Founder of the Photo Ark, a 25-year project to show the world the beauty of biodiversity in all its forms, and inspire action to save species.
This fire shrimp, native to the Indo-Pacific, is known as a species of "cleaner shrimp". They get their
names from their delightful habit of setting up cleaning stations to remove dead tissue and parasites from fish that offer up themselves. The fish just swims up, parks it for a while and lets the shrimp do all the work. The fish then pulls away, clean as a whistle. This symbiotic relationship gives both a real advantage; the fish gets better health and the shrimp gets a tasty meal. Some species of fire shrimp can even go inside a fishes mouth without being eaten! This shrimp was photographed at Nebraska Aquatic Supply in Omaha, Nebraska.
Although an often unwelcome summer visitor, wasps are very important pollinators. They also keep ecosystems in balance by feeding pest insects to their larvae! This species feeds on nectar from a variety of flowers and like all species of wasp, carry pollen on their heads or backs, often between their wings. Wasps are among a small handful of species that are responsible for pollinating the flowers of orchids. #pollinatormonday
Happy Father’s day! The pacific spiny lumpsuckers like this one photographed at @montereybayaquarium can be found off the coast of Washington, up into the Aleutian Islands, and all the way to the northern islands of Japan. As their name suggests, these fish are usually found attached to solid objects by the sucker protruding from their abdomens. Males of this species do most of the parenting, anchoring themselves next to their brood for 3-8 weeks and defending their eggs from predators. These dads will also use their fins to fan water over their soon-to-be babies, ensuring that the eggs get enough oxygen before they hatch. They’re tiny (just 1-3 inches) and not very graceful swimmers, so they’re generally seen near the ocean floor where they blend in more easily.
Trinidad chevron tarantulas, like this one pictured at @theomahazoo , are tree-dwelling spiders that build funnel-shaped webs. Although the species isn’t typically known to be very aggressive, they can and will bite if they are provoked. Researchers have found that the venom of this species is similar to capsaicin, a compound that activates heat-sensitive sensory neurons. This compound is also found in chili peppers, and is the reason you experience a burning sensation while eating that spicy food.
This is a heart crab photographed at @alaskasealifecenter. They have strong claws and sharp tips on their legs that allow them to grip stone walls and cling to surfaces. Heart crabs are colorful after molting, but quickly have a growth of diatoms and other organisms on their surface that dim their color and allow them to hide in their habitat for protection. This species is a predator to sea urchins, barnacles, tunicates and sponges. The Alaska SeaLife Center must be careful where these crabs are displayed since they could eat other exhibit animals. Heart crabs have been known to crack open snail shells occupied by smaller hermit crabs and eat them. In turn, they are vulnerable to some fish like wolf eels, which are not fazed by crustacean shells.
Though it has the long, slender body of an eel, this is actually a violet goby, a fish native to the Atlantic coast of North and South America. In the wild, violet gobies can grow up to 24 inches (61 cm) in length, with fins running down almost the entire length of their bodies. These fish may look like fearsome predators, but they’re primarily scavengers. Their main method of feeding is scooping up mouthfuls of gravel from the seabed and sifting out anything edible. They also have highly specialized teeth used to scrape algae off of rocks. This fish was photographed at @aquarium_de_paris in Paris, France. To see another image of this fish visit @natgeo.
These two Standing’s day geckos (a juvenile on top and adult) were photographed at the Plzen Zoo in Plzen, Czech Republic and are one of the largest day gecko species found on the island of Madagascar. Most adult day geckos become dangerous predators to their offspring, which can lead to cannibalism, however, the Standing’s day geckos are an exception. Warning colours visible on the baby geckos allow them to live together as a happy family without mom becoming highly aggressive.
Although native to southwest Madagascar they are rarely seen in the wild due to habitat loss, conversion of land to agriculture, and the international pet trade. The Plzen zoo is hard at work, protecting this species. More than 25 Standing’s day geckos have been born at the zoo since 1997, when the first one arrived.
