Albino Redwood

Albinism is rare in humans and animals, and it is rarer still in plants, where it manifests as the complete lack of chlorophyll. Because this green pigment is vital to the manufacture of food and thus the survival of plants, an albino plant typically die as seedlings.

There is an exception, however. Researchers have noticed several albino redwoods in California that have managed to survive till adulthood by latching on to the parent redwood and leaching off nutrients from the host tree.

Albino redwood in Henry Cowell Redwood State Park. Photo: Tom Stapleton.

Albino redwoods do not grow into tall majestic trees. Rather they survive as shrub-like vegetation at the base of the parent redwood tree. The roots of the albino redwood is entangled with those of the healthy plant, which enables them to obtain sugar through the connections between its roots. At some times of the year, albino redwoods have distinct white needles. During the winter, they have a good amount of brown foliage.

“The albino plant behaves a lot like a parasite, because it’s dependent on the parent plant for everything,” explains University of California plant physiology professor Jarmila Pittermann.

However, the relationship is not entirely parasitic.

New research have suggested that the albino redwood also helps the healthy redwood trees to survive by filtering out toxins from the soil. Albinos have defective stomata that causes them to lose more water through transpiration, forcing them to compensate by taking up more water through their roots. As a result they accumulate more metals in their bodies than normal trees do.

The research led by Zane Moore, a doctoral student at the University of California Davis, found high levels of toxic heavy metals, including nickel, copper and cadmium. These heavy metals were at least twice as high in the albino redwoods compared to healthy redwood trees.

“They are basically poisoning themselves,” he said. “They are like a liver or kidney that is filtering toxins.”

Albino redwoods were first documented in 1866, when one was found near San Rafael and taken to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, where researchers couldn’t figure out why its waxy leaves were white. Later investigation found that the plants, which grow out of healthy redwoods, are white because of a genetic mutation that leaves them without chlorophyll, the pigment that makes plants green.

It is believed that there are about 400 albino redwoods across California’s wilderness. Their locations are not advertised in order to prevent people from seeking them out and collecting souvenirs that would be harmful for the plant.

An albino redwood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

The Bears of Summer

Even as a drone hovered above to get this shot, a large male polar bear that photographer Martin Gregus, Jr., calls Scar never stirred in this bed of fireweed. Gregus says he named many of the bears in hopes it would help people relate to them as individuals needing protection.

Picture of bear sleeping on its side on blooming fireweeds.

Snoozing in flower beds? Behold the bears of summer

A photographer spends two months in the Canadian Arctic and reveals a softer side of the world’s largest terrestrial predator.

Even as a drone hovered above to get this shot, a large male polar bear that photographer Martin Gregus, Jr., calls Scar never stirred in this bed of fireweed. Gregus says he named many of the bears in hopes it would help people relate to them as individuals needing protection.

Picture of two bears playing in the intertidal.

The bears that Gregus calls Betty and Veronica wrestled over this boulder for nearly an hour before he caught them forming the shape of a heart. The two seemed inseparable, often playing and hunting together.

“You always see polar bears on ice and snow,” says photographer Martin Gregus, Jr. “But it’s not like they stop living in the summertime.” Determined to reveal this less depicted angle on the bears, he constructed a field station on the back of a small boat and spent 33 days north of Churchill, Manitoba, in the summers of 2020 and 2021. 

Picture of mother bear behind two grown-up kinds.
Picture of mom bear and her baby cub take shelter from a large storm.

Top: Two large cubs appear to guard their mother while a male passes by, just out of the frame. For Gregus, the image recalls Cerberus, the multiheaded dog of Greek mythology.

Bottom: Aurora and her cub, Beans, hunker down as a storm approaches. Thunder and lightning have recently become more frequent in this region as a result of climate change, Gregus says. Every time the sky cracked, the bears started shaking, like dogs hearing fireworks.

Picture of swimming underwater bear from behind.

