Tuesday, May 29, 2007

New Snake-like Lizard Discovered in India

Article from MongaBay.com
A previously unknown species of legless lizard as been discovered in a remote Indian forest, reports the Associated Press. Sushil Kumar Dutta, leader of a team of researchers from NGO Vasundhra and the North Orissa University, found the 7-inch long creature in the forests of Khandadhar near Raurkela in Orissa state, about 625 miles southeast of New Delhi.

"Preliminary scientific study reveals that the lizard belongs to the genus Sepsophis," Dutta told the Associated Press. "The lizard is new to science and is an important discovery. It is not found anywhere else in the world." The closest relatives of the newly discovered species are found in Sri Lanka and South Africa.

Photo by Indian zoologist Sushil Kumar Dutta
Scientists say limbless forms of lizards have evolved independently several times, probably to facilitate underground movement. Most limbless lizards live under leaf litter or in upper levels of soil. Limbless lizards are not snakes. They can be distinguished by their external ear holes and flat, non-forked tongues.

Related articles
Blind pink snake discovered in Madagascar. A pink worm-like snake has been rediscovered in Madagascar more than 100 years after it was first found. The snake, which is blind and measures about ten inches long, is described in the February 1, 2007 edition of Zootaxa, a leading taxonomic journal.

Unknown species of lizard discovered in Borneo. A previously unknown species of lizard was discovered in Borneo by Chris Austin, assistant curator of herpetology at Louisiana State University's Museum of Natural Science. The scientific name of the lizard, which was discovered while Austin was conducting field research in Sarawak, will be unveiled in the March 2007 edition of Journal of Herpetology. The discovery comes as Borneo's rainforests are increasingly endangered by logging, clearing for oil palm plantations for biofuel, and agricultural fires.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Beach Sand May Harbor Disease-causing E. Coli Bacteria

Article from ScienceDaily.com
New evidence implicating beach sand as a reservoir for E. coli -- the bacterium that is used as an indicator that water has been contaminated by fecal material -- has been reported by scientists at the University of Minnesota.

In the report, published in the April 15 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, Michael J. Sadowsky and colleagues cite several previous studies showing that E. coli and bacteria indicating fecal contamination can accumulate and grow in beach sand. "These results indicate that E. coli originating from several sources may survive and potentially replicate in sand and sediment, possibly increasing fecal counts found on beaches," the report states. The researchers point out that while most E. coli strains are harmless, some strains do cause gastrointestinal diseases in human. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, as well as more serious conditions.

The 2-year study tracked seasonal variations in E. coli in water, sand, and sediment at the Duluth Boat Club Beach in Duluth-Superior Harbor on Lake Superior. It concluded that beach sand and sediment serve as sinks and sources for E. coli from humans and waterfowl that can contribute to beach closures.

Original article: "Beach Sand and Sediments are Temporal Sinks and Sources of Escherichia coli in Lake Superior" Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by American Chemical Society.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Reggie Captured In True Hollywood Style with Fans All Around

Article from KABC-7.com
Pic from PhotoBucket.com
Reggie the Alligator could have remained on the run, or should we say swim, but not forever. On Friday, Reggie woke up in his new home at the L.A. Zoo. The huge reptile eluded professional and amateur wranglers for the better part of two years in Lake Machado.
He was captured after being spotted sunning himself on the banks of the Lake Thursday afternoon. After 90 day quarantine, Reggie will eventually be on display to the public.

FYI: The cost of security and fences around Lake Machado, and payments to alligator wranglers who failed, the total cost to taxpayers for capturing Reggie is about 180-thousand dollars. Video of Reggie can be seen on the KABC-7 website.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Worries Rise Over Wounded Wayward Whales

Wayward Whales in Sacramento River Show Signs of Distress As Worry Over Wounds Grows By MARCUS WOHLSEN / AP / ABCNews
Hope dimmed Wednesday for two lost, wounded whales as scientists spotted the humpbacks wildly slapping their tails on the water in possible distress as they lingered far from their ocean home. Deep cuts on the mother whale and calf, likely caused by a run-in with a boat, were worsening after more than a week in fresh water that the pair are not physically well-equipped to inhabit, biologists said. "I wouldn't say there's a lot of optimism right now," said Brian Gorman, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "They may surprise us again. They may just take off and head down river. But as long as they continue doing what they're doing, we're very worried about them."

For a third day, the whales frustrated efforts to herd them past a Sacramento River bridge about 70 miles from the Pacific, where they have lingered since Monday. They first were spotted in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta on May 13. Biologists would not estimate how long the whales could survive in the delta but said the tail-slapping behavior, known as "lobbing," was cause for concern. "The whales were fairly quiet for a period of days. Then they weren't so quiet. So the question is, why have they changed?" said Trevor Spradlin, a NOAA whale biologist.

Boat crews resumed playing underwater recordings of humpbacks feeding to try to coax the whales downriver when startling them by banging on metal pipes failed to work Wednesday morning. If the feeding sounds are not effective, scientists planned to try a new scare tactic playing recordings of orcas, also known as killer whales, attacking a mother whale and her calf. Rescuers planned to back off over the Memorial Day weekend if the twosome remained stranded.

The biggest concern remained the wounds on both whales, especially a 3- to 4-foot cut on the calf's side that appeared to pierce the blubber layer down to the muscle. The freshwater environment was taxing the whales physically, turning their skin from its normally smooth, shiny texture to rough and pitted, "like when you sit in a bathtub for too long," Spradlin said. The stress of that continued exposure "may be impeding their natural healing abilities," he said.

The challenge facing the scientists trying to push the pair back to salt water was to encourage them to move quickly without causing them anxiety that could create more physical stress. "Stressing even a healthy whale is not good. Stressing an injured whale is worse," Gorman said. More forceful techniques, such as using nets to drag the whales downstream or create a barrier across the river, could cause undue stress and threatened to harm the whales by entangling them, scientists said.

The humpbacks, which apparently took a wrong turn during their annual migration to feeding grounds in the northern Pacific, traveled 90 miles inland to the Port of Sacramento before turning around. They were making progress Monday until they reached the Rio Vista Bridge and began swimming in circles. Scientists theorized the whales started circling because vibrations from traffic on the bridge upset them, though the pair continued to circle even when traffic was halted.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New Celebrity at Berlin's Tierpark Zoo

Article from AP /FOXNews.com
Photos from Tierpark Zoo & SeattlePI websites
Berlin has a new animal celebrity — a baby elephant who immediately followed his abrupt birth at the weekend with a spectacular splash in the pool. The as-yet-unnamed male elephant was born suddenly on Sunday at the elephant enclosure in the capital's Tierpark zoo.
"It got up, walked into the pool, fell down and had to swim in deep water," zoo director Bernhard Blaszkiewitz told AP Television News on Wednesday, when the animal made his first public appearance since his birth. "Our people pulled it out of the water right away," he added.
The zoo said the young bull was the third baby born to 26-year-old African elephant Pori, and the twelfth at the zoo since 1998. He weighed 258.4 pounds at birth and had a back length of 35.8 inches. In reports accompanying pictures of Sunday's elephant rescue, some media portrayed the elephant as having been rejected by his mother, but the zoo said Pori and her 6-year-old daughter, Tana, were "taking exemplary care of the newborn."
"The mother nudged the baby to make it get on its feet but on the pictures it looks like she wanted to flatten it," Blaszkiewitz said. "However, elephants always do that and they do it very carefully with their feet and their trunk."
The new arrival comes five months after the birth of a major Berlin animal star — Knut the polar bear (Knut der Eisbar), who was rejected by his mother and hand-raised by zookeepers at the capital's other major zoo. So potent is Knut's appeal that zoo attendance has roughly doubled to 15,000 on average daily since his debut. He has attracted exhaustive media attention, including his own blog and TV show, and appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rome Zoo Breeds Rare Egyptian Tortoises

Article from the AP / chron.com
Photo by Peir Palo Cito
Rome's main zoo has successfully bred several rare Egyptian tortoises whose parents were rescued from a smuggler's suitcase in 2005, officials said. The first egg hatched in April, six more followed this month, and there are still several eggs waiting to hatch, said Stefano Micarelli, the head reptile keeper at Rome's Biopark zoo.