This adorable creature is a Western European hedgehog photographed at Centro Fauna Selvatica “I’ll Pettirosso” in Italy. The rescue center receives an average of about 350 hedgehogs every year. These tiny mammals give birth twice a year, at the end of spring and autumn. At birth, baby hedgehogs have a coat of soft, white spines which are underneath their skin to protect the mother during birth, but then emerge after a few hours. A second coat of dark spines emerges after about 36 hours, and later on a third set develops. In general hedgehogs are good swimmers, can run fairly quickly, and known for their habit of rolling into a tight ball when threatened. These hedgehogs do not hibernate but during cold periods can sleep for many days.
In Europe, people often find a nest of very young hedgehogs and immediately assume they are abandoned even though the parent has likely just gone to look for food. So young hedgehogs should never be moved from the place where they are found unless visibly injured as they will lose the ability to find food from their natural points of reference. If found, it is best to observe the nest for a few days until one parent returns, then if there is no sight of mom or dad, the babies can be taken to a rescue center. This is very important as it is difficult to hand-rear small hedgehogs and they easily imprint on humans and then make it difficult to return to their natural habitats. This photo shoot was possible thanks to the @greenteenteam
This is the white-lined sphinx, sometimes referred to as the hummingbird moth because of the resemblance in size and flight pattern to a hummingbird. This pollinator uses vision and smell to locate the variety of flowers from which they draw nectar. In the spring, adult female white-lined sphinx lay eggs on a number of plants which larvae later feed on. They can be found in a variety of habitats including deserts, gardens, and even suburban areas in Central America and Mexico. #pollinatormonday
This is a northern casque-headed frog, which can be found in the coastal lowlands of southeastern Brazil from southern Bahia to northern São Paulo. These frogs are given the name casque, which means helmet-shaped, because the skin of the head is fused to the skull. This frog is nocturnal, burrowing, and feeds on insects, worms, and other invertebrates. It breeds from June to September during the summer rainy season. The male’s call is an explosive, hoarse “wauk-wauk-wauk”. After burrowing underground, the frog sheds several layers of its epidermis to form a virtual cocoon around the entire body—reducing dehydration in the dry season. In addition, it uses its head to block the opening to its burrow, which further reduces water loss from the frog’s body, and may even protect it from some predators.
Although these frogs are listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List, their population is declining due to habitat loss from expanding human settlements, agriculture, livestock grazing, and clear-cutting of forests.
The regal jumping spider is the largest jumping of its kind in North America. Growing to an average length of 15 mm (.5 inches), they live in the southeastern U.S., the Greater Antilles, and the Bahamas, but are most commonly found in Florida. You can tell this individual is a female due to her bright orange coloration-- males are always black and white. Unlike many spiders, regal jumping spiders do not make webs to catch their prey, but instead prefer to hunt. However, they do use silk in their sleeping nests and as a safety line that they drag behind them in case they miss the landing on a jump and fall. Though they look scary, they're quite docile and virtually harmless to humans, only biting if they’re held very tightly. They are so good-natured, in fact, they can easily be tamed and coaxed into jumping from hand to hand! This beautiful girl was photographed at @uflorida in Gainesville.
Raccoons are curious and intelligent creatures with exceptional night vision and sharp hearing. They use their nimble fingers to feel stream bottoms for food, climb trees and to open containers and garbage cans. A common diet for them consists of fruits and nuts, insects, fish, small rodents, frogs, bird eggs, and human garbage. Living 10 to 15 years in the wild, this species is almost exclusively nocturnal. Raccoons sleep during the day and in cold winter periods, they may sleep for an extended period though they do not hibernate. They prefer wooded areas near lakes or streams though can live practically anywhere as they adapt well to human habitats as long as there is ready access to water. Their ease in adaptability to a variety of habitats has contributed to expansion of the population in numbers and range--they're one of the most common North America mammals.