TSA Turtle Tuesday: Black Softshell Turtle 
The Black Softshell Turtle (Nilssonia nigricans) from Northeastern India and Bangladesh is a large species with a shell length that can reach 3 feet. Their coloration varies greatly with age. They are quite colorful as hatchlings and juveniles, but become a more uniform darker color as adults. 
They can be found in clear, slow moving rivers where they eat fish, shellfish and carrion. For many years this species was thought to only remain in a single artificial pond at a temple in Bangladesh (and was once though extinct in the wild). However, in recent years it has been confirmed in the wild at a few other localities. TSA is committed to increasing the population of this rare species through careful management and this year we are pleased to report that 44 turtles have hatched! 
Read more here: Turtle Survival Alliance

TSA Turtle Tuesday: Black Softshell Turtle

The Black Softshell Turtle (Nilssonia nigricans) from Northeastern India and Bangladesh is a large species with a shell length that can reach 3 feet. Their coloration varies greatly with age. They are quite colorful as hatchlings and juveniles, but become a more uniform darker color as adults.

They can be found in clear, slow moving rivers where they eat fish, shellfish and carrion. For many years this species was thought to only remain in a single artificial pond at a temple in Bangladesh (and was once though extinct in the wild). However, in recent years it has been confirmed in the wild at a few other localities. TSA is committed to increasing the population of this rare species through careful management and this year we are pleased to report that 44 turtles have hatched!

Read more here: Turtle Survival Alliance

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libutron:

Bushmanland Tent Tortoise - Psammobates tentorius verroxii
Tent tortoises are amazing creatures with beautiful geometric patterns in the domed carapace that resembles bedouin tents. Among them, Psammobates tentorius verroxii (Testudinidae), with up to 145 mm in length, comes in a bewildering range of shapes and colors.
The Bushmanland Tent Tortoise often has the carapace uniformly russet or dark brown, but usually patterned with darker brown rays. The “Knoppies” (tents or raised scutes) are rarely developed, the shell is low, smooth and rounded.
This subspecies occurs and is widespread in South Africa and Namibia, however it remains among the most poorly known of the subcontinent’s tortoises.
Reference: [1]
Photo credit: ©cowyeow | Locality: Near Jagersberg, South Africa (2007)

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Bushmanland Tent Tortoise - Psammobates tentorius verroxii

Tent tortoises are amazing creatures with beautiful geometric patterns in the domed carapace that resembles bedouin tents. Among them, Psammobates tentorius verroxii (Testudinidae), with up to 145 mm in length, comes in a bewildering range of shapes and colors.

The Bushmanland Tent Tortoise often has the carapace uniformly russet or dark brown, but usually patterned with darker brown rays. The “Knoppies” (tents or raised scutes) are rarely developed, the shell is low, smooth and rounded.

This subspecies occurs and is widespread in South Africa and Namibia, however it remains among the most poorly known of the subcontinent’s tortoises.

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: ©cowyeow | Locality: Near Jagersberg, South Africa (2007)

GOOD NEWS FROM ARIZONA:
Video captures rare glimpse of jaguars mating
You may remember two years ago, we featured video footage from the Northern Jaguar Reserve of two romantically inclined jaguars walking together through an arroyo. Then last year, our cameras captured images of their six-month-old cub heading confidently into the night.
Now, much more exciting, we have retrieved an extremely rare and candid video of two jaguars mating on the reserve. While it is not National Geographic quality, and it is only a 25-second clip, we are amazed that our camera was in just the right place at that moment.
The male and female jaguar were both new to our cameras at the time, and their cub should be starting to wander around the reserve this fall.
View the mating video and other jaguar footage online here.
Video still of “Caliente” and “Seda” on the Northern Jaguar Reserve.
(via: Northern Jaguar Project)

GOOD NEWS FROM ARIZONA:

Video captures rare glimpse of jaguars mating

You may remember two years ago, we featured video footage from the Northern Jaguar Reserve of two romantically inclined jaguars walking together through an arroyo. Then last year, our cameras captured images of their six-month-old cub heading confidently into the night.

Now, much more exciting, we have retrieved an extremely rare and candid video of two jaguars mating on the reserve. While it is not National Geographic quality, and it is only a 25-second clip, we are amazed that our camera was in just the right place at that moment.

The male and female jaguar were both new to our cameras at the time, and their cub should be starting to wander around the reserve this fall.

View the mating video and other jaguar footage online here.

Video still of “Caliente” and “Seda” on the Northern Jaguar Reserve.

(via: Northern Jaguar Project)

cool-critters

cool-critters:

Spiny turtle (Heosemys spinosa)

The spiny turtle is known from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Sadly this species is highly endangered!

