Cold?

If you have any doubt as to whether or not it’s been cold outside in the past week or so, I’ve taken a few digital images that may help to convince you that it is.

OK, OK, we’re not in Watertown, NY where, as I write this, it’s 13° F, or Duluth, MN where it’s currently 0° on the Fahrenheit scale. We’re in the south, and down here, if the day’s high temps never climb out of the thirties, it’s cold. So, without further explanation or excuse, here are the pictures.

The falls in the Red Wolf Enclosure.
Ice around the edges of the falls in the Red Wolf Enclosure.
The ice-covered Wetlands.
The ice-covered Wetlands.
The Sailboat Pond in Catch the Wind which normally has sailboats floating about is now covered with ice.
The Sailboat Pond in Catch the Wind which normally has sailboats floating about, is now covered with ice.
The waterfall in the Black Bear Enclosure with much ice.
The waterfall in the Black Bear Enclosure with much ice attached.

While we’re at the bears…

Gus takes a cautious step out on the ice to grab a bit of bear chow.
Gus takes a cautious step out on the ice to grab a bit of bear chow.
Virginia tests the ice, "What is this stuff?"
Virginia tests the ice, “What is this stuff?”
Gus, Virginia, and Mimi all explore the ice belwo the falls. Where's Ursula? Fast asleep in the cave.
Gus, Virginia, and Mimi all explore the ice below the falls. Ursula, who has been through many winters at the Museum, is fast asleep in the cave.

Enjoy the cold, it usually doesn’t last long in these parts.

(The following images were added to this post on January 7, 2010 in answer to the comment above.)

The "white" ice of the Wetlands is caused by an aeration system under the water.
The “white” ice of the Wetlands is caused by an aeration system under the water.
Interesting patterns are caused by air under and in the ice of the Wetlands.
Interesting patterns are caused by air under and in the ice of the Wetlands.

7 responses to Cold?

  1. Avatar
    Donna Ruger says:

    I LOVE these pictures, especially the ones of the bears curiousity with the ice. My little granddaughter Lilli, would get a kick out of seeing them.

    • Greg Dodge, Ranger
      Greg Dodge, Ranger says:

      Well Donna, bring Lilli over to the Museum to have a look for herself! The ice will most likely melt within the next few days (50s tomorrow) but the bears, especially Gus, are always curious about something. And, we will be getting a new addition to the Black Bear Exhibit on Martin Luther King Day. Yona, a nearly one year old cub, will have to spend a bit of time in quarantine, but after that she’ll be the newest and youngest member of the group. I’m sure Gus will be curious about her presence in the enclosure.

  2. Avatar
    Erin Brown says:

    Great pictures! Good thing we carry cameras. It would be Gus’ worst nightmare to fall through the ice–he’s a scardey bear AND he’s not too fond of the water. Even if one of them did fall in, I couldn’t think that it would do much harm. They are great swimmers and climbers, so I’m sure climbing out wouldn’t be a problem. As for the cold, they are so blubbered up for winter and have such thick coats that they wouldn’t be cold for very long (if at all). As for any jagged ice worries…they wrestle with their fellow bears (and you can’t get much more jagged than that!).

  3. Avatar
    Beck says:

    Greg — Is there any danger of the bears falling to the pool below because it’s so slippery on the ice?

    • Greg Dodge, Ranger
      Greg Dodge, Ranger says:

      Sure Beck, I suppose there’s always a chance that one of the bears could slip on the ice. But, if you watch the bears closely you will see that they are very careful in their footing, they don’t take a step without testing the footing first.
      Interestingly, while walking past the Black Bear Enclosure yesterday, I heard a loud crashing sound, the unmistakable crash and cracking of ice. I hurried over to see what had happened, I thought that perhaps one of the bears had fallen through the ice. According to a family who was there, and who had been watching the bears, Gus had knocked loose a large portion of the icicles hanging down from the falls. As the ice came crashing down he, being Gus, high-tailed it for the safety of the grass. Gus returned when all was safe, but continued to try and dislodge the icicles from the falls, curious, but very cautious.

  4. Avatar
    Wendy says:

    Wonderful pictures! On my walk thru the wetland today I noticed white ice (the thicker ice?) forming in circles in the thinner ice, making a dramatic pattern. Do you happen to know of any scientific explanation for this?

    • Greg Dodge, Ranger
      Greg Dodge, Ranger says:

      Thanks Wendy, and good question about the ice.

      As you’ve noticed there are several large areas of “white” ice on the Wetlands. The “white” ice is caused by air bubbles under or within the ice. This white ice is less dense than the clear ice and is therefore weaker. (See the images added to the bottom of “Cold?” at left)

      How did the large bubbles of air get under and in the ice of the Wetlands? There is a pipe running under the water of the Wetlands which roughly parallels the boardwalk. The pipe, which has holes drilled into it, is connected to an air compressor which in turn is connected to a timer set to turn on each night. The purpose of the pipe is to aerate the relatively oxygen poor water of the Wetlands. The oxygenated water is one reason why there are so many frogs and toads, fish, and things that eat frogs and toads and fish, living in and around the Wetlands. Oh, and let’s not forget all the aquatic insects and other macroinvertebrates which make the Wetlands their home.

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