Elephant Skin

Specimen of elephant taxidermyIn an earlier post about rock textures and patterns at Tenby in South Wales I said that some rock surfaces reminded me of elephant hide. So, shown above are a few photographs that I took of the elephant skin on a prepared specimen exhibited at the Natural History Museum in London to show you what I meant – while below are a couple of examples of the textured limestone from Tenby for comparison.

Oxford Sandy & Black Pigs

I had a wonderful day out at the Dorset County Show yesterday. It was great fun, very noisy, very busy, and too much to see in just one day. The warm sunny weather meant that it was really well attended and there was a sea of people as far as the eye could see – all having a good time. I especially enjoyed getting up close to all the farm animals – like these delightful Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs from the Ansty Herd near Dorchester. The piglets were really cute. Children just loved putting their fingers through the enclosure mesh to tickle the piglets, and the piglets seemed to be pleased with all the attention.


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Glimpses of Montreal Biodome

We know there is Nature in the city but in Montreal this can be experienced on a large scale in the Biodôme which is a unique museum of environment. Live collections with more than 4,800 animals from 230 species and 750 plants species in four ecosystems from the Americas, each with a different climate – all under one roof.

To quote from the Lonely Planet guide to Montreal and Quebec City:

you can amble through a rainforest, explore Antarctic islands, view rolling lowlands or wander along the raw Atlantic oceanfront – all without ever leaving the building.

Penguins frolic in the pools…the tropical chamber is a cross-section of Amazonia with mischievous little monkeys teasing alligators in the murky waters below. The Gulf of St Lawrence has an underwater observatory where you can watch cod feeding alongside lobsters and sea urchins in the tidal pools. The appearance of the Laurentian Forest varies widely with the seasons, with special habitats for lynx, otters and around 350 bats.

 [These pictures from the visit to the Biodôme are also shown on my other WordPress site along with more postings of photographs taken in Montreal during my trip to Canada last year].

Animals in the Museum 1

This gallery shows a small selection of the animals you can find if you go “on safari” in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Sometimes the animals are out in the open and easy to spot; others are small and well hidden away from the view of most visitors. They can be made out of almost any material, and the examples shown here are made from silver, stone, micro-mosaic, ceramic, and glass. They form part of testimonial silver sculptures, clock furniture, carved memorial edifices, sweet boxes, stained glass windows, plaques, and tile-work.


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Washed Ashore – A Decomposing Grey Seal

Skull of Grey Seal exposed by rotting flesh

The next stage of Nature’s recycling process – not a pretty sight! These two images show a decomposing carcass of an adult Grey Seal washed ashore at Rhossili on the Gower Peninsula. The soft tissues are disintegrating but still holding the bones together except for the loss of some small end bones from the flippers. The skull is partially exposed, showing the characteristic shape of cranium, mandible and teeth that are diagnostic and distinguishing features for this species.

Decomposing body of a Grey Seal on a sandy beach


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Washed Ashore – Dead Grey Seals at Rhossili

Young dead Grey Seal washed up on sandy beach with people walking by

Amongst the inanimate items like plastic crates, shoes, fishing nets and floats, washed ashore  by storms during Christmas week at Rhossili, there were some more distressing casualties. Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) love to swim and fish in the waters around the Gower Peninsula. I often catch tantalising glimpses of them in the water, diving around the kelp beds near Worms Head or upright in the water with just the head poking above the surface, eying me curiously as I watch them. However, in violent gale-driven seas, accidents can happen. Sometimes the seals are unable to get to the surface to breathe, sometimes they are dashed with force against the rocks. They drown.

In Christmas week I saw four dead Grey Seals washed up onto the strandline of Rhossili Beach. One was this freshly killed young individual (possibly still classifiable as a pup) – eyeless and bloody from scavenging birds. Another was a very large adult male more than two metres long. This had been dead a bit longer and starting to show signs of decomposition. Two others were also mature adults but in stages of advanced decomposition and obviously had been rolling too and fro for some time with the tides.


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