Tagged: environment

6 National Parks of Ireland: Castles, Cliffs, Green Mossy Landscapes [38 PICS]

March 16th, 2014 Permalink

We’ve looked at Ireland Now and Then (100 years ago), but to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a look the six national parks of the Republic of Ireland. Killarney National Park was first, and Ballycroy was the last to be established. The Burren National Park is the smallest and Wicklow Mountains National Park is the largest in Ireland. There are also Connemara and Glenveagh as well as landscapes with castles, karst, cliffs, waterfalls and green mossy forests. [38 Photos]

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara is about 5km from Connemara National Park

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara is about 6km (10 minutes) from Connemara National Park. For St. Patrick’s Day, let’s look upon the green beauty of Ireland and scenic landscapes found in the 6 National Parks of Ireland: Ballycroy, Connemara, Glenveagh, Killarney, The Burren and Wicklow Mountains National Park. Photo #1 by Dennis Wilkinson

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Fantastic Fall Season in the Great Smoky Mountains [38 PICS]

November 2nd, 2013 Permalink

Between North Carolina and Tennessee is a spectacular chain of mountains known as the Great Smoky Mountains, commonly called the Smoky Mountains or simply the Smokies. Although they are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, the Great Smokies encompass over 500,000 acres of beautiful scenery and are the home of America’s #1 most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. People travel from all over globe to the Smokies during autumn to see ridge after ridge of forest bursting with fall foliage. There are 16 peaks that rise more than 6,000 feet, more than 270 miles of roads, and over 800 miles of maintained trails were visitors can see lush forests, breathtaking waterfalls, rushing streams, and abundant wildlife. Due to the different elevations, the fall leaf colors can last for weeks, meaning the Great Smoky Mountains are especially beautiful in autumn and extremely busy during the last three weeks of October. Here’s a look at the fantastic fall season in the Smokies, the Land of Blue Smoke. [38 Photos]

Mt. Cammerer Sunrise, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Mt. Cammerer sunrise showcases an amazing autumn as far as the eye can see. The photographer added, “Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Mt. Cammerer, looking north 10 minutes before sunrise.” Photo #1 by Michael Hicks

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Eerily Beautiful Underwater Sculptures: Art Transformed into Artificial Reefs [PICS]

October 12th, 2013 Permalink

Our coral reefs are dying, but forward-thinking eco-minded artists are helping nature by creating stunning life-sized sculptures . . . and then sinking them. Man has been creating artificial reefs for thousands of years, starting with the Ancient Persians who wanted a military advantage by blocking off an area of the sea. As mankind has evolved, so too have our artificial reefs. The most amazing consist not of our trash or out-dated ships, but of incredibly detailed sculptures created to be placed underwater and slowly but surely undergo a metamorphosis under the sea. While it may look like abandoned statues starting to decay, it is actually art being rebirthed into living, breathing reefs. If you haven’t had a chance to dive or snorkel such locations, then you are missing out. So here is a look at the eerily beautiful process of spectacular art, underwater sculptures, transforming into artificial reefs. [52 Photos]

August 2011 Silent Evolution

More than 400 life-sized sculptures, collectively as The Silent Evolution, form a massive artificial reef in the shallow waters off of Cancun, Mexico. Slowly but surely, in an eerily beautiful process, the art changes; nature transforms the underwater sculptures from concrete, to covered with algae, and then coral, creating new reefs and new homes filled with a wide variety of marine creatures. Photo #1 by © kozyndan

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America the Beautiful in Autumn: Peak Fall Foliage Dates for 48 States [50 PICS]

October 3rd, 2013 Permalink

America the beautiful in autumn. Here are the predicted peak fall foliage dates for the 48 contiguous states, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. Enjoy! [50 Photos]

Autumn mountain peak foliage colors, West Virginia

America is always beautiful, but especially so in autumn when fall foliage is reaching peak colors. All sorts of people and sites make prediction for when the colors will be the best, but here are the peak fall foliage dates for the 48 contiguous states, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. Photo #1 by ForestWander

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Outstanding Natural Beauty of World Heritage Sites in Africa [36 PICS]

August 27th, 2013 Permalink

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated 129 World Heritage Sites in Africa, but these 36 are listed as Outstanding Universal Value for natural heritage. As you might expect, there is a wide diversity of flora and fauna in each. Sadly, some of these have also been placed on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, most often due to poaching of endangered wildlife. The UNESCO committee may inscribe new sites on the list, or it may delist sites if the area no longer meets the criteria, but this is UNESCO’s current list for Africa in 2013 as of the time of publishing.
[36 Photos]

Lion at Serengeti National Park, Masai Mara, Tanzania

Lion at Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. It is one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites for natural and outstanding universal value in Africa. This vast savanna has 3,648,000 acres (1,476,300 ha) and is world-renowned for its annual herd migrations in search of water and pasture. Two million wildebeests, hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, and all their predators make it “one of the most impressive nature spectacles in the world.” Because there is so much prey, it contains the “Big Five.” Serengeti is believed to hold more than 3,000 lions, the largest population of lions in Africa, about 1,000 African leopards, African Buffalo, African Elephants and Black Rhinoceros — but few rhinos are said to remain due to “rampant poaching.” It was designated as a natural site by UNESCO in 1981. Photo #1 by Anita Ritenour

