Category: nature

7 Underwater Facts for World Oceans Day


Today is World Oceans Day, a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival. Together, let’s honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans!

1. While the Earth’s oceans are known as five separate entities, there is really only one ocean.

2. The ocean contains upwards of 99% of the world’s biosphere, that is, the spaces and places where life exists.

Both above GIFs are from the TED-Ed Lesson How big is the ocean? – Scott Gass

Animation by 20 steps

3. Jellyfish are soft because they are 95% water and are mostly made of a translucent gel-like substance called mesoglea. With such delicate bodies, jellyfish rely on thousands of venom-containing stinging cells called cnidocytes for protection and prey capture.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How does a jellyfish sting? – Neosha S Kashef

Animation by Cinematic

4. Plastics & litter that make their way into our oceans are swiftly carried by currents, ultimately winding up in huge circulating ocean systems called gyres. The earth has five gyres that act as gathering points, but the largest of all is known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ and has grown so immense that the oceanic garbage patch can shift from around the size of Texas, to something the size of the United States. 

From the TED-Ed Lesson The nurdles’ quest for ocean domination – Kim Preshoff

Animation by Reflective Films

5. The 200 or so species of octopuses are mollusks belonging to the order Cephalopoda, Greek for ‘head-feet’. Those heads contain impressively large brains, with a brain to body ratio similar to that of other intelligent animals, and a complex nervous system with about as many neurons as that of a dog.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why the octopus brain is so extraordinary – Cláudio L. Guerra

Animation by Cinematic

6. Some lucky animals are naturally endowed with bioluminescence, or the ability to create light. The firefly, the anglerfish, and a few more surprising creatures use this ability in many ways, including survival, hunting, and mating.

From the TED-Ed Lesson The brilliance of bioluminescence – Leslie Kenna

Animation by Cinematic

7. Sea turtles ultimately grow from the size of a dinner plate to that of a dinner table. In the case of the leatherback sea turtle, this can take up to a decade. Happy World Turtle Day!

From the TED-Ed Lesson The survival of the sea turtle – Scott Gass

Animation by Cinematic Sweden

What? You thought we ran out of cannibalism st…

What? You thought we ran out of cannibalism stories? Nah….

Many fish indiscriminately cannibalize each other during foraging behavior. Fish produce large numbers of tiny young, and adults exhibit about as much individual recognition of their offspring as humans do for a handful of raisins. Fish eggs, larvae, and juveniles are easily available, nutrient-rich meals, and with thousands of eggs in a clutch, plenty are still available to hatch after the adults have snacked. 

Baby fish aren’t just at risk of being cannibalized by adults—siblings eat each other too.

For more cannibalistic creatures, check out the TED-Ed Lesson Cannibalism in the animal kingdom – Bill Schutt

Animation by Compote Collective

While it may seem counterproductive for member…

While it may seem counterproductive for members of the same species to eat each other, cannibalism can promote the survival of the species as a whole by reducing competition, culling the weak, and bolstering the strong.

Sand tiger shark eggs develop and hatch inside their mother’s oviducts at different times. When the hatchlings run out of yolk from their own eggs, they eat the other eggs and hatchlings until one baby shark from each oviduct remains. When they emerge, the young sharks are well-nourished, experienced predators who stand a better chance of surviving.

For more cannibalistic creatures, check out the TED-Ed Lesson Cannibalism in the animal kingdom – Bill Schutt

Animation by Compote Collective

Fun Freaky Fact Friday!

Fun Freaky Fact Friday!

Some male mammals, including bears and lions, will kill offspring sired by another. That’s because childless females become receptive to mating more quickly than if they were caring for a cub. 

Rather than waste nutritious meat, the males then eat the dead cubs.


For more cannibalistic creatures, check out the TED-Ed Lesson Cannibalism in the animal kingdom – Bill Schutt

Animation by Compote Collective

What happens when an animal plays dead?

Imagine you’re being attacked by a ferocious predator. 


