Mar 27

When the newest member of the ARKive Media Team, Kathryn Pintus, signed up to be a STEM Ambassador in January, little did she know that she’d soon be knee deep in monkey posters and surrounded by thousands of children at the Big Bang Fair. We find out how she ended up there and what she thought of her first National Science and Engineering Week.

I’m not quite sure what I expected upon my return from holiday, although Laura had warned me that it would be busy…perhaps I had imagined a short period of easing gently back into work as I shook off my jet-lag after two weeks away? As it turns out, this was not an option!
National Science and Engineering Week Logo

Instead I was greeted with a flurry of activity and excitement; it was National Science and Engineering Week, which meant all hands on deck to create and implement some fantastic activities for students across the Bristol, Bath and Somerset region.

The ARKive office was buzzing with our STEM Ambassadors finalising presentations, carrying out some last-minute research, and showing off their creative skills as they designed and built a variety of funky-looking habitats for our ‘Web of Wildlife’. Despite my body and brain not quite knowing what time it was, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to throw myself into the foray and contribute to the education of young scientific minds!


The Big Bang Fair

I had never celebrated National Science and Engineering Week before, so this was an interesting first for me. Various trips into schools had been planned, but the main event of the week was The Big Bang Fair 2012, held at the NEC in Birmingham. Our fearless yet fun STEM leader Laura was asked to be a judge for the National Science and Engineering Competition at the last minute, so I stepped in to help out on the ARKive stand for a day, and what a day it was!

ARKive stand at The Big Bang Fair 2012

Kathryn demonstrating the Survival app to eager students

I entered the massive exhibition hall at the NEC, and was amazed at the variety (and brilliance!) of the stands and events there – everything from a fork-lift truck simulator to a disease investigation unit. It was truly impressive.

As the doors opened, the first few early-bird students filtered past, glancing at the ARKive stand and others before scuttling off with their friends, free monkey poster in hand. “It’s rather quiet in this place; this is going to be a piece of cake,” I thought rather naively. Half an hour later, the rest of the team and I were perfecting our multi-tasking skills as we rolled posters, demonstrated the website, and explained all about ARKive to hordes of students and teachers all at the same time.

ARKive's Web of Wildlife

Claire helping students work out the Web of Wildlife

Helen demonstrating the ARKive website

Helen demonstrating the ARKive website










We had a fantastic response from Big Bang visitors, and lost count of the number of people we spoke to about our work at ARKive and all the wonderful images, videos and information we have on the site for them to use. The day whizzed by in a blur of eager young faces, Survival scores and colourful uniforms, and soon it was time for me to head home.


School Sessions

Yet my time on the road had not come to an end at Birmingham. The very next day, I teamed up with Becky Moran and travelled to Bath to teach the students of St Gregory’s Catholic School about ‘Adaptation and Movement’.

Adaptation slide image

A slide from the Adaptation with Movement presentation

All of the groups we taught were enthusiastic and engaged, and came up with some fantastically artistic and imaginative creations during our ‘Design a Species’ exercise. My personal favourite was Esmerelda-Lily-Pad, a colourful critter with plenty of awesome adaptations to life in the water.

Design a Species image

Esmerelda-Lily-Pad: one of the many wonderful creations by students at St Gregory's

Five teaching sessions and a school dinner later, it was home-time for Becky and I. Exhausted, but pleased, we headed back to ARKive to prepare for the next lot of STEM sessions the following week. No rest for the wicked, but certainly worth it and oodles of fun!

To find out more about what the ARKive team got up to at The Big Bang Fair, check out Laura’s blog.

We will soon be adding our new ‘Adaptation and Movement’ teaching module to our wide range of educational resources.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

Mar 26

More amazing photos, videos and texts are added to ARKive every alternate week. Our latest update is a little smaller than usual, as many of the team have been busy taking part in National Science and Engineering Week. However, we have added 10 new species, 137 new images and some great footage of red-bellied piranhas, with plenty more to come in the next update in a fortnight’s time – watch this space!

What’s new – our favourite new species
Socotra buzzard photo

We've added a new profile for the Vulnerable Socotra buzzard

Ebenavia maintimainty photo

We've also added a new profile for the Endangered Ebenavia maintimainty

What’s new – our favourite new images

Fin whale photo

We love this incredible image of a fin whale breaching

Northern fur seal photo

Check out our great new images of northern fur seal pups

What’s new – our favourite new videos

Red-bellied piranha photo

We've added 4 new videos of the red-bellied piranha, including footage of a feeding frenzy

Get involved!

If you have any photos, footage or species information that you think we should add into ARKive please let us know. There are many ways to get involved with ARKive, from contributing your photos to just spreading the word about us – every little helps!

Full details

Subscribe to our RSS feeds for full details of what’s new to ARKive.

Mar 25
California condor image

California condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

Species: California condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The California condor urinates on its own legs to keep cool!

The California condor is a member of the New World vulture family, and has an impressive wingspan of just less than three metres. Native to North America, the California condor soars over large distances on its immense wings, using its vision to spot carrion on which to feed. Its large size means it dominates other scavengers at a carcass, except the golden eagle which, while smaller, has an impressive set of talons. The California condor mates for life, producing one chick every two years. Young condors take around six to eight years to reach full maturity.

