Blue Tang

“Just keep swimming”, says the blue tang.

  • Blue tangs are a species of reef fish native to the tropical Indo-Pacific waters of Australia, South-east Asia, Pacific Islands and East Africa.
  • ‘Blue tangs’ are also known as ‘blue surgeonfish’, ‘doctorfish’, ‘regal tangs’, ‘common surgeons’, ‘flagtail surgeonfish’ and ‘hippo tangs’, along with a number of other names.
  • The scientific name of the blue tang is Paracanthurus hepatus and it is from the family Acanthuridae, the family of tangs, surgeonfishes and unicornfishes.
  • Blue tangs are a vivid blue colour, with darker blue and black markings and a brilliant yellow tail.
  • A blue tang has a number of spines, one of which is extendable and very sharp and poisonous, and this spine can be used to attack smaller animals by piercing them with it, and it can cause humans significant pain.
Blue Tang, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Yellow, Blue, Fish, Finding Dory, Coral
Blue Tang
Image courtesy of Clara S/Flickr
  • The length of blue tangs ranges from 12 to 38 centimetres (5 to 15 inches) and weigh roughly 600 grams (21 ounces).
  • The heart of blue tang larvae can take as many as five hours after hatching to first produce a heartbeat.
  • Male blue tangs establish dominance by showing their bright colours and fighting aggressively with their spine, and the fish also evade predators and other threats by ‘playing dead’.
  • A blue tang’s diet consists primarily of algae, but also the occasional plankton, and by eating the algae, they help to clean the coral.
  • Particularly due to their depiction as ‘Dory’ in the Finding Nemo film, blue tangs are in high demand as pets, despite them being somewhat difficult to keep.
Bibliography:
Paracanthurus, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracanthurus
Paracanthurus Hepatus, 2012, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/177972/0
Thurston A, Paracanthurus Hepatus, 2011, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Paracanthurus_hepatus/

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Dead Sea

The Dead Sea may not be deadly, but it is pretty dead.

  • The Dead Sea is a large lake containing a very high salt concentration, more than 30%; and it sits adjacent to Jordan, Israel and Palestine of the Middle East.
  • The ‘Dead Sea’ is also known as the ‘Death Sea’ and the ‘Salt Sea’, and its names are somewhat literal translations of the Arabic and Hebrew names given to the lake.
  • The Dead Sea is absent of life aside from select species of bacteria and algae due to the lethally high salt concentration, which is roughly ten times the ocean’s salinity.
  • At its longest point, the Dead Sea spans 50 kilometres (31 miles), however it is only 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) at its widest point.
  • The Dead Sea covers a surface area of roughly 600 square kilometres (231 square miles), however it is shrinking rapidly due to evaporation and a reduced quantity of inflowing water, with the depth dropping by around 1 metre (3 feet) annually.
Dead Sea, Man, Floating, Israel, Jordan, Ocean, Water, Salt, Saline
The Dead Sea
Image courtesy of Michael Tyler/Flickr
  • The saltiness of the Dead Sea is primarily due to the lack of outgoing rivers or streams, which means that salt from the incoming Jordan River and other sources, is trapped within the lake and builds up.
  • The Dead Sea has an increased density, due to the high salt content, that allows humans to easily float; however contrary to popular belief, the water can be highly dangerous if a person flips face-down, as the high buoyancy renders it difficult to return upright.
  • Minerals are abundant in the Dead Sea, and these have been harvested even since ancient times for health and cosmetic purposes, and the asphalt discharged by the lake has been used by the Ancient Egyptians to coat mummies.
  • The Dead Sea is commonly considered the lowest point on Earth, being approximately 429 metres (1407 feet) below sea level.
  • The Dead Sea is a popular tourist attraction and a site of many resorts, with the first dating back to the days of King Herod; however the retreating waters have caused numerous sinkholes to form nearby.
Bibliography:
Connolly K, Dead Sea Drying: A New Low-Point for Earth, 2016, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-36477284
Dead Sea, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea
Inglis-Arkell E, Why So Many People Drown in the Dead Sea, 2011, Gizmodo, http://io9.gizmodo.com/5798844/why-so-many-people-drown-in-the-dead-sea
Lowest Elevation: Dead Sea, 2015, Extreme Science, http://www.extremescience.com/dead-sea.htm
Why is the Dead Sea called the Dead Sea?, 2016, Dead Sea, http://www.deadsea.com/why-dead-sea/

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Rubber Duck


No bath is the same without a rubber duck.

