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San Francisco sea lions
Sea lions have taken over the boat docks at Pier 39 in San Francisco

Animal Oddities
by the Phantom

In looking over some of the stuff that's been submitted for this quarter's issue, we found lots of stray animal photos that folks have sent us via email. Many of them are unidentifiable either by subject or by sender. Nevertheless, they are worth sharing with you. 

Take our opening photo, for example. Here's a problem that's becoming rather typical. Apparently sea lions just love to visit San Francisco (well, who doesn't, right?). They have simply taken over these docks and call them their own. Notice the dock in the left foreground. It's nearly sinking with sea lion blubber. It's sort of fun to watch them for a few minutes, but after a while their constant barking and smell begin to lose its charm. Cities all along the west coast are having problems just like this. How odd that sea lions have chosen to live this way...

White squirrel
White squirrel! They aren't as odd as you would think they are...

We here at clevermag don't know anything at all about these little albino squirrels, except to note that they are quite common in some parts of the country. They are most likely just common tree squirrels, maybe Eastern Grays with a pigment problem. In checking on them, I found a page devoted to White Squirrel Wars. Apparently there are at least five towns in America that want to claim these little critters as their mascot. I see many black squirrels in my neighborhood and have heard that they have a pigment problem too. So far nobody in the Bay Area wants to claim them for anything.

Black swan
Black swan in the wild, sort of. This is a golf course swan.

Black swans aren't all that odd, but they certainly draw attention to themselves when we spot them. Here's what the Encyclopedia Britannica online says about swans, generally: 

"...largest waterfowl species of subfamily Anserinae, family Anatidae (order Anseriformes). Most swans are classified in the genus Cygnus. Swans are gracefully long-necked, heavy-bodied, big-footed birds that glide majestically when swimming and fly with slow wing-beats and with necks outstretched. They migrate in diagonal formation or V-formation at great heights: …" (if you want to know any more, it will cost you!)

Most of the internet sites that come up when you type in "black swan" are business enterprises. Apparently the black swan has some magic power or something. Why else would companies find swans useful?

"But I'm really a prince, honest!"
Beautiful little green frog...usually frogs are a good subject for jokes...
kissing a frog is supposedly the nastiest thing a person can do, or maybe not.

I have no idea who sent us this odd little frog photo or why, but it's a lovely image of a little taken-for-granted critter. It reminds me of a very serious and purposeful book that came out a couple of years ago called, A Plague of Frogs, by William Souder. The book chronicled the environmental mystery that occurred some years ago when all the deformed frogs that began showing up in Minnesota. According to the author, frogs are like canaries in the coal mine, and their plight might be a warning to us of another impending environmental disaster. 

Find it here!     

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