Aerial Photos Showcase the Annual Flamingo Migration that Transforms India’s Pulicat Lake into a Vibrant Spectacle
Each January, Pulicat Lake in Tamil Nadu, India, harbors tens of thousands of lanky, pink-feathered birds that gather in the warm waters during their annual migration. Approximately 20 flocks of flamingos land in the region in early November and stay until May, transforming the 750-square kilometers of brackish lagoons into breeding grounds for the long-legged creatures.
Photographer Raj Mohan documented these temporary settlements in a series of aerial images that capture the birds’ sprawling, even bizarre formations. The avians dot the landscape, congregate in heart-shaped groups, and align in long, perfect diagonals, seemingly choreographed arrangements visible only from above.
Mohan’s images were taken during what’s known as the annual flamingo festival, which “promote(s) tourism at Pulicat. Several bird photography contests, environment education sensitization programs, school excursions, etc., are organized to increase awareness,” he shares on Peta Pixel. “This attracts a large number of bird watchers and photographers from different places.” In addition to the spectacle they create, the flamingos also help to control the otherwise rampant algae growth in the lake and prevent the need for human intervention.
A corporate professional by day, Mohan is based in Chennai but currently spending his time in Bangalore. Travel has always been his preferred way of exploring India’s natural diversity, and you can find more of his work on Instagram. For another glimpse of flamingo migration, head to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula with Claudio Contreras Koob.
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Fly with More Than 450 Bird Species on Their Annual Migrations with Audubon’s New Interactive Maps
What route does the whooping crane follow as it travels south each year? What about the long-winged turkey vulture? A new interactive guide from Audubon tracks the journeys of more than 450 species as they travel around the hemisphere. Complete with the conservation organization’s signature illustrations, the Bird Migration Explorer features digital maps that offer detailed insight into such grand-scale avian movement and are searchable by different taxonomies. Follow a tundra swan’s annual flight path from the arctic, see where the organization spots tagged merlins, and explore the difficulties a horned lark faces as it encounters human activity and climate crisis-related changes on its treks. (via Alastair Humphreys)
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In Bold Self-Portraits, Atong Atem Vividly Frames Relationships Between Identity and Culture
Since its inception, photography has dominated the way we visually remember and describe the world around us and where we are within it. It has tapped into desire, joy, grief, and superstition, such as in the Victorian era, when some believed it could be a channel between people and spirits in the afterlife. In portraiture, photography immortalizes its subjects and has transformed artists’ ability to express themselves and tell stories. For Ethiopia-born, South Sudanese photographer Atong Atem, who is based in Melbourne, the medium enables a salient exploration of the African diaspora and migrant narratives by focusing on the relationship between figures and the interior spaces they inhabit.
Sometimes referred to as Naarm, Melbourne comprises the traditional lands of the Kulin Nation, itself a collective of five Aboriginal tribes. Paralleling her exploration of the nature of place, culture, and postcolonial narratives, Atem’s series of powerful self-portraits focus on how perceptions of identity are shaped through relationships between place, dress, and custom and the way they change over time or merge when people move. Occasionally referencing art history, such as “Blue Face” modeled after Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (c. 1665), her works also nod to groundbreaking 20th century photographers Malick Sidibe, Philip Kwame Apagya, and Seydou Keita, who expanded traditions of studio portraiture. In a similar spirit, Atem explores intersections between place, people, and time to create a visual representation of the connection to culture.
This year, the artist’s first book of photographs, titled Surat (Sudanese Arabic for “snapshots”), was commissioned by Photo Australia. The second edition is due to be published by Perimeter next month, and you can find more of the artist’s work on her website and Instagram. (via ART RUBY)
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A Conservationist Teaches Geese to Use Safer Migration Routes by Flying With Them Across Europe
Back in 1995, Christian Moullec embarked on his first migration alongside a flock of lesser white-fronted geese that he intended to introduce to Sweden. He flew an adapted delta plane alongside the birds, which were threatened after being overhunted, and protect them on their journey. This initial mission quickly morphed into a now decades-long project of training avian populations to utilize more secure paths as they travel across Europe, ensuring that the already dwindled species would survive the trek and be able to reproduce.
