Melissa Lesh@melissalesh

Emerging Earth Films

http://leshfilms.com/

254 posts 9,192 followers 302 following

Humbled and invigorated to have our film - Person of the Forest (co-directed with @timlaman) playing at his years @banffmountainfestival. It has been a cold and beautiful few days with stunning (real life 4K) views, mountain climbs and walks along ice sculpture canyons. #staywarm #zerodegrees #banff #banffnationalpark

Johnston Canyon
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A juvenile cottonmouth, also known as a water moccasin, slides through a shallow pool after a brief rain. .
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Snakes are an important part of every ecosystem, eating and getting eaten by so many different animals. In urban and rural areas they help control rodent and insect populations as well as provide food for larger animals such as birds of prey. Snakes serve as middle-order predators that keep the entire ecosystem in balance. In addition to their environmental and intrinsic value, they also save millions of lives every year in the form of their venom. Breakthroughs in medical science continue to come from snakes as treatments to alleviate high blood pressure, heart conditions, kidney disease, stroke, diabetes and even cancer have all proven successful. Certain neurotoxins are now being tested to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and medical teams continue to search for new snake-derived remedies currently unknown.
And for all of the small insects out there, (like the two above on its head and back) swimming through water can prove extremely difficult and time consuming. Snakes provide a much needed transportation system if you are small and in need of a lift.

We need snakes. And they need us.

@visitvirginia #fortheloveofsnakes #virginiaoutdoors #cottonmouth @natgeocreative

False Cape State Park
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(🔈ON) The secret life of Atlantic ghost crabs (Ocypode quadrata)// an appropriate name meaning swift-footed. This particular morning we watched as this crab diligently cleaned out its burrow, brining sand from the depths and dumping it at the top, paying no attention to us only feet away. Did you know their club-shaped eye stalks can rotate 360 degrees? What I would do to have that!
@visitvirginia @natgeocreative #loveva #vaoutdoors @canonusa

False Cape State Park
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Maritime trail brings you from a soft sand dune landscape scattered with pine forests and immature shrubs to the open Atlantic Ocean. An almost ghostly scene, no one, no houses, no developments as far as the eye can see. Pure beauty. How lucky we are to still have wild places like this on earth - pristine coastlines, salt marshes, swamps, all teaming with wildlife. This doesn’t happen by mistake, instead the result of many hard earned years and longsighted visions to keep public lands wild.
Thank you @visitvirginia for letting us explore these amazing places right here in our own backyard. #virginiaoutdoors #loveva @freeflysystems

False Cape State Park
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A six hundred-year-old cypress tree stands tall in the tannin waters of Lake Drummond, Great Dismal Swamp. This national wildlife refuge is a hidden gem, discovered best by paddle powered water craft. Six years ago I worked on site as a park ranger with the @usfws. Memories from those days, black bears, cotton farms, banjo nights, now merge with new ones bringing this swamp ever closer to my heart. Great to be back // first stop on a filmic adventure thanks to @visitvirginia #vaoutdoors #loveva

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
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The International Crane Foundation in Baraboo Wisconsin is doing great work. They are responsible for the growing number of wild whooping cranes - North America's tallest bird and the rarest crane species in the world. Due to hunting and habitat loss, particularly wetlands, the whooping crane population fell to 14 individuals in the 1940s. With a lot of focused help this species has been given a second chance and has 612 individuals in the wild today! Shout out to the dedicated people working to keep these animals on our planet. Also at the #InternationalCraneFoundation there are many other threatened and endangered crane species from around the world. This grey crowned crane from East Africa was wildly curious about my iphone case and decided to test the manufacturing quality with a repetitive pecking technique. Sassy, but what a beauty!
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#greycrownedcrane #baraboo #wisconsin
#backfromthebrink w/ @kalpanaprakash @scottrlesh @tbfrost

International Crane Foundation
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((Sound on🔈)) A saltwater crocodile slides off a muddy bank on the Adelaide River and into the salty waters below. Northern Territory, Australia. .
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45 years ago saltwater crocodiles were nearly extinct in northern Australia. Today they have rebounded to what scientists believe are historic population numbers. How did efforts succeed? I am very excited to share a photographic story @tbfrost has been working on for several years now published on @natgeo digital. Head over to his page for the link. .
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The six months that I filmed on the project, over two years, was a tough and testing time; three wrecked landcruisers, one terrible car accident, several smashed cameras, one tropical disease, many mosquito filled nights and a lot of wonderful memories. I still think back on that time fondly and know we need to go back. Maybe one day it will feel complete. This is a critical time for wildlife and conservation and solutions come in many forms. Check out one part of the story at @natgeo digital - "Inside the Rugged Lives of Crocodile Hunters"


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Meet Leo. He is a young leopard frog who enjoys early morning hops along our backyard pond. His favorite pastime is relaxing on a somewhat moist bed of creeping thyme that hangs over the water. Currently he is solo and has not been with a lady in a very long time, possibly ever. I have no doubts he would be an agreeable mate and now that he has found the perfect home, my hopes are high that he finds a dependable partner next spring.
#tolovealeopardfrog #ridingsolo #myheartmelts #lawnintolife

Woodland Heights, Virginia
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Not quite an eclipse, but still, a colorful orb suspended in the sky.
#cappadocia #turkey #fairychimneys


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Found this beauty on the trail in #Nantahala National Forest while hiking down after the eclipse. A Timber rattlesnake, one of North America's most dangerous, head gently resting on a stick. They are known to use fallen logs as a waiting site for prey to pass by, giving them an elevated perch from which to strike. No hikers or snakes were harmed in the making of this photograph!
#cheoahbaldeclipse #timberrattler #snakesarefriends #eclipse2017

Nantahala National Forest
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1:38pm, August 21, 2017.
The storm before the calm.

