Six species of sea turtles are found in the waters surrounding the Dutch Caribbean islands with regular nesting activity occurring annually on the sandy beaches of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten. Because sea turtles undertake remarkably long transboundary migrations and because they are slow to reach sexual maturity (20 – 30 years), they require significant international cooperation and long-term monitoring in order to best understand their population trends.
Once amazingly abundant, Caribbean sea turtles have seen a rapid decline since the time of European expansion in the Americas. Scientists estimate that in the 1600s, over 90 million Green Turtles were present the Caribbean seas. Today the number is estimated at a mere 300,000. Hawksbills have plunged 99.7% from 11 million to 30,000. Fishing gear entanglement, illegal harvesting, coastal development, marine pollution and climate change still remain serious threats to the recovery of global sea turtle populations.
Having been involved with sea turtle conservation for more than two decades, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) has gained important knowledge and understanding not only of sea turtles ecology and biology, but also of best practices for conducting scientific research. STCB staff and volunteers are well-experienced in catching, measuring and weighing the animals while causing the least amount of stress, they know when and where to do beach patrols and they know how best to protect sea turtle nests.
After becoming an established organisation on Bonaire and widely respected within the regional sea turtle conservation community, STCB is actively sharing its knowledge in an attempt to strengthen and support sea turtle monitoring and conservation efforts on the other Dutch Caribbean islands. In addition to leading workshops on Bonaire with several visiting island conservation organisations, STCB recently visited St. Maarten to conduct an assessment of potential sea turtle feeding areas, providing important information to support the St. Maarten Nature Foundation in implementing appropriate and effective in-water monitoring efforts.
On Curaçao, 2013 brought increased sea turtle conservation and protection on the island with the establishment of four new Ramsar sites and the legal ban on destructive gillnet practices, which will come into effect in May 2014. Additionally, a dialogue between STCB and CARMABI began with the idea of developing and implementing a sea turtle nest monitoring programme on Curaçao using Bonaire as a model. In February 2014, Curaçao has officially taken the next step in the protection of the island’s charismatic and threatened sea turtles. Recent discussions between the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC), the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, STCB, the Curaçaoan Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as CARMABI and Uniek Curaçao have led to a collaborative agreement to develop a monitoring programme to asses the health and status of Curaçao’s sea turtle populations. The aim is to initiate a beach patrol programme to monitor nesting activity of sea turtles on the Shete Boka beaches throughout the nesting season (May – December) and perform head count surveys of feeding sea turtles in one of the key feeding areas on Curaçao – Boka Ascension. The data collected will not only be used to determine the presence and species composition of sea turtles in Curaçao and identify trends over time, but will also contribute to a regional dataset that monitors Caribbean-wide sea turtle population trends and will allow Curaçao to properly manage this precious endangered species.
To learn more about or get involved with sea turtle conservation on Curaçao, contact the Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature, CARMABI or Uniek Curaçao.
This video from England is called Dorset Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves.
From Wildlife Extra:
1,500 acres of wildlife-rich land purchased in Dorset
April 2014: Nearly 1,500 acres of outstanding wildlife habitat has been bought by Dorset Wildlife Trust and its partners as part of a new conservation project in east Dorset, Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch, called ‘The Great Heath Living Landscape’.
The areas purchased include: Lytchett Bay, Upton Heath, Holes Bay, Parley Common and Ferndown Common. These sites provide habitats for many rare and threatened species, including the Dartford Warbler and all six UK reptiles, including the nationally rare smooth snake and sand lizard. This purchase mean two outstanding areas of natural heritage; the New Forest National Park and the Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area can be linked together.
DWT’s Director of Operations, Brian Bleese said: “The purchase of this land is a real investment in the future of Dorset’s heritage, and will make a huge contribution to the quality of our natural environment for decades to come. We are very excited about taking the project into the next phase to help local people and communities benefit from the wealth of wildlife around them.”
The Great Heath Living Landscape is a partnership of Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Erica Trust, Poole Harbour Commissioners, Borough of Poole, Dorset County Council Countryside Service and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. The project is supported by Bournemouth Borough Council. Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council and Natural England.
