Great white shark invades cage, doesn’t harm diver inside

This video from Mexico says about itself:

Great White Shark Cage Breach Accident

13 October 2016

**This may not be appropriate for our younger viewers.**

This is not our usual kids content and Gabe and Garrett did not go on this trip, this video is from my trip to Guadalupe Island (I’m their dad).

On a recent great white shark cage diving trip we experienced a very rare event, a shark breaching the side of the cage. What might appear to be an aggressive great white shark trying to attack the cage, this is not the case. These awesome sharks are biting at large chunks of tuna tied to a rope. When a great white shark lunges and bites something, it is temporarily blinded. They also cannot swim backwards.

So this shark lunged at the bait, accidentally hit the side of the cage, was most likely confused and not able to swim backwards, it thrust forward and broke the metal rail of the cage.

There was a single diver inside the cage. He ended up outside the bottom of the cage, looking down on two great white sharks. The diver is a very experienced dive instructor, remained calm, and when the shark thrashed back outside the cage, the diver calmly swam back up and climbed out completely uninjured.

The boat crew did an outstanding job, lifting the top of the cage, analyzing the frenzied situation, and the shark was out after a few long seconds. Everyone on the boat returned to the cages the next day, realizing this was a very rare event. The boat owner, captain, and crew are to be commended for making what could’ve been a tragic event into a happy ending. I’m sure God and luck had a bit to do with it too!

I want to return next year for another great white shark adventure!

Iridescent hummingbird’s feathers

This video says about itself:

Brilliant Iridescent Throat Plumes of the Bumblebee Hummingbird

3 July 2016

The feathers on this hummingbird’s throat are surprising. One minute they’re bright red, the next, black. This is known as iridescence, a common, showy feature of many birds’ plumages, from hummingbirds to starlings to jays to ducks.

Iridescence doesn’t exist as a pigment—it is a structural color created by light striking the feathers. In each iridescent feather, keratin, melanin, and air are arranged in such a way that the appearance of the feather changes at different viewing angles.

Bumblebee hummingbirds live in Mexico. They are the smallest birds in the world.

Hummingbird migration: here.

Golden eagles in Mexico, new research

Coat of arms of Mexico, with golden eagle

This is a picture of the coat of arms of Mexico, with a golden eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus devouring a rattlesnake.

From BirdLife:

Golden Eagles’ Mexican romantic getaways

By Shaun Hurrell, 15 Sep 2016

New tracking project reveals crucial information for the conservation of Mexico’s national bird, including five new breeding territories near a quarry in Sonora. The majestic predator loves places that are hard to reach.

Careful footsteps shuffle forwards in the night. It’s a few hours before sunrise and an intense rainstorm threatens. A flash of lightning freezes the wincing face of a conservationist, who hopes his creaking backpack is not making too much noise. His colleague stumbles, so he quickly shines a red light to make sure she doesn’t collide with a prickly cactus.

They are in the remote Sonoran desert of north-west Mexico, on a special mission for a special bird. “Fear coupled with an adrenaline rush. Because if you make a mistake, they can maim you.” This is how Javier Cruz, Field Technician from Pronatura Noroeste (BirdLife in Mexico), describes fitting a radio transmitter to a Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos.

The team has scaled cliffs and camped wild in mountains to locate the Golden Eagle nests, as part of a joint project between Pronatura Noroeste and the global cement and aggregates company, CEMEX.

The project is centred on CEMEX’s nearby Cerrito Blanco quarry, set deep in the biodiverse Sonoran desert, where the partnership – which began in 2012 – has undertaken field surveys for birds, mammals, plants, reptiles and amphibians and assessed the potential impacts of human activities in the area. As part of this ‘Biodiversity Action Plan’ to ensure good management of this sensitive area, Pronatura Noroeste and CEMEX studied the abundance and distribution of Golden Eagles and organised a national workshop to find out more, but this process unearthed important information for the team: the population is poorly understood nationally, let alone in the area around the quarry.