Nantahala National Forest
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That moment you are reminded we are all sitting on a perfectly situated rock whirling around on a predictable path within a massive galaxy surrounded by a hundred billion other galaxies, each with countless solar systems, suns and moons of their own, and that it all is much larger and more complex than we could ever know and is expanding faster and faster and maybe, just maybe there's not just one universe, but multiple, or infinite multiverses and, uh yeah... thank you eclipse. And thank you clouds for clearing just in time.

#cheoahbaldeclipse #TotalityOrBust #NC #darktimes #eclipsechasers
w/ @jennyskriz @emtabb @katie_rva

Nantahala National Forest
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Love Valley, from above.
#Cappadocia #fairychimneys


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30 million years ago three volcanos erupted in central Anatolia. The entire region was covered in a thick blanket of ash and began to solidify into soft rock. Over the next few million years wind and rain worked on it, chiseling parts away until only the hardest pillars remained standing. These "fairy chimneys" stand here as geologic proof. The best way to see them? Hot air 🎈!
#Cappadocia #turkey @natgeocreative

Cappadocia Turkey
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It is hard to truly understand a conflict until you see it right before your eyes. The last ten days here in Israel have been nothing short of eye opening. Traveling to the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, the West Bank, it is clear just how complex the situation here is. A couple days ago I stood overlooking the Syrian boarder as explosions hit the air. I could feel them on the ground and up into my entire body. Dozens of rebel groups fight just beyond the Israeli boarder as a UN peace keeper watches from the sidelines. In Jerusalem the history and culture are so thick you can slice the air. Locals voice their prayers and opinions about the situation and I can feel the tension. My hope is for peace and resolution, as bleak as that reality seems. My heart goes out to all of the citizens of the world. Love and peace be with you.

Western Wall
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Finding new art in old places.

This ancient water reservoir provides some
much needed reprieve from the 110 degree Israeli heat.

Zefat, Israel
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A pretty spectacular sendoff ✈️


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Fireflies fill the night sky here in Richmond, VA.
Using pheromones and light, love and a lot of luck they rush to reproduce for only a few weeks out of every year.
#wetlands #jamesriverpark @natgeocreative

James River Park System
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When I was a kid I loved to paint, anything wildlife and mostly from photographs. It made me feel like I could go inside the life of that animal, study the hairs, the eyes, all the elements that made that creature alive. I guess deep down I thought it would help me connect with it, learn about its life and maybe even let me inside its mind. This gorilla was one of my first gouache paintings back in 2002, I was 11 years old. Today, 15 years later I am still thinking about the internal minds of animals and how much we have yet to learn. Science is only now finding what my child brain always thought, or wanted to think, that they are smarter than we could have ever imagined. What animals do you think about and wish we could understand more? What questions would you want answered?


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In the vanishing lowland rainforests of Borneo, research is underway to uncover and understand the unique cultural behaviors in wild orangutans. Photographer @timlaman, researcher Cheryl Knott, and young explorer @rrsuro shed new light on the similarities between ourselves and our ancient ancestors, before it's too late.
@mountainfilm here we come! #PersonoftheForest will be premiering later this week. Thanks to daredevil co-producer @tbfrost for believing in me/making it possible and @timlaman for having this brainchild, dedicating a lifetime to it and letting me run with it. Here's to an exciting week ahead! #thebestfestivalever #mfilm17 @natgeo


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The spawn is here!! Blueback herring make their way up the rapids of the James River to reproduce before returning to their ocean life.
Anyone in the Richmond area head down to pineline, near third and fourth drop rapids. There might only be a couple days left. The strongest surge I've ever seen 🐟🐟🐟🐟

James River Park System
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Native to northeast india, Bhutan, Nepal and throughout Southeast Asia, the tokay gecko is highly prized for its alleged medicinal properties. One can fetch thousands of dollars for a large specimen. Today they face indiscriminate hunting in some parts of the world. A happy gecko is one climbing around, defending its territory, calling for a mate and living out its perfect gecko life. This little guy is doing exactly that. We were lucky to spot him as they are nocturnal and usually very hard to find in the trees.
#nameri #assam #india #geckolife 🦎


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Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants
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Last month National Geographic Magazine published a story on the gelada monkey, "The Grass Eating Monkeys of Ethiopia" photographed by @tbfrost and @jtkerby and words by @craigwelch. I had the pleasure of joining the team to the highlands of Ethiopia, spending every waking and hiking hour with the geladas and in the process getting some pretty cool behaviors. Here a large male gelada chomps on a fistful of freshly picked grass. His teeth might look like the canines of a carnivore but in fact geladas are the only grass-eating monkeys in the world. #outtakes #gelada #guassa #ethiopia @natgeo


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An Indian hog deer freezes under tall grass, ears alert. Something might be watching. #kaziranga #assam #india

Kaziranga National Park
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Burning grasslands make for an extra vibrant sky in #Kaziranga #Assam @natgeocreative


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A Malayan giant squirrel pauses from its scurrying and jumping life in the trees. Walking through these forests, eyes up, neck back, undoubtedly makes you feel the terrestrial-ness of being human. #Nameri National Park, Assam


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The back leg of a creature that was at first so mysterious and strange it was originally thought to be a real living unicorn. I felt similarly mystified seeing it for the very first time. Guess who?! #assam #india


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The stage is set. A heavy calm hangs in the morning air, leaves rest unafraid on an open path, and silent anticipation sets in. Now will the main character present itself? #Kaziranga holds the highest density of tigers in the world, yet still seeing one is a lucky gift and very often they remain concealed.


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A magical morning here in Kaziranga. Outside our hotel at 4:45am. And we're off.


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An armed guard patrols by elephant back on the banks of the Jia Bharali River in Nameri National Park. #Assam


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