Hermit crab invasion, video


This video is about an invasion of small hermit crabs in the North Sea near Ameland island in the Netherlands early this June.

Ronal.Anneloes made this video.

First ever tawny owl on Ameland island


This video from Britain says about itself:

An Introduction to the Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)

This short film by owl conservationist Ian McGuire takes a brief look at the familiar too-whit too-whoo nocturnal owl of woodlands – the tawny owl.

Marjan, warden on Ameland in the Netherlands, writes that three owl species already have long histories on the island: short-eared owl, long-eared owl, and barn owl.

Since about a year, there is a fourth owl species, new for Ameland: a tawny owl lives in the Kwekerijbos woodland near Nes village. People hear its call regularly.

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Dutch Sandwich tern, Ameland to Namibia migration


This video from England is called Sandwich terns return to RSPB Coquet Island.

Marjan, warden on Ameland island in the Netherlands, reports that in June 2013 a Sandwich tern was ringed at a nesting colony on the island.

Recently, people spotted that bird in Namibia in Africa.

Will it have a succesful spring migration, all the long way back to Ameland?

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Map butterfly on Dutch islands, new discovery


This video from the Netherlands is about map butterflies (their early summer morph).

Recently, map butterflies were recorded for the first time on Ameland and Vlieland islands in the Dutch Wadden Sea.

Probably, south winds blew them to these most northern places where this species was ever seen in the Netherlands.

Since about 1950, map butterflies spread over the Netherlands from the south.

Sunfish beaches on Dutch island


Sunfish on Ameland beach, photo © Petra de Jong

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Sunfish on Ameland beach – 01/03/13

A huge ocean sunfish 1.55 meters long and 1.22 meters high! Hikers found the big fish last Tuesday on the beach of Ameland. It is a remarkable find. It does not happen every year that ocean sunfish are seen along our coast, yet this is the fourth individual in a few weeks’ time. In addition, this one was pretty big. Usually people see smaller specimens. The largest one ever in the Netherlands beached also on Ameland. That was in 1889. That animal was 2.73 meters long.

Several finds

On Texel in December two dead sunfish were found on one day, one on the North Sea beach, the other one along the Wadden Sea. They were two relatively small fish of 60 and 80 centimeter. A few days later a third sunfish washed up on the beach of Domburg in Zeeland. This one was 1.13 meters long.

Yesterday, a squid beached on Ameland as well; photo here.

White porpoise in North Sea


After white beluga whales … err, they are all white … really rare white humpback whales … and a really rare white killer whale

White porpoise off Scotland, photo ©Kevin Robinson / CRRU

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island, the Netherlands:

White porpoise in the North Sea – 08/12/30

“We have never seen this in 16 years of research”, Scottish researchers reported on Twitter. In a North Sea bay in the north of Scotland, they saw an almost all white porpoise swimming. The small whale had only a black border around its fin. White or almost white porpoises are seen very rarely. Throughout the world that happened during the last hundred years less than ten times.

Previous observations

Coincidentally, in March between Den Helder and Texel, a white porpoise was also seen by porpoises counter Kees Rebel. According to Kees that was an immature specimen, about eight months old. “It was completely white. I saw it come up about fifteen times.” This white porpoise was seen again three days later, then near the German Wadden Sea island Juist. Because that porpoise was completely white, it is possible that the Scottish observation was another individual. That would be really special!

Porpoise beaches on Texel: here.

Porpoise beaches on Ameland: here.

Troubled times for endangered Yangtze finless porpoise: here. And here.

Yangtze finless porpoise population declines: here.

April 2013. The Yangtze finless porpoise population has declined to a mere 1,000 individuals, making the endangered species even more rare than the wild giant panda, according to the 2012 Yangtze Freshwater Dolphin Survey Report: here.

Tagging Along With Whales: With the help of new technology, researchers are capturing the details of humpback whale behavior on their North Atlantic feeding grounds: here.

Why do killer whales go through menopause? Here.

Rare sunfish near Texel island


This video says about itself:

The first-ever sighting and recording of a species of sunfish in the Galápagos is made.

Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands reports that last Sunday a ocean sunfish, rare for the Netherlands, was seen.

The fish swam near the harbour of De Cocksdorp village. It was about 80-90 centimeter in size, so still a juvenile.

De Cocksdorp in winter: here.

Ameland sunfish: here.

Lichens might survive on Mars


This video is about lichens.

Translated from Griet Nijs’ Dutch in Belgium:

Life on Mars after all?

Message from Natuurpunt Study (Belgium) on Tuesday, April 3, 2012

For many years, science has been asking itself whether there is life on Mars. In an attempt to finally get out of this impasse, researchers have exposed several lichens to space conditions and have monitored whether they survived. The results are at least surprising.

Research into life on Mars is not new. During the last twenty years, it has been proved several times that prokaryotes, cells without nuclei such as bacteria, can survive under simulated or real space conditions. They can survive a high dose of UV radiation, extreme temperatures and even vacuums. Some prokaryotes would even survive the extreme conditions on Mars.

Over the past decade there were also the first experiments with eukaryotes, organisms with a more developed cell structure, including humans, animals and plants. Lichens also belong to the eukaryotes. Lichens are essentially a symbiosis (a form of society with mutual benefit) between a fungus and a green alga or cyanobacteria. The mold retains water and provides protection while the algae take care of the production of sugars through photosynthesis.

When scientists exposed some lichens, such as Xanthoria elegans, a lichen also of alpine and polar regions, and Fulgensia bracteata, to conditions like in space, they were found to have high resistance against this. When the algal symbionts were separated and therefore could not benefit from protection by the fungus, they lost their capacity for growth. The physiological capacities were reduced to 42%. This suggests that the symbiosis between the fungus and the algae increases the ability of both partners to survive under space conditions.

Based on the results of the simulated space conditions, Xanthoria elegans, Aspicilia fruticulosa and Rhizocarpon geographicum were then subjected to a real space test. It showed that after ten days in space, only a minimal effect occurred. An exposure of eighteen months in space brought more effects. While A. fruticulosa and Xanthoria elegans still showed photosynthesis and physiological activity, it turned out that Rhizocarpon geographicum was slightly damaged.

These results inspired the researchers to go one step further. They decided to expose Xanthoria elegans to a range of parameters such as those found on Mars. The atmosphere, extreme temperatures, humidity, UV radiation and available minerals were simulated. Xanthoria elegans, which also occurs here in Flanders, showed an exceptional survival capacity when it was exposed to these conditions for four days. From these results one can deduce that eukaryotic symbionts may be able to survive in regions of Mars where liquid water is present.

The results of this study show that not only the most primitive life forms could survive on the surface of planets in our solar system. We do not know if they have reached those planets. But life as we know it would therefore be possible on other planets …

Source: de Vera JP, Lichens as survivors in space and on Mars, Fungal Ecology (2012), doi: 10.1016/j.funeco.2012.01.008

Lichen Can Survive in Space: Space Station Research Sheds Light On Origin of Life; Potential for Better Sunscreens: here.

Lichens of Dutch Ameland island: here.

Algal blooms can cause serious – even fatal – problems in our waterways, but scientists know little about what causes them: here.

More porpoises beached in the Netherlands


This is a video about saving a beached harbour porpoise on Ameland island in the Netherlands.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Record number of harbour porpoises stranded – 09/01/12

More than 800 stranded porpoises on the Dutch coast in 2011, which is twice as much as in previous years. When the number was between 350 and 550 per year. Most were already dead when they beached, but there were also some 20 still living. Also on Texel island more of these small toothed whales were found than ever before. There were a total of 88 reported to Ecomare, three of them living.

Poor food

Studies of Wageningen University and Utrecht University show that about one third of stranded porpoises were hungry. Researchers found in porpoise stomachs mostly gobies, but this small and lean fish does not have much nutritional value. When the porpoises grow up, they increasingly feed on whiting, also a lean fish providing little energy. The fish they catch especially in our coastal area are too small or too thin to provide enough food.

Rehabilation of beached porpoises: here.

King eider on Ameland island


This is a king eider among common eider video, from Sweden.

22 April 2011.

Yesterday, a king eider was seen among a group of ten common eider ducks in the Wadden sea near Ameland island in the Netherlands. Photos were taken.

This Arctic species is very rare in the Netherlands.

Report on wintering marine ducks in the Netherlands: here.