Polar bears spend so much time in the water that many scientists consider them to be marine mammals. In some cases, they’ve been recorded swimming for more than a week straight and clocking over 400 miles. To get underwater images like this one of a polar bear moving from melting sea ice onto dry land, Gregus developed camera rigs and techniques that allowed him to get close to the animals without being seen by them.

The more Gregus studied the bears, the more he learned of their personalities. There was the persistent cub he named Hercules. He lost a leg yet managed to survive his first two summers. An enormous female, Wanda, seemed to be feared by other bears but spent her days doing yoga-like stretches in the fireweed. Another female, Wilma, appeared to be so comfortable with Gregus that she’d nurse her cubs, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, close enough for him to hear their purring. Gregus also witnessed behaviors he’d rarely seen before, such as bears grazing on plants and hunting tern chicks by chasing them into the surf. For now, actions like those may be helping this polar bear population cope with the effects of climate change—but others elsewhere are starving.

“All of these pictures show bears that are fat, healthy, and playful,” Gregus says. So although from a global perspective everything may be going wrong for polar bears, “obviously something’s going right here.”

Picture of large bear in its back looking at the camera from tall grass.

“We’d look around and say, ‘Where’s Wanda?’ Because if she was there, we didn’t have to worry about any other bears,” says Gregus, of the large but laid-back female.

Cubs weigh just one pound at birth, but a diet of milk that is extremely rich in fat helps them bulk up quickly. Each cub will nurse for at least 20 months, and they usually stay by their mother’s side for two years.
Following a colossal rainstorm, Gregus went searching for this shot while his crew bailed water out of the boat. “I looked outside and saw the rainbow, and I thought, OK, now I just need to find a bear,” he says.
Athena lounges with her three-legged cub, Hercules. Gregus can’t say for sure how the limb was lost, but he suspects an encounter with wolves may be the cause. The bears’ den is in wolf territory.
Beans and Aurora poke their heads above the blooming fireweed. Summer in the Arctic is vividly colorful.
“These bears are really thriving and adapting to the environment,” Gregus says. “But they’re not adapting fast enough in certain places, because the ice is melting too fast.”

Cubs weigh just one pound at birth, but a diet of milk that is extremely rich in fat helps them bulk up quickly. Each cub will nurse for at least 20 months, and they usually stay by their mother’s side for two years.

Cubs weigh just one pound at birth, but a diet of milk that is extremely rich in fat helps them bulk up quickly. Each cub will nurse for at least 20 months, and they usually stay by their mother’s side for two years.

Picture of bear curls up on large rock.

In this part of the Arctic, everything’s flat, Gregus says. That means even a small boulder can provide a better view—if a bear hasn’t succumbed to sleep, that is. The bears, including Veronica (shown), often stood on this rock, scouring the area for seals to eat or bears to avoid. Gregus hopes to return to this coast, where he sees the bears “thriving and adapting to the environment.” But he knows that in most of their range, polar bears are suffering from the warming temperatures.

National Geographic

In pictures: Buck Moon rises over England

Moon rising above the Needles on the Isle of Wight
Image caption,Graham Wiffen captured this picture of the moon over The Needles on the Isle of Wight

What is believed to be the biggest and brightest Moon of the year has been lighting up the sky in England.

July’s full moon – the Buck Moon – was most visible on Wednesday evening.

It was the second supermoon of the year and looked bigger than normal as the Moon is currently closer to the Earth than usual.

Citing the Maine Farmer’s Almanac, Nasa said it was referred to as the “Buck Moon” by the Algonquin Native Americans of what is now the north-east United States. This is because it appears when new antlers tend to appear on buck deer.

Moon in Beeley Moor
Image caption,The Buck Moon was captured by local resident Jim in Beeley Moor, Derbyshire
Moon in Burbage
Image caption,Andy Johson in Burbage, Leicestershire, grabbed a close-up view
Moon in Matlock
Image caption,Chris Cookman took this picture in Matlock, Derbyshire
Moon in Matlock
Image caption,Another picture of the supermoon in Matlock taken by Chris Cookman
Moon in Ripley
Image caption,Hiding behind the trees, this picture of the moon was captured in Ripley, Derbyshire
Buck Moon in East Leake
Image caption,A close-up taken by Maggie T Howlett in East Leake, Nottinghamshire

The Buck Moon over Winnipeg, Canada last night.

