Our National Parks Could Change Your Life, And Not Just Because They Make Insta-Worthy Backdrops

Our National Parks Could Change Your Life, And Not Just Because They Make Insta-Worthy Backdrops

National parks are some of the greatest places in entire world.

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I am not exactly a "tree-hugger;" I am definitely not "outdoorsy," but I absolutely adore our national parks here in the United States. I truly believe that our national parks are some of the greatest places on earth and that we should all visit national parks more often. This past summer, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park, and it was the most beautiful place I've ever seen. Every time I visit a national park, I have a wonderful time and want to encourage others to experience the same.

Honestly, I love going to national parks even more than I love shopping or sightseeing in new cities. While I like to find yummy coffee shops and browse cute boutiques, I'd much rather visit a national park to explore the trails, see the flora and fauna, and get away from social media for a while.

I feel like it's really easy to live in the United States and take our national parks for granted. They can seem monotonous, boring, or even "too difficult" to navigate. These are all just common misconceptions that should be ignored. National parks are interesting, fun, and available to everyone (with a good sense of direction or not), and I think that our parks deserve more credit than they receive.

A good cell signal is rare in national parks so visiting a park is the perfect break from social media and binge-watching Netflix. National parks are wonderful for self-care and releasing yourself from the pressures of social media. As long as you're safe and have a map that most parks provide, the break from cell service will be welcomed and beneficial in the long run.

Cameras, however, typically don't require cell service. There are plenty of subjects in nature to take pictures of. You could spend days upon days in a national park and never run out of subjects to capture. Also, national parks can inspire remarkable pieces of artwork, like paintings or poems. In Yosemite Valley this summer, I saw a man on one of the boardwalks painting a beautiful scene of Half-Dome as he saw it. National parks are the perfect place to create art, whether it's photography or something else.

Visiting national parks can be beneficial not only for mental health but also for physical health. Exploring a park is a great way to exercise at your own pace. Getting exercise in national parks doesn't feel quite the same as working out in a gym; exercising in a park may be more enjoyable for some people. Hiking or even just exploring, in a national park is great for both the mental and physical aspects of personal health.

As sappy as it may sound, there's also a sense of bonding in national parks. Everyone you encounter in a national park is probably there for the same reason as you - that is, to admire the beauty of nature! It's a wonderful, peaceful feeling and, personally, one of my favorite parts about visiting a national park.

Life is full of commitments and things that vie for our attention. I feel like visiting a national park is a rewarding decision that can help us escape the pressures of everyday life and appreciate the simple beauty of nature. I really encourage everyone to set aside time to visit a national park. Who knows, you may find a new hobby on your trip!

National parks aren't just for tree-huggers and fitness gurus. National parks welcome people from all walks of life and can be enjoyed by everyone for little to no cost. Follow this link https://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm to find a national park near you. Happy exploring!

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20 Of The Coolest Animal Species In The World

Animals that almost seem imaginary.
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The world is full of amazing animals. So amazing, that narrowing them down to 20 felt nearly impossible. To determine who made the cut for this list, I used very important factors such as, cuteness and how much some of them looked like Pokémon . I know, very official. So here are some of the coolest animals in the world.

1. Pink Fairy Armadillo

The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest and cutest species of armadillo. It is on the list of threatened species and is found in the sandy plains, dunes, and grasslands of Argentina. The pink fairy armadillo is a nocturnal creature that survives mostly on insects and plants.


2. Okapi

The okapi is an animal native to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Although the stripes make many people believe okapi are related to zebra, they are actually closer to giraffe. Okapi are solitary creatures and come together to breed. They are herbivores, mostly eating leaves, grass, and other plants.


3. Glaucus Atlanticus or "the Blue Dragon"

These little dragon-like creatures are often only about a few inches long and can be found in the Indian Pacific Oceans. The blue dragon floats upside down in order to blend the blue side of them with the water, and the silver side with the surface of the ocean. This tiny dragon feeds on creatures like the man o' war and can even deliver a sting similar to it.


