Squeaks andI are getting ready for the beach!
We’ve got our sunscreen to protect ourselvesfrom the sun!
We also have plenty of water so we don ’ t get dehydrated,
which is when your body doesn ’ t
have enough water.
We ’ re lucky — all we have to do is grab some sunscreen,
fill up a bottle from the
sink here at the Fort, and we’re ready togo.
Other animals can’t do that.
But some have their own amazing — and prettyweird!
— ways to protect themselves from
the sun, dehydration, and all kinds of otherthings.
Like the hippopotamus!
Hippos make red mucus that covers their whole body,
which helps them in all sorts of different ways!
Mucus is something that we make, too.
It’s the stuff in our noses that keeps outgerms.
But our mucus is pretty different from hippos’mucus!
Their mucus covers the /outside/ of theirwhole body.
Imagine if the mucus from your nose covered you from head to toe!
When hippos are in sunlight, they look red because of their mucus.
Sometimes people call their mucus “ blood sweat ”
because the color is like blood,
but the mucus isn’t actually blood /or/sweat.
And this red stuff protects hippos in a lot of cool ways.
It acts like sunscreen, to protect them fromgetting a sunburn.
It also repels water,
which is important since hippos spend a lot of time in water. And,
it ’ s a natural antibiotic,
which means it kills the germs that might make a hippo sick
In that way, it is kind of like the mucus we make,
Since it also keeps us from getting sick,
We just don’t cover our whole bodies init.
But wait till you hear about how the Australian water-holding frog uses its mucus.
These frogs live in dry places where they have to go
without water for really long periods of time.
So what does the Australian water-holdingfrog do? First,
it buries itself underground — as much as over a meter deep!
That’s longer than my arm!
Then it sheds a few layers of its skin.
Combined with a whole bunch of mucus,
the skin it sheds turns into a hard protective
cocoon that keeps the frog ’ s water from escaping,
so it won ’ t run out of water for
a really long time!
Some people call this layer a “ skin bag ”
because it fully covers and protects the frog,
kind of like a lunch bag keeps a
sandwich cool — just like the one we ’ re bringing
to the beach!
Our sandwiches are going to stay nice andcool in there! Anyway,
back to the Australian water-holdingfrog!
Once it ’ s underground and nice and comfy
in its skin bag, it enters a type of very
deep sleep so it can stay underground without needing food or more water.
It can stay underground for a whole year!
When there ’ s a lot of rain again,
the frog crawls back up from way down underground to
get more water.
And if it gets really hungry,
the frog can even eat its skin bag.
That is definitely NOT something we can do!
On the other hand, frogs can’t build sandcastleslike we can.
I ’ m excited to do it when we get to the beach !
That reminds me of something else that can be found
at the beach, though it ’ s really rare,
so chances are Squeaks and I won’tcome across it.
This really rare thing is called ambergris,
and it ’ s something that ’ s made by sperm whales.
Sperm whales live in the ocean, and they are really, really big.
They can grow up 12 meters long!
That’s like as tall as a building with threefloors!
Sperm whales like to eat squid and cuttlefish,
and since they ’ re so big, they have to eat
a whole lot of them. But,
their stomachs have trouble
breaking down the squid and cuttlefish beaks because
they’re hard and sharp. Usually,
sperm whales will just vomit up the beaks
before they reach their stomachs.
But if they don ’ t,
they make a substance that helps coat their stomach so the hard
and sharp beaks won’t hurt its body.
It ’ s like how we have mucus
in our intestines to keep everything moving smoothly, although
we don’t eat anything super hard and sharplike beaks!
The stuff the whales make is a little different.
It helps the whale pass the beaks and
any other hard or sharp stuff through its body
and get it out of its body.
When it’s combined with the beaks, that’swhat we call ambergris.
The really weird thing about ambergris is that over time,
it changes from having a really
nasty smell to a really nice smell!
So nice that people actually started usingit in perfumes!
But we don ’ t do that as much now
because it can be really hard to find a chunk of ambergris
that washes up ashore.
Ambergris also kind of looks like a rock, so it doesn’t stand out.
And we definitely don ’ t want to
hurt sperm whales to get ambergris, especially because
there aren’t too many of them left!
So now people who make perfumes just use
a chemical that smells like ambergris, instead
of the real thing.
Who would have thought that something whales poop out would make such great perfume!
All right, Squeaks,
ready for our day at the beach?
Let ’ s double-check
that we packed our sunscreen to protect us from the sunburn like hippos
And that we put the water bottle back in the bag
so we can stay hydrated like the water-holding frog.
We probably won ’ t see any ambergris washed up on the beach,
but it ’ s kind of cool to imagine it. Oh,
Squeaks, I have an idea!
Maybe instead of a sand castle,
we ’ ll make a sand sperm whale!
That would be pretty cool!
But maybe we ’ ll make it a little smaller than the real thing.
Otherwise we’d be working on it for days!
Thanks for joining us!
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We’ll see you next time, here at the Fort!