Which way is home?

It’s been a month since I’ve last blogged.  I got a bit caught up in the holidays, and I’m admittedly still very much in a holiday mood, but the real world is drawing me closer.  I hope to return to some regularly scheduled posting soon.

This week, an article by the National Geographic titled “How Do Sea Turtles Find the Beach Where they Were Born?” has been trending online.  I’ve always been amazed by the fact that despite the extensive migrations made by sea turtles, they manage to return to the exact same place in which they were hatched to mate and nest.  As it turns out, scientists have now found that loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) return to these initial beaches by sensing Earth’s magnetic field.  Apparently, each beach has its own “magnetic code”.  Accordingly, however, nesting sites will shift in response to changes in this field.

The photo seen above, of a nesting green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) in Costa Rica, was taken by my friend Nathalie. How cool is that?!

An internal compass is certainly a handy navigational tool, sometimes I wish that I had one.


Holiday delights: Animal Planet

For those who haven’t heard, Animal Planet is free on Rogers this month (thank you, Santa).  Needless to say, this holiday has been a time of tea, yarn, and some serious R&R.  Speaking of which, I recently watched a TV documentary about the world’s first sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica.  Baby sloths can bring cheer to anyone’s day.  If you feel the need for some warm and fuzzies during this cold season, I suggest watching a 50 minute video of the most laid-back animals on the planet.  Seriously, I’m trying to spread the holiday cheer!

Just look at that face.

Fun fact: Sloths are pretty much always up in a tree, but for whatever reason, they come down every 7 days or so to defecate (a fact that’s probably been made famous by Zefrank).

Bottom line, I am loving Animal Planet and sloths right now.

Your vote counts! The Aviva Community Fund

Please support the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC) in the Aviva Community Fund competition!  Here is a background blurb from the KTTC website:

“Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre is a registered charity whose goal is to protect and conserve Ontario’s native turtles and the habitat in which they live. We accomplish this by operating a turtle hospital that treats, rehabilitates, and releases injured turtles, by performing extensive research in the field to further conservation initiatives, and by running a comprehensive education and outreach program.”

You can vote once every day.

—> VOTE NOW, click here! <—

Yao Ming is “standing tall to fight poaching”.

I saw this story recently, and it brought bittersweet joy to my heart.  I would definitely like to watch WildAid’s feature documentary, “The End of the Wild”.  Coincidentally, I came across this while I was skimming the news and forcing one of my friends to watch Virunga.

I’m sure that when people hear “Yao Ming”, the image that is conjured in their minds is a giant Chinese man playing basketball (occasionally, when he wasn’t injured).  Having spent a few years in China, I can speak to the fact that his star power is huge.  In a country with one billion people, that really is impressive.  In fact, even in remote, isolated villages in the mountains, you can find a basketball court.  Although, I’m unsure if this necessarily attests to the power of Yao Ming, or if basketball has always been “a thing”.  I’ve been told that it’s the former.

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I recently watched a very powerful and moving documentary.  It had all the makings of a great blockbuster, but it wasn’t at all a Hollywood film, and this was perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of it.  As I was watching, a part of me reasoned that such extreme violence, corruption, and despair could only be fiction.  Yet, Virunga depicts the lives of real people – the rangers of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Every day, these rangers risk their lives to protect Virunga, home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei), amongst many other unique species.  In a country left broken by civil war, with endless threat from poachers and militant rebel groups, this is no easy task.  In fact, as mentioned in the film, many of these rangers have lost their lives.  This documentary left me both stunned and emotionally devastated.  I actually can’t recall the last time that I was affected by something so deeply, particularly something that I have never experienced directly.  If you wish to preview a clip, or to read about, head over to the New York Times, or the documentary’s official website.  The full documentary is available on Netflix.



Last Chance to See

Last Chance to See is a wonderful BBC documentary series.  The show follows Mark Carwadine (a wildlife photographer and zoologist) and Stephen Fry as they search for animals on the brink of extinction.  Of course, all the while they are exploring the wildlife of surrounding regions.  The project was actually started by Carwadine and the late Douglas Adams in 1990 – although, it was in written format at the time.  Carwadine was interested in seeing how dynamics had changed over the past 20 years, so he decided to embark on the same journey again.  Stephen Fry had a friendship with Adams, and therefore opted to take Adam’s place as Carwadein’s partner.

Some of the moments in this show are just beautiful.

Animals covered so far include:

The Amazonian Manatee

The Amazonian Manatee

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The stinkpot and some ways to get involved in turtle conservation

The stinkpot a.k.a. Eastern musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus):

The stinkpot, or the Eastern Musk turtle is definitely one of the smallest turtles out there.  At most, it can reach about 13 cm, the average sized female is 8 cm (33).  You may be curious as to where the “stinkpot” got its charming nickname from.  Well, you probably guessed it, but the stinkpot emits a funky, musky odour from glands at the bottom of its shell.  If you are familiar with our furry black and white friend, the skunk, you also probably know not to go near it.   Same idea applies here, the stinkpot’s scent is emitted when it gets stressed out and scared.  Stinkpots are usually very dark in appearance, as seen in the above picture.

They’re very shy creatures, so that makes them a bit hard to research.  I tried to post a video of these turtles, but all I could find were videos of dark circles zipping around in murky water.  They are nocturnal, meaning that they usually go about their business at night.  During the day they prefer to hide out in the mud.  The stinkpot prefers to live in areas with quiet, shallow waters.  They will walk along freshwater bottoms and go probing for food with their heads.  These turtles are highly aquatic and don’t really do too well on land since they can dry up easily (33).  Their distribution in Ontario can be found below:

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