Holy Crab! Fearless Australian Poses With Massive Coconut Crab

You’ve heard of king crabs, now meet the mighty coconut crab.

An Australian man fearlessly posed with one of the massive critters, going so far as to raise it up in the air, after stumbling upon a cluster of them on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean late last month.

“They look scary but are gentle giants, really. To get nipped by one you have to be pretty slow,” Mark Pierrot, who’s seen snapped in the photo along Dolly Beach, told The Huffington Post of his close encounter in an email.

Though the crabs, also known as robber crabs, may appear out of this world to many, they’re quite bountiful on the island thanks to them being a protected species, allowing them to live up to 70 years old, according to the island’s tourism association.

In the course of that lifespan they can grow up to 3 feet long — from leg to leg — making them the largest land-living arthropods in the world, according to British wildlife resource, Wildscreen Arkive.

“Some robber crabs you can pick up with one hand but this guy was pretty big so two hands (were) needed,” Pierrot said. “It was pretty heavy, more than 5 kg (11 pounds) I reckon.”

That’s not to say that they aren’t a force to be reckoned with.

The tree-climbers have pincers that are strong enough to crack open coconuts. They can also lift weights up to 62 pounds, according to Wildscreen Arkive.

They’ve even been blamed for carrying off the remains of legendary pilot Amelia Earhart after she vanished during a round-the-world flight in 1937. That eerie theory was suggested by researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery in 2012.

Still, Pierrot — who grew up on Christmas Island — finds them anything but scary.

“I can see —> Read More

In Bali, Bamboo Architecture Offers Model for a Sustainable Future

The living room of ‘Temple House’ a home constructed in the Green Village, a neighborhood on the island of Bali dedicated to building homes almost entirely out of bamboo. Photos by Ari Beser

BALI, Indonesia—How do you build a future out of grass? On the Indonesian island of Bali, one organization has set out to do just that. Ibuku, an architecture and furniture design firm based outside of Denpasar, Bali’s capital, is using Dendrocalamus asper bamboo—or petung in Balinese—to construct Green Village. I had the chance to visit this innovative new community while on leave from my Fulbright National Geographic Fellowship in Japan.

Green Village was inspired by the design of Green School, an eco friendly academy founded by John Hardy, the father of Elora Hardy, Ibuku’s founder and creative director. Ibu in Balinese means Mother, and ku means mine. Ibuku’s philosophy is similar to Green School’s desire to maintain a relationship with Mother Earth and the environment and delicate ecosystem that surrounds them.

According to a statement by Ibuku, “Bamboo is a flexible and tensile material with the strength equivalent to steel. We account for the flexibility in the engineering process and work to ensure our bamboo maintains its integrity over time. Bamboo is plentiful in river valleys throughout Asia, and the clumps regenerate each year. Bamboo is ready for use as a building material at age 3-5 years.”

While bamboo has been used worldwide in construction and craftsmanship for millennia, its structures don’t typically last long enough to be seen as a material worth permanence. Ibuku’s answer to this problem is a boron solution that suppresses glucose levels and renders it inedible for insects. According to Ibuku’s team, “If the bamboo is chosen well, treated properly, designed carefully and maintained, a bamboo house can last a lifetime. —> Read More

Wyoming’s Proposed Mountain Lion Trapping Bill Contradicts Science

A mountain lion unlucky enough to be caught in a trap set for a bobcat. Photograph compliments of Nevada Department of Wildlife and Tom Knudson, author of RevealNews article, “America’s trapping boom relies on cruel and grisly tools.”

This January, a bill called HB0012 was introduced in the Wyoming legislature that, if passed, would allow any person with a valid hunting license to kill a mountain lion using a trap or snare. This bill is not based on valid science, and the negative consequences for mountain lions, other wildlife, Wyoming citizens, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are far-reaching. As a Wyoming resident and mountain lion biologist, I’m alarmed to see our legislature considering a bill that threatens the balance of nature on which our state so deeply depends.

Ostensibly, this bill was introduced to provide “additional tools” to reverse recent mule deer population declines, a valuable game species for Wyoming residents. In reality, the connection between mountain lions and mule deer population declines is tenuous at best. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has openly shared that mule deer declines are largely the result of other factors, including habitat loss and disruption to migration corridors. It is also well accepted among wildlife biologists that deer dynamics are driven primarily by weather patterns, and resulting forage availability, not predators. In fact, a recent intensive, long term study from the Idaho Department of Fish & Game emphasized that removing mountain lions and coyotes did not provide any long-term benefit to deer populations. The researchers reported: “In conclusion, benefits of predator removal appear to be marginal and short term in southeastern Idaho and likely will not appreciably change long-term dynamics of mule deer populations in the intermountain west” (Hurley et al. 2011). (Emphasis added).

Like mule deer, mountain lions are also experiencing —> Read More

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