This video from New Zealand is about Otago skinks.
From Wildlife Extra:
Endangered skinks collected in NZ for breeding
Eighty-five endangered grand and Otago skinks have been collected near Wanaka in New Zealand as part of a as part of a breed-for-release programme
Ongoing decline in western grand and Otago skink populations has prompted the Department of Conservation (DOC) and several other agencies to collect the skinks from their Grandview Range habitat in the Lindis. The skinks will be housed temporarily at zoos, wild life parks and eco-sanctuaries throughout New Zealand, as part of a breed-for-release programme.
“This programme aims to increase numbers of both species so they can be released back into secure sites within their former range,” Grand and Otago Skink Project Manager Gavin Udy said. “It is a great example of conservation agencies and individuals working together to ensure the ongoing survival of an iconic, unique and endangered New Zealand species,”
Grand and Otago skinks are two of New Zealand’s most distinctive and impressive lizards. Known as giant skinks, they are the country’s largest lizards, with Otago skinks growing up to 300mm in length and grand skinks 230mm.
These omnivorous lizards are diurnal, and don’t hibernate. They can live for up to 20 years in the wild, and give birth to live young – two or three a year. Both species are unique to Otago and are two of New Zealand’s rarest reptiles. They are now found in only eight percent of their former range and have the highest possible threat status, ‘Nationally Critically Endangered‘.
This video is called Giant Galapagos Tortoise (extreme closeup!)
Inside the Galapagos Islands’ Giant Tortoise Rehab Effort
By Jeffrey Marlow
You’re sailing from the Spice Islands across the open ocean to the South American port of Guayaquil, your financial motives rooted somewhere along a broad spectrum of morality and lawfulness. Several months have passed, and food stores and morale are low. Fortunately, you know a spot that will save the day, a cluster of rocky islands jutting out of the east Pacific near the equator.
For centuries, the Galapagos Islands have been a convenience store for ocean-going journeys, the resident Giant Tortoises serving as the perfect solution to the constant challenge of acquiring fresh meat at sea. These enormous beasts could handle the rigors of shipboard life and could be harvested at any time. Ships throughout the 18th-20th centuries would stop at the Galapagos, herd dozens of tortoises onto the decks, and sail off, assured of a reliable protein source for the remainder of their journey. At one point, an American whaling vessel lost track of a captive tortoise, which ambled out of the hold two and a half years later in Nantucket. Befuddled onlookers promptly killed it and made a stew.
And so, slowly but surely, the Giant Tortoise population was decimated. By the mid-1900s, conservationists began to recognize the problem, just as the increasing rate of international tourism and commerce was introducing another mortal threat to the species.
This one came in the form of fire ants, a voracious invasive species with a taste for baby tortoise. “Within 20 minutes of hatching,” says naturalist Ernesto Vaca, “they swarm and make the baby tortoise disappear.” Other human-transported pests, like rats, dogs, and cats, have developed similar dietary proclivities. With the species now facing a genuine threat to its survival, the Centro de Crianza was founded on Isabela Island, and conservationists went into crisis mode, airlifting tortoises with helicopters and initiating a breeding program.
It took a while to develop effective breeding techniques, but today, the Centro boasts a near-perfect success rate from egg to teenage tortoise. The rescue program continues in full force, as the habitat surrounding Isabela Island’s many dome-shaped volcanoes have been deemed unsafe for tortoises because of the fire ant threat. Employees and volunteers venture into the dense forest to retrieve tortoise eggs, which are then placed into computer-controlled incubators back at the Centro. The sex of the fledglings is determined by egg incubation temperature – above 37.5 °C leads to females, below produces males – allowing the Centro to generate its ideal ratio of 60% females and 40% males. Just before hatching, the eggs are buried in sand to simulate natural conditions and ensure that baby tortoises can dig upward and outward, a capability that bodes well for future robustness. Until the young tortoises are two years old, they’re placed in cages to offer protection against rats. By five, they’re in open-air enclosures, having received microchips that will track their movements once released into the wild.
