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Animal Spotlight: Galapagos Giant Turtle

Introduction

The Galapagos Giant Turtle (scientific name Chelonoidis nigra) is the largest living species of turtle.  Today, they only exist in two different archipelagos: the Galapagos Islands west of Ecuador, and Aldabra in the Indian Ocean to the East of Tanzania. In the wild, these big guys can live 100 years or more! The size and shape of their shells can vary, as noted by Charles Darwin in his 1835 voyage to the Galapagos Islands on The Beagle.

On islands with humid highlands, the Galapagos is seen having a domed shell with a short neck, and are typically larger. On islands with dry lowlands, the tortoises are smaller with shells that are raised in front, and longer necks. 

Different Species For Different Islands

As might be expected, different types of Galapagos tortoises inhabit different islands as each has a different environment. The largest island, Isabela Island, hosts five different types including the Volcan Wolf, which is named for a nearby volcano. The island of Pinta hosts a turtle called Lonesome George, who is the last known of the C. Abingdonii species. 

Animal Spotlight Galapagos Giant Turtle

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Animal Spotlight: Coqui Frogs

Introduction 

Coquí refers to several different species of frogs native to Puerto Rico. They are named after the (very loud) mating sounds made by the males of the Mountain Coquí and the Common Coquí species. There are over 16 types of Coqui Frog, and amazingly enough, 13 different species can be found in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest. Other species of Coquí are scattered throughout the Carribean and other tropical areas such as Central America. This vast range of species has one defining characteristic: all the types of Coquís’ young hatch directly from egg to small frog, bypassing the Tadpole stage while they are still inside their eggs. 

Animal Spotlight Coqui Frog

Coquí In The Ecosystem

The Coquí frogs perform the role of predator in their ecosystem, eating bugs that would normally feast on trees and plants. Plants and trees are vital to the survival of the Coquí and other animals in the forest, because they produce oxygen for animals to live on, and also provide shelter to some species. The Coquí Frog has also appeared in Hawaii on the Island by the same name and on the Island of Mau, both of which view it as invasive and have tried to keep populations under control using various methods. 

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Animal Spotlight: Valvatida Starfish

The Valvatida is not your average Starfish. For one thing, we tend to picture Starfish with pointed edges, whereas the Valvatida has tiny, almost stubby ends. Valvatida also refers to an entire order of Starfish, composed of hundreds of species, rather than just one specific creature. Starfish of the Valvatida order can be anywhere from a few millimeters to 75 centimeters in length.

Almost every member of the group has five arms and tubed feet with “suckers” on the end. Members of the group include the cushion star and leather star. The complex Crown of Thorns Starfish is also listed as being under this order. You can see why it’s called that pretty easily! 

Animal Spotlight Crown of Thorns Starfish

If you have any questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me

Animal Spotlight: Spinner Dolphin

The Spinner Dolphin (scientific name Stenella longirostris) is a small dolphin often found in off-shore waters of the world. It gets its name from the fact that it does acrobatics by spinning along its length and jumping through the air. These guys can grow anywhere from about 4 to 7 feet (129-235 CM) long. They have a mixture of colors on their body, with their dorsal area being dark gray, their sides light gray, and white blubber on their underside. Almost every major ocean in the world has Spinner Dolphins, from the Pacific Ocean off the coast of North America to the mid-Atlantic and even as far east as the Indian Ocean and the Asia side of the Pacific. 

Animal Spotlight Spinner Dolphin

Spinner Dolphins feed mainly on fish and Shrimp, and can dive hundreds of meters to go get its food. Spinner Dolphins may hunt in large groups, forming circles around their intended prey with one or two Dolphins then diving through the middle to eat. These guys are hunted by Sharks.  They’re considered to be threatened due to large amounts of Tuna hunting which has limited their prey, and direct deaths from pollutants and chemicals.

 

Animal Spotlight: Blue Tang

The Blue Tang (scientific name Paracanthurus hepatus) is a lovely little fish with a deep, royal blue and black body and three tiny fins. Its side fins are black, and it has a yellow dorsal fin behind the rest of its body. These fish are also sometimes called Regal Tangs, Hippo Tangs, and Royal Blue Tangs (no relation to the drink mix).  You can find these little guys throughout the Pacific Ocean, including Japan, India, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and Sri Lanka.

