Red Beach - The March of the Red Crabs

What you see in the five first photos are baby Christmas Island Red Crabs, Gecarcoidea natalis (Decapoda - Gecarcinidae), emerging from the ocean, and making their way to the forest, as seen in January of this 2014.

These crabs are endemic to the Christmas Island. For most of the year the red crabs are found within forest, but each year these crabs must migrate to the coast to breed (last photo). The estimated population of adult red crabs on Christmas Island was 43.7 million in 2001, so the migration is really impressive.

The arrival of the monsoonal rains allows increased activity of red crabs and stimulates the annual migration. During this breeding migration red crabs, like other terrestrial gecarcinids, must abandon their home ranges and travel down to the coast to mate and spawn. The downward migration normally requires at least a week, and the crabs migrate mainly during the first few hours of the morning and in the late afternoon.

The males excavate burrows, which they must defend from other males, on the lowest shore terraces; mating occurs in or near the burrows. Soon after mating the males start the journey back inland to the forest, while the females lay their eggs and remain in the burrows for 2 weeks. At the end of the incubation period the females vacate their burrows and make their way to the coastal cliffs, which almost completely surround the island, to cast their eggs into the ocean. The females usually release their eggs into the sea toward dawn, around the turn of the high tide, and then they return to the forest.

Eggs hatch immediately in the sea and the larvae (now called megalope) live in the sea for about a month before returning to land as juvenile crabs. These juvenile crabs start a first migration to the forest as seen in the first photos.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Kirsty Faulkner | Locality: Christmas Island (2014)

Here’s your semiannual reminder to keep an eye out for dead or injured migrating birds! 

The above photo is a representation of as many as 2,000 individuals from 70+ species a year that die when colliding with downtown Chicago buildings during Spring and Fall migration.  

If you’re in Chicago, what should you do if you find a dead bird? Write a note with information on where the bird was found, the date it was found and put it in a ziploc bag with the bird, then contact the Field’s Bird division to schedule a time to drop it off. If you can’t bring it in the same day, toss it into a freezer. If you find an injured bird, check out this page and call the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors at (773) 988-1867.

If you don’t live in Chicago, look up a local natural history museum or nature center near you and ask if they will take in a bird - but remember, it is illegal for private citizens to possess most native birds, either in whole or in part (including skulls, bones, and even feathers), except under terms of special permits or by exemptions under hunting laws and licenses. 

Why do we do this? Our ornithologists have been collecting window-killed birds for decades: by doing so, and recording the time/place of their collection, we are gaining new insights on the migratory patterns and populations of these species and are able to track changes over time. 

What can we do to prevent more birds from flying into windows? 

  •  Birds will try to fly through transparent glass that they cannot detect. Birds will fly towards reflective glass that mirrors sky, plants or their own reflection!

  • Reduce a bird’s view through transparent glass to attractive areas of light, safety or greenery inside your house by drawing drapes or shades.

  • Move attractive indoor plants away from being directly next to windows or block a bird’s ability to see indoor plants.
  • Use external screens, window films, temporary paint or soap, decals, banners, streamers or windsocks on the outside surface of windows to block transparent or reflective glass.
  • Use etched/fritted/frosted glass (or window films that replicated a frosted glass effect) to reduce transparency and reflectivity of window surfaces.
  • Install bird safe glass that has ultra-violet patterns that make windows more visible (and avoidable) for birds.

Read more at the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors website.

Smile Devan nuzzles his daughter Rina Shah, 7, moments before she departs for the United States. She is a Bhutanese refugee but Smile is a Nepalese citizen. It will likely be years before they are able to see each other again.

Image and text by Julia Rendleman, via Instagram. Nepal, 2014. 

Pulitzer Center grantees Julia Rendleman and Moriah Balingit report from Nepal on Bhutan’s displaced persons preparing to resettle in the United States.

