Parrotfish help coral reefs survice


This video says about itself:

The parrotfish is an interesting specimen. Not only do they change sex from female to male as they get older but parrotfish like blowing spit bubbles to sleep in.

A giant spit bubble sleeping bag.

In the morning the parrotfish goes about living its life on the reef, spending its day happily munching coral with its huge buck teeth. The fish grinds the coral down to extract the algae. Like all animals – what goes in must come out and the fish poops out the undigested rock as sand. A single fish can produce 200 lbs of sand a year.

From Wildlife Extra:

Corals need more parrotfish to survive

A decline in parrotfish and sea urchin numbers is a bigger cause of Caribbean coral loss than global warming, a new report suggests, and by increasing these populations the reefs have a chance of recovery.

The corals have declined by more than 50 per cent since the 1970s and only about one-sixth of their original coral cover remain.

These species are the area’s two main grazers and the loss of them breaks the delicate eco-balance of corals and allows algae, on which they feed, to smother the reefs.

“The rate at which the Caribbean corals have been declining is truly alarming,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme.

“But this study brings some very encouraging news: the fate of Caribbean corals is not beyond our control and there are some very concrete steps that we can take to help them recover.”

“Even if we could somehow make climate change disappear tomorrow, these reefs would continue their decline,” says Jeremy Jackson, lead author of the report and IUCN’s senior advisor on coral reefs.

“We must immediately address the grazing problem for the reefs to stand any chance of surviving future climate shifts.”

The research was carried out by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Good least tern news from Bonaire


This video is called Nesting Least Terns.

Translated from IMARES research institute in the Netherlands, on 30 May 2014:

Near Bonaire, an artificial island has been constructed where terns can breed without predators or disturbances. With the help of wooden terns decoys, after two weeks over ninety least tern couples are breeding on the island.

There are two common tern nests as well.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wildlife recovering on Caribbean Dog Island


This video is called Connecting the Caribbean with Seabird Conservaton.

From Wildlife Extra:

Wildlife recovering on rat-free Caribbean island

Bird numbers and other wildlife populations are starting to recover on Dog Island in Anguilla in the Caribbean, following an intensive five-month programme to eradicate black rats and two years of careful monitoring.

Covering 207 hectares, the island is the largest Caribbean island to be successfully cleared of non-native rats to protect the island’s threatened wildlife.

Dog Island is an internationally-recognised Important Bird Area, with over 100,000 pairs of nesting seabirds. It also supports lizards found nowhere else on earth and endangered sea turtles, which nest on the island’s white sandy beaches.

However prior to November 2011 the island was also infested with thousands of invasive, non-native black rats, which caused severe damage by suppressing native flora and preying on eggs, chicks, and other animals.

The eradication took place between November 2011 and March 2012 and was a collaborative initiative among the Anguilla National Trust, the Government of Anguilla (Department of Environment), Fauna & Flora International, the RSPB, and the island’s owner– the Anguilla Development Company.

“The volunteer team and I spent eleven weeks camping on Dog Island to complete the black rat eradication, working long hours in hot and difficult conditions. As I am sure all of the volunteers will agree, one of the worst parts of the project was having to cut tracks through nearly 30 hectares of manchineel,” said Elizabeth (Biz) Bell, Senior Ecologist from Wildlife Management International Ltd. “Despite this, it was fantastic to live and work amongst the native species such as ground and tree lizards, frigatebirds, boobies and tropicbirds that the project was working to protect. It was a real pleasure to return to the island this February to confirm that the project was a success and see species beginning to recover already.”

The last rat was removed on 18th March 2012. However it is international practice only to declare an island rat-free after two years have elapsed since the last rat was detected.

See also here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

New marine species discoveries in Bonaire sea


This video says about itself:

Lionfish spotted in Bonaire

21 June 2013

Lionfish spotted with the submarine spotted at depths of approximately 300feet deep. These were spotted on a sunken boat where many of them created their habitat.

From IMARES research institute in Wageningen, the Netherlands, last year:

The marine biologists Erik Meesters and Lisa Becking of IMARES Wageningen UR have explored Bonaire‘s deep reef using a submarine. They found unusual animals, fossil reefs, and even archaeological artefacts.

The goal of the Bonaire Deep Reef Expedition is to take an initial inventory of the habitat and biodiversity of the deep reef.

On the morning of 18 May 2014, Lisa Becking was interviewed by Vroege Vpgels radio in the Netherlands about the results of the expedition. Photos are here.

Ms Becking said the discoveries included 13 sponge species, new for science; and two sponge species already known from elsewhere, but not from Bonaire waters yet. They found 30 sponge species, so half was new, either for Bonaire, or for science.

They also found one new shrimp species and two new fish species.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Abu Dhabi’s sea turtle nesting sites


This video is about hawksbill turtles in the Caribbean.

