Monarch butterfly gathering nectar
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Monarch butterfly gathering nectar

February 21, 2014
A monarch butterfly gathers nectar. Monarchs fly three to five hours daily, traveling 30-50 miles. In the morning, they feed on nectar at local flowers and by late afternoon, when they stop flying, they again feed for at least 30 minutes on flower nectar. The monarch butterfly makes one of the longest migrations on Earth, crossing an entire continent to reach a location in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. The National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded IMAX film, "Flight of the Butterflies," follows the monarch's perilous, year-long, 3,000-mile journey with stunning cinematography from an award-winning team. The film also tells the story of Canadian zoologist Fred Urquhart's 40-year search for the secret hideaway of millions of these colorful butterflies, discovered on a remote mountain peak 10,000 feet above sea level. In 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the monarch butterfly sanctuary a World Heritage Site. In addition to raising awareness of the butterfly and the importance of protecting its habitat, the movie aims to increase understanding of the scientific process and the role of citizen scientists in that process. Thousands of volunteers across North America helped tag and track the insects during Urquhart's quest, and continue to do so through Monarch Watch. In fact it was a pair of citizen scientists working with Urquhart that first discovered the monarch's haven. The film and accompanying educational activities were produced by the Maryland Science Center, in collaboration with SK Films and other partners. One of the partners, NSF-supported conservation biologist Karen Oberhauser of the University of Minnesota, was recently honored by the White House as a Citizen Scientist Champion of Change. (Date of Image: May 2011) Credit: Jim O' Leary, Maryland Science Center

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