Virgin River in Zion National Park
Our photo brings us to a 16-mile stretch of the Virgin River where it cuts a spectacular thousand-foot-deep gorge through the upper reaches of Utah's Zion Canyon. Flowing through Zion National Park (which turns 103 today!), the Virgin River is home to unique plants and animals that aren't found anywhere else, due to the unique intersection of biomes found where the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert all meet. Without the water of the Virgin River system, creatures like the woundfin minnow, one of rarest species on the planet, couldn't exist.
从大酒钵里喝一口 Take a sip from the Punchbowl
River Quoich in Aberdeenshire, Scotland
In the eastern Highlands of Scotland, tucked into the forested plateaus of the Cairngorms mountain range is a small but beloved river that runs through a ravine. The River Quoich is frequented by nature lovers, hikers, and intrepid paddlers willing to brave its surprisingly swift currents and its several waterfalls, including the one featured here, the Linn of Quoich. These falls are famous for the bowl-shaped cavity in the rock that you see on the left side of this image.
Called the Punch Bowl, this natural feature has become the star attraction for those who visit the river and take the 3-mile hike along its banks. According to lore, the Earl of Mar, the 18th-century nobleman who owned these woods, would place a ceremonial punch bowl atop the hole and drank from it after a successful deer hunt. Queen Victoria, Britain's longest-reigning monarch, also frequented these pine woods and built a now derelict lodge near the falls. While the beauty of the River Quoich is fit for a queen, you don't have to be royalty to enjoy it.
令人印象深刻的时刻 Time to make an impression
Caribou rutting season in Alaska
It's that time of year when Alaskan caribou are beginning to feel a little frisky. From late September until early November, males will be strutting their stuff, locking antlers with one another, and competing for the attention of females in hopes of furthering the species. Successful males will mate with 15-20 females a season. After the rutting season males will shed their antlers while females keep theirs until spring. In today's photo we're looking at some caribou in southcentral Alaska crossing the Susitna River.
Alaska has 32 distinct caribou herds. It's likely today's caribou are members of the Nelchina herd, which roams across about 20,000 square miles in the high basin surrounded by the Talkeetna, Chugach, Wrangell, and Alaska ranges. The Nelchina herd is among the most studied and recognized of Alaskan caribou partly because their range is relatively close to the major human population centers of the state. The herd has provided food for Alaskans for hundreds of years and its population is maintained through carefully monitored hunting regulations. But caribou populations can fluctuate from one year to the next depending on the availability of food and severity of the weather.
匆匆而逝的河流 The rivers run through us
World Rivers Day
On World Rivers Day, we honor what may be thought of as the queen of them all—the Amazon, which flows more than 4,000 miles mostly through the South American countries of Peru and Brazil. The Amazon discharges a whopping 58 million gallons of fresh water into the ocean every second, enough to fill 83 Olympic-sized swimming pools, far more water than any other river in the world. It accounts for 20% of all fresh water that flows into the world's seas and oceans. It's also the vital heart of the largest and most diverse rain forest in the world—the Amazon Rain Forest is home to a third of the world's animal species and its trees and plants pull billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, making it one of the Earth's best defenses against climate change.
Mark Angelo, a river conservationist from British Columbia, launched World Rivers Day in 2005 to recognize the importance of rivers to the survival of humanity and millions of species all over the world. Rivers are our best source of fresh water, they can be an important energy source, they're the foundations of complex ecosystems, and provide crucial sources of irrigation for our crops, among other contributions to our way of life. Besides, who doesn't love a float down a lazy river?
In Texas, even the riverbend is big
We're celebrating the 77th birthday of Big Bend National Park, the place the National Park Service calls 'one of the last remaining wild corners of the United States.' To get here, you have to be committed. This rugged terrain, which covers almost a million acres, is one of the most remote spots in the country—it's hours from the nearest towns or the closest airport, making it one of the least-visited national parks in the country. Those who do make the effort to get to Big Bend are rewarded with an undeveloped natural beauty, and silence, two things that seem to be in short supply these days.