From Wildlife Extra:

Abu Dhabi’s islands could gain global recognition as important marine turtle nesting sites

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Caribbean humpback whales, video


This video says about itself:

Humpback whales while diving in Saba, Dutch Caribbean

12 Feb 2014

Once in a lifetime shot of humpback whales while diving in Saba using a GoPro 3 black. Right place at the right time.

April 2014: Men are simply not worth wasting time on say humpback whale mums, who retreat to the peace of shallower waters around the Hawaiian Islands with their calf to reduce the likelihood of being sexually harassed by amorous males new research shows: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

New plant species discovery on Caribbean island


This video says about itself:

26 Dec 2013

I was lucky to see these Leatherback turtles hatching on Zeelandia beach, St. Eustatius.

And here are the sequels to the first video.

From BioNews:

New Plant Species on St. Eustatius

23rd Jan 2014

ST. EUSTATIUS — The ongoing study of the vascular plant flora of St. Eustatius by STENAPA and the University of Puerto Rico has resulted in the discovery of a new species never described before by science, named Gonolobus aloiensis; the genus name coming from the Greek ‘gonos’ (seed) and Latin ‘lobus’ (pod) and the species name from ’Aloi’, the Arawak name for St. Eustatius, meaning cashew tree.

So new it still lacks a common name, Gonolobus aloiensis can be described as a vine from the climbing milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae). It is endemic to St. Eustatius and its discovery represents the first record of this genus for the island, expanding the endemic biodiversity of St. Eustatius with yet another species and proving that even on our small Dutch Caribbean islands, not all biodiversity has been charted yet.

The plant can be easily distinguished from the six other Lesser Antillean Gonolobus species by its shorter and narrower lobes and the presence of ‘glandular hairs’, or trichomes, on the top two-thirds of the lobes.

The Gonolobus genus is comprised of an estimated 100 – 150 species. On the Lesser Caribbean islands, around ten species of Gonolobus can be found, all endemic to the region of which eight are single island endemics. Now a ninth can be added to that list. Only occurring inside the Quill volcano crater rim, this newly discovered species has just surpassed the Statia Morning Glory as the rarest plant species within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Since its habitat, the walls of a dormant volcano crater, is hardly accessible, at the moment it is not possible to estimate the exact population size of G. aloiensis for conservation purposes. Possible threats include the goats that roam about the crater and the unlikely eruption of the volcano. However unlikely, at eruption the entire population of G. aloiensis would be wiped out. Therefore the authors recommend attempts be made to grow G. aloiensis in botanical gardens to ensure its preservation. To begin with, STENAPA will try to cultivate it in the Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden on St. Eustatius.

Source: Krings, A.; Axelrod, F.S. (2013) Gonolobus aloiensis (Apocynaceae, Asclepiadoideae), a New Species from St. Eustatius. Systematic Botany 38(4): 1132–1137.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Restoring mangroves of St. Maarten island


This video is called Natural Wonders of the Caribbean – Mangrove Swamps.

From BioNews, January 2014:

In May 2012, the construction of the Simpson Bay Lagoon Causeway on St. Maarten began, connecting the Princess Juliana International Airport to the eastern shore of the lagoon. Large sections of the mangrove forest present in the bay had to give way to the causeway construction. To compensate for this loss, in the initial stage of the project almost 8,000 juvenile mangroves were removed and have been replanted in the Simpson Bay Lagoon itself and at various other locations around the island.

Along with the replanting, which utilized a variety of ecosystem-based reforestation techniques, a monitoring programme was put in place to measure success. In January 2014 an area of 600 square metres was surveyed and it demonstrated that this reforestation project was working, and even one of the most successful mangrove reforestation initiatives on the island to date.

Mangrove forests are under severe pressure and disappearing at an alarming rate. It is estimated that approximately 60% of the total mangrove areas on St. Maarten have been lost. In the Simpson Bay Lagoon, all four species of mangroves are still present: Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans), White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) and Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus).

During the Nature Foundation’s monitoring, a number of invertebrate species that rely on mangroves in some way or another were recorded, including Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas), Red Cushion Sea Stars (Oreaster reticulata), Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber (Holothuria mexicana), and the Upside Down Jellyfish (Cassiopeia frondosa). The fact that these species are present is an encouraging sign for the overall health of the ecosystem.

Mangroves provide a filter for runoff water from the land that prevents harmful sediments from smothering coral reefs, including those of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, just south of St. Maarten. When established successfully, the mangrove trees have the potential to become a thriving habitat for many other plants and animals as well as an important nursery for many species of fish, such as Schoolmaster (Lutjanus apodus), Gray Snapper (Lutjanus griseus), Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) and the Foureye Butterfly Fish (Chaetodon capistratus).

As a next step in this project, additional mangroves will also be planted on the western edge of the causeway landing and constant management and regular monitoring will be carried out to ensure the survivability of the mangroves planted.

St. Maarten coral: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta