YouTube videos are great and all, but nothing beats the real thing. The advantages of YouTube is that people from all across the world, with a few exceptions, can film and upload videos, sharing their experiences with us. This makes us more connected with each other, for better or worse, and it brings us in contact with things that we might not have ever even known existed. But with that said, it’s one thing to see it on the internet and totally another to see it live. Here are 10 videos that’ll make you wish you’d been there to see these incredible things for yourself.
10. The Double Rainbow
As far as YouTube videos go, the Double Rainbow Guy is among the most amusing, yet inspirational ones out there. Now, even though the guy filming the two rainbows seems like he was on something, given his reaction to seeing them, he later made another video talking about his experience. In it, he says that he was clear-minded, he didn’t take any drugs whatsoever, and that he was simply struck by the beauty of what he was seeing. A lot of people have seen a perfect rainbow going from one end to the other, but it would have been an even greater experience to witness one with someone who was so obviously overwhelmed by something so common, yet so beautiful.
Rainbows are usually spotted just before or immediately after a rain. To see one, we need a source of light, like the sun, and billions of water droplets. When the light of the sun hits these suspended droplets, the light refracts into the standard ROYGBIV or Roy G. Biv sequence of hues that form a rainbow. A secondary rainbow can sometimes form, like in the video, but it will be fainter and with its colors reversed. This is because the light has to be reflected twice within the raindrops. In some extremely rare cases, a triple or even quadruple rainbow can be seen.
9. Surfing the 100-Foot Wave
Back in 2013, professional surfer Garrett McNamara, a 49-year-old from Hawaii, rode a 100-foot high wave in Nazare, Portugal. Unfortunately, however, no accurate measures were taken of the wave and nobody is really sure if it was actually 100 feet or not. Nevertheless, the video proves the fact that the wave was huge. McNamara is also on record for surfing a 78-foot high wave in the same place, two years prior in 2011. In October, 2013, another surfer, Carlos Burle from Brazil was also trying to beat the record of largest wave ever ridden in Nazare. His wave was also estimated to be around 100 feet tall, but to date, McNamara’s 78-footer is still the official record.
The site at Nazare is particularly dangerous for surfers since the waves break close to shore and not on distant reefs like in other surfing places. The reason this region on Portugal’s coast generates such huge waves during the winter months is because of the underwater Nazaré Canyon. This canyon causes the incoming swell waves to become much larger than normal. Back in October, 2013, when Carlos Burle was trying his luck with the waves there, a fellow surfer was knocked unconscious by a wave, but was rescued before slamming into the rocks. The waves were particularly perilous during that week because of St Jude’s storm, also known as Cyclone Christian, which hit Northern Europe during that time. So, you can only imagine how it must have felt for the people watching from the cliffs, instead of just seeing this video years later.
8. The Largest Mammal Migration in the World
When it comes to mammals, and especially mammal migrations, there’s no better place to go than Africa. We won’t be talking about the Great Wildebeest Migration, as some might expect, but that of the fruit bat. They also go by several other names such as the Megabat, flying foxes, or Old World fruit bats. Though the largest species of bat lives in the Philippines, its African cousin is not far behind. This straw-colored fruit bat, native to large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, can grow to 9 inches in length and have a wingspan of 30 inches. They can also weigh up to 12 ounces and have an orange or yellowish fur. They live in large groups of over 100,000, but can sometimes reach well over one million. As their name suggests, these bats are vegetarian and feed on fruits, tree bark, flowers, leaves, or nectar. They also rely on their sense of smell and sight to look for their food, unlike other species of bat that rely on echolocation.
The straw-colored fruit bats are also migratory, following the food supply. And one favorite destination is Kasanka National Park in Zambia, where from late October to the end of December, fruit bats swarm by the millions in search for fruit. It is estimated that anywhere in between 10 to 15 million bats migrate here every year and consume roughly one billion fruits before they leave. Though not necessarily nocturnal, these bats do actually feed during the night and rest during the day, dangling upside-down from the tree branches. But as you can imagine, due to their overwhelming numbers, these branches occasionally snap, offering the ravenous crocodiles below a quick snack. Not only is this the largest mammal migration on Earth, it is also taking place in a patch of forest no bigger than 150 square miles. Seeing this in person should definitely be on anyone’s bucket list.
