Plitvice Lakes National Park And The Giant Lion Stone Head? | Croatia


Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatian: Nacionalni park Plitvička jezera, colloquial Plitvice, pronounced [plîtʋitse]) is one of the oldest national parks in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia.[2] In 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register.[3]

The national park was founded in 1949 and is situated in the mountainous karst area of central Croatia, at the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The important north-south road connection, which passes through the national park area, connects the Croatian inland with the Adriatic coastal region.

The protected area extends over 296.85 square kilometres (73,350 acres). About 90% of this area is part of Lika-Senj County, while the remaining 10% is part of Karlovac County.

The waters flowing over the limestone and chalk have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams which in turn have created a series of beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls. These geological processes continue today. The forests in the park are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species.

The Plitvice Lakes basin is a geomorphologic formation of biological origin, a karst river basin of limestone and dolomite, with approximately 20 lakes, created by the deposition of calcium carbonate precipitated in water through the agency of moss, algae and aquatic bacteria. These create strange, characteristic shapes and contain travertine-roofed and vaulted caves. The carbonates date from the Upper Trias, Juras and Cretaceous Ages and are up to 4,000 m thick. In order to maintain and preserve the natural characteristics of the lakes, the whole surface and most of the subterranean drainage system has to be embraced by extending the original borders of the park. The new areas comprise layers of karstified limestone with dolomites of Jurassic age.

There are 16 interlinked lakes between Mala Kapela Mountain and Pljesevica Mountain. The lake system is divided into the upper and lower lakes: the upper lakes lie in a dolomite valley and are surrounded by thick forests and interlinked by numerous waterfalls; the lower lakes, smaller and shallower, lie on the limestone bedrock and are surrounded only by sparse underbrush. The upper lakes are separated by dolomite barriers, which grow with the formation of travertine, thus forming travertine barriers. Travertine is mostly formed on the spots where water falls from an elevation, by the incrustation of algae and moss with calcium carbonate. The lower lakes were formed by crumbling and caving-in of the vaults above subterranean cavities through which water of the upper lakes disappeared.

The forest, that comprises pure stands of beech at lower altitudes and mixed stands of beech and fir, at higher levels, can also be classified in terms of underlying strata of dolomite and limestone complexes. The dolomite communities comprise tertiary pine, hornbeam, spruce and beech-fir forests. The limestone communities have a smaller number of forest types but cover a larger area with communities of spruce and fern, spruce in beech, coppiced hornbeam with sumac, maple and heather. Hydrophytic communities of black alder, grey ivy, willow, reeds and bulrush communities are found. There are a large mosaic of meadow communities, depending on altitude, geology soils and other ecological factors.

The area is fauna-rich, including European brown bear, wolf, eagle-owl and capercaillie. There are records of 126 species of birds, of which 70 breed.

The area was the cradle of the prehistoric Illyrian tribe of Japuds dating from 1000 BC. The Japudic culture was followed by the Romans and from the 8th century AD was occupied by Slavs. Archaeological remains include a prehistoric settlement on the site of the current Plitvice village where fortifications, Bronze Age tools and ceramics are found.

The most interesting part about this wonderful piece of Croatian heaven is what appears to be a giant stone formation resembling the head of a lion. If this is man-made or not, remains to be demonstrated. The stone head could be from the Aurignacian period (anywhere from 40.000 to 30.000 B.C) or could be much, much older. Given the fact that Europe is the cradle of one of the most archaic stone cults in the world, it should not surprise anyone if this formation will eventually be proven authentic. Only a thorough investigation with the help of geologists and other experts could shed light on this mystery.