And that, after all, is the ultimate goal, to repopulate the Galapagos with one of its most iconic species. Already, several hundred adults have been reintroduced to Espanola, an island particularly hard-hit by wave of threats over the decades. But the long-term prognosis is murky, especially as the invasive species that predate upon tortoises continue to grow in numbers. One option is to bolster the invasive species eradication efforts; another is that the animals will merely live the first few years of their lives in controlled conditions. But for now, the stabilization of the Giant Tortoise population is a victory in itself, a promising example of how conservation efforts can bring an organism back from the brink. As human impact on the unique Galapagos ecosystems increases, the model of tortoise rehab may prove useful in protecting other species from extinction, allowing the islands to maintain their unique treasure trove of biodiversity.
This video is about hawksbill turtles in the Caribbean.
From Wildlife Extra:
April 2014: Abu Dhabi’s Bu Tinah and Zirku Islands could soon become recognised around the world as important marine turtle nesting sites. The country’s Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has submitted a proposal to the Indian Ocean and South East Asia (IOSEA) MoU Secretariat to include the two islands in their network.
The critically endangered Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the endangered Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) can be found in Abu Dhabi’s waters and nest on at least 17 offshore islands from mid-March to mid-June. The EAD’s aerial and field survey findings indicate that about 5,750 sea turtles inhabit Abu Dhabi’s waters during the winter season and 6,900 during the summer season.
“Our marine environment is a treasured part of our heritage, our past, our present and our future. Furthermore, marine turtles and their habitats are key indicators of the health of our environment and so this is why, at EAD, we have been closely studying, monitoring and protecting them since 1999,” said Thabit Zahran Al Abdessalaam, EAD’s Senior Advisor on Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity.
“By having Bu Tinah and Zirku Islands included in the IOSEA Marine Turtle Site Network, this will help ensure their long-term conservation. It will also yield a range of socio-economic benefits for the local community in the Western Region, as conservation also means cleaner coastal waters, protecting the habitat used as nursery grounds for seafood species that support commercial and subsistence fisheries, and the overall protection of mangrove and reef habitat to reduce threats from coastal hazards.”
The two islands will be evaluated by the Secretariat, which is part of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, who will take into consideration different factors including their ecological and biological significance, their governance as well as their regional and global representation.
This video from the USA says about itself:
30 April 2010
The next victims of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could be the birds that depend on the region’s fertile shorelines, bayous and marshes. American Bird Conservancy‘s Michael Fry talks to Jorge Ribas about the situation.
From daily The Guardian in Britain:
Wildlife in Gulf of Mexico still suffering four years after BP oil spill: report
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
Wednesday 9 April 2014 15.54 BST
The BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused dangerous after-effects to more than a dozen different animals from dolphins to oysters, a report from an environmental campaign group said on Tuesday.
Four years after the oil disaster, some 14 species showed symptoms of oil exposure, the report from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) said.
“The oil is not gone. There is oil on the bottom of the gulf, oil washing up on the beach and there is oil in the marshes,” Doug Inkley, senior scientist for NWF, told a conference call.
At the top of the food chain, more than 900 bottlenose dolphins have been found dead or stranded in the oil spill area since April 2010, when the BP well exploded. Last year, dolphins were still stranding at more than three times the average annual rates before the spill, the report said.
A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Barataria Bay, which was heavily oiled during the spill, found dolphins were underweight and anaemic, and showing signs of liver and lung disease.
“These are top-level species that are in trouble,” Inkley said. “When you see sick dolphins like we do in Barataria Bay that tells you there is a problem and it needs to be examined even further.”
Sea turtles have also been stranding at a higher rate since the spill, the report said. “Roughly 500 stranded sea turtles have been found in the area affected by the spill every year from 2011 to 2013.”
Last month, NOAA researchers linked the oil from BP’s well to irregular heart beats in embryonic and newborn tuna. “We can now say with certainty that oil causes cardiotoxicity in fish,” Stanford University fish biologist Barbara Block told a press conference at the time.
