From CNN in the USA about this 18 June 2015 video:
This video is called [New Animal documentary 2015] Ocean Voyager Whale Documentary – The Biggest Sea Creatures.
Scientists studying blue whale DNA uncover an epic journey by ‘Isabela’
14 hours ago
Scientists studying blue whales in the waters of Chile through DNA profiling and photo-identification may have solved the mystery of where these huge animals go to breed, as revealed by a single female blue whale named ‘Isabela,’ according to a recent study by the Chile’s Blue Whale Center/Universidad Austral de Chile, NOAA and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The researchers have discovered that Isabela—a female animal named after the lead author’s daughter and a major Galapagos Island of the same name—has traveled at least once between Chile‘s Gulf of Corcovado and the equatorial waters of the Galapagos Islands, a location more than 5,000 kilometers away and now thought to be a possible blue whale breeding ground. The journey represents the largest north-south migratory movement ever recorded for a Southern Hemisphere blue whale.
The study titled ‘First documented migratory destination for Eastern South Pacific blue whales’ appears today in the online version of the journal Marine Mammal Science.
‘Efforts to protect blue whales and other ocean-going species will always fall short without full knowledge of a species’ migratory range. Moreover, with this kind of findings we encourage eastern south Pacific governments to think about the creation of a marine protected areas network for the conservation of this and other migratory species’ said lead author Juan Pablo Torres-Florez of the Universidad Austral de Chile and the Blue Whale Center. ‘Isabela points us in the right direction for further research.’
‘The discovery emphasizes the benefits of collaboration between scientists and research organizations from different countries,’ said Paula Olson of Southwest Fisheries Science Center.
‘The discovery of Isabela traveling between southern Chile and the waters of Ecuador is important and very timely as we work to promote the recovery of the largest species to ever inhabit the earth,’ said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum of WCS’s Ocean Giants Program. ‘The movement of this one whale provides important information that will enable us to look further at these important areas for blue whales with goal to ensure their long-term protection.’
It is unknown how old Isabela is, or if she has produced any young, but she is at least 82 feet in length and may weigh up to 100 tons.
Seeking to establish links between populations of blue whales in the Gulf of Corcovado and other regions, the researchers examined DNA collected from the skin of blue whales with biopsy darts fired from crossbows across the eastern South Pacific. The team also used data from recorded sightings and photographs in their attempt to connect individual animals to different locations.
The analysis produced a genetic match between a female whale observed and sampled off the coast of southern Chile in the Austral summer of 2006; it turned out the same whale sampled the waters of the Galapagos eight years earlier by NOAA scientists. The team then found that photographs taken of both whales revealed the same distinctively curved dorsal fin and blotchy blue-gray patterns on the back, confirming that both whales were in fact the same animal.
The authors note that blue whales are frequently observed in equatorial Pacific just west of the Galapagos and that a more detailed study might confirm the location as a wintering and breeding ground for at least some of the blue whales of southern Chile.
Reaching nearly 100 feet in length, the blue whale is thought to be the largest animal that ever existed. Blue whales were nearly hunted to extinction by commercial whaling fleets before receiving international protection in 1966. A blue whale calf can measure between 23 and 27 feet in length at birth and weigh almost 3 metric tons.
Journal reference: Marine Mammal Science
Provided by Wildlife Conservation Society
See also here.
Tell President Obama: Protect Blue Whales: here.
This 3 June 2015 video says about itself:
Volcano News!! Galapagos Island Volcano Spews River of Lava
From 3 News in New Zealand:
Lava continues to flow from Wolf Volcano
Wednesday 3 June 2015 11:15 p.m.
Tourists in the Galapagos Islands have been given a spectacular view of lava flowing into the ocean as the Wolf Volcano continues erupting.
The volcano began spewing flames, smoke and lava last Monday.
Authorities say the lava is flowing away from the world’s only population of pink iguanas, which live on the island’s northwest tip.
Scientists from Trinity College Dublin have just discovered how to prise volcanic secrets from magma crystals, which means they are better able to piece together the history of global geography and to predict future eruptions of active volcanoes: here.
From AFP news agency:
May 26, 2015
Galapagos volcano calms, pink iguanas out of danger
A volcano in the Galapagos Islands whose fiery eruption raised fears for the world’s only population of pink iguanas has calmed, sparing the unique critters from danger, officials said Tuesday.
Wolf volcano is still showing signs of activity but has died down since a tour boat to the area found it breathing tongues of fire, puffing smoke and spilling bright orange streams of lava Monday, said officials at the Galapagos National Park and Ecuador’s Geophysics Institute.
“We haven’t had any more explosions like yesterday’s, which suggests a decrease in activity. However, there are still lava flows, which is normal in these cases,” said Alexandra Alvarado of the Geophysics Institute.
The island, Isabela, is home to the only known pink land iguanas in the world. The species, Conolophus marthae, lives at the foot of the volcano and is listed as critically endangered, with a population of only about 500.
The area, which is uninhabited by humans, is also home to members of a rare species of giant tortoise, Chelonoidis becki.
But the animals live on the northwest side of the volcano, opposite the lava flows, and appear to have been spared from harm, a park official said.
Wolf volcano had last erupted in 1982.
It is one of five volcanoes on Isabela island, the largest in the Galapagos.
The Pacific archipelago, which sits about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador, was made famous by Charles Darwin‘s studies of its breathtaking biodiversity, which was crucial in his development of the theory of evolution by natural selection.
The pink iguanas, which were discovered in 1986, were established as a separate species in 2009 after an analysis of their genetic makeup determined they were distinct from their cousins, the Galapagos land iguanas.
Explore further: Fears for pink iguanas as Galapagos volcano erupts
Thankfully, the animals now appear to be in the clear, along with their neighbours, yellow iguanas and giant tortoises. The volcano is still erupting, but it has calmed down and the lava streams are flowing away from where the animals live: here.
Eight to 16 million years ago, highly explosive volcanism occurred in the area of today’s Galapagos Islands. This is shown for the first time by analyses of core samples obtained by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program in the eastern Pacific Ocean: here.
From daily The Guardian in Britain:
Tuesday 26 May 2015 03.27 BST
A volcano perched atop one of Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands erupted in the early hours of Monday, the local authorities said, potentially threatening a unique species of pink iguanas.
The roughly 1.7km (1.1 mile) high Wolf volcano is located on Isabela Island, home to a rich variety of flora and fauna typical of the archipelago that helped inspire Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution following his 1835 visit.
“The Wolf volcano is not located near a populated area. There is not risk for the human population. This is the only population of pink iguanas in the world,” Galápagos national park said in a posting on Twitter.
The park posted pictures showing lava pouring down the sides of the Wolf volcano, the Galápagos’ highest point, while a dark plume estimated to be 10km (6.4 miles) high, billowed overhead.
Wolf had been inactive for 33 years, according to the park.
The lava is flowing down the volcano’s southern face while the iguanas, officially an endangered species, inhabit the opposite side, the Environment Ministry said, adding it expected the animals to escape harm.
The flow is likely to reach the sea, however, where it could harm marine life, the Geophysics Institute said separately. While populated areas of the island are safe from the eruption, the institute said some of the ash cloud could descend upon them.
The eruption in Ecuador comes on the heels of eruptions in Chile, another South American country located on the so-called Pacific ring of fire.
This video is called World’s BIGGEST TORTOISE! The Giant Galapagos Tortoise, 5 fascinating facts.
Quito (Ecuador), May 23 (IANS): Administrators at Ecuador’s Galapagos National Park said 207 giant turtles will be released next month on the island of Santa Fe, where the native tortoises died out more than 150 years ago.
The turtles to be set loose on June 5 by the park directors and the Galapagos Conservancy group belong to the species Chelonoidis hoodensis, Spanish news agency Efe reported from the South American nation.
Native to the Galapagos island of Espanola, the Chelonoidis [hoodensis] is morphologically and genetically similar to the original Santa Fe turtle.
The aim of the initiative is to establish “a breeding population that fulfills a function in the ecosystem”, park management said.
“Once the turtles are introduced, a key part of this project is to assess changes in the ecosystem resulting from the presence of these chelonians, and to evaluate the interaction between the turtles and the island’s land iguanas, particularly in the use of shared resources like food,” Danny Rueda, Galapagos ecosystems director, said.
The turtles to be released on Santa Fe range in age from four to 10 and have been raised in captivity.
Around 40 of the turtles will be equipped with a GPS device that will relay data on their movements and activities.
