10 Cool Facts About Polar Bears

Female polar bear with her twin cubs photo by:Photo on <a href="https://visualhunt.com/re/7fdb09">Visual Hunt</a>

Female polar bear with her twin cubs photo by:Photo on Visual Hunt

1. A polar bear’s skin (under its white fur) is actually black to help keep it warm. A polar bear’s white hairs are hollow to help it float while swimming.

2. A polar bear can growl, roar, chuff, hiss, whimper and purr.

3. An adult polar bear’s paw is the size of a dinner plate. Its footpads have small bumps on them, like those on a basketball, so the polar bear has traction on ice.

4. A sense of smell is a polar bear’s strongest sense. A polar bear can smell seals from several miles away.

5. Polar bears mainly eat ringed seals, but also eat bearded, harp and hooded seals as well as carcasses of beluga whales, walruses, narwhal whales, and bowhead whales.

6. Male polar bears are about 9 feet long (2.7 m) and weigh 1000 pounds (453.6 kg). A female polar bear is 8 feet long (2.4 m) and weigh 500 pounds (226.8 kg) (unless pregnant).


7. In the summer, a polar bear may not eat for 3 months. A mother polar bear won’t eat for 5 months while in a birthing lair. Polar bears do not hibernate.

8. Polar bears can hold their breath for 2 minutes. They doggy paddle with their front paws and steer with their rear paws while swimming.

9. A mother polar bear usually has twin cubs. At birth, cubs are the size of guinea pigs. They emerge from their den 3 months after being born so their mother can feed. They leave their mother after 2.5-3 years.

10. Polar bears can run faster than humans, but only for a few seconds.

Facts from children’s book The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond

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Book Review: The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor

The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor

The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor

The Shark Club is an adult fiction novel about a love triangle between a shark-obsessed woman, her childhood love, and the newfound love in her life. It is chock full of facts about the ocean’s inhabitants and is reverent to the ocean itself. It was nice to see written what it’s like to SCUBA dive-not just the mechanics, but the thoughts and emotions that one feels while immersed in the ocean.

As for the love triangle, it wasn’t obvious at the start or through the book whom she’d end up with, and the ending was a bit surprising at first, but was satisfying once I thought about it.

It would be one thing if it were a purely love triangle, but it’s more like a square or even pentagon if you count Maeve’s obsession with sharks despite being bitten by one as a child, and her meeting the daughter of her ex-fiancee, his infidelity the reason for her breakup with Daniel.

Maeve’s love of sharks hindered her first relationship with Daniel as she “chose” the sharks (on an expedition) over Daniel right before they were to be married. Many people are addicted to work and prize it above all else, and Maeve is one of them. I think it’s noble that she’s so committed to her job as a shark biologist and always jetting off to far flung research sites around the world, but it’s clear she has regrets leaving Daniel right before their wedding (and he cheats on her and has a child out of wedlock).

When Maeve meets Hazel, who is 6 years old, she “falls” for the scientist-in-the-making and nurtures her love of sharks and prehistoric sea monsters. They form the “Shark Club” with Maeve, Daniel, and Hazel as members. Maeve and Hazel search for shark teeth on the beach and later make a necklace from it. It’s a cute storyline, and critical to understanding the ending.

All the ocean facts Taylor mentions rang true too me as a marine biologist, but I did wonder why she had to round up the figure of how many sharks a year are killed to 80 million. Usually 73 or 100 million sharks killed a year is the figure given. It’s hard to be accurate with such a high number, and clearly it’s not sustainable to kill that many sharks a year.

The book pays respect to Dr. Sylvia Earle, “Her Deepness,” or as I like to say, the female Jacques Cousteau. She is the most prominent oceanographer alive today, having traveled to the deep ocean and spending 7,000 hours underwater in her life. The protagonist, Maeve, names a lemon shark she likes after her. The author also mentions the on-going lemon sharks studies at the Bimini Research Station in the Bahamas. The book also mentions Dr. Andrea Marshall, also known as “The Queen of the Mantas.” The author mentions her non-profit research facility (The Marine Megafauna Foundation) in Mozambique, Africa. Lastly she mentions Julia Whitty, the author of “The Fragile Edge,” about a woman’s relationship to the ocean.

The side story with her fraternal twin Robin is important, but the ending with him seemed out-of-character and less plausible than the rest of the book. But he, and her aunt Perri who raised them when their parents died, are important in Maeve’s life and that’s why their storylines are included.

I haven’t mentioned the rest of the love triangle, Maeve’s colleague from the Bahamas. Nicholas is technically still married and workplace romances are frowned upon. So Nicholas and Maeve were never officially together, though Nicholas comes to visit her at her Aunt Perri’s hotel where Maeve and Robin grew up and still live. They finally discuss a possible relationship, but put it on hold until Nicholas resolves his marriage in England.

The hotel is in sunny Florida and Maeve has a job there at the Conservancy (forgot full name). If only we all had jobs that would let us fly off to exotic locations for months at a time and still have a job when your return home. This is another reason for you to be jealous of Maeve, besides having two men pine for her.