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Alien-looking Island of Bliss: Enter a Different Dimension at Socotra [42 PICS]

May 24th, 2013 Permalink

Enter a different dimension at Socotra, an unusually peculiar-looking world that was long ago called “The Island of Bliss.” Located off the Horn of Africa, in the Indian Ocean, Socotra is about 150 miles away from Somalia and the threat of real-day pirates; it’s a little over 200 miles away from its mainland Yemen. And the landscape makes it “the most alien-looking place on Earth.” Although Socotra has wide sandy beaches rising to limestone plateaus full of caves, some 4.4 miles in length (7 km), wind-swept cliffs and mountains over 5,000 feet high, the island’s iconic image is of the Dragon’s Blood tree; it’s deep red resin was once considered to be ancient dragon blood. Some people have suggested that Socotra might have been the original Garden of Eden. Currently every single Trip Advisor tourist review rated Socotra as “excellent.” Of course, there are high security threats like kidnapping and terrorism; the US State Department warned Americans against traveling to Yemen. In 2011, Somali pirates were using the island as a fuel base. Yet tourists call it a “hidden gem” for those adventurous souls not seeking a luxury resort. Most of us will never visit this out of this world island of Socotra. [42 Photos]

Socotra Island, Yemen

If you are looking for a luxurious vacation, then this is not the right location for you. However, people sometimes say they want to “get off the grid” and this would be an ideal place to visit if you love adventure and nature, and don’t mind “roughing” it a bit. Far away on what appears at first to be an oasis is Socotra Island, Yemen. It is believed that Socotra got its name from Sanskrit, meaning “Island of Bliss.” Others suggest the name was derived from Arabic and means “dripping frankincense.” It may be a bit of both, currently unspoiled by man, but most people know of Socotra as being “the most alien-looking place on Earth.” It’s like a whole another world, like a different dimension. Photo #1 by Martin Sojka

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50 Incredible, Inspirational Double Rainbows [PICS]

May 2nd, 2013 Permalink

There are reflected rainbows in bodies of water; reflection and supernumerary rainbows, fogbows, multiple and high-order ‘rose of rainbows,’ tertiary and quaternary rainbows, twinned rainbows, and even moonbows . . . rare rainbows in the dark. Whew! Here we are focusing on a meteorological phenomenon and nature’s grand optical illusion trick that create double rainbows. Most all cultures regard a rainbow as a positive sign. So here is double the positive, double the awe and inspiration, that sparked the double rainbow meme. Have a great day and enjoy! [50 Photos]

Double rainbow over Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO

Double rainbow over Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO. Did you know there really isn’t an “end” to a rainbow? Maybe that’s why finding a pot of gold is as hard as spotting a tricky leprechaun. If you stood at where I can see the “proverbial” end of the rainbow, then that rainbow would appear to you to be in a different spot. It’s one of nature’s very best optical “illusion” tricks. Experiencing the phenomenon depends upon where you are standing, where the sun is and where the moisture is just right in the air. Rainbows, especially double rainbows, are considered a positive, awe-inspiring sign in most cultures. Photo #1 by Raymond Larose

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Beautiful Untamed Treasure: Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area [42 PICS]

April 23rd, 2013 Permalink

Tasmania, the “Island of Inspiration,” is home to one of the last large areas of temperate wilderness in the world. The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area covers about 20% of Tasmania and is one of the largest conservation areas in Australia. About 3.4 million acres make up the Tasmanian Wilderness and it includes Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Hartz Mountains National Park, Mole Creek Karst National Park, Southwest National Park, Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Central Plateau Conservation and Protected Areas, Devils Gullet State Reserve and South East Mutton Bird Islet. That network of six national parks and three reserves are the wild, green, and rugged Tasmanian Wilderness. It is one of the last true untamed wilderness areas remaining on Earth and has it all for nature lovers such as dense woods, lakes, rivers, mountains, waterfalls, steep gorges that underwent severe glaciation and caves. The Great Wilderness of Tasmania is beloved by hikers, climbers, bushwalkers, cavers, rafters and any other adventuresome souls. [42 Photos]

Gorgeous green moss and trees in the forest near Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair - Tasmania, Australia

Gorgeous green moss and trees in the forest near Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair in Tasmania, Australia. It is one of six national parks and three reserves within the 3,410,041 acres that make up the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Tasmania has been called the “Island of Inspiration” and “island at the edge of the world;” the Tasmanian Wilderness is a land of gorgeous contrasts and is one of the last areas of temperate wilderness left in the world. Photo #1 by Jes (mugley)

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Enchanted Forests Carpeted in Beautiful Bluebells