It inhabits lowland and hill rainforest, usually in the vicinity of small streams, mainly in hill areas up to 900 m above sea level.

Mating behaviour appears to be triggered by rain; in captivity, spraying males with water results in them chasing females and attempting to mount. Nothing is known of nesting behaviour in the wild.

photo credits: zooborns, myviadventures

In Search of Lost Salamanders:

Returning after 38 years to find lost salamanders in the remote cloud forests of Guatemala.

by Robin Moore

“We called it the golden wonder”, says Jeremy Jackson, reminiscing about a salamander that he was the first, and last, to find in the wild 38 years ago.

Time has not dulled his memory: I found the first one under a sheet of bark in a field and, after collecting in this field for weeks without success it was obviously something unusual. What the few photos of Bolitoglossa jacksoni [aka Jackson’s Climbing Salamander] that exist don’t show is the brilliance and depth of the coloration. It was an exceptionally beautiful animal”.

But what brought Jackson to the remote forests of Guatemala all those years ago? His good friend, Paul Elias. Elias had ventured to Guatemala for the first time in 1974 – his findings had been so remarkable that he was compelled to return…

(read more: Medium.com)

photographs by Robin Moore

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Radiated Tortoise - Astrochelys radiata
Now listed as Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red Lit, Astrochelys radiata (Testudinidae), endemic to the spiny forest of southern Madagascar, had virtually never been studied in the wild until the late 1990s.
Recent research projects and surveys have contributed to defining the extent of the decline of the species, and it now appears that A. radiata faces serious extinction risks unless current trends are halted.
This species is heavily harvested for food and for the pet trade. In wild mature females of this species produce up to three clutches per season with only 1–5 eggs per clutch, leading to an estimated average production of two clutches of four eggs each per breeding female.
References: [1] - [2] - [3]
Photo credit: ©Bernard Dupont | Locality: Toliara, Madagascar (2013)

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Radiated Tortoise - Astrochelys radiata

Now listed as Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red Lit, Astrochelys radiata (Testudinidae), endemic to the spiny forest of southern Madagascar, had virtually never been studied in the wild until the late 1990s.

Recent research projects and surveys have contributed to defining the extent of the decline of the species, and it now appears that A. radiata faces serious extinction risks unless current trends are halted.

This species is heavily harvested for food and for the pet trade. In wild mature females of this species produce up to three clutches per season with only 1–5 eggs per clutch, leading to an estimated average production of two clutches of four eggs each per breeding female.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Bernard Dupont | Locality: Toliara, Madagascar (2013)

Rare Fish Species Found in Australian Outback Bore Drain

by Chrissy Arthur

A thriving population of a small endangered fish has been discovered on a drought-affected outback Queensland cattle station.The Edgbaston goby (Chlamydogobius squamigenus) was only known to live in natural artesian springs on Edgbaston Reserve near Aramac, north-east of Longreach.

But fish have now been discovered in a man-made artesian bore drain 40 km away at the Ravenswood Station at Aramac. Freshwater ecologist Dr Adam Kerezsy stumbled across the rarity when surveying local waters.The fish do not swim very well, so Dr Kerezsy believed they arrived in a flood…

(read more: ABC News - Australia)

photos: Dr. Adam Kerezsy

Axolotls

by Richard Bartlett

When I think of the tiger salamander-like axolotl (pronounced ax-oh-lot-ul), Ambystoma mexicanum, my mind drifts back to the 1960s and rather than the genetic oddities of today, it is images of albinos, leucistics, and normals that I first picture. In those days there were few breeders of this salamander, with the primary source being the research colony at Indiana University.

The species is now apparently known primarily (if not exclusively) from the Chalco wetlands region south of Mexico City where the wild examples are now at least marginally protected.

The axolotl is a neotenic (paedomorphic/perennibranchiate) salamander. Simply stated, it is a salamander that rarely metamorphoses (pictured top is a specimen that has metamorphosed), and is capable of attaining sexual maturity while in its larval state. As a larva, the axolotl retains its 3 pairs of bushy gills, has non-protuberant, lidless eyes, and has a noticeable vertebral fin and pronounced caudal fins…

(read more: KingSnake.com)

photos by Richard Bartlett

Red Wolf Recovery at Critical Junction

by Mitch Merry
Online Organizer Endangered Species Coalition

We have reached a critical junction in the recovery of the critically endangered red wolf (Canis rufus). The story of the red wolf is a complicated one, which has likely contributed to its anonymity. Historically distributed across the southeastern United States, the species was extirpated from much of range due to habitat loss and overharvest. Remnant populations then became threatened by hybridization with coyotes, which expanded in range as the red wolf disappeared.