If you happen to be scared of sharks, I hope you come away from this book with a healthy respect for them. If you love the ocean-especially being in or on it- then run, don’t walk to buy or check-out this book. I requested that my local library buy a few copies and they did! If you like romances, don’t worry as the Maeve biology stuff takes a back seat to the romance.

In short, those who love the ocean will love this book. Those looking for a different sort of love triangle (Daniel, Nicolas, Hazel and the sharks in general) will enjoy this book. There’s no graphic sex so this book could be read by young adults looking to read something beyond teen romances. If there hadn’t been sharks in this book I wouldn’t have picked it up, but fortunately the shark biologist premise sucked me in for 271 pages.

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10 Not-So-Scary Facts About Tiger Sharks

notice the beautiful tiger-like stripes on the Tiger Shark photo by Edwar Herrano

notice the beautiful tiger-like stripes on the Tiger Shark photo by Edwar Herrano via Undersea Hunter Group

1. A tiger shark’s stripes fade as he gets older.

2. Tiger sharks are the second most dangerous sharks to humans (after great white sharks)

3. Tiger sharks eat a variety of animals, including sea turtles (their teeth can crack their shells), seabirds, stingrays, sea snakes, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, small sharks and dead whales.

4. Tiger sharks will eat literally anything. They have been found with garbage, plastic bags, license plates and old tires in their stomachs.

5. Tiger sharks on average grow to 10-14 feet long(3-4.3m) (but can grow up to 20-25 feet long [6.1m-7.6m]) and weigh 850-1400 pounds (386-635 kg)(up to 1900 pounds [862kg]).

6. The only sharks larger than the tiger sharks are whale sharks, basking sharks and great white sharks.

7. Tiger sharks generally live alone, but when they do come together in groups they have a social hierarchy based on size. The larger sharks get first dibs on the food source, such as a dead whale.

8. Tiger sharks are killed for their fins, skin and meat. Their liver has high levels of vitamin A and are used in supplements. Their fins are used in the dish, shark fin soup.

9. Tiger sharks are considered “near threatened” (to extinction) on the IUCN Red List. They are just one spot above of “least concern.”

10. A female tiger shark’s gestation period is 14-16 months, and she can give birth to 10-82 pups.

For more information: National Geographic’s Tiger Sharks
Shark’s World Information on Tiger Sharks
Tiger Shark Facts

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10 Cool Facts about Narwhals

Rare narwhal with two tusks!

Rare narwhal with two tusks!

1. Narwhals are often called the “Unicorns of the Sea” because of their tusk, which is actually a long tooth.

2. Most male narwhals have a tusk, while only some females have one. Some narwhals even have two tusks! Their tusks have over 10 million nerves in them and can be up to 9 feet long.

3. The narwhal’s scientific name Monodon monoceras means “one tooth, one horn.” Males have been seen crossing tusks and it is assumed that they are fighting for females or trying to impress them.

4. The narwhals’ tusks can be used for hunting. They use their tusks to slap and stun fish before eating them. Check out video footage of narwhals hunting with their tusks

5. Narwhals live in pods of 10-100 individuals in the Arctic, but have been seen in pods up to 1000.

6. Narwhals mainly hang out at the surface, but can dive down to 5,000 feet deep (1,524 m)

7. Narwhals feed on fish, shrimp and squid. They are suction feeders that swallow their food whole.

8. Predators include killer whales, polar bears, walruses and native Inuit hunters.

9. Narwhals can grow up to 17 feet long (5.2m) and weigh 4,200 pounds (1,905 kg).

10. Defenders.org says, “Narwhals might be more sensitive to impacts of climate change than the polar bear.” Threats to Narwhals include oil and gas development of the Arctic, climate change, and shipping vessels that cause collisions and noise pollution.

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Children’s Book Review: On Kiki’s Reef by Carol L. Malnor and illustrated by Trina L. Hunner

Children's book On KIki's Reef by Carol L. Malnor and illustrated by Trina L. Hunner

On KIki’s Reef by Carol L. Malnor and illustrated by Trina L. Hunner

On Kiki’s Reef (Dawn Publications, 2014) is a delightful children’s picture book about the life cycle of a sea turtle.

Along the way, Kiki meets animals on a coral reef. This book is aimed at lower elementary school grades (4-8 years old). Its ample backmatter will appeal to older children, and to parents who can explain it to their young child.

This book is considered fiction, probably because Kiki has a name and the story is told from her point-of-view in the third person. I would consider it informational fiction because real facts are scattered throughout the 755 word book.

Kiki starts off as a hatchling scurrying to the ocean after hatching on the beach. A page later she is already six years old! This is okay because sea turtles’ life cycles are long (she won’t lay eggs until she’s older than 20 years old) and this is just a picture book!

She “meets” coral, clownfish and the colorful fish (tangs and wrasses) that clean her shell of algae. I won’t give away all the animals she meets, which by the way she never talks to, but she even meets a human diver.

Then the book is over when she lays her eggs on the beach where she was born.

The backmatter includes more information on all the creatures mentioned or pictured in the book, and “Carol’s Teaching Treasures,” which includes the author’s activities for kids, web links and book suggestions.

The backmatter invites repeated readings, as children will be searching for all the critters mentioned.

Overall I recommend this book to all elementary school aged children who want to be introduced to not only sea turtles, but to the other denizens of the coral reef.

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