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Feb 27, 2024
International Polar Bear Day
Bear with us as we head north for International Polar Bear Day, highlighting the challenges faced by the world"s largest bear species. It was set up by Polar Bears International, an organization dedicated to protecting these mammals and their habitat. The date was chosen to coincide with the time when cubs are in their dens being protected by their mothers, as this is the most vulnerable time in a polar bear"s life.
Feb 26, 2024
Grand Canyon National Park turns 105
Happy birthday to Grand Canyon National Park! It"s been 105 years since this Arizona landmark was designated a national park by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. The origins of this exceptional landscape, carved by the Colorado River, wind, and landslides, date back up to 6 million years. Alongside its steep valleys and colorful rock formations, the canyon holds the stories of Native Americans, European, and American pioneers—the oldest human artifacts found here date back nearly 12,000 years. In addition to tourist adventures such as cruising on the Colorado River, joining the Trail of Time walking tour, or climbing up to the Desert View Watchtower, the park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a registered International Dark Sky Park for crystal-clear stargazing.
Feb 25, 2024
Black History Month
Though we are nearing the end of Black History Month, the legacy of Black artists stands tall throughout the year. Today we are highlighting the works of Charles McGee, a painter, sculptor, and educator from Detroit, whose works are found all over the Motor City. The 20-foot-tall sculpture seen here, "United We Stand," represents themes of togetherness, unity, and balance and sits outside the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. McGee"s pieces, which he produced up until his death in 2021, often feature abstract collections of lines, patterns, and allusions to nature, either in striking black and white or vibrant colors. He is one of many Black artists who have left an indelible mark on the great canvas of American art, along with others such as Joshua Johnson, Edmonia Lewis, Jacob Lawrence, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kara Walker, and Kehinde Wiley.
Feb 24, 2024
Almond trees in full bloom, California
In the sun-kissed orchards of the Golden State, almonds reign supreme, enticing the taste buds and adorning the natural surroundings. California grows about 80% of the world"s almonds and 100% of those produced commercially in the United States. Almonds have heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and are nutritional powerhouses, packed with fiber, protein, and an array of vitamins and minerals. During February and March, in California"s Central Valley, these seeds—not nuts—emerge from the delicate blossoms of the almond tree and mature within a protective, fuzzy hull. The trees, which belong to the rose family, burst into a spectacle of beauty during full bloom, with fragrant flowers painting the orchards in hues of white and pink.
Feb 23, 2024
Haghartsin Monastery, Armenia
Hidden among the forests of northern Armenia, Haghartsin Monastery is a gem of medieval Armenian architecture. Surrounded by the lush landscapes of Dilijan National Park, the monastery complex consists of several ornate structures, including the Church of the Holy Mother of God, St. Gregory"s Church, and St. Stepanos" Church. The buildings date back to the 10th century and are adorned with intricately carved stone monuments, crossing arches, and other decorative details, showcasing the skilled craftsmanship of the era. Haghartsin, which translates to "dance of the eagles," offers a serene escape for those seeking to connect with the country"s rich history. A sense of timelessness pervades as you wander through its quiet courtyards and explore the forested surroundings.
Feb 22, 2024
Bathing boxes at Brighton Beach, Australia
The "bathing boxes" on Brighton Beach, Melbourne, beam with a rainbow of colors against golden sands, the ocean, and the city skyline. A popular tourist attraction, they first popped up on Brighton"s coastline in 1860, providing somewhere for swimmers to change into their bathing suits. They have been moved, repaired, and added to since then, and while they each have their own distinctive coat of paint, the bathing boxes are built in the same traditional style. Despite facing the threat of removal over the years, these vibrant coast guards remain, adding a splash of color to the beach, and providing their owners with somewhere to sit and enjoy the view.
Feb 21, 2024
Yosemite National Park, California
Fancy witnessing a fiery waterfall? The seemingly impossible can be found at this time of year on the eastern side of El Capitan, Yosemite National Park"s famous rock face. Horsetail Fall is a seasonal waterfall that flows only when there has been plenty of snowfall, and when temperatures have been warm enough to melt it. For a couple of weeks in February, if skies are clear, water is flowing, and the sun shines at just the right angle, the long, slender waterfall takes on a glowing, flame-hued appearance. Hundreds gather in Yosemite Valley to see this mesmerizing natural spectacle. The phenomenon has earned the moniker "firefall," an homage to the historic Yosemite Firefall, a manmade event from the top of the park"s Glacier Point that took place between 1872 to 1968. Eventually, park rangers decided that dumping embers over a cliff onto the land below wasn"t the brightest idea.