The U.S.-Created Child Migrant Crisis | Latino Rebels 

When a coup removed the democratically-elected leftist president of Honduras in June 2009, receiving tacit support from the U.S. State Department, the American people barely took notice. Then when the United States increased military funding in its little protectorate to reinforce the new right-wing regime installed there, the American public still remained largely unaware and unconcerned. Even after it was reported that Honduras had become “the most dangerous country in the world” a year after the coup (it still is), and that a campaign against drug cartels in Mexico had made Honduras a major distribution point for drugs making their way from South American producers to American consumers, Americans couldn’t be bothered.

They focused all of their attention on Mexico, and their tunnel vision is somewhat understandable. The United States and Mexico share a long, porous border, and Americans have been worried about the violence in Mexico being exported to the United States—though looking at cities like Chicago, it’s hard to argue that it hasn’t already. In addition, considering Mexico is the second largest country in Latin America, with Mexicans making up the largest slice of immigrants in the United States, it seems only natural that the average American would view the topic of immigration as “a Mexico thing.”

But now that child migrants from Honduras and other Central American countries have begun appearing on America’s doorstep, the formerly negligible crises in the region has suddenly been upgraded to an “urgent humanitarian situation” by President Barack Obama.

I guess it’s true what they say, “All politics is local.”

For the past few weeks, the immigration debate in the United States has almost completely shifted to talk of child migrants making the dangerous journey from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border, ever since President Obama released a presidential memo on June 2 asking Congress for an additional $1.4 billion in federal funds to address the issue. He even tasked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deal with the problem.

Cecilia Muñoz, Obama’s director of domestic policy, revealed that the number of child migrants traveling alone has been on the rise since 2009, and Border Patrol reports that “the apprehension of Unaccompanied Alien Children from Central America” has increased by 92 percent from last year, with the largest number of children coming from Honduras. Alreadyover 13,000 Honduran children have been caught at the border this year, a far cry from the 968 apprehended in 2009. And this year’s figure is already twice as high as the number of Honduran children caught at the U.S. border in all of 2013.

Controversy surrounds possible reasons for the recent “surge,” as the government refers to it. Some believe Central Americans are under the false impression that child migrants who make it to U.S. soil are granted some sort of amnesty. More than a few of Obama’s critics accuse the president of fueling this belief through lax enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.

To undo America’s image as a “golden door,” personalities as seemingly diverse as the Congressional Republicans and soon-to-be presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton demand the Obama administration send a clear message to the people of Central America that migrants of any age caught at the U.S. border will be sent back to their home countries. Vice President Joe Biden has been sent to Guatemala to meet with Central American leaders and relay the message. In this way the U.S. government hopes its unwelcoming stance will deter would-be migrants.

But what’s clear for anyone following the situation in Central America is that these children need no other motivation to travel thousands of miles, walk through a searing desert and face all kinds of human dangers than the already hellish conditions in their home countries, conditions supported and oftentimes designed by the very same government now trying to remedy an “urgent humanitarian situation.”

Since its early years the United States has sought to dominate Central America rather than empower it, as evidenced by policies such as the Monroe Doctrine and its Roosevelt Corollary, the deceptive “Good Neighbor” policy that left harsh dictatorships virtually unmolested, the Kennedy Doctrine that sought to combat socialism in Latin America at any cost, the Reagan Doctrine took things up a notch and the concurrent wars on terrorism and drugs in Latin America. In fact, the history of U.S. imperialistic policy in Latin America is so shameful, you’d be hard-pressed to point to one position or action taken in the region that benefited the people of Latin America. In any case, the net result of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, especially in Central America, is overwhelmingly negative.

The U.S. government’s primary objective in Honduras, as with the rest of Latin America, has never been to establish a safe and prosperous society for its citizens. The Honduran government has simply been a proxy for U.S. business interests, first the United Fruit Company, and now the U.S. military-industrial complex. And because Washington’s game plan has been so successful in Honduras, we have our glimpse at what could be in store for Central America and beyond. Order and peace is desired by policymakers insofar as it creates an environment for the U.S. government and the governments it controls can impose neoliberal policies on the region and extract wealth.

It’s no surprise then that Honduras, the original banana republic, and the poster child for U.S. meddling run amok, should today be the country of origin for the greatest number of child migrants. The United States’ vampirish policy toward Honduras has drained that country.