Pirates and whalers depleted the population of turtles in the archipalago, leaving only 15 individuals that allowed park management and the Charles Darwin Foundation to start a breeding programme.
The eradication in 1971 of the goats that had been introduced to the islands contributed greatly to the recovery of the ecosystem.
The Galapagos Islands, located about 1,000 km west of the coast of continental Ecuador, were declared a World Natural Heritage Site in 1978.
From Washington University in St. Louis, USA today:
Endangered tortoises thrive on invasive plants
3 hours ago
Most research on the role of introduced species of plants and animals stresses their negative ecological impacts. But are all introduced species bad actors?
In one fascinating case the answer might be no. The iconic giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands are thriving on a diet heavy on non-native plants. In fact, the tortoises seem to prefer these plants to native ones.
Introduced plants began to increase in abundance on the Galapagos Islands in the 1930s as native highland vegetation was cleared for agriculture, and the rate of introductions has been increasing ever since.
The giant tortoises, for their part, seem headed in the opposite direction. Until the late Pleistocene epoch, they were found on all the continents except Antarctica. Today they survive in only two locations: the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean, and the Galapagos Archipelago in the eastern Pacific Ocean. In the Galapagos, all of the remaining subspecies are considered vulnerable or endangered.
But now in a surprising turn of events, field research in the Galapagos shows that introduced plants make up roughly half the diet of two subspecies of endangered tortoise. What’s more, these plants seem to benefit the tortoises nutritionally, helping them stay fit and feisty.
The research, published in the March issue of Biotropica, was conducted by Stephen Blake, PhD, an honorary research scientist at Washington University in St. Louis and Fredy Cabrera of the Charles Darwin Foundation in the Galapagos.
“Biodiversity conservation is a huge problem confronting managers on the Galapagos Islands, “Blake said. “Eradicating the more than 750 species of invasive plants is all but impossible, and even control is difficult. Fortunately, tortoise conservation seems to be compatible with the presence of some introduced species.”
Counting bites and bouts
The study was done on the island of Santa Cruz, an extinct volcano that is home to two species of giant tortoise, but also to the largest human population in the Galapagos. Farmers have converted most of the highland moist zones to agriculture and at least 86 percent of the highlands and other moist zones are now degraded by either agriculture or invasive species.
In earlier work, Blake had fitted adult tortoises on Santa Cruz with GPS tags and discovered that they migrate seasonally between the arid lowlands, which “green up” with vegetation only in the wet season, to the meadows of the highlands, which remain lush year-round.
“This struck us as pretty odd, ” he said, “since a large Galapagos tortoise can survive for a year without eating and drinking. This is why sailors would collect the tortoises to serve as a source of fresh meat aboard ship.”
“Why would a 500-pound animal that can fast for a year and that carries a heavy shell haul itself up and down a volcano in search of food?,” Blake said. ” Couldn’t it just wait out the dry season until better times came with the rains?”
The answer, of course, depends on the tortoise’s energy balance. But the only detailed study of tortoise foraging the scientists were aware of had been completed in 1980, “largely before the explosion of introduced and invasive species hit the Galapagos,” Blake said.
Over a period of four years, the scientists followed tortoises in the field and, during 10-minute “focal observations” recorded every bite the tortoises took, the plant species and which part they ate. As an additional measure of the fruits the tortoises were eating, the scientists also counted and identified seeds (sometimes more than 1,000) in tortoise dung piles.
Counts of bites and bouts (defined as all feeding on a given species during the focal observations) showed that tortoises actually spent more time browsing on introduced species than on native ones.
“We weren’t really that surprised,” Blake said. “Consider it from a tortoise’s point of view. The native guava, for example, produces small fruits containing large seeds and a small amount of relatively bitter pulp in a thick skin. The introduced guava is large and contains abundant sweet pulp in a thin, pliable skin.”
The team, which included Sharon Deem, a wildlife veterinarian and epidemiologist at the St. Louis Zoo, also assessed the tortoises’ health and nutritional status, weighing them by suspending them from a spring balance and taking blood samples.
All of the indicators the scientists studied suggest that introduced species in the diet have either a neutral or positive effect on the physical condition of the tortoises. Introduced species may even help tortoises to improve their condition during the dry season.
Since a return to “pristine” conditions is unlikely on the Galapagos, it is heartening to learn that this may not be all bad news for the islands’ charismatic megaherbivores.