In the 1970s biologists identified only 14 remaining wild red wolves in the species’ last stronghold in a coastal region on the Texas-Louisiana border. Those individuals were transported to Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA and the species was declared extinct in the wild in 1980.

Just inland from the famed Outer Banks, the five-county Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula in eastern North Carolina was selected as the location for the first red wolf reintroduction program. At the time, there were no coyotes present in this area. The first wolves were released in 1987 and the population grew slowly. Soon coyotes rapidly colonized the state and in 1993 the first hybridization event between a red wolf and coyote was documented…

(read more: Endangered Species Coalition)

Head Start For Troubled Turtles:

Baby Blanding’s Turtles raised at Detroit Zoo released in Saginaw County national wildlife refuge

by Lindsay Knake

In an effort to increase the number of rare Blanding’s turtles in Michigan, the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge partnered with the Detroit Zoo five years ago. In that time, they have raised and released 147 Blanding’s turtles into the refuge’s waters.

"If it weren’t for the Detroit Zoo, this wouldn’t be happening," refuge manager, Steve Kahl said. "Who knows how long it’s been since we’ve had 147 new Blanding’s turtles in the refuge?"

Blanding’s turtles are threatened in Michigan and endangered in some states because of the loss of wetland habitat, increase in roads and the rise of the raccoon population that eats the turtles’ eggs, Kahl said…

(read more: Michigan Live)

photos: Tina Shaw/USFWS and Jeff Schrier

Marineland’s Whitney Lab holds sea turtle hospital ‘groundbreaking’ Saturday

by Dinah Voyles Pulver

The University of Florida’s Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience hopes to open a new hospital for rehabilitating sea turtles early next year and is inviting the public to a groundbreaking Saturday morning.

The laboratory has worked for more than a year to get the hospital started at Marineland, said Jessica Long, director of development for the lab. Scientists at the center also plan to conduct research on sea turtle diseases, such as the fibropapillomatosis tumors that plague many sea turtles. The laboratory will renovate existing facilities to make way for the sea turtle center…

(read more: Daytona beach News-Journal)

How Much Danger Do Ship Strikes Pose to Blue Whales?
by Jane J. Lee
A new study suggests that blue whale populations are not as vulnerable to ship strikes as previously thought, but experts say, ‘not so fast.’
The eastern North Pacific blue whale population has rebounded since being hammered by commercial whaling, according to a new study. And ship strikes, long feared a major obstacle to the recovery in blue whale numbers, likely aren’t major threats, the authors conclude.
These surprising findings, published Friday in the journal Marine Mammal Science, have gotten a lot of attention in news reports, but experts remain unconvinced.
The study authors used a computer model to estimate the size of the eastern north Pacific blue whale population before commercial whaling decimated their numbers—as well as current abundances and future population trends. They then examined whether the population was more affected by ship strikes or by the environment’s ability to support a certain number of whales…
(read more: National Geographic)
photo by Wolcott Henry, National Geographic Creative

How Much Danger Do Ship Strikes Pose to Blue Whales?

by Jane J. Lee

A new study suggests that blue whale populations are not as vulnerable to ship strikes as previously thought, but experts say, ‘not so fast.’

The eastern North Pacific blue whale population has rebounded since being hammered by commercial whaling, according to a new study. And ship strikes, long feared a major obstacle to the recovery in blue whale numbers, likely aren’t major threats, the authors conclude.

These surprising findings, published Friday in the journal Marine Mammal Science, have gotten a lot of attention in news reports, but experts remain unconvinced.

The study authors used a computer model to estimate the size of the eastern north Pacific blue whale population before commercial whaling decimated their numbers—as well as current abundances and future population trends. They then examined whether the population was more affected by ship strikes or by the environment’s ability to support a certain number of whales…

(read more: National Geographic)

photo by Wolcott Henry, National Geographic Creative

GOOD NEWS for Endangered Birds:

Thirty-two whooping cranes fledged on Wood Buffalo NP

Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP - Canada) officials reported today that 32 whooping crane chicks were observed during this year’s Whooping Crane Fledging Survey. Wood Buffalo personnel took to the skies during August 9-12, 2014 and completed their annual survey.  During the 4 days the team counted 32 fledged young whooping cranes.

WBNP officials reported that a total of 202 whoopers were counted, including the fledgling and nesting pairs.  Fledglings are birds that have reached an age where they can fly. The 32 fledglings were found in 30 family groups: 28 families with one chick and two families with two chicks. In addition to the family groups, the surveyors observed 6 groups of three whooping cranes, 43 groups of two, and 6 individual cranes…

(read more: Friends of Wild Whoopers)

photos: John McKinnon and Jane Peterson / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park