  • Rubber ducks are popular buoyant, duck-shaped toys that are stereotypically yellow.
  • Rubber ducks are typically played with in the bathtub, especially by young children, and they have been used to encourage children to be less fearful of having a bath.
  • A ‘rubber duck’ is also known as a ‘rubber duckie’ and ‘rubber ducky’; and in 2013, the duck was included in the Toy Hall of Fame.
  • The rubber duck originated in the late 1800s, and was originally made of the newly available hard rubber, and as they were intended as a toy to chew on, they were not hollow, so they were not buoyant.
  • Since the 1950s, flexible PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic has been used to make rubber ducks, and they are usually relatively soft and squeezable, sometimes making a squeaky noise; and many variations to the common simple-shaped yellow ducks have since been produced.
Rubber Duck, Yellow, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Invention, Toy, Stereotypical, Many
Rubber Ducks
Image courtesy of Felix/Flickr
  • Sesame Street’s Ernie popularised the rubber duck in 1970, when he first sang a song about his own ‘Rubber Duckie’, the Muppet’s favourite toy, and the song became a hit and had significant impact on some aspects of western culture.
  • The modern style of the rubber duck is believed to be based upon one that was patented in 1949 by Peter Ganine, a Russian-American artist, and it is said that at least fifty million ducks of his design were sold.
  • Rubber ducks are collected by a small population of people, and the largest collection, as of 2011, that was recognised by the Guinness World Records, included 5631 unique ducks, and these were owned by Charlotte Lee of the United States.
  • The largest floating rubber duck in the world, as of 2016, made its debut in 2014, and it was created from inflatable vinyl with a steel pontoon for a base; was 18.6 metres (61 feet) in height; and owned by American Craig Samborski; though other giant rubber ducks exist or have existed and have been placed in harbours and other waterways around the world – an idea originally birthed and designed by artist Florentijn Hofman from the Netherlands.
  • Rubber duck derbies are events held around the globe, often as fundraisers, consisting of thousands, or as many as a hundred thousand ducks set afloat in the race, and the first to cross the finish line is designated the winner.
Bibliography:
Meyer L, Rubber Ducks and Their Significance in Contemporary American Culture, 2006, Celebri Ducks, http://www.celebriducks.com/pdf/rubber_duck_history.pdf
Rossen J, Wise Quacks: A History of the Rubber Duck, 2016, Mental Floss, http://mentalfloss.com/article/79740/wise-quacks-history-rubber-duck
Rubber Duck, 2016, The Strong National Museum of Play, http://www.toyhalloffame.org/toys/rubber-duck
Rubber Duck, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubber_duck

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Maldives

Diving around the coral reefs of the Maldives is well worth it!

  • The Maldives is a tropical Asian archipelago consisting of 26 atolls, broken into 1,192 individual coral islands, found in the Indian Ocean, southwest of India.
  • The ‘Republic of Maldives’ is the official name of the ‘Maldives’, which is likely derived from the Malayalam or Tamil words for ‘garland island’ – ‘maala’ and ‘dweepu’, or ‘maalai’ and ‘theevu’ respectively.
  • From the top to the bottom most islands, the Maldives stretch 820 kilometres (510 miles), and the territory extends over an area of approximately 90,000 square kilometres (34,750 square miles); while the land area of the islands covers around 298 square kilometres (115 square miles).
  • Of all the Maldives islands, only 200 of the islands are populated, with the total number of people living on the islands to be approximately 393,000 (as of 2015), while 80 more of the islands are used as resorts for the large number of tourists that visit each year.
  • The settlers of the Maldives is often disputed, but are thought to have been from Sri Lanka, India or other parts of Asia.
Maldives, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Island, Beach, Water, Platoon, Huts, Clear, Beautiful, Stunning
Part of the Maldives
Image courtesy of Mac Qin/Flickr
  • The Maldives were once ruled by kings, who encouraged Buddhism, and during the Islamic conversion of 1153, they were remodelled as sultans; and since the country became a republic in 1968, the ruler has been a president.
  • The capital of the Maldives is the island of Malé, and the island’s city has a very dense population.
  • If sea levels continue rising, the Maldives risk being completely submerged by 2100, due to the country being the lowest on earth, with only a small portion of land being higher than 1 metre (3.3 feet) above sea level.
  • The Maldives area features over 1000 individual fish species, and at least 328 species of crustaceans, 400 molluscs and 187 coral species, that populate its stunning coral reefs.
  • The Maldives’ coral reefs and crystal clear waters have rendered the site quite popular among tourists since 1972, when the first resort was opened.
Bibliography:
Maldives, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maldives
Maldives, 2016, Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/place/Maldives
Maldives, 2015, The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/mv.html
Maldives: History, 2016, The Commonwealth, http://thecommonwealth.org/our-member-countries/maldives/history
Maldives History, 2016, Lonely Planet, http://www.lonelyplanet.com/maldives/history

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Playa de las Catedrales

The Playa de las Catedrales is a beach rich with intriguing caves and formations.