April 19th, 2013 Permalink

Every spring as the soil warms and the leaves begin to form a shade canopy over Europe’s ancient woodlands, there is a wildflower spectacle in the undergrowth. When millions of violet-blue bluebells stretch as far as the eye can see and their strong, sweet scent permeates the air, the forest seems almost magical. Because these woods take on an almost enchanted quality when carpeted by beautiful bluebells, it may be why bluebells have also been dubbed “fairy flowers.” If you are not fortunate enough to experience beautiful British bluebell woods in real life, we hope you can be inspired by these pictures of heavenly bluebells.
[38 Photos]

Bluebells in Micheldever Wood, Hampshire

The carpet of beautiful bluebells makes an almost magical setting and may also be why these wildflowers have been called fairy flowers. According to the photographer, “There are more bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) in England than anywhere else in the world, and Micheldever Wood often has a magnificent display.” Photo #1 by Anguskirk

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‘Red Tide’ Phenomenon in Rainbow of Algal Bloom Colors [38 PICS]

March 2nd, 2013 Permalink

While you might not stop to think on it, water is full of algae and aquatic microorganisms that play a vital role in marine and fresh-water ecosystems. Not all algae is harmful, but when microscopic algae grows too quickly, then it can cause a phenomenon commonly called “red tide.” Scientists prefer the term algal blooms. Not all of these “red tide” algal blooms are red or dangerous, some even appear to glow with bio-luminescence, but harmful algal blooms can poison shellfish, fish or other wildlife. It’s no longer cool to call these “red tides” because red tides are very often not red; many have no discoloration at all. Red tide also is not the same thing as the wide variety of algal bloom species that are often mistakenly called red tides. Yet when the water appears blood red, which is rare, and dead fish are floating on the surface or the beach, then it freaks people out and rumors start flying about the “end of the world.” There are varying opinions about if it is “safe” to swim in a “red tide” which often comes in a rainbow of algal bloom colors . . . and shades of harmful algal bloom. Would you swim or fish in these waters? [38 Photos]

Red Tide at midnight

When water turns red, would you swim here? “Bioluminescent dinoflagellates (Lingulodinium polyedrum) lighting a breaking wave at midnight. The blue light is a result of a luciferase enzyme (like firefly luciferase, but the enzyme in L. polyedrum shares no similarity with that of the firefly enzyme). Under the right conditions, the dinoflagellates become so numerous that the water takes on a muddy reddish color (hence the name ‘Red Tide’). The bioluminescence is only visible at night. The photo was taken 6/26/2005 with a Canon Rebel XT – 6s, f5.6, ISO 1600, 85mm (135mm equiv).” Photo #1 by Mike (msauder)

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Beautiful Blue Lake Cave in Brazil

February 24th, 2013 Permalink

Bonito is the heart of eco-tourism in Brazil because it is famous for its natural beauty, prehistoric caves, waterfalls, and clear blue waters. One of the most beautiful is Blue Lake Cave (Gruta do Lago Azul). Amazingly, it is believed that no human set foot inside the cavern with the cobalt blue waters until 1924 when an Indian from the Terena tribe discovered it. That’s not to say nothing ventured down into the 328 feet (100 meters) deep cave, since massive mammals fossils from about 10,000 years ago were discovered by cave divers, bones such as those belonging to the Saber-tooth tiger and giant ground sloth. Because the water is so clear, it is hard to fathom that Blue Lake Cave is about 295 feet (90 meters) deep. Adventurers start with a hike through the forest, then go caving through a wide entrance that allows sunlight to illuminate the gorgeous blue waters as well as stalactites and stalagmites of all different sizes. Here’s a look at Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil and some of the extraordinary and unusual ecotourism adventures and true natural treasures including beautiful Blue Lake Cave. [25 Photos]

Sunlight lighting up the blue waters in the ancient cavern

Sunlight lighting up the blue waters in the ancient cavern. The cave itself is deep, 328 feet (100 meters) deep, and the lake inside has a depth of about 295 feet (90 meters). Photo #1 by LNarimatsu

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Incredible Yellowstone National Park Wildlife [60 PICS]

January 30th, 2013 Permalink

Not only is Yellowstone National Park the place to go for geysers, NPS said, “A mountain wildland, home to grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison and elk, the park is the core of one of the last, nearly intact, natural ecosystems in the Earth’s temperate zone.” There is such huge animal diversity because of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Regarding the mammals in the park, the 2013 Yellowstone Trip Planner (.pdf) states: “Keep your distance. Federal regulation requires you to stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other wild animals, such as bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes.” The Yellowstone National Park Service says of the wildlife, “Yellowstone is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states. 67 different mammals live here.” These pictures show the diversity and a wide variety of magnificent animals of Yellowstone. [60 Photos]

Wild black bear of Yellowstone National Park

Wild black bear close-up at Yellowstone National Park. The photographer wrote, “This big bear was grazing in the late evening near the road just east of Floating Island Lake. He grazed towards my car then gave me a quick look, so I was able to take this from about 20 yards away.” Yellowstone Park Service explained, “67 different mammals live here, including grizzly bears and black bears.” Photo #1 by Pat Gaines

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