BP has discounted the studies on dolphin and tuna.
The NWF report catalogued damage to other species from the spill from oysters – which showed declines in reproduction across large areas of the northern Gulf – to sperm whales, which have exhibited higher levels of metals than whales elsewhere.
NWF scientists said it could take years before the full effects of the oil spill on marine life were understood.
Much of the research on the effects of the spill is being gathered as evidence in legal proceedings that will attempt to set a dollar figure on the amount BP has to pay to restore the Gulf.
It likes the beautiful flowers, which grow here. And in the botanical garden on the other site of the road, where we would go later and where the flower photos were taken.
Much bigger than the little hummingbird is a green iguana.
We cross the main road. Groove-billed anis on the other side.
Two social flycatchers on a wire.
A pond in the botanical garden attracts damselflies.
A black-cheeked woodpecker in a tree.
A Central American agouti walking in the garden.
A scaly-breasted hummingbird on a branch cleans its feathers.
A black-cowled oriole in another tree.
In yet another tree, a yellow-olive flycatcher.
A rufous-tailed hummingbird; sometimes, on a branch; sometimes flying.
Back across the main road. In a treetop, an olive-throated parakeet.
We walk along the forest trail. A butterfly.
A bird from North America wintering here: a male summer tanager.
Let us finish this blog post like we started it, with a Montezuma’s oropendola.
This video is called Blue-throated Macaws in the Barba Azul Nature Reserve, Bolivia.
By Martin Fowlie, Wed, 09/04/2014 – 09:37
The Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) has announced this year’s conservation team awards. Twenty six grants have been awarded in 16 different countries worth a total of $450,000.
This year’s projects form another extremely diverse group ranging from conservation of Slender-snouted Crocodile in Gabon, to surveying and assessing three Red Listed tree species in the Western Ghats of India. This year, for the first time, the CLP will be supporting a project from Antigua and Barbuda.
“These awards have identified 110 young conservation leaders from developing countries early in their careers. They join a global network of more than 2,500 conservationists in the CLP alumni. These people are committed to conservation and improving the state of nature globally”, said Kiragu Mwangi, BirdLife’s CLP Programme Manager.
Bird species that will be the focus of some of this year’s projects include the Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw, Sociable Lapwing, Black-breasted Puffleg and Siberian Crane. A further two projects will focus on the Serra do Urubu Important Bird and Biodiversity Area in north-eastern Brazil and the Inter-Andean Slopes and Chocó Endemic Bird Areas in Colombia.
In addition to funding all participating team members will get the chance to access a wealth of conservation expertise and receive training from within the CLP Partnership.
All award-winning team members will become part of the CLP alumni network that supports approximately 2,500 conservation leaders. The Alumni Network provides ongoing professional development to our emerging leaders and positions them to multiply their impact in the conservation sector.
“Through this programme, we invest in ongoing professional development and mentoring to further build skills and knowledge”, said Kiragu.
Alumni members also receive access to additional grants, mentoring from CLP staff and training. A representative from each award-winning team will also take part in CLP’s two-week Conservation Leadership & Management Training Workshop in June 2014 at a remote ecological research station in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.
The CLP has supported over 554 projects since the programme’s start in 1985.
The CLP is a unique partnership between BirdLife International, Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International and Wildlife Conservation Society. The mission of the CLP is to advance biodiversity conservation globally by building the leadership capabilities of early-career conservation professionals working in places with limited capacity to address high-priority conservation issues.