7. Night of the Northern Lights
Traveling close to the Arctic Circle in winter doesn’t sound like a great idea. It’s cold, the days are short – extremely short, actually – and you might end up coming back home depressed because of the lack of Vitamin D from the lack of sunshine. But there is one good reason to go there in winter – the Aurora Borealis; one of nature’s most beautiful displays. Now, the aurora can happen year-round, but during the summer, when it’s mostly day, it’s almost impossible to see it. The South Pole also has its own lights, known as the Aurora Australis. Actually, aurorae can be seen all over the world – but those cases are extremely rare. And as you can imagine, native people living in areas where these lights usually occur all had different legends or stories about their origins. The Inuit people believed that it was their ancestors dancing in the sky, while the Vikings saw them as a godly bridge of fire in the sky.
In reality, though, the Northern Lights are a result of solar flares. These solar flares form when the immense pressures inside the sun push the magnetic field towards the surface of the star, resulting in an astronomical explosion of particles. When these particles reach the Earth, roughly two days later, we get the Aurora Borealis. Some of these solar winds, as they are called, can have enough force and energy to destroy human civilization, or at least knock out satellites and power grids. Luckily, however, Earth is protected by a magnetic field that pushes most of these particles away from the surface. But some of these particles are diverted by field lines to the planet’s two weak spots – the North and South poles. When these solar particles collide with the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, they generate the beautiful aurorae. So, in short, this amazing spectacle of nature that anyone should see is, in a way, nothing more that the Sun’s way of trying and failing to kill us.
6. The Iguana Chased By Snakes
Back in 2013, BBC announced their documentary Planet Earth II for a 2016 release, as a sequel to Planet Earth, which aired in 2006. Christopher Hooton from The Independent called it: “Undoubtedly the greatest TV nature documentary to date and there’s a strong case for it being one of the best TV series full stop.” The entire documentary was split into six episodes, each of them airing a week apart. The first in the series was entitled Islands, and talked about some of the most remote and most unique places on Earth.
Going from Zavodovski Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, home to roughly 1.5 million chinstrap penguins, to Escudo Island in Panama, the team also found their way to Fernandina Island in the Galapagos Archipelago. The island is completely uninhabited and the film crew had to work from a yacht in order to have access to shore. This story is purely about survival. Every year, marine iguana hatchlings emerge from their nests and try to make it to the higher ground in one piece. But the relatively short distance from their nest to the safe haven is a perilous one, since the island is also home to thousands of Galápagos Racer Snakes, who’ve been waiting for this moment all year. These snakes are mildly venomous and pose little threat to humans, but for the baby iguanas, they’re a mortal enemy. They’ve developed eyesight specifically tailored to detect movement, and once they spot a target, they seem relentless in their pursuit. So, if the iguana stands completely still it might go unnoticed, but once it’s on the move, the entire rock face comes alive with snakes trying to catch it.
5. The Gateway to Hell
Even though humanity has reached a level that no other living species on Earth ever has, Mother Nature can still treat us like we’re mere bacteria on a pair of hands ready to be washed. Many of us living in big cities all across the world have never been exposed to the awesome power of the planet, and how easy it is for it to hurt us in a mere instant. But in the pacific nation of Vanuatu, on the small island of Ambrym, one can have a glimpse of our home’s true potential. Covering a surface of just 261 square miles, the island’s center hosts a volcanic, almost alien-like landscape. And in the center of it all is Marum crater with its lava lakes.
One trip there, at the mouth of this hellish ‘portal to the underworld’, and anyone will think twice about what lies just several miles below their feet. This is the kind of experience that can put anyone’s life into perspective. Forget standing too close to a campfire – this is something else completely. There are other lava lakes around the world, but none of them can be approached at this distance because they are too volatile. Fortunately, the Marum volcano is quite stable, maintaining a constant temperature of ‘just’ 2,282° F. In this video, New Zealand filmmaker Geoff Mackley was the first person to get so personal with this lake, wearing nothing other than a T-shirt and a pair of cargo pants. But once on the edge, he only lasted a few seconds before having to go back for his heat-proof proximity suit. Once he was safe and relatively confortable, he watched it for over 40 minutes.
4. The Magnificent Monarch Butterflies
Every year, almost like clockwork, millions upon millions of Monarch butterflies embark on a 3,000 mile journey, starting from as far as the Canadian Rockies and ending up in Mexico and Southern California. As this video shows, a sight like this should not be missed by anyone who is able to see it with their own eyes. Since they can’t survive the northern climate, they move down south in order to hibernate for the winter, looking for their favored eucalyptus and oyamel fir trees. One particularly interesting thing about the Monarchs is the fact that they always return to the same trees, year after year, even though they are not the same butterflies that left that place one year before.