  • Playa de las Catedrales is a beach featuring numerous tall, rock cliffs and smaller formations, found in Spain’s Galicia near Ribadeo, in Europe.
  • ‘Playa de las Catedrales’ is literally the Spanish for ‘Beach of the Cathedrals’, while in Portuguese, it is known as ‘Praia das Catedrais’; though its official name is ‘Playa de Aguas Santas’ in Spanish, translated literally as ‘Beach of Holy Water’.
  • Only in recent decades has the Playa de las Catedrales been well known across the globe, and it was listed as a natural monument in 2005.
  • During low tide, various extensive caves and rock archways are visible along Playa de las Catedrales, which are mostly hidden during high tide.
  • The natural monument of Playa de las Catedrales is spread over an area of approximately 29 hectares (71.5 acres), and some of the formations reach a height of 32 metres (105 feet), with archways almost as tall.
Playa de las Catedrales, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Night, Beach, Water, Cathedrals, Night, Arch
Playa de las Catedrales
Image courtesy of Javier Bueno/Flickr
  • Playa de las Catedrales is often sited to be among the most beautiful beaches on earth, and the beach is able to be explored on foot at low tide.
  • The rock formations of Playa de las Catedrales consist primarily of schist and slate, while the shapes of the rocks have been created by wind and water erosion.
  • Since 2015, the number of Playa de las Catedrales beach visitors has been restricted to around only 5000 each day, and reservations to visit the beach itself, must be made in advance.
  • At Playa de las Catedrales, the tide is known to come in quite suddenly, as the beach itself is relatively flat.
  • Free guided tours are available at Playa de las Catedrales, and visitors are able to walk along the cliff top along the coastline.
Bibliography:
A praia das Catedrais, n.d, Xunta de Galicia, http://cmaot.xunta.gal/seccion-organizacion/c/DX_Conservacion_Natureza?content=Direccion_Xeral_Conservacion_Natureza/Espazos_protexidos/Rede_galega/Monumentos_naturais/seccion.html&std=A_praia_das_Catedrais.html
Beach of the Cathedrals, Spain, 2013, Amusing Planet, http://www.amusingplanet.com/2013/02/beach-of-cathedrals-spain.html
Couzens G, Want to Visit One of Most Beautiful Beaches in Spain? You’re Going to Have to Buy a Ticket, 2015, Express, http://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/585054/Cathedrals-beach-Galica-booking-system
Playa de las Catedrales, 2016, Atlas Obscura, http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/playa-de-las-catedrales
Playa de las Catedrales, n.d, Playa de las Catedrales, http://www.playadecatedrales.com/
Sarralde J, Cómo reservar para visitar la playa de las Catedrales en Galicia, 2016, Guías Viajar, http://guias-viajar.com/espana/reservar-visita-playa-catedrales/

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Common Pond Skater

Humans can ice-skate, but common pond skaters can water-skate.

  • Common pond skaters are insects native to Europe’s rivers and smaller water bodies, and they are known for their ability to stand on and skate across water, due to their light weight.
  • ‘Common pond skaters’ are also known as ‘common water striders’, and they are brown to black in colour.
  • The scientific name of the common pond skater is Gerris lacustris and it is from the family Gerridae, the family of pond skaters.
  • Common pond skaters range from 0.8 to 1.5 centimetres (0.3 to 0.6 inches) in length, and females are typically larger than males.
  • Each pair of a common pond skater’s six legs have a different purpose; the first pair are used to catch prey, the second pair are used like oars to propel the insect across water, and the third pair are used to steer.
Common Pond Skater, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Animal, Insect, Water, BrownCommon Pond Skater
Image courtesy of Darius Baužys/Flickr
  • Common pond skaters can jump off the surface of the water and land a distance of up to 10 cm from where they were initially positioned; while mature adults develop wings and are able to fly.
  • The front legs of common pond skaters can sense the minimal vibrations of prey that accidentally fall into the water, such as flying insects and larvae that they consume.
  • Common pond skaters are covered in minuscule, waxy hairs that keep them waterproof by trapping air bubbles, which is vital if the pond skater is to remain buoyant.
  • The eggs of common pond skaters will typically hatch some 12 to 14 days after being laid, though this is reliant on the water temperature, and sometime after hatching, the larvae go through a process of metamorphosis.
  • Common pond skaters are most commonly seen during the warmer months, and they hibernate on land throughout the winter season.
Bibliography:
Common Pond Skater (Gerris lacustris), n.d, Wildscreen Arkive, http://www.arkive.org/common-pond-skater/gerris-lacustris/
Gerris Lacustris, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerris_lacustris
Hu D & Bush J, The Hydrodynamics of Water-walking Arthropods, 2010, Cambridge University, http://www-math.mit.edu/~bush/striders-JFM.pdf
Pond Skater (Gerris Lacustris), n.d, Life in Freshwater, http://www.lifeinfreshwater.org.uk/Species%20Pages/Pond%20skater.jpg.html
Prigg M, How a Pond Skater Can Walk on Water: It’s All Down to HairLegs and Swirling Vortices, Reveal Scientists, 2012, Daily Mail Australia, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2225904/How-pond-skater-walk-water-Its-hairy-legs-oars-reveal-scientists.html

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