Coral Reef / Great Barrier Reef / Australia / HRHDTV

 

 

 

What are Coral Reefs ?

 

 

Appearing as solitary forms in the fossil record more than 400 million years ago, corals are extremely ancient animals that evolved into modern reef-building forms over the last 25 million years. Coral reefs are unique (e.g., the largest structures on earth of biological origin) and complex systems. Rivaling old growth forests in longevity of their ecological communities, well-developed reefs reflect thousands of years of history (Turgeon and Asch, in press).

 

 

Corals and their Kind

 

Corals are anthozoans, the largest class of organisms within the phylum Cnidaria. Comprising over 6,000 known species, anthozoans also include sea fans, sea pansies and anemones. Stony corals (scleractinians) make up the largest order of anthozoans, and are the group primarily responsible for laying the foundations of, and building up, reef structures. For the most part, scleractinians are colonial organisms composed of hundreds to hundreds of thousands of individuals, called polyps (Barnes, R.D., 1987; Lalli and Parsons, 1995).

 

 

As members of the phylum Cnidaria, corals have only a limited degree of organ development. Each polyp consists of three basic tissue layers: an outer epidermis, an inner layer of cells lining the gastrovascular cavity which acts as an internal space for digestion, and a layer called the mesoglea in between (Barnes, R.D., 1987).

 

 

Structure of a typical coral polyp. All coral polyps share two basic structural features with other members of their phylum. The first is a gastrovascular cavity that opens at only one end. At the opening to this cavity, commonly called the mouth, food is consumed and some waste products are expelled. A second feature all corals possess is a circle of tentacles, extensions of the body wall that surround the mouth. Tentacles help the coral to capture and ingest plankton for food, clear away debris from the mouth, and act as the animal’s primary means of defense (Barnes, R.D., 1987; Levinton, 1995).

 

While coral polyps have structurally simple body plans, they possess several distinctive cellular structures. One of these is called a cnidocyte—a type of cell unique to, and characteristic of, all cnidarians. Found throughout the tentacles and epidermis, cnidocytes contain organelles called cnidae, which include nematocysts, a type of stinging cell. Because nematocytes are capable of delivering powerful, often lethal toxins, they are essential to capturing prey, and facilitate coralline agonistic interactions (Barnes, R.D., 1987).

 

Most corals, like other cnidarians, contain a symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae, within their gastrodermal cells. The coral provides the algae with a protected environment and the compounds necessary for photosynthesis. These include carbon dioxide, produced by coral respiration, and inorganic nutrients such as nitrates, and phosphates, which are metabolic waste products of the coral. In return, the algae produce oxygen and help the coral to remove wastes. Most importantly, they supply the coral with organic products of photosynthesis. These compounds, including glucose, glycerol, and amino acids, are utilized by the coral as building blocks in the manufacture of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, as well as the synthesis of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). The mutual exchange of algal photosynthates and cnidarian metabolites is the key to the prodigious biological productivity and limestone-secreting capacity of reef building corals (Barnes, R.D., 1987; Barnes, R.S.K. and Hughes, 1999; Lalli and Parsons, 1995; Levinton, 1995; Sumich, 1996).

 

Zooxanthellae often are critical elements in the continuing health of reef-building corals. As much as 90% of the organic material they manufacture photosynthetically is transferred to the host coral tissue (Sumich, 1996). If these algal cells are expelled by the polyps, which can occur if the colony undergoes prolonged physiological stress, the host may die shortly afterwards. The symbiotic zooxanthellae also confers its color to the polyp. If the zooxanthellae are expelled, the colony takes on a stark white appearance, which is commonly described as “coral bleaching” (Barnes, R.S.K. and Hughes, 1999; Lalli and Parsons, 1995).

 

Massive reef structures are formed when each stony coral polyp secretes a skeleton of CaCO3. Most stony corals have very small polyps, averaging 1 to 3 mm in diameter, but entire colonies can grow very large and weigh several tons. Although all corals secrete CaCO3, not all are reef builders. Some corals, such as Fungia sp., are solitary and have single polyps that can grow as large as 25 cm in diameter. Other coral species are incapable of producing sufficient quantities of CaCO3 to form reefs. Many of these corals do not rely on the algal metabolites produced by zooxanthellae, and live in deeper and/or colder waters beyond the geographic range of most reef systems (Barnes, R.D., 1987; Sumich, 1996).