As well as implementing a foreign policy that has forged the kind of Central America we see today — impoverished and unstable, with weak systems ill-equipped to resurrect themselves. U.S. drug consumption and the U.S. war on drugs have created both high demand and a black market for illegal narcotics, making the production, distribution and sale of drugs a lucrative enterprise. So lucrative, in fact, that in a region offering its citizens no other route out of extreme poverty, many have deemed it worth killing for.

Enforcement is not the solution to the latest version of the United States’ immigration issue. To stem immigration, if that’s indeed what is desired, the United States needs to make Central America habitable again, especially since the U.S. government has been the major instigator in the region for at least the past century. The Obama administration and future presidential administrations must recognize the socioeconomics behind the child migrant crisis. Washington has to realize that it can no longer fund right-wing regimes to combat criminal groups like Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, when doing so only endorses the kind of neoliberal policies in those countries that foster further poverty and despair, thus leading many to join gangs in the first place.

What Honduran parents want for their children is what any parent wants for their child, which is merely the opportunity to build a decent life that is healthy and secure. The child migrants traveling to the U.S. border aren’t making the journey with dreams of buying mansions and sports cars once they get here. They come just as millions of other immigrants have come since the nation’s founding: “tired” and “poor.” They are “the homeless,” the “tempest-tost,” the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

There was a time when America extended her hand to people like that, no matter where they were. Now we’re withdrawing that hand just when child migrants are so desperate to come here, and even though we’ve made them that way.

We must examine the reason people are being pushed to the north. Exactly what is happening in their home countries? And what hand does the United States play in creating those problems?

My brother and I did not leave our parents behind, only to be assaulted on a monthlong journey north and witness the worst, including people dying, because we simply wanted to. We did not leave the work we had and the life we had started to build because we would be happier looking for jobs on the street and paying what we could to sleep in a living room.

We came because it was our opportunity to survive, because counterinsurgency forces, known now to have been financed by the Reagan administration, fought a dirty war in El Salvador. It claimed the lives of 70,000 people and displaced 1 million more.


Pablo Alvarado, NDLON

This is exactly what’s missing from the mainstream narrative about the undocumented kids arriving alone at the border. So many of the reasons people are seeking to come to the U.S. are actually caused by the U.S., whether it’s financing dirty wars in El Salvador to the way climate change is affecting Central American economies and communities.

Read Alvarado’s whole essay here.

Watch on datarep.tumblr.com

European Historic Mobility of Intellectuals, 0 to 2012 CE

This video depicts European birth to death network dynamics 0 to 2012 CE according to “deceased persons” in Freebase.com. The video was first published as Movie S1 in the article “A Network Framework of Cultural History” by Schich et al. in Science Magazine on August 1, 2014. See: www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/science.1240064

Modern humans left the home continent in at least two waves


It is well established that modern humans originated in Africa, before moving out to inhabit rest of the planet. They first spread into Asia and Europe via the Arabian Peninsula, and those in the Far East eventually reached America and the Pacific islands.

However, this simple picture does not explain several groups found across Asia and Oceania. Now, by looking at genetic and archaeological data, researchers think they might have found the answer, confirming theories that humans migrated out of Africa more than once.

Across Asia, people are usually similar in appearance to those around them. However, there are scattered populations on islands and in other isolated areas that look quite distinct. These people are sometimes collectively called Negritos (while this may sound archaic, it is the accepted scientific term). Along with Papuans, Melanesians and aboriginal Australians, they are generally much darker-skinned and curlier-haired than their neighbours. Read more.

Italian Navy helicopter captures dramatic photo of migrants — likely North Africans & Syrians — crammed into a small boat, trying to make it to Europe to escape the violence often propagated by Western interference and influence. (Photo Credit)

My heart is breaking every time I come across more articles on unaccompanied minors—-A Border Patrol agent reads the birth certificate of Alejandro, 8 — the only thing he brought with him as he and others crossed the Rio Grande near McAllen recently. Alejandro is one of more than 52,000 minors traveling without parents who’ve been caught crossing the border since October. ( from The Dallas Morning News) #immigration #migration #undocumented #children