The Elephant Seal is the largest seal in the world, and are named after elephants because the male’s snout looks like an elephant’s trunk. They spend 80 percent of their life in the water, but come ashore to mate in the winter. They look very peaceful from outside, but are great fighters when it comes down to protecting their space. Despite their big size, elephant seals aren’t slow. In fact, they are really good swimmers and they can move faster than humans on sand dunes. Elephant seals are great divers and can hold their breaths for a long time. They can stay under water for more than one and a half hours. And I can barely “dog paddle”
BZZZ BZZZ BZZZ!. A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers per trip from their hive (home). They go inside the flower to find nectar to eat, at the same time they pick up pollen and carry it to the next flower to help it grow. Bees are really interesting. They have six legs, 5 eyes, and two pairs of wings. They can fly forward, backward and sideways and talk with one another by dancing. A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour. They are the only insect that produces food (honey) eaten by humans. It takes about 556 workers to gather 1 pound of honey from about 2 million flowers! Bees also eat honey, and one ounce of honey will fuel a bee’s flight clear around the world! Don’t try to eat the bee itself, though. I did that once, and got stung for my efforts, and it HURT!
One hump or two? The single hump is a camel from the Middle East or upper Africa. The camel with two humps is native to Asia. Camels are suited to the desert because their eyes have three eyelids and two rows of eyelashes to keep sand from entering their eyes. They are also able to close their nostrils and lips to keep out the dust. I wish I had that kind of super-power! The camel is a symbol of patience, tolerance and strength. Camels are usually very peaceful. Just don’t get a camel mad – they can “spit” a stinky green fluid from their stomach all over you – it is as bad as a skunk smell! Purrs, Gulliver
Last year I wrote about the Cholla, or jumping cactus. Another kind of cactus is the Saguaro cactus, called the “old man of the desert”. The Saguaro cactus is the largest cactus found in the U.S. It can grow as high as a five-story building and live to be 150 to 200 years old. But they also grow very slowly. It can take 10 years for a saguaro cactus to reach 1 inch in height. They grow their first arm at the age of 70. Since they live in the desert where rain and water are scarce, they have one root that goes deep into the ground, and more roots are close to the surface to collect water. They can shrink and expand depending on how much water they are holding. After the saguaro dies its woody ribs can be used to build roofs, fences, and parts of furniture. Native Americans used these cacti as water containers long before the canteen was available. The Saguaro is only found in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Sonora Mexico. The flower of the cactus is the state flower of Arizona!
Jellyfish have drifted along the ocean currants for millions of years, even before dinosaurs lived on the Earth. Some big, some tiny, they are jewels of the ocean. Jellies have no bones or brains, but they have tentacles below their body which have thousands of stinging cells to kill their prey. They eat fish, shrimp, crabs and sometimes other jellyfish! The Chinese have fished for jellyfish for over 1,700 years. The jellies are considered a delicacy and are used in Chinese medicine. Jellyfish are also eaten in Japan and Korea. Some people say they are chewy like a rubber band, and lacks flavor. Sea turtles like the taste of them though, and eat them often. Purrs, Gulliver
This week I met some long distance travelers in Pacific Grove, California. The Monarch butterflies come over 800 miles south from British Columbia, Canada to spend the winter near the coast where it is warmer and there is no snow. The butterflies can travel between 50 and 100 miles a day. They float like a bird with the wind pushing them instead of using their wings all day long. They sleep in the leaves of trees, snuggled close together for warmth. After the winter is over, they will have babies who will fly up to Canada to where their parents once lived. Butterflies in the middle of Canada fly all the way to Mexico to spend their winters there. Purrs, Gulliver
Did you know cattle can walk up a flight of stairs, but once there, they can’t walk back down? Their knees just don’t bend the right way, so they have to use a ramp. The first cattle in the Americas arrived with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. Cow is the name for adult female cattle. Male cattle are bulls. Young cattle are called calves. In addition to butter and cream, foods like ice cream, cheese, yogurt, whipped cream and cottage cheese can all made from milk. To make all that food, cows eat about 40 pounds of grass or hay and drink about a bathtub full of water every day. Not only that, they have four stomachs. They must like to eat as much as I do!
Don’t look down – it’s a long way to the bottom of that cliff! Big Horn Sheep are famous for their ability to climb high, steep, rocky mountain areas. Their name is obvious – the male’s horns can weigh up to 30 pounds (14 kilograms) or 10 percent of the overall body weight. The horns can be used as weapons when the males fight. They charge each other at a speed up to 32 km per hour and crash head to head. Because their skulls are thick, this rarely causes serious injury! Purrs, Gulliver
Early American settlers called bison “bufello” due to the similar look between the two animals, and the name “buffalo” stuck for the American kind. But it’s wrong. The American bison lives only in North America, while the two kinds of real buffalo live in Africa and Asia. Scientists think that bison crossed over a land bridge that once connected Asia and North America over a space of many many years. Through the centuries buffalo slowly moved southward, eventually reaching Mexico and east to the Atlantic Coast. The largest herds settled on the plains and prairies of Central Unites States and Canada. Bison were a symbol of abundance and a sacred life for the Native Americans, with many stories and legends told about them. Purrs, Gulliver
Ow! Ow! Ow! My cousin Gabby and I went for a hike in the desert. It was just after a week of rain, and the spring wildflowers were blooming, even the cactus had flowers. We were walking along a narrow trail when all of a sudden I had a dozen cactus spines sticking in my fur and tail! It hurt! When we got home, I looked up the name and found it was called a Cholla or “jumping cactus” because the spines seemed to jump from the plant onto whatever is passing by. Cacti protect themselves with their spines, which are the closest thing they have to a leaf. Some cacti can be eaten; others are grown for their beauty. I don’t think they make good friends with cats, though. Purrs, Gulliver