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Vote Now! EcoWatchers' Choice for 'Best of Summer' Photo Contest

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Vote Now! EcoWatchers' Choice for 'Best of Summer' Photo Contest
"Sunset on the Serengeti" A photo submission to EcoWatch's first photo contest in 2018. Jenna Davis

Update, August 14: Voting is now closed. Michael Pizzi of Vibes and Horizons is the July EcoWatchers' Choice winner. EcoWatchers will vote on an August winner and again a third time to choose between July and August winners to get the EcoWatchers' Choice prize of a $100 Patagonia eGift card.

EcoWatch launched its "Best of Summer" Photo contest on June 26. Images are being submitted from around the world, showcasing EcoWatchers trekking through jungles, beaches and various other scenery, highlighting a shared love and appreciation for our planet.

The EcoWatch team looked at last month's submissions for our "Best of Summer" photo contest and chose five of our favorite photos for EcoWatchers to vote on. You have one week, beginning now, to vote for the EcoWatchers' Choice award for July.

Please upvote below on which photo you feel represents "Best of Summer" on EcoWatch by clicking on the green up arrow located above each photo. For the photos you feel are not the winners, please downvote. You can only submit one vote per photo.


EcoWatchers will vote once now for a July submissions winner, again for August submissions and a third vote to choose between July and August winners to get the EcoWatchers' Choice prize of a $100 Patagonia eGift card.

Ascending the Alps

Alyssa Sporrer

A small herd of cows relax on a beach during a peaceful sunrise in Andhra Pradesh, India

Rishi Chebrolu

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada

Ramkarthik Ramadoss

Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Michael Pizzi / Vibes and Horizons

Ominous clouds gather over a summer day in Zanzibar

Mark Polane

We are still accepting submissions for the grand prize of a $250 Patagonia eGift card to be selected by our panel of judges. Submit your photo to bautista@ecowatch.com with the subject line "ECOWATCH SUMMER PHOTO CONTEST" by September 11 for a chance to win and to have your photo appear on EcoWatch.com. To be considered, submit your photo with the following information:

  1. Name
  2. Email
  3. Phone Number
  4. Photo Submission (.jpeg file format recommended)
  5. Caption
  6. Facebook and Instagram profiles (if available)

Our judges will choose the winning photo and the winner will be announced September 23. The EcoWatchers' Choice award winner will also be announced September 23.

Contest Judges

Gary and Sam Bencheghib

Brothers Gary and Sam Bencheghib are environmental activists and filmmakers. They founded Make a Change World, a media outlet that uncovers uplifting and inspirational stories on a mission to do good. They are passionate about creating social change through videos and giving a voice to the underrepresented. Together they have launched a series of expeditions from kayaking the world's dirtiest river on plastic bottles to stand-up paddling down New York's most toxic waterways. In the past three years, their work has been seen by more than 600 million people. This summer, while Gary bamboo bikes the Indonesian archipelago, Sam is set to become the first person to run across the American continent with recycled plastic shoes.

Anthony Bucci

Anthony Bucci is a wildlife photographer who grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He has donated numerous prints and other products to various wildlife societies across Canada, silent auctions and other fundraisers to raise funds for wildlife conservation and well-being. Anthony is currently on the raptor pick-up list for O.W.L Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Delta BC, Canada. He feels it's important to give back to the wildlife conservation efforts and helping where Anthony can is a task he takes seriously. To Anthony, his wildlife photography is more than just taking pictures. Thinking about conservation and the well-being of all wildlife is always on his mind.

Amos Nachoum

Amos has led great expeditions for individual adventurers and institutions like Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Discovery Channel, Armani, Disney and Columbia Pictures. For National Geographic, he was team leader for separate photo expeditions to document the Red Sea, great white sharks and killer whales. His photos and essays have appeared in hundreds of publications around the globe, including National Geographic, Time, Life, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Le Figaro, Terra Sauvage, Airone, Mondo Somerso, Der Spiegel, Unterwasser and many more. His work has also been included in the books The Living Ocean, The World of Nature, and Oceans. He has appeared on National Geographic Explorer, Today, and Good Morning America and featured in People, Esquire and Money magazines. Amos's photography has won Nikon, Communication Arts, and BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.

Margarita Samsonova

Margarita is a zoologist, sustainability activist, travel enthusiast and social media Influencer who uses the power of her social media to influence people to make more sustainable choices when traveling. After visiting more than 60 countries and seeing what actually happens to our planet, such as how plastic and food waste affects the environment, she decided to take a stand to speak about it and encourage people to care a little bit more about nature. Sustainability is the main focus of Margarita's social posts, and she speaks a lot about eco lifestyle, responsible traveling, ethical wildlife encounters, supporting locals and living in unity with nature.

More info can be found here.

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

Financial institutions in New York state will now have to consider the climate-related risks of their planning strategies. Ramy Majouji / WikiMedia Commons

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