"These animals are so rare in nature that we are trying to breed them so we can have a stock of these animals also in captivity," he told AP Television News. The Egyptian tortoise, known as Testudo Kleinmanni, is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES. It is an Appendix I reptile, meaning it is afforded the highest protection. Trade in such animals, many of which are threatened with extinction, is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. The Egyptian tortoises, distinctive by their small size and golden hue, are very difficult to maintain in captivity, requiring the very warm and dry temperatures they find in their native desert habitats. Currently they are found primarily in Libya.

On Oct. 26, 2005, authorities at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport became suspicious when they noticed a passenger on a flight from Libya waiting impatiently for his luggage. They stopped to check his luggage, and found 275 of the rare tortoises, all but four of whom were alive, packed in a bag. Ivan Severoni, an investigator with the forest rangers, said the tortoises were destined for illegal traffickers in southern and central Italy who can command hundreds of dollars for each living specimen. "We did some investigations after we sequestered these animals, and we discovered that the people who were transporting and selling these tortoises were not aware of what they were selling, their rarity and their economic value," he said.

Breeders at Rome's Biopark (Bioparco) had tried for two years to breed the surviving tortoises, but without success until this spring. Micarelli said the Italian government was working with Libyan officials to return some of the tortoises to the Tripoli zoo.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Indonesian Fisherman Catches Rare Ancient Fish

Article from FOXNews.com
Photo of 1998 Sulawesi coelacanth (at right)
An Indonesian fisherman hooked a rare coelacanth, a species once thought as extinct as dinosaurs, and briefly kept the "living fossil" alive in a quarantined pool. Justinus Lahama caught the four-foot, 110-pound fish early Saturday off Sulawesi island near Bunaken National Marine Park, which has some of the highest marine biodiversity in the world.
The fish died 17 hours later, an extraordinary survival time, marine biologist Lucky Lumingas said Sunday. "The fish should have died within two hours because this species only lives in deep, cold-sea environment," he said. Lumingas works at the local Sam Ratulangi University, which plans to study the carcass. The coelacanth (pronounced see-la-kanth) was believed to be extinct for 65 million years until one was found in 1938 off Africa's coast, igniting worldwide interest. Several other specimens have since been discovered, including another off Sulawesi island in 1998. The powerful predator is highly mobile with limb-like fins, and it gives birth to live young rather than laying eggs.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Species Of Sea Anemone Found In Deepest Pacific

Article from ScienceDaily
Photo Credit: Kevin Fitzsimons, University Relations, Ohio State University

