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Dragon vs. Jelly

Blue Dragon

Buedragon2In the ocean lives a dragon

Who is luminously blue

And although she looks quite harmless

You will find it isn’t true

 

This Blue Dragon is a sea slug

Calmly floating on her back

While a Man-of-War approaches

And commences its attack

 

BlueDragonvsmanowar

Now it’s jelly versus dragon

Who lacks flames and cannot roast

But the sea slug wins the battle

And that jellyfish… is toast

 

And she swallows down the jelly

Gobbles up each stinging cell

Then she redistributes poison

In a way that suits her well

 

At the end of each frilled finger

Little Dragon packs a punch

As she uses jelly poison

To subdue her next sea lunch

bluedragon1

The Blue Dragon, or Blue Glaucus, is a sea slug that can grow up to about 3 centimeters long. It spends its life floating along just under the surface of the water, upside down. It carries an air bubble inside that allows it to stay near the surface of the water. The Dragon’s blue underside cannot be seen well from above, protecting it from hungry, fishing birds. Its topside is silvery gray, which cannot be seen well from under the water and this protects it from hungry fish.

Some sea critters do manage to find this feisty delicacy and do try to eat it. They must get past its poison, however, for it protects itself well. When a blue dragon manages to beat and eat a Portuguese Man-of-War, it has the unique ability to swallow the stinging cells, or nematocysts, without harming itself. On the contrary, it uses these stinging cells to defend itself in the wild blue yonder.

For more information see the following websites:

http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/glauatla

http://www.realmonstrosities.com/2011/07/blue-sea-slug.html

Volcano Rabbit

Do your knees quake at the intimidating title of “Volcano Rabbit?”volcano-rabbit

If only this tiny bunny had the power and majesty of a volcano to get the world to take notice. Instead, the world’s second smallest type of rabbit is quite decidedly endangered and its range is limited to the pine forests near the peaks of a few inactive volcanoes in Mexico. The Volcano Rabbit, or Zacatuche, is slowly disappearing as its habitat disappears.

Humans build homes on the rabbits’ lands; cattle and sheep move in and eat up its main food source, the “zacaton” bunch grass; forest fires gobble up the rabbits’ neighborhoods. Life is not easy for these little short-eared bunnies.

The Volcano Rabbits’ only defense is running and hiding. Although it industriously maintains tunnel runways through the dense grass to use as escape routes and its grey fur blends in nicely with the volcanic soil, this poor little critter has trouble avoiding the insensitive “Elmer Fudds” out there who try to shoot those “pesky rabbits.” As somebunny once said, “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” (Carl Sagan) Even the world’s second smallest rabbit matters in the cosmic vastness. Love them and protect them. (Thump-thump.)
volcanorabbit

A Published Pangolin!

 

Pangolin by Iden Convey

Pangolin by Iden Convey

The poem, “Ode to the Pangolin,” first presented on the “Belogged of Beasts” site has been accepted for publication in “Cricket” magazine! It will appear in the January 2016 issue. It has been slightly rewritten but is pangolin-approved. I am looking forward to getting my free copies of this delightful children’s magazine.

Here is the link to the original posting: http://belovedofbeasts.com/pangolin-poetry/

We have ordered some pangolin-related books for our international school library. Here are some examples of related literature if you are interested in pangolins:

Roly Poly Pangolin, by Anne Dewdney

RolyPolyPangolin“Roly Poly, very small, doesn’t like new things at all.”

Meet Roly Poly Pangolin, a little pangolin who’d rather stick close to his mama instead of facing anything unfamiliar. Whether it’s a line of ants, a friendly monkey, or a loud noise, Roly Poly runs the other way. Then he hears something that really scares him. So he does what all pangolins do when they’re frightened; he rolls up into a tiny ball. But Roly Poly is surprised when he finally peeks out, because another ball is peeking back . . . it’s a small pangolin just like him!

