Saturday, March 19 marks the 10th anniversary of Earth Hour. From 8:30-9:30 p.m. local time, turn off your household lights and electronics to raise awareness of climate action and help combat climate change. There are plenty of ways to pass the time: eat dinner by candlelight, play board games, make shadow puppets or even play an epic game of hide and seek. No matter what you choose to do, you won’t be alone. Last year millions of people all over the globe participated in Earth Hour, but we here at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre know there are plenty of great energy savers at work in the animal kingdom as well. Here, in honour of Earth Hour, are our Top 10 energy-saving animals to inspire you.
10. Penguin: Upon first glance, these Antarctic animals might not seem an obvious choice for energy efficiency, but look a little closer and you’ll realize they were made for it. Walking on land, they might look awkwardly adorable, but their waddling motion helps them overcome the limitations their short legs pose for land travel. The side-to-side motion raises their centre of mass, allowing them to recover 80% of the energy they expend!
9. Anaconda: Known as one of the heaviest snakes in the world, this large reptile is a master at conserving energy. Snakes are cold blooded and draw their energy from the sun and warm climate, so they’re really in tune with their environment. They are also ambush predators, meaning they wait for prey to come to them. This means they only use energy when they have to.
8. Caiman: Another ambush predator of the Amazon, these reptiles can go for long periods of time without eating due to their slow metabolism. They can even slow down their heart rate to hold their breath under water for up to two hours if necessary.
7. Wolf-eel: These fish spend most of their time living in rocky dens as a pair, taking turns to hunt for food and look after their young. Wolf-eels save a lot of their energy by being homebodies, leaving only to hunt for food or to find a new den if evicted by an octopus.
6. Spotted Ratfish: This fish can be found locally in our waters at depths of 50-900 metres, mostly in areas where the light barely reaches. Spotted ratfish have been able to adapt to living at depths with low light as they have large eyes that reflect light much like a cat’s eye.
5. Bats: One of the more well-known nocturnal animals, they don’t need any light at all to locate their prey. Instead, these flying rodents find their way in the darkness by using their sonar and their well-adapted ears.
4. Octopus: These animals practically live in darkness! They hide in dens during the day and come out at night to hunt for their food.
3. Red-eyed Tree Frog: Amphibians are often associated with a lot of movement during the day. The red-eyed tree frog, though, is a nocturnal species, meaning they are active at night. They are specially adapted for this as their red eyes help them to see better in the dark.
2. Sloth: These tree-dwellers are the ultimate energy-savers of the animal kingdom, thanks to their slow metabolism. Sloths can sleep anywhere from 15-20 hours a day, but don’t think they’re without any athletic ability. Put them in the water and these creatures will go for a leisurely swim.
1. Electric Eel: These living batteries can pack a punch, producing up to 1,200 volts to stun their prey. However, most of the time these fish would rather conserve their energy. They use electrolocation (an electric field used to sense its environment) to locate prey, evade predators and avoid obstacles. If they don’t have to use their energy though, they won’t, making for a top energy-saving animal.
Even though we don’t navigate daily with sonar, find food in the dark or walk in a waddling fashion there are things we can do in our everyday lives to save energy in meaningful ways. Remember Earth Hour doesn’t just have to be one day of the year. These animals save energy all year long and you can too. This year, see if you can make every hour an Earth Hour.
Learn more about how you can take part in this year’s Earth Hour events here.