Full Project List
Future Conservationist Awards (up to $15,000)
- Assessing Extinction Risk of Kenya’s Exploited Coral Reef Fish
- Conservation Assessment of Ibadan Malimbe in South-Western Nigeria
- Combining Research and Local Community Involvement to Save Lemur in Madagascar
- Conservation Beyond Breeding Grounds: Tracking Sociable Lapwing in Eritrea
- Conservation of Slender-Snouted Crocodile in the Lake Region of Gabon
- Toward Sustainable Logging in São Tomé, São Tomé and Príncipe
- Conserving Endangered Silvery-Brown Tamarin in Highly Degraded Forests, Colombia
- Monitoring Harlequin Frogs in Sierra Nevada, Colombia
- Conservation Status Assessment of Salamanders in Santander, Colombia
- Unravelling the Occupancy Patterns of Guiana Dolphin in Southeastern Brazil
- River Dolphin Population Assessment in Yarinacocha Lagoon, Peru
- Promoting Local Participation in Habitat Conservation of Black-breasted Puffleg, Ecuador
- Status Surveys of Focal Species in the Magdalena Medio, Colombia
- Baird´s Tapir Conservation in Nombre De Dios National Park, Honduras
- Conserving West Indian Whistling Duck on Antigua and Barbuda’s Offshore-Islands
- Preventing Extinction of the Critically Endangered Blue-Throated Macaw, Bolivia
- Tackling Invasive Alien Species in the Western Ghats Hotspot, India
- Conservation of Otter Habitat Through Stakeholder Participation, India
- Survey and Assessment of Threatened Trees in Western Ghats, India
- Effect of Landscape Change on Mammals in Eastern Ghats, India
- Protecting Horseshoe Bats of Romania
Follow-up Awards ($25,000)
- Promoting Conservation of Threatened Birds in Western Colombia
- Promoting Conservation Through Ecotourism and Education in Serra Do Urubu Important Bird Area, Brazil
- Conserving Siberian Cranes in China Through Sustainable Water Management
- Conserving Livelihoods and Semnopithecus Ajax: Resolving Conflicts Around Khajiar-Kalatop Sanctuary-Chamba
Leadership Awards ($50,000)
- Dugongs for Life: Engaging Malagasy Communities in Marine Ecosystem Stewardship
Some oropendola males do their mating season gymnastics performances, while singing their songs.
And a female white-necked jacobin hummingbird.
A male red-throated ant tanager, singing on a branch.
There was a female as well.
Sun bitterns are called “zonneral”, sun rail, in Dutch. But they are not closely related to either rails or bitterns.
We go a bit further along the river.
A lizard on a tree trunk. A pug-nosed anole male?
A fasciated tiger heron among the rocks.
It catches food from the river.
A neotropic cormorant flies along.
This video is called Theropod cladogram.
From PLOS ONE:
Thomas E. Williamson, Stephen L. Brusatte
Published: April 07, 2014
Studying the evolution and biogeographic distribution of dinosaurs during the latest Cretaceous is critical for better understanding the end-Cretaceous extinction event that killed off all non-avian dinosaurs. Western North America contains among the best records of Late Cretaceous terrestrial vertebrates in the world, but is biased against small-bodied dinosaurs.
Isolated teeth are the primary evidence for understanding the diversity and evolution of small-bodied theropod dinosaurs during the Late Cretaceous, but few such specimens have been well documented from outside of the northern Rockies, making it difficult to assess Late Cretaceous dinosaur diversity and biogeographic patterns.
We describe small theropod teeth from the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico. These specimens were collected from strata spanning Santonian – Maastrichtian. We grouped isolated theropod teeth into several morphotypes, which we assigned to higher-level theropod clades based on possession of phylogenetic synapomorphies. We then used principal components analysis and discriminant function analyses to gauge whether the San Juan Basin teeth overlap with, or are quantitatively distinct from, similar tooth morphotypes from other geographic areas.
The San Juan Basin contains a diverse record of small theropods. Late Campanian assemblages differ from approximately co-eval assemblages of the northern Rockies in being less diverse with only rare representatives of troodontids and a Dromaeosaurus-like taxon. We also provide evidence that erect and recurved morphs of a Richardoestesia-like taxon represent a single heterodont species.
A late Maastrichtian assemblage is dominated by a distinct troodontid. The differences between northern and southern faunas based on isolated theropod teeth provide evidence for provinciality in the late Campanian and the late Maastrichtian of North America. However, there is no indication that major components of small-bodied theropod diversity were lost during the Maastrichtian in New Mexico. The same pattern [is] seen in northern faunas, which may provide evidence for an abrupt dinosaur extinction.