Despite a stable population trend when averaged out globally, the Golden Eagle is threatened in Mexico having been extirpated from most of its original range. The study found that over-grazing of native flora by cattle ranching is a factor, as it likely inhibits the abundance of prey availability for Golden Eagle and other top predators in the area like Mountain Lion.

Golden Eagle is a priority species for conservation nationally. “They are Mexico’s national bird” …

With surveys revealing at least two pairs of Golden Eagle nesting not far from main quarrying operations, Pronatura Noroeste’s project with CEMEX provided a unique opportunity to find out more – a chance not to be missed. The team set out to tag juvenile birds with radio-transmitters to better understand their range and dispersal, working with the Mexican Environment Agency (CONANP). “It was a unique experience,” says Javier Cruz. “And we never thought that it would yield so much information, from the daily movements, where they perch, where they fly to and above all, where they sleep.”

The transmitter-backed eagles have produced maps of the birds’ movements and now a picture is emerging of their post-natal dispersal. According to Francelia Torres, Field Technician, Pronatura Noroeste: “Now we know that their distribution can often include many municipalities, including an individual crossing the US border. As well as places very difficult to access, what surprised us the most was that Golden Eagles frequent places often with very little human disturbance.”

The project is showing that this region is very important for the conservation of Golden Eagle, and giving a real insight into their lives. After a year of having fitted transmitters, five new breeding territories have been confirmed in Sonora in 2016. The project’s workshop also enabled the training of a skilled local Golden Eagle conservation team. Miguel Cruz, Project Coordinator, Pronatura Noroeste is excited for what they can continue to find: “The team continues to strengthen, in a region where it was unknown that they could be nesting.”

One very special bird

Slap-bang in the middle of the Mexican flag, clutching a snake in its talon, perched on top of a prickly pear cactus, is a Golden Eagle. With an impressive wingspan of over two metres, the Águila Real (Royal Eagle in Spanish) is a great choice for a national emblem. But as a top predator, it is also a good indicator for the health of the Mexican environment, as it relies on abundant prey.

This is why the next phases of the project include restoration of Sonoran grassland habitat, especially focussing on a tree-like cactus that reaches over 20 metres: the Saguaro. This cactus is recognised as a keystone species in the ecosystem, meaning it supports a wide variety of other life; particularly bats and birds, which use them to nest. Other current plans include engaging landowners since changes in cattle ranching are needed to benefit the whole ecosystem, including Golden Eagle. …

Pronatura Noroeste have also begun outreach work to prevent the persecution of Golden Eagles. But surprisingly for the most part, despite their size, they are not well known by local villagers. “This is a very cautious bird,” according to Francelia. “They are even overlooked by the locals”.

The team hopes to restore local Sonoran attachment to the Golden Eagle, as their project uncovers more conservation secrets. Javier knows what this feels like, already: “After fitting the radio transmitter, freeing the eagle I felt the most immense satisfaction and sense of peace.”

Last week the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) announced the winners of the 2016 Ecological Merit Awards. Pronatura (BirdLife Mexico) was awarded for the social impact of its environmental work, winning the award in the ‘Community’ category. Read how their impact goes beyond saving birds.

Ancient Mexican manuscript, new research

This video says about itself:

Lord KingsboroughThe Antiquities of Mexico Volume III – Updated

Antiquities of Mexico: comprising fac-similes of Ancient Mexican Paintings and Hierogliphics, preserved in the Royal Libraries of Paris, Berlin and Dresden; in the Imperial Library of Vienna; in the Vatican Library; in the Borgian Museum at Rome; in the Library of the Institute al Bologna, and in the Bodleian Library at Oxford; together with the Monuments of New Spain by M. Dupaix; the whole illustrated with many valuables inedit Manuscripts by Lord Kingsborough; the drawings on stone by A. Aglio

Vol. I. Copy of the Collection of Mendoza, preserved in the Selden Collection of Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (73 pág.); Copy of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, preserved in the Royal Library at Paris (93 pág.); Fac-simile of the original Mexican Hieroglyphic Painting, from the Collection of Boturini (23 pág.); Fac-simile of an original Mexican Painting in the Collection of Sir Thomas Bodley in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (40 pág.); Fac-simile of an original Mexican Hieroglyphic Painting, preserved in the Selden Collection of Manuscripsts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

