Green Sea Turtles Use Protected Areas, Study Finds
by Douglas Main
If you protect it, they will use it. Green sea turtles do actually make use of protected areas to nest and feed, according to a study that tracked female turtles that came ashore to lay eggs in Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park.
Until now, it wasn’t clear where these green sea turtles went after nesting and how much they might use nearby reserves. In this case, the animals spent much of their time in the nearby Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary eating sea grasses and algae…
Plasticity describes the ability of a species to grow into different shape, size or other attributes depending on the conditions they live in.
Echinometra lucunter was studied in different sites in Barbados, and individuals in Little Bay were quite different from those at Graves End: their bodies were flatter to the ground and more oval (possibly because higher wave action in Little Bay made it important to by hydrodynamically shaped), and their coloring was different (perhaps because they had a different array of algae to feed on).
This species is also pretty widely distributed, mostly in the Caribbean and Atlantic. The plasticity and the wide distribution may be why these critters have cost taxonomists so much work. At least fifteen different species have been discovered and named, only to turn out to be E. lucunter.
Puerto Rico creates an ecological corridor to protect endangered leatherback turtles
by Michael Graham Richard
Leatherback turtles, which are rated “critically endangered” on the IUCN’s Red List, are finally getting a break (at least, let’s hope this helps). After a 15-year fight between developers and conservationists, Puerto Rico’s government has finally decided to side with the greens and create a protected zone on the island’s coast to protect leatherbacks. Named the Northeast Ecological Corridor, the protected area is about 14 sq km (5.4 sq mi).
This will not only help leatherback turtles, but also a huge variety of other species, as the area is home to “more than 860 different types of flora and fauna.” While the developers’ hotels and resorts won’t be built, the area should become a great eco-tourist attraction, and hopefully our children will still be able to see tiny leatherbacks hatch out by the hundreds and begin their arduous journey to the sea…
Nesting is large colonies in caves, this species is found on the larger islands in the northern Caribbean. The main part of their diet is nectar and pollen from large flowers, but they may feed on fruits and insects as well. As adults, they have a grayish brown coat of fur.
* This was an unexpected encounter, and the cavers quickly left the site upon discovering it. Human presence can greatly disturb a bat colony during this time, and mothers will sometimes abandon their young.
… a species oftoadfishentirely endemic to the island ofCozumel. Commonly found under coraloutcroppings. Dens can be spotted by the sloping sand patch. They are very difficult to coax out in the open.
Unlike any other member of the toadfish family, the splendid toadfish is distinctive for its vibrant colors. The structural features of the species however are similar to other members in the family, such as the flat and broadened head and barbells. Like most species that dwell close to the sand, the splendid toadfish has eyes located on the top of its head which look directly upwards as there is mostly no need for a horizontal vision. Small and sharp teeth also fill wide jaws…
American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber), aka Caribbean Flamingos, soar over a wetland reserve in Celestun, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, on December 6, 2011. The world’s population of wild flamingos is under threat from overdevelopment and illegal trade on the black market, but the wetland reserve is thriving with thousands of the pink-feathered creatures in search of an ideal winter habitat. According to the Caribbean Flamingo Conservation Program, the estimated 45,000 flamingos that call Mexico’s Yucatan state home are an integral part of the travelling bird’s regional metapopulation, which stretches as far as the Caribbean islands.
The Puerto Rican Crested Toad (Bufo lemur) is a species of toad found only in Puerto Rico, and is the only species of toad native to Puerto Rico. The species formerly occurred in Virgin Gorda. It is listed as a threatened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service due to habitat loss and introduced species. The IUCN has the species listed as critically endangered, although this classification is in question as recent hurricanes that have produced several inches of precipitation have revealed large populations in suitable habitat.
… aka Puerto Rican Shrew, is an extinctsoricomorphendemic to the island of Puerto Rico. It is believed that the animal was never observed by Europeans. Contemporary fossils with indigenous artifacts and introduced rat fossils indicate survival into the colonial era, possibly until the 16th century. The shrew lived on the 4’ island montane forest/brush endemic to western Puerto Rico and was an insectivore. There are fossil specimens located in London.
It disappeared after introduction of rats and due to the destruction of its forest habitat.
(via: Wikipedia) (illustration by Jennifer Garcia)
The Puertorican Harlequin Butterfly (Atlantea tulita) is abrush-footed butterfly, endemic to Puerto Rico. It is a candidate for United States federal protection as an endangered species. In 2011 a report found federal protection to be warranted, but it was precluded by other actions and it remains a candidate. It has a wingspan of up to 6 cm. The larvae feed mostly on prickly bush, Oplonia spinosa…
… is a small (20 cm) torpedo-shaped squid with fins that extend nearly the entire length of the body and undulate rapidly as it swims. The squid has recently become notable when it was discovered that it could fly out of the water. The Caribbean reef squid is found throughout the Caribbean Sea as well as off the coast of Florida, commonly in small schools of 4-30 in the shallows associated with reefs.
This species, like most squid, is a voracious eater and typically consumes 30-60% of its body weight daily. Prey is caught using the club-like end of the long tentacles which are then pulled towards the mouth supported by the shorter arms. Like other cephalopods, it has a strong beak which it uses to cut the prey into parts so that the raspy tongue, or radula, can be used to further process the food; small fish, other molluscs, and crustaceans…
Great hammerhead sharks appear around the islands of Bimini in the Bahamas during the first few months of the year. Biologists have been tagging the endangered animals in an effort to understand more about the behaviour of these mysterious creatures, which can grow up to 6m long…