Bamboo sharks, how they eat


This video from the Philippines says about itself:

Release of Bamboo Sharks or Chiloscyllium plagiosum in Cala

27 May 2012

A project of the Manila Ocean Park and partners. It is the release of 2nd generation aquarium reared CHILOSCYLLIIUM PLAGIOSUM.

From Brown University in the USA:

To swallow food, some sharks shrug their shoulders

July 18, 2017

Summary: Sophisticated X-ray imaging technology has allowed scientists to see that to keep food moving down toward the digestive tract, bamboo sharks use their shoulders to create suction.

Sharks don’t have tongues to move food through their mouths, so instead some use their… shoulders?

So say scientists who used a sophisticated X-ray movie technology to see, for the first time, that bamboo sharks swing their shoulders internally when they eat.

By pulling their “shoulder girdle” back, the sharks create the suction needed to draw food through the back of the mouth and further into the digestive tract, said Ariel Camp, a postdoctoral researcher at Brown University and lead author of the research published in Proceedings B, a Royal Society journal.

“They have this long pharynx, and they have to keep food moving down it,” Camp said. “We think this is part of a ‘hydrodynamic tongue.’ Sharks and fishes that don’t have a tongue control the motion of fluid within their mouths to manipulate food.”

That means bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium plagiosum) use their shoulders, composed of a U-shaped girdle of cartilage and various attached muscles, for feeding as well as to control the front-most fins for locomotion, wrote Camp and colleagues from Brown, the University of Alaska at Anchorage and the University of Illinois.

To make the observations, Camp and colleagues used a technology developed at Brown called X-ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology (XROMM). The system combines CT scans of the skeleton with high-speed, high-resolution X-ray movies, aided by tiny implanted metal markers, to create precise visualizations of how bones and muscles move within animals and people. In the study, the team used XROMM to watch three bamboo sharks feast on pieces of squid and herring.

Bamboo sharks are among several species of shark (and many other fish as well) that use suction to slurp up prey, for instance out of rocky crevices or the silt of the sea floor, Camp said. By opening their mouths widely and quickly, sometimes using muscles deep in their bodies, fish can create the suction needed to draw prey into their mouths.

But many scientists had suspected that the shoulder girdle played no role in shark suction-feeding. It’s not connected directly to the jaws or anything else in the head. While sharks use their pectoral fins to swim and even to position themselves over prey with something akin to a walking motion, the shoulder girdle was presumed to be still during feeding.

With the XROMM, however, the scientists could see inside the sharks as they fed and measured a surprising swing in the shoulder girdle of all three sharks tested. Just a fraction of a second after the mouth closed, the cartilage quickly rotated backward (from head to tail) by about 11 degrees.

Though this study only involved bamboo sharks, Camp said she suspects that other suction-feeding sharks also move their shoulders in this way. She further hypothesized that the research may help scientists inch toward answering the question of how the shoulder girdle evolved in sharks, and other fish, in the first place. The way fish skeletal structure evolved, for instance, can help explain how some creatures eventually became capable of making it to land.

“The girdle shows up [in the fossil record], around the time that jaws evolved,” Camp said. “We aren’t sure exactly what structures it evolved from or how that happened. Part of understanding that history is understanding what were the functions this structure had to carry out.”

Apparently it was eating as well as moving.

In addition to Camp, the paper’s other authors are Cheryl Wilga of the University of Alaska at Anchorage, Bradley Scott of the University of Illinois and Elizabeth Brainerd of Brown University. Wilga and Scott were at the University of Rhode Island when they collected the XROMM data at Brown.

The National Science Foundation (grants 1655756 and ISO1354189) and the University of Alaska at Anchorage funded the research.

See also here.

USA: Trump‘s frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago are also bad for sharks.

New damselfish species discovery


This video says about itself:

18 May 2017

Evolutionary biologist Giacomo Bernardi describes how he and his graduate students discovered a new species of damselfish (Altrichthys alelia) in the Philippines. The parental care behavior of Altrichthys is unusual. Among the hundreds of species of damselfish, only a few protect and care for their young. Most coral reef fish produce large numbers of young that disperse into the ocean as larvae.

