I can’t remember how but awhile ago we came across an app for the Apple TV called Pocket Penguins but the kids weren’t into and preferred their shows if the television was on so I kind of forgot about it. One day this past week Ada’s movie ended and she wanted to watch something else, but there wasn’t a lot of time left before we had to get Zoey from her bed and I didn’t want to start something else. Ada has become wise and refuses to watch our photo slideshow (since she’d rather have a show) so when I saw the app on the home screen I gave her the choice between our photo slideshow, seeing penguins, or having the TV off. She chose penguins and we happened to catch the end of the penguin feeding (with audio) which was a great surprise. Since then it’s been a great way to end television time with a choice: television photo slideshow, penguins, or TV off and I find the animal watching a great way to let them play if they want and more easily wean away from the TV. It also, so far, has helped mitigate the great electronic turn off grumpiness without having them zonk out with another show and allows them to go play, listen to music, and occasionally look up to see what the animals are doing. I don’t know if it’s the novelty but I figured I had to share for anyone that’s cooped up inside and getting cabin fever from potty training, smoky air, sickness, rain, snow, or whatever else. With Thanksgiving coming up I could see it being a great show to have on the TV to bring everyone together yet easily tune out when the conversation gets good. I know when my kids start fighting I can try to distract them by “Oh look, was that a penguin swimming by!”… you just need the proper tone of excitement.
I’ve since started wondering what other animal viewings we can do…
All sources listed are from California so the times listed are in Pacific Time.
The California Academy of Science
Since Pocket Penguins brought us to streaming animal feeds I figured I’d start with them. The feed is brought to you by The California Academy of Science located in Golden Gate Park within San Francisco. Pocket Penguins features a colony of African penguins that can be be viewed in three different ways: wide/colony, biologist, and underwater on their website in addition to the app and YouTube. For some reason Ada prefers the underwater view although there isn’t as much going on underwater when we’ve been watching than the above water views. Though sometimes you get to see a penguin swim by. We downloaded the app through the Apple TV and can easily bring up the menu to switch camera modes by hitting the menu button once. When watching it sounds like the audio track is open although there’s no sound but it seems to only broadcasts when they feed the penguins (currently at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily) which is fun to catch and although you can’t hear the question from the audience you can hear their answers. I love that I’ve discovered I can stream music from either the Apple TV’s music app or from my iPhone to the Apple TV without it affecting the quality of the app itself. The only, minor thing, I’ve noticed is when you switch camera views it does cut out the audio and visual for a second but that’s to be expected… just means you can’t sneak change the view if you’re playing music and you kids aren’t looking.
The California Academy of Science has several other webcams you can also access. Although they only have one other app from what I can see. The other app is listed under Stingrays Live and has two camera views (reef or lagoon) showing their mangrove lagoon exhibit featuring 19 species of sharks, rays, and bony fishes. Currently the live feed on the website lists the feedings at 1:20 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays although the frequently asked questions mention they don’t have microphones attached underwater or to the presenters yet so I’m assuming there’s no audio. If you want to learn more about the animals you’re seeing they have a Reef Lagoon Field Guide you can also check out. The app works the same as Pocket Penguins above so I can easily stream music while watching.
In addition to the two exhibits (showing five different views combined) above you can also check out their Philippine Coral Reef (feedings are daily at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm which also include audio) on their website. They’ve also set up a live high definition camera based from a lighthouse atop Southeast Farallon Island, a hard to access point 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco, that you can also see on their website. An added benefit of this camera is that you can gain access to it in two minute increments and choose from a drop down list of locations for the camera to turn and focus on. If someone is already controlling the camera you can join a queue and keep an eye on your position for when you can access it. The linked website lists what animals you might see based on the time of year and even includes whether the listed species are nocturnal or not.
I love how the California Academy of Science has two easily accessible apps, one interactive camera, and all the views are accessible on their website. All of their live camera feeds, with the exception of the Farallon Islands camera since it’s interactive, seem to be hosted on YouTube so you can also access them through their channel. This works great on the Apple TV since you can’t access an internet browser on the TV. I’ve posted below on my YouTube experience for this. All their live feeds seem to be on all the time since they mention on the website that if you get a dark screen you’ll find more activity in the day.
If you’re planing on visiting the California Academy of Science or just wanting to check out what might be happening within the camera’s live feed today you can check out their daily calendar.I’ve also noticed that if you’re part of a school they also offer virtual distance learning which can include free webcasts with other classrooms if you are able to register in advance.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
After realizing all the diverse feeds I hadn’t realized were offered through the California Academy of Science I started looking for more and ended up looking up the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California. They also offer many streaming cameras for a total of nine different cameras at this time. Each camera view lists their own live viewing hours and feeding times (if applicable) right above the feed. In case you wanted a quick overview I listed all the camera feeds below. All feeding and live cam times listed were from their website on Saturday, November 17th, 2018. I’m assuming the feeding times can vary greatly day-to-day while the live cam times may stay the same. I’m listing this to get an idea on when you may be able to view and whether there’s feeding or not and if so how often it might be. Check the website for exact times.
