By Lauren Bailey
With the rise of the digital revolution, it seems like people are venturing outdoors less and less. Overwhelmed by various alternative forms of entertainment that encourage "hunkering down" inside coupled with the growing "always on, always connected" mentality of our professional lives, it's a wonder anyone actually finds time to get their recommended dose of natural sunlight.
Luckily, the rapid progression of technology has allowed for the advent of a pretty great inventionâ€”the wildlife cam, which give people a chance to get an intimate, up-close look at the animals with which we share this amazingly beautiful planet. Numerous zoos, aquariums and ranches have begun installing these cameras, making it possible to get a firsthand look of nearly any animal. From penguins to bears to elephants, the web has a large selection from which to choose, and surely has one of your favorite animal.
Below is a list of five of the best wildlife cams the web has to offer.
Seattle Aquarium Otter-Cam
First up, just because otters happen to be one of my all-time favorite animals, is the Seattle Aquarium Otter Cam. Offering two different camera angles, the streaming footage allows viewers to see the otters' day-to-day activities and interactions. Granted, it is just in a zoo and not in the wild, but it still overs a round-the-clock insider's look into their world and how they interact in it. Plus, you never know, you might get to catch a glimpse of them holding hands just like the otters that gained viral fame a few years ago. To see them for yourself click here.
Iowa Bald Eagle Family
Hatching just a few months ago, the bald eagle chicks viewable via this stream have gained much national coverage. As if the build up to their arrival wasn't enough, the bald-eagle-baby fever is a very easy thing to catch. Plus, not only do you get to see the cute chicks, but you get to see their parents, along with other birds, giving you a big picture perspective on their lives in the wild. Sometimes you'll stumble upon an empty nest or if they are there there's a good chance they won't be doing much, but sometimes it's nice to just leave it on in the background and enjoy the background noise of the outdoors. Check them out here!
African Safari Cam
For those wanting to get a bigger world perspective, the African Safari Cam is a good choice. Located on the southeastern side of South Africa, viewers get a glimpse at real safari lifeâ€”from elephants to giraffes, you never know what you might see. And even if you happen to visit at a time when there's not much "animal" action to enjoy, you can still enjoy the serene scene the camera is focused on. To catch a peak at the safari, click here.
Live 24 hours a day from SeaWorld San Diego, the cam offers a chance for remote viewers to see nearly 300 penguins. From emperors, to kings, gentoos, macaronis and Adelies, there is no shortage of penguin variety for viewers to enjoy. Camera times do vary during certain months, but all of that information, plus great penguin footage, can be found here!
Monterrey Bay Aquarium
The Monterrey Bay Aquarium offers an "open sea web cam" which gives people a chance to see a vast array of animals interacting with each other. Sting rays, hammerhead sharks and sea turtles can all be seen swimming about as the camera rolls. It's pretty awesome to think that someone on the complete opposite side of the world can log on to the internet and see what these wondrous animals are up to. To get a closer look visit the aquarium's website.
The Big Picture
Although each of these cameras capture different locales and animals, they all share one thing, they bring perspective and understanding to our lives. Seeing how these animals interact with each other and build relationships illustrates how similar we really are.
Educationally speaking, the cameras are great. It gives students a front-row seat to nature, bringing new depth and understanding about the world in which we live. Doing so much more than pictures or books alone, these videos bring a real, tangible aspect to the tableâ€”only adding to their impact. More teachers are incorporating them into their curriculum and encourage students to pursue them on their own.
Additionally, these real-time peaks into wildlife offer an almost refreshing dose of perspective. The videos bring to the table a new level of awareness to a demographic that might have otherwise gone on clueless. They emphasize the immense connection weâ€”being animal, vegetable or mineralâ€”all share on this planet. Of course, nothing compares to the real-life alternative, but if it's the best we can get for the time being, I'll take it.
Lauren Bailey is an education writer and freelance blogger. She frequently writes about online colleges and courses and welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99 @gmail.com.