment, and help to recycle nutrients into the soil. There are many species of dung beetle, and the work of these recycling champions improves soil structure and fertility.

Don’t forget, Earth Hour is on Saturday 31st March at 8:30 pm local time, so join the ARKive team and millions of other people worldwide and switch off those lights!

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

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