Researchers cruising for creatures that live in the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean found a new species of sea anemone living in the unlikeliest of habitats – the carcass of a dead whale. A marine biologist would say that discovering a new sea anemone isn't so unusual. But finding one that calls a dead whale home is what sets this new creature apart.
Since the scientists who initially found these animals weren't sea anemone specialists, they sent the 10 specimens they collected to Meg Daly, an assistant professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University. Daly runs one of the very few laboratories in the world equipped to study sea anemones. “These creatures were so cool simply because we knew that no sea anemone had ever been found on a whale fall,” she said.
Once a whale dies, its carcass sinks to the bottom of the ocean. Scientists call this a “whale fall.” The anemones that Daly received once lived on the bones of a dead whale some 1.8 miles (3,000 meters) below sea level in a region of the Pacific Ocean called Monterey Canyon, roughly 25 miles off the coast of Monterey, Calif.
All of the specimens currently in Daly's collection came from this whale fall. The anemone, given the scientific name Anthosactis pearseae – there is no English name for it – is small and white and roughly cube-shaped. It's about the size of a human molar, and even looks like a tooth with small tentacles on one side. Daly and Luciana Gusmão, a doctoral student in Daly's laboratory, describe A. pearseae in detail in a recent issue of the Journal of Natural History. The two assigned the anemone to the genus Anthosactis primarily due to the roughly uniform length of A. pearseae's tentacles – a characteristic common to this group of about seven sea anemones. “We tend to differentiate Anthosactis species from other groups of sea anemones by a variety of traits, rather than any one unique attribute,” Daly said.
She and Gusmão named A. pearseae after Vicki Pearse, the naturalist who first collected the specimens during a cruise of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute's research vessel the Western Flyer. Pearse is a research associate at the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Santa Cruz. It's customary to name a newly discovered plant or animal species after the person who found it, or after the place where it was discovered.
Collecting deep-sea creatures is a tedious process that involves a lot of high-tech equipment like underwater video cameras attached to remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Deep sea ROVs are also equipped with robotic arms and suction devices that are used to collect species. “It's like a submarine that's manned from the surface,” said Daly, who plans to head to Monterey Canyon later this year in hopes of finding more dead whales with A. pearseae roosting on the bones. A successful trip could answer some of Daly's lingering questions about the species itself and, more broadly, may provide clues on how human activities affect this unique, seemingly removed ecosystem. “The thing about these communities is that they seem so ephemeral and so unplanned,” Daly said. “A whale dies where it dies, and its carcass lands wherever. But these are actually some of the most stable deep sea communities.“
A better understanding of deep-sea populations may shed light on how humans drive ecological change, whether it's through whaling or global climate change,” she said, and also pointed out that there are now far fewer major whale migrations along the California coast. While the flesh of a dead whale decomposes within weeks, the bones can last anywhere from 60 to 100 years.As that happens, the bacteria that break down the bones release sulfur,” Daly said. “A whole community of aquatic creatures uses that sulfur to make energy, much like plants convert light into energy.
Daly doesn't know much about A. pearseae beyond its physical description. She and Gusmão aren't sure how old the creatures are, and say that sea anemones can live for hundreds of years. Nor are they sure how A. pearseae reproduce (each anemone may have male and female sex organs), or if it lives exclusively on whale carcasses. “So far, a single dead whale is the only place where we've found these anemones,” Daly said. She and Gusmão plan to include A. pearseae in a long-term evolutionary study of genetic relationships among sea anemones. A. pearseae belongs to an extremely diverse group of anemones, Daly said, and comparing the anemones' genetic sequences may clue the researchers in to how the different species evolved over time.
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Ohio State University.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Field Diary: Best Reptile, Amphibian Night Ever

By David Emmett, CI Wildlife Biologist
CI Wildlife Biologist David Emmett was a member of the survey team that discovered the rare Cantor’s giant soft-shell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) in Cambodia’s Mekong River. Here is an excerpt from Emmett’s field diary about another memorable day of surveying in Laos.

Nakai Plateau, Laos: "The morning dawned still and chilly, exacerbated by the cold water bucket-shower that forced my breath from my body. I could hear Soutchai, my translator, in the next room, puffing and gasping from the cold as he washed. The sky grew overcast by the time we went shopping for rice, vegetables, and other food. For the next five days, we would be surveying for reptiles and amphibians in the Nakai Plateau.

My left hand really ached from the bamboo cut and IndoChinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) bite, but I was confident it would be okay for the survey. We set off along a dusty road toward Ban Don village, where three local guides joined us. Together we drove toward the river, where a boat awaited us. As we headed upriver, there were a few kids playing on the sandbank next to an abandoned village. After an hour, the sandy banks gave way to huge boulders, creeping lianas, and overhanging trees. I took some photos of a pair of beautiful white egrets in the shallows.