Feb 20, 2024
Kinder Scout, Peak District National Park, England
Within the vast expanse of England"s Peak District National Park lies Kinder Scout Nature Reserve, the site of an historic people"s protest. At around 2,087 feet, Kinder Scout is the park"s highest point and its rugged moorlands and windswept plateaus have drawn walkers and nature enthusiasts for generations. In 1932, it was the stage for a "mass trespass," in which hundreds of people on foot protested for public access to these lands. At the time, many areas of open countryside were closed to the British public. This act of civil disobedience prompted much public sympathy, which eventually led to the establishment of the UK"s first national parks. The Peak District National Park was the first, designated in April 1951, ensuring that these hills and valleys would be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Feb 19, 2024
The United States of America has had 46 commanders in chief, and today, the third Monday of February, we commemorate their legacies. Initially established to honor George Washington"s birthday, Presidents Day has evolved into a celebration of all presidents. Revered among them is Abraham Lincoln, a towering figure in American history, who guided the country through the Civil War and abolished slavery in America. The Lincoln Memorial, seen in today"s image, overlooks the Reflecting Pool at the west end of the National Mall in Washington, DC. Designed in a neoclassical style, the memorial is a poignant destination for those seeking to connect with American history during Presidents Day, and beyond.
Feb 18, 2024
World Whale Day
Ahoy there, giants of the sea! World Whale Day is surfacing, along with these sperm whales off the coast of the Caribbean island of Dominica. Established in 1980 in Maui, the day originally aimed to celebrate the humpback whales in Hawaiian waters but has evolved into a global event for all 92 whale species.
Feb 17, 2024
Black History Month
As we celebrate Black History Month, we"re taking a moment to highlight an institution in the world of dance—the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. Founded by the visionary choreographer Alvin Ailey in 1958, it fuses elements of modern dance, ballet, jazz, and theater. The company"s performances demonstrate the importance of artistic expression in preserving and celebrating Black culture in America. Congress described it as a "vital American cultural ambassador to the world" in 2008.
Feb 16, 2024
Great Backyard Bird Count
For the next four days, birdwatchers all over the world will be taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Bird lovers will identify the feathered friends they see or hear in their area and report their findings. The data helps scientists protect birds by providing information about how populations and habitats change over time.
Feb 14, 2024
Love is in the air as Valentine"s Day arrives! These red-crowned cranes, seen in the reed marshes and frozen lakes of Hokkaido Island, Japan, know how to turn on the charm. The graceful birds call in unison and bow to each other as part of their captivating mating dance. Once a mate is chosen, the pair develop a lifelong bond, a trait that has helped make them a symbol of longevity, fidelity, and good fortune in Japanese culture. These gentle creatures were also the inspiration for the traditional origami crane. According to legend, folding a thousand cranes can grant wishes.
Feb 13, 2024
Get ready to revel—Mardi Gras is here! Also called Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, the holiday was originally celebrated to live life to the fullest before fasting and giving up other indulgences for Lent. For some, it"s just an excuse to party.
Feb 12, 2024
When British naturalist Charles Darwin arrived in the Galápagos Islands in 1835, he was already four years into a round-the-world voyage aboard the survey ship HMS Beagle. His observations on the remote volcanic islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean would help him to develop his famous theory of evolution through natural selection. While studying the creatures here, he concluded that many South American species, mainly reptiles and birds that could cross the vast expanse of water, had migrated to the Galápagos and gradually adapted to their surroundings.
Feb 11, 2024
Folegandros Island, Cyclades, Greece
Welcome to Folegandros, one of the Greek Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea. This picturesque island has changed hands several times during its long history. It is thought it was once home to the Dorians, one of the four major ethnic groups of classical Greece, but it was also ruled for centuries by the Republic of Venice and later the Ottoman Empire. Greece reclaimed it in 1828.
Feb 10, 2024
Happy Lunar New Year!
Celebrating the first new moon of the lunar calendar, an estimated 2 billion people gather worldwide to usher in the Lunar New Year with vibrant celebrations and family reunions. The festivities, also known as the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year, last for 15 days, ending with the Lantern Festival. From envelopes to lanterns, red is the dominant color, symbolizing luck and prosperity. Streets come alive with the rhythm of drums as the dragon dance takes center stage. Our homepage today shows a bird"s-eye view of the dragons—elongated puppets with shimmering scales, animated by a team of dancers. Lunar New Year is a popular time for families to reunite and is said to be responsible for the world"s largest annual human migration. Each year is linked to one of the 12 zodiac animals and 2024 heralds the Year of the Dragon, a symbol of nobility, power, and success.