The World Conservation Union gives the Blue Tang a ranking of Least Concerned, indicating it has little chance to become extinct. As young larvae, Tangs feast on Plankton, though adult Tangs will also snack on Algae. Their mating procedure involves the male aggressively chasing the female Tang, and the resulting eggs hatch within 24 hours. The Blue Tangs’ eggs float to the surface of the ocean due to a special oil inside each one.

Animal Spotlight Blue Tang

Animal Spotlight: Komodo Dragon

The Komodo Dragon (scientific name Varanus komodoensis) is quite an interesting creature. For one thing, these lizards can get huge, growing up to 10 feet in length and weighing 150 lbs! Because of their gigantic size, these Dragons of the desert rule their turf. They can prey on a large variety of animals, including birds, mammals, and invertebrates. They mostly hunt deer, but can also eat carrion, and have poison glands in their lower jaw.  These beasts can have as many as 20 eggs at a given time. Their young hatch from eggs in April, when there are plenty of insects to feast on.

Animal Spotlight Komodo Dragon

They are popular in zoo exhibits because of being so massive, and were first discovered by scientists in 1910. 

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about this content, or just want to discuss anything you see here at Lion Share Club. I’m always happy to hear from you! 

Animal Spotlight: Mimic Octopus

As you might have guessed from its name, the Mimic Octopus (scientific name: Thaumoctopus mimicus) can “copy” the appearance of other sea animals. This makes it a clever prey and predator, as it can use this ability to hide itself. Much like a chameleon, the Mimic Octopus changes its skin color and texture to blend in with surroundings. It is one of the smaller Octopi out there, and only gets to be about 2 feet in length. It is normally brown or beige, but a lot of times will change its skin to look striped brown and white (so as to appear as a poisonous creature would and scare predators).

Mimic Octopus Animal Spotlight

The Mimic Octopus typically preys on small fish, crabs and worms. In addition to using mimicry to avoid predators, it can also use its shape-shifting to get close to prey and then eat them. It’s unknown why these little guys do what they do, but most likely it is a survival technique to mimic other species. Other species can imitate other living things, but the Mimic Octopus is the first of its kind to mimic a variety of other animals. 

Endangered Species of The Day: Western Lowland Gorilla

The Western Lowland Gorilla (scientific name Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla) are the types of Gorillas most commonly found in zoos. They live in swaps across Africa, including countries like Angola, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic. A number of situations contribute to the Western Lowland Gorilla’s extinction, including:

  • Deforestation/loss of forest land
  • Infertility in female Lowland Gorillas
  • Lowered ability of the females to produce large amounts of young. 

Additionally, some argue that animals cannot do well in captivity, which may also contribute to the Gorillas’ decline in population. These big guys love to live in rain forests as well as swamps, abandoned farms, and will typically not come to close to human villages. The forests in the Republic of The Congo help protect these animals due to the fact that they’re isolated.

Western Lowland Gorilla Endangered Species

That’s all for today, folks. As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the content posted and here and how you can help save endangered species. 

Endangered Animal of The Day: Hawksbill Turtle

The Hawksbill Turtle (scientific name Eretmochelys imbricata) is one of the most critically endangered species on the planet. Endangered species are a problem for everyone in the ecosystem, all the way up to us Humans. Cliche as it may sound, everything in nature really is interdependent. These turtles keep coral reefs in good shape and eat prey such as Sponges. This gives fish a better chance to feed, and we all know how dependent Humans are on a steady supply of fish. 

The Hawksbill is also a big attraction for visitors in the Coral Triangle (western Pacific Ocean), and thus provides natives with a huge amount of tourism dollars.

Hawksbill Turtle Endangered Species

Sadly, these animals are often hunted by Humans as some people eat the turtles’ eggs, and other big fish, sharks, and crocodiles also prey on these amazing creatures. The Hawkbills can grow about 45 inches, making them smaller than most other sea turtles. As young hatchlings, these guys can’t dive very deep and so stick to floating near the ocean’s surface. Since lots of animals feed on the Hawksbill, its extinction would mean trouble for those animals as well.