Costal Wetlands Ecosystems of SWFL, Part 4, Turtle Nest and Gender Assignment

While walking along a very low traffic area on the southern end shoreline of Fort Myers beach, turtle activity was easily seen. The nest was two meters inside of the bird restricted area. A closer investigation was ill advised. The turtle traveled about 40 meters from the shore in the early morning to lay her eggs, bury them and then returned to the sea. There was no sign of other human traffic in the area. The picture was made at approximately 9:00 AM.

The Green sea turtle in the feature image was made in the Caribbean in a reef system 5 miles off of the coast of Belize.

For a more comprehensive description of instrumentation see the previous posting on Soil Thermometer Exploration. Also see Costal Wetlands in SWFL Part 2

Path from shore to nest appears to be from a green turtle. There is no center tail track between the fin marks.
Soil temperature 26.4 C, 3 meters from nest at 20 cm depth.
Sea turtle egg nest recently buried
Green Sea Turtle 80 feet under water, in reef 5 miles off the coast of Belize.

Using my foot print in the sand as a reference you can see that the path is little wider than one meter (~120 cm). Turtle fin prints have an alternating step pattern and there is no central groove in the sand in the center of the track between the fin prints. The more common turtle here would be the Logger Head. The markings of this track suggests that this was made by a Green Sea Turtle. Considering the activity, the distance from the water, the opening a hole in the sand, the laying of estimated 80 eggs, the covering of the eggs with sand and the returning to the water, this experience must have taken at least two hours. There were no other predator foot prints on the sand.

Proposed research:

Observation: Sea turtles and apparently many reptiles exhibit temperature dependent sex determination (TDSD)*. A sufficient level of research on TDSD has been done. My recordings over the last two days in nearby sand areas at various times suggest that the sand temperature should rise from the noted 26.4 C to a higher temperature between 29 C and 31 C by mid day. If the average temperatures remain in that range or lower during the entire day, there should be significantly more than 20% male offspring. With the knowledge from previous research the more appropriate prediction would be at least 80% female hatchlings.

There is a problem with failure to have gender diversity from turtle hatchlings on the beaches of Florida***. Findings in Florida beaches show abnormally high percentage of female hatchlings. This is apparently the result of average higher temperatures. It is also projected that with rising temperatures the shortfall in the male population will result in a colony population insufficient to sustain its current level. I suggest a simple attempt to reverse the gender trend. Here is a pilot project proposal:

Purpose: Is it possible to control sand temperature thereby controling the gender of turtle hatchlings at the beach?

The null hypothesis: The sand temperature at a depth equal to or greater than 20 cm would rise to 30 C or more for a significant period during the day regardless of attempts to stabilize it.

Method: Measure the change in sand temperature in a specific location of costal beach. It should be continuously recorded relative to change in time consistent with a projected egg incubation period. Include the variables of a specified period of the year and selected location. Test an interventional variable such as application of a controlled volume of sea water to the surface of the sand in the test location. The water volume should be less than the absorptive capacity and capillary action of the sand below 10 cm.

Discussion: If the null hypothesis is disproven and data revealed a regular pattern of temperature stabilization within a specific range at a depth of 20 cm, one should be able to predict the male / female ratio of the expected hatchings**. If this research shows a favorable result there may be a remedy for the diversity shortfall. Proactively, the genetic population of the nest might be regulated by cooling the nest through the timely addition of a controlled volume of water. The effect of the water would be immediate cooling of the surface and a delayed effect resulting from water evaporation. If this is effective it would thwart the risk of having an excess of female turtles or an insufficiency of male turtles. If this pilot study shows benefit this may be applied to a larger area such as selected nests along several miles of beach. A volunteer effort could support this type of effort. Please read the thought provoking references below.

If you are interested in the effort to support gender diversity in the turtle populations please share your comments.


*TDSD via STAT phosphorylation at the warmer, female-producing temperature

**Figuring out the genes that let reptiles use temperature to determine sex

***Hotter summers mean Florida’s turtles are mostly born female

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#turtles #nest #temperature #reptile #gender #TDGD #sand #beach #thermometer #eggs #reptile #population

Costal Wetlands Ecosystems of SWFL. Part 3, Shore Birds

In a two-hour walk along the southern coast of Fort Myers Beach hundreds of birds were readily observed. The photos show just a few of the birds present and this posting doesn’t really capture a full catalogue of all of the possible birds in this group. These observations were made from 8:15 to 9:30 AM. The area is not restored after the Hurricane Ian floods. The shore was relatively flat with the sea and as I was leaving the waters were rising with the tide. Except for the Osprey, the birds in this posting belong to the Aequornitornathes as discussed in our post on Calling Birds by Clades. Shore birds seem to be a frequently undervalued group. This is somewhat understandable because they are relatively small, fast flying, limited in chroma, difficult to access and seasonal.

26.405637, -81.896622
The GPS location for these observations.

Some of the birds found in this area are at risk and some are endangered. This is a State and the Audubon Society designated sanctuary. Others birds are routinely found throughout the shore area. This is nesting, mating and hatching time for these birds and large areas are marked off-limits to all to prevent damage to the nests, eggs and mating behaviors of the birds. The photos were all made from outside of these restricted areas.

The title photo is a flock of Black Skimmers roosting on the 10 to 12 inch high dune about 200 meters from the shore line using the 400 mm lens. This is fairly representative of the terrain and accessibility for observation. All of the birds were very busy in their mating and nesting behaviors. Nearby there are numerous empty multistory condominium buildings ruined by the storm. Additionally there is considerable construction work on those damaged sites.

Nesting Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer Rynchops niger, scavenging along the shore
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres along the shore
Ruddy Turnstone in the dune area
Least Tern Sternula antillarum
Rock Sandpiper Calidris ptilocnemis
American Oystercatcher at work along the shore
Black-Bellied Plover
American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus
Sand Piper along the shore.
Snowy Plover (immature)
Snowy plover almost invisable
Osprey, carrying fish captured from the Gulf of Mexico, flying to its nest on a perch on Fort Meyers Beach tree line.


Nine bird species were identified. Here are a few important lessons to be learned from this first trip. The area is a State protected site and you cannot approach the birds closer than 100 meters. Available birds are seasonal and their activity is somewhat predictable. The birds listed here usually flock in species. The food resource comes from the sea. They mate, nest, lay eggs and hatch on the beach during spring season. For better images some combination of extra effort should be applied. This includes: patience and better understanding of the bird behaviors, more stealth and closer approach if allowed by the Audubon Bird Naturalist who is on site daily. Use a lens with focal length greater than 400 mm and a tripod.

These small shore birds are generally at risk for flock survival. Some are endangered, some are threatened. As you would expect the usual culprits are warming, environmental squeeze*, loss of habitat, and a relatively new threat. The recent increased threat is an avian viral infection N1H1 which has globally decimated the poultry and wild bird population. This variant of H1N1 is highly contagious and the domesticated populations together with the wild populations have cross contaminated one another. This cross contamination makes the control of the disease extremely difficult because the wild group is an untreatable reservoir. The hope is that, in the wild population, the disease will burn itself out by killing the susceptible animals while the resistant survivors repopulate the species. With small populations such as the snowy plover, this may result in their extinction. The domesticated population must be kept highly quarantined and a vaccination needs to be developed and deployed. Bird flu may jump species to other farm animals and to humans.

* Environmental squeeze is the loss of beach habitat from human encroachment and rising water.

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#Osprrey #Plover #Sand Piper #Tern #Turnstone #Skimmer #Oystercatcher #environmental squeeze #avian flu #H1N1

Costal Wetland Ecosystems in SW Florida. Part 2

Project goal: Develop a database for data organization of observations of Coastal Ecosystem

These are the early results of a trial project for data collection by citizen scientists using a custom designed cell phone application. Look for part one of this series of postings at Costal Wetlands Part 1.

The feature image is a typical seascape of our beautiful western shore coast line of South West Florida (SWFL).

Project description and outcomes:

Sand is the foundation of our civilization. It is the most heavily mined material on Earth. This Investigation of the Costal Systems of SWFL is based on this foundational material. The null hypothesis was to refute the idea that all local beach sands were identical. The goal was two-fold. The first goal was to develop an app for data collection which would take the data from observations and submit them to a cloud-based database for later evaluation. The second goal was to use the beach sand to act as a unifying substrate upon which adjacent observations could be related. The objective was to allow investigation and comparison between and among sample locations and to a standard model. The method used included an interested but untrained group of citizen scientists to observe, collect, test, and record the beach sand and adjacent materials and its contents in a wide variety of locations. A custom designed cell phone app was made and downloaded by 5 participants. Sample bags were distributed. Observers worked at sites along 80 miles of SWFL shoreline of their own choice. All samples were examined microscopically. 16,800 data points including images were collected. Data in the relational database was sorted and correlated in IOS Numbers spread sheet. Assessment of the samples revealed a significant diversity of the beach sands. The null hypothesis was refuted. The novice team behaved in a coherent, cohesive fashion. The software was comprehensive, self-explanatory and reproducible. The data has been published and is freely available on the World Wide Web through Epicpollect5 .  Analysis was easy and diverse in capability. Accomplishments: Teamwork was effective, software was the cohesive agent, early conclusions are evidence-based Analysis of information can lead to confident understanding and could lead to thoughtful decisions about SWFL costal ecosystems.

These are early reports of preliminary findings:

Area of SW Florida. 40 colored dots are observation locations

Plastic package with sand sample. Label shows observation number. Photograph shows pack placed over actual size image for scale.

These images are copied from the database and show a typical costal observation point.

Wide view of beach

Close proximity to beach

One meter square observation area

Photomicrographs show images of observation samples viewed with 5x magnification.


Dark field direct illumination

Transilluminated polarized light

Sand sample stored in plastic bag. Label number attached. Photographed against background scale. Photographed. Portion of sample examined microscopically. Sample filed.

The Costal shore was examined grossly with findings and comments gathered by the application then uploaded to the database. The gross examination was gathered visually and tactilely from he beach. Additionally, near adjacent findings were recorded such as larger objects, proximity to landmarks, level and proximity to the shore, vital or devital, time and date, identity of plants and animals and any other significant details. All of these details were captured photographically and by sampling.

Details and data from the observations are available at the site epicollect5 . The site provides maps, data files and graphic files.

The data was filtered and statistically summed and averaged using MS Excel spread sheet. Correlations were not made because there is relatively little data.

Here are some of the findings. Please understand that the sample size is small. Reported results are not definitive.

Gross examination

  • Observations were made in daylight hours
  • Tides were generally rising on all observations
  • 95% of the costal areas were sandy beaches
  • 30% of the beaches were remediated with imported sand after storm Ian
  • 5% was the average beach profile
  • Life forms were concentrated along the water line and dune/upland areas

Close examination (Typical)

  • Sand particle size was ❤ mm
  • All beaches had 30% to 100% quartz
  • Most beach sand was an aggregate of quartz and shell or reef fragments
  • No other mineral was found
  • Plastics and salts were not identified

Microscopic sand sample composition findings summarized from excel assessment from 33/40 completed data files reported from 40 observations

Ratio Aspect
Texture, Fineness10/33 Fine and Medium fine
13/33 Medium Coarse and Coarse
50% Fine, 50% coarse
Homogeneity20/33 Well and Very Well
4/33 Poor
Most are Highly Homogeneous
Particle shape7/33 Well rounded and Rounded
23/33 Some what Round to Angular
All showed roundedness
Source17/33 Quartz
9/33 Quartz and Shell
High fraction of Quartz and Shell
Ratio of Quartz to Other 11/33 80 to 100%
9/33 60 to 680%
All sand had moderate to high fraction to quartz
Quartz particle size11/33 0.5 to 1,0 mm
7/33 0.35 to 2.0 mm
Quartz particles had a high variance in 0.25 to 2.0 mm range
Other particle size11/33 2 to 6
8/33 0.75 to 2
Non Quartz had High variance in the 0.75 to 6.0 mm
This table summarizes the microscopic anatomy of the sand found at all complete reported sites

SWFL Costal Ecosystems are based on sand. The SWFL sand is really complex with many things still to be discovered. Plastic micro particles need further exploration, minerals from shore-side water trapped in sand should be better defined, costal areas with silt overlay has not yet been discussed. The mollusks and birds of this system have been observed and need to be further explored. The data collection and database application trial was successful in data capture and facilitation of the data analysis using spread sheet software technology.

Be sure to click here to see the database on the Epicollect5 web site

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#sand #observation #texture #homogeneity #particle shape #source #size #ratio 3photomicrographs #microscope #costal ecosystem #database

Thermometer Exploration

The temperature of the soil or water has a great influence on the behavior of the indwelling plants and animals. Florida is a great place to follow the behavior of the plants and animals that dwell in or on these substrates. As an example, the temperature of the soil determines the percentage of male/female hatchlings from eggs buried by turtles in the costal regions.

This is called temperature-dependent sex determination TSD. Researchers found that if a turtle’s eggs are incubated below 27.7° C (81.86° F), the turtle hatchling populations will be predominantly male. If the eggs incubate above 31° C (88.8° F), the hatchlings will be predominantly female.

This instrument, added to our tool kit, may disclose new findings. Questions regarding change in temperature might include: the temperature differential at various depths, how does the temperature change over time, exposure to direct sun, proximity to bodies of water, consistencies and composition of the soil. The secondary effects might show other effects on the plants and animals life, presence of species at depth, rates of growth, other gender or morphology changes. The interactions and permutations of this would be extensive.

I have devised a method of measuring temperature at depth of up to 50 mm. This could be extended to greater profundity if the results show promise. The instrument consists of three parts; an aluminum arrow shaft (8.6 mm dia.) with an aluminum field point at the down end and a wooden ball at the up end; a length thermocouple sensor wire that can be threaded through the ball end to the length of the probe and temperature can be measured with a Fluke 52 electronic thermometer with a scale -328F (-200C) to +1400F (+760C) accurate to 1/2 degrees. (John Fluke Mfg. Co. Inc. Everett, WA),

The instrument was calibrated at zero degrees C in ice water. It is pictured below. The depth of penetration was dependent upon the hard pack of the soil. Where necessary, a steel shaft of similar diameter could be driven to depth which a mallet prior to insertion of the thermometer.

The assembled thermometer showing yellow bands at 10 cm intervals.
Thermometer probe at 20 cm at 12:00 PM
Thermometer reading at 12:00 PM
Thermometer ambient air temperature at 12:00 PM

Early readings of beach sand between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM.

  • At water line 10 cm, 26.4 C
  • Mid beach 10 cm, 27.9 C
  • Berm 10 cm, 27.8 C
  • Veg line 20 cm, 27.3 C
  • Remed. sand 50 cm, 28.2 C

Conclusions would require much more investigation to confirm my suspicions. I found that, except for the water line reading these recordings show a remarkable similarity. The average of the last four is 27.8 (+/- 0.4 C/0.5C). It is especially notable to see that the remediation sand which is stacked to 10 ft high was easily penetrated to 50 cm depth at the 4 ft level and was only +0.4 degrees from the average temperature. All of the sand temperature readings were significantly lower than the ambient air temperature.

The implication of these finding suggests that turtle egg hatched in these samples of sand would result in a population predominantly of males. Additionally, the remediation sand behaves similar to the un-remediated beach sand in its ability to moderate the results of direct sun or ambient air temperature fluctuations. This does not consider very important variables such as time, duration, season, weather, moisture, distance away from water line and other factors.

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#thermometer #sand #beach #temperature dependent #probe

Coastal Wetlands Part I, Microscopy Imaging Intro

Microscopic examination of the soil samples from the beaches of the Southwest Florida coastal wetlands is foundational to the understanding of this part of the State. The use of microscopy aids in determining particle size, surface roughness, percentage of constituents, homogeneity of particle size and reaction to chemicals. Much of this is silica sand called quartz. This naturally occurring glass is an enormous part of our civilization. Sand is used for construction of concrete structures like streets and highways, buildings, and infrastructure such as dams, oil fracking and park benches. It is also the basis of our communications and computer systems from silicone chips, monitor screens and fiberoptic cables. It is the window through which we look and the lens we use to see the far reaches of our universe.

The featured image is an excellent example of a grain of high quality quartz sand. It is shown as seen under microscopic examination illuminated by transmitted polarized light. It is a sample of the standard to which other samples are compared.

This is an introduction to the assessment of samples that appear through microscopic examination of these natural building blocks. The samples shown here were collected from the surface of the beaches along a few miles north of Naples, Florida’s west facing coast. They were collected and recorded in the database found at Beaches of Southwest Florida

This posting is intended to assist you in interpreting the reported results of observations made.

This square meter of costal hinterland is packed with information. It is site #87 in the Costal Database. The following micrografs were made with just a pinch of the surface soil.

Through the microscope, several light sources were used that include incident flash white light, transmitted white light, transmitted polarized white light, occasional combinations of these sources, transmitted ultra blue light for fluorescence and selected color filtered light. These images will be identified by observation number as shown in the database.

#87, Fig 1. Sample showing clear quartz and transparent quartz particles with white transmitted light
#87, Fig 2. Sample showing colorful quartz and transparent quartz particles using polarized transmitted light
#87, Fig 3. Sand sample 5x polarized transmitted and flash light. Note the rounded corners of the quartz sand grains when compared to the wharf edges of the cover picture.
#87, Fig 4. same sample but added vinegar. Spherical bubbles are easily identified forming during the test process. See video below.
#87, Fig 5. This movie clip shows the off gassing of carbon dioxide from a fragment of mollusk shell as it goes into solution. Note the developmental striations in the shell sample.

These findings are reported in the database as a ‘1’ in the response choice.

Other characteristics are also recorded as shown in the following chart extracted from the database site. Where homogeneity ranges from poor to very well, size ranges from coarse to very fine, shape ranges from sharp to well rounded, source is by mineral composition, quartz ratio is in percentage by count of particles in the field of view X3, particle size can be measured down to .035 mm. Further sizing of smaller dimension is by micrometer.

Chart sample of finding characteristics of observation #87

The quartz portion of the sand is the common building block of most beaches. Under polarized light it behaves like a prism and is polychromatic. This feature is readily identifiable as a distinguishing feature. The non quartz particles may be of other ingredients such as stone, fossil, coral, plastic resin, or other salts. When vinegar is added to the sample a chemical reaction transpires where calcium carbonate reacts with the weak acid and goes into solution releasing the carbon dioxide as a gas in bubble form. This is seen in the video micrograph. The non quartz shell findings can also be distinguished by the repetitive pattern of growth and development lines in the fragments.

I hope that you find this useful when you check out our new database link Beaches of SWFL

#photomicrograph #quartz #sand #videomicrograph #polarized light #database #beaches #Southwest Florida #SWFL #transmitted light #reflected direct light #costal ecosystems

The microscope used is referenced on an earlier posting

Flowering Trees of SW Florida

We need a break form hurricane damage remediation. Some of these images and more were shown on previous postings. They are repeated here because many of these trees and flowers were damaged or lost during the hurricane Ian storm of 2022 and therefore are no longer available. We need a reminder of the past and promise of the future.

The freely available image is featured as the opener is copied from a Cindy Shuder-Sandine Facebook posting and attributed to a military reconnaissance photo. It shows hurricane Ian as it landfalls on Fort Myers beach 20 miles from where I live. It speaks a thousand words.

The flowers of the Bauhinia tree are stunningly beautiful with lavender petals and veiny traces of red made to attract the eyes of the beholder. The flower has male anthers full of pollen. In fact, in an ecstatic burst it releases its stamens full of thousands of pollen grains. The sensuous perfume attracts hummingbirds and bees. These hungry messengers dip into the sweet deep recesses of the flower and pick up the pollen and can carry it into the receptive flower of a female tree. In fact, it has its own female calix organelle within the same flower. It should be able to self-pollinate. But wait! The flowers bear no ova. It cannot reproduce sexually. It is baren. There will be no fertilized seeds. All that blossom is for enjoyment only. Most people who casually look at the gorgeous orchid like flower are unaware of the frustration of the tree which must propagate from cuttings at the whim of gardeners and lovers of the flowers. 

Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia blakenia)

The flowering trees have many secrets from most people. Flowers of some trees may never be seen by seasonal residents. They may bloom during the hot and humid seasons. An example of this is the Flamboyant Royal Poinciana tree. It blooms in the summer when our population is much smaller than that of the tourist season. Of all flowering trees, it has the most breathtaking beauty of riotous red and orange blossom. 

Flamboyant Royal Poinciana, AKA Flame Tree
Flamboyant Royal Poincieana, yellow

Contrarily, some residents are unaware of the lack of some blooms during their absence. An example of this is the Golden Trumpet tree which shows its fertility in yellow colors for three weeks during spring break. The benefit of our climate is that it is tropical. The weather provides an opportunity to have a continuous parade of seasonal flowers in Florida. There is never a time when something is not blooming. 

Golden Trumpet (Tabebuia chryaotricha)
Pink Trumpet, (Yrebebuia heterophylia)

Through the years, resident and community efforts have enhanced our neighborhoods with many plants. The trees are the most outstanding because of their height and spread of their branches. They also hold that secret prize. In certain seasons they burst out with colors and shapes that are beyond wordy description. The images that were captured in these photographs are beautiful and pictures are indeed worth a thousand words. Beyond the visual impact they give us a breath of perfume and an earful of rustling music as their leaves clatter against one another. These images are just a sample of the dozens of flowering trees in our neighborhood of SWFL


The flowering trees are appealing not only to us but also to a menagerie of animals from insects, reptiles, and birds. Most of all the flowers of the male plants are attractive to the female plants. The resulting reproductive products of fruits, nuts and seeds can be delicious as well as nutritious to a wide range of creatures.

Mexican Wild Olive (Cordia boissieri)

The colors of the flowers seem to be the most fascinating aspect of their appearance. The approximation of contrasting or complimentary hues and chromas is at times so obvious and sometimes so surprising. Sometimes it is shocking and other times it is soothing. There never seems to be an unpleasant combination. They seem to be more alive and sensuous than their cousins with less showy highlights like the oaks or even more so than the conifers.

Purple Glory AKA Princess flower,

It is such a treat to explore the streets, lanes, gardens, and wilderness to find something new or to see a variation of something familiar. Walking or bicycling provides an excellent opportunity to see and stop to appreciate the details and odors. It is a chance to see which other plants and animals are associated with the flowering trees. These cohabitations can be as intriguing as the flower. It can lead to an exploration of the details of environmental impact and an appreciation of ecological systems. I hope that you are inspired to go out and look for the trees and inspect them and perhaps appreciate their mysteries, of colors, shapes, timing, and scents.

Pink Shower (Cassia)
Dwarf Powderpuff (Calliandra haematocephala) attracting bees.

The flowering trees shown here originate from all over the world including Africa, South and Central America, China, and India and more. Untold secrets of these trees are yet to be discovered. What species of butterflies and moths are attracted to the various trees. Do the non-native trees interact or communicate with the native plant population? Are the plant defenses and pheromones compatible with the local insect population and microbial biota? There is still so much to discover. 

Pride of India (Lagerstroemia speciosa)
Coral Bean
Pink Shower (Cassia)
Plumeria, hot pink
Rose of Venezuela (Brown macrophyllia)
White Silk Floss (Celia speciosa)
Red Silk Floss (Ceiba speciosa)
African Tulip (Spathodea campanulate)
Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimisifolia)
Malibar Chestnut AKA (Pachira aquatica) (Money Tree),
Scrambled Egg Tree (Glaucous Cassia)

The full list of the Flowering Trees of SW FL in found on Pages section of this site. It shows names, colors, sun exposure etc. They also can be geolocated on the Everglades Ark Epicollect data base site, There have been several other postings on this site showering the flowering trees during the special seasons .

#Scrambled Egg Tree #Glaucous Cassia #Malibar Chestnut #Pachira aquatica #Jacaranda #Jacaranda mimisifolia #Cassia #African Tulip #Spathodea campanulate #Red Silk Floss #Ceiba speciosa #White Silk Floss #Rose of Venezuela #Brown macrophyllia #Plumeria, hot pink #Pink Shower #Cassia #Coral Bean #Pride of India #Dwarf Powderpuff #Calliandra haematocephala #Pink Shower #Purple Glory AKA Princess flower #Lagerstroemia speciosa #Pink Shower #Golden Trumpet #Tabebuia chryaotricha #Magnolia #Golden Trumpet #Tabebuia chryaotricha #Flamboyant Royal Poincieana, yellow #Flamboyant Royal Poinciana # Flame Tree #Bauhinia blakenia #Hong Kong orchid tree

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In addition to current topics in our posts we begin of a new arm of Everglades Ark. The Coastal Systems are a large portion of Florida. By State Florida has second longest of the ocean coastlines in the USA. It is remarkably diverse with the full gamut of wildlife of the animal, plant and protist Kingdoms. Observations range from macroscopic to microscopic, geologic to biologic and is as variable as the weather.

To satisfy the understanding of this system I have developed a new online, interactive, database supported by Epicollect5. The information may be found in cd files, still images, video clips and audio files. There are four portions in this database that include: beach geology findings, mollusk findings, bird findings and microscopic soil findings.This is publicly available for your use to download the comma delimited files for use in programs like Excel and Google maps. The address for this data site is

This is a sister of the other site that is part of Everglades Ark found at

These are important supplements to this site. They provide us with evidence used to support our monologues, dialogues and discussions. These are also part of our effort to support citizen scientists most of whom can enjoy the discoveries found in nature,form the basis for statistical analysis of findings and provide evidence to support theories. Sorting of these finds have beed previously discussed in earlier postings.

I highly encourage you to participate in this form of discovery. The observations are the most valuable part of the data .the greater number of observations results in a more reliable foundationv If you wish, please feel free use the data in your own projects and share the results with us. If you want to join our group by recording your findings please contact me at:

I will provide instruction and with your email address, allow permission to be a collector for the Coastal areas of SWFL

The data map below shows the interrogatories and responses of the database. They are in this downloadable PDF file. Your comments and recommendations are welcome,

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#Epicollect5, #mapping, #Everglades Ark, #database, #Google maps, #Excel

Rhinoceros to Rinosaurus

The Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) is the only remaining of the African Big Five animals to be presented in our African Safari posting series. The reason they are marginalized is that there are very few remaining in the wild. The rhinoceros is a severely endangered species. We saw only three of them and they all were captives in highly guarded reserve areas. It may become the first of the big five to become extinct and this could easily happen within our lifetime. In the estimate of the South African government the “killing of rhinos by hunting will exceed that of births by next year, thus precipitating a slide towards the extinction abyss.” Without drastic measures they will be wiped out as surely as the dinosaurs.

The featured image shows the horns of the rhinoceros. These are the prize for which they are savagely and illegally hunted. All images were made in Botswana.

Yearling foal of the mare rhinoceros. On these few specimens rests the survival of the 7 million year old species.

The drastic procreative measures include extraordinary protection from poachers and other hunters, careful management for natural breeding programs, promotion of high-tech breeding programs using artificial insemination and hormone management for increased fertility.

Rhinos are poorly understood therefore breeding is not easy. They have a long gestation period; the inter-birth interval appears to be ~3 to 4 years; sexual maturity of the female may be up to age seven; males up top ~10 years; fertility also may depend on ovulation cycle, hormone levels, and the size of pre-ovulatory follicles. Life span is ~40 yrs. Adult weight is 2.5K to 4K pounds. Management is difficult because they are not docile animals. Maximum possible offspring per life time is ~ 06.

