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Mompossumbus

 

Come hop aboard the possum bus!

This omnibus takes all of us

Mom-possum navigates the trail

With whiskered nose and long pink tail

 

All of us children clamber on  

We cling to her, a possum throng

No fights aboard this crowded bus

‘Cause momma is the boss of us

 

Our possum momma is so strong

To ferry all her kids along

And seat belts are superfluous

We’re safe aboard our possum bus

 

When we were smaller, we’d all crouch  

On lower decks, inside her pouch

But as we grew, we made the swap

And now we ride in style on top

 

— Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

 

The opossum is the only marsupial (or animal with a pouch) native to North America. This nocturnal critter finds a safe, dry hole in a tree or a log to make its home. It sleeps during the day and trundles about at night looking for all sorts of delicious things to eat: insects, mice, fruit, slugs and snails, dead things, even poisonous snakes (they are not affected by the venom). They eat just about anything and so are called “omnivores.”

This marsupial can hang upside down from its strong tail, (which is impressive) but cannot run very fast. It does not have big teeth or claws to defend itself against predators (animals that might want to eat the possum). If it feels that danger is near, sometimes it will lay down and play dead. It does not decide to do this; it is for the possum, a bit like fainting. It happens naturally when the possum is frightened. It even produces a rotting smell that helps to convince predators that the animal has been dead for too long to make a tasty meal.

The mom-possum is strong and takes care of her children by letting them ride in her pouch when they are small. When they have outgrown the belly pouch, they crawl up onto her back to get a ride through the forest on the momma-bus. A mother possum can carry up to fifteen baby possums as she trundles through the forest highways and byways.

Swimming Pinecones!

Wikimedia Commons

Pinecone Swimmer

 

Wikipedia

The perky little pinecone fish

Is such a charming fellow

Diminutive but diving deep

With scales bright and yellow

 

 

Below his sloping, fishy chin

He plays the genial host

With glowing green bacteria

Wikipedia

He’s like a deep-sea ghost

 

 

He hopes that with his tiny spines

You would not want to eat him

But with his luminescent charms

You really ought to meet him

 

 

 

From “Fishes of Australia”

–Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinecone Fishfacts:

The pinecone fish, sometimes called the pineapple fish, is a tough little deep-sea dweller that grows to about 5 inches or 13 centimeters in length. It is covered with bright yellow to orange hard scales, called scutes, that are vibrantly outlined in black accentuating its pinecone-like appearance. Its sharp spines and locking dorsal and pelvic fins discourage predators. If they attempt to swallow the swimming pinecone, they risk getting it stuck in their throat.

It prefers to live in rocky areas of the deep ocean with reefs and caves where it can hide during the day. The fish emerges at night to feed on brine shrimp, small fish and plankton that it attracts to its mouth by way of two glowing organs located on its chin. These organs house bioluminescent bacteria that glow an orange-yellow during the day and dim to a bluish-green at night. The bacteria benefits by having a host that provides it with an advantageous place to grow. The pinecone fish benefits by using the the glow to attract meals. This is called a symbiotic relationship where both organisms have something to gain from the relationship.

Ice Is Nice

 

 

 

Nice Ice

You may like this balmy weather

You might think it’s kind of nice

That the oceans are all warming

And they’re slowly losing ice

 

 

But this polar bear is worried

That the Arctic’s turned to mush

And I cannot hunt for seals

On a platform made of slush

 

 

Now I have to swim for miles

Just to find a place to hunt

I am losing so much weight now

I’m a total polar runt

 

 

Polar seals, birds and walrus

Need cold weather to survive

Even tiny arctic algae

Need the ice to stay alive

 

 

If you still need more convincing

Ask this polar bear’s advice

I would very gladly tell you

That the North Pole needs its ice

 

 

– Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

 

 

Polar bears are in serious trouble. As global temperatures rise, the arctic ice melts and polar bears are finding it harder and harder to survive. These bears depend on polar ice for their hunting platforms. They wait by a breathing hole of a seal, and when it pops to the surface to take a breath, the polar bear snatches its dinner. Scientists who study polar bears have watched the bears lose weight and even starve to death. These beautiful, powerful creatures are becoming weak because of how we are treating our environment.

What can be done to help? Do everything in your power to save the arctic wild spaces. Sign petitions and write letters to keep polluters out of the arctic. Walk, bicycle and take public transportation to travel. Limit the number of flights that you take. Make your homes and workplace as energy efficient as possible. Polar bears are depending upon us.

Presenting the Pademelon

I Am a Pademelon
– from Wikipedia

What am I? Have you ever seen me before? My name is “Pademelon” but I am no relation to the watermelon, the musk melon, the winter melon, or even the cantaloupe or honeydew. And no, I am not a kangaroo. I am who I am; a Pademelon. Let me explain….

 

Australian What Am I

I breathe and move and so you know

– from Discoversg.com

My Kingdom’s animalia

I do have fur, and nurse my young

I’m classified mammalia

Be sure to check my infraclass

I am marsupialia

It’s true I have a cozy pouch

And live in warm Australia

 

But, no, I’m not a kangaroo

– from pademelonpark.com.au

Who shrank inside the dryer

And no, I’m not a wallaby

Who wished she could grow higher

I hop about and graze on grass

And don’t do any yell’in

My fur is gray and reddish brown

I am a pademelon

 

The critters in DownUnder 

Are so varied and unique

We bounce and pounce, we splash and dash

We twitter, whirr and squeak

Koalas and the kangaroos

May be the most well-known

But Pademelons matter too

And we are not alone

 

Australia is full of life

Pademelon Joey
– Creative Commons

Strange beasts you’ve never seen

The quokka, quoll and numbat

And a tree ant that is green

A kangaroo found in the trees

The earth-bound walleroo

Yet we agree that none of us

Are quite as strange as you

– by Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

 

Some species of the pademelon are threatened or endangered because of habitat loss and predators that are not native to Australia or Tasmania. The pademelon is a gentle, lovely creature that eats grass, herbs, fruit and mushrooms. Be careful not to confuse the pademelon with the paddymelon which is a small vine fruit that grows in the outback of Australia. Here’s one way to tell the difference: one of them hops and the other rolls.

Honey of an Idea


What is a farmer to do when crops are threatened by a beloved beast that needs protection itself? When elephants threatened to decimate Kenyan crops, farmers came up with a brilliant solution; use bees to chase away the huge mauraders.

Yes, elephants are afraid of something as small as a mouse, but they are also afraid of something even smaller. Elephants are, as it turns out, afraid of bees. Farmers have successfully kept elephants from invading their fields by installing bee hives along the crops’ bordering fences. With their sensitive ears, the elephants can hear they buzzing of the bees and steer clear. If they do venture too close, the bees will swarm and sting the elephants around their eyes and the sensitive ends of their trunks.

Besides keeping the elephants at bay, the busy buzzers help to pollinate the crops. In this way, two threatened species help each other survive and thrive.

For more on this honey of an idea, read the article on ABC’s web site.

Humble Bee

On Bee’s Knees  

Yellow-Banded Bumble Bee

Yellow-Banded Bumble Bee

 

Oh, I’m a humble bumble bee

A yellow-banded stumble bee

Our numbers tumble down so low

That crops will crumble as we go

 

My cousins fill up comb and hive  fig03

These busy buzzers work and strive

And honey is not all bees do

We pollinate the fruit trees too

 

But when you spray your pesticides

You kill the skill a bee provides

I’m begging you on bended knee

Don’t let this be the end of me

 

Save the bees! Please.  

– by Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

 

 

The yellow banded bumble bee is in trouble. It used to be common in the United States and southern Canada, but now it is hard to find these busy little insects. These bees pollinate important plants like potatoes, tomatoes, alfalfa, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and other edible crops. Because bumble bees can fly in lower temperatures than other types of bees, they are important pollinators in northern, cooler climates.

The wild lands that support the bees have been disappearing. Herbicides and pesticides (sprays that kill weeds and insects)  have been killing the bees by making them weak and susceptible to disease. People can help to reverse the disappearance of bee populations by helping to create gardens and open plots of land that provide flowers and habitat to please the bees. We can stop using harmful pesticides and petition governments and stores to ban pesticides.

Bees need us and we need bees. Let’s help each other…. Please!

Coral’s Quarrel

Coral Reefs; the Rainforest of the Sea

Coral Reefs; the Rainforest of the Sea

Coral Reefs

The coral reef, the diverse “rainforest of the sea” is in deep trouble. Coral reefs only cover about one percent of the earth’s surface but yet they are home, habitat and grocery store to twenty-five percent of the ocean’s creatures. Coral is very important, but coral reefs are dying. Human activity is to blame. Destructive fishing that scrapes dredges across the bottom of the sea can destroy an entire coral reef in one fell swoop. Pollution from cars and industry is causing the oceans to warm and changing the waters where coral try to grow. The bleaching of corals happens when the organisms that live inside and with the coral structure start to die. You can see why corals might have a quarrel with us humans.

 

The Coral’s Quarrel

Boulder Brain Coral Closeup

Boulder Brain Coral Closeup

 

We, the coral, have a quarrel

With how humans treat the sea

How they heat up our reef waters

Boosting sea acidity

 

 

Listen to the coral chorus

As we sing our song of woe

When the ocean waters sicken Coral_reefs_papua

Coral polyps cannot grow

 

 

All these years we have been growing

We’ve been building up our reef

Now we watch our home’s destruction  Coral_Varieties

While the coral sings in grief

 

 

Can’t you hear the coral chorus

As we sing our song of woe?