English YouTuber and educator Tom Scott (previously) joins Moullec on one of the flights above Southern France as they glide in a microlight aircraft just inches from the animals—Scott is so close that he’s able to touch goose’s tail feathers. Reaching this level of intimacy takes dedication and immersion in the flock, Moullec shares, saying that he raises the birds, sleeps with them, and even bathes in the pond on his property. This establishes trust and is essential as they define their routes, which sometimes traverse thousands of kilometers each day. “I’m not the one who teaches the birds to fly with me,” Moullec shares. “I’ve been flying with birds for 27 years, and they taught me how to fly with them.”
In addition to his conservation-oriented flights, Moullec offers passenger trips for those interested in joining the flock, and you can find more about his work on his site. (via The Kids Should See This)
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Migrants: A Climate Disaster Forces a Polar Bear and Her Cub to Flee Their Home in a Harrowing Animation
A stunning work of both social commentary and technical dexterity, “Migrants” explores the heartbreaking aftermath of a climate disaster. The animation—which is an impressive collaboration between fifth-year animations students Zoé Devise, Hugo Caby, Antoine Dupriez, Aubin Kubiak, and Lucas Lermytte, who are currently enrolled at the French Pôle 3D school—centers on a simple story: a mother polar bear and her cub flee their arctic habitat as styrofoam icebergs crumble into the water and their once-frozen home becomes unlivable. As they encounter insensitive brown bears in a lush, green climate, the duo struggles to survive.
Through knitted patchwork characters and sets digitally crafted to evoke stop-motion techniques, the poignant short expands on climate crisis narratives that explore only the immediate effects of a hurricane, fire, or in this case, an entire region of the planet that’s melting. Instead, “Migrants” includes the difficulty refugees face when they’re displaced by such events, and the adorable, plush cub’s scared expressions and fearful whimpers generate a dose of empathy often lacking from today’s conversations and debates. In an interview diving into their process, the directors said:
We knew we wanted to make a short film about society and current issues. In 2018, there was a controversy about the “Aquarius” boat, which had rescued migrants in the Mediterranean sea but no country wanted to allow the boat to land at its ports. We were touched by this, and we were inspired by this event as the subject for our movie. So we made a story about the issue of migration, but with the global warming theme layered on top of it. With polar bears as our main characters, as they are one of the species most affected by climate change.
According to Short of the Week, the moving film already has garnered multiple awards from festivals, and it’s likely in the running for an Oscar. Head to Pôle 3D’s Vimeo to watch more student creations.
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Banksy Finances ‘Louise Michel’ Lifeboat to Rescue Refugees From the Mediterranean
Banksy’s latest artwork can be spotted on a vessel rescuing refugees from north Africa, who are attempting to cross the Mediterranean to find safety in Europe. The anonymous British artist, whose work we’ve talked about extensively, used the proceeds from the sale of an artwork to purchase a former French Navy boat, which is named after anarchist Louise Michel. With a fire extinguisher, Banksy sprayed the exterior with pink paint and adorned it with a version of the iconic “Girl with Balloon.” This iteration outfits the child with a lifevest and swaps the red heart with a pink flotation device.
The project was conceived of in September 2019 when Banksy contacted Pia Klemp, who led several missions with NGO boats to rescue refugees. “Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass. I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy,” the artist wrote, according to The Guardian.
Now, Klemp and a professional rescue team helm the 31-meter lifeboat, which already has brought aboard hundreds of refugees. Capable of at least 27 knots, the boat is faster than most ships, allowing it to reach people faster and “hopefully outrun the so-called Libyan coastguard,” Klemp says. The project’s mission is explained on its site:
It might seem incredible there is need for a homemade emergency vehicle in one of Europe’s busiest waterways, but there is. The migrant crisis means that European states are instructing their Coastguard not to answer distress calls from ‘non-Europeans’ leaving desperate people to drift helplessly at sea. To make matters worse authorities prevent other boats from providing assistance, arresting crews and impounding boats that do.
This past weekend, the Italian Coast Guard responded to distress calls from the vessel after it became overloaded with passengers, at one point carrying 219 refugees and 10 crew members on the main ship, with 33 people still in rafts floating alongside. The agency evacuated 49 migrants along with the boat Sea-Watch 4, which brought aboard another 150.
To help aid the efforts, you can make a donation, and follow the crew in a live feed on Twitter.
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