From the University of California – Santa Cruz in the USA:

New coral reef fish species shows rare parental care behavior

Among the hundreds of species of damselfish, only a few protect and care for their young; a newly discovered species raises the number from three to four

May 18, 2017

Summary: The vast majority of coral reef fish produce large numbers of young that disperse into the ocean as larvae, drifting with the currents before settling down on a reef. A few reef fish, however, keep their broods on the reef, protecting the young until they are big enough to fend for themselves. On a recent trip to the Philippines, researchers discovered a new species of damselfish that exhibits this unusual parental care behavior.

The vast majority of coral reef fish produce large numbers of young that disperse into the ocean as larvae, drifting with the currents before settling down on a reef. Giacomo Bernardi, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, studies reef fish that buck this trend and keep their broods on the reef, protecting the young until they are big enough to fend for themselves.

On a recent trip to the Philippines, Bernardi and his graduate students discovered a new species of damselfish that exhibits this unusual parental care behavior. Out of about 380 species of damselfish, only three brood-guarding species were known prior to this discovery. Bernardi’s team had gone to the Philippines to study two of them, both in the genus Altrichthys, that live in shallow water off the small island of Busuanga. On the last day of the trip, the researchers went snorkeling in a remote area on the other side of the island from their study site.

“Immediately, as soon as we went in the water, we saw that this was a different species,” Bernardi said. “It’s very unusual to see a coral reef fish guarding its babies, so it’s really cool when you see it.”

Genetic tests on the specimens they collected confirmed that it is a new species, which the researchers named Altrichthys alelia (Alelia’s damselfish, derived from the names of Bernardi’s children, Alessio and Amalia, who helped with his field research). A paper on the new species was published May 18 in the journal ZooKeys.

Parental care dramatically improves the chances of survival for the offspring. According to Bernardi, less than one percent of larvae that disperse into the ocean survive to settle back on a reef, whereas survival rates can be as high as 35 percent for the offspring of the Altrichthys species. Yet the parental care strategy remains rare among reef fish.

“It’s a huge fitness advantage, so why don’t they all do that? There must also be a huge disadvantage,” Bernardi said.

One big disadvantage is that the young are unable to colonize new sites far from the home reef of their parents. As a result, brood-guarding species (the technical term is “apelagic” species, because they don’t have a pelagic, ocean-going phase) tend to occur in highly restricted areas, which leaves them more vulnerable to extinction.

“I suspect that species evolve this strategy regularly, and they are successful until there is some change to the local habitat, and then the whole population gets wiped out,” Bernardi said. “These are very fragile species. The Banggai cardinalfish is one that was discovered just a few years ago in a small area in Indonesia, and it’s already on the endangered species list.”

Ex-drug addicts help saving Philippine eagles


This video says about itself:

The Magnificent Philippine Eagle Nesting in the Wild

23 January 2014

This is a rare video of one of the most critically endangered and least photographed raptor in the world feeding its eaglet. This is the first time that an organization namely the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines, Inc. was authorized by the government through the Biodiversity Management Bureau of DENR to document this majestic eagle.

From BirdLife:

12 Apr 2017

Former drug users turn conservationists to save the Philippine Eagle

Former drug users, indigenous people and conservationists form an unlikely team for the noblest of causes: restore the forest where the Haring Ibon lives. And it’s a success.

By Albert Balbutin & Luca Bonaccorsi

Drug addicts, members of the Dumagat ethnic group, and local conservationists. It is rather eclectic, this bunch of people crossing the River Dupinga. The locals know the river all too well, and fear it. It brings water and fish, life really, if the weather is good. But with copious rains it quickly turns into a merciless killer with flash-floods and mudslides.

We are in Luzon, the largest and most intensely populated island of the Philippine archipelago (roughly half the land area of the UK but with the same population).The Dumagat, one of the Philippines’ Indigenous Peoples who call the forest their home, were once hunter-gatherers and nomadic. With the forest offering less and less they live now impoverished, often thanks to small jobs with lowland dwellers.

The drug users belong to the group that has accepted to change their way of life. Here, in the midst of the highly controversial war on drugs” that has seen an escalation in illegal killings and death squads, they call them “surrenderees”.

The conservationists are members of the Haribon Foundation (BirdLife in the Philippines) and worship this place since it’s one of the last habitats of the majestic Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi (Critically Endangered).

It’s in the name of the charismatic “King of the Birds”, Haring Ibon, and its forest, and thanks to the intervention of the local government of Gabaldon, that these three very different groups of people have come together.