Vol. II. Copy of a Mexican Manuscripts, preserved in the Library of the Vatican (149 pág.); Fac-simile of an original Mexican painting given to the University of Oxford by Archbishop Laud, and preserved in the Bodleian Library (46 pág.); Fac-simile of an original Mexican Painting, preserved in the Library of the Institute at Bologna (24 pág.); Fac-simile of an original Mexican Painting, preserved in the Imperial Library at Vienna (66 pág.); Fac-similes of original Mexican Paintings deposited in the Royal Library at Berlin by the Baron de Humboldt, and of Mexican Bas-relief preserved in the Royal Cabinet of Antiques.

Vol. III. Fac-simile of an original Mexican painting, preserved in the Borgian Museums, at College of Propaganda in Rome (76 pág.); Fac-simile of an original Mexican Painting, preserved in the Royal Library at Dresden (74 pág.); Fac-simile of an original Mexican Painting in the possession of M. de Fejérváry, at Pess in Hungary (44 pág.); Fac-simile of an original Mexican Painting, preserved in the Library of the Vatican (96 pág.).

Vol. IV. Monuments of New Spain by M. Dupaix, from the original drawings executed by order of the King of Spain Specimens of Mexican Sculpture, in the possession of M. Latour Allard in Paris; Specimens of Mexican preserved in the British Museum; Plates copied from the Giro del Mondo of Gemelli Careri: with an engraving of a Mexican Cycle, from a painting formerly in the possession of Boturini; Specimen of Peruvian Quipis, with plates representing a carved Peruvian box containing a collection of supposed Peruvian Quipus.

Vol. V. Extrait de l’ouvrage de M. de Humboldt sur Les Monuments de l’Amerique; Esplicación [sic.] de la Colección de Mendoza; Explicación del Codez Telleriano-Remensis; Codice Mexicano che si conserva nella Biblioteca Vaticana; Viages [sic.] de Guillermo Dupaix sobre Antigüedades Mexicanas; Libro sexto de la Retórica y Filosofía Moral y Teológica de la gente mexicana donde hay cosas muy curiosas tocantes a los primores de la lengua y cosas muy delicadas tocantes a las virtudes morales / por…Bernardino de Sahagún.

Vol. VI. Historia Universal de las cosas de la Nueva España / por…Bernardino de Sahagún. — Vol.VII. Appendix: the interpretatione of the Hieroglyphical Paintings of the Collection of Mendoza; The explanation of the Hieroglyphical Paintings of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis; The traslation of the explanation of the Mexican Paintings of the Codex Vaticanus; The monuments of the New Spain by M. Dupaix

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

High-tech imaging reveals rare precolonial Mexican manuscript hidden from view for 500 years

Published on 16 August 2016

Researchers from the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries and from universities in the Netherlands have used high-tech imaging to uncover the details of a rare Mexican codex dating from before the colonisation of America.

The newly-revealed codex, or book, has been hidden from view for almost 500 years, concealed beneath a layer of plaster and chalk on the back of a later manuscript known as the Codex Selden, which is housed at the Bodleian Libraries. Scientists have used hyperspectral imaging to reveal pictographic scenes from this remarkable document and have published their findings in the Journal of Archaeology: Reports.

Ancient Mexican codices are some of the most important artefacts of early Mexican culture and they are particularly rare. Codex Selden, also known as Codex Añute, dates from around 1560 and is one of less than 20 known Mexican codices to have survived the colonisation of America. Of those, it is one of only five surviving manuscripts from the Mixtec area, now known as Oaxaca in Mexico. These codices use a complex system of pictures, symbols and bright colours to narrate centuries of conquering dynasties and genealogies as well as wars and the history of ancient cities. In essence these codices provide the best insight into the history and culture of early Mexico.