We saw fresh signs of Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus). Dung lay on the sandbars and half-eaten bamboo was strewn along the riverbanks. The guide told us to be quiet, as the elephants were nearby and could be dangerous. Researchers had estimated that this area held around 170 elephants in three large herds. I really wanted to see a herd! But it was not to be – they stayed in the forest and all we heard were some distant crashes and squeals.

About 2 km further upstream we hit a set of impassable rapids, so we stopped and located a camp site. It was late, so we had dinner. Then Soutchai and I went out exploring. After we found a couple more frogs along the main river to add to the species list, I went a few hundred metres up the dry stream-bed to have a look. Scrambling over rocks, I came to water! The river was partly subterranean.

The next three hours were like a dream – by far the best reptile and amphibian-collecting night I’d ever had. After searching just a few minutes, I found and took photos of two Asian Leaf Turtles in small rock-pools (Cyclemys dentate). I also found a huge, threatened Asiatic Softshell Turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) that vigorously tried to bite me (they can crush bone, so I had to be careful) before hurling itself into a deep pool. I caught a snake (only mildly venomous), and then went back to get Soutchai. He had to be part of this!

Together, we walked several kilometres up the stream with our torch-lights playing through the trees, across leaf-litter, and shining into dark pools. We caught frogs I’d never seen before, and added at least 10 more species to our inventory list. There were fat, spotty bullfrogs with red armpits and thighs (which turned out to be a species undescribed to science), moss-coloured tree-frogs (Taylor’s Treefrog, Rhacophorus bisacculus), and a grey-coloured frog about 25 ft up a tree that we couldn’t identify. Soutchai dislodged it with a long bamboo stick, and I caught it one-handed as it fell (great teamwork!). There were enormous green Large-eared Rock Frogs as big as our hands, tiny red frogs called Inornate Froglet (Micryletta inornata), multiple species of brown leaf-litter frogs, an attractive-looking Striped Sticky Frog, and many more.

We returned to camp around midnight; tired, muddy, and very happy. I felt that after overcoming all of the difficult logistical challenges to conduct this survey, we really deserved to have a night like this. It had been great! I washed in the cold river by moonlight, watched the river for a while, and then clambered into my tent. I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the river and the chorus of frogs."

Monday, May 14, 2007


The Center for North American Herpetology
Lawrence, Kansas
Web Portal - CNAH The Center for North American Herpetology
14 May 2007

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on March 28authorized seeking public comment on a proposal to change the way nongame wildlife species are regulated. The proposal would create a "whitelist" of species that could be collected and sold, with all other nongame animals not on the list to be protected from commercial collection and sale. The proposal is designed to help monitor and regulate the escalating collection and sale of wild turtles, snakes, and other nongame animals (species not covered under hunting and fishing regulations) in Texas. The change would prohibit commercial use of all Texas turtle species, protecting at least 20 types of turtles currently subject to collection and sale.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff had recommended keeping the Red-eared Slider on the proposed white list, which would have made it the only Texas wild turtle subject to continued commercial collection and sale (the species is generally common and abundant in Texas). However, commissioners instructed the staff to remove the Red-eared Slider from the list, effectively protecting it as well. The intent was to publish a more restrictive proposed regulation for public comment, with the understanding that it could be made less restrictive when finally adopted.

The proposed new regulations will be published this month in the Texas Register for public comment. The proposed regulations will be available on the TPWD website Public Comment page the week of 9 April 2007. The TPW Commission will consider final adoption of the new rules at its 24 May meeting. If adopted 24 May, the new rules would take effect in early summer, 20 days after they are published in the Texas Register.

