Rare hairy frogfish on video


Wildlife Extra writes about this 8 July 2015 video:

The Striated or Hairy Frogfish has a secretive lifestyle that involves using the hair-like projections from its body, which are called spinules and which change colour to suit the animal’s surroundings, to merge with the coral or the ocean’s sandy bottom.

There it can lurk, unseen, and attract its prey by waving a special adaptation above it’s large mouth to act like a fishing lure.

The Striated Frogfish, one of a number of different types of frogfish found around the world, is not a good swimmer, preferring to relocate by using its side fins, which are jointed like a mammal’s fingers or toes, to walk across the seabed.

As they don’t do this very often, the fascinating footage taken by J Hawk is rare. It perfectly illustrates the way the frogfish moves and uses its bizarre ‘fishing tackle’.

J Hawk says: “I was on a dive in the south of Malapascua Island in the Philippines. I’d been searching for rare forms of fish for quite some time.

“Out of nowhere I saw this amazing critter coming right at me. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Such a unique and amazing little guy.”

‘Extinct’ amphibians rediscovered in the Philippines


This video says about itself:

Philippines Herping Adventure Part One

13 April 2015

GuyGuy goes herping in Leyte, Philippines. See the people, ecology and herps in this adventure. Experience the diversity of the reptiles and amphibians of the Philippines.

And this video is the sequel. It says about itself:

7 May 2015

GuyGuy goes herping in Leyte, Philippines. Philippines herping Adventure Part Two continues the adventure somewhere near Tocloban. GuyGuy discovers snakes, geckos, frogs, birds and fish on this episode. Join him as he discovers the diversity of the rainforest.

From National Geographic:

“Extinct” Amphibians Rediscovered After Nearly Half a Century

Two species of amphibians thought lost to science have been found again in the mountain forests of the Philippines.

By Jason Bittel, National Geographic

June 02, 2015

It had been 50 years since anyone laid eyes on the Malatgan River caecilian, a legless amphibian native to the island province of Palawan in the Philippines.

Scientists feared the species, whose written record was lost in a museum destroyed during the Battle of Manila in World War II, was gone forever.

That is, until a team of scientists saw something slithering through the dirt during a recent trip to the Philippines. (Also see “Pictures: New Amphibians Without Arms or Legs Discovered.”)

“It was basically a coincidence,” says Rafe Brown, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Kansas who was on the expedition team led by the Philippines-based Centre for Sustainability. “One of the students happened to be walking by it and thought it was a worm. But lo and behold, it was a Malatgan River caecilian.”

Brown and his team have been wading across rivers and sifting through mud in the Palawan backcountry for over 15 years looking for signs of this and other species lost to science.

When the expedition finally stumbled across the serpentine amphibian, it was at the end of a road and a seven-hour hike beyond that from the nearest village. The area is known as Cleopatra’s Needle.

“This is an animal that doesn’t have any flashy colors or anything like that, but it’s one of those last, iconic species that we couldn’t find,” says Brown. (See “Photos: Ten Most Wanted ‘Extinct’ Amphibians.”)

Remarkably, the expedition also found the Palawan toadlet (Pelophryne albotaeniata), which had been missing for the last 40 years.

Lost and Found

The rediscoveries are the result of a biodiversity survey launched in December 2014 and carried out by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Global Wildlife Conservation, the Amphibian Survival Alliance, and Rainforest Trust.

“When we started this project, we didn’t know for sure if these animals were there,” says Robin Moore, conservation officer with the Amphibian Survival Alliance.

“For me, it’s incredible to find these two amphibians after not seeing them for decades. It highlights how much is out there that we don’t know.” (See “Photos: Bubble-nest Frog, Other ‘Extinct’ Species Found.”)

Joseph Mendelson, a herpetologist and director of research at Zoo Atlanta, adds that “discoveries like this reinforce the importance of continued biodiversity surveys around the world.”

Human rights violations in Bahrain continue


This video is called Bahrain Activist Nabeel Rajab Arrested Over Tweets.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Open Letter from Nabeel Rajab to President Obama

Editor’s note: This letter was written in a Bahraini jail cell by Nabeel Rajab, a leading human rights campaigner in Bahrain who was arrested April 2 after tweeting about torture in the country’s central prison, Jaw. Here is his letter.

April 9, 2015

From: Nabeel Rajab
President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Isa Town Detention Center
Bahrain

Dear President Obama,

I write to you from a Bahraini jail cell, and this message was never meant to go beyond its walls. Even though I have never advocated for violence nor harmed another living soul, I have spent 28 of the last 36 months in a Bahraini prison for actions that can only be counted as crimes in a nation that stifles free expression and criminalizes open assembly. I have documented my government’s use of torture. I have reported on civilian casualties in Yemen. I have held a different opinion than that of a king. In retaliation, I may spend the next ten years of my life in jail.

While my government punishes me for demanding an end to its assault on civil and political rights, other GCC states, especially Saudi Arabia, subject human rights defenders to harsher abuse. Their repression can be seen in the flogging of free speech activist Raif Badawi and the death sentence against the religious scholar and human rights advocate Nimr al-Nimr. Saudi courts even sentenced Raif’s lawyer, Waleed abu al-Khair, to 15 years in prison. We as human rights defenders are targeted for giving voice to the marginalized, people seeking to take the reins of their own destiny; our governments do everything in their power to prevent us from acting upon the best ideals of our conscience.

The message you directed toward your Gulf allies last week laid the foundation for real change. Your words tacitly acknowledged what we in the region understand: only democracy can bring stability to the Middle East. And while democracy may take time to develop, the process cannot begin unless our right to free speech is protected. Right now, our governments divide us along religious lines, preventing us from collectively challenging extremism within our societies. As well, our rulers aggressively punish critics of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. We simply ask, however, for greater democratic participation in our nation’s affairs, and the ability to freely express our contempt for violence and extremism.

I thank your administration for calling for my release, and the release of my fellow human rights defenders. I urge you to defend our right to free speech when you meet with the monarchs of the Gulf, and call for:

The immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners;
An end to the criminalization of free speech and expression, including any laws against criticism of government institutions or defamation of a king;
The cessation of all acts of torture and reprisal in GCC detention centers; and
The protection of free and open civil society space capable of fostering long-term stability and growth in the region.

The citizens of Bahrain and her neighbors have extraordinary potential. With unshackled voices, we can build stability and challenge extremism. What we need today is space for tolerance, plurality, and honest dialogue, the foundations of a democratic process that the reprisals against me and my colleagues seek to undermine.

Yours Sincerely,

Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain’s Prison Crisis Deepens: here.

This video says about itself:

Pinay OFW in Bahrain who Asked for Help was Finally Rescued

10 April 2015

Pinay OFW In Bahrain Asking For Help (Abby Luna)

From the South China Morning Post:

Filipino maid ‘beaten and raped‘ is rescued from Bahrain employer after Facebook appeal goes viral

Agence France-Presse in Bahrain

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 April, 2015, 8:05pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 April, 2015, 10:53am

The Philippines rescued a Filipino maid from her employer in Bahrain after she posted a desperate cry for help on her Facebook page.

Staff at the Philippine embassy were alerted to the plight of Abby Luna, who claims she was raped and beaten by her employer’s son, after she posted the video on her Facebook page. The video attracted about 78,000 shares and 19,000 likes.

“The rescue was prompted by the video message… She is now under the care of our embassy,” foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose said. Philippine embassy officials and staff from Luna’s employment agency picked her up from her employer’s house, Jose said, adding that police were investigating the incident.

Luna’s alleged assailant denied to he attacked her, Ricky Aragon, vice-consul at the Philippine embassy in Bahrain, said.

In the three-minute long video, which appears to have been made on a webcam, a sobbing Luna accused her employer’s “drug addict” son of raping her. She also posted a written appeal for viewers to contact the Philippine embassy on her behalf.

“Help me get out of here. I’m scared. Until now, my genitals hurt. My leg is bruised. He (attacker) punched my leg to immobilise me,” said the 28-year-old, who had been working in Bahrain for a year.

“After my employer’s son abused me, he threatened to kill me and bury me in the desert if I tell anyone about what happened.”

Luna said her employer did not believe her claims of being raped and beaten and insisted she finish the remaining two months of her contract before she could go home. Her employer also told her to have an abortion if she fell pregnant, she added.

Luna is among an estimated 10 million Filipinos working overseas to escape poverty and high levels of unemployment in the Philippines.

Many overseas Filipino workers, who account for a tenth of the country’s population of 100 million, work in menial jobs and endure dangerous working conditions.

Last year, a Filipino maid, Nargelene Mendez, was rescued from a house in Saudi Arabia after posting a video on her Facebook page claiming her employer had abused her.

In Hong Kong, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian domestic worker accused her employer of subjecting her to six months of physical abuse.

Erwiana, 23, underwent treatment at the Amal Sehat Islamic Hospital in Sragen, Indonesia, after boarding a flight from the SAR.

Photographs of Erwiana’s injuries quickly spread through social media and led to a demonstration of thousands of people through Hong Kong’s Central district. Police arrested her employer former beautician Law Wan-tung on January 20, 2014, as she tried to board a flight to Thailand. She was sentenced to six years in prison and fined HK$15,000 earlier this year.

Maids working in the Middle East frequently suffer abuse.

Human Rights Watch has called on the United Arab Emirates to reform a restrictive visa system and pass a labour law to stop domestic workers [from being] exploited.

OFW raped by employer’s son in Bahrain rescued by embassy: here.

Human rights and free speech lagging in Gulf monarchies. Post-Arab Spring oppression increasingly involves harsh penalties for dissent, including torture, stripping citizenship: here.

Rare megamouth shark beaches in the Philippines


This video is called Alien Sharks: The Megamouth.

By Cheryl Eddy, 29 January 2015:

Incredibly Rare And Mysterious Deep-Sea Megamouth Shark Washes Ashore

There have been fewer than 100 confirmed sightings of the megamouth shark, an elusive deep-sea species that uses its huge maw to trap tiny bits of plankton and krill. So when a 15-foot specimen washed ashore in the Philippines this week, scientists were more than overjoyed.

Shame-faced crabs of the Pacific


This video from the sea near Samal island in the Philippines is about a shame-faced crab, eating a Terebra maculata mollusk.

From Australian Geographic:

Shame-faced crab has nothing to hide about

November 27, 2014

It may look like its hiding its face out of embarrassment, but this crab has everything to be proud of

by Becky Crew

I DON’T THINK I’ve ever loved another crab as much as I love this crab right now. He’s so embarrassed he can barely even look at us. He’s so ashamed that he has to cover his face with his two humungous front pincers. Don’t feel bad, shame-faced crab, we don’t care what you did; you’re just a crab.

Found at depths of up to 50m below the surface of the Indo-Pacific, these large crabs range as far as Madagascar to west, Japan to the north, and throughout Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia a little closer to home.

Despite their looks and their funny little name, shame-faced crabs (Calappa calappa) are no victims. These highly armoured creatures are like walking tanks, their 15cm-long, burnt-caramel-coloured carapace acting as the perfect cover from predators until they have a chance to bury themselves right into the sand. Watch the video [above], it’s almost a little creepy how it inches deeper and deeper into the ocean floor, until all that’s left is a pair of beady eyes and the upper edges of its jagged pincers, looking just like a monster face peering up at you.

Shame-faced crabs don’t have to worry too much about predators, but keep themselves hidden during the day all the same. At night they turn to hunting, targeting little mollusks such as clams, oysters and sea snails. While hard-shelled prey like these present a challenge to many would-be predators, the shame-faced crab has evolved to deal with them expertly.

Of its two huge, meaty pincers, the right one is perfect for cracking into its prey’s tough outer shell. It’s equipped with a single, specially curved tooth that works with the flat surface of the pincer just like a can-opener to cut into its prey. Then the left pincer, which is longer, smaller, and sharper, takes over to extract the flesh from inside.

Being elegant about how you eat your dinner is nothing to be ashamed about, shame-faced crab. Just because the rest of the ocean is filled with barbaric rubes that wouldn’t know a utensil if it landed on them. Chin up, little man!

Coconut crabs in Hawaii: here.

Philippines’ dwarf buffalo news update


This video from the Philippines is called The Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis or Mindoro dwarf buffalo).

From AFP news agency:

Rare Dwarf Buffalo Charges Against Extinction

Nov 1, 2014 08:00 AM ET

The population of the Philippines‘ dwarf buffalo, one of the world’s rarest animals, has grown to its largest since efforts to save them from extinction began, conservationists said Friday.

An annual survey counted 382 tamaraws in a protected mountain area this year, an increase from 345 in 2013, according to data from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The tamaraw, famed for its distinct v-shaped horns, can be found only in the mountains of Mindoro, a farming island in the central Philippines.

The stocky tamaraw, with its chocolate brown coat, runs wild in the forest and weighs half as much as the more common carabao, which is used by farmers in the Philippines to plough rice fields.

“The tamaraw is the flagship species of the Philippines. It is our moral obligation and international commitment to preserve them,” forest ranger Rodel Boyles, who heads a joint government and private sector conservation effort, told AFP.

“If they are not protected, the species might get wiped out in five years,” he said.

The tamaraw is considered “critically endangered” — two steps away from extinction — by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Hunting and the destruction of their habitat to make way for grazing areas for cattle led to their near decimation, as the population fell from 10,000 in the 1900s to just 154 by 2000, according to the WWF.