Their mission? Get the “drug surrenderees” to plant high-value fruit trees not too far away from where Philippine Eagle sightings have taken place as part of their community service.

And in order to plant mango, rambutan, guyabano, langka, and coffee, as well as native trees such as narra and duhat, the forest knowledge held by the Dumagat, and the conservationists, is much needed. “Forest restoration is what Gabaldon needs. It is an investment that could save the future generations of the municipality”, says Sam Manalastas, Community Organizer for Haribon.

For months now Manalastas has been working with Dumagat members and other sectors in the town of Gabaldon to come up with a Critical Habitat Management Plan. The plan involves five years of conservation actions to help protect the Haring Ibon of Mt. Mingan, which lives not too far from the fast-growing municipalities in the lowland areas of Gabaldon and San Luis in the Aurora province.

“By planting trees,” adds Manalastas, “they are helping not only the biodiversity of Mt. Mingan, but also their municipality in becoming resilient against climate change.

”As the present administration’s war on drugs continues in many areas of the country, the public remains divided on what to expect. With killings still taking place, some groups support the call to arms against drugs and the crimes associated with it, while others declare it an assault to human rights and the judicial process.

The trek to the planting site is not the easiest one: a river to cross, rough terrain, steep hills. Puffing and panting up a grassy hill, the former addict is probably having second thoughts about his “healthy rehab”, but then he smiles at the view and pushes on. By the end of the day, their foreheads wet with honest work, mission is completed. For the local government the initiative sends a strong message: the area is safe.

For the Dumagat a good pay, the recognition of their forest wisdom and a step towards inclusion. For drug users a chance to change life (and get home safe). For conservationists a small contribution to the health of Mt. Mingan, home to the King of the Birds. The most obvious of win-wins. Conservation has done it again.

Filipina ‘comfort women’ protest Japan’s Abe


This video says about itself:

Comfort Women Survivors Protest Against Japanese Prime Minister’s Visit

12 January 2017

Some surviving comfort women in the Philippines rallied on Thursday to protest against the Japanese prime minister’s visit to the country, asking for apology and compensation for the crimes the Japanese invaders committed against humanity during World War II.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Philippines: Comfort women lead protest against Abe

Friday 13th January 2017

PROTESTERS led by four World War II Filipino sex slaves gathered in front of the Japanese embassy in Manila yesterday against a state visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Left-wing umbrella group Bayan, which is among the organisations supporting the “comfort women,” said Mr Abe’s trip was not a mere “social visit.”

Comfort women and girls were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during the second world war.

Bayan said: “The visit of the Japanese PM is another step to slowly establish its military presence” through regular naval port calls and joint military exercises with US forces.

Japan wants to flex its military muscle in the region as a junior partner of the US. It has passed security legislation that goes against the spirit of its peace constitution.”

Saving endangered Philippines oriole, other wildlife


Isabela oriole

From BirdLife:

Sanctuary declared for elusive oriole once believed extinct

By Alex Dale, 29 Sep 2016

With its yellow and olive-green plumage perfectly camouflaging it against the tree canopies, the Isabela Oriole Oriolus isabellae, a lowland forest specialist endemic to the island of Luzon in the Philippines, doesn’t intend for itself to be seen by humans. And unfortunately, for many decades it wasn’t.

Due to the rapid and widespread deforestation which has plucked Luzon of much of its forest cover (down as much as 83% since the 1930s in some areas), numbers of this little-known species plummeted such that for a time until its rediscovery in December 1993, it was widely believed to have gone extinct.

Today we know there are still a few small populations clinging to survival, but the species is still at dire risk of extinction due to the ongoing loss and fragmentation of its forest habitat. In recent years Isabela Oriole has been recorded in only five scattered locations throughout the island, and with an estimated population of just 50-249 adults remaining, it richly deserves its current IUCN Red List rating of Critically Endangered.

Due to its scarcity, little is known about the Isabela Oriole’s feeding and nesting habits, and even its call was not officially recorded until 2003. However, the species finally received some much-needed visibility thanks to a project made possible through funding and support from the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP).

Project ORIS (a contraction of the Isabela Oriole’s scientific name) sees a team of young conservationists partner with Isabela State University and the Mabuwaya Foundation to secure the species’ survival. The project’s objective is to survey all remaining areas of suitable habitat on Luzon, create a conservation strategy and launch an awareness-raising campaign for the elusive bird, including promoting it as a flagship species for the remaining forests that are essential to the long-term survival of both it and various other species that share its dwindling habitat.