The result of a successful breeding. Mare and foal grazing together.
Adult White Rhinoceros with double horn still intact grazing on short grass in protected conservatory. “White”is perhaps an English mistranslation of the Dutch word “wijd”which means “wide”. The wide refers to the width of the rhinoceros’ lower jaw.

There is some hope that breeding programs will at least stabilize the population. With the cooperative effort of the government of South Africa, Botswana “will become the next Noah’s Ark for rhinos in Africa”. The exact location of the breeding stations was not disclosed. There are also private animal breeders who specialize in these large animals.

On this trip we saw multiple endangered animal species including the Hartebeest, Gravy’s zebra, Rothschild’s Giraffe, Wild Dogs, Roan antelope, Thompson’s gazelle and the lesser Kudu. There are others which we did not see like the Pangolin and the Sable antelope.

My general suggestion is to visit the African nations that promote the wildlife and are safe to visit. See the animals, plants and ecosystems while you can because the future is unpredictable.

#rhinoceros #Africa #Kenya Botswana #rewinding #breeding #endangered #extinct #horns #poaching #

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Rhino conservation controversy

Rhino breeding program

Rhino conservation in Botswana

Rewinding with rhinos

Rhino reproduction and development

Hippo Home

The hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) are always near water. Most often they are in the water where they can be submerged. This blog recounts three experiences. There was an exception. In one of the camps where we stayed a small hippo was scampering under the board walk and into the woods in the evening. I believe that it was in the camp where it could take shelter from the local pride of lions. In the Okavango delta the hippos were in the river system and not very visible. When in the river of Chobi they were more visible from the stream and facing the bank. There they would submerge and occasionally reemerge to walk in the bank.

The feature image is a portrait of a hippo in the Mara river

The cows were watchful of their young as they both ate their fill of the grass. It was clear that there was some social group interaction among the adults. They tended to stay in loose proximity. This was really evident in the area of the Mara river in the savanna of Kenya. While in the river they were not interactive with the nearby crocodiles. The crocodiles know better and keep their distrance.

Typical hippopotamus on land grazing after soaking up some sun. The white sand on the belly will wash off then it hits the water.
Hippos in the Mara river
Looks like a Mara river love-in . The giant animals seem so benign.

There was an occasion which was somewhat unexpected. Looking at the placidity of a small lake a dark bump breached the surface. In a few moments it became apparent that this was a very large adult hippo. It began to walk to and up the bank of the shore. This was a really big animal, perhaps the size of a small SUV.


A Survivor

Difficult to identify wha that bump is.
Hippo emerging from the pond

It was silent and ponderously slow. The slow gate might not have been due to its size but rather because of the large gaping wound in its left shoulder. It was deep and relatively recent but no longer bleeding. He was moving away from the lake and toward the woods.

Slowly climbing out . There seemed tto be a problem
It is now obvious that the animal had been injured.

We followed it for perhaps 50 yards. The wound was easily seen. Now it could be identified as two large parallel gouges through the skin and into the muscle. The hide in that area is tough, usually about two inches thick. Add to that the penetration through the four inches of flesh layers below the skin and you have some idea about the severity of the injury. The muscle was not severed but the skin through the fat layer was missing. I hope that the resulting infection won’t be too bad. There will be a big scar.

The injury had two vertical parallel gashes the they were a perfect fit for hippo lower tusks. The hide and fat had been scraped away exposing the muscle. Look at the rest of the hide and you can see that this big boy has seen a lot of fighting.

The distance between the two wounds and their general shape strongly suggested that these were caused by the two lower tusks, The skin remaining was ripped upwardly. These were probably made by a rival hippo. They were apparently acquired during an epic battle between two mammoth hippopotami.

The fight must have been just hours ago during the night. I wonder what the other guy looked like. The other contestant was not in sight. This fellow, with help of the birds, was tending to his wounds. This wasn’t his first encounter. He had been in other scrapes and had the scars to show. These fights can be deadly. It looks like this guy will be back for another day. Hippopotamus are reported to kill approximately 500 people per year making them the deadliest vertebrate animal in Africa

#hippopotamus #wound #herbivore #aquatic #fight #dominance #Africa #Maasai Mara #Botswana

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Why Is the Bauhinia Tree Not Invasive ?

The Bauhinia tree (Bauhinia blakeana)(AKA Hong Kong Orchid tree) is a native of Asia. All Hong Kong orchid trees today are clones of the original tree planted in a garden in Hong Kong in 1880. It has been reproduced from cuttings ever since. Although they are one plant system they have not been susceptible to diseases.

Because the bloom is so attractive and had all of the anatomy to describe it as having flowers I could not see why it was sterile. The only option that I had was to inspect the organelles of the flower and see where the issue lie.

The feature image shows the flower with an obviously interested bee crawling inside.


Macro dissection

I started with an intact bloom and removed parts to expose the major anatomic features. This was followed by a separation of the components for microscopic examination.

Perhaps my favorite blossom from the neighborhood the blossoms simply cascade along the branches in progressive succession for months.

—-+—- Macro dissection

The Bauhenia flower has all of the required anatomy necessary for sexual reproduction. Septal, petals, stamen and carpel.


Micro dissection

Petal microstructure. No respiratory apparatus
Micro anatomy of typical leaf.
Filament with anther
Anther with pollen
Pollen from anther
Pollen grain detail
Macro image of stigma
Attempted fertilization by pollen into stigma
Macro through the Ova
Micro cross section through the ova which is void

Each of the separated components of the system were examined microscopically. This examination revealed that the area of the ova was without a defined structure. There were no ova and the core was a simple homogenous field without characteristics. It was barren. It does not reproduce sexually and therefore cannot produce seeds. Because it cannot produce seeds and reproduction is limited to propagation from cuttings it is not invasive. The same is true for Plumeria which is also propagated from cuttings. We have shown a similar method in a previous post on Propagation of Orchids by Division.

This posting is made in response to questions rising from the Power Point Presentation titled Flowering Trees of SWFL. a full listing of the trees can be found on this site. To find it GoTo the banner on the home page, from the menu select Findings and select the PDF document. There are associated reference links. You may print the list for your convenience.

#Bauhinia #Hong Kong Orchid tree #flower #anatomy #micro anatomy #reproduction #cuttings #propagation #barren #sterile # invasive # petal #septa #carpel #stamen #anther #pollen

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African Wild Dogs – Hunting

This is not about your father’s hunting dog. These are not household dogs which when set free in the wild become feral survivors. They are indeed a species unto themselves. Wild dogs of Kenya are a dying breed. The pack must have more than five dogs to maintain a threshold below which reproductive failure is likely. The area requirements of five wild dogs are estimated to be 65 to 150 square kilometers. Because they are a pack animal, they are transmitting rabies among one another. There is no one to care for this deadly disease and because they are not a high priority species. Because of environment change and disease they may become extinct. They are pack animals which work to hunt as a team just like the lions. Their method is different from lions where they run their prey down to exhaustion. That can run at 40 mph for hours. When the dogs take down their prey, they exercise dogged precision.

