Tunisian waterbirds news

This video says about itself:

Migration of Black kites and White Storks at Cap Bon, Tunisia between 24 &30 April 2009 with Bee-eaters, Egyptian vulture & Short-toed eagle.

From Tunis Afrique Presse (Tunis):

Tunisia: New Site On Ramsar List

25 January 2013

Tunis — The Complexe Lac de Tunis, a site covering 2,243 hectares including the Northern and Southern Lakes of the Tunis city, has been put on the Ramsar list as an important new Wetland of International Importance.

This was announced by Tunisia’s General Forests Department and World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Tunisia as part of the project “Wetlands: A Habitat for Men and Nature.”

According to WWF, this site constitutes an ideal nesting ground for several waterbirds and wintering ground for migrating species, such as the Greater Flamingo, and offers a rich flora for several fish species.

Tunisia has 38 Ramsar sites covering 828,285 hectares, and two more sites are waiting to be added to the list in the coming days, according to information posted on “TunWet” website (a network of Tunisian environmental associations endeavouring for the protection of wetlands).

WWF Tunisia and the General Forests Department dedicated this designation to Dr. Luc Hoffmann, WWF co-founder and one of the “Founding Fathers” of the Ramsar Convention, on his 90th birthday (January 23).

Adopted in 1971 in Iran, the Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the “wise use,” of sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories.

Manatees’ ancestors discovery

A reconstruction of the early sirenian Pezosiren. Photo by Thesupermat, image from Wikipedia

From Smart News blog:

January 18, 2013 2:44 pm

Sea Cows Used To Walk on Land in Africa And Jamaica

Sea cows, also known as manatees, were not always the Florida-dwelling gentle giants of the sea that they are today. In fact, they once walked on land. Their 48-million-year-old ancestor, Pezosiren, ran all over prehistoric Jamaica and resembled a hippo at first glance. But sea cows also share ancestry with elephants, which first appeared in Africa around 66 million years ago. Paleontologists, however, have always drawn a blank on the evolutionary link between the manatee’s African and Jamaican relatives—until now. Researchers digging around in Tunisia found a skill fragment that fills the missing piece of the puzzle. National Geographic continues:

That might not seem like much to go on, yet the intricate, complicated features in this single bone allowed Benoit and coauthors to confirm that it belonged to a sirenian rather than an early elephant or hyrax. The researchers have wisely avoided naming the animal on the basis of such limited material. They simply call the mammal the Chambi sea cow.

The fact that the mammal lived in Africa confirms what zoologists and paleontologists suspected based upon genetics and anatomical traits shared with elephants and other paenungulates.

The bone is about 50 million years old. The researchers guess the animal it once belonged to resembled Pezosiren more than the modern sea cow, though the bone also hints that the Chambi manatee spent a lot of time in the water since the inner ear resembles that of whales.

The fossil, however, may raise more questions than provide answers. Like, if the Chambi manatee and the Jamaican one are about the same age, when did the dispersal event occur that first separated those animals? How did legged sea cows first make their way across the Atlantic? In the absence of other bones, what did the Chambi manatee look like? As NatGeo writes, paleontologists are slowly assembling the outline of how sea cows evolved, bone by bone.

See also here.

Humpback whale watching on Dutch coast

This video from Mexico is called Humpback Whale Shows AMAZING Appreciation After Being Freed From Nets.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

“Humpback to the left of the flag!”

Thursday, December 20, 2012, 16:56

By reporter Pauline Broekema

He is from Sousse, Tunisia. Grew up near the sea and is used to marine animals. But for Hesni Sougnir, owner of the beachbar the Weather Vane on the boulevard in Egmond aan Zee this is a unique day. He interrupts his work regularly. In his blue apron he watches intensively behind the surf. In front of his bar the two whales swim. He can not believe his luck.

Regularly, whale watchers come. The humpback whale spotters are of the helpful kind. “To the left of the flag!” it sounds. “Keep the binoculars focused on the surf, then you will see it there!”

Excellent condition

A passerby without binoculars can borrow one. Though there is little to see of the humpback, still the sudden blow fountain is an unexpected sensation. A fin that suddenly pops up out of the sea creates turbulence on the coast. Sougnir has many nature lovers among its customers. “They have been waiting for this for thirty years,” he says.

It’s probably a mother with a baby. This morning, the men of the Egmond lifeboat were close to them in an open boat. “The animals were a in fine condition, as far as I could see” says Henk Biesboer of the lifeboat.