4. The Maned Wolf

The maned wolf is often found in the grasslands of south, central-west, and southeastern parts of Brazil. It is neither related to wolves nor foxes despite its appearance and name, but is actually closer to dogs. The maned wolf hunts alone and primarily eats both meat and plants (about 50% of its diet).


5. Fossa

The fossa is a carnivorous animal located in Madagascar. Despite having many traits similar to cats, it is more closely related to the Mongoose. The fossa is only found in forest habitats and can hunt in either daytime or night. Over 50 percent of its diet happens to be lemurs.


6. Japanese Spider Crab

As the name suggestions, the Japanese spider crab inhabits the waters surrounding Japan. In many parts of Japan, this crab can be considered a delicacy but can be considerably difficult to catch. The Japanese spider crab can grow to 12 feet long from claw to claw. There is only one sea creature-- amongst similar species (aka crustaceans)-- that beats the weight of a Japanese spider crab: the American Lobster.


7. Pacu Fish

Look closely at the teeth, do they look familiar? This fish is found in the waters of South America. This fish, while related to the piranha, can actually grow much larger. They can also be found in rivers like the Amazon and is an aid to the fishing industry. Unlike the piranha, pacu mostly only eat seeds and nuts, though can still create nasty injuries to other animals if need be.


8. Slow Loris

The slow loris is a nocturnal creature found in Southeast Asia. While very adorable, the loris's teeth are actually quite venomous. The toxin on their teeth can also be applied to fur through grooming to protect its babies from predators. Often times these creatures forage and spend time alone, although can on occasion be seen with other slow lorises. Apart from their toxic teeth, the slow lorises have another defense mechanism, in which they move nearly completely silently in order to prevent discovery.


9. Angora Rabbit

These cute, fluffy rabbits are among the hairiest breeds of rabbit of both wild and domestic types. These rabbits originated in Turkey although managed to spread throughout Europe and was even brought to the United States in the 20th century. These rabbits are often bred for their soft wool which can be made into clothing, and often get rid of their own coats every 3-4 months.


10. Axolotl

The axolotl or "Mexican salamander" (who looks like a Pokémon , if you ask me) is often spotted in lakes in various places around Mexico. These little salamanders are amphibious although often spend their adult lives strictly in the water. However, the population of these cute creatures is dwindling due to non-native predators and the continued urbanization of Mexico. The axolotl eats small worms, insects, and fish in order to survive.


11. Liger

The liger, however made up it sounds, is a real (and cute) animal created by a lion and a tiger mating. Ligers only seem to exist in captivity or zoos because the lion and tiger don't share the same habitat in the wild. Unfortunately, these animals don't live very long or are sterile despite being bigger than both the lion and the tiger. While these animals are cool and unique, they are not strictly natural or sustainable.


12. Bearded Vulture

I don't know about you all, but this vulture reminds me of a phoenix which was initially why I looked into the creature. These vultures inhabit a range of places from southern Europe to the Indian subcontinent, to Tibet. This vulture, like other vultures, typically eats dead animals, although it has been documented that the bearded vulture will attack live prey more often than other vultures.


13. Goblin Shark


This unusual shark is also known as a "living fossil" because they are the last representative of sharks that lived about 125 million years ago. It is a deep sea shark that can grow between 10-13 feet if not longer. The goblin shark has been caught accidentally in every major ocean. The goblin shark is not a fast swimmer and relies on ambushing its prey.


14. Red Panda

This cute, small panda lives in the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The red panda is rather small, only about the same size as most domestic cats. Its eating habits range from bamboo, to eggs, to insects, and several other small mammals. The red panda is primarily sedentary during the day and at night or in the morning does whatever hunting it needs to do.


15. Blobfish

This blobfish is, in a way, so ugly that it is cute (although reminds me of a certain Pokémon ) This fish lives in the deep waters of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The blobfish has a density only sightly above that of water. The fish primarily hunts by just floating along and letting creatures wander into its mouth, rather than expending any energy.


16. Leaf Deer

The leaf deer is usually found in dense forests in the northwest region of Putao. The adult leaf deer only stands at about 20 inches high and the males and females are nearly identical except for an inch long horn on the males. It is called a leaf deer because hunters could wrap the deer in a single large leaf.