Since the 1950s, scholars have suspected that Codex Selden is a palimpsest: an older document that has been covered up and reused to make the manuscript that is currently visible. Codex Selden consists of a 5-metre-long strip of deer hide that has been covered with white plaster made from gypsum and chalk, and folded in a concertina format into a 20-page document. The manuscript underwent a series of invasive tests in the 1950s when one page was scraped, uncovering a vague image that hinted at the possibility that an earlier Mexican codex is hidden beneath.

Until now, no other technique has been able to unveil the concealed narrative in a non-invasive way. The organic paint that was used to create the vibrant images on early Mexican codices does not absorb x-rays, which rules out x-ray analysis that is commonly used to study later works of art.

‘After 4 or 5 years of trying different techniques, we’ve been able to reveal an abundance of images without damaging this extremely vulnerable item. We can confirm that Codex Selden is indeed a palimpsest,’ said Ludo Snijders from Leiden University, who conducted the research with David Howell from the Bodleian Libraries and Tim Zaman from the University of Delft. This is the first time an early Mexican codex has been proven to be a palimpsest.

‘What’s interesting is that the text we’ve found doesn’t match that of other early Mixtec manuscripts. The genealogy we see appears to be unique, which means it may prove invaluable for the interpretation of archaeological remains from southern Mexico,’ Snjiders said.

Some pages feature more than 20 characters sitting or standing in the same direction. Similar scenes have been found on other Mixtec manuscripts, representing a King and his council. But the analysis of this particular text shows that the characters are both male and female, raising interesting questions about what the scene represents.

The imaging has also revealed a prominent individual who appears repeatedly on the document and is represented by a large glyph consisting of a twisted chord and a flint knife. The name seems to resemble a character found in other Mexican codices: the Codex Bodley (in the Bodleian’s collection) and Codex Zouche-Nuttall (in the British Museum).That character is an important ancestor of two lineages connected to the important archaeological sites of Zaachila and Teozacualco in Mexico. However, further analysis is needed to confirm that it is the same individual.

The researchers analysed seven pages of the codex for this study and revealed other images including people walking with sticks and spears, women with red hair or headdresses and place signs containing the glyphs for rivers. They are continuing to scan the remainder of the document with the aim of reconstructing the entire hidden imagery, allowing the text to be interpreted more fully.

‘Hyperspectral imaging has shown great promise in helping us to begin to reconstruct the story of the hidden codex and ultimately to recover new information about Mixtec history and archaeology,’ said David Howell, Head of Heritage Science at the Bodleian Libraries. ‘This is very much a new technique, and we’ve learned valuable lessons about how to use hyperspectral imaging in the future both for this very fragile manuscript and for countless others like it.’

Mexican Revillagigedo Islands now World Heritage Site

This video says about itself:

Mexico’s Revillagigedo Islands Become UNESCO World Heritage Site

20 July 2016

Four volcanic islands situated off the Pacific coast of Mexico were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on Sunday.

Motmot bird festival in Yucatan, Mexico

This video says about itself:

Turquoise-browed Motmot. Near Cerro Lodge. Tarcoles and Carara National Park. Costa Rica, Noel Ureña.

From BirdLife:

Celebrating the colourful Motmot in the Yucatan Birdfair

By Pronatura México, 10 June 2016

Over 15 years ago, the bright plumage of the Turquoise-browed Motmot

I was privileged to see this beautiful bird in Costa Rica.

Eumomota superciliosa inspired the creation of the Motmot Festival in the Mexican state of Yucatan, one of the most important areas for birds in the country.

Colorful travelers, rare, enigmatic, beautiful, large or small – birds have been one of the wildlife groups that have aroused the most interest for those interested in nature-based tourism. Aiming to become a leading example of sustainable ecotourism, the Yucatan Motmot festival was born in 2002 with the idea of attracting those visitors that come to enjoy the cenotes, lowland forests, coastal dunes, mangroves and archaeological sites of the area.