 

The skeletons of stony corals are secreted by the lower portion of the polyp. This process produces a cup, called the calyx, in which the polyp sits. The walls surrounding the cup are called the theca, and the floor is called the basal plate. Thin, calcareous septa (sclerosepta), which provide structural integrity, protection, and an increased surface area for the polyp’s soft tissues, extend upward from the basal plate and radiate outward from its center. Periodically, a polyp will lift off its base and secrete a new floor to its cup, forming a new basal plate above the old one. This creates a minute chamber in the skeleton. While the colony is alive, CaCO3 is deposited, adding partitions and elevating the coral. When polyps are physically stressed, they contract into the calyx so that virtually no part is exposed above the skeletal platform. This protects the organism from predators and the elements (Barnes, R.D., 1987; Sumich, 1996).

 

lli and Parsons, 1995; Sumich, 1996).

 

 

 

 

 

Major coral reef sites are seen as red dots on this world map. Most of the reefs, with a few exceptions are found in tropical and semitropical waters, between 30° north and 30° south latitudes.

At other times, the polyp extends out of the calyx. The timing and extent to which a polyp extends from its protective skeleton often depends on the time of the day, as well as the species of coral. Most polyps extend themselves furthest when they feed on plankton at night.

 

In addition to a substantial horizontal component, the polyps of colonial corals are connected laterally to their neighbors by a thin horizontal sheet of tissue called the coenosarc, which covers the limestone between the calyxes. Together, polyps and coenosarc constitute a thin layer of living tissue over the block of limestone they have secreted. Thus, the living colony lies entirely above the skeleton (Barnes, R.S.K. and Hughes, 1999).

 

 

Colonies of reef-building (hermatypic) corals exhibit a wide range of shapes, but most can be classified within ten general forms. Branching corals have branches that also have (secondary) branches. Digitate corals look like fingers or clumps of cigars and have no secondary branches. Table corals are table-like structures of fused branches. Elkhorn coral has large, flattened branches. Foliose corals have broad plate-like portions rising above the substrate. Encrusting corals grow as a thin layer against the substrate. Submassive corals have knobs, columns or wedges protruding from an encrusting base. Massive corals are ball-shaped or boulder-like corals which may be small as an egg or large as a house. Mushroom corals resemble the attached or unattached tops of mushrooms. Cup corals look like egg cups or cups that have been squashed, elongated or twisted (McManus et al. 1997). While the growth patterns of stony coral colonies are primarily species-specific, a colony’s geographic location, environmental factors (e.g., wave action, temperature, light exposure), and the density of surrounding corals may affect and/or alter the shape of the colony as it grows (Barnes, R.D. 1987; Barnes, R.S.K. and Hughes 1999, Lalli and Parsons, 1995).

 

In addition to affecting the shape of a colony’s growth, environmental factors influence the rates at which various species of corals grow. One of the most significant factors is sunlight. On sunny days, the calcification rates of corals can be twice as fast as on cloudy days (Barnes, R.S.K. and Hughes, 1999). This is likely a function of the symbiotic zooxanthellae algae, which play a unique role in enhancing the corals’ ability to synthesize calcium carbonate. Experiments have shown that rates of calcification slow significantly when zooxanthellae are removed from corals, or when corals are kept in shade or darkness (Lalli and Parsons 1995).

 

Image of coral core samples

Coral core samples reveal horizontal growth lines.

In general, massive corals tend to grow slowly, increasing in size from 0.5 cm to 2 cm per year. However, under favorable conditions (high light exposure, consistent temperature, moderate wave action), some species can grow as much as 4.5 cm per year. In contrast to the massive species, branching colonies tend to grow much faster. Under favorable conditions, these colonies can grow vertically by as much as 10 cm per year. This fast growth rate is not as advantageous as it may seem, however. Mechanical constraints limit the maximum size that branching corals can achieve. As they become larger, a heavier load is placed on the relatively small area attached to the substratum, rendering the colony increasingly unstable. Under these circumstances, the branches are prone to snapping off during strong wave action. The opposite is true of the massive-shaped corals, which become more stable as they grow larger (Barnes, R.S.K. and Hughes, 1999).

