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.

Pacific sharks on video


This video says about itself:

Thousands Of Sharks Visit A Sea Mount – Blue Planet – BBC Earth

27 January 2017

In the Pacific, a tiny island 300 miles away from the shore hides a giant mountain beneath the waves that forms a home for thousands of plankton feeding fish. These fish attract tuna, and the tuna attract thousands of sharks. Watch this video to learn more about this fascinating food chain, and hear some weird but true facts about the visiting hammerhead sharks..

Taken From Blue Planet Series 1.

Giant Pacific octopus video


This video from the USA says about itself:

6 January 2017

In this epic adventure taking place on two coasts, Jonathan investigates the world’s largest octopus, the Giant Pacific Octopus! He begins by meeting Sy, one of the octopuses at the New England Aquarium in Boston with cold water aquarist Bill Murphy.

Then Jonathan and Bill travel to the Seattle Aquarium to two of their octopuses Lucy and Odie with Seattle Aquarium aquarist Kathryn Kegel. Bill and Jonathan join Kathryn and her team on some dives in Puget Sound to survey wild octopus populations. Along the way, Jonathan witnesses an incredible octopus fight and gets a small glimpse into the social lives of the Giant Pacific Octopus!

Spawning mandarinfish video


This video says about itself:

16 December 2016

Even experienced divers rarely get to see the Mandarinfish, a colorful reef fish that is so shy, it only comes out of hiding for a half-hour a day. Jonathan travels to the south Pacific to film spawning Mandarinfish and witnesses an incredible secret ritual.

Clownfish on video


This video says about itself:

18 November 2016

Thanks to the Disney/Pixar movie Finding Nemo, virtually everyone has heard of the clownfish. Jonathan travels the Pacific to investigate the behavior of real clownfish. Even though they don’t actually talk in real life, they are beautiful and fascinating fish to observe.

JONATHAN BIRD‘S BLUE WORLD is an Emmy Award-winning underwater science/adventure program that airs on public television in the United States.

Marine animals helping each other, video


This video says about itself:

Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Cleaning Stations (HD)

22 April 2016

Jonathan explores cleaning stations on the reef, where animals get cleaned of parasites and infection by other animals. Some examples shown are anemones and anemonefish (clownfish), wrasses, shrimp, manta rays, moray eels, Goliath groupers, sea turtles and barracuda. This episode was filmed in many locations such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Yap, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the Caribbean.

Will endangered Pacific petrels’ nesting sites be found in 2016?


This video is called Beck’s Petrel, 19th April 2008, off NW Bougainville.

From BirdLife:

Will 2016 be the year the nesting sites of the enigmatic Fiji and Beck’s petrels are found?

By Mike Britton, Wed, 30/12/2015 – 23:34

Lost then found species capture the imagination of people everywhere. They make the news and their discovery is celebrated. There is every expectation that once `found’ the lost species will now join the list of living species, rather than the ghosts of species lost.

But that is not a certainty as most `lost’ species are extremely rare and endangered. And unless conservation action can be taken to secure them for habitat threats and predators that are responsible for their `loss’ in the first place, these new sightings may only be a glimpse before they are gone once again, this time for forever. The biggest danger for most sea bird species is the time they spend ashore nesting and to their eggs and fledglings. Knowing exactly where these `lost’ birds nest is essential to ensuring they have a future.

Beck’s petrel is one of the `lost’ seabirds of the Pacific. Lost for 75 years after its initial discovery and recording, it was only spotted again in 2007 offshore of the Papua New Guinean islands of New Britain and New Ireland. Despite increased reporting of Beck’s Petrel sightings for southern New Ireland there is no knowledge of precisely where they breed and the search area remain vast. It is rated as Critically Endangered.

Fiji Petrel is another `lost but found’ bird that is also Critically Endangered. Lost for over 100 years apart from a few tantalising glimpses, it was rediscovered when one was captured in in 1984. It is currently believed that fewer than 50 pairs survive, breeding in 52 square kilometres in rugged forest on the island of Gau, Fiji, but its nesting grounds have yet to be located. It has to be assumed that the existing meagre population of Fiji Petrel is declining. We know that cats are on the high ridgelines as are Pacific Rats. Brown and Black rats are also on the island but their distribution is not known. Feral pigs are also a major treat. But until the location of the nests is known no practical conservation measures to secure the remaining nests and start the recovery can happen. Finding where they nest is the single most urgent and important conservation action required now to save the species from extinction. BirdLife wants to make 2016 the year we gave both these birds a secure future.

Thanks to a grant from the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF) we are planning an expedition to find the Beck’s Petrel nesting sites. In narrowing the geographical area down the project will aim to capture birds, probably off the coast, using techniques recently developed in locating the nesting sites of other Oceania sea birds. The objective is to put tiny satellite transmitters on these birds and follow them back to their breeding colonies. This will enable subsequent fine-scale land-based searches to occur (with the likely assistance of VHF transmitters) and in ultimately pin-pointing the colony and then enable land-based conservation efforts. A pretty ambitious project and we are urgently seeking more sponsors and supporters.

The initial need is contributions to pay for more satellite transmitters and for the hire of boats.

The search for Fiji Petrel is even more urgent. This may be their last chance. There have been other searches and it is ongoing. Two (New Zealand-trained) petrel detector dogs are deployed on the island and the presence of Collared Petrel on Gau allows the search teams to gain experience without impacting on the rare Fijian Petrels. But finding Fiji Petrel is a complex challenge and needs the further support of experienced seabird biologists and the application of a range of technologies to support the petrel dogs and increase the chances of finding these nesting sites. Recently experience has been gained in locating the nests of other petrels including other `lost birds’ such as the New Zealand Storm Petrel and the Chatham Island Taiko. Fiji Petrel are too small to use satellite technology but if some can be captured at sea of on land then radio transmitters can be used with telemetry to help pin point their location. But is not easy and will require a long time, over several months, at sea around Gau where the birds congregate at dusk or on land with spotlighting.

Bringing together a team of the people will be the key and is a really exciting challenge. These is no guarantee but if we don’t succeed this iconic bird will be lost.

This attempt will not be cheap and we need to raise US$200,000. A donation of boat time would be another way someone who loves the Petrels of the Pacific could make a huge contribution.

The loss of a tireless worker for petrels – Bob the petrel detector dog. By Mike Britton, 1 Dec 2016: here.