The festival

The celebration has taken different shapes over the last 15 years. What began as a short weekend break in November soon became one month. Due to its success, the celebration has become a surprisingly long one – since 2010 it takes place every year between March and November. Eight months packed with birdwatching activities where everyone is invited. From tourists to birdwatchers, nature guides, students and children. Visitors can participate in a wide range of activities – from courses to workshops, photo and drawing competitions, games and birdwatching and guided nature tours around the state.

Why Yucatan?

The Yucatan Peninsula hosts around 543 species of birds – that’s 50% of the species found in the country. Approximately 40% of them are migratory and take advantage of the strategic position of the peninsula. The habitats of this region are an excellent stopover site where the birds can replenish their energy and rest before they continue their migratory journey to Central and South America. About 100 species find Yucatan so comfortable that they end their travels there!

Bird marathon

The most popular event is the Xoc chi ‘ich’ (“Bird count” in Mayan) at the end of the Festival, from the 25 to the 27 of November in the city of Merida in Yucatan province. Participants can team up with up to 8 other people. Together they get lost in the lush rainforests, secluded beaches and swampy wetlands of Yucatan. Their mission? To count as many species as possible in 29 hours. All teams are guided by a specialist so beginners can simply enjoy the walk – they only need to bring a pair of binoculars and an adventurous spirit! For those who prefer to photograph, the bird marathon is the perfect opportunity to capture unique birds in their home.

This festival is not only a chance for tourists to get to know the culture, archaeology and nature of the country, but is also an opportunity for rural communities and groups to share their riches and knowledge while getting economic benefits from the extra traffic.

For more information, follow the Facebook page Festival de las Aves TOH or visit their website.

The vivid colours of Belding’s Yellowthroat were becoming a rare sight. Luckily, the locals of Baja California Sur seem to have taking a liking to this small bird and are now getting involved in the business of ecotourism. Find out how avian research is saving species in this Mexican state: here.

Trump effigies burnt in Mexico

This video says about itself:

Mexico: Trump effigy blown up in Monterrey’s ‘Burning of Judas’ festival

26 March 2016

An effigy of a candidate for the USA Republican Party nomination Donald Trump was one of the effigies burnt in Monterrey’s “Burning of Judas” ceremony, on Saturday.

From Reuters news agency:

Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:55am EDT

Mexicans burn Donald Trump effigies in Easter ritual

MEXICO CITY | By Henry Romero and Tomas Bravo

Mexicans celebrating an Easter ritual late on Saturday burnt effigies of U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, whose anti-immigrant views have sparked outrage south of the American border.

In Mexico City’s poor La Merced neighborhood, hundreds of cheering residents yelled “death” and various insults as they watched the explosion of the grinning papier-mâché mock-up of the real estate tycoon, replete with blue blazer, red tie and his trademark tuft of blond hair.

Media reported that Trump effigies burned across Mexico, from Puebla to Mexico’s industrial hub Monterrey.

The burning is part of a widespread Mexican Holy Week tradition where neighborhoods burn effigies to represent Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ according to the Bible. The effigies are often modeled on unpopular political figures.

“Since he started his campaign and began talking about immigrants, Mexico, and Mexicans, I said ‘I’ve got to get this guy,'” said Felipe Linares, the artisan who crafted Trump and whose family has been making Judases for more than 50 years.

Trump, the front-runner to win the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 election, has drawn fire in Mexico with his campaign vow to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs, and to make Mexico pay for it.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has said his country will not pay for the wall and likened Trump‘s “strident tone” to the ascent of dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Trump, who has also aroused concern among many in his own party with his proposals, has accused Mexico of sending rapists and drug runners across the border and vowed to increase fees on some Mexican visas and all border crossing cards to help make Mexico pay for the wall.

Judas effigies are burnt in villages and towns in several Latin American countries such as Venezuela and in parts of Greece. Anthropologists say the practice serves a symbolic function to overcome divisions and unite communities around a common enemy.

Linares has also done mock-ups of corrupt former union leader Elba Esther Gordillo and President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose popularity has been hit by conflict-of-interest scandals and the disappearance of 43 students at the hands of corrupt police.

(Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

According to Dutch NOS TV, ISIS effigies were burnt in Mexico as well.