Changing Planet

Coasts and Forests: Untamed Americas

Don’t miss the second half of Untamed Americas airing on National Geographic Channel tonight, putting the spotlight on coasts and forests.

Just some of the facts we’ll learn:

• One of the rarest, most elusive animals on earth, the kermode or spirit bear can be found in the Great Bear Rainforest of Canada. Neither albino nor polar bear, the kermode is a white black bear with a genetic mutation that causes its unusual fur and features.

• Mobula rays, also known as “devil rays,” can have wingspans of 3 to 10 feet, or about as long as a first generation Mini Cooper, and leap out of the water to escape predators, get rid of parasites and communicate with other rays. The sound of their splashes can be heard for miles.

• Female polar bears usually give birth to twin cubs, which stay with their mother for more than two years until they can hunt and survive on their own. In order to hunt, the polar bear needs the sea to freeze.

• Enduring snow and freezing temperatures in Minnesota during the dead of winter, our film crew spent seven days tracking great gray owls that fly noiselessly, hunt in the dark, can hear a field mouse or vole stir under the snow and hurtle headfirst into snow crust thick enough to support a 180-pound person. The owl’s dive into the snow happens so fast, the crew had to use slow-motion cameras taking 1,500 frames per second in high definition to capture the kill on film.

Amy Bucci is a web producer for National Geographic. Her projects mainly cover National Geographic explorers, grantees and initiatives.

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