Jellyfish Lake, Eil Malk Island, Palau

 Animals  Comments Off on Jellyfish Lake, Eil Malk Island, Palau
Feb 242014
 
Jellyfish-Lake-is-a-marine-lake-located-on-Eil-Malk-island-in-Palau3

Jellyfish-Lake-is-a-marine-lake-located-on-Eil-Malk-island-in-Palau. Photo by Tan Yilmaz

Snorkeling in Jellyfish Lake

Snorkeling in Jellyfish Lake

Jellyfish and Hand comparison

Jellyfish and Hand comparison

Snorkeling with Jellyfish

Snorkeling with Jellyfish

Snorkeling_with_Jellyfish

Snorkeling_with_Jellyfish

Snorkeling_with_Jellyfish

Snorkeling_with_Jellyfish

Golden and Spotted Jellyfish

left image: golden jellyfish (Mastigias cf. papua etpisoni) in Jellyfish Lake, Palau. right image: spotted jellyfish (Mastigias papua) at the New England Aquarium. The red bars indicate the extent of the clubs. The clubs are almost completely absent in the golden jellyfish that inhabits the jellyfish lake.

Jellyfish Lake (Palauan: Ongeim’l Tketau, “Fifth Lake”) is a marine lake located on Eil Malk island in Palau. Eil Malk is part of the Rock Islands, a group of small, rocky, mostly uninhabited islands in Palau’s Southern Lagoon, between Koror and Peleliu. There are about 70 other marine lakes located throughout the Rock Islands. Jellyfish Lake is one of Palau’s most famous dive (snorkeling only) sites. It is notable for the millions of golden jellyfish which migrate horizontally across the lake daily.

Jellyfish Lake is connected to the ocean through fissures and tunnels in the limestone of an ancient Miocene reef. However the lake is sufficiently isolated and the conditions are different enough that the diversity of species in the lake is greatly reduced from the nearby lagoon.  Jellyfish Lake is really small – only circa 420 meters long and up to 30 meters deep. What could be unique in such a small place? But Jellyfish Lake is truly unique not only in Palau but in the whole world. Jellyfish Lake is connected to the ocean through fissures and tunnels in the limestone of an ancient Miocene reef. However the lake is sufficiently isolated and the conditions are different enough that the diversity of species in the lake is greatly reduced from the nearby lagoon. The golden jellyfish, Mastigias cf. papua etpisoni, and possibly other species in the lake have evolved to be substantially different from their close relatives living in the nearby lagoons.   Two species of scyphozoan jellyfish live in Jellyfish Lake, moon jellyfish (Aurelia sp.) and the golden jellyfish (Mastigias sp.).
Tourists are required to obtain a pass to access Jellyfish Lake. The Rock Islands/Jellyfish Lake pass is $100 and is good for 10 days.
Snorkeling in Jellyfish Lake is a popular activity for tourists to Palau. Several tour operators in Koror offer trips to the lake. Eil Malk island is approximately a 45 minute boat ride from Koror. The lake is accessed by a short trail from the beach on Eil Malk to the lake.
Scuba diving by tourists in the lake is not allowed. Two reasons are put forward for this:
• The bubbles from scuba tanks can harm the jellyfish if they collect beneath their bell.
• The anoxic layer that begins at about 15 meters contains high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide which can be absorbed through the skin of a diver which can lead to death.
Jellyfish Lake is currently the only one of Palau’s marine lakes open to tourists.
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Spotted Eagle Ray

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Feb 212014
 
Spotted Eagle Ray formation, Keauhou Bay, Big IslandSpotted Eagle Ray formation

Spotted Eagle Ray formation, Keauhou Bay, Big Island, Hawaii by Steve Dunleavy on Flickr

The spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) is a cartilaginous fish of the eagle ray family, Myliobatidae. It can be found globally in tropical regions, including the Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, off the coast of West Africa, the Indian Ocean, Oceania, and on both coasts of the Americas at depths down to about 80 meters (262 ft). The rays are most commonly seen alone, but occasionally swim in groups. Rays are ovoviviparous, the female retaining the eggs then releasing the young as miniature versions of the parent.

This ray can be identified by its dark dorsal surface covered in white spots or rings. Near the base of the ray’s relatively long tail, just behind the pelvic fins, are several venomous, barbed stingers. Spotted eagle rays commonly feed on small fish and crustaceans, and will sometimes dig with their snouts to look for food buried in the sand of the sea bed. These rays are commonly observed leaping out of the water, and on at least two occasions have been reported as having jumped into boats, in one incident resulting in the death of a woman in the Florida Keys. The spotted eagle ray is hunted by a wide variety of sharks. The rays are considered Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. They are fished mainly in Southeast Asia and Africa, the most common market being in commercial trade and aquariums. They are protected in the Great Barrier Reef.

Spotted eagle rays have flat disk-shaped bodies, deep blue or black with white spots on top with a white underbelly, and distinctive flat snouts similar to a duck’s bill.Their tails are longer than those of other rays and may have 2–6 venomous spines, just behind the pelvic fins. The front half of the long and wing-like pectoral disk has five small gills in its underside.

Mature spotted eagle rays can be up to 5 meters (16 ft) in length; the largest have a wingspan of up to 3 meters (10 ft) and a mass of 230 kilograms (507 lb).

