Jan 18

The third Monday in January is advertised as being the most depressing day of the year. This might be just be a bunch of pseudoscience but we’re here to brighten up this particular Monday in January with some of the natural world’s most amazing blue species.

Forget about The Smurfs, Dory, Aladdin and the Cookie Monster– nature’s got its own pretty cool line-up of blue characters.

1. Blue-footed booby

Blue-footed booby

These rather comical-looking characters use their fabulous bright blue webbed feet as part of their mating rituals. The male birds strut their elaborate feet in front of prospective mates. The bluer the feet, the more attractive the mate. Just check out those dance moves…

2. Sun-tailed monkey

Sun-tailed monkey

 First described in 1986, males of this Vulnerable African monkey species have a rather conspicuous bright blue scrotum.

3. Blue shark

Blue shark

The graceful blue shark is easily identified by its beautifully coloured slender body with deep indigo-blue across the back and vibrant blue on the sides. Unfortunately, this striking species is one of the most heavily fished sharks in the world, with an estimated 10 to 20 million individuals caught each year.

4. Parson’s chameleon

Parson's chameleon

The largest chameleon in the world might look rather blue but it’s only temporary. Like all its fellow chameleon species, the Parson’s chameleon is capable of colour change and it’s not just for camouflage. This rather bizarre-looking lizard with its independently-moving eyes and fused toes is thought to change colour in response to other chameleons (when fighting or mating) and temperature.

5. Dyeing poison frog

Dyeing poison frog

The bright colouration of this alluring frog species is thought to function as a warning to predators that it is poisonous. The dyeing poison frog is named from an old legend in which native people used the frog to change (dye) the plain green feathers of parrots into red feathers.

6. Southern blue-ringed octopus

Southern blue-ringed octopus

Named for the small, iridescent blue spots it develops when alarmed, the southern blue-ringed octopus is one of the world’s deadliest venomous animals. The toxin in its venom is 1,000 times more powerful than cyanide.

7. Blue pipe

Blue pipe

A member of the iris family, the blue pipe is one of the many species of Gladiolus that grow in the incredibly biodiverse Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. The blue pipe is a geophyte, meaning that it is capable of surviving long periods of unfavourable conditions by using an underground food storage organ. During the dry season, the above ground parts of the blue pipe die back, but the plant persists in the soil as a short, swollen stem known as a corm. When it rains, the dormant corm is triggered to renew its above-ground growth, causing the plant to flower once again.

8. Ribbontailed stingray

Ribbontailed stingray

The brightly-coloured skin of the ribbontailed stingray acts as warning colouration to alert other animals that it is venomous. Distinctive blue stripes also run along either side of the tail, which is equipped with one or two sharp venomous spines at the tip, used by the ray to fend off predators.

9. Common blue damselfly

Common blue damselfly

This beautiful damselfly is one of only two species of damselfly that can be found in both Europe and North America, its range almost completely circling the Northern Hemisphere.

10. Blue whale

Blue whale

And finally, even the largest animal to have ever lived, the blue whale, rocks the colour blue!

Mar 13

Arkive’s Week in Review — Wildlife News ICYMI: Arkive has compiled some of the biggest and most interesting headlines from this week. Article originally published on Friday, Mar 6, 2015

As forests burn, conservationists launch global wildlife rescue

Scarlet-macaw-landing

Scarlet macaw landing

Extreme events and long-term warming caused by climate change compound the existing threats to wildlife like habitat loss and degradation. Using small aircraft to detect and map threats like forest fires and illegal clearing can significantly reduce the incidence of severely damaging forest fires. One of many affected forests is that of Guatemala, which is home to the scarlet macaw and the ocellated turkey.

View original article

Ocellated-turkey-side-view

Ocellated turkey side view

Article originally published on Saturday, Mar 7, 2015

Four large species of snake added to restricted import list

Reticulated-python-juvenile-coiled-around-sapling

Reticulated python juvenile coiled around sapling

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared that the Beni anaconda, green anaconda, DeSchaunsee’s anaconda, and the reticulated python are “injurious” under the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act prohibits the export, import, buying, selling or acquisition of wildlife and plant species named on the list.

View original article

Green anaconda close up

Article originally published on Sunday, Mar 8, 2015

Back from the brink of extinction: hunting for the world’s rarest frog

Corroboree-frog-crawling-on-moss

Corroboree frog crawling on moss

A research team found only four coroboree frogs within the southern part of New South Wales, its entire range. Recently, experts from Melbourne Zoo and Taronga Zoo along with NSW wildlife officials released 80 frogs into a fungus-free area of New South Wales within Kosciuszko National Park.

View original article

Article originally published on Monday, Mar 9, 2015

Amphibians, already threatened, face increased susceptibility to disease from stress, research shows

Plethodon-shermani--on-leaves

Red-legged salamander on leaves

Researchers treated red-legged salamanders with either corticosterone, a stress hormone, or oil. They then exposed them to the chytrid fungus. Researchers found that “stressed” salamanders had a greater abundance of the chytrid fungus.

View original article

Article originally published on Tuesday, Mar 10, 2015

The truth about giant pandas

Infant-giant-panda-portrait

Infant giant panda portrait

Thinking of the giant panda as cute and cuddly is only half the truth. In reality, the giant panda is a formidable species  who delivers one of the highest bite forces of any carnivore.

View original article

Article originally published on Wednesday, Mar 11, 2015

If apes go extinct, so could entire forests

Male-bonobo-lying-down

Male bonobo lying down

Many tree and plant species in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are purely dependent upon the bonobo for seed dispersal. If the bonobos disappeared it could create a cascading extinction cycle.

