Proud aquarist moment: Last week I got to be the lead during our sea turtle handlings and actually do the medical work on this big giant sweet potato for this first time! The white stuff on his head and shell is medicine that we apply to keep out bacteria and prevent infection in the wounds from the boat strike Rocky was in almost about three years ago. It makes me so happy that this not so little dude is doing so well, and that after a year I am finally cleared by our vets to work on him ❤
Happy Birdday to you too, and to wild birds everywhere!
To explain the “Birdday” thing:
One important part of monitoring and studying wildlife populations is understanding how animals age and behave differently at different ages. A quick example of the importance of understanding age distributions in populations comes in loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) conservation; early efforts to save the species focused on conserving the species focused on protecting hatchlings. This is because the vast majority of animals in the population were hatchlings at any one given time.
…But just protecting the hatchlings didn’t work!
Then, a research team started considering rates of mortality and reproductive capacity for different age classes (Crouse, Crowder, and Caswell in 1987, published in Ecology). Turns out you can protect the baby turtles all you want, but you can’t stop the fact that most of them will die anyway. Instead, their study suggested that conservation should focus on the adolescent turtles that were being caught in fishing nets, and the population began to slowly rebound!
Okay, so it’s important to know how old animals are. Back to birds!
The way we determine an animal’s age is actually completely arbitrary. You say you become three years old when you reach your third birthday, even though for half of the time you were “two years old” you had been alive for closer to three years! In birds, we do it a little bit differently: we age birds by the calendar year they are currently living through.
So, a bird who just hatched in May is automatically a hatch year (first year) bird. Once the year switches over in January, it becomes a second year bird. The next January it will become a third year bird, and so on. The aging is relative to the Gregorian calendar, not to the actual date of birth. This is because for most birds we have no way to know what their actual date of birth was.
When bird banders try to determine a bird’s age, we use a combination of clues we can glean from the bird’s plumage. This process merits numerous articles, but we can combine our understanding of how and when birds molt with what we observe in the bird’s plumage to determine their age. For instance, the yellow-rumped warbler (Setophaga coronata) above would be a hatch year bird due to what we call a molt limit in the coverts– that is, until after December 31st! Once the clock turns over, even though the bird doesn’t change at all, it becomes a second year bird!
So… congratulations to birds everywhere for living through an entire year– even if they didn’t!
Got any more questions about ecology, evolution, and ornithology? My asks are always open!
Using infrared lighting, a live-streaming, high-definition “turtle webcam” positioned on a beach in the Florida Keys recorded the hatch of about 100baby loggerhead sea turtles on Friday, July 25, just before 9 p.m. The 3-inch-long babies erupted from a hole, came out en masse and headed to the Atlantic Ocean under dim moonlight.
The camera uses infrared lighting so hatchlings won’t be confused by artificial light and will go to sea — guided by moonlight reflecting on the water – instead of pushing further onto land.
We have been so busy with other things at work that I totally forgot about it. Tom me, it really is such an incredible privilege to work with our sea turtles and to be able to tell their stories to the world. I hope that I never become desensitized to these amazing animals and the importance they have in our oceans. Here, our loggerhead Rocky enjoys an ice treat with some yummy shrimp and squid :)
HOW DID I SOMEHOW NEVER NOTICE YOUR BIO ABOUT BEING GREEK. Omg, I've always wanted to visit Greece. What's it like actually living there versus being a tourist and only seeing the highlights?
HOW DID YOU NOT I AM SO LOUD ABOUT BEING GREEK
Οk this turned out super long but I’ve actually wanted to write this sort of thing for a while so, kudos. You appeared right on time. It did turn out to be more of a thing about being Greek than living in Greece but do excuse me. I’m vaguely aware of what you see as a tourist and… there’s so much more.
You can never run out of archaeological spaces and museums to visit.
Or theatre. There’s loads of good productions and plays going around.
Mediterranean food is incredible.
We have some of the best beaches around and breath-taking mountains. Win-win.
The folklore is beyond awesome. Did you know there are goblins trying all year to bring down the tree that’s holding up the world and that Christmas cookies are our only shield towards that menace?
