The Walrus Dance

Do the Walrus.  It may just be the next big dance craze.  Before you rush to judgment and think I’m just making this up you might want to check out some of their booty-shaking moves.  As you might expect when anything as big as a walrus starts rockin’ and rollin’ you can’t take your eyes off it.

I was treated to the walrus version of, “So You Think You Can Dance,” while in the Norwegian Arctic this summer on the “National Geographic Endeavor.’  We were fortunate to see several groups of walruses doing more than just sleep on the beach.  Elyse Lockton, a naturalist for Lindblad Expeditions, who’s spent many summers watching these giant marine mammals told me about some of the other things walruses do that make them a most interesting animal.  It’s probably a good thing they have some unique abilities, because they may also be on many people’s top 10 list of ugliest animals.

You can hear part of my interview with Elyse in this video as well as see the dancing walruses, and you can catch the entire interview this week on National Geographic Weekend.

The Fighting Hyenas

When the parents are away, the kids will play, and wrestle, and run wild.  These hyena pups were just like kids when I watched them jumping on each other in front of their den at South Africa’s Londolozi Game Reserve.  Their fun loving behavior proved to be irresistible, and I sat and watched them go at each other for hours until it finally got dark.

For many people, hyenas are viewed as the villains of the African bush, but anyone spending time with the hyenas in this setting would have a hard time holding on to that negative image.  I interviewed Londolozi Ranger and guide Talley Smith for my radio show, “National Geographic Weekend” who sings the praises of hyenas and calls them one of her favorite animals.

Here’s part of our interview and some video of the hyena pups in action.  You can hear the whole interview this weekend on National Geographic Weekend.

Attack of the Terns

Typically it’s only in an Alfred Hitchcock movie that you have to worry about an all out attack from dive bombing birds, but arctic terns will turn that fiction into reality if you step across some invisible line in the sand they’ve drawn around their territory.  Recently on a trip to the Arctic with Lindblad Expeditions aboard the National Geographic Explorer I apparently crossed that line.

The arctic terns were putting on quite a show at one of our stops in Svalbard, Norway.  It’s true of many creatures, humans included, that nothing motivates a male more than his desire to impress the opposite sex, and these guys were doing some spectacular aerobatics in an effort to curry favor with the ladies.  They would hover in the air like a helicopter surveying the water below until they spotted a small fish, then dive down, grab the fish and carry it back as present to the female.  The gift is apparently the tern equivalent of expensive jewelry.

But in the course of filming the action, I stepped to close to a nesting area and got a fish eye’s view of diving terns.  My head was now the bombing target and the bird’s beaks were raining down like incoming missiles.  Looking around I spotted the nest.  It was a safe distance away and in no danger of being stepped on by me, but the protective terns had decided I was close enough and launched their attack.

I talk with Lindblad naturalist Brent Stephenson about arctic terns and their behavior in love and war on my radio show, National Geographic Weekend.  So tune in to the show and tune in to adventure.