Same Jaguar, Different Camera

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Yesterday I posted a couple images from a guest’s phone camera, including one of the cat above seen through the lens of a scope. What I did not know when I posted that was that another guide, Marvin who was with two other guests, had come upon the cat first and had signaled to Luis to bring his two guests to see the cat, which seemed quite relaxed in this location. Al Erickson, who is at Chan Chich primarily for photographing birds, took the photo above. Incidentally, he and his wife were the ones who pointed us to Bird Tales.

Jaguar & Other Surprises At Chan Chich Lodge

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I was just starting to think how surprisingly awesome broccoli is, when a guest at Chan Chich Lodge showed me the photo he took about an hour ago. It was taken using his phone, through the scope that our guide Luis had while they were on the morning Gallon Jug tour. That complements well, to say the least, the photo the guest took with just his phone last night. Continue reading

Fossils, In Technicolor, Can Get You Thinking

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Evidence of marine life that was thriving about 1.3 million years after the largest mass extinction on Earth has been found in what is now Paris Canyon in Idaho. Credit Jorge Gonzalez

The moment I saw this illustration above I was taken back to the books of my childhood–the ones my parents knew I liked the best, and a favored gift on birthdays, with fantastic illustrations of prehistoric creatures. These books also taught me the value of a public library, where I could triple my inventory for weeks at a time, and they kept my flashlight in use after lights out.  Thanks to illustrator Jorge Gonzaelez for this memory, and for providing another reason to appreciate the importance of the work of Nicholas St. Fleur and his contemporaries, the new generation of science writers who bring natural history to life:

After Earth’s Worst Mass Extinction, Life Rebounded Rapidly, Fossils Suggest

By Nicholas St. Fleur

One day when L. J. Krumenacker was a teenager, he left his home to hunt for fossils. He drove about an hour and a half to Paris Canyon in Bear Lake County in southeastern Idaho and stopped at a foothill covered in sagebrush. Mr. Krumenacker got out of his car, picked up the first large rock he saw and smashed it with a hammer, uncovering seven or eight fossilized shark teeth. Continue reading

Bee Mogul Is A Thing

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Bret Adee’s family operation provides more than two billion bees to farmers who need to pollinate their crops. Before the hives are moved to the California almond groves where they are used in January and February, they are kept on a cattle ranch at a safe distance from pesticide and herbicide sprays. Credit Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

We already knew a fair amount about the business of bees, but had not yet heard the term bee mogul, which sounds like it may have been an excellent thing once upon a time, but now, maybe not so much:

KERN COUNTY, Calif. — A soft light was just beginning to outline the Tejon Hills as Bret Adee counted rows of wizened almond trees under his breath.

He placed a small white flag at the end of every 16th row to show his employees where they should place his beehives. Every so often, he fingered the buds on the trees. “It won’t be long,” he said.

Mr. Adee (pronounced Ay-Dee) is America’s largest beekeeper, and this is his busy season. Some 92,000 hives had to be deployed before those buds burst into blossom so that his bees could get to the crucial work of pollination. Continue reading

Photography, Underwater, Best In Show

© Gabriel Barathieu / UPY 2017

Thanks to the Atlantic for bringing our attention to The 2017 Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest, and especially the top photo according to the judges:

Underwater Photographer of the Year, 2017 – Dancing Octopus. In the lagoon of Mayotte, during spring low tides, there is very little water on the flats. Only 30 cm in fact. That’s when I took this picture. I had to get as close as possible to the dome to create this effect. The 14 mm is an ultra wide angle lens with very good close focus which gives this effect of great size. The octopus appears larger, and the height of water also. Photographed off Mayotte Island on May 7, 2016. Continue reading

From Behind the Camera Trap

Ocelot curious about the red light of the camera

Ocelot curious about the red light of the camera

For years the camera traps at Chan Chich Reserve have been capturing images of wildlife both day and night. In addition to helping to document the size and health of the population of a specific species within the reserve, the cameras also capture the particular behavior of the species.

Continue reading

Clean Water Should Not Be Politicized, But When It Is We Love Trout Unlimited More Than Ever

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Leigh Guldig

Please take a few minutes to read what follows to the end, and share it as far and wide as you can. Our thanks to Chris Wood–president and chief executive of Trout Unlimited, which needs and deserves our support for exactly the reason stated below–for writing, and the New York Times for publishing this clear statement:

THE eastern brook trout, whose native haunts in the Appalachians are a short drive from my home in Washington, is a fragile species. It requires the coldest and cleanest water to survive, and over the past two centuries, its ranks have been decimated by all that modern society could throw at it. Today it lives in a fraction of its historic range.

One reason? Thousands of miles of prime brook trout streams have been polluted by poorly regulated historic coal mining, and what has been lost is difficult to bring back. Groups like Trout Unlimited have worked with partners to restore more than 60 miles of wild trout streams damaged by acid mine drainage in Appalachia. But it is hard, painstaking work — it has taken the better part of two decades and millions of dollars, and the fact is that it would take many lifetimes to revive all the streams in need of resuscitation. Continue reading

Saving Snow Leopards

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A snow leopard in the Himalayas eating its prey. Credit Madhu Chetri

The New York Times’ always-appreciated Science section, once a Tuesday feature, has been joined by many features made possible by the wonders of modern technology, and the news organization has also responded creatively to the competition made possible by all that wondrous technology. This article by Nicholas St. Fleur is a good example of why we check in on the Trilobites feature of the website daily:

How Do You Save Snow Leopards? First, Gather Their Droppings

Celebrating Species Recoveries

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Brown Pelican. Photo by ALAN SCHMIERER / Flickr in the Public Domain

Thanks to Cool Green Science:

Five Endangered Species Recoveries You’ve Never Heard Of

by Christine Peterson

More than 40 species have been officially recovered by the Endangered Species Act. Some, like bald eagles and peregrine falcons, have received a lot of publicity.

Here are five lesser known – but no less interesting – stories of recovery. Continue reading

Ocean Refuges, Bonus Benefits

shark-in-bagWe appreciate Anthropocene’s ongoing efforts to summarize important scientific findings related to the environment, conservation and related topics.  Earlier this week Emma Bryce offered “The invisible boundaries of ocean refuges protect even wide-roaming creatures” — a worthy read about these spaces providing more benefit than expected:

In recent years, we’ve preserved several million square kilometers of ocean inside Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), the wildlife reserves of the sea. By cordoning these areas off from commercial fishing, undersea mining, and development, we hope to protect the species within them. But does it actually work? Continue reading

Lion Lost, Los Angeles

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In case you did not see it yesterday, take a look at this when you have the time to read it in full. For now, over a quick coffee, click the image above to go to a video, 5:30 minutes long, to understand what the National Park Service is doing on behalf of this majestic lost cat:

The carnivore biologist Jeff Sikich captures and examines a mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains. Courtesy National Park Service

Puma, Puma, Puma

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A lion known as P-45 has killed scores of domestic animals—and attracted passionate fans. Courtesy National Park Service

We favor a walk in the woods where pumas feel naturally at home. That said, the world has been changing faster than we like, and faster than pumas can adapt. We have had so many wildcat stories in these pages since we started in 2011, it is impossible to count at this point; also not possible to link back to one that matches the content of Dana Goodyear’s wow piece in the upcoming issue of the New Yorker:

LIONS OF LOS ANGELES

Are the city’s pumas dangerous predators or celebrity guests?

It was drizzling and gray, late fall, on the old Rickards Movie Ranch, high in the Santa Monica Mountains, in rural, red-state western Malibu. Continue reading

I Hope To See You At Chan Chich Lodge

CCLWalk.jpgYesterday in these pages we welcomed you to visit the new website for and the actual place, Chan Chich Lodge. It bears repeating. This time by me personally. Please come here.

The snapshot to the right, taken on my phone just minutes ago on my morning walk, says the same. If you combine it with the last time I was walking these paths, you will see one more reason why I walk every morning.

I walk the roads and paths at Chan Chich every morning with the hope of seeing wildlife, and knowing that breathing the air here is better than doing so almost anywhere else on the planet. It is pure.

Between the puma-sighting snapshot and now I was in India. I have just arrived to Belize again and expect to be here for some time. I did not see any big cats this morning, but the birdlife is as abundant as ever, and their song just now provides very good cheer. If you need more information on why to come to Chan Chich, or how, or when, just let me know.

Trees & Sustainability On Small African Farms

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Baobab and palm tree/Rod Waddington via Flickr

Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary:

Trees improve the environment—and bottom line—on small African farms

Tagimoucia, A Glimpse Of Heaven

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Tagimoucia has attained a kind of celebrity status because of its beauty and rarity. Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

For Fijians, this flower is viewed rarely enough to enhance its sacred status; for the rest of us, a photograph like the one above is like a siren call to come, behold it:

A Rare Pacific Islander Captivates Its Neighborhood

TAVEUNI ISLAND, Fiji — In Fiji, flowers can take on a spiritual, magical significance. They are strung together as garlands for ceremonies and festivals or worn as an ornament behind the ear on any given day.

The South Pacific archipelago is home to about 800 species of plants found nowhere else in the world. But the most special is the tagimoucia, a crimson and white flower that hangs down in clusters like a chain of ruby raindrops. Because of its beauty and rarity, it has attained a kind of celebrity status. Continue reading

Protect This Coral Reef

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GREENPEACE

Thanks to the old school model mad outfit, Greenpeace, for bringing this to our attention in a fresh press release today, that adds urgency to earlier announcements starting last year on this rare and unexpected find:

Greenpeace captures first underwater images of Amazon Coral Reef

Recifes da foz do rio Amazonas.Crédito obrigatório: Divulgação/Greenpeace

GREENPEACE

Amapá state, Brazil, 28 January 2017 – Greenpeace Brazil has captured the first underwater images of the Amazon Reef, a 9500 km2 system of corals, sponges and rhodoliths located where the Amazon River meets the Atlantic Ocean – an area that the Brazilian government has opened for oil exploration.

Recifes da foz do rio Amazonas.Crédito obrigatório: Divulgação/Greenpeace

GREENPEACE

A team of experts, including several oceanographers who announced the discovery of the reef last year, have joined the Greenpeace ship Esperanza on an expedition to document this new biome, which runs from French Guyana to the Brazilian state of Maranhão, an area larger than the cities of São Paulo or London.[1] Oil companies Total and BP could start drilling in this area if they obtain authorization from the Brazilian government. Continue reading

Protecting Species With DNA

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Biologist Shaun Clements counts down the seconds before emptying a vial of synthetic DNA into a stream near Alsea, Oregon. Jes Burns/Oregon Public Broadcasting/EarthFix

Thanks to the salt, at National Public Radio (USA):

Can New DNA Science Help Keep Our Fish Safe?

by Jes Burns

Biologist Shaun Clements stands in the winter mist in a coastal Oregon forest, holding a small vial of clear liquid. Continue reading

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in La Paz

Last week, Jocelyn and I took the three-hour drive from Villa del Faro to La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. After about seventy minutes on the dirt coastal road that runs along the East Cape, one reaches the asphalt road near La Ribera, which connects to Mexico’s Route 1, a well-paved highway that runs from San José del Cabo all the way north to Tijuana (1,654km away). Before heading anywhere near that far, however, we turned off at the La Paz exit, to explore the port city home to over 200,000 people.

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If you look at a map of the geography surrounding La Paz, you can see that it is quite sheltered from the ocean, with a chunk of land protecting it on the east side, a thin strip closing in from the west, and a long bay running to the north, all this in the relatively calmer Gulf of California. In 1535 the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés tried to start a colony in the area, but it wasn’t fully settled till over sixty years later.

Today, the main tourist attractions to La Paz are marine in nature, Continue reading

Flying Squirrels & Moonlight Gliding

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Alexander V. Badyaev

We had not known of bioGraphic until just now, and want to shout out to the source before anything else. Our thanks to the California Academy of Sciences, who we look forward to hearing from more in the next few years, for the service that bioGraphic provides to all of us. Vigilance, informed by science, will be more important than ever. You know what we mean.

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bioGraphic is powered by the California Academy of Sciences, a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on Earth.

This recent story in bioGraphic seems like as good an option as any to link you to. We realize now that we have not posted any stories on the flying squirrels of the Malabar coastal region where we have been based since mid-2010, so glancing at this creature in the western USA habitat first seems a fine reminder of a pending task. Thanks for this story and photographs by Alexander V. Badyaev:

After listening all day to relentless warnings of “severe winter weather” and poring over equipment manuals to determine the lowest operating temperature for various pieces of photographic gear, I decided to stick with the plan. A few hours and several miles of snowshoeing later, I was hard at work in the diminishing February twilight, setting up lines of strobes and high-speed cameras along gaps in the tree canopy that framed a forest lake at the edge of Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness. I knew this lakeshore to be a primary movement corridor for a resident female northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus), and based on observations from previous nights, I expected my nocturnal subject to launch herself across the lake sometime between 2:20 and 2:50 a.m. Continue reading