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A pod of dusky dolphins at Kaikoura, New Zealand ©Terry Whittaker/Alamy We’re celebrating National Dolphin Day by heading to the waters offshore from Kaikoura, New Zealand, where a pod of dusky dolphins is surfacing along South Island’s Pacific Coast. The ‘dusky’ descriptor comes from the dark gray, sometimes black coloring on the marine mammal’s back. Dusky dolphins are found only in the Southern Hemisphere. Bing Homepage Wallpaper 04/14/2018
Bioluminescence at Trwyn Du Lighthouse in Anglesey off the northwest coast of Wales (© Kris Williams/500px) Bad weather and unpredictable tides can make the Irish Sea off the northwest coast of Wales a dicey passage. Many seafaring people had urged the leaders of Anglesey Island to build a lighthouse here, but it took a deadly shipwreck in 1831 to prompt the construction of Trwyn Du Lighthouse.
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington (© Ethan Welty/Aurora Photos) Extending south from the Canadian border to the northern border of Mount Rainier National Park, the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest covers 1.7 million acres of western Washington State. Though a short hike into the woods gives the illusion of total isolation from humanity, the forest’s western boundary is just an hour’s drive from Seattle
Bioluminescence in the Gippsland Lakes, Victoria, Australia (© Stocktrek Images/Getty Images) In 2006, a massive bushfire raged across Victoria, Australia, dumping nutrient-rich ash into the Gippsland Lakes, a series of lakes and marshes on the coast. Subsequent flooding introduced new algae and microorganisms to the lakes, including a bioluminescent species that lights up when disturbed. The lapping of waves on the beach stirs up the bacteria just enough to trigger their bioluminescent behavior
Mountain lion cubs near Bozeman, Montana (© Don Johnston/age fotostock) Adult cougars – also known as pumas or mountain lions, depending on where you are in the Americas – are solitary animals, who prefer to patrol their territory and hunt alone. But for the first two years of their lives, littermates depend on each other for vital development skills. What we see as playful wrestling is the cubs' way of learning how to defend themselves and hunt once they leave mom's care.
Gordes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France (© Arnab Banerjee/Gallery Stock) In the foothills of the Vaucluse Mountains sits Gordes, France, which has become a favorite destination of visitors to Provence. They're drawn to the village's spectacular hilltop setting and proximity to ancient historic sites, among them a collection of stone beehive-shaped huts dating to the Bronze Age. Not surprisingly, many artists have made their home in Gordes, including painter Marc Chagall
Lightning storm over Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (© Scott Stulberg/Corbis) July to September is thunderstorm season at Grand Canyon National Park and the surrounding wilderness. A count taken from 1997 to 2000 found that lighting struck somewhere in the canyon an average of 26,073 times per year. As long as visitors are in a safe place – preferably indoors or at a spot where the span between flash and thunder is longer than 30 seconds – the show can be spectacular
Ice in Jökulsárlón, a glacier lagoon in southeast Iceland (© Matteo Colombo/Getty Images) The ice-choked lagoon called Jökulsárlón formed when a glacier called Breiðamerkurjökull began to pull away from the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean on Iceland's southeastern coast. As other glaciers in the icefield calve, hunks of ice plunge into Jökulsárlón, reflecting the blue water and creating a breathtaking scene popular with visitors to the nearby Vatnajökull National Park.
A polar bear plunging (© Sergei Gladyshev/500px) A polar bear can stay submerged for up to three minutes, a nifty trick when sneaking up on prey perched on ice at the water’s edge. For a large bear, it’s also a remarkably skilled long-distance swimmer, able to swim for several days if necessary. As polar ice shrinks, scientists have had more opportunities to observe the polar bear’s swimming abilities.
Strokkur geyser near the Hvítá River in Iceland (© Zinaida Sopina/Shutterstock) Every few minutes, the Icelandic geyser called Strokkur erupts, sending a stream of heated water into the air. The water can shoot anywhere from 50 to 100 feet high, providing a glimpse of geothermal power in action. The name “Strokkur” actually means “churn” in Icelandic — given these eruptions, that seems an understatement
Neversink Pit, Jackson County, Alabama (© George Steinmetz/Corbis) Cave explorers have been dropping into Alabama’s Neversink Pit for years. Its limestone walls reach 162 feet to the bottom and are covered in lush ferns, including some rare and endangered species, lending the open-air pit a jungle-like atmosphere. Since 1995, Neversink Pit has been owned and maintained by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that works to protect caves in the southeastern United States.
Mauve stinger jellyfish, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico (© Christian Vizl/Tandem Stills + Motion) Common names vary around the globe, but across most of Europe this species of jellyfish is called a “mauve stinger.” Like most other jellies, the mauve stinger captures prey – usually small fish – with stinging tentacles. And yes, in rare encounters with humans, the sting is painful, but not deadly.
Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin, China (© Ajancso/Shutterstock) At the confluence of the Taohua and Lijiang Rivers outside Guilin, China, stands the stone arch known as Elephant Trunk Hill. The name comes from the cliff’s resemblance to an elephant with its trunk lowered into the water for a drink. At night, when the moon is positioned just so, visitors can see the moon right through the hole under the arch, hence its name: Water-Moon Cave
Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (© Gerald & Buff Corsi/Visuals Unlimited, Inc.) It’s home to some of Yellowstone’s oldest hot springs, with a few believed to be more than 100,000 years old. Steamboat Geyser, which also sits within Norris Basin, erupts unpredictably, but when it does blow, it blows with gusto: Steamboat is currently the world’s tallest geyser, shooting water more than 300 feet up into the air.
White Mountains “In Central Europe, we’ve had a very warm beginning of winter. I hope there will be lots of powder for snowboarding soon. I’d love to see the French Alps again as white as in 2015 when I took this photo.” — Designed by Annika Oeser from Germany. click link for version without calendar
Natural arch at Ponta da Piedade, near Lagos, Portugal (© MedioTuerto/Getty Images) If the white sand beaches on the shores of Lagos don’t bring a thrill, there are rough cliffs, arches, and grottos waiting to be explored. Boat tours take tourists around the craggy coastline of this southwestern Portuguese city, motoring close to the towering rock formations that rise as high as 65 feet above the dazzling blue waters of the Atlantic