Sea otter tool use, new research


This video from the USA says about itself:

26 May 2016

An abalone can be pretty hard to pry off a rock. Just ask a sea otter! But if there’s a handy stone nearby? Good luck abalone!

See how our researchers study the way sea otters use tools: here.

An otter fuels its fast metabolism by eating up to a quarter of its weight in food a day. (A 150-pound person would have to eat 35 to 40 pounds of food a day to match that!)

A sea otter may hunt on the seafloor, but always returns to the surface to eat. Floating there on its back, it uses its chest as a table. (And if dinner’s a crab or clam, the otter may use a rock to crack open its prey.)

An otter’s coat has pockets—pouches of loose skin under each forearm. An otter uses them to stash prey during a dive, which leaves its paws free to hunt some more.

From Science News:

Tool use in sea otters doesn’t run in the family

by Helen Thompson

8:44pm, March 21, 2017

Aside from being adorable, sea otters and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins share an ecological feat: Both species use tools. Otters crack open snails with rocks, and dolphins carry cone-shaped sponges to protect their snouts while scavenging for rock dwelling fish.

Researchers have linked tool use in dolphins to a set of differences in mitochondrial DNA — which passes from mother to offspring — suggesting that tool-use behavior may be inherited. Biologist Katherine Ralls of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and her colleagues looked for a similar pattern in otters off the California coast. The team tracked diet (primarily abalone, crab, mussels, clams, urchins or snails) and tool use in the wild and analyzed DNA from 197 individual otters.

Otters that ate lots of hard-shelled snails — and used tools most frequently — rarely shared a common pattern in mitochondrial DNA, nor were they more closely related to other tool-users than any other otter in the population.

Unlike dolphins, sea otters may all be predisposed to using tools because their ancestors probably lived off mollusks, which required cracking open. However, modern otters only take up tools when their diet requires them, the researchers report March 21 in Biology Letters.

Red deer freed, back in Dutch province


This March 2017 video is about red deer being freed in Dutch nature reserve Het Groene Woud in North Brabant province. Red deer had been extinct in that province for over a century.

Turkeys circling dead cat video


This 3 March 2017 video from Massachusetts in the USA says about itself:

Why These Turkeys Circling A Dead Cat Remind Us How Amazing Nature Can Be

Jonathon Davis was on his way to work when he came upon the bizarre scene. A flock of more than 15 turkeys were filmed circling around a dead cat in the middle of a busy road Thursday outside Boston. Animal Planet‘s David Mizejewski spoke to Inside Edition about the awkward video. Davis posted the video on Twitter with the caption: “These turkeys trying to give this cat its tenth life” and it went viral in a flash. Some are calling it a “death dance.”

Journey to Cuba’s birds


This video says about itself:

Full Documentary: Cuba, Natural Paradise

15 March 2016

The Cuban mangrove forest is still an unknown world concealing biological mysteries and treasures which will astonish the world; a forgotten paradise ruled over by an impenetrable hell of dangerous crocodiles, manatees, birds, hutia, marshy labyrinths, and myriads of mosquitoes.

Science has not yet studied the complexity of its creatures and the balance of its ecosystems. And that is part of the charm of the Cuban mangrove forest, knowing that it remains exactly as it always has been, impenetrable, solitary, virgin. It is such a complex world that virtually nothing is known about it. And nonetheless, all its strength and complexity, all its biodiversity and richness, are due to tiny, intrepid travellers that still today, faithful to their spirit, continue to set out on anonymous journeys, crossing the sea and sowing the seeds of paradise.

The mangrove’s success in colonising is due both to its extraordinary evolutionary adaptations, making it possible to live in an acid, briny environment, and to its incredible method of reproduction.

When the mangroves reproduce, they develop what will be the most astonishing means of genetic expansion, colonisers equipped to travel vast distances: their seeds.

A coral world surrounds the Cuban archipelago.

Enormous coral structures, the result of thousands of years of patient calcareous construction, constitute the reefs which fill the coasts of Cuba with life. The coral reef is composed of millions of tiny filtering polyps capable of turning the solar energy and the scarce nutrients in the water into organic matter available for other organisms in the coral community. Starting with them, the chain becomes increasingly complex, and thousand of different life forms develop, from the fragile invertebrates to the most highly evolved, complex fish.

Because Cuba is an island, there are many endemic species, living only in Cuba. 95% of Cuba’s 62 amphibian species are endemic. So are 37% of its 57 freshwater fish species; 79% of its 155 reptile species; and 32% of its 52 mammal species. As for birds, 26 species live only in Cuba. Also, 22 species live only in Cuba plus on a few other islands like the Bahamas.

On 5 March 2017, our journey to the wildlife of Cuba started.

Our plane was already above the Atlantic ocean, west of Scotland, when one of the passengers had heart problems. The plane had to go back east, to Manchester airport in England, so the patient could go to a hospital.

Then, we flew west again, over Ireland; then, the Atlantic.

Plane wing, 5 March 2017

This photo, a cellphone photo like the others of this blog post, shows a wing of the plane.

Hours later, we reached eastern Canada. Frozen lakes; snowy ground.

Frozen lakes and snow in Canada

This photo shows lakes in Canada.

We then flew over Maine in the USA. Still snowy ground, but already a bit less snowy than Canada.

As we went further south along the United States east coast, the snow got less and less. Still later, it disappeared.

We passed New York City.

Clouds off Georgia, USA

Clouds over the Atlantic east of Georgia.

Then, the sea between Florida and Cuba.

Finally, our plane arrived at Varadero airport in Cuba.

Stay tuned for more blog posts on Cuba, and its birds!

Dead whales feed other animals


This video says about itself:

Dead Whale Carcass Feast – Blue PlanetBBC Earth

26 February 2017

In Alaska, humpback whales feed on plankton in the shallow water. When one whale perishes in the treacherous waters, scavengers on the coastline such as black bears, wolves and gulls feed from the carcass.

This video says about itself:

Sharks Feasting On A Whale Carcass – Blue Planet – BBC Earth

3 March 2017

Rare footage of Sleeper Sharks, Hagfish and a whole succession of deep sea scavengers feasting on the carcass of a 30 tonne Grey Whale.