Saturday, 27 January 2018

Wild Monkeys of South Florida

Dania Beach Vervet Monkey

Talk about invasive species in South Florida, I found some feral vervet monkeys in Dania Beach.  There are two colonies in Ft Lauderdale/Dania Beach area.  But I only saw two of these guys.  They live behind Motel 6.  Seriously)))  There is a huge mangrove forest behind the motel. That's where they stay most of the time.  However, they come out to the motel parking lot to get some food from local people. 

I spotted this vervet monkey within 5 minutes of getting there.  They came out and sat on the fence, waiting for food.  You really are not suppose to feed them, but this French tourist of Canada threw gave him an apple. 

Dania Beach Vervet Monkey

 Apparently, these monkeys really like fruits.  He ate two apples.  There was also a female vervet monkey.  But she stayed in the forest. She was afraid of people and kept her distance. I could not get a decent picture of her.

Dania Beach Vervet Monkey

Dania Beach Vervet Monkey

Dania Beach Vervet Monkey

These vervet monkey had escaped the primate farm in 1950's. The Anthropoid Ape Research Foundation was importing and breeding all sorts of monkeys and apes for medical research. Local legend states, that they were kept in horrible conditions without any regard for their well being.  Most of them were destined to be victims of all sorts of medical experiments.  So  a few lucky vervet monkeys had escaped and managed to form a colony in Dania Beach.

Dania Beach Vervet Monkey

Dania Beach Vervet Monkey

Dania Beach Vervet Monkey

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Look What Washed Up: Man-of-War

Hey, look what washed up on the beach near my house.  It's jellyfish !!!!  A man-of-war!!! All the way from Portugal)))) A Portuguese Man of War or Physalia physalis.  Well, guess they are nor really from there, but they are still cool.  These guys were all over the beach here in Hollywood, Florida.

Most of them looked like blue balloons. But this man-of-war still get his tentacles attached. Blue tentacles))) They are covered in venom-filled nematocysts which they use to kill small fish and crustaceans. Supposedly, they are also toxic to people, but I did not feel like testing that. I simply poked it with a stick. Surprisingly, these pneumatophore are very tough to puncture.

Another dead jellyfish.  Well, I guess, it's not really a jellyfish. It is a jellyfish-like cnidarian.  And not just one cnidarian, it's a colony of different polyps.  As a kid, I've always thought of them as a single animal.  But it turned out that it is a bunch of small animals forming this weird creature.

The Portuguese man of war colony is made up of three different types of medusoids (it's a funny word) and four types of polypoids, .  The medusoids are gonophores, siphosomal nectophores, and vestigial siphosomal nectophores).  Polypoids  are free gastrozooids, gastrozooids with tentacles, gonozooids, and gonopalpons (grouped into cormidia beneath the pneumatophore). Yes, that's a lot of different animals living under one sail)))

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Friday, 19 January 2018

The Blind Goby or Typhlogobius californiensis

The blind goby or Typhlogobius californiensis is a small costal specie that is native to California and Mexico. It is a very interesting goby that has a mutual relationship with a ghost shrimp Callinassa biffari.  While juvenile, it enters shrimp's burrow and stays there all of its life.  When still young, they  have normal eyes.  But after maturing, the eyes degenerate completely, making the goby totally blind.  Unlike other blind fish, Typhlogobius californiensis does not have a very well developed lateral line.  This is due to the fact that it never leaves the shrimp's burrow.  Most of it's sensory organs are located on top of its head and it relies mostly on its sense of smell.

I am a big fan of sorts of cavefish, and while this goby is not a cave dweller, it exhibits all the traits of troglodyte fish.  It is completely pigment free and has no eyes.  A good example of convergent evolution, I suppose)))  However, I still do not understand why it never leaves the burrow.  I am sure it's safe and everything, but he can't be getting that much food there.  Most of the food is brought into the burrow by current created by shrimp's swimmerettes.  The shrimp would eat smaller particles of sea weed, decaying matter, and parts of dead animals, while Typhlogobius californiensis would clean up larger pieces.  Sometimes, the shrimp was even observed physically bringing larger food particles to the goby.

Typhlogobius californiensis

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

My Photos of Florida Mangrove Tree Crab

Mangrove Tree Crab or Aratus pisonii

Here are photos of mangrove tree crab (Aratus pisonii) I took at Ann Kolb Center here in South Florida.  I think this is the only specie of crab that lives mostly on trees.  It is kind of weird to see these guy siting on leaves.  But they are pretty colorful))  The mostly hang out on red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) and eat their leaves. The mangrove tree crabs are usually found in most tropical and subtropical estuaries in North America and Caribbean. 

Mangrove Tree Crab or Aratus pisonii

I caught the tree crab for better pictures.  Here, he is in a plastic cup with some local coffee bean snails.  Unfortunately, as soon as I took him out, he quickly jumped out and escaped.  These guys are really quick.  He ran straight for the tree))))

Mangrove Tree Crab or Aratus pisonii

 mangrove tree crab (Aratus pisonii)

Cute Little Guy

This is what their habitat looks like.  It's all part of the  nature park in Hollywood, Florida.  They have an insanely cool mangrove forest.

Red Mangrove or Rhizophora mangle

Monday, 8 January 2018

Just Started My Volunteering

I've started my volunteering at Ann Kolb Nature Center last Thursday.  It's my first time volunteering ever. Yes, I've never done anything like this before.  Ann Kolb Center is part of the West Lake Park in Hollywood, Florida.  It's famous  for it's natural mangrove forests.

This one of the girls that work there full time.  She takes care of the cool aquatic animals.

Some shrimp and mashed crayfish for most of the aquatic creatures.  Everybody gets mostly the same thing.  They seem to like it, but I wonder if they can be weaned onto dry foods

This is the 300 gallon tank with frillfin goby (Bathygobius soporator), Florida crested goby ( Lophogobius cyprinoides), two starfish, and some other saltwater fish ( I forgot their names).  

Crest Goby Hanging Out on a Rock

This aquarium had two of these starfishes.  I never realized this before, but they have tiny eyes at the end of each arm.  Pretty neat.  As soon as they smelled food, both of them came came our from under the gravel.

This is a tropical Florida lobster or Langusta.  Although he kind of looks like a regular lobster due to his shape, these two animals are not closely related. Spiny lobsters are easily distinguished from true lobsters by their very long, thick, spiny antennae and a complete lack of claws on the first four pairs of walking leg.  This guy is pretty huge. I think he is even too big for his aquarium.  Apparently, he had been living at Ann Kolb Center for almost 3 years now.  He is pretty friendly and seemed excited when he saw food.