17. Tiger

While tigers are a more common animal than many others on this list, it is still one of the coolest animals in the world. Tigers are the largest of all cats and once ranged from Russia, to Turkey, to parts of Asia — almost all over the world. These animals are fierce, powerful creatures, although they are on the endangered species list.


18. Narwhals

Narwhals are a species of whale that live in the waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. The narwhal's diet changes depending on the time of year: in the spring the narwhal will eat cod, while in the winter the narwhal will eat flatfish. Narwhals can live up to 50 years and most frequently die of suffocation from being trapped under the ice.


19. Cheetah

Cheetahs, while more commonly heard of then some of the other animals on this list, are still incredibly cool. They often inhabit many parts of Africa and Iran. These amazing cats can reach up to 60 miles per hour in three seconds and use their tails to make quick and sudden turns. These amazing cats also have semi-retractable claws which helps with speed. The cheetah, however, doesn't have much besides speed to defend itself.


And finally....


20. Superb Bird of Paradise

This GIF demonstrates the mating dance used by male superb birds of paradise. Typically females reject about 20 mates before selecting one they want to mate with. They are often found in New Guinea although it is unsure just how many of these birds there are. As far as scientists know, the population has remained stable.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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Your Plastic Trash Is Turning Our Oceans' Marine Life Into Marine Death

We destroy life and pollute the oceans and skies, yet we have the audacity to call ourselves superior beings.

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More than one million marine animals die each year due to the overuse of plastic materials.

If you take a walk along the beach or swim in the ocean, you are bound to see some sort of trash. This trash does no good to those animals who are in the oceans. If we are doing something and we step on a piece of trash, we are able to pull it off, but the marine life cannot. The trash sticks with them, and sometimes it might come off.

We are killing the wildlife with the plastic and the trash.

Throughout the past few years, the marine life population has been declining. The ocean is a vital part of our food chain, feeding billions of people around the globe, and helps keep us alive. The world over fishes in the oceans, and empties trash into our oceans.

If you become aware of your daily living, plastic is used for everything. Plastic soda bottles, plastic chip bags, plastic grocery bags, plastic wrappers, and so much more plastic. Think about all the plastic straws we use, that plastic goes right now the esophagus for the marine life animals.

The amount of plastic in this world will take millions of years to actually break down. The plastic is not broken down fast enough.

But, until then, our oceans are getting all the plastic we are using.

All these plastics look appetizing to the marine life animals — they do not know it can harm them. For example, a bag floating looks appetizing to a turtle because it looks like it is a jellyfish floating up and down.

Humans average a total of 14 billion pounds of waste into the oceans per year. This number keeps reaching its peak every single year. Researchers have shown by the year 2040 the amount of plastic in the sea will be higher than the actual sum of marine life.

It is a proven fact that fish are not growing because they mistakenly eat the plastic more than their regular food. The waste usually comes from coastal areas, but some make it ways through inland waterways into the ocean. The plastic gets stuck into the marine life bodies along with toxic chemicals and bacterial absorbed by the material.

Plastic rings are a big thing — the six-pack of beer, soda and/or drinks.

Those plastic non-biodegradable rings are getting stuck around the sea animals, the sea animals are eating them as well. It is known that a company in Florida called Saltwater Brewery actually created edible six-pack rings. These rings are completely 100% biodegradable. It was a big investment for the Saltwater Brewery, but they state "it was completely worth it."

It baffles me how people can let these animals digest, get tangled and die because they can't reduce plastic usage and/or not throw the plastic into the oceans. More programs should be set up to pick up beach trash and cleaning the oceans. Even though every single piece of trash won't get out of the waters. A little help can make a world of difference to the marine life.

Stop littering your trash, become aware of the amount of plastic you actually use, pick up trash off the beach if you see it there and become educated on those marine life animals.

The ocean is calling for help, and you need to be their voice.

"For the wildest things on Earth, the future must depend on the conscience of mankind" — Dr. Carr



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