The featured image is a portrait of a Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus). The Wild Dog (AKA Painted Dog) is one of the world’s most endangered mammals. Perhaps only one thousand remain.

The ear of the lead dog lying in the shade of the tree around 5:00 PM. He is one of about a dozen. It is dinner time.

We saw a pack of about 12 resting in the shade of a tree with deep soft grass. The entire family was together and appeared to be contented. They lay down through the heat of the day in close contact with the soil for cooling. In the afternoon a head or an ear pops up showing that they are not sleeping but alert. As sunset neared the pack leader stood up all rose at the same time and began a fast-paced loosely grouped walk. They apparently had a powerful agenda in mind. We followed them and they in turn were in fast pursuit of dinner.

Within minutes of awakening the pack found the scent. It will take them only 15 minutes.

The pace picked up as they reach the Savanna where the woods thinned out. The chase was on despite our not seeing the target. The walk turned into a fast trot as the team members took their strategic positions; two groups in flanked positions and a lead attack group. In their favor the dogs had nose work, group communication, pack coordination, speed, endurance and survival instinct.

The chase is on. Impala are in the area. Long shadows suggest that we are nearing sunset.

Distracted by the action of the group one of these Impala will be split off and isolated.
The dogs see the prey.
For the Impala fast and agile gets you far but the dogs are made for endurance and have the power of the pack. They use a strategy of three groups one on each side and one down the middle of the run.

Then it was a full running chase of their prey through the deep brush. The impala had no chance to outrun the pack. They had it cornered in a dense brush area where the speed and agility of the lone impala couldn’t help. We were in the chase vehicle riding over the rough terrain with no road at about 25 mph. We lost sight of them in the bush for a minute.

When we finally caught up with the lead group the impala was half consumed. The lead dogs finished eating and the remaining carcass was devoured by the other chase members of the pack. The total running and eating time was about 15 minutes. It was a sight of efficiency defying the imagination. (Faster than a drive through for a burger and fries)

The dog hunt compared to the lion hunt: (CAUTION ! If you don’t want to know, don’t read. I did not publish the more graphic scenes.)

The hunting patterns of the dogs was different from the lions in two specific ways; attack and kill. The lions arrayed the pride in a rough semicircle around the target . They had a specific female led attack crew of three that was headed by one lioness. The remaining members of the pride sat or stood watching the action and the young in the rear appeared to observe and hopefully learn. The dogs had another attack method. Their hunting team worked like a trident. The three phaylanxes approached in parallel. There were no watchers and all were running in hot pursuit. In the kill the lion grabbed from behind and brought the prey down. Then the lion bites into the throat to asphyxiate the prey. Once the catch is dead then the feast begins where the lead male to eats first. The dogs behaved differently. The first-to-catch team downs the prey and begins to eat indifferent to the kill. In this instance the prey was eaten to death. The catch was devoured boarding house rules, first-come-first-get. There was no hierarchal devision of the catch.

In the previous description of the lion hunt they were not successful. In this dog hunt they were very successful.

We were an 90 minutes from the camp and it was nearly dark already. There was no light left when we arrived.

We departed the area as the full moon was rising in the east. We began the one-hour race back to camp across the Savanna and through the woods at 45 mph to beat the setting sun. This was despite the lessening visibility, deeply rutted roads and sloppy creek bed crossings. We were to be back before total darkness. When we were two miles out of camp riding the deeply rutted road, twilight nearly over, we were nearly run over by a herd of 8 Cape buffalo running at full gallop through the dark dense woods. They crossed our road 20 feet in front of us escaping from a pride of lion in hot pursuit. Then we rolled into camp fifteen minutes late. Our driver was skillful, with quick reactions and strong hands. He could give endurance race drivers a few lessons. The dogs ate. Now it was dark as a black hole and time for our dinner.

#dogs #antelope #hunt #Africa #Kenya #Maasai Mara #Wild dogs #endangered #pack #hunt #painted dog #


Wild Dogs Journey

Wild Dogs Environment

Wild Dogs special anatomy

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2 responses to “African Wild Dogs – Hunting”

  1. nicholaswittner1069 Avatar

    This was my absolute favorite part of the safari. Great write-up. My adrenaline rushed as I continued to read. Trident yes! “Dogged precision” – you are indeed a punster.



  2. John Avatar

    When we return to Africa we can include more video with audio. That should bring it even more to life.


All Posts – Links

I have introduced a new page in the menu line of the header to act as a tool requested by several of our fellow travelers. This new page lists all of the pages and directs the viewer to the page site. Click on the tittle or image. This function a supplement to the query magnifying glass symbol. The query allows the participant to enter words that are linked to key terms in the site text’s. The magnifying glass is on the right side of the header.

The feature image shows the title block of the header.

I hope that buy expediting a review of the find this convenient.

Try it out here. Click on All Posts – Links . In the usual fashion, you can return here by clicking in the back arrow in the banner at the top of this page.

If you have further suggestions please feel free to comment in the form below.

Antelope Species of Botswana and Kenya

The antelope species make up the vast majority of Africa’s wild mammal population.* There are millions of them grazing across the land. They are vegetarian. Grazing animals consume the annual growth of the Savana and woodlands. They trim the grass, shrubs and trees. They are prey for the carnivores and spread the seeds of the plants. They are an integral part of this great ecosystem.

The feature image is a magnificent male Greater Kudu in a forested area of the Okavango Delta

These animals are part of an animal clade called Ungulates(**) because of their toes with hooves. The ungulates also have horns that are bilaterally symmetric without branches but with variations such as twists, spirals, rings and flutes. These appendages are bone covered with keratin. They are well adapted to their coarse vegetarian diet and have a specialized digestive system which allows them to digest cellulose.

They all move together in groups because safety is in numbers. Part of that behavior includes mixing with a herd of other similar grazing animals for added protection. Included in this group are Gazelle, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Eland, Reedbuck, Gerenuk, Dik-dik, Kudu (lesser & greater), Wildebeest, Ayala, Bongo, Oryx and Impala.

My first introduction to the antelopes was a charmer. The little doe wandered into our campsite and simply walked in front of me as if by magic. Fortunately, I had my camera and like it was by plan she waited and posed for me for this portraits.

Cape Bush Buck faun. This animal is usually shy but will become habituated to humans and stay near the lodge. A real cutie!

These animals had the most interesting behaviors, colors and horns. I found the Impala to be the most beautiful. They have such large eyes and their coats are gorgeous; so shiny and without any blemishes. The distinctive markings on their rumps are narrow vertical black stripes. They are also very busy. Unlike the big cats, they are always involved in some activity. Since they are grazers they eat the low grasses. This unfortunately distracts their attention and they can’t look up for dangerous prey like lions or dogs. Therefore, when you see them, there is a rotation of grazers and sentinels with their heads up. When they are chased or pursued they are extraordinarily fast and agile. When fighting for dominance in their herd they use their horns, sometimes with deadly precision.