The project was set in motion in 2012 when the team received a Future Conservationist Award from the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP), a grant that enables young conservationists to undertake projects across Africa, Asia & the Pacific, South America and Eurasia. The programme works to build the leadership capacity of young conservation professionals working on important habitats and species in places with limited capacity. A partnership between BirdLife International, Flora & Fauna International and the Wildlife Conservation Society, the programme goes beyond grant giving because of its support and mentoring, alumni network and inclusion of valuable stakeholder and community interaction in all successful projects.

Several years of painstaking efforts from those involved with the ORIS Project paid off this August when local officials in Santa Margarita in the municipality of Baggao declared a 5,500-hectare tract of forest as a wildlife sanctuary. The declaration will protect habitat critical not only to the Isabela Oriole, but also to other threatened endemic species, including the spectacular Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi. This iconic bird of prey, one of the world’s largest raptors, has also benefited from CLP support in the past.

This showcases the real and long-term impact the CLP programme can have, not only in terms of conservation objectives, but also in the capacity building of young conservationists and organisations. The CLP offers grants and support to numerous projects every year, with 18 projects successfully applying for grants in the 2016 cycle, with target species ranging from dugongs in Mozambique to cloud forest frogs in Mexico.

Many BirdLife Partners have been able to carry out vital work thanks to grants from the CLP in recent years. The CLP’s focus is on building the conservation capacity of individuals from low-income, biodiversity-rich countries where the need and potential for impact is greatest, and 80% of eligible countries within the BirdLife partnership have previously received grants. Thanks to CLP’s input, great strides have been made in the conservation of Critically Endangered species such as the Araripe Manakin (Antilophia bokermanni) in Brazil and Liben Lark (Heteromirafra archeri) in Ethiopia.

The programme is now accepting proposals for 2017. The project countries supported are currently: Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Brazil, China, Egypt, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Oman, South Africa, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, UAE and Vietnam. The full team is not required to be from these countries – for the full list of eligibility criteria, visit the CLP grants page.

There are three levels of conservation team awards:

Future Conservationist Awards: Up to $12,500 per project.
Conservation Follow-Up Awards: Up to $20,000 per project and available only to previous CLP Future Conservationist Award winners.
Conservation Leadership Awards: Up to $40,000 per project and available only to previous CLP Follow-Up Award winners.

Award winners get additional support to implement their project with a two-weeks training. Each project sends a team member for this event and is thereafter expected to train their team on conservation leadership and management modules ranging from project planning to stakeholder behaviour change to mention a few.

The application deadline for ALL awards is the 28th November 2016.

Those applying for either a Conservation Follow-Up Award or Conservation Leadership Award must submit a Logical Framework and the Final Report of their previous CLP project by 17th October 2016. If the Logical Framework and Final Report are satisfactory, the team will be notified of this by 31st October 2016, and can afterwards submit by the 28th November 2016.

This video says about itself:

29 September 2016

Fresh out of Conservation Leadership & Management training, three young African conservationists tells us about their experiences and plans for their projects…

Lyndre Nel, 25, from Cape Town, South Africa
She is working with her team to protect the endangered flora of the Papenkuils Wetland, Western Cape, South Africa

Gelica Eugenio Inteca, 26, from Mozambique
Dugongs are on of the most difficult animals to observe in the wild. Gelica’s project aims to find them in Quirimbas National Park, and to work with fishermen to increase awareness and protection.

Ezequiel Fabiano, 36, from Angola
He is working with his team to conduct wildlife and threats inventories of the Luenge-Luiana and Mavinga National Parks, and improve their management.

All thanks to projects and training provided by the Conservation Leadership Programme, a joint initiative between BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Philippine eagle flies, slow motion video


This video says about itself:

Slow Motion Philippine Eagle Flight

13 July 2016

To understand the unique flight styles of different bird species, scientists use a technique called wing tracing. It involves tracing the trajectory of a point on their wing during a series of wingbeats. The pattern of a bird’s wingbeat depends on how far a bird can move its wing in any given direction, which is determined by the length and shape of the wing. Soaring birds such as this Philippine Eagle, for example, show an elliptical shaped wingtip path when viewed from the side.

Soaring Philippine eagle video


This July 2016 video sows a soaring Philippine eagle.