 

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Reef-building corals are restricted in their geographic distribution. This is because the algal-cnidarian symbiotic machinery needs a narrow and consistent band of environmental conditions to produce the copious quantities of limestone necessary for reef formation. The formation of highly consolidated reefs only occur where the temperature does not fall below 18°C for extended periods of time. This specific temperature restriction -18°C- does not, however, apply to the corals themselves. In Japan, where this has been studied in detail, approximately half of all coral species occur where the sea temperature regularly falls to 14°C an approximately 25% occur where it falls to 11°C (Veron 2000). Many grow optimally in water temperatures between 23° and 29°C, but some can tolerate temperatures as high as 40°C for limited periods of time. Most require very salty (saline) water ranging from 32 to 42 parts per thousand. The water must also be clear to permit high light penetration. The corals’ requirement for high light also explains why most reef-building species are restricted to the euphotic (light penetration) zone, approximately 70 m (Lalli and Parsons, 1995).

 

 

Generally, there are about twice as many coral species in Pacific Ocean reefs, such as this Fagatele Bay reef, as in Atlantic Ocean reefs.

The number of species of corals on a reef declines rapidly in deeper water. High levels of suspended sediments can smother coral colonies, clogging their mouths which can impair feeding. Suspended sediments can also serve to decrease the depth to which light can penetrate. In colder regions, murkier waters, or at depths below 70 m, corals may still exist on hard substrates, but their capacity to secrete limestone is greatly reduced (Barnes, R.D., 1987).

 

In light of such stringent environmental restrictions, reefs generally are confined to tropical and semitropical waters. The diversity of reef corals, i.e., the number of species, decreases in higher latitudes up to about 30° north and south, beyond which reef corals are usually not found. Bermuda, at 32° north latitude, is an exception to this rule because it lies directly in the path of the Gulf Stream’s warming waters (Barnes, R.D., 1987).

 

Another factor that seems to affect the diversity of reef-building corals is the ocean in which they are located. At least 500 reef-building species are known to exist in the waters of the Indo-Pacific region. In comparison, the Atlantic Ocean contains approximately 62 known species. The fossil record shows that many species once found across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans gradually went extinct in the Atlantic, where the affects of ice ages had strong impacts on the Caribbean area wherein most of the Atlantic reefs reside. Following the closure of the seaway between the Caribbean and the Pacific, several species of corals became restricted to the Caribbean (Veron 2000).

 

  

All three reef types—fringing, barrier and atoll—share similarities in their biogeographic profiles.Bottom topography, depth, wave and current strength, light, temperature, and suspended sediments all act to create characteristic horizontal and vertical zones of corals, algae and other species. While these zones vary according to the location and type of reef, the major divisions common to most reefs, as they move seaward from the shore, are the reef flat, reef crest or algal ridge, buttress zone, and seaward slope.

 

 

The reef flat, or back reef, is located on the sheltered side of the reef. It extends outward from the shore; and may be highly variable in character. Varying in width from 20 or 30 meters to more than a few thousand, the reef flat may range from only a few centimeters to a few meters deep, and large parts may be exposed at low tide. The substrate is formed of coral rock and loose sand. Beds of sea grasses often develop in the sandy regions, and both encrusting and filamentous algae are common.

 

The reef crest, or algal ridge, is the highest point of the reef, and is exposed at low tide. Lying on the outer side of the reef, it is exposed to the full fury of incoming waves. The width of this zone typically varies from a few, to perhaps 50 m. In this severe habitat, a few species of encrusting calcareous red algae flourish, producing new reef material as rapidly as the waves erode it. Where wave action is severe, living corals are practically nonexistent, but in situations of more moderate wave action, the reef crest tends to be dominated by stoutly branching corals. These closely growing, robust colonies form ramparts able to withstand the heavy seas. Small crabs, shrimps, cowries and other animals reside in the labyrinthine subsurface cavities of the reef crest, protected from waves and predators (Barnes, R.D., 1987; Lalli and Parsons, 1995; Sumich, 1996).

 

 

The outermost seaward slope (also called the fore-reef) extends from the low-tide mark into deep water. Just below the low-tide mark to approximately 20 m depth is a rugged zone of spurs, or buttresses, radiating out from the reef. Deep channels that slope down the reef face are interspersed between the buttresses. These alternating spurs and channels may be several meters wide and up to 300 m long (Barnes, R.D. 1987; Lalli and Parsons, 1995; Sumich, 1996).

 

The buttress zone serves two main purposes in the reef system. First, it acts to dissipate the tremendous force of unabating waves and stabilizes the reef structure. Second, the channels between the buttresses drain debris and sediment off the reef and into deeper water. Massive corals and encrusting coralline algae thrive in this zone of breaking waves, intense sunlight, and abundant oxygen. Small fish inhabit the many holes and crevices on this portion of the reef, and many larger fish including sharks, jacks, barracudas and tunas patrol the buttresses and grooves in search of food (Barnes, R.D., 1987; Lalli and Parsons, 1995; Sumich, 1996).