See the pictures below:
Plitvice Stone Head

Plitvice Lakes National Park | Aerial view


Giant lion head…

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Amazonian tribes unite against Brazil’s plans for hydroelectric dams

Munduruku Indian warriors approach a gold mine as they search for illegal gold mines and miners in their territory near the Caburua river, a tributary of the Tapajos and Amazon rivers in western Para (Reuters / Lunae Parracho)

Amazonian tribes are uniting against the Brazilian government’s plans to build hydroelectric dams right on their doorstep. As the projects accelerate, people have not been consulted, nor have proper environmental studies been carried out. The Munduruku, Apiaka, Kayabi and Rikbaktsa tribes have their home in the world’s biggest forest, stretching across nine nations and harboring numerous unique flora and fauna not witnessed anywhere else. But its future is questionable, given the constant expansion of ‘civilization’, bringing about irreversible damage in the form of deforestation, wildlife and habitat loss and other untold consequences that follow. All of this directly affects the indigenous people. On Thursday they released a joint statement amid the Brazilian government’s increased efforts to exploit hydropower. The tribes demanded an immediate halt to the construction of four dams on the river Teles Pires. If their demands are not met, they say they’re prepared to take matters further, because they know if they let this slide, bigger projects will follow, as the government is intent on gobbling up whatever resources it can, and is doing so at an increasing rate. In one alarming example, an upcoming project on the Tapajos River that runs through the Amazon threatens to completely flood one tribal territory.

Munduruku Indians near Jacareacanga on the Tajajos River, a major tributary of the Amazon (Reuters / Lunae Parracho)

The upcoming Sao Manoel dam, the tribesmen say, will wreak havoc on water quality and fish stocks. They claim they haven’t been consulted – which goes against both national law and international practices. They further claim that adequate environmental studies or risk assessments have not been carried out.

“The government builds dams using hasty and incomplete studies, without seeking to understand the consequences of the destruction of nature for our lives. It authorizes the operation of dams without taking into account how the indigenous people will live without fishing, water and hunting,” their statement read. “They are trying to hide the negative impact on our lives, our rivers and our territories. The government does not provide information that we understand – in our villages and in our languages. It does not offer alternatives to our physical and cultural survival.”

Valdenir Munduruku, one of the leaders of the tribal alliance, told the Guardian that tribes would have no choice but to escalate matters. “If the demands aren’t met, I’ll have to occupy the construction site. They can’t do what they are doing without listening to us,” he told the newspaper.

An aerial view of a natural lake fed by a spring in the Amazon River basin near Manaus (Reuters / Ivan Canabrava)

Local reports indicate some parts of the construction site have all but reached one village. “Right now, it is a really serious situation,” indigenous rights advocate and lawyer Juliana de Paula Batista told the Guardian. “The tribes feel the urgency because the builders are just 500 metres from the village with no consultation or alternatives with the tribe. Elsewhere, they are building on sacred sites.” Brazil’s motivations for an increased expansion into the Amazon lie in low-carbon energy. The government believes it cannot sustain present growth and meet green energy goals unless industry gets a move on. With 250 upcoming projects, the situation looks dire. Numerous international appeals are in existence today; the WWF is among the many names urging governments to exhibit a greater concern for the Amazon. However, big money always seems to win – even when some lower courts initially rule in support of tribal claims. Such a coming together of the four tribes could be seen as highly unlikely – left to their own devices, they were locked in a bloody feud with each other. This changed in the 19th century, when colonialism bonded them against a more urgent enemy. The situation appears not to have changed much.

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Dead Zones Found in Atlantic Ocean

Example of an ocean eddy (not from the study) as seen from space (Credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

A team of German and Canadian marine biologists have for the first time ever witnessed so-called ‘dead zones’ in the Atlantic Ocean – places where no life can thrive, owing to there being almost no dissolved oxygen in the water.

Zones depleted of oxygen do exist in nature and have previously been discovered along populated coastal areas off the eastern and southern coasts of the United States and the Baltic Sea. But this is the first time such a place has been observed in the open ocean.

In a paper published in the journal Biogeosciences, researchers outline the existence of pockets of low-oxygenated patches of water in the Atlantic Ocean.

They are vast – sometimes 100 square miles in size. They travel constantly and are also seasonal. One of the biggest ever discovered forms each year in the Gulf of Mexico.

What makes these things tick is a hodge-podge of nutrients and microbes delivered from elsewhere. It’s a cyclical process: the nutrients are food for algae blooms, which in turn get devoured by microorganism. This creates waste, which is then eaten by other microbes. This process uses up a lot of oxygen, creating oxygen-free pockets.