Awesome Iceberg brings tourists to tiny Newfoundland town

iceberg

A new natural attraction drew scores of tourists to a small town of around 500 people in Newfoundland, Canada. A massive iceberg appeared near the coast, and photographers dashed to the area to snap pictures.
The Southern shore highway close to Ferryland filled with traffic over the weekend as tourists came to view the impressive iceberg. The Newfoundland coast area is commonly called iceberg alley due to the ice blocks that float down during the spring from the Arctic, but this particular huge iceberg might stay right where it is, according to Ferryland Mayor Adrian Kavanagh, who told The Canadian Press it’s the biggest one he’s ever seen in the area.

iceberg1

Usually just the tip of an iceberg is visible, with the rest of the mass beneath the waves, so many run aground when they float near the coast. Local Don Costello told CBC News the iceberg probably won’t be moving unless winds keep blowing because it’s stuck on shallow ground. He estimated the iceberg’s highest point is roughly 150 feet.
The BBC reported more icebergs are drifting through iceberg alley than is normal for this point in the year, with hundreds of icebergs in the Atlantic. This particular iceberg has moved around some and broken apart, but it appears it’ll stick around for a while.

iceberg3
iceberg2

I think the name of the town “Ferryland” should also cause tourism.

Interesting Planet

Hyperion, the world’s tallest living tree.Hyperion is the name of a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) in California that was measured at 115.92 m (380.3 ft), which ranks it as the world’s tallest known living tree.

Comet Leonard in the frigid Canadian night. Spectacular photo!

Jølster, Norway!

A gentle reminder.

Humpback whale salute In Monterey Bay, California.

Rainbow 🌈 as seen from a plane 

Solar Eclipse from Space…

A highland storm over Loch Etive, Scotland

Snowy owl 🤍🦉

Dog-sledding under the Northern lights in Norway.

Frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia

The Wave is a sandstone rock formation located in Arizona, United States, near its northern border with Utah. The formation is situated on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness of the Colorado Plateau.

Granada, Spain

Magical sunset.

A lighthouse in Michigan, before and after major ice storm.

Rainy Day in Paris, France 🇫🇷🌧

Full lunar eclipse creates rare super blood Moon

Image shows super blood moon
Image caption,The Moon turned a deep shade of copper-like red as it passed through the Earth’s shadow

Stargazers have been treated overnight to a stunning and unusual sight – a super blood Moon.

Shortly after 03:30 GMT on Monday, Earth’s orbit meant that for several minutes our planet was positioned directly between the Sun and the Moon.

In that time the Moon fell completely into Earth’s shadow – temporarily turning it a dusky shade of dark red.

Its hue was created by sunlight being projected through Earth’s atmosphere onto the Moon’s shadowed surface.

The lunar eclipse coincided with a separate event – a super Moon. This is when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit and so appears larger than usual.

Image shows blood moon
Image caption,The super blood Moon sets over hilltops in the Republic of North Macedonia

Those watching out for the resulting super blood Moon got the best view from 03:29 GMT, the moment the full lunar eclipse started and the event became visible in the Western hemisphere.

For almost one and a half hours afterwards, the only sunlight reaching the Moon had passed through the Earth’s atmosphere turning it red.

Image shows super moon above Temple of Poseidon
Image caption,In Greece, spectators gathered at the Temple of Poseidon near Athens to watch the Moon before the full eclipse

In Europe, the phenomenon was only visible for some of that time because of the Moon beginning to set. But in the Americas areas under clear skies were treated to the full spectacle.

“If you were an astronaut standing on the Moon, looking back towards Earth, you’d see a red ring running around the outside of our planet,” he told the BBC.

BBC diagram
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