Polynesian rare birds news


This 2012 video says about itself:

Polynesian Ground Dove (Gallicolumba erythroptera) filmed on a motu of Rangiroa Atoll, French Polynesia. Part of a Noble Caledonia Expedition Cruise in French Polynesia on board M/V Clipper Odyssey.

Dr Brent Stephenson (ornithologist on board) organised this trip across the atoll to a rat-free motu (islet) where the Société d’Ornithologie Polynésie (MANU) are making great efforts to monitor, protect and extend the present habitat of this bird. Great efforts are made to make sure no rats are introduced. The Polynesian Ground Dove is critically endangered with only an estimated 100-200 individuals in the world. Nine birds were counted on this motu in 2011.

From BirdLife:

Operation Restoration – island update #4 – Endangered birds found, and sharks

By Shaun Hurrell, Fri, 26/06/2015 – 10:30

The Critically Endangered Polynesian Ground-dove is one of the world’s rarest birds. Named Tutururu by locals, there are only about 100 of these birds left in the world – all found in French Polynesia.

So finding them in good numbers on an invasive predator-free atoll was pretty exciting for our Operation Restoration team – who are working hard to save these birds (and many more native species) from extinction, and restore the natural ecological balance of the islands. It gives a very positive indicator of how these birds will bounce back after we have finished restoring their islands. But these birds still need your help.

With a huge amount of work still to do to restore 6 remote islands in the Acteon and Gambier archipelagos, this would have undoubtedly been a big morale boost for Steve Cranwell and the team, especially when faced with sharks snapping at their heels!

Find out more in the latest update below from Steve Cranwell, Project Leader and invasive species expert:

Steve’s reports via satelite phone 19th June

Sorry for the delay in communications – the magnitude of the practical reality of this operation set in, and we have been extremely busy fulfilling the myriad of tasks for this ambitious restoration effort! Amazingly (given all that could go wrong) we’re on track.

The ground team and helicopter crew, assisted by locals at each site, soon developed a slick and efficient operation for loading, whilst managing to keep loose bags and other paraphernalia potentially catastrophic to the helicopter in check…

This ground effort and precision flying meant that by the time we got to Vahanga and Tenania we were able to complete the operations there in half the time anticipated!

Some of the team spent the first week or so searching for Tutururu [local name for Polynesian Ground-dove] and Titi [local name for Tuamotu Sandpiper] on Vahanga. Despite being elusive, the efforts were rewarded with one male (named Charlie) and female Tutururu, and four Titi.

Some other team members have stayed on Tenararo to complete a census of Tutururu and Titi. This is the first time such a thorough assessment will have been made for this predator-free atoll. Initial reports indicate good numbers of both species.

When a lagoon channel crosses a monitoring transect, as it invariably does, there is a little adventure as overly attentive Blacktip reef sharks make a beeline for any submerged body part! Alertness and a stout stick has proved a sufficient deterrent (so far)…

On Temoe, a seabird census and vegetation survey was completed and a significant increase in Murphy’s petrel (several hundred to over one thousand!) was noted, from a similar survey made several years earlier.

Baseline surveys are being made for all sites which are being augmented with acoustic recorders as a means of tracking changes in the number of calls for species of interest.

More to follow shortly!

On behalf of us all,

Steve

Gigantic shark from the dinosaur age discovered


This 2011 video says about itself:

Effects of Climate Change on Cretaceous Sharks

From PLOS ONE:

A Gigantic Shark from the Lower Cretaceous Duck Creek Formation of Texas

Joseph A. Frederickson, Scott N. Schaefer, Janessa A. Doucette-Frederickson

Published: June 3, 2015

Abstract

Three large lamniform shark vertebrae are described from the Lower Cretaceous of Texas. We interpret these fossils as belonging to a single individual with a calculated total body length of 6.3 m. This large individual compares favorably to another shark specimen from the roughly contemporaneous Kiowa Shale of Kansas.

Neither specimen was recovered with associated teeth, making confident identification of the species impossible. However, both formations share a similar shark fauna, with Leptostyrax macrorhiza being the largest of the common lamniform sharks. Regardless of its actual identification, this new specimen provides further evidence that large-bodied lamniform sharks had evolved prior to the Late Cretaceous.

Shiny green shark discovery


This video from the USA says about itself:

Swell Shark – Catalina Island, California

8 August 2012

Swell Sharks in Catalina Island, CA. These guys can expand their bodies to about double their regular size to prevent predators, such as seals and larger sharks, from pulling them out from rocky reefs, under ledges, and in crevices. We had the lucky chance to get a good look at them on this dive.

POINTS OF INTEREST IN VIDEO
0:19 – Fish really close!
0:28 – Found the Swell Shark.
1:03 – Dangerously close to the Swell Shark.

From the BBC:

The shark that glows in the dark

The swell shark uses moonlight to turn itself luminous green, allowing it to blend in and stand out at the same time

Zoe Gough

Swell sharks generally keep a low profile, squeezing between rocky crevices to keep out of the way of predators.

Living up to 500m (1,640ft) beneath the waves, they are easily camouflaged in the darkness and often missed by divers.

But scientists have discovered the shark (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum) actually glows bright green thanks to fluorescent proteins inside its skin which are activated by blue light – the wavelength of visible light that is least absorbed as it travels through water.

This phenomenon, called biofluorescence, is thought to be a form of communication to other swell sharks that – unlike humans – can see the extraordinary light display.

Dr David Gruber, an associate professor of biology at City University of New York, studies the sharks off the coast of California, US.

“On land we have the whole range of colours in the [visible] spectrum, as soon as you drop beneath the sea you quickly lose the reds and the violets and it becomes a monochromatic blue environment,” he explains.

“What the swell sharks are doing is using the blue light to create other colours of light to make their world richer in colour.”

To be able to see the shark in all of its luminous glory Dr Gruber had to use cameras with yellow filters, which block out the natural blue light in the same way that shark eyes do.

The results – filmed off the coast of Santa Barbara, US, as part of a new BBC / Discovery coproduction television series – were the first time Dr Gruber had seen the sharks using biofluorescence in the wild.

He was part of the team which first discovered biofluorescence in more than 180 species of fish and suggested that the animals may be using it as camouflage and to find mates.

“It’s almost like there’s been this disco party going on underwater and it’s possibly been going on for millions of years and we’re just beginning to tune into it,” he says.

Biofluorescence had previously been reported in coral and jellyfish and through the development of fluorescent tags, which allow researchers to visually track how cells work, has led to medical advances in the study of conditions such as AIDS, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Gruber is about to publish his latest research into a new family of fluorescent proteins taken from eels, which he hopes scientists can use to further our understanding of the human body.

Finding biofluorescence in marine animals which can see and are known to have filters in their eyes which may make the luminous colours stand out, led Dr Gruber to investigate why they might have evolved the phenomenon.

After swimming with the swell sharks in their natural habitat he noticed that they were the only things that glowed green, so he decided to find out if they could actually see that colour themselves.

“Surprisingly with sharks we know very little about their visual apparatus and what we know just comes from a few species, so we didn’t know anything about the visual apparatus of the swell shark,” he explains.

Dr Gruber had the shark’s vision analysed by experts at Cornell University and discovered that it can only see blue/green hues which he says is a perfect adaption for the environment it lives in.

Biofluorescent fish

This image shows biofluorescent fishes: A – the Swellshark, Cephaloscyllium ventriosum; B – the Yellow stingray, Urobatis jamaicensis; C – the Blue Edged Sole, Soleichthys heterorhinos; D – the Brownmargin flathead, Cociella hutchinsi; E – the Variegated lizardfish, Synodus dermatogenys; F – the Warty frogfish, Antennarius maculatus; G – the False stonefish; H – the Shortfin moray eel, Kaupichthys brachychirus; I – the Collared eel, Kaupichthys nuchalis; J – the Messmate pipefish, Corythoichthys haematopterus; K – the Warteye stargazer, Gillellus uranidea; L – goby, Eviota sp.; M – the Blackbelly Dwarfgoby, Eviota atriventris; N – the Blue tang surgeonfish, Acanthurus coeruleus, larval; O – the Two-lined monocle bream, Scolopsis bilineata.

See here.

The BBC article conntinues:

“By creating more green [through biofluorescence] in an environment where it’s just blue they’re creating much more contrast and when you see all these little bright spots and patterns it’s like flowers and butterflies.

“Why do they make patterns? It’s to attract each other, it’s to recognise each other,” Dr Gruber says.

He is now looking at whether male and female swell sharks have different fluorescent patterns or if these markings are specific to individual sharks, which will help uncover what biofluorescent signalling is used for – finding mates or identification.

“It is almost like a hidden mode of communication, like a covert form of communication just among themselves or just among animals with similar kinds of vision,” he says.

“It’s really my greater hope that by showing off this diversity of biofluorescence in the ocean and the possible intelligence in communicative patterns of these creatures, we’ll better understand the animals and will want to protect them more.”

Irish basking shark videos


This 20 April 2015 video is called Basking Shark – GoPro – West Cork – Ireland.

From Breaking News.ie:

Amazing underwater footage of basking shark off West Cork

24/04/2015 – 09:04:50

It seems you can’t move for basking sharks around our coast at the moment. Recently, we shared the video of a close encounter with one of the gentle giants off Dingle.

This video is called Kayaking Dingle with Basking Shark 16 April 2015, Irish Adventures.

And now there’s been another video uploaded to YouTube – this time off the coast of West Cork.

The guys who captured the footage were fishing out on the water when they noticed the basking shark. Using a GoPro camera, they managed to film the shark underwater, emerging from the shadows and swimming alongside their boat.

They estimated the shark to be six metres in length.

Shark sanctuary in Madagascar


This video says about itself:

Indian Ocean shark footage – Raw

11 June 2012

Here are 2 minutes of pure shark watching. Take a look as some beautiful marine life responds to researchers luring them with a bag of chum in the Indian Ocean.

From the Wildlife Conservation Society:

Madagascar Creates Shark Park

February 4, 2015

Great news bite: the government of Madagascar has created the country’s first shark sanctuary in Antongil Bay to protect 19 shark species! The law that creates the sanctuary also grants local communities exclusive use and management rights to fishing areas.

WCS is committed to protecting the incredible biodiversity of Madagascar, as well as sharks. Of the 19 species protected by this sanctuary, one third have become severly threatened by unregulated fishing.

“With the support from Wildlife Conservation Society, we chose a participatory and collaborative approach for the development of this law and management plan and we opted for the search for a balance between fishing activities and ecological integrity to ensure rational and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources” said Mr. Ahmad, Minister of Marine Resources and Fisheries at the press conference in Antananarivo.