Sometimes, there just isn’t an adequate expression, and even wow doesn’t make the cut.
While traveling through the Amazon to study reptile and amphibian diversity with the Herpetology Division at the University of Michigan, photographer Mark Cowan happened upon a strange sight: a caiman whose head was nearly covered in butterflies. The phenomenon itself isn’t particularly unusual, salt is critical to the survival of many creatures like butterflies and bees who sometimes drink tears from reptiles in regions where the mineral is scarce. What made this sight so unusual was seeing the butterflies organize themselves into three different species groups atop the caiman’s head.
Uh, also, that side eye!
Cowan’s photograph received special commendation from the 2016 Royal Society Publishing photography competition, you can see the rest of this year’s finalists here.
The British Wildlife Photography Awards just announced the 2016 winners of their annual competition in categories including Animal Behavior, Animal Portraits, Urban Wildlife, and an overall winner. The awards, established in 2009, aim to highlight photographers working in the UK, while also showcasing the biodiversity, species, and habitats found in Britain.
George Stoyle, overall winner of this year’s competition, found his subject off the Island of Hirta in Scotland. “I was working for Scottish Natural Heritage on a project to assess the current biological status of major sea caves around some of the UK’s most remote islands,” Stoyle told the BWPA. “At the end of one of the dives I was swimming back to the boat when I came face to ‘face’ with the largest jellyfish I’d ever encountered. As I approached cautiously I noticed a number of juvenile fish had taken refuge inside the stinging tentacles.”
You can see more UK habitats and animal portraits from 2016’s British Wildlife Photography Awards on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Oh, these are… wow. I love the little story-descriptions for each, too.
A caiman covered in butterflies is a strangely soothing sight.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
That caiman looks smug.
Jellyfish. No other creature can provoke in me the same amounts of fascination and terror at the same time.
That’s the most stylish reptile that I’ve ever seen.
Surely it’s four different species? The one sticking almost straight out doesn’t look like any of the others.
Not a crocoduck… crockobutter? butterodile?
Seriously, though… why did they land on the critter’s snout like that? Good place to bask, maybe?
It’s explained in the text under the photos -- salt is scarce in many parts of the world, and it’s often seen that butterflies and bees land on various reptiles to drink their salty tears.
If I had all the butterflies, I’d look smug too. :D
Ladies and Gentleflies, please fasten your seatbeats and fold your wings. We will soon be landing at Caiman Aeroport. Today’s weather is hot, with pesky human.
Actually, I think less smug and more *tee hee*.
WMDKitty -- Survivor says
Ice Swimmer says
Not only is the caiman picture cute, but it reminds those of us who live in an overabundance of salt, just how valuable it is.