Every day at dusk, an estimated three million bats emerge from the mouth of one of the world’s largest caves to hunt. In order to make themselves a more elusive target for birds of prey, they gather in an eerie formation akin to a tornado, or a ribbon of campfire smoke. This video of the act, taken by François Chauvin, a visitor to Borneo’s Gunung Mulu National Park, is probably the most goth thing you’ll see today.
Gunung Mulu National Park in Malaysia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a stunning example of tropical karst topography. A karst landscape is formed when the bedrock is predominantly composed of something easily soluble, like limestone. Over time, water erodes the rock, forming sinkholes, cenotes, jagged limestone formations, and caves.
It’s not stated which of Gunung Mulu’s gigantic caves is home to these bats, but it was most likely Deer Cave, which is one of the largest cave passages on the planet. And though at least thirty different species of bats call Deer Cave home, it’s known specifically for its massive colony of Wrinkle-lipped bats, which are not one of the cuter species, unfortunately. (For cuteness, check out Honduran white bats, which have cuddle parties under giant leaves.) Wrinkle-lipped bats are tiny little guys, their bodies measuring only about three inches long, but apparently they still produce plenty of guano.
Because of its massive and varied bat population, Deer Cave is a great place for bat enthusiasts to study. In 2008, Prince Albert of Monaco visited Gunung Mulu and gifted the park an infrared camera system so visitors could watch the bats hanging out. It looks like the live stream is no longer up, but the website still has a lot of information and more cool videos of the bats doing their thing.