Anna Dewdney has created another irresistible character to reassure children about the world around them.

 

 

PIsForPangolin

P is for Pangolin: an Alphabet of Obscure, Endangered and Under-Appreciated Animals, by Anastasia Kierst
What is a pangolin? Better yet, what is a yeti crab and how does it grow food? Learn fun and fascinating facts about these and many other littleknown creatures from across the globe. Each animal is richly depicted in bright, playful watercolor illustrations. The back of the book features four teacher resource pages with thought-provoking activities written by the author, a certified teacher. In addition, there is a section dedicated to conservation for readers who want to take action. Even avid wildlife enthusiasts are sure to learn something new from this extraordinary alphabet book.

 

What on Earth is a Pangolin?, by Edward R. Ricciuti

PangolinBookWould you know a quokka if you saw one? How about a tuatara or pangolin? These are not exactly household words, but they are a few of the many fascinating and curious creatures featured in the What on Earth series. Each volume fully explores the lifestyles and habitats of animals that few people even kno
w exist. Simple, concise text covers the animal’s classification, its unique characteristics, its methods of survival, what the animal eats and who eats it, reproduction and care of the young, conservation issues, and the relationship of the animal to humans. Each book’s large size and stunning, full-color photographs bring these remarkable subjects to life. A glossary, further reading list, map, and index make What on Earth books as educational as they are fun!

Enjoy reading about this amazing, endangered species!

 

Taking the Turtle for a Walk!

Happy International Turtle Day!Koupa1

What? You didn’t know that May 23rd is “Be Kind to Turtles Day?”

Look it up. It’s true! Turtle Day has been celebrated since the year 2000. It was started by the American Tortoise Rescue and is now celebrated worldwide.

 

Koupa3

So in honor of this special day, our resident turtle, Koupa, was taken to the nearest river for his first ever river walk. He was delighted! See for yourself. I have posted a video of the big event. Koupa didn’t hoot and holler, of course, but he started to explore, even dug up a worm at the bottom of the creek and took a few bites out of leaves floating by.

It was lovely to see how instinctively he took to exploring the river. He walked along the bottom, swam in the current and even started to burrow into the side of the bank. I’m glad I didn’t let him get too far because he has very strong legs and it took a bit of pulling to get him out of his hole. He looked very smug and dashing as he emerged with his beret of mud perched jauntily on his little turtle head.

I kept the leash slack and let him explore at will. He took his time and swam slowly, but when I pulled on the leash a bit to lead him back to shore, he suddenly had an urgent desire to go the other way. I was as if he knew it was time to go and he didn’t want to leave. I don’t blame him. I wish I could have let him go, but I’m afraid he would not have survived long. This stream is daily combed through by little collectors who scoop tadpoles, fish and insects into their keeping cages. He would have been collected before the day was through. Maybe someday I can release him in southern Japan where a river runs wild. For now, he has been promised more frequent excursions to the river… not just on International Turtle Day.

Koupa is a Japanese Southern turtle, raised from egg by a family friend who owns a pig farm and a turtle sanctuary in Japan. This type of turtle is indigenous to parts of Japan south of Kyoto. He lives in a tank in our house, but we wish we could build him a large pool in the backyard. We are renting here, however, and the homeowner might not appreciate the tiny back garden being turned into a turtle pond.IMG_0095

 

Un-jinxing the Lynx

Although domesticated cats are responsible, in part, for the decimation of many songbird populations, the wild cats, the “felids” are in desperate need of help. Almost half of the 36 wild cat populations around the world are in grave danger of disappearing off of the planet earth forever.

From Wikimedia Commons

From Wikimedia Commons

The most endangered of the felids is the Iberian Lynx. The last remaining pockets of this Lynx population exist in Portugal and central and southwestern Spain. The Iberian Lynx is generally crepuscular (active at twilight) and nocturnal, and rabbits are its favorite food.