Around the months of February and March, the last generation wakes up from their winter slumber and then begin looking for a mate. They then start the migration north, in order to find a place to lay their eggs. Here’s the truly unique thing about the Monarchs: their average lifespan is only about two to six weeks after its own metamorphosis process. And during this time they feed, look for a mate, reproduce, and die. While still in the central and northern reaches of the continent, they go through three more generations, one being born in May and June, the other one in July and August, and finally in September and October. But this last generation is different from all the others. Its task is to repeat the migration back to California and Mexico, and it will live for six to eight months before the whole process starts all over again. Mother Nature does seem to think of everything, doesn’t she?
3. The Biggest Glacier Calving Ever Filmed
We’ve now reached a point where statistics such as a few degrees in temperature rise, or sea levels rising, or dwindling animal populations no longer affect us, and we tend to brush them off, not wanting to hear about them anymore. But one way these things could still affect us is to see them happening right in front of us, and this YouTube video is one such example. Back in 2008, a team of documentarians traveled to western Greenland, to the Ilulissat Glacier, and filmed the largest iceberg calving ever caught on film. This glacier, by the way, is also the believed origin for the iceberg that sank the Titanic. Calving is a natural process through which glaciers lose mass as they extend further and further away from their base. It happens when the edge begins to crack either by melt water and wind erosion, or some external factor that causes the outer edge to become unstable. When this happens, we get an iceberg that will begin floating out to sea and eventually melt away.
This time, however, the piece of the glacier that broke off was roughly the size of lower Manhattan, and was about 3,000 feet tall. The whole process of breaking and bobbing up and down took some 75 minutes. These glaciers are also the main reason for rising sea levels. Unlike sea ice, which is created on the water, glaciers are created on land. But since the temperatures are rising, this water is no longer contained on land in the form of ice and it begins to flow to the lowest point on the planet, which are the oceans. Now calving is a natural process of water recycling, but in recent decades, glaciers lose more ice than what is being replaced. Between 2000 and 2010, Ilulissat Glacier lost more ice than in the previous 100 years.
2. The Synchronous Fireflies
Seeing a forest full of hundreds, if not thousands of tiny green flashes of light is something spectacular, to say the least. It definitely looks like something out of this world. And one great place to see this spectacle of nature is in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. There are roughly 2,000 species of fireflies in the world, mainly in Asia and the Americas, and they prefer warm or temperate environments. They love moisture and are a rather familiar sight during warm summer nights. They produce these beautiful flashes of light in order to find potential mates and each species has its own series of signals in order to differentiate between themselves.
In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are 19 species of fireflies, and only Photinus carolinus is synchronous. This means that, unlike the other species, this one produces a series of five to eight of synchronized flashes over a period of several seconds. Depending on the weather, the mating season for these fireflies takes place every year between the months of May and June, and the lightshow starts after dark, usually around 9 o’clock.
1. Earth from Space
It’s often easy to forget that the universe actually… well, exists. During the day, we’re blanketed by a blue ‘cover’ over our heads, while at night the lights of the city cover many of the stars that we would normally see. Even when we look at the moon, we usually don’t even give it a second thought, even though it is a huge ball of rock floating in the seemingly infinite universe alongside our own planet. Now, in order to remind us of the existence of space, as it were, NASA has an almost constant live feed of Earth seen from the International Space Station (ISS), giving us images of the beauty of our planet, and possibly debunking once and for all the idea of a “flat” Earth. But actually looking at the Earth from orbit is easier said than done, right? Well, for a low, low price of $35 million, the Russians are more than happy to take you to the ISS. For $15 million more, you could also walk outside of the station. What a bargain!
But for the rest of us mere mortals, there could be other, cheaper alternatives on the horizon. There are a number of companies looking to find a way to bring tourism to outer space. The best known company is Virgin Galactic, which aims to bring tourists into space for $250,000. That’s around the same price some round-the-world cruise costs today. Another company, World View Enterprises, based in Arizona, is looking at ways to bring people 100,000 feet into the air via a huge balloon, and for only $75,000. These are just two examples, but there are others. The point is that one day soon, many more people will be able to go to the outer edges of the atmosphere and see the Earth as it is – a bluish sphere floating in complete darkness.