Wildlife biologists cite increased pressure from out-of-state collectors and dealers, fueled in part by a growing demand for turtle meat sold to China and other Asian markets. In recent years, an average of 94,442 turtles per year were collected or purchased by at least 50 Texas dealers, mostly for export from the state. Wildlife experts are expressing particular concern about the turtle trade. Affected species include Box Turtles, Diamondback Terrapins and freshwater turtles such as Map Turtles, Softshells, Common Snapping Turtles and others. At least 12 recent scientific research reports indicate that commercial turtle harvest from the wild is not sustainable. At least four southeastern states in the U.S. have prohibited commercial collection of turtles from the wild, and most others are more restrictive than Texas.

Since 1999, the department has published a list of 42 wildlife species or subspecies covered under nongame permit regulations. The list includes mostly turtles (20 species), but also includes 10 species of snakes, five frogs and toads, four lizards, two mammals, and one salamander. A number of other nongame species not on the list are currently collected and sold inTexas, with no permitting or reporting requirements.

Currently, anyone who possesses more than 25 specimens in the aggregate of any animal on the list must have a nongame (collector's) permit
, which costs $18 for Texas residents and $60 for non-residents. Commercial operators who buy and resell listed animals must have a nongame dealer's permit, which costs $60 for residents and $240 for non-residents. Nongame permit holders must maintain a daily log showing the date, location, and number of specimens collected or sold. Nongame dealer's permit holders must maintain a current daily record of all purchases and sales, and they are required to submit an annual report summarizing their activities to TPWD.

To develop the new white list proposal, department biologists met with a variety of user groups, including seven herpetological societies and various nongame dealers, involving approximately 300 participants total representing a wide range of interests. All parties agreed that sustainability of wildlife populations is the goal, and that there is currently a lack of population data. Under the proposal, 84 species would be on the new white list, with annual permitting and reporting required for anyone possessing more than 25 specimens in the aggregate of listed animals. Instead of the current list regulating collection of 20 types of turtles, the new list would not allow commercial collection and sale of any native turtle species. Commercial collection and sale would also be prohibited for all other nongame species not on the white list (see the proposed white list below).

"For any nongame species not on the proposed white list, we're still proposing to allow people to keep a limited number of nongame animals for personal use; the current proposal is six," said Matt Wagner, TPWD wildlife diversity program director. "We want kids, for example, to be able to keep a pet turtle or two; we think that sort of thing is important."
Wagner said a number of species currently being collected and sold, including several turtles, are identified as priority species of concern in the recently completed Texas Wildlife Action Plan. He believes prohibiting collection of these species will help their populations rebound. "There are lots of other threats out there to these reptiles, turtles, and amphibians, including habitat loss and fragmentation," Wagner said. "When you have these types of species with slow reproductive rates, it's not sustainable to have commercial collection in the wild."

Wagner said prohibitions on commercial collection will give TPWD an opportunity to survey local populations of priority aquatic species, including turtles, to assess their status in Texas. Many of these species are tied to specific watersheds and river systems. "We're never going to have enough resources to do all the surveys we'd like to do," Wagner said, "but we can focus on priority areas identified in our Wildlife Action Plan. Reporting data from dealers shows us which counties these animals are coming from, which provides another means of targeting monitoring within ecoregions already identified as priorities."

Comments on the proposed rules may be made via the TPWD website or to Robert Macdonald by email at robert.macdonald@tpwd.state.tx.us or by regular mail to:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,
4200 Smith School Road,
Austin, Texas 78744.

For specific questions concerning the proposed regulations, anyone may contact Matt Wagner by email at matt.wagner@tpwd.state.tx.us or by regular mail at the address above.