Feb 9, 2024
Pegadung Rock, Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia
An unspoiled landscape carved by nature"s raw power, waves crash against Pegadung Rock on the southern coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. This remote beach boasts turquoise waters, but it is the striking rocks that steal the show, standing tall against the might of the Indian Ocean. The rock formations, some of which are 33 feet tall, have given rise to various nicknames, among them Gigi Hiu (shark teeth) and Batu Layar (rock screen) Beach. While this beach has no tourist accommodation, the nearby village of Kiluan presents a haven for visitors. For those ready to trade lounging for exploring, this Sumatran treasure awaits.
Feb 8, 2024
Mount Hood, Oregon
Mount Hood graces Oregon"s skyline with a pointed, snow-capped peak. At nearly 11,250 feet high, this dormant stratovolcano is the tallest mountain in the state, drawing adventurers and nature aficionados alike. With 12 named glaciers and numerous snow fields, Mount Hood offers a wintry playground all year round. It also nurtures ancient forests and provides a haven for wildlife, including cougars and wolves. Over the past 1,800 years, the volcano has erupted three times. While considered dormant, there is still a chance that it could erupt one day.
Feb 7, 2024
St. James Tidal Pool, Cape Town, South Africa
St. James Beach is a small, sheltered beach on Cape Town"s coastline, where vibrant Victorian bathing boxes sit side by side against an azure ocean backdrop. However, it"s the St. James Tidal Pool, pictured on our homepage, that steals the spotlight. This protected bathing area, built between rugged rocks, offers crystal-clear waters for a tranquil swimming experience. The pool is warm compared with the ocean, teems with small marine life, and is perfect for floating around without worrying about strong currents. For those who like to stay dry, the beach is perfect for leisurely strolls, soaking up the sun, and observing the rhythmic ebb and flow of the tides.
Feb 6, 2024
Bonsai Rock, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
This serene scene shows Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America and the second-deepest lake in the US. Peeking out of those misty waters is Bonsai Rock, the unlikely home of four small trees that have taken root in its cracks. Its name was inspired by the Japanese art of growing miniature trees, which are kept in small containers and pruned to control their size. The trees on Bonsai Rock are naturally restricted by the lack of space and nutrients, so no pruning is required. Part of the purpose of bonsai is to provide an opportunity for contemplation, and this tranquil spot high in the Sierra Nevada is the perfect place to relax and explore your thoughts. It is also popular with photographers, especially at sunset.
Feb 5, 2024
Western Monarch Day
Western Monarch Day celebrates a stunning natural phenomenon, the annual migration of thousands of flame-colored butterflies to California. Traveling south to escape the winter weather, they use air currents to help them make journeys of hundreds of miles. They descend to gather in large numbers on eucalyptus trees, like the ones pictured on our homepage today in Goleta, Santa Barbara County. Those gathered to see clusters of butterflies in 100-foot-tall trees might confuse them for clumps of leaves at first. However, as the sun"s rays gently fall upon them, their wings will begin to flutter. Bring your binoculars and take the opportunity to witness these winged wonders huddled together. It"s truly a sight to behold!
Feb 4, 2024
Devetashka Cave, Devetaki, Bulgaria
Step through time and into the cavernous depths of Devetashka Cave in Bulgaria, a sprawling prehistoric complex which humans called home for tens of thousands of years. These days, it is home to bats, about 30,000 of them, as well as rare birds and reptiles. This karst cave was formed by erosion and is now part of a public park. Humans are thought to have sought shelter here as far back as the Early Stone Age, about 70,000 years ago, and many Neolithic artefacts from 6000-4000 BCE have been discovered. Several large openings in the cave cast natural light into the chambers, offering better illumination for photographers and nature lovers alike.
Feb 3, 2024
Carnival of Venice
Don your tricorn hat and gilded disguise, it"s time to visit the Carnival of Venice. This centuries-old festival combines revelry with anonymity, thanks to the masks traditionally worn by attendees, from the classic square-jawed Bauta mask to the Colombina eye mask, with roots in Italian theater. Costumed rowers take part in a parade of traditional boats on Venice"s famous Grand Canal while thousands of people wearing elaborate costumes enjoy the carnival atmosphere. Parades, parties, concerts, and performances will fill the streets until festivities end on Shrove Tuesday, which falls on February 13 this year. Visitors might pass by the Santa Maria della Salute, seen toward the back of today"s image, a baroque basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who is considered to be the protector of the city.
Feb 2, 2024
How long will winter last? Much depends on whether a certain groundhog sees his shadow today in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his tree stump, helped by members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club"s "inner circle." According to local legend, the same stocky groundhog has been predicting the weather since at least 1886 and if he sees his shadow, we can expect six more weeks of winter. If he does not, an early spring awaits.