Spotted eagle ray preys mainly upon bivalves, shrimps, crabs, whelks, and other benthic infauna. They feed on mollusks and crustaceans, particularly malacostracans. and also upon hermit crabs, shrimp, octopi, and some small fish.

The spotted eagle ray’s specialized chevron-shaped tooth structure helps it to crush the mollusks’ hard shells.The jaws of these rays have developed calcified struts to help them break through the shells of mollusks, by supporting the jaws and preventing dents from hard prey. These rays have the unique behavior of digging with their snouts in the sand of the ocean. While doing this, a cloud of sand surrounds the ray and sand spews from its gills. One study has shown that there are no differences in the feeding habits of males and females or in rays from different regions of Australia and Taiwan.

Source: Spotted Eagle Ray

Photo :  Spotted Eagle Ray formation, Keauhou Bay, Big Island, Hawaii by Steve Dunleavy on Flickr

 

Standing Tall ~ Snowy Owl

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Jan 272014
 
Snow Owl Perched in morning mist by Daniel Behm.flickr

Snow Owl Perched in morning mist by Daniel Behm.flickr

Although Alone in the Mist
Standing Tall is a Must.
~ Clare Patrick

Snowy Owl: This yellow-eyed, black-beaked white bird is easily recognizable. It is 52–71 cm (20–28 in) long, with a 125–150 cm (49–59 in) wingspan. Also, these birds can weigh anywhere from 1.6 to 3 kg (3.5 to 6.6 lb).[3] It is one of the largest species of owl and, in North America, is on average the heaviest owl species. The adult male is virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark scalloping; the young are heavily barred, and dark spotting may even predominate. Its thick plumage, heavily feathered taloned feet, and colouration render the Snowy Owl well-adapted for life north of the Arctic Circle.

Photo: Snow Owl Perched in morning mist by Daniel Behm on flickr

The Snowy Owl

Atlantic Puffin

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Jan 182014
 
Atlantic Puffin

Atlantic Puffin

The Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), also known as the Common Puffin, is a species of seabird in the auk family. It is the only puffin native to the Atlantic Ocean with two related species, the Tufted Puffin and the Horned Puffin, being found in the north eastern Pacific. The Atlantic Puffin breeds in Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Newfoundland and many North Atlantic islands, and as far south as Maine in the west and the British Isles in the east. The Atlantic Puffin has a large population and a wide range. It is not considered to be endangered although there may be local declines in numbers. On land, it has the typical upright stance of an auk. At sea, they swim on the surface and feed mainly on small fish, which they catch by diving underwater, using their wings for propulsion.

The Atlantic Puffin has a black crown and back, pale grey cheek patches and white underparts. Its broad, boldly marked red and black beak and orange legs contrast with its plumage. It moults while at sea in the winter and some of the bright-coloured facial characteristics are lost. The external appearance of the adult male and female are identical except that the male is usually slightly larger. The juvenile has similar plumage but its cheek patches are dark grey. The juvenile does not have brightly coloured head ornamentation, its bill is less broad and is dark-grey with a yellowish-brown tip, and its legs and feet are also dark. Puffins from northern populations are typically larger than their counterparts in southern parts of the range. It is generally considered that these populations are different subspecies.

The Atlantic Puffin spends the autumn and winter in the open ocean of the cold northern seas and returns to coastal areas at the start of the breeding season in late spring. It nests in clifftop colonies, digging a burrow in which a single white egg is laid. The chick mostly feeds on whole fish and grows rapidly. After about six weeks it is fully fledged and makes its way at night to the sea. It swims away from the shore and does not return to land for several years.

Colonies are mostly on islands where there are no terrestrial predators but adult birds and newly fledged chicks are at risk of attacks from the air by gulls and skuas. Sometimes a bird such as an Arctic Skua will harass a Puffin arriving with a beakful of fish, causing it to drop its catch. The striking appearance, large colourful bill, waddling gait and behaviour of this bird have given rise to nicknames such as “clown of the sea” and “sea parrot”. It is the official bird symbol for the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Puffin
Photo: http://goo.gl/CkAIfu

Bald Eagle

 Animals  Comments Off on Bald Eagle
Jan 132014
 
Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus; hali = sea, aeetus = eagle, leuco = white, cephalis = head) is a bird of prey found in North America. A sea eagle, it has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.

The Bald Eagle is an opportunistic feeder which subsists mainly on fish, which it swoops down and snatches from the water with its talons. It builds the largest nest of any North American bird and the largest tree nests ever recorded for any animal species, up to 4 m (13 ft) deep, 2.5 m (8.2 ft) wide, and 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) in weight.[2] Sexual maturity is attained at the age of four to five years.

Bald Eagles are not actually bald; the name derives from an older meaning of “white headed”. The adult is mainly brown with a white head and tail. The sexes are identical in plumage, but females are larger than males. The beak is large and hooked. The plumage of the immature is brown.

The Bald Eagle is both the national bird and national animal of the United States of America. The Bald Eagle appears on its Seal. In the late 20th century it was on the brink of extirpation in the continental United States. Populations recovered and the species was removed from the U.S. federal government’s list of endangered species on July 12, 1995 and transferred to the list of threatened species. It was removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in the Lower 48 States on June 28, 2007.

Reference: http://goo.gl/5OpOIO 

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