The Iberian Lynx is a beautiful cat with impressive, tufted ears, bright spotted coat, magnificent whiskers and a neat bobbed tail. For all of its beauty, however, this Lynx’s luck is running out.

Here’s what you can do to help: Sign petitions that encourage the saving and reclamation of the Iberian Lynx’s habitat. Spread the word about this beautiful wild cat. Send the Lynx a care package full of rabbits. Read the poem below to your friends:

Ode to The Iberian Lynx

From Designbolts.com

From Designbolts.com

I told my friend, the Iberian Lynx

To travel to Egypt to go ask a sphinx

Why his whole family is in such a jinx

So he went, and then told me, “Here’s what the sphinx thinks:”

‘Two-leggeds push the wildcat to the brink

And then won’t acknowledge the obvious link

Between habitat loss and the humans who think

The space humans take up is not destined to shrink.”

“The solution is simple,” the savvy sphinx said,

“Work fast before every last Lynx winds up dead.”

“All these humans who think that they need so much room,

Must be packed up and sent off to live on the moon.”

Links to help the Lynx:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/335/438/593/?z00m=22956678&redirectID=1666123897

http://www.arkive.org/iberian-lynx/lynx-pardinus/

From Doñana Natl. Park, Spain

From Doñana Natl. Park, Spain

Extinction Cliff-Hanger

How do you bring an extinct creature back to life? A species of stick-bug, once thought to be completely extinct, was rediscovered on one bush clinging to the side of one cliff on one rock in the middle of the ocean. Scientists succeeded in rescuing this tiny remnant and have brought a species back to life!

From Wired Magazine

From Wired Magazine

These unique insects once were plentiful on Lord Howe Island off the coast of Australia. The arrival of the British, along with the rats from the ships, resulted in the decimation of this amazing species. They were thought to have been extinct until in 2001, a group of scientists explored a small volcanic rock called Balls Pyramid located 23 kilometers away from Lord Howe Island. There, during a night exploration of the rock, they found the nocturnal insects thriving. Three years, and reams of paperwork later, they were able to begin a captive breeding program that continues to this day.

Balls Pyramid off of Lord Howe Island

Balls Pyramid off of Lord Howe Island

 

The Melbourne Zoo maintains the largest recovery program for this species and hopes to reintroduce a healthy population of Lord Howe Stick Insects to the mainland. In order for this to succeed, however, the population of invasive rats will have to be eliminated.

Here is the link to the Wired Magazine article: http://www.wired.com/2014/02/sticky-stick-insect-sticky-situation/

And the award-winning animated film, “Sticky,” is a gem that you definitely should not miss. It’s magical!

Click the link to view: http://vimeo.com/76647062

Tuxedo Junction

Get out your tuxedoes! It’s Penguin Day. These classy little guys are in need of our protection. Take a look at this link below which highlights penguins and the challenges that they face:

Link from the Environmental Defense Fund:

Penguins in Danger of Disappearing

 

Photo from WorldWildlife.Gifts

 

Emperor Penguins

by Barry Louis Polisar

Huddled close together
Against the snow and sleet,
Penguins at the pole
Pool their body heat.
They gather in a circle,
Steadfast, disciplined,
Turning toward the center,
Fighting off the wind.
Sharing warmth and comfort
On cold and icy floes,
Balancing their future
Gently, on their toes.

The far-reaching future of the penguins is now balanced in our hands. What will we do to make sure that the incredible variety of penguin species remains secure for the future?

 

http://support.edf.org/site/PageServer?pagename=meet_the_penguins&autologin=true&utm_source=EDF+action+network&utm_medium=email-42061&utm_campaign=cultivation

63 Year-Old Frequent Flyer Gives Birth!

Wisdom2014

Photographer: Greg Joder/USFWS

This sprightly 63 year-old has yet to find any wrinkles on her smooth and lovely feathered visage even though she has flown about three million miles (or about five million km) in her lifetime; that’s about six round trips from the earth to the moon! She is not only raising another chick, she has already raised at least 30 baby chicks in her lifetime.

