Dec 19

Hanukkah, one of the most widely celebrated holidays of the Jewish tradition, commemorates the miraculous supply of oil for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

In honor of the 8 days of Hanukkah, Arkive presents eight wonderful species, some native to Israel and others we think uniquely exemplify this special holiday!

What’s in a shape?

Common starfish

The Star of David is a recognizable Hebrew symbol with 6 distinct points. Most of nature’s “stars” have five points like the beautiful and resilient common starfish that can survive adversity even to the extent of re-growing its arms as long as its core stays intact.

A celebration of lights under the sea

Firefly squid showing bioluminescence

Hanukkah is often referred to as the “Festival of Lights” and celebrates the illumination of the menorah. Deep below the surface of the ocean, species such as the firefly squid produce its own celebration of lights! Utilizing its bioluminescence abilities, the squid camouflages itself by mimicking the light coming from the ocean surface.

Spinning, spinning,  just keep spinning

Spinner dolphin leaping and spinning

The dreidel, a popular toy for children during Hanukkah, has symbols that denote the phrase “A great miracle happened there”. Much like the dreidel, the spinner dolphin emerges from the water spinning high in the air. It is hypothesized this behavior might be used to dislodge remoras or might simply be dolphins having fun.

Are the latkes ready yet?

A young Japanese macaque looks to an older female

A traditional food during Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication is the delicious latkes composed mainly of potatoes. Japanese macaques are also big fans of potatoes. In a unique display, a female in one troop of Japanese macaques washed potatoes in seawater prior to eating them. Now all members of her troop display this distinctive behavior!

 Would the Hoopoe by another name sound as sweet?

Close up of the head of a juvenile Eurasian hoopoe

The beautiful and colorful Eurasian hoopoe is named for its distinct vocalizations of hoop hoop hoop. Its splendid orange-tan plumage and regal crest differentiate it from other birds in the area. The hoopoe was officially chosen as the national bird of Israel in May 2008.

Someone needs a quick desert catnap

Sand cat grooming

The cuddly sand cat strongly resembles a domestic cat, but don’t be fooled by its looks. This is one hardy kitty since it is the only cat that lives foremost in true deserts including the desert regions in southern Israel. With limited water resources, it obtains the majority of its water from its diet.

From 8 candles to 8 legs

Female crab spider

One of the most iconic symbols of Hanukkah, the Menorah holds 8 candles for each day of the holiday, and an extra candle to light other candles and/or to be used as an extra light. In nature the arachnids defining characteristic is the presence of eight legs like that of the vibrantly yellow crab spider. This species has the extraordinary ability to alter its color to match its background!

Are my tree rings showing?

Olive trees

It might still look like a sapling, but the olive tree is the world’s oldest cultivated plant! It transcends time and cultures through its worldwide recognition as a symbol of abundance and peace. In September 2007, Israel elected the olive tree as its national tree.

Happy Hanukkah!

 William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA