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Harbor Porpoises Return to San Francisco

After a 65-year absence, harbor porpoises are back in San Francisco Bay, providing scientists a unique view into their lives.

Marine biologists are studying some of San Francisco’s least-known residents from an unlikely laboratory: the Golden Gate Bridge.  Through binoculars, Bill Keener suddenly spots a harbor porpoise, its dark gray dorsal fin appearing briefly before re-submerging. Keener predicts the porpoise’s course and, just as it surfaces again, photographs the animal before it disappears. “Got it,” he declares triumphantly.

This harbor porpoise is one of more than 600 that Keener and the other marine mammal scientists of Golden Gate Cetacean Research have recorded in the San Francisco Bay since 2008, compiling the world’s first photo catalog of wild harbor porpoises.

 

“What was known about harbor porpoises until now has mainly been from dead, dying or captive animals,” says Keener, “It’s an avocation rather than a vocation,” Szczepaniak says, grinning.

With financial support from the National Wildlife Federation and its donors, the researchers are taking advantage of unique circumstances that are bringing the behavior of these normally elusive animals to light. Because porpoises predictably gather in deep, turbulent waters near the Golden Gate at high tides, presumably following small fish that school there to eat accumulated plankton, the scientists  closely observe and photograph the animals either from the bridge or a nearby shore without changing their behavior. “We are getting this wonderful, natural glimpse into their lives that no one has ever had before,” says Webber.  This is remarkable given that just six years ago no porpoises were found in the bay.

 

http://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/National-Wildlife/Animals/Archives/2014/Harbor-Porpoises.aspx/?s_src=SM_Facebook

 

Happy Humpday (^_^)

 

Curious Capuchins and Their Crayfish

Capuchin monkeys are very smart and curious little primates.  When they’re kept in a zoo, it is very important to keep the monkeys’ brains and bodies engaged in lots of activities.  This zoo staff, who put crayfish in their capuchin enclosure, definitely has the right idea.

 

 

Happy Monkday :_)

Unusual Mouse-like Marsupial Discovered

Australian scientists have discovered a new species of marsupial, about the size of a mouse.  The Black-Tailed Antechinus has been found in the high-altitude, wet areas of far southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales.

It is identifiable by a very shaggy coat and an orange-and-brown-colored rump which ends with a black tail.

 

What makes this animal unusual, is their marathon mating sessions that often prove fatal for the male. They can last for to 14 hours, with both the males and females romping from mate to mate.

 

“It’s frenetic, there’s no courtship, the males will just grab the females and both will mate promiscuously,” said Andrew Baker, head of the research team from the Queensland University of Technology who made the discovery.

 

The mating season lasts for several weeks and the males will typically die from their exertions.  Excessive stress hormones in the males that build up during the mating season degrade their body tissue, leading to death. Females have the ability to block the production of the hormone.

 

The species was found at the highest peak of the World-Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests, in Springbrook National Park in Queensland, about 900 km (560 miles) north east of Sydney.  The findings about the new species have been published in the science journal Zootaxa.

 

Happy Bun(marsupial)day (|^_^|)

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/20/marsupial-sexes-itself-to-death_n_4821373.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

The Tiniest Baby Otters

Four new members of the world’s smallest otter species, the Asian small-clawed otter, have made their public debut at the Perth Zoo in Western Australia.  The pups were born on December 27 and just had their first medical checkup…. possibly the cutest medical checkup ever performed. ^_^

The vets identified two females and two males weighing around a pound each.  Asian Small-clawed Otters weigh only around eight pounds when fully grown.  At this age, the parents carry the pups out of the nest box and into the pool for swim training, and then carry them back inside again.

The tiny pups are part of an Australasian breeding program to help protect the species since it is threatened in the wild. The otters at Perth Zoo have now had sixteen otter pups: four litters in the past two years. These latest pups are the third litter for parents Asia and Tuan.  

No word yet on name choices for the pups, but if I find out, I’ll let you know. :-)

Happy Ottersday :#)

Photos courtesy of Perth Zoo

 

http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2014/02/tiny-otters-weigh-in-at-perth-zoo.html

The Otter Who Outsmarted the Fox

A camera trap in Nunnington Hall in North Yorkshire county in England, captured interesting video on a riverbank. A fox and an otter attempt to fish the same area… apparently it was not big enough for the both of them, as the otter splashes water at the fox, who then runs away. Clever girl…

 

 

Happy Ottersday :#)