“Peek-a-boo! I see you!”

February 13, 2010

animal.discover

I have become a voyeur.

Many men reach this stage at a younger and more virile age, but I was waiting for better technology. It has come with the marriage of the Internet and the live streaming web camera. Here’s fair warning: You can run, but you can’t hide.

I’m developing an addiction for the streaming web cam. I’ve spent far too much time searching for the better and better live images from all over the world. I don’t know what the attraction is; television has been broadcasting live images from around the planet for more than 50 years. But on television, we get what we are given. On the Internet, we increasingly are gaining the power to peek in wherever we choose, usually without the knowledge — and I guess this is the key — of those we are watching. We can watch them in real time, and they don’t know we’re here.

TIMES SQUARE

One of the most attractive scenes, of course is Times Square, which is alive at any hour of the day or night. The camera is mounted high above Broadway across the street from the Marriott Marquis. The sound feed is dominated by traffic noise frequently including screaming sirens, but the mike also picks up the voices of the stream of humanity that is always passing by the camera.

The TimesSquare Cam provides a larger image than many webcam sites do, so there are more details to examine. You can look in on Times Square at THIS LINK.

Some of the live images available don’t hold my attention for very long. Earthcam.com, for example, has a feed from a live camera in Ho Chi Minh City, but it’s a long shot of a skyline and traffic moving on a highway – there are no people visible.

St. PETER'S

Hotels around the world have taken to using live webcams to pump up their web sites. The Atlante Star in Rome is one of them; its camera shows about a half-dozen live images of scenes that can be seen from the hotel, including the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and the traffic and pedestrians moving along the Via Vitelleschi far below the lens. This site, which is more interesting when it’s daylight in Rome, is located HERE.

I have also been misspending my declining years by watching two sea otters, Milo and Tanu, who live in the Vancouver Aquarium. Milo, the male, was born in an aquarium in Lisbon, Portugal, and Tanu, a female, was born in the wild, so to speak, in the ocean off Alaska. I spy on these otters at THIS LINK, which has a camera trained on their pool.

Sea otter at the Vancouver Aquarium

This site requires a little patience, because the otters are not always in camera range. When they are, though, they are very lively. The site includes interesting explanations of the behavior the otters exhibit onthe screen, which is a small image but has decent resolution.

I have found the streaming to be a little cranky on this site, and I have to frequently refresh the page to restart the video.

My favorite site for now is linked to a live camera mounted in a public square in Bydgoszczy, Poland, a city of about a third of a million people located up there just south of Gdansk. This camera pans the square, which includes rows of businesses and an outdoor ice skating rink.

BYDGOSZCZY

This site — CLICK HERE — has become an addiction for me. I find the square itself and the activity within it attractive and absorbing. I watch the passers-by and speculate about who they are and where they are going. I marvel at the strollers who  criss-cross the square regardless of the time. As I am writing this, it is 3 am in Poland, and there are people walking through that area and skating on that rink.

Another animal I visit on line is Lily, a black bear who at present is hibernating in her den in the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota. Lily caused a flurry on the Web a few weeks ago when she gave birth a cub — an event that was caught on the camera that is trained on her lair. Lily has since gone back to sleep. You can see her live — sort of — at THIS LINK. I check on her now and then to make sure she’s still breathing. Of course, it’s like watching paint dry, or grass grow, or metal rust, or …. well, like watching a bear sleep.

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