With no chance of escape, you do what any courageous, self-respecting possum would do: curl into an immobile state called catatonia, stick out your tongue, drool, and ooze some foul-smelling liquid from your anal glands.


Disgusted, your assailant loosens its grip, decides you’re not the dinner it was looking for, and departs. After 10 minutes, you resurrect and merrily saunter on.


From lemurs to lizards, ants to amphibians, sharks to chickens, hundreds of animals “play dead” as a survival tactic. Nicknamed “playing possum” after its star performer, feigning death is also called ‘thanatosis’. That’s from Thanatos, the ancient Greek deity of death. But most scientists call it tonic immobility, or TI. How and why TI occurs depends on the species and situation.


Most of the physiological mechanisms underlying these theatrics originate in the parasympathetic nervous system, better known for controlling cycles of resting and digesting. In possums, the parasympathetic nervous system causes their heart rates to drop by nearly half, respiration by a third, and body temperatures by more than half a degree Celsius for up to an hour.

But maintaining a death ruse isn’t easy. The performers are constantly gauging their surroundings for cues on when it’s safe to rise. So TI can work to an animal’s advantage, unless someone else knows its secret. Would you believe that California orcas can flip over young great white sharks, inducing TI for so long the immobilized sharks, who must move to respire, essentially suffocate.

For more surprising stories of animal fake-outs, check out the TED-Ed Lesson The surprising reasons animals play dead – Tierney Thys

Animation by Stretch Films

Cannibalism in the animal kingdom

In the deserts of the American Southwest, spadefoot toad tadpoles hatch in tiny oases. Until they develop into toadlets, they can’t survive outside of water, but these ponds are transient and quickly evaporate. 

The tadpoles are in a race against the clock to grow up before their nurseries disappear. So nearly overnight, some of the brood explode in size. 

They use their jack-o-lantern teeth and huge jaw muscles to devour their smaller pond mates. Nourished by this extra fuel, they develop quicker, leaving the pond before it can dry out. 

The spadefoot toad is far from the only animal to eat members of its own species as a normal part of its life cycle. All of these animals do, too. 

If that surprises you, you’re in good company. Until recently, scientists thought cannibalism was a rare response to starvation or other extreme stress. Well-known cannibals, like the praying mantis and black widow spider, were considered bizarre exceptions. But now, we know they more or less represent the rule.

For more cannibalistic creatures, check out the TED-Ed Lesson Cannibalism in the animal kingdom – Bill Schutt

Animation by Compote Collective

Happy Arbor Day! Go plant a tree!

Happy Arbor Day! Go plant a tree!

From the TED-Ed Lesson Got seeds? Now add bleach, acid and sandpaper – Mary Koga

Animation by Provincia Studio

Happy Arbor Day! Go hug a tree!

Happy Arbor Day! Go hug a tree!

From the TED-Ed Lesson From the top of the food chain down: Rewilding our world – George Monbiot

Animation by Avi Ofer

teded: Happy World Penguin Day! Did you know …


Happy World Penguin Day!

Did you know that unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt?

And that fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs?

More fun facts found here. Animation from the TED-Ed lesson The popularity, plight and poop of penguins – Dyan deNapoli

Animation by Zedem Media

teded: Welcome to Earth Week on TED-Ed Tumblr…


Welcome to Earth Week on TED-Ed Tumblr! We’ll be sharing ways for you to be a more considerate resident of Planet Earth all week (that you can apply…all year!)

In the past decade, the US honeybee population has been decreasing at an alarming and unprecedented rate. But why?

Emma Bryce offers some explanations in the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees.

One solution?  Plant flowers! In Marla Spivak’s TED Talk Why bees are disappearing, she reminds us that when bees have access to good nutrition, we have access to good nutrition through their pollination services.  

So get out there, Tumblr – and plant some bee-friendly flowers!

Love the Earth, and the Earth will love you back! Happy Earth Week!

Animation by Lillian Chan

Counting down to Earth Day 2018!