 

 

The dropoff of a reef slope can extend hundreds of feet downward.

 

 

Continuing down the seaward slope to about 20 m, optimal light intensity decreases, but reduced wave action allows the maximum number of coral species to develop. Beginning at approximately 30 to 40 m, sediments accumulate on the gentle slope, and corals become patchy in distribution. Sponges, sea whips, sea fans, and ahermatypic (non-reef-building) corals become increasingly abundant and gradually replace hermatypic corals in deeper, darker water (Barnes, R.D., 1987; La

 

 

Whales on Planet Earth & Biosphere in the Ocean

 

The critically-endangered blue whale — the largest animal known to have ever existed — has returned to the waters near the remote island of South Georgia near Antarctica, almost 100 years after the mega-mammal was nearly made extinct by industrial whaling.

Researchers say a recent survey of the waters around the sub-Antarctic island — a center for industrial whaling until it was banned in the 1960s — recorded dozens of blue whales where only a single whale had been seen between 1998 and 2018.

"We've had indications in previous years that there might be more blue whales starting to come back to South Georgia," marine mammal ecologist Susannah Calderan told Live Science. "But we were very favorably surprised by quite how many we did see this year."

Calderan, a research fellow at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), is the lead author of a study into the resurgence of blue whales near South Georgia published Thursday (Nov. 19) in the journal Endangered Species Research.

 

In January and February this year, she was on board the New Zealand research ship Braveheart for an expedition into the waters around South Georgia led by whale biologist Jen Jackson of the British Antarctic Survey, a co-author of the new research.

The scientists, she said, were amazed to find numerous blue whales in a region where they were once eradicated — — 38 sightings on the surface over a few weeks, comprising a total of 58 individual whales, along with many acoustic detections by "sonobuoys" equipped to monitor underwater whale songs.

outh Georgia is the largest island in a remote South Atlantic archipelago, known as South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. 

The island is about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) from the coast of Antarctica, but it is situated within the Antarctic convergence — the hydrological boundary between the cold waters around Antarctica and the warmer waters farther north.

 

It's now only inhabited by people for a few months every summer, but South Georgia had a prominent role in the history of Antarctic exploration.

In the early 20th century, it became a center for industrial whaling — effectively the "Ground Zero" of whaling, first for humpbacks, and later for blue whales.

Related: 50 of the most endangered species on the planet

According to Calderan's study, more than 42,000 blue whales were killed around South Georgia between 1904 and 1971, most of them before the mid-1930s. "In the early 1900s, South Georgia waters thronged with blue whales; within a little over 30 years, they were all but gone," the researchers wrote.

 

"It was just a matter of luck that they weren't wiped out altogether," Calderan said. "By the end of whaling, it was estimated that blue whale populations were 0.15% of their pre-whaling levels. They couldn't have hung on much longer."

Although populations of blue whales have been increasing in other parts of the Antarctic in recent decades, the majestic ocean dwellers were almost unseen in the waters around South Georgia until the recent expedition, she said.

Whale resurgence

The near-extinction of blue whales around South Georgia in the early 20th century may have resulted in the loss of their "cultural memory" of the abundance there of Antarctic krill — tiny swimming crustaceans found in huge swarms in the Southern Ocean and the only food of blue whales.Knowledge of whale feeding grounds may be passed on from mother whales to their calves. "There was a cultural memory, maybe, of animals that used to come to South Georgia that was lost because they were wiped out," Calderan said. "They couldn't pass on the knowledge of the feeding grounds because there weren't any of them left."

 

But the evidence of the recent survey suggested at least some blue whales have rediscovered South Georgia's abundance of krill.

"I think we may well be seeing evidence of site fidelity to certain feeding areas, which would be an explanation for why [blue whale] numbers started recovering in the wider Antarctic, but has taken longer to recover at South Georgia," Calderan said.

 

The increase in blue whales around South Georgia comes after BAS research indicating the population of humpback whales in the region has also increased — like blue whales, humpbacks were all but driven to extinction by industrial whaling.

 

"It's a good sign," Calderan said. "This was an area that was particularly hard hit by whaling, and it is really encouraging that we're starting to see whales there again."

 

Originally published on Live Science. 

