Whaleshark enjoying a bubble jacuzzi with some Remoras in Koh Tao, Thailand.
alecshao: The glowing “firefly squid” of Toyama, Japan. Each tentacle contains a photophore which produces light to attract small fish for the squid to feed on.
‘Year of the Rhino’ Declared to Save Species
by OurAmazingPlanet staff
Alarm over the fate of the two rarest rhinoceros species — the Javan and Sumatran rhinos — has prompted Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to announce efforts to preserve the animals and to declare today (June 5) the beginning of the “International Year of the Rhino.”
As part of the effort, Indonesian officials will take action to move animals into protected habitats and improve these areas to allow for their survival.
The announcement, made at the request of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and other conservation groups, follows Indonesian efforts to establish a rhino task force to enforce the protection and monitoring of remaining rhino populations, according to a IUCN statement…
(read more: OurAmazingPlanet.com)
(images: T - Sumatran Rhino, International Rhino Foundation (IRF) - Bill Konstant; B - Javan Rhino, ©WWF-Greater Mekong)
Cyanea capillata in the Sea of Japan (photo: Alexander Semenov)
fyeah-seacreatures: Pissed off Mototi Octopus aka Poison Ocellate Octopus (Octopus mototi).
(photo: Luko Gecko)
Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata)
The Queen snake is an aquatic nonvenomous snake, found in the Eastern and Central United States and SW Canada, that grows to a maxiumum of 24 in (60 sm) in length. They eat primarily soft- shelled (freshly molted) crayfish, but will also take various small fish and aquatic amphibians. Like many aquatic and semi-aquatic snakes, Queen Snakes are live bearing.
Time for another edition of sort-of-weekly highlights, since I seem to only get around to it every two weeks.
Whoa. This might go down as the most remarkable whale story I’ve ever heard. Monterey Bay, CA is a world-famous whale-watching spot, and on May 3, 2012, watchers were treated to an event that might change the way we think of whale cognition.
The hunt: A group of transient orcas was witnessed trying to separate a gray whale calf from its mom, a common hunting behavior. All of a sudden, two migrating humpback whales appeared. As the gray whale mother attempted to save her calf, the humpbacks splashed and trumpeted to scare away the orcas, often within a body length of the other whales.
Unfortunately, the baby whale was killed, but a total of five humpbacks harassed the orcas for hours (as seen in the photo from the scene, above), perhaps trying to keep them away from feeding on the carcass.
It’s a remarkable sequence of events. Dr. Lori Marino of Emory University, an expert in whale cognition, had this to say:
… humpback whales, and many other cetaceans, have specialized cells in their brains called Von Economo neurons (“spindle cells”) and these are shared with humans, great apes, and elephants. The exact function of these elongated neurons is still unknown but they are found in exactly the same locations in all mammal brains for the species that have them.
What is intriguing is that these parts of the mammal brain are thought to be responsible for social organization, empathy, speech, intuition about the feelings of others, and rapid “gut” reactions.
It’s difficult, if not impossible to equate this kind of behavior as “feelings”, in the human sense, but there’s certainly empathy here, and between two species to boot!
Whatever the answer, it’s touching proof of the intelligence of whales, and perhaps we can take this as a reminder that defending other species from destruction (or extinction) is a natural, core value of intelligent creatures like ourselves.