Did you ever go to the beach and put your umbrella and towel so close to the water that every now and then you felt the spray of the waves? But then hours later when it was time to go home, your umbrella and towel were way back there and the water was way down here. It looked as if the water had shrunk or the beach had stretched.
This is what really happened: When you came to the beach the water was high. When you left the beach, the water was low. This rise and fall of ocean water is called a tide. At high tide the water is high. At low tide the water is low. The tides comes in and goes out two times every day. Or just about two times. Every day it comes in nearly an hour later.There are some places in the world where it comes in only a little way.
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In other places ii rises as high as a house is tall. If you used a short rope to tie a boat to the end of a wharf when the tide was high…and then came back six hours later when the tide was low, this is how you boat would look.
This raccoon is hungry. He is watching the fish just a few inches away in the brook. Suddenly the raccoon’s paw scoops into the water and-splash! His paw has moved fast, but not fast enough this time-the fish gets away. The raccoon and the fish can live just inches away from each other-but the raccoon can never live under the water and the fish cannot live out in the water. Every kind of plant or animals on Earth has certain places where it can live and others where it cannot. It’s easy to understand why a raccoon can’t live underwater and why a fish can’t live out of the water. Each one breathes in a different way.
But there are many reasons that some plants and animals live where they do. Certain men study these reasons in a science called ecology. As a group of plants or animals grow larger, it spreads out. Finally it may come to a river an ocean or a high mountain. For a long time then or maybe forever, these plants or animals will be found on one side of the barrier but not on one other side. If an animal eats only certain kinds of plants you’ll find that animal only where those plants grow. The eucalyptus leaves that koala bears eat grow in Australia. So that’s where koala live. When koala are taken away from Australia to live in a zoo, a supply of special leaves is kept on hand for the koalas’ dinner.
In any particular place on Earth there is only so much food, water and space. If the two kinds of plants and animals wants the same food or water or space they will both try to get it. One kind may be able to push the other out and get all of the food, water or space for itself. Or they may each take what they can live together in the same place. Plants and animals that live in parts of the world where it is very hot usually cannot live where it is very cold and animals from cold places usually cannot live where it is very hot.
To grow most plants need dirt that is rich in certain foods. If the ground is very sandy or is made of solid rock, most plants will not be found there. But a few plants that like a lot of sunshine and don’t need much water or chemical food are found in such sandy or rocky places. These special plants are often not found everywhere else because other plants would crowd them out or block them from the sunshine. Sometimes the things that keep a plant or animal in one place are not easy to see.
The brown pelican for example feeds on fish, so you might think he could live well near any of the oceans, but he can’t. This pelican gets his food in special way. He flies high over the ocean until he spots a fish in the water below. Then he dives into the clear water and catches the fish. Because of this unusual way of getting food, a brown pelican that lives in the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea has been able to spread out only as far as the very clear waters go. If he tried to move farther he would not be able to see the fish that he depends upon the food.
Another bird called the Arctic tern does not breed near the Bering Sea.For a long time scientists could not figure out why this was so. Then they discovered that during the time when the chicks must be fed they gain weight on fair days but lose weight on foggy days-at least they don’t find food then. Scientist believe that the many foggy days near the Bering Sea keep the Arctic tern from breeding there. Sometimes we find plant or animal living in a place where nothing else can grow.
The red mangrove tree can grow in salty, muddy water along warm seacoasts. Before the seeds fall from the mangrove tree each seed grows a root. When the seed falls the root may be pushed into the mud or sometimes the root grows down into the mud before the seed falls. The mangrove tree grows quickly and its roots branch out and make a trap that catches mud and driftwood floating in the water. These things collect and build up solid ground.
Because the mangrove tree can grow in such an unlikely place, it has the space where it grows pretty much to itself. However we all know that there is one animal that is intelligent enough to figure out how to make houses and clothing. He can grow food and take it with him wherever he goes. This animal is called man and he can live almost anyplace on Earth that he wishes.
The shiny, glowing jewels of this necklace come from inside the shell of a strange, little animal. The jewels are called pearls. The animal is an oyster. It lives in its shell deep down at the bottom of the sea. How do beautiful jewels form inside an oyster?
The pearl begins with just one grain of sand, or grit. It may even a bit of broken shell from another oyster. Now and then something very small gets inside an oyster’s shell and bothers the oyster. And that’s what starts the beautiful pearl! If a speck of dirt blows into your eye, your eye waters. Tears come and most likely the speck is washed out. When a speck of something gets inside an oyster’s shell, it can’t wash out. Instead, the oyster’s body builds a coating with a shining, whitish stuff called mother of pearls around the bothersome speck.
Layer after layer of the hard shining stuff goes around the bothersome speck, and this makes a pearl.Pearl diving is dangerous work. Divers have to be careful not to cut themselves on sharp rock and coral at the sea bottom. They have to watch out for man-eating sharks. After they cut the oysters loose from the rocks they take them to a wooden tub attached to a fishing boat. Workers on the boat wash and dry the oysters and carefully crack open the shells to take out any pearls that might be there.
Even the lining of an oyster or mussel shell is beautiful and valuable. It shines and shimmers as pearls do. It’s used to make buttons and handles for knives and forks. Jewelry boxes are sometimes made of it too. Today most pearls are raised on pearl farms. Young oysters are collected and the shells are gently pried open. A tiny piece of mother pearl is placed inside. Next, the oyster are put in wire cages and moved to a place in the ocean where the temperature is right for pearl ‘growing’. It takes several years but pear farmers know just when to open the shells again and take out the pearls that have formed.
Some pearls aren’t real pearls.They just look like pearls. They’re made in factories. Some of them look so much like real pearls that you can’t always see if they are real. But an expert can feel if a pearl is real. He rubs a pearls against his teeth. If it feels a tiny, tiny bit furry or bumpy against his teeth, the pearl is probably real and costs a lot of money. Some very rare pearls cost more money than an automobile!
The owl is a bird that flies at night. Because of its very soft feathers it flies as silently as a breeze, swooping down on mice, gophers, rats and sometimes even on such large animals as rabbits and squirrels and skunks. It catches them in its long, strong claws. In a single night come owls can eat their own weight in mice and rats. Owls are big. Owls are little. Some are as big as a fireplug. Some are so small that they would fit in your pocket. But don’t try to put one there or you’ll get scratched and bitten!
North, south, east, west-owls live almost everywhere. Some live in forests or parks, probably close to where you live-maybe even in your backyard. Listen and you might hear one at night. Some owls make beautiful , sad music. Owls can see better at night than most animals and they hunt for their food in the dusk and dark. They sleep during the day, hidden away among the tree branches.
If you found an owl in the daytime sitting on the tree branch, you might think at first it wasn’t real. It would probably just sit there not moving a feather. It wouldn’t even move its eyes. It couldn’t because owl’s eyes can’t move. The only way an owl can look around is to turn its head. But it can turn its head almost all the way around. And it can turn it so fast that you can hardly see it moves
People say owls make sounds of whoo-whoo-whoo and some do. But owls also make sounds like those of other animals;Some meow like a kitten, yap like a puppy or hiss like a snake. Sometimes when owls make their sounds, they frighten the animals they’re hunting. The animals give themselves away by running. Then the owls catch them. Some people say owls are wise but there is no proof that owls are smarter than any other birds.