Anping Bridge

Sometimes you need to build a bridge as long as Anping Bridge, to get over it.

  • Anping Bridge is a particularly long bridge found across the Shijing River estuary, near the city of Quanzhou, in the Fujian Province in China.
  • ‘Anping Bridge’ is also known as ‘Wuli Bridge’ or by its literal translation ‘Five Li Bridge’, ‘five li’ being its length.
  • Anping Bridge spreads a length of 2070 metres (1.29 miles) and has a width ranging from 3 to 3.8 metres (9.8 to 12.5 feet).
  • The construction of Anping Bridge lasted 13 years, beginning in 1138 AD and finishing in 1151 AD; and the bridge connects the two towns at either end, Anhai (originally known as ‘Anping’) and Shuitou, that lay in different counties.
  • Large stone bricks and beams make up Anping Bridge, with 362 spans in the original construction, although the bridge is now shorter and has only 331 spans.
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Anping Bridge
Image courtesy of Wikemdia Commons
  • Anping Bridge is among the longest bridges built in ancient times, and prior to 1905, it was China’s longest bridge.
  • Anping Bridge once had five pavilions to provide a resting site for those crossing the bridge, however today only one exists.
  • A large amount of silt has built up around the Anping Bridge, causing the waters to become more like a wetland in some areas, and somewhat separated rather than one large body of water.
  • Due to Anping Bridge being an ancient structure, it has been listed as a protected site by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China, since 1961.
  • Since the completion of Anping Bridge, there have been six large scale renovations or repairs on the bridge.
Bibliography:
Anping Bridge, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anping_Bridge
 Anping Bridge, China’s Longest Ancient Bridge, 2016, Amusing Planet, http://www.amusingplanet.com/2016/04/anping-bridge-chinas-longest-ancient.html
Anping Bridge in Fuzhou, 2014, Cultural China, http://arts.cultural-china.com/en/85Arts8911.html

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Galápagos Penguin

When the Galápagos penguin has all its friends on one island, there is trouble.

  • Galápagos penguins are a species of penguin native exclusively to the Galápagos Islands, in the Pacific Ocean near Ecuador.
  • The scientific name of the Galápagos penguin is Spheniscus mendiculus and it is from the family Spheniscidae, the family of penguins, and it is the sole species of penguin to exist above the equator.
  • Galápagos penguins are among the smallest penguins and generally range from 48 to 53 centimetres (19 to 21 inches) in height and 1.7 to 2.5 kilograms (3.7 to 5.5 pounds) in weight.
  • Galápagos penguins are a black colour with a white belly, and they have a thin white band coming from the eyes to the neck, and one that surrounds their belly.
  • The diet of Galápagos penguins consists primarily of small fish like pilchards, mullets and sardines, but also the occasional small crustacean.
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Some Galápagos penguins
Image courtesy of zpics/Flickr
  • Galápagos penguins have a particularly low population, estimated to be between 1000 and 2000 individuals, making it the species with the smallest number of penguins in the world.
  • Galápagos penguins are of an endangered status, with threats listed as oil pollution; fishing by humans; introduced pests and predators, including mosquitoes and cats; and the natural El Nino phenomenon, which reduces the quantity of food available to the penguins.
  • Keeping body heat cool is a major concern for the Galápagos penguin when not in water, so they expel heat through panting, resting in shade, spreading flippers out wide, and hunching over to keep their feet shaded.
  • Galápagos penguins build nests in cavities or protected areas among rocks, using a variety of items, and they mate for life, producing one to two eggs in the season, though only one chick may survive, and the parents share the responsibility of looking after the chick/s.
  • The lifespan of a Galápagos penguin is up to 15 to 20 years, though reaching this age is not common due to the high number of predators the bird has on land and in water, including seals, large fish, crabs, snakes, rats and large birds.
Bibliography:
Galapagos Penguin, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/galapagos-penguin/
Galapagos Penguin, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galapagos_penguin
Galapagos Penguin, n.d, Penguin World, http://www.penguinworld.com/types/galapagos.html
Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus), n.d, Wildscreen Arkive, http://www.arkive.org/galapagos-penguin/spheniscus-mendiculus/
Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus), n.d, Birdlife, http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=3864

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Museo Subacuático de Arte

The Museo Subacuático de Arte takes things to a whole new level.