The nutrient run-off here is a means of transportation. But if you’re an animal or fish, there are only two options: moving and surviving, or staying and dying.

Dead zones are normally found in shallow water, where not a lot of mixing takes place. The Atlantic Ocean is obviously very different, which creates a puzzle.

Researchers found that these particular dead zones masquerade as ‘eddies’ – basically huge underwater ocean cyclones that spin into a vortex, practically no different to how weather sometimes acts above ground. They can twist uninterrupted for months on end. The spinning vortex creates a wall around the central core – a process, which quickly depletes oxygen from it, and so, a dead zone is born.

“The fast rotation of the eddies makes it very difficult to exchange oxygen across the boundary between the rotating current and the surrounding ocean. Moreover, the circulation creates a very shallow layer – of a few tens of meters – on top of the swirling water that supports intense plant growth,” study author Johannes Karstensen of the University of Bremen says in the press release of the journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

What surprised him and the team was that the levels of oxygen depletion found previously in dead zones were way off: before the study, common estimates put dissolved oxygen at around 1 milliliter per liter of seawater. Karstensen and team though found the lower end of the spectrum in the Atlantic to contain only 0.3 milliliters.

The intensity of the phenomena is dependent upon the speed of the eddy, chemical concentration, weather patterns and the Earth’s rotation.

The researchers worry that the existence of dead zones even at the center of the Atlantic could have an effect on people living on land, particularly in Cape Verde.

“Given that the few dead zones we observed propagated less than 100 kilometers north of the Cape Verde archipelago, it is not unlikely that an open-ocean dead zone will hit the islands at some point,” Kartsensen explains. “This could cause the coast to be flooded with low-oxygen water, which may put severe stress on the coastal ecosystems and may even provoke fish kills and the die-off of other marine life.”

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Four Giant Craters Found In Siberia After Flash Of Light

Scientists in Siberia have discovered four new craters in the Yamal Peninsula, one of which was discovered shortly after locals reported a giant flash of light. These craters quickly filled with snow and water and are now lakes. One of the newly discovered craters is surrounded by 20 smaller ones. It’s possible that new holes are opening up and scientists are somewhat alarmed that they can’t predict them.

Last year, three large craters were discovered in northern Russia, baffling scientists around the world. Originally, it was speculated that they might be impact craters from bombs and eruptions along fault lines. Others thought they might have been caused by aliens or underground creatures of sorts.

It’s possible that the craters are tied to global warming. Surface ice has begun melting quickly, thus causing giant sinkholes. Some scientists worry that methane gas is mixing with water, salt and heat underground, thus causing explosions. But it’s still a bit of a mystery.

The most alarming thing to consider is that these giant holes are forming closer to human settlements, causing a threat to life. With any luck, scientists will be able to determine the cause of these holes before too long.

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Orchestral Musicians Bring Whales To Surface

Optus, the second largest telecommunications company in Australia, has a long association with nature so M&C Saatchi, Sydney set about exploring communication between humans and animals, specifically Humpback whales.

“Whale song is a form of communication,” says Ben Welsh, executive creative director, M&C Saatchi Sydney. “It’s a form of communication that the scientists at The University of Queensland have been able to decipher and learn. I was intrigued by this fact and so we asked ourselves whether it would be possible to emulate a male humpback: to write our own love song and then play it, using the instruments of an orchestra? Could we serenade a humpback ourselves? Then imagine what could happened if the whales were to hear our song. We thought that would prove that when it comes to communication, anything is possible.”

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Surreal mountain cave | Son Goong


In 1991, a Vietnamese farmer found a cave deep in the jungle. It was named Son Goong, meaning “Mountain River Cave.” Though it was discovered in 1991, it wouldn’t be until 2009 that British experts would explore the cave. What they found there was amazing.

Son Doon is situated in the Phon Nha Ke Bang national park, about 280 miles south of Hanoi. The cave is 87 miles long and contains its own environment – animal life, trees, lakes, beaches, and a river. The cave also happens to be rich in rare pearls that have been shaped by water drops for centuries.

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