Extremely endangered, the California condor was reduced to just eight wild individuals in 1987. Declines in the 20th Century were due to human induced pressures such as trapping, shooting, egg collection and lead poisoning following ingestion of carcasses killed with lead shot. The remaining wild birds were taken into captivity and an intensive captive breeding programme has since led to the first release of this magnificent bird back into the wild.

Find out more about the California condor with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Learn more about the California condor and other endangered species with our Survival app.

View images and videos of the California condor on ARKive.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author

Mar 24

Although Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins share their western Antarctic Peninsula breeding grounds, new research has discovered that rising temperatures have been affecting the breeding cycles of the three species in different ways.

Photo of Gentoo penguin colony with chicks

Gentoo penguin colony with chicks. Gentoo penguin populations are thought to have increased on the Antarctic Peninsula

Tracking penguin colonies

Professor Heather Lynch and her colleagues from Stony Brook University used a combination of fieldwork and satellite imagery to track colonies of the three penguin species and monitor how their breeding cycles were affected by the region’s warming temperatures.

Currently, the Antarctic is considered to be one of the world’s most rapidly warming regions and is one of the areas most impacted by global climate change.

Photo of Adelie penguins walking along the beach

Adelie penguins walking along the beach. Adelie populations have declined in the Antarctic, possibly due to warming temperatures in the region

Shifting breeding cycles

According to Lynch’s research, warmer temperatures cause a shift in the breeding cycle, causing the Peninsula’s penguin inhabitants to lay their eggs earlier. The researchers found that the resident gentoo penguin population is able to adapt more quickly to this change, with these birds able to bring their egg laying dates forward by almost twice as much as the Adélie or chinstrap penguins. 

Lynch believes this may allow the gentoo penguin to better compete for the best nesting space. In addition, the gentoo prefers areas with less sea ice, and has been able to migrate further south into the Antarctic as the sea ice shrinks as a result of the warming temperatures.

While gentoo penguins are year-round residents on the Antarctic Peninsula, Adélie and chinstrap penguins migrate to the Peninsula to breed. The researchers believe that the Adélie and chinstrap penguins are not aware of the local conditions in the region until they arrive, and have not been able to advance their breeding cycles as rapidly as the gentoo penguin.

Chinstrap and Adélie penguins also rely more heavily on sea ice due to their dependence on Antarctic krill, a species which lives under the sea ice for parts of its lifecycle, for food.

Photo of Gentoo penguin adult and chick

Gentoo penguin adult and chick

Changing penguin populations

As a result of changing conditions in the region, the number of gentoo penguins has been increasing on the Antarctic Peninsula, while populations of both Adélie and chinstrap penguins have noticeably dwindled in recent years.

Analyses carried out by Lynch and her team have confirmed that populations of the Adélie penguin have decreased at almost all of its breeding locations on the Antarctic Peninsula. The researchers have also helped to resolve previous contradictory studies that suggest that the chinstrap penguin may benefit from decreasing sea ice, and have instead shown that populations of this species are also decreasing in the region.

The work by Lynch and her team has been published as a series of papers online in Polar Biology, Ecology and Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS).

Photo of chinstrap penguins on beach

Chinstrap penguins on beach. Chinstrap populations have also suffered as a result of rising Antarctic temperatures

Read the Stony Brook University press release about Lynch’s work.

Find out more about the Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins on ARKive.

For more information on the Antarctic visit ARKive’s Antarctic ecoregion page.

Interested in how climate change is affecting the world’s species? Find out more on ARKive’s climate change pages, or enter our creative climate change challenge!

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author

Mar 23

National Wildlife Week is under way in the US this week and the theme is “Celebrating Extra-ordinary Wildlife”. Shining a spotlight on incredible species happens to be our specialty here at ARKive (although, we do think every species is special!) so we decided to comb through the collection to highlight some of the species on ARKive with near-super hero powers.

The Skydiver

First on our list is the peregrine falcon. Just what makes this bird so amazing? Reaching aerial diving speeds of up to 155mph, this raptor is incredibly swift and nearly embodies the term “fast food” as it catches its prey in mid-air!

Photo of peregrine falcon at the top of a stoop

The Globetrotter

Next up is the world’s largest canid, the grey wolf. This efficient predator has keen eyesight to pick out weak, young or vulnerable prey and a crushing jaw pressure of 1,500 pounds per square inch. Known as trotters, they have the endurance to cover up to 60 miles a day in search of food!

Arctic wolf running in snow


The River King

Can you swim against cold, rushing waters while leaping over sharp, craggy rocks? The Atlantic salmon can! This leaper has been called the king of fish primarily due to its spectacular ability to clear seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Photo of female Atlantic salmon leaping up waterfall

The Invincible Sage

This superhero species has super skills in longevity. The American alligator is considered to be a living fossil, having survived on Earth in the same form for 200 million years. Not many species can claim that extra-ordinary feat!

American alligator photo

The Mighty Mouse

Our last superhero is tiny but springloaded. The woodland jumping mouse can leap up to 3 meters high, using its hind limbs for propulsion and tail for balance. Sure he might not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound but if a 6ft human had the same bounding skills, he probably could!

Woodland jumping mouse grooming

There are many superheroes hidden throughout the ARKive collection. Do you have a favorite superhero species you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!

Maggie Graham, Program Assistant, Wildscreen USA


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