  • The Museo Subacuático de Arte is a museum of sculptures that can be found underwater, in the Mexican waters around the city of Cancun; the island Isla Mujeres; and the resort area Punta Nizuc; between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
  • The ‘Museo Subacuático de Arte’, literally means ‘Museum of Underwater Art’, and it is also known by the name ‘Cancun Underwater Museum’, while the acronym ‘MUSA’ is also used in reference to the museum.
  • More than 500 statues and sculptures populate the Museo Subacuático de Arte across two areas, the first area or ‘gallery’, as it is called, being Salon Manchones, featuring more than 470 statues at a depth of 8 metres (26 feet), and the second named Salon Nizuc with more than 20, at a depth of 4 metres (13 feet).
  • The Museo Subacuático de Arte was created with the intent to draw visitors away from the natural reefs nearby, that were suffering damage from tourism, to the artificial reefs formed in the museum; and it now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
  • The shallow gallery area of the Museo Subacuático de Arte can be seen through a glass-bottom boat tour or snorkeling, while the deeper area can be viewed by scuba diving.
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An Exhibit of the Museo Subacuático de Arte
Image courtesy of snackariah/Flickr
  • The Museo Subacuático de Arte project was originally formed and coordinated by Jaime González Cano, the marine park director; Roberto Díaz Abraham, the Cancun Nautical Association President; and Jason deCaires Taylor, a sculptor from Britain.
  • Six different sculptors have contributed to the Museo Subacuático de Arte gallery, with the vast majority of pieces created by Jason deClaires Taylor; and there are replicas of some of the sculptures in a nearby visitors centre that is dedicated to the museum.
  • The sculptures of the Museo Subacuático de Arte are made with marine-friendly concrete, and originally had a combined weight of 181 tonnes (200 tons), and in 2015, they utilised a space greater than 420 square metres (4521 feet).
  • Due to the Museo Subacuático de Arte being located in the protected area of the National Marine Park of Cancun, a permit was required to sink sculptures in the water.
  • Exhibits of the Museo Subacuático de Arte began arriving in 2009, with the most recent sculpture being placed in 2013, though it is possible that many more will be added in the future, as the permit allows them to place up to 10,000 sculptures, though large amounts of funding is required to add more to the museum.
Bibliography:
Cancun Underwater Museum, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancun_Underwater_Museum
MEXICO: Jason deCaires Taylor’s Stunning Cancun Underwater Museum, 2013, Green Global Travel, http://greenglobaltravel.com/2013/08/14/jason-decaires-taylor-cancun-underwater-museum/
Museo Subacuático de Arte, 2016, MUSA, http://musamexico.org/
Nolan S, A real-life Atlantis: British artist creates stunning sculpture city under the sea off Mexico, 2013, Daily Mail Australia, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2463180/Jason-deCaires-Taylor-British-artists-unveils-latest-set-stunning-sub-aquatic-sculptures.html
 Projects: Mexico, n.d, Jason deCaires Taylor, http://www.underwatersculpture.com/projects/mexico/

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Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System

The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System is something you would consider ahead of its time.

  • The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System is an elaborate system for transporting water throughout the ancient island city of Shushtar, found in Iran, in the Middle East.
  • The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System features a number of canals, water mills, tunnels, dams, bridges, waterfalls and more.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Convention designated the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System a World Heritage Site in 2009.
  • The water of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System was primarily supplied by two canals, flowing from the River Karun.
  • A combination of influences contributed to the architecture of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, including people from the ancient civilisations of Elam and Mesopotamia, as well as from the Nabataean kingdom and ancient Rome.
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Part of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System
Image courtesy of Adam Jones/Flickr
  • The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System is thought to have been built and completed in the 200s AD, mostly by Roman prisoners of war.
  • Historical sources suggest that the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System was completed within an impressive three to seven years, however it is believed to have been constructed upon, or added to an already existing structure that was built 700 to 800 years earlier.
  • The strategic placement of the canals, bridges and gateways of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System meant that the city could effectively defend against or overcome threats, as well as use the water for irrigation purposes, and as the city’s main water supply.
  • The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System has only been abandoned quite recently, as the system was showing signs of significant deterioration from thousands of years use, though some parts are still used.
  • A tower exists as part of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, that enables the depth of the water to be calculated.
Bibliography:
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, 2016, Amusing Planet, http://www.amusingplanet.com/2016/02/shushtar-historical-hydraulic-system.html
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, 2016, UNESCO World Heritage Convention, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1315
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shushtar_Historical_Hydraulic_System

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Lake Magadi

If you ever need to salt your potato, a trip to Lake Magadi may be worth your while.