There are tons of little places that tourist brochures never talk to you about; traditional shops, little-known archaeological sites, tiny islands that are just as pretty as the Cyclades. You can look for them or run into them, like magic.
You get to find ancient coins and vase pieces when you plant potatoes in your lawn.
People will say our national animal is a dolphin or a brown bear or even a caretta caretta turtle but it is, in fact, a donkey, and this tells you all you need to know about my people.
I lied it does get cold in Greece. There are mountains here.
There’s absolutely no respect from the people to the state and vice versa, which means laws are not kept as much as they need to. See: taxes, zebra crossings, and so on and so forth.
You only see the highlights as a tourist because most of the rest is fucking awful. There are no rules to an architectural style so the buildings and streets are a mess; dirty, ugly, graffitied beyond repair. You need to know where to look to find something pretty. Or stumble upon it. Like magic.
The people who are not loud and friendly are either loud and rude or quiet and extremely unfriendly and usually hate foreigners.
The educational system needs to be burnt to the ground and then peed on.
What the hell are disabled people and how can we keep them as far away from the rest of us as possible?
I am an average Greek person and I do not know what “gay” is exactly, but TV told me it’s a disease and needs to be laughed at often so it does not infect us. The only right I want to give to a trans person is my right to call them offensive names and honk at them.
I am the same average Greek person. I believe I gifted philosophy and architecture to the world and that everyone that isn’t me is a barbarian. I conveniently ignore the fact that my great-grandfather was Turkish, his wife was Italian, his brother-in-law was Egyptian, and my own spouse is Albanian on their father’s side. Everyone that doesn’t speak Greek perfectly is a barbarian, έγινα σαφές;
No translations of your fave books. Or even worse, bad translations of your fave books. And dubbed animated movies.
Feminism happened somewhere but according to the official papers in public services it very much didn’t.
The church is everywhere and it will in fact have an opinion about what you ate last Wednesday on its break from admiring its hoarded treasure like a sick elderly dragon recalling its olden days whilst hating everyone.
Hello, this is the Greek government of the past forty years or so. What is money and how do we steal it and then throw it away while cackling maniacally and picking our next lie from a bingo grid?
Nothing ever gets our mythology, history, geography, attitude, or language right. Ever. First Hollywood, then Disney, then books, then TV, now Tumblr. Hera was the one who sent the snakes to Hercules’ crib, Drakopoulos is not a real Ancient Greek name, and that spell in Xena Warrior Princess is just gibberish, wishes for a good night and a good morning, and the boat schedule from Pireaus to Crete. We cry and our tears are salt and olive oil.
Smokers. Smokers everywhere.
Greek television is why this world will burn in hell and the black hole of our doom will start right here.
Bins full of used toilet paper.
We’re too cool for public transportation. Get a car or get out (not of the car, because you’re stuck in traffic).
We invented the word organised but we have no idea what it means.
Conclusion: I despise it here and I want to be the one to make it awesome again, one bit at a time, because it fucking deserves it.
We’re celebrating Shark Week with one of the Museum’s iconic dioramas.
The tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) is one of the largest and most recognizable sharks. It is covered with dark spots as a juvenile, which merge into stripes as it grows older and then eventually fade. Its powerful jaws and teeth are especially useful in hunting large animals such as loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), but it will eat almost anything and has the most varied diet of any shark.
Like many other sharks and rays, tiger sharks do not lay eggs but give birth to live young. With up to 80 pups per litter, tiger sharks may be more resilient than most sharks to overfishing, but their numbers are nevertheless in decline.
Tiger sharks are found near warm-water shores throughout the world. Though they sometimes range farther out to sea, they prefer river mouths, bays, piers and coral reefs.
FAST FACTS Size: adults average 400 to 600 kilograms, but can exceed 900 kg (2,000 lbs) Life span: up to 50 years Closest relatives: other sharks and rays Food: fish, turtles, mammals, birds, snakes crabs, clams Fun Fact: Tiger sharks will swallow anything, including license plates, bottles, cans and burlap bags