TPWD Proposed Nongame White List
Frogs and Toads
1. Great Plains Toad (Bufo cognatus)
2. Green Toad (Bufo debilis)
3. Red-spotted Toad (Bufo punctatus)
4. Texas Toad (Bufo speciosus)
5. Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo valliceps)
6. Woodhouse's Toad (Bufo woodhousei)
7. Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea)
8. Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)
9. Couch's Spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchii)
10. Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons)
11. New Mexico Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata)

12. Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)

13. Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)
14. Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail (Aspidoscelis exsanguis)
15. Texas Spotted Whiptail (Aspidoscelis gularis)
16. Marbled Whiptail (Aspidoscelis marmoratus)
17. Six-lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineatus)
18. Checkered Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tesselatus)
19. Texas Banded Gecko (Coleonyx brevis)
20. Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus)
21. Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris)
22. Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus)
23. Great Plains Skink (Eumeces obsoletus)
24. Texas Alligator Lizard (Gerrhonotus infernalis)
25. Lesser Earless Lizard (Holbrookia maculata)
26. Crevice Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus poinsettii)
27. Prairie Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)
28. Ground Skink (Scincella lateralis)
29. Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
30. Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana)

31. Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
32. Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)
33. Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans)
34. Trans-Pecos Rat Snake (Bogertophis subocularis)
35. Racer (Coluber constrictor)
36. Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
37. Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus)
38. Blacktail Rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus)
39. Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
40. Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)
41. Baird's Rat Snake (Elaphe bairdi)
42. Great Plains Rat Snake (Elaphe emoryi)
43. Texas Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
44. Slowinski's Corn Snake (Elaphe slowinskii)
45. Western Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus)
46. Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
47. Texas Night Snake (Hypsiglena torquata)
48. Gray-banded Kingsnake (Lampropeltis alterna)
49. Prairie Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster)
50. Speckled or desert Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula)
51. Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum)
52. Texas Blind Snake (Leptotyphlops dulcis)
53. Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum)
54. Schott's Whipsnake (Masticophis schotti)
55. Striped Whipsnake (Masticophis taeniatus)
56. Texas Coral Snake (Micrurus tener)
57. Blotched or yellowbelly Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster)
58. Broad-banded Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata)
59. Diamondback Water Snake (Nerodia rhombifer)
60. Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus)
61. Bullsnake or Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer)
62. Texas Longnose Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)
63. Western Blackneck Garter Snake (Thamnophis cyrtopsis)
64. Checkered Garter Snake (Thamnophis marcianus)
65. Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus)
66. Big Bend Patchnose Snake (Salvadora deserticola)
67. Mountain Patchnose Snake (Salvadora grahamiae)
68. Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus)
69. Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius)
70. Ground Snake (Sonora semiannulata)
71. Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi)
72. Flathead Snake (Tantilla gracilis)
73. Southwestern Blackhead Snake (Tantilla hobartsmithi)
74. Plains Blackhead Snake (Tantilla nigriceps)
75. Lined Snake (Tropidoclonion lineatum)
76. Rough Earth Snake (Virginia striatula)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Rare Sighting Of Threatened Bottlenose Dolphins In English Channel

Photo Credit: Copyright Clive Martin / Marinelife
Article from Science Daily
On a crossing of the English Channel aboard the P&O Cruise Ferry, the Pride of Bilbao on the 5th of May, a large group of approximately 30 Bottlenose Dolphin was sighted by Clive Martin, Director for the wildlife charity Marinelife and senior Wildlife Officer for the Biscay Dolphin Research Programme.
The dolphins, which are threatened in UK waters, were recorded 4 miles off of St. Catherine’s point on the Isle of Wight – a truly rare occurrence. Clive Martin said: “In over 10 years of research in the English Channel, Marinelife have never before recorded Bottlenose Dolphin in this location or in such large numbers in the central part of the Channel – it represents a significant sighting and together with other recent sighting, may indicate that the central part of the Channel is again becoming part of the territory for a range of dolphins.