- Aviary Camera (7 a.m. to 7 p.m) showing their Sandy Shore and Aviary exhibit.
- Coral Reef Cam (9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) showing their ¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge exhibit. This link also lists the animals in the exhibit if you want to compare the list with what you’re viewing.
- Jelly Cam (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) featuring their Sea Nettles
- Kelp Forest Cam (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) which includes live audio during their feeding program and allows you to watch divers hand-feed sharks, fishes and other animals. Feeding times were listed at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m..
- Monterey Bay Cam (listed at viewing for 24 hours a day) which shows part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary allowing you to see marine life and sailboats.
- Open Sea Cam (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) showing their amazing one-million-gallon Open Sea exhibit. Today there was a single listed feeding time for 11 a.m..
- Penguin Cam (7 a.m. to 5 p.m) showing African penguins located within the Splash Zone exhibit. Today there were two listed feeding times (10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.) but under the video feed it lists that they feed the penguins “multiple times a day, sometimes by hand to make sure they get their daily vitamin, and sometimes by tossing food into the water to stimulate foraging behavior. Watch for underwater acrobatics as the penguins dart and dive to catch their fish.”
- Sea Otter Cam (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) showing southern sea otters. Under the video it says these otters are fed four times a day although today there were three listed feeding times: 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m..
- Shark Cam (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) showing several kinds of sharks, rays, and other fish from within a 90-foot-long hourglass shaped exhibit offering them a lot of room to glide by and turn.
If you are seeing this outside of the listed live camera viewings don’t fret as it appears they offer pre-recorded videos when the live camera is off so you might end up with a better, though perhaps repetitive, viewing.
These videos are shown using either YouTube (linked their YouTube channel) or Ustream (I have no experience with UStream but if you clicked on the linked Sea Otters you can access their other ones under ‘Other Channels’ under the video) thought if you have any troubles you can check out Monterey Aquarium’s Web Cam Help questions. For the YouTube videos I can have the kids watch them through the Apple TV’s YouTube app like the Philippine Coral Reef at the California Academy of Science. If you’re not sure which videos are hosted through which service you can always right click, copy the video URL, and paste it into your browser (or a word document to read).
Most of the California Academy of Science videos and half of the Monterey Bay Aquarium videos are hosted through YouTube and can easily be viewed through it’s app on your Apple TV. I tried to listen to music (sent to the Apple TV from my phone) and found when I started the video it stops my music. If I reconnect my music it confirms on my phone that I want to override the audio before going ahead. I’ve found when I restart the music I have issues with the YouTube app and video keeps loading and once the app crashed. If I don’t attempt to play music I have no issues. If you’re planning on using the YouTube app, at this point, I recommend not streaming music at the same time. I’ve found the videos I streamed from the Monterey Bay Aquarium includes music whereas the California Academy of Science is silent if they’re not doing a feeding with audio turned on. Either way you could turn down the sound and play music to another source if you wanted both with these videos.
Looking for more cameras I looked up the Oakland Zoo which includes four different exhibits including African Elephants, Sun Bears, California Condor (although the video didn’t load for me it might be working now), and a Black Bears (couldn’t even see where the videos should be at this time). I also found some pre-recorded videos on the Oakland website if you want to watch more of their animals. Through clicking on the working videos I found that they were hosted through HDontap.com. I know nothing about their website but if you google ‘HDontap Oakland Zoo; you can find some the two working videos and one of the Condor videos.
Looking for more live animal videos I started searching on google for ‘live camera’ and auto-finished to ‘live camera half moon bay’. Through that I found a SamCam through Sam’s Chowder House that linked to Web Cam Traveler that has a map of red (animals) and green (sites) marks for further exploration. The videos aren’t as near the quality as above but it’s a fun way to search for more videos.
If you’re looking for more zoos I found the Calgary Zoo hosts a PandaCam for their giant pandas. You need to install Flash so I haven’t tried to watch but it looks like there are three different camera views offered. To find more, if you want to mostly use YouTube you can search for ‘live zoo cameras’ or ‘live aquarium cameras’ to see what you can get.
I can see looking for more animal videos being a very time consuming hunt for amazing videos; especially if the museums or aquariums near you haven’t started streaming yet. I found my streaming videos by going to the museums I’ve visited and checking if they stream live video. It looks like more and more of them are jumping on creating live videos of their animals through different hosting services. If you’re looking for a video of a particular animal I could see finding out which zoos or aquariums have such an animal and then checking if they live stream. Worst case you can hopefully find pre-recorded videos. I love how both the penguins and reef lagoon exhibits at the California Academy of Science have apps that allow you to easily access their live feed and you can listen to your own music at the same time.
I’d love to be able to watch more high definition videos so please share if you know of a music who streams live videos through either YouTube or if they have an app even better. I’d love to be able to visit other museums through the comfort of our home. Do feel free to share in the comments below, on my Facebook page (SimplyKyra), or through Instagram (@simplyartsykyra).