Genus: Cryptoconchus

Cryptoconchus is an unusual genus of Acanthochitonid chitons which occur in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Cryptoconchus is a fairly small genus which only houses two extant species, C. porosus the butterfly chiton (shown above), and C. florianus the white-barred chiton. Cryptoconchus spp. are noted for their large mantles, which extend over their bodies and completely encompass their plates!



Image: Graham Bould

Endangered Beauties

Today, 6940 animals are listed as ‘endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. One of them is the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) caught in the picture below. The marine reptile, belonging to the family Cheloniidae (a family of sea turtles), is found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea, with a main occurrence along the southeastern coast of North America and in the Gulf of Mexico. One of the most popular nesting sites is Florida, where more than 67,000 nests are built per year.

There are various circumstances that contributed to the C. caretta being listed on the IUCN Red List. In earlier times the Loggerhead Sea Turtle was mainly threatened by humans due to exploitation of their tortoise shell, meat, eggs and their fat, used to produce cosmetics and potential remedies. Anthropogenic dangers nowadays are rather fishing trawls and untended fishing gear.

Another danger comes with the fact that loggerhead sea turtle females have to come ashore to build terrestrial nests. On their way back from the nest to the ocean, loggerhead hatchlings are hunted by several predators, such as crabs, toads, lizards, snakes and seabirds. After reaching the ocean, other hazards await the juveniles; fish, moray eels and portunid crabs. When nesting ashore, female loggerheads are exposed to further danger by flesh flies, feral dogs and humans. The red fox, which was introduced in Australia by British settlers in the 19th century, led to significant population reductions.

On top of that, with only four eggs clutches every second or third year, Loggerhead Sea Turtles have and extremely low productive rate. Loggerheads reach sexual maturity within 17 to 33 years and their lifespan ranges from 47 to 67 years.

Organisations all over the world work for loggerhead conservation in various ways. In 2006 Turkish animal welfarists protected more than 600 clutches as they watched over a coast of 18 kilometers in length in Anamur, Turkey, as female loggerheads were laying eggs. If necessary nests are monitored to spot threats and sometimes, to protect them, endangered clutches are even relocated. Shrimp trawlers also have been mandated to carry so-called TEDs (Turtle Exclusion Devices) which reduce injuries and death to sea turtles by allowing them to exit the fishing net through special devices.


Image Credit:
Marine Turtle Specialist Group 1996. Caretta caretta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 12 December 2014.
Ernst, C. H.; Lovich, J.E. (2009). Turtles of the United States and Canada
Spotila, James R. (2004). Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide to their Biology, Behavior, and Conservation.
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As it happens, there is nothing about a congenitally racist country that necessarily prevents an individual leader hailing from the pariah class. The office does not care where the leader originates, so long as the leader ultimately speaks for the state. On Monday night, watching Obama both be black and speak for the state was torturous. One got the sense of a man fatigued by people demanding he say something both eminently profound and only partially true. This must be tiring. Black people know what cannot be said. What clearly cannot be said is that the events of Ferguson do not begin with Michael Brown lying dead in the street, but with policies set forth by government at every level. What clearly cannot be said is that the people of Ferguson are regularly plundered, as their grandparents were plundered, and generally regarded as a slush-fund for the government that has pledged to protect them. What clearly cannot be said is the idea of superhuman black men who “bulk up” to run through bullets is not an invention of Darren Wilson, but a staple of American racism. What clearly cannot be said is that American society’s affection for nonviolence is notional. What cannot be said is that American society’s admiration for Martin Luther King Jr. increases with distance, that the movement he led was bugged, smeared, harassed, and attacked by the same country that now celebrates him. King had the courage to condemn not merely the violence of blacks, nor the violence of the Klan, but the violence of the American state itself. What clearly cannot be said is that violence and nonviolence are tools, and that violence—like nonviolence—sometimes works. “Property damage and looting impede social progress,” Jonathan Chait wrote Tuesday. He delivered this sentence with unearned authority. Taken together, property damage and looting have been the most effective tools of social progress for white people in America. They describe everything from enslavement to Jim Crow laws to lynching to red-lining. “Property damage and looting”—perhaps more than nonviolence—has also been a significant tool in black “social progress.” In 1851, when Shadrach Minkins was snatched off the streets of Boston under the authority of the Fugitive Slave Law, abolitionists “stormed the courtroom” and “overpowered the federal guards” to set Minkins free. That same year, when slaveholders came to Christiana, Pennsylvania, to reclaim their property under the same law, they were not greeted with prayer and hymnals but with gunfire. “Property damage and looting” is a fairly accurate description of the emancipation of black people in 1865, who only five years earlier constituted some $4 billion in property. The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 is inseparable from the threat of riots. The housing bill of 1968—the most proactive civil-rights legislation on the books—is a direct response to the riots that swept American cities after King was killed. Violence, lingering on the outside, often backed nonviolence during the civil-rights movement. “We could go into meetings and say, ‘Well, either deal with us or you will have Malcolm X coming into here,’” said SNCC organizer Gloria Richardson. “They would get just hysterical. The police chief would say, ‘Oh no!’” What cannot be said is that America does not really believe in nonviolence—Barack Obama has said as much—so much as it believes in order. What cannot be said is that there are very convincing reasons for black people in Ferguson to be nonviolent. But those reasons emanate from an intelligent fear of the law, not a benevolent respect for the law. The fact is that when the president came to the podium on Monday night there actually was very little he could say. His mildest admonitions of racism had only earned him trouble. If the American public cannot stomach the idea that arresting a Harvard professor for breaking into his own home is “stupid,” then there is virtually nothing worthwhile that Barack Obama can say about Michael Brown. And that is because the death of all of our Michael Browns at the hands of people who are supposed to protect them originates in a force more powerful than any president: American society itself. This is the world our collective American ancestors wanted. This is the world our collective grandparents made. And this is the country that we, the people, now preserve in our fantastic dream. What can never be said is that the Fergusons of America can be changed—but, right now, we lack the will to do it.

Small-spotted Catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula)

Also sometimes known as the “lesser spotted dogfish”, the small-spotted catshark is a species of catshark (Scyliorhinidae) which occurs on the continental shelves and the uppermost slopes along the coasts of Norway, and the British Isles south to Senegal, including the Mediterranean in part. Small-spotted catsharks are opportunistic feeders and will feed on a wide range of marine invertebrates and small fish.  S. canicula are known to use the behavior known as ‘scale rasping’ as a feeding mechanism, where the shark will anchor food items near its tail so that their rapid head and jaw movements can tear away bite-sized pieces.


Animalia-Chordata-Chondrichthyes-Elasmobranchii-Selachimorpha-Carchariniformes-Scyliorhinidae-Scyliorhinus-S. canicula

Image: Hans Hillewaert

"West Indian Fuzzy Chiton" (Acanthopleura granulata)

…a species of Chitonid chiton (A class of plated molluscs) which occurs from southern Florida to Mexico, south to Panama, and the West Indies. Like other chiton species A. granulata typically inhabits rocks in the intertidal zone, where it will graze on a variety of algae and other plant matter.


Animalia-Mollusca-Polyplacophora-Neoloricata-Chitonidae-Acanthopleura-A. granulata

Image: Hans Hillewaert