Churchill Video of the Week – Red Fox

Take a look at this amazing footage of a red fox hunting lemmings in the snow. These animals have exceptional hearing that detects the movement of the rodents. Scientists also hypothesize that red fox utilize the Earth’s magnetic field to hunt.

While the ability to hear low frequency sounds allows the fox to detect movement below up to three feet of snow, it appears they also maximize their kill rate by honing in on prey in accordance with the magnetic field. When a fox stalks and jumps into the air like the display in the video it’s known as mousing.

In two years of research Jaroslav Červený studied red foxes in the Czech Republic, observing 84 foxes perform almost 600 mousing jumps.

Research showed that the mammals mostly pounced in a northeastern direction and that kills were more likely if they jumped along this axis — even if deep snow obscured the prey.

When pouncing through the snow to the northeast, their kill rate was 73 per cent. Attempts in the opposite direction provided only a 60 percent. In any other direction, only an 18 percent success rate prevailed.

Cerveny believed the foxes used the magnetic field as a “rangefinder” to track the sounds being made by prey. When the direction of the sound matches the magnetic fields slope then the fox recognizes the optimal strike moment. The fox can calculate the exact distance to jump, or mouse, for prey.

Global “Doomsday” Arctic Seed Vault Opened

Arctic global doomsday vault

Arctic Global “doomsday” vault opened. Washington post photo.

Deep beyond the rim of the Arctic Circle on a Norwegian archipelago the Svalbard Global Seed Vault stands rimmed in hoar frost and surrounded by permafrost. The vault, which holds roughly 860,000 and 4,000 plant species seeds from nearly every country on Earth, is a safeguard against climate change and major planet transformations. Even if Earth lost electrical power, the seeds stored within the vault could survive two centuries minimum.

The fact the vault needed to be opened by The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (or ICARDA) is concerning. Is global warming affecting how our reserve seed inventory is managed? The center relocated from Syria to Beirut in 2012 due to conflict in the region. They now have requested 130 boxes of the originally stored 325 boxes of seeds stored in the vault. ICARDA needed these samples as part of its ongoing role of growing seeds and distributing them throughout the world to various nations.

ICARDA’s mission partly focuses on researching and cultivating plants that are able to adapt to shifting climate patterns most importantly in dry areas of Africa, Australia and the Middle East. Over 40 per cent of the Earth’s surface is classified under dry regions and 2.5 billion people reside in these areas. The Syrian conflict interrupted the center’s critical and important work.

Many of the world’s first grains and cereals are believed to have derived from the Levant in Syria widely considered a cradle of civilization now besieged by intense conflict and mass exodus.

Churchill Northern Lights Photo

Alex De Vries – Magnifico took this “outstanding”,(see what I did there?), northern lights photograph in Churchill last evening. The aurora borealis continues to impress into September. These spectacular sights we have been seeing bode well for polar bear season which is just a couple of weeks away. With some clear nights throughout the fall season travelers should get some special evenings with the northern lights glowing in the sky above Churchill. Enjoy!

Northern lights in Churchill.

Northern lights above Churchill. Alex De Vries – Magnifico photo.

Churchill Photos of the Week – Belugas

So I guess I lied about the last beluga whale photos I posted by writing they would the final shots of the season. These clear underwater shots by Douglas Kahle are some real gems. We can’t seem to get enough looks at these incredible mammals that return to the Churchill waters every year.

Beluga migration map

Google Earth map of beluga whales moving north for the winter.

Almost all of the belugas are on their journey north by now, many to the Hudson Straits area where they will overwinter. The straits have open water or polynas that allow the whales to surface for air from time to time as needed. The above map is from 10 days ago so whales are further north and traversing the Hudson Bay at this point.

Beluga churchill

Beluga underwater in Churchill. Douglas Khale photo.

beluga Douglas Kahle 3

Pod of belugas underwater. Douglas Kahle photo.

Belugas in Churchill.

Curios and friendly beluga whales in Churchill. Douglas Kahle photo.

Beluga spyhopping underwater in Churchill. Douglas Kahle photo.

Beluga spyhopping underwater in Churchill. Douglas Kahle photo.

Churchill Sunday Photo- Aurora

Northern lights in Churchill continue through the summer and into fall. Katie de Meulles captured this image last night with the lights of Churchill in the background. With polar bear season just around the corner, travelers to Churchill will be eager to catch a glimpse of lights while tracking polar bears out on the tundra. Looking like a phenomenal season ahead with many polar bears and great aurora action skyward!

northern lights in Churchill

Northern lights with Churchill in the background. Katie de Meulles photo.

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