 

Wisdom is a 63-year old Laysan Albatross, the world’s oldest known banded bird in existence. She winters at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific. Wisdom has survived earthquakes and tsunamis, long-line fishing threats and floating plastic litter, millions of kilometers in flight high in the air and close calls with sharks while fishing in the ocean. Wisdom has raised many healthy chicks over the years and at the age of 63, and is now incubating another egg! Her mate was patiently waiting for her just a few feet from their previous nesting site when she winged her way back to him at the end of November. Her chick is due to hatch out in early February of 2015.

WisdomandEgg

Photographer: Greg Joder/USFWS

 

I learned about Wisdom through a wonderful children’s book, “Wisdom, the Midway Albatross,” by Darcy Pattison. This book is being read by the students in our international school in Tokyo as part of the Sakura Medal reading promotion program where students read and then vote on their favorite books from a list of newly-published children’s literature in various categories. “Wisdom” references the 2011 Japan earthquake and is a favorite among the students, many of whom remember that frightening day. Some have relatives who did not survive the tsunami. The readers identify with this intrepid flyer who has survived for so many years despite the considerable challenges and dangers.

Here is footage from December 8th of Wisdom on her nest, preening and relaxing, courtesy of Dan Clark:

Wisdom Incubates Egg  12.08.2014  on Midway Atoll NWR Video by Dan Clark/USFWS

If the video is not visible, here is a link to go to the original source:

www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/15433458753/in/photostream/

Feathered Sanctuary

What do you do with a wounded wild bird? Adopt it as your own pet?HawkinTree

Bird rescue is a noble and worthy endeavor, but it is best to take your feathered friend to a sanctuary where it can be healed and, if possible, re-introduced into the wild. When we lived in California, we found a juvenile red-shouldered hawk that appeared to have been shot in the wing by a neighbor. We wrapped it in a towel and took it to a bird rescue center where it was treated and released.

HawkShot

 

Wounded birds need specialized care which is often impossible for untrained tender-hearted rescuers to provide.

Sanctuaries do a good job of treating their feathered patients. Here are some lovely residents of Florida’s Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary:

Sanctuary-Birds-white-pelican

Seabird Sanctuary Slideshow

This one-winged white pelican goes to school… not to learn but to teach children about wild seabirds and what we can do to protect them and keep their environment safe and healthy. This large bird is a permanent resident at the sanctuary since he would not be able to survive in the wild on his own. If he were a healthy and strong white pelican, he would collaborate with his pelican friends in shallow water to gather fish into the middle of their floating formation so that they could easily scoop up their supper.

The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is the largest bird sanctuary in the United States of America and admits more than 10,000 birds each year to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild. It is open every day of the year from 9:00 am until sunset.

“A wonderful bird is the pelican, His beak will hold more than his belican.”  “The Pelican” (1910) by Dixon Lanier Merritt

Princess Ramona Video Review

Natasha's ReviewA “Princess Ramona” fan posts her own audio review of the digital book!

“I would definitely recommend this story to anyone who likes humor, cute stories and magical things.”

“It’s just so adorable and I love how she’s so adventurous.”

“I like how it ends in friendship. In all the other fairytale stories, they fall in love and they slay the dragon, but I actually quite frankly like dragons… in the end, it’s friendship.”

This reviewer’s favorite verse in the book goes like this:

“The bored little princess began to explore

Each hummock and valley beyond the hut’s door

She climbed every tree and explored every path,

Returning each night for a scrub in the bath… which she didn’t enjoy.”

Princess Ramona in Tree

 

View the video by clicking the link below:

https://docs.google.com/a/caj.or.jp/file/d/0B05KG-t1qU6zTTFGWVJPTEJPSzQ/edit?pli=1

 

Princess Ramona in Tub