The English Channel is generally thought of as an area of coastline which is under populated or depleted of whales and dolphins, but whilst sighting tend to be sporadic, they are being recorded. A small population of Bottlenose Dolphin are known to spend time within the Western portion of the English Channel and they are regularly sighting during Marinelife research trips from Plymouth to Roscoff aboard Brittany Ferries and by the Durlston Marine Project around Swanage. However, sighting of Bottlenose Dolphin in the central and eastern parts of the Channel are more unusual, but individuals are occasionally seen – these are thought to be adolescent males, which are known to roam over considerable distances and may spend considerable time in busy areas of coast or harbours, attracting much attention from people.
An example was “Spinnaker”, the Bottlenose Dolphin which spent some time in Portsmouth harbour, before being accidentally killed in a tragic accident with a boat’s propeller. Other recent sightings in the Channel include Common Dolphin, again seen off of the Isle of Wight and a young animal rescued by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) in Eastbourne harbour.

Risso’s Dolphin
have been recorded at Torpoint in Devon, regular sightings of Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphin have been made by Marinelife in the western portion of the Channel and Pilot Whale have been seen near Portland in Dorset recently.
Marinelife’s research will continue to monitor for these and other whales and dolphins in the Channel and beyond and this will help build greater understanding of their movements, distribution, abundance and threats.

Background Information
The Bottlenose Dolphin is one of the most threatened cetacean species in Europe, and consequently has extensive legislative protection at a European level. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES, Appendix II of the Bern Convention and Annexes II and IV of the EC Habitats Directive. It is also on Appendix 2 of the Bonn Convention and is covered by ASCOBANS. CITES is the Convention International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Cincinnati Zoo's Rhino Makes History With An Unprecedented Third Calf

Article from Science Daily
Emi, the Cincinnati Zoo’s world-famous critically endangered Sumatran rhino has done it again! On Sunday evening, April 29, Emi became the first Sumatran rhino in history to produce three calves in captivity, breaking her very own record.
Emi delivered a healthy, 86-pound male calf at 10:59 p.m. in her indoor stall. Emi’s legacy has grown as she continues to be the most prolific Sumatran rhino in history. It was through years of research that the staff at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) unraveled the mysteries of Sumatran rhino reproduction. This science has been integrated into the Cincinnati Zoo’s intensive rhino management program that, to-date, remains the only successful Sumatran rhino breeding program in the world.
"Ten years ago many people were skeptical claiming this species would never breed in a zoo. Yet today, the Cincinnati Zoo is world renowned for being the only place in the world this species is breeding successfully in captivity," said Dr. Terri Roth, Vice President of Conservation, Science and Living Collections at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. “A third successful birth in just seven years clearly demonstrates how successful a well managed, captive breeding program is for this critically endangered species.
Emi became restless Sunday evening and her water broke at 9:35 p.m. One hour and 24 minutes later, Emi delivered her calf. Soon after delivery, Emi began licking her calf at 11:06 p.m. and the calf first attempted to stand at 11:28 p.m. The calf successfully nursed at 1:33 a.m. and he continues to nurse every 15-30 minutes. Emi and her calf are doing well and will remain inside for the next two weeks to allow privacy during this bonding time.
In September of 2001, Emi gave birth to a healthy 72.6-pound calf named, Andalas. This was the first time in 112 years that a Sumatran rhino successfully reproduced in captivity. In February, Andalas made the historical trek back to his ancestry homeland, Sumatra, to take part in a captive breeding program, in an effort to save his species.
In 2004, Emi produced a second healthy 75-pound female calf, Suci, who still remains at the Cincinnati Zoo with mom and dad. Good news like this comes at a critical time in the conservation of Sumatran rhinos. Today less than 300 survive in the wild and only ten Sumatran rhinos exist in captivity worldwide.
The Cincinnati Zoo is home to the only four Sumatran rhinos living in the United States. Emi and the Cincinnati Zoo’s male, Ipuh are on loan from the Indonesian government and are the only successful captive breeding pair in the world.
Sumatran rhinos are a flagship species for the Cincinnati Zoo’s signature conservation programs. The Sumatran rhinoceros is considered one of the most endangered mammals on earth. In the last 15 years over 50% of the Sumatran rhino population has been lost because of poaching and habitat destruction.
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Cincinnati Zoo.