At Big Bend you'll find craggy hiking trails, red mountain vistas, limestone canyons, and hot springs alongside the famous Rio Grande. There's also the wildlife you'd expect to find in the Wild, Wild West, including rattlesnakes, packs of javelinas, and 20 species of bats. But it's the huge night sky unencumbered by light pollution that draws stargazers to Big Bend from all over the world. After all, everything, as they say, is bigger in Texas.
Get on your bike and ride
In honor of the UN's World Bicycle Day, we're at Triglav National Park in Slovenia, with a birds-eye view of riders crossing this dubious-looking wooden suspension bridge over the glacial blue water of the river called Soča. Protecting some of the most magnificent mountain landscapes of the Julian Alps, Triglav is the country's only national park, but it's a stunner. Running along Slovenia's northwestern border with Italy, Triglav was first protected as a 'conservation park' in 1924, then made a national park in 1981. The park gets its name from the mountain at its heart, Triglav, long considered a symbol of Slovenia and of Slovene identity.
Since 2018, the UN General Assembly has recognized June 3 as World Bicycle Day to honor 'the uniqueness, longevity, and versatility of the bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries.' The bicycle has gone through many iterations since Karl Drais created the brake-less, pedal-less bike forerunner called a 'velocipede' in 1817. The German inventor would likely be floored by today's variety of bike options, from new lightweight road bikes to heavier mountain bikes with fatter, knobby tires designed to handle rougher terrain. More than 200 years after von Drais introduced his two-wheeled contraption, bicycles remain as popular as ever. Chances are there's one just waiting for you to take it for a spin, and what better day to do so than World Bicycle Day?
A visit to Limerick on Limerick
Today is Limerick Day, and what better place to celebrate this unofficial holiday than in Limerick, Ireland. The connection between the historic city and the humorous, five-line verse is unclear. Several theories have been purported, none of them definitive. But the city of Limerick has embraced its namesake poetry style and in recent years the Limerick Writers' Centre has hosted an annual competition called Bring Your Limericks to Limerick.
We're looking across the River Shannon at the historic part of the city, a medieval section once walled off by the Vikings around 812 and known today as King's Island. That's King John's Castle on the left, built on the order of King John in 1200. Over on the right is St. Mary's Cathedral, which dates from 1168 and is the oldest building in Limerick still in use. History suggests the area was settled long before the Vikings conquered it and set about destroying Irish public records. The earliest map of Ireland, produced in 150 CE by historian and overall polymath Ptolemy, shows a place called 'Regia' at the same site as King's Island.
Caribou on the move
Each fall a quarter million caribou come together to form the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, a group that makes an epic migration through northwest Alaska. In great numbers they move south from their calving grounds in the Utukok River Uplands to their winter range on the Seward Peninsula. Fall is also the time when scientists attach radio collars to members of the herd, to track their location and health, and to gain information that will help conserve the species. When spring arrives, they'll complete the trip again in reverse, covering a total of 2,000 miles each year, give or take.
One of the best spots to see the herd on the move is where the great masses of animals cross this river, the Kobuk, at Onion Portage. The name of the portage derives from an Inupiaq (Inuit) word meaning 'wild onions' for the many wild onions that grow here. But the native Inuit people don't come here just to forage for onions. For millennia, the caribou crossing has drawn native peoples who rely on caribou meat, a tradition that continues to this day.
Go with the rainbow flow
Today's photo brings us to the banks of Caño Cristales, the 'liquid rainbow' that cuts a prismatic path through the heart of Colombia. From June through November, when the clear water is low, the abundant underwater plants that cover the riverbed show off their red, yellow, green, and blue hues. The star of the show—especially in this photo—is Macarenia clavigera, a riverweed that ranges from bright red to deep crimson or purple depending on its intake of sun rays. In August and September, when the florid flora are at their peak, it's a coveted nature excursion: Because the river's ecosystem is so fragile, visits are limited to guided tours.