View original article

Article originally published on Thursday, Mar 12, 2015

World’s whaling slaughter tallied at 3 million

Blue-whale-underwater

Blue whale underwater

In the last century, nearly 3 million cetaceans were wiped out. Some estimate that blue whales have been depleted by up to 90%. The North Atlantic right whale also hovers on the brink of extinction.

View original article

North-Atlantic-right-whale-swimming

North Atlantic right whale swimming

Enjoy your weekend! William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

Jun 12

Last weekend marked World Oceans Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the beauty and bounty that our oceans provide, and raising awareness of the importance of protecting them. Here at ARKive, we’ve been inspired by the watery realm, and thought we’d honour our fellow mammals by submerging ourselves in the wonderful world of whales and dolphins.

Winged whale

Humpback whale image

An instantly recognisable species, the humpback whale is named for the distinctive ‘hump’ formed by its back as it prepares to dive. Its long flippers, another characteristic feature, can grow up to five metres in length, and contribute to this vocal cetacean’s scientific name, Megaptera novaeangliae, which means ‘big-winged New Englander’.

Marine misnomer

Orca image

Orcas are easily distinguishable by their striking black and white markings and their imposing, triangular dorsal fin. Interestingly, these fascinating marine mammals have a rather misleading alternative name – killer whales. While they are certainly efficient predators, they are not whales and are, in fact, the largest members of the dolphin family. Orcas usually hunt in pods, although individuals from some populations are known to deliberately beach themselves in order to snatch sea lions resting on the beach before wriggling back to sea with their prey.

Social cetacean

Dusky dolphin image

The charismatic dusky dolphin is a highly social species, sometimes being found in pods of over 1,000 individuals and frequently associating with other cetacean species. This beautiful marine mammal is said to be one of the most acrobatic of all dolphins, often making energetic leaps out of the water and performing impressive tumbles in the air.

Underwater unicorn

Narwhal image

There’s no mistaking the unique narwhal, a species famed for the hugely elongated tooth or ‘tusk’ which protrudes from its upper lip. The longest of these incredible appendages was recorded at over 2.5 metres in length, and the males use these bodily weapons in jousting bouts. The narwhal is found throughout the waters of the Arctic, as well as in the northern Atlantic Ocean, and it tends to stay close to pack ice.

Cerebral cetaceans

Bottlenose dolphin image

Quite possibly the most famous of all cetaceans, the bottlenose dolphin is much-loved by many. This extremely intelligent species is highly social, and uses a wide range of clicks and whistles to communicate with other members of its pod. Like some other species of cetacean, the bottlenose dolphin seeks out prey using echolocation, and individuals in a pod will work together as a team to round up schools of fish into tight balls upon which the dolphins can feed. When not chasing prey or performing impressive leaps, dolphins are able to rest one side of their brain at a time. This allows them to sleep while remaining conscious enough to surface and breathe.

Moby Dick

Sperm whale image

The strange-looking sperm whale can be forgiven for having such a bulbous head, given that it has the largest and heaviest brain of any living animal! And its record-breaking statistics don’t stop there – capable of diving for up to two hours at a time, the sperm whale can dive to depths of 3,000 metres, making it the deepest-diving mammal. The largest of the toothed whales, the sperm whale is famed in literature as Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, but sadly it is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, primarily as a result of historic and present-day hunting.

Sea scars

Risso's dolphin image

A somewhat unusual-looking mammal, Risso’s dolphin can be identified by its long, pointed flippers, bulbous, beakless head, and the conspicuous scars present all over its body. These markings are thought to be caused by bites from other individuals of its kind during playing or fighting, but some scars could be the result of squid bites.

White whale

Beluga whale image

Although it is also known as the white whale, the beluga whale is actually born with dark grey to bluish- or brownish-grey colouration, only achieving the striking white hue as it matures. It is one of just a few cetaceans with a flexible neck, and it is capable of pursing its lips to suck up prey. The beluga whale is sometimes referred to as the sea canary because of the high-pitched twittering noises it produces.

On the brink

Baiji image

The baiji, or Yangtze River dolphin, is a very shy and graceful freshwater dolphin species with a very long, narrow, slightly upturned beak and small eyes placed high on the face. Sadly, it is thought that the Critically Endangered baiji could actually now be extinct. In 1999, only four individuals of its kind were observed, and an intensive search of its range in 2006 resulted in none being seen. The major threats to the baiji are considered to be illegal fishing using electricity, and being caught as bycatch in fishing nets.

Ocean giant

Blue whale image

We couldn’t possibly finish this round-up of ten incredible cetaceans without including the biggest of them all – the blue whale! The biggest animal to have ever lived, the blue whale has a heart the size of a small car and is capable of eating more than 4 tonnes of krill per day during the summer months. Whereas some cetacean species communicate using a series of high-pitched clicks and whistles, the blue whale produces a variety of low-frequency sounds, which may also serve the purpose of sensing the environment and detecting prey.

Is your favourite whale or dolphin not featured here? Then why not comment below to let us know what it is and why you love it!

If you’re looking for a fun challenge, check out ARKive’s ocean-themed scavenger hunt – there may well be a few cetaceans hidden in there!

Find out more about whale and dolphin conservation:

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Text Author

About

RSS feedArkive.org is the place for films, photos and facts about endangered species. Subscribe to our blog today to keep up to date!

Email updates

Sign up to receive a regular email digest of Arkive blog posts.
Preferred frequency:

Arkive twitter