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The background to ‘White’ is the sea ice in Antarctica.  Many polar regions and high mountains are covered with ice and snow.  If you wish to hide in these plces, it is good to be white, and if you want to creep up on someone, it is also good to be white. 

The ice in this picture looks blue, why do you think that is?

Snowy owl and arctic hare
Snow leopard and polar bear
White animals in white places
Of poles and high mountain spaces.
Coloring like this is ‘cryptic’
Less visible by a simple trick.
Benefiting predators and prey
To sneak up or to sneak away.

Be invisible

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) live in the northern hemisphere –  the Arctic. They rely on the ice to move around, hunt for food, and make dens for young cubs. The progressive loss of Arctic sea ice makes life for polar bears harder, even threatens their survival. Some (remember the discussion about variation) are more willing to travel inland to find food. Perhaps, future polar bears will live much more like their cousins, the brown bears. 

Snowy owls (Bubo scandiacus) also live in the northern lands, including North America. They are predators, usually hunting down smaller mammals. As with the polar bear, there are concerns that this species may be badly affected by global warming – a change that allows other predators to live where the snowy owl lives, and to compete with it. 

The mountain hare  (Lepus timidus) is one of several white rabbits / hares (there are also polar hares and snowshoe hares).  Many live in environments which become snow covered and white in winter. In this season,  the mountain hare loses is brown coat, and changes into a white winter constume.   The Irish populations of the mountain hare are not exposed to snowy winters, and tend not to turn white in winter. 

The snow leopard or ounce (Panthera uncia) lives in mountains regions in China, Nepal, Tibet, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and adjacent countries.  As with the mountain hare, it has to contend with white snowy conditions.  White leopards have speckled markings that help to camouflage the snow leopard (and the snowy owl). Some snow leopards are a light brown in color.   Snow leopards store fat in their tails, and when sleeping will wrap their tails around their face to prevent loss of heat.  The survival of snow  leopards in the wild is threatened by habitat loss.

White flowers, different ploy –
Their color is like a decoy;
A signal in the neighborhood,
To welcome those seeking food
Whose rummaging to collect a
Mouth of sugar-rich nectar
Dislodges pollen with power
To fertilize another flower.
What then is flower’s plan?
To make more seed if they can
.

Be visible

The white color in many flowers helps them to stand out.  The left image is of a moth orchid – Phalaenopsis. At the centre of the flower is a landing pad that positions the insects near to the  nectar (food) and pollen (the orchid species will benefit the if pollen is carried from one plant on the body of a visiting insect and pollinates another flower).  When pollination occurs, a new seed may result.  When a new seed is formed, a new plant may result.  The more starry looking plant is a type of carrot, Daucus.  It is also called Queen Anne’s lace. 

Albino

A special type of ‘white’ occurs with animals that are unable to create dark pigments.  They are ‘albinos’.  They include Bruny Island white wallabies. If you hunt around on the internet, you’ll find all kinds of animals produce albinos – from whales to deer.  Albinism is usually caused by a mutation. Being white makes the bearer more visible, and more likely to be preyed upon.

If you have qujestions, suggestions, or opinions, please let us know below.

Nature Reader colors web White

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