A rich, rolling “churee churee churee” rings out from the lush understory of the woods, then the songster itself flits up to a low branch and sounds out again. This golden and olive warbler with the black mustache spends much of its time on the ground in deep woods, where it nests, but the patient birder can often catch a glimpse of one, especially as males stake out their territories each spring.
The Kentucky Warbler’s characteristic loud song is heard less frequently today, and continued losses of bottomland hardwood forests across the southeastern United States may be the reason why. However, destruction of habitat on its wintering grounds through clearing for agriculture and pasture may pose an even greater threat…
Archaeologists Unearth New Information on Origins of Maya Civilization
The Maya civilization is well-known for its elaborate temples, sophisticated writing system, and mathematical and astronomical developments, yet the civilization’s origins remain something of a mystery.
A new University of Arizona study in the journal Science challenges the two prevailing theories on how the ancient civilization began, suggesting its origins are more complex than previously thought.
Anthropologists typically fall into one of two competing camps with regard to the origins of Maya civilization. The first camp believes that it developed almost entirely on its own in the jungles of what is now Guatemala and southern Mexico. The second believes that the Maya civilization developed as the result of direct influences from the older Olmec civilization and its center of La Venta…
The Madrean Sky Island Archipelago is a 70,000-square-mile (180,000-square-kilometer) region of northwestern Mexico, southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The region is a blend of tropical and temperate climates and home to a biological diversity that exceeds any other region of the United States.
Sky Islands are a class of continental terrain made up from a sequence of alternating valleys and mountains ranges. All sky islands have a stack of biotic communities that allow for vertical migration but the vast valleys between them act as a barrier preventing species from crossing from one mountain range to another…
The Cape Gopher Snake aka Baja Gopher Snake (Pituophis vertebralis) is found in arid habitat along the Baja California peninsula of Mexico. They attain a length of up to 18 inches (48cm). Baja gophers feed on a variety of birds, bird’s eggs, and small mammals in the wild. They are know to be a nervous and aggressive species, if cornered or handled.
… is a spectacularly beautiful, bright red mushroom. It occurs in the eastern United States from Maine to Georgia and Arizona, and south to Mexico and Costa Rica. Its fruiting bodies are typically found growing near hardwood trees, especially oak.
Frost’s bolete is edible and commonly sold in farmer’s markets in Mexico. But inexperienced mushroom hunters must be careful since there are poisonous mushrooms that look very similar to this species.
…is a unique species of burrowing toad found only in Mexico, parts of southern Texas and Central America. As its common name suggests the Mexican burrowing toad is fossorial and spends most of its time in underground burrows feeding on insects like ants and termites. Like the purple frog the burrowing toad often emerges from its den after long periods of rain and mates. Also like the unrelated purple frog when threatened or calling the Mexican burrowing toad can inflate its body.
also known as the globose sand crab, the purple globe crab is a species of purse crab native to the waters off of Northern Baja California. Globe crabs spend most of their days partially tucked into the seabed to hide from potential predators. Like most crabs the purple globe crab is a predator and will feed on small invertebrates and organic materials.
Cabo Pulmo Marine Reserve, Mexico - Crown of Thorns
A Crown-of-Thorns sea star begins to prey on a coral, as a Coral Hawkfish looks on. The sea star is among the species that have grown in numbers in the Cabo Pulmo Marine Park, but there is no fear of it forming the massive groupings that have devastated parts of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
In the eastern Pacific, says Galland, the species is “not nearly as dangerous.” Individual Crown-of-Thorns tend to be isolated and predators lurk. The hawkfish, which lives its entire life within the coral, is likely not watching idly; researchers believe it is possible the fish protects its home by biting small pieces off the coral’s would-be predator.
The Giant Conch (Strombus galeatus) has long been an important fishery species in the region, valued for its meat and its shell as far back as Incan times. But it is today found very rarely on reefs elsewhere in the Gulf. In Cabo Pulmo, however, it has recovered rapidly. “It takes just five minutes of diving to see them in numbers you just don’t see elsewhere,” Galland says.
One fascinating side-effect of the reserve has been a previously unknown change in the behavior of the Sabretooth Blenny. Normally a visual and behavioral mimic of the Cortez Rainbow Wrasse, it ‘tricks’ much larger fishes into thinking that, like the wrasse, it is completely harmless, only to take a bite out of its unsuspecting victim and quickly swim away. However, this strategy only works if there are more wrasses than Sabretooth Blennies, so that potential victims are less likely to assume they are about to be bitten.
World’s Best Marine Sanctuary - Cabo Pulmo: Fish Increses
The effects of the reserve were not immediately apparent. In 1999, a survey showed mean fish biomass in the area was not statistically different from that in open-access fishing waters elsewhere in the Gulf of California. Ten years later, the situation in much of the gulf remained the same. In Cabo Pulmo, however, it had all changed; there had been a huge increase in fishes. As detailed in a paper due out in the online journal PLoS One on August 12, the increases were across all trophic levels, and led to a fourfold increase in biomass across the board.
Indeed, at 4.2 tonnes per hectare, fish biomass in Cabo Pulmo may constitute the highest recovery of any marine reserve in the world. The density of some species, such as these Devil Rays, is now sometimes so great that even from the air their density is overwhelming. “You can’t even really see from this photograph, but these rays are four or five deep in places,” says Grant Galland of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who is a co-author of the PLoS One paper. “You couldn’t possibly get any kind of accurate count from underwater.”…
A group of amateur cave explorers discovered a river in Mexico with banks, trees and leaves just like an ordinary river, but with an additional metric shit ton of “WTF,” because they were hovering 25 feet over it in scuba gear when they discovered it.
While underwater water doesn’t seem possible, the “river” is actually a briny mix of salt water and hydrogen sulfide. It’s much more dense than regular salt water, so it sinks to the bottom and forms a distinct separation that acts and flows like a river.
Deep sea lakes look like normal lakes, complete with sandy and rocky shores. Scientist call these lakes “cold seeps,” but they’re a hotbed for life, because apparently waterfront real estate is a hot commodity under water, too. The “rocky” shores are actually made up of hundreds of thousands of mussels. Even weirder, the lakes under the waves have waves of their own.
Help Save the World’s Best Marine Reserve: Cabo Pulmo
Established in 1995, Mexico’s Cabo Pulmo Marine National Park is slightly more than 7,000 hectares of coastal waters in the Gulf of California, offshore from the small village of Cabo Pulmo. The park’s establishment followed a period of determined lobbying by the village’s 100 or so residents, who had become alarmed at overfishing and declines in the area’s marine life. The reserve is no more than 5 kilometers (3 miles) wide and measures just 14 kilometers (almost 9 miles) north to south. And yet its impact on the marine life within it, such as these Devil Rays, has been profound – so much so that researchers have dubbed it “the most successful marine reserve in the world.”…
You can help save one of the oldest living coral reefs in the world with a click of your mouse: http://bit.ly/178KBhG
For 20,000 years, the reef of Cabo Pulmo has provided sanctuary for whale sharks, Pacific manta rays, humpback whales, dolphins and sea turtles, but today this marine reserve and the thriving sea that surrounds it is still under threat from overdevelopment.
Urge North America’s environmental authorities to support strong enforcement and protect the coral reef. Send your message!