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A solar halo was visible neara the Chilidog Observatory in Monterrey, Mexico. Credit and copyright: César Cantú.

A solar halo was visible neara the Chilidog Observatory in Monterrey, Mexico. Credit and copyright: César Cantú.

Albino animals have it tough: they're sensitive to light, often have health problems associated with genetic mutations and stick out like a sore thumb in their natural habitat. Kate Cummings and the crew of Blue Ocean Whale Watch spotted a strikingly white dolphin calf in California's Monterey Bay. Against all odds, the youngster appears to be healthy and keeping up with the pod. The calf, a Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus), was last seen in January. This photo confirms it to be a true…

Albino animals have it tough: they're sensitive to light, often have health problems associated with genetic mutations and stick out like a sore thumb in their natural habitat. Kate Cummings and the crew of Blue Ocean Whale Watch spotted a strikingly white dolphin calf in California's Monterey Bay. Against all odds, the youngster appears to be healthy and keeping up with the pod. The calf, a Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus), was last seen in January. This photo confirms it to be a true…

Gnarled branches and the granite rocks of Point Lobos frame turquoise waters at the edge of fog-bound Carmel Bay, Calif. (Brian J. Cantwell/The Seattle Times)

Gnarled branches and the granite rocks of Point Lobos frame turquoise waters at the edge of fog-bound Carmel Bay, Calif. (Brian J. Cantwell/The Seattle Times)

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve,, south of Carmel, CA.  If you love wildlife and the ocean, you MUST go.    A great place for whale-watching!

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve,, south of Carmel, CA. If you love wildlife and the ocean, you MUST go. A great place for whale-watching!

A fangtooth, photographed at about 2,600 feet (800 m.) below the surface of California's Monterey Bay. This fish's fierce appearance belies its size

A fangtooth, photographed at about 2,600 feet (800 m.) below the surface of California's Monterey Bay. This fish's fierce appearance belies its size

Pacific Grove, California: As one of California's peaceful seaside town makes an ideal base for a vacation. Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best places to see marine life in the country. At Asilomar State Beach, you can get up close to sea otters in a rented kayak or explore tide pools. The scenic 17-Mile Drive runs from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach. Nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea has a pristine beach, equestrian center, beautifully restored mission, and adorable shops like Cottage of Sweets.

Pacific Grove, California: As one of California's peaceful seaside town makes an ideal base for a vacation. Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best places to see marine life in the country. At Asilomar State Beach, you can get up close to sea otters in a rented kayak or explore tide pools. The scenic 17-Mile Drive runs from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach. Nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea has a pristine beach, equestrian center, beautifully restored mission, and adorable shops like Cottage of Sweets.

Meat-eating sponge - One of the weirder-looking new species discoveries announced this year, this carnivorous deep sea sponge is shaped like a candelabra. It was first spotted by a remotely operated vehicle in the ocean off California's Monterey Bay in 2000; scientists later retrieved two of the sponges and got 10 hours of video of the creatures. The sponges use Velcro-like hooks on their branches to snag crustaceans floating by on ocean currents.

Meat-eating sponge - One of the weirder-looking new species discoveries announced this year, this carnivorous deep sea sponge is shaped like a candelabra. It was first spotted by a remotely operated vehicle in the ocean off California's Monterey Bay in 2000; scientists later retrieved two of the sponges and got 10 hours of video of the creatures. The sponges use Velcro-like hooks on their branches to snag crustaceans floating by on ocean currents.

Monument Valley (Arizona)

Monument Valley (Arizona)

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