NATURE: “Why Peregrine Falcons are the Fastest Animals on Earth” / Vox ☮

Cheetahs may pop up faster in search results, but peregrines are actually the fastest animals on earth.

This video features a clip courtesy of Human Planet, a BBC, Discovery Channel and France Television Co-Production.

Check out BBC Earth Unplugged’s video of “Falcon vs Car”:

Peregrine falcons are the fastest animals of the land—and it’s no wonder, their bodies are built for speed. While cheetahs can run up to 70 mph on land, peregrine falcons can dive at speed of over 200 mph. That’s faster than a 100 mph sneeze and around the same speed as a Formula One racing car. Peregrines are light in weight, aerodynamically shaped, and have robust respiritary systems; all of which allows them to be the fastest birds of prey, and animals in general. Peregrine falcon numbers took a massive hit during much of the 20th century in North America. They became nearly extinct because of pesticides, specifically DDT. The chemical made the falcon’s—and many other birds — eggshells thinner, preventing the embryos from developing, in addition to poisoning adult falcons. In 1972, DDT was banned and recovery efforts for peregrine falcons began soon after. By 1999, with concerted effort peregrine falcons saw their numbers increase dramatically and were removed the Endangered Species list.

NATURE DOCUMENTARY – OCEANOGRAPHY: “Desert Seas” / National Geographic / Narrated by David Attenborough ☮

Desert Seas narrated by David Attenborough tells the story of how the peninsula of Arabia transformed from an ocean millions of years ago to the desert it is today.
The Gulf is now home to a myriad of sea creatures but, just as Arabia was once ocean, a mere 10,000 years ago this expanse of water was a swampy flood plain.
Since it drowned as sea levels rose, the Gulf is now the world’s hottest and saltiest open sea.
The Red Sea, on the other hand, is a far older coral-fringed chasm formed as plate tectonics pulled Africa and Arabia apart; its reefs are prowled by huge moray eels and their shrimp entourages.
Splash into the waves that line this desert land and join us as we explore these waters in stunning HD and see what other treasures hide within these mysterious and little-studied seas.

SPORTS: “Kelly Slater’s Perfect Artificial Wave Could Change Everything About Surfing” / Huffpost Sports ☮

Even the pros are obsessed with this “freak of technology.”

When world-famous professional surfer Kelly Slater unveiled his artificial wave poolin December after nearly 10 years of research and development, the entire surf world was stoked.

This week, after Slater invited a group of professional surfers to try out what he has dubbed “a freak of technology,” it became clear the sport may never be the same.

As wave after flawless wave rolled in, the surfers, including Carissa Moore, Nat Young, Stephanie Gilmore and Kanoa Igarashi, got some of the longest rides and most consistently perfect barrels we’ve ever seen.

While the company has yet to disclose the pool’s location, Reddit users managed to find it using Google Earth satellite imagery. They located the pool in Lemoore, California — about 100 miles from the coast.

In the past, artificial waves haven’t met surfers’ expectations. They didn’t barrel — take the shape of a hollow tube — and weren’t fast enough for surfers to get air. Slater’s waves, however, live up to the real thing, not just mimicking the ocean, but seemingly improving it.

This ride by Stephanie Gilmore is a prime example of just how clean and glassy each wave is.

Continue reading . . .

NATURE: “Why are Peacock Tail Feathers so Enchanting?” / “Real-time and Slow Motion Video of Peacock Courtship Displays” ☮

Why are Peacock Tail Feathers so Enchanting? / PBS News Hour

Male peacock feathers have long set the standard for mating displays in the bird world. And while their expansive fan of spots is beautiful, they are also beguiling.

Real-time and Slow Motion Video of Peacock Courtship Displays

Adult peacocks court peahens by vibrating the erect tail and elongated covert feathers during their train-rattling displays. Wing-shaking behaviour is also performed during courtship. Slow-motion clips of train-rattling peacocks demonstrate that the eyespots remain relatively stationary (as compared to the rest of the train feathers) during the display, and that the tail drives the vibrations by stridulating against the train feathers.