We are losing our bright colors

Coral bones begin to show

Photo by Adam Pender

Photo by Adam Pender

 

 

Symbiotic coral features

Are a vast community

And we’re home to countless creatures

That commune here in the sea

 

 

Come and listen to the coral

Sun Coral Closeup

Sun Coral Closeup

Singing to humanity

You can hear us as we softly

Sing our song to save the sea

                  — Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

 

 

For more information about coral reefs, please visit Ocean Portal, a site sponsored by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Link: http://ocean.si.edu/corals-and-coral-reefs

Coral_underwater-photo-of-coral-reef

 

Going Batty

A biologist holds an young-of-the-year Indiana Bat caught with a net placed in the air over a logging road in Orwell, Vt., Tuesday evening, July 17, 2001. Teams of scientists have been fanning out across Addison County this week trying to learn the summer habits of the endangered Indiana bats. (AP Photo/Alden Pellett)A bat may not be as cute as a button, but like buttons, bats certainly hold things together in a healthy ecosystem. Bats devour millions of mosquitoes every night. Bats pollinate flowers that produce fruit. Bats produce guano, or bat poop, which is very useful as a fertilizer to help grow crops. Without bats, clouds of bugs would drive us batty. Without bats we would miss out on quite a few fruits like mangoes, bananas and peaches.

Bats with White-Nose Fungus

Bats with White-Nose Fungus

Many species of bats are now seriously endangered. A spreading fungus has wiped out large numbers and bat habitats have been taken over by humans. It’s not easy being a bat.

Going Batty

Minor Epauletted Bat from Kenya

Minor Epauletted Bat from Kenya

It’s not so easy being me

I’m an endangered bat, you see

Not many think I’m very cute

With stringy wings and fuzzy suit

 

 

I should be loved, because I try

Echo-Locating Dinner

Echo-Locating Dinner

To eat the pests that multiply

I nightly dine on bugs that bite

By echo-dining while in flight

 

 

The farmers think we bats are great

We help the plants we pollinate

But though we’re popular on farms

BatPollinatingFlower

Bat Pollinating Flower

Most other folk don’t see our charms

 

 

The darling Pandas get the press

Us bats are jealous, we confess

But we work hard from dusk till dawn

The world will miss us when we’re gone

 

What can we do to help these vulnerable critters? One thing that helps is to build bat houses. Did you know that Batman, from the new movie version, has come to the rescue of bats? The cast and crew of the upcoming movie, “Batman vs. Superman; the Dawn of Justice.” have made over a hundred new bat houses from the materials taken from the movie sets. If you weren’t able to buy one of those houses, you can make your own and give your local bats a place to safely roost. Here is a link to building houses for bats: National Wildlife Federation Bat House Plans

Bat Boxes

Dolphin Dirge

From the "Ocean Treasures Memorial Library"

When an animal becomes “critically endangered” there is a real possibility that it may soon become extinct. The Irrawaddy Dolphin is one critter that tragically lands in this critically endangered category. In the Mekong River, where these freshwater dolphins used to thrive, now only about 80 dolphins remain. Image from WWF

Their numbers decrease as they get tangled up in fishermen’s nets and drown. They are not fish, of course; they are mammals and they need to come up to the surface to breathe. There are other, safer methods to catch fish, but fishermen often want to catch many fish in a very short amount of time. And so they use large nets that capture everything inside, even creatures that the fishermen have no interest in eating or selling…. like Irrawaddy Dolphins.

Irrawaddy Dolphin

Irrawaddy Dolphin

These are one of the smallest types of dolphins. They have lovely, smooth skin and charming smiles and are beautiful to watch as they play in the wild. We should be doing all we can to protect these beloved beasts. A “dirge” is a poem sometimes read at a funeral when there is a death. I hope that this “Irrawaddy Dolphin Dirge” might help educate people about this delightful dolphin. Perhaps more dolphin deaths will be avoided.

 

Irrawaddy Dolphin Dirge

Oh, the world has been quite naughty

To the Dolphin Irrawaddy

These poor creatures get all tangled up in nets

And I think it rather tragic

We can’t rescue them by magic

But we must do something lest the world forgets

 

When the beasts start disappearing

Then the humans’ end is nearing

And the change depends on you as well as me

If you think it doesn’t matter

This “endangered species” chatter

Then you’re not as smart as you pretend to be

— Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

Photo by Roland Seitre for WWF

63-Year Old Mama Has a New Chick!

Wisdom, the Laysan Albatross who makes her home-nest on Midway Atoll, has just hatched out another healthy baby chick. WisdomwithChick She is the oldest known bird in the world, having been banded when she was about five years old. It is estimated that she has raised over 36 chicks. One of her chicks even survived the March 11, 2011 tsunami that resulted from the disastrous earthquake in Japan.

Wisdom’s story is beautifully told in a book by Darcy Pattison, “Wisdom, the Midway Albatross.” The tsunami on March 11 rushed toward Midway Atoll where Wisdom and thousands of other birds were nesting. About 110,000 baby chick died along with over 2,000 adult birds, but somehow Wisdom and her chick survived.

An albatross has many survival challenges. It must avoid being eaten by sharks as it swoops down to the ocean to scoop up tasty squid. It has to wisely avoid eating the many pieces of plastic floating on the waves. It also has to avoid getting tangled in fishing lines or nets. People can do much to help these beautiful birds survive. We can use safe fishing techniques, clean up the oceans and protect the albatross nesting areas.

We hope that Wisdom will continue to have a long and amazing life. She is an inspiration to us all!

by Darcy Pattison

This entry was posted on March 7, 2016. 2 Comments