Credit for ‘most lives saved’ must go to the Atlantic horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus. The American Horseshoe Crab is a unique and valuable marine invertebrate. In 1950, while searching for medical cures, scientists isolated a bright-blue blood a clotting agent, conagulogen, that binds to fungi and endotoxins from the horseshoe crab. Horseshoe crabs do not have haemoglobin in their blood, but instead use hemocyanin to … Continue reading The humble animal who saves the most human lives
Forget slow and steady. For the cone snail, it’s fast-acting chemistry that wins the race.Researchers have now shed light on the structure of a speedy insulin that cone snails use to paralyse prey. You don’t want to mess with cone snails. These undersea predators stun prey with a harpoon-like appendage that injects venom, or they release immobilising venoms into nearby water. For decades scientists have … Continue reading Cone Snail Venom Could Inspire Fast-Acting Insulin For Diabetes
The Mammal Research Institute’s Whale Unit (University of Pretoria) will be conducting their annual aerial survey of southern right whales from 29 September through to mid-October. This is the 38th consecutive annual survey and the resulting dataset is one of the longest such datasets available worldwide. This survey, flown in an Airbus H120 at an altitude of approximately 300m and some 500 to 800m offshore … Continue reading Annual aerial survey of southern right whales
SHARK EYESIGHT A shark’s eyes are almost on completely different sides of its head, so the shark has a nearly 360-degree field of Vision. However, they have two major blind spots; right in front of the snout and right behind the head. Sharks’ eyes are built just like ours A shark’s eye is similar to the eye of other vertebrates, with many parts that we’d recognize: a lens, … Continue reading Can white sharks see in murky water?
Stars twinkle. Planets shine steadily. Why? Stars twinkle (scintillate) because they’re so far away from Earth that, even through large telescopes, they appear only as pinpoints. And it’s easy for Earth’s atmosphere to disturb the pinpoint light of a star. Thus the stars twinkle. They can even appear to move around a bit in the sky. As a star’s light pierces our atmosphere, each single … Continue reading Why do stars twinkle ?
It’s a classic David and Goliath story, except there are 90,000 Davids and they all have stings. On the African plains, the whistling-thorn acacia tree protects itself against the mightiest of savannah animals – elephants – by recruiting some of the tiniest – ants. Elephants are strong enough to bulldoze entire trees and you might think that there can be no defense against such … Continue reading How Acacia Trees Prevent Elephant Attacks: With Armies of Ants
A Dyer Island Conservation Study in Gansbaai Sheds Light on Great White Hunting Behavior When we think of great white hunting behaviors, the iconic image that comes to mind is that of a shark breaching from the water, a seal clamped helplessly in its jaws. Great whites represent the archetypal ambush hunter to many of us, suggests there may be more to their hunting techniques … Continue reading Iconic breaching is not the only way white sharks hunt for their prey
Gansbaai is one of three great white shark cage diving hotspots in the world and the only location with all year round shark activity. That was until January 2016. For the first time in the shark cage diving history of Gansbaai the white sharks mysteriously disappeared. For over a week the eight shark cage diving operators launched extensive search attempts in different parts of the … Continue reading Where did the Gansbaai sharks go?
You can tell when rain is coming just by the smell The word for it is “petrichor.” It’s the name of an oil that’s released from Earth into the air before rain begins to fall. “Petrichor,” is used to describe the distinct scent of rain in the air. Or, to be more precise, it’s the name of an oil that’s released from the Earth into the … Continue reading What is the smell of rain?
The southern right whale, Eubalaena australis, is amongst the largest of the four baleen whales that come close inshore on the southern African coast: • Southern Right • Humpback Whale • Bryde’s Whale • Minke Whale They arrive along the South African coasts between May and June and their numbers peak during August, September and October. Right whales are easily distinguished from other whales by … Continue reading Southern Right Whales..gentle giants of the ocean