 

Protokollierung & Edit Just Release  / 10 Hour Whale Sea Creature Documentary with Spiritual Music & Great Pristine Beauty View on the Ocean

 

 

Imagine yourself floating freely in a clear, tropical ocean. Through this liquid universe moves Earth’s largest, most majestic and graceful creatures.

You are immersed in the mystical blue world of humpback whales, sperm whales, and blue whales.

Whales roam throughout all of the world's oceans, communicating with complex and mysterious sounds. Their sheer size amazes us: the blue whale can reach lengths of more than 100 feet and weigh up to 200 tons—as much as 33 elephants.

Despite living in the water, whales breathe air. And like humans, they are warm-blooded mammals who nurse their young. A thick layer of fat called blubber insulates them from cold ocean waters.

Some whales are known as baleen whales, including blue, right, bowhead, sei, and gray whales. This refers to the fact that they have special bristle-like structures in their mouths (called baleen) that strain food from the water. Other whales, such as beluga or sperm whales, have teeth.

 

Whales are at the top of the food chain and have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment. Whales play a significant role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere; each great whale sequesters an estimated 33 tons of CO2 on average, thus playing their part in the fight against climate change.

Unfortunately, their large size and mythical aura does not protect them; six out of the 13 great whale species are classified as endangered or vulnerable, even after decades of protection. An estimated minimum of 300,000 whales and dolphins are killed each year as a result of fisheries bycatch, while others succumb to a myriad of threats including shipping and habitat loss.

 

Despite a moratorium on commercial whaling and a ban on international trade of whale products, three countries—Iceland, Japan, and Norway—continue their commercial whale hunts. Over 1,000 whales a year are killed for such commercial purposes. The blue whale, the largest animal ever known to have existed, was almost exterminated in the 20th century due to commercial whaling.

 

The United States and other International Whaling Commission (IWC) member countries have tried for years to persuade Iceland, Japan, and Norway to end their whaling as it undermines the effectiveness of the commission's commercial whaling ban. However, in 2019, Japan chose to walk away from the IWC and now conducts commercial whaling in its own territorial waters, outside of any international controls.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE

Warming oceans and loss of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic can affect the habitats and food of whales. Large patches of tiny plants and animals that they feed on will likely move or change in abundance as climate change alters seawater temperature, winds, and ocean currents. These changes can mean whales such as humpbacks and blues may have to migrate much further to reach feeding grounds, leaving them with less time to forage for food. The shift in food availability due to climate fluctuations has already hurt the reproductive rates of the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

 

NON Whale Affiliated 

A turtle steping forwardly & looking just great / A Tortoise which is maybe in juvenile age / Corpulent the solid shell on the back /  Beautifully animalistic creature & sightseeing for us humans
A turtle steping forwardly & looking just great / A Tortoise which is maybe in juvenile age / Corpulent the solid shell on the back / Beautifully animalistic creature & sightseeing for us humans

WHEN WILL DILLMAN’S phone started ringing shortly before lunch on August 14, he thought nothing of it. But the news was big. Fifty miles from the biologist’s office in South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources, state law enforcement officers had happened upon Nathan Horton, a notorious turtle trapper and trafficker, hiding out in a storage shed. Nearby, they found more than 200 live turtles.

 

Earlier that morning the officers had gone out to Chester County to question Terry Dewayne Lucas, an associate of Horton’s, about illegal shipments of eastern box turtles sent outside the state. But when they arrived at Lucas’s house, they discovered a boat from Louisiana parked in the yard—filled with turtle traps.

 

“We knew from past investigation case work that Mr. Horton had some dealings/operated in Louisiana,” wrote Robert McCullough, a spokesman for the law enforcement team at the Department of Natural Resources, in Columbia, in an email. “He was last seen/known to be using a boat from Louisiana.” During questioning, the Lucas family revealed that Horton was in the shed.

The officer who’d called Dillman urged him to come out quickly to identify the turtles and care for them. It was a sweltering day, and the reptiles were clearly dehydrated and malnourished.

This was Dillman’s fourth or fifth such call since he’d started working at the natural resources department in 2013. “Thankfully, these are rare,” he says. “When you find one of these cases, it makes you wonder: How much more is out there that we’re not catching?”

 

Possibly a lot. It’s hard to pin down the scale of the pet trade in wild-caught U.S. turtles, experts say, but U.S. law enforcement probes have turned up an increasing number of big turtle trafficking cases in recent years. In each, the poachers and sellers have been