  • Lake Magadi is a lake found in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya, Africa, that has a notably high salt content; and ‘magadi’ means ‘soda’ in the native Swahili language.
  • Lake Magadi covers an area greater than 100 square kilometres (39 square miles), and it is roughly 32 kilometres (20 miles) in length and 3.2 kilometres (2 miles) in width, at its furthermost points.
  •  The salt density of Lake Magadi is quite high, with some salt deposits in the lake reaching 40 metres (131 feet) in thickness.
  • Lake Magadi is mostly fed by water sources of a high salt content, including various hot springs on the edge of the lake, and some streams, particularly during the wet season; and the lake has no outlet, as the water mostly evaporates.
  • Due to Lake Magadi’s large quantities of salt, one of the only fauna species found in the lake is a cichlid fish, with the scientific name Alcolapia grahami, which is endemic to the edges of the lake where the water temperature is tolerable.
Lake Magadi, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Pink, Kenya, Africa, Salt, Water
Lake Magadi
Image courtesy of Ninara/Flickr
  • A type of mineral – trona – can be found abundant in Lake Magadi, from which sodium carbonate, or soda ash is extracted; a chemical that is commonly used in dyeing fabric, and creating glass and paper.
  • Lake Magadi is among the largest sources of trona in the world; and the lake is surrounded by igneous rocks, and sits at at the lowest part of the valley it is found in, at approximately 600 m (1968.5 feet) above sea level.
  • When Lake Magadi contains water, typically up to a metre deep (3.2 feet), it is a bright pink colour, as a result of the salt content.
  • Lake Magadi is a popular wading and breeding site for flocks of flamingos, and other birds also gather in the area, making it a favoured bird watching location.
  • Lake Magadi is under threat from pollution from nearby areas, partly from environmentally hazardous farming methods, and as a result the quality of soda ash mined from the lake has decreased in recent years.
Bibliography:
Kairu P, Lake Magadi Slowly Choking, 2015, Daily Nation,http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/DN2/Lake-Magadi-slowly-choking–/-/957860/2798804/-/g28hplz/-/index.html
Lake Magadi, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Magadi
Lake Magadi, 2016, Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/place/Lake-Magadi
Lake Magadi and Around, 2016, Rough Guides, http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/africa/kenya/nairobi-around/southern-rift-valley/lake-magadi-around/

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Immortal Jellyfish

Something that can live forever like the immortal jellyfish is a very curious thing.

  • Immortal jellyfish are a species of jellyfish found in the oceans near Japan and the Mediterranean area, though populations of them are popping up in various areas across the globe, and their movement to new areas is thought to be assisted by their travel in water held in the base of ships.
  • The scientific name of an immortal jellyfish is Turritopsis dohrnii and it is from the family Oceaniidae, a family of hydrozoans, and the species has also been dubbed as the ‘Benjamin Button jellyfish’.
  • Immortal jellyfish start life as larvae, that develop into polyps that have a similar appearance to soft coral, before they reach the mature jellyfish stage.
  • Immortal jellyfish adults are very small in size, reaching approximately 4.5 to 10 millimetres (0.18 to 0.4 inches) in diameter, and they are a transparent colour, sometimes with a vivid red stomach in its centre.
  • Immortal jellyfish are best known for their ability to avoid death from old age or severe wounds, by reverting back into a polyp form from being an adult jellyfish, by altering their cells – a process called ‘transdifferentiation’.
Immortal Jellyfish, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Animal, Yellow, Transparent, Death Defying, Tentacle, Turritopsis dohrnii
An Immortal Jellyfish
Image courtesy of Discovery News/Youtube
  • As a result of reversions, immortal jellyfish can create numerous exact duplicates of themselves, as one polyp can release a number of medusae (jellyfish).
  • Triggers that can cause immortal jellyfish to revert to polyps include old age, stress, illness, injuries and feeling threatened, though as yet, they have not been seen reverting from adult to polyp forms in their ocean environment, but rather only in laboratory settings.
  • The immortal jellyfish of the species Turritopsis dohrnii, is often confused with the visually-similar Turritopsis nutricula and Turritopsis rubra, with images and common names of the three species frequently confused with each other.
  • Despite the immortal’s jellyfish ability to refrain from dying from age, rendering it fairly immortal, the animal can be killed by disease or by natural marine predators.
  • The immortal jellyfish’s strange properties were first discovered in 1988, by Christian Sommer from Germany, who was studying to be a marine biologist, and this kick-started significant interest in and further research of the jellyfish.
Bibliography:
The Immortal Jellyfish, 2015, American Museum of Natural History, http://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/on-exhibit-posts/the-immortal-jellyfish/
Immortal Jellyfish, n.d, Immortal Jellyfish, http://immortal-jellyfish.com/
Rich N, Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality, 2012, The New York Times Magazine, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/magazine/can-a-jellyfish-unlock-the-secret-of-immortality.html?_r=0
Turritopsis dohrnii, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turritopsis_dohrnii
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