Female Impalas (Aephyceros melampus) in wooded area of the Okavango. Note their shorter horns compared to the males.
Two male impala dueling with interlaced horns They were probably sparing and not fighting for dominance because the males were not separated from the females. Boys! Be careful when you play with those sharp things!
Male and female Impala drinking from a small creek in Maasai Mara. These antelope were everywhere. They were probably the most numerous and sometimes they herded together in groups of 50 or more.
Hoof print of an antelope. Probably Impala. Note the “split” of the keratin hoof, showing the characteristic two toes. (***)
Impala and Lesser Kudu sharing space at the riverside in Chobe National Park, Okavango, Botswana. Check out the Impala scouting the background.

Perhaps one of the remarkable features of the giant Kudu antelopes was their spiral horns. Spiraled but nearly straight, the antlers of the Kudu were the most distinguished. The white stripes of their coats were also easily recognizable.

Greater Kudo, (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) with beautifully spiraled horns
Greater Kudu mixed with a herd of Zebra in the marshland of Okavango Delta of Botswana. It was easy to identify these large animals. Birds on the bodies of the Kudu eat the insects that are a pest for the large mammal.
Tsessebe are sometimes called the “Blue Jeans antelope” because of its distinctive leg coloration.
Lechwe (Kobus leche) Standing in front of our tent in late afternoon.

During a game drive through the shallow swamp the water buck obliged us with his massive ringed horns.

Water buck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) In the Okavango Delta marsh.

If our guide had not pointed it out I would have easily missed seeing the Dik-dik. It is so small and blends so easily with the ground color that it was almost invisible. It was smaller than the tiny doe that visited the camp site on another occasion.

Dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii) Smallest of the antelope species is only18 inches tall.
Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri) standing on its hind legs eating leaves. This is a typical behavior.
Oryx (Oryx beisa) Long straight ringed horns and painted face are signature trademarks for this large animal.
Thompson’s Gazelle (Eudorcas thompsonii) Straight horns with rings dark band along the lateral aspect of the ribcage. Smaller than the Impala and the Grant’s gazelle. Almost as fast as a cheetah and very numerous.
Grant’s Gazelle (Gazella granti) (Nanger granti) White rump, straight horns and black facial patches. Beautiful dramatic evening lighting.
Hartebeest (AKA Kongoni) (Alcelaphus buselaphus) This is a very rare finding because this animal is facing imminent extinction. A five party group of them was grazing in the Maasai Mara.
Roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus). One of the largest of the antelope with a roan color or a reddish-brown coat.
Wildebeest (Connabaetes taurines). We have previously posted on this species of antelope and the Great Migration.

Along with the general mix of the population, the antelope species have an important and sometimes grim role in the African landscape. They are the object of the predators. We have already reviewed the predators of this region. Check out our blog site that describes the wild dogs of Africa.


* Uganda antelope

** What is an ungulate?

*** African Animal Tracks

#antelope #Gazelle #Bushbuck #Waterbuck #Gerenuk, #Dik-dik #Kudu #Wildebeest #Oryx #Impala #Africa #Botswana #Okavango #Kenya #Maasai Mara #horns #hoof #ungulates

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The African Great Migration and Its Significance

The last few days of our expedition gave meaning to our adventure. We were in the Kenyan Maasai Mara, thrilled by the larges animal migration of on Earth.

On the cover photo is a group of blue Wildebeest. AKA the common wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus) it is a large antelope found in Kenya and Tanzania.

One wildebeest is not photogenic. There is never just one. Tens of thousands of them live and move together as one massive organism. Hundreds of thousands of mixed species of animals move with them and between each other during the great wildebeest migration.
Migration map We were in the Maasai Mara during the last four days of August.

The Maasai Mara of Kenya is contiguous with the planes of the Serengeti National Park and the Tanzanian National Park. All are part of the Serengeti plane. These images are from the Kenyan Maasai Mara National Reserve. It was the most favorable point to observe the Great Migration when we were there. As the weather changes from dry to the rainy season the grass regrows. It is the grass which provides food for the grazing animals. This is irresistible to the wildebeest, zebra, impala, buffalo and other animals who follow this growth by the millions. The dead grass remains after the tops have been eaten to the ground or burned off. The rain brings a fresh regrowth. This regrowth replaces the razor-sharp stubble with soft young plants.

One of the most thrilling wildlife spectacles on earth was spread before us like pepper on a salad. We stopped to watch this ancient migration sight that this area supports. You can see in every direction that the savanna is covered by hundreds of thousands of animals. It is hard to comprehend that they actually number in the millions. They are visible to every horizon, slowly moving to follow the fresh growth. They meander about eating and mingling, occasionally fighting and challenging one another for mating or protecting one another from the daily challenges of survival, reproduction, and predation. For reasons unknown to us they may gallop along following some instinct or stamped when startled or frightened. It is this cumulative picture of integrated behavior based on soil, seasonal weather, prolific plant life and a massive accumulation of thousands of animal species which underscores the interdependency of this huge ecosystem.

Migrating animals wandering from one side of the horizon to the other. View of the north.

We did cross the Mara river and its tributaries where crocodiles and hippopotamuses were swimming or simply resting. The hungry crocodiles were ready at a wildebeest crossing to take advantage of the weakest or most vulnerable animals. We did not see this classical behavior but none-the-less the trap was set. Predators and scavenger animals follow this migration in the ladder of primacy with the lion at the apex.

The Mara river teeming with crocodiles waiting for the stampede.
The blue wildebeest, keystone animal of the Serengeti, Maasai Mara. Running with the group on its way into the future.

The wildebeest is the keystone animal of this ecosystem. It is the primary consumer of the grasses. It has a high reproductive rate. It is the resource upon which all of the carnivores and scavengers depend. They till and fertilize the soil. A single calf is born after 8.5-month gestation. Bands of female wildebeests are in control, leading the entire herd towards new grasslands. In the mid-20th century, the wildebeest population was decimated. The herd was cut down to one third of its normal size because of the rinderpest viruses (a variant of the measles virus). It originated and was spread from domestic livestock. As a result of loss of the grazing animals the grass lands grew uncontrolled. This over-growth subsequently changed the natural fire regime to an intense wildfire which burned nearly the entire Serengeti. This was an ecological disaster. Millions of domestic animals also died. Plant and animal species collapsed. Because of a massive human intervention including vaccination and quarantine the wildebeest population has been transformed. The Serengeti and Maasai Mara have been magnificently rewilded and the population of these animals is back to a stable 1.5 M with no disease detected in the last 8 years. Perhaps my 30 year wait to go was helpful because it allowed the wilderness more time to recover.

View to the south where the spread of animals seems endless.
Mixed wildebeest with zebra was a common observation
Animals on the move for the last hour and will probably continue for the next hour (My first video)

The sight of all these animals and the resource to feed and accommodate all of them provides a small but expanding view of the might of the ecosystem. At one time in the distant past this view would have been quite prosaic. Imagine Neanderthal or possibly the older Cro-Magnon people living with this type of annual migration. They would have been part of it. They would have been much earlier than our current view of history, but it probably looked like the American Great Basin to the First Peoples and early settlers of the Americas. We must appreciate that this area is just a few hundreds of miles from the Olduvei (Oldupai) gorge where Lewis and Mary Leakey (beginning in 1937) found fossilized hominoid remains dating back hundreds of thousands of years. (Pronconsul 25 million years old).  What were those people thinking when they saw this sight? The ancient hominoids and modern tribal peoples were and still are intimately connected with this environment. Their moment-to-moment survivals depended upon understanding this grand recipe and also the small, intimate details of their surroundings. The people of the Maasai tribe move their domesticated herds in synchrony with the wildlife, plants and rainfall. They know this because of their exposure to a multigenerational experience. They now participate in separation of their herds of domestic cattle and vaccination from Rinderpest and Foot and Mouth disease. We were so poorly prepared to comprehend systems as complex as this in just a few days.

I think that there are many lessons to be learned from this. For at least a million years hominoids and humans have learned that living in harmony with the constantly changing environment is a prerequisite to survival. The environment changes including geologic-like continental drift and volcanism. Weather changes, due to wind and rain/snow, land slides and floods, drought, temperature and storms. Species changes with mutations and natural selection. Human behavioral changes including perception and interpretation of surroundings, the value of group behavior and behavioral adaptation by creation of societies. Society changes with development of institutions like religion and governments. Behavior changes lead to exploration, discovery, invention and industrialization. The nomadic herders of today who live in near Stone Age conditions with cell phones will change. What changes will Space Age people make? We, the people of the space, information and atomic age have the ability to affect all of the aforementioned changes. We have the opportunity to do so because we live with disposable wealth and a discretionally directed time.

From the successful story of the rewilding of wildebeests in the Serengeti we have started on a new path. The wildebeest story is considered one of the most successful rewildings of our time. Rewilding efforts have been remarkably successful in Yellowstone, Spain, Argentina, Switzerland, ocean reef areas and many more. These efforts can not only save species and restore habitats but also fight the climate change crisis. Rewinding Florida is an active effort and a topic worthy of further exploration and discussion.

#Africa #wildebeest #Great Migration #migration #Maasai Mara. #Serengeti #rewilding #Mara river #stampede

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When driving across the savanna of Africa you may hear galloping of hooves behind you. Don’t expect horses. It will be zebras!

The featured image is a portrait of a plains zebra.

There are several theories about the stripes on the hides of zebras which include ease of identification for foal, camouflage, and to chase flies away. None of these are proven. So why do zebras have stripes? Because they can.

There are three subspecies of these aquus, Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi), plains zebra (Equus burchelli)  and mountain zebras. They differ in size and coloration. Grevy’s, are a subspecies sometimes found at the Maasai Mara. They are the largest, at about 900 pounds, 5 feet tall at the shoulder, and 8 feet long. Plains and mountain zebras (Equus zebra) are 1 to 2 feet shorter and about 200 pounds lighter. The Grey and mountain zebras are found in the North African regions like northern Kenya. The males and females of the same species are about the same size. The gestation period is about 13 months. These horse like animals can’t be used as draft animals, can’t be crossbred, and can’t be domesticated. They are just wild, free-spirited animals living life to the fullest and on the edge.

The Planes Zebra is the national animal of Botswana. These are by far the most frequently seen species on our safari.


Zebra in the Delta

Zebras are comfortable with drinking when giraffes watch for predators in the Delta
This little mama was about 10/13 months pregnant and was a real beauty. Her coat was shiny and unmarked and her mane was full and stiff. She looked like she just came from the beauty parlor. With pregnancy she weighs about 800 pounds. She had plenty of grass and water to sustain herself in the Okavango Delta. She was rubbing against the tree to scratch an itch. (Perhaps it was a bug bite.) Note the light brown stripes alternating with the black stripes. This marking is characteristic to the Planes Zebras.
Graves Zebra in Kenya Maasai Mara. Check out the difference in striping between the two varieties. C;oser and no brown.
Other girls in the harem in the Delta
Come to mama.
All together, the stallion, three mares and one foal with two on the way. No need to migrate in the Delta. One foal in the troop of three females and one male zebras walking and grazing their way through a wooded area of the Okavango Delta.


Zebra in the Mara

The zebra are herbivores that eat mostly grasses and some leaves. They are usually prey to the carnivores especially the big cats. The Maasai Mara has significantly less water and fewer trees than the Okavango. The zebras seen here were part of the great migration and as you will see had a different behavior. They were more social, there was more competition among the male zebras and they were co-mingled with the other grazing animals like the wildebeests and African buffalos.

These girls were in the Maasai Mara savanna and looked quite healthy.They are looking in opposite directions which helps to watch for predators. They may be Gravy’s subspecies. They were a bit larger and there were no light brown stripes alternating with the black stripes. The stripes seem to have a higher frequency on their coat.
Head butting and shoving match.
The animal on top was the winner.
Caring for the little ones is just a fact of survival.
Nothing like rolling in the dirt to keep the bugs off. (I’ll stick with my Deet.)
What if … (Photoshop is such a fun tool)
At the Naples Zoo there are a few Planes Zebras. Note the variation in stripes and colors.

Seriously …? I don’t know why I always get this pose when I try for photos of them at the zoo. Is there a message?

If I had to pick an animal that comes first to mind when I think of Africa I would be torn between the zebra and the giraffe. They are both such a visual surprise. We saw them throughout the day and in most locations. The stripes did not significantly contribute to their camouflage. As mentioned earlier the sight of many of their predators may interpret them differently than human perception. Just for fun, you should read “West With Giraffes” by Linda Rutledge

#Africa #zebra # Zoo # Botswana #Kenya #Maasai Mara # Okavango #

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6 responses to “Zebra”

  1. Hemmingway Melissa Avatar
    Hemmingway Melissa

    Beautiful Zebras! I love how they look out for each other…we saw a lot of them and it never got old! Always happy to see them


    1. John Knapp Avatar

      The zebra never got old. I was hoping to see them really run but never did.


    2. John Knapp Avatar

      I added two pictures to the Zebra blog, There is a story to them as well. they are competing for dominance and you can see some of the action. Go back to it and check it out.


  2.  Avatar

    Ode to Zebra
    Across the African shrublands,
    savannas, mountains & plains
    Stripes full of eye candy
    Flirting with nature
    A dazzle of wonder 🦓

    Thank you for the outstanding photography & catalog of knowledge John !
    J. Owen


    1. John Knapp Avatar

      JJ I love your Ode. Keep it up !!


  3. John Knapp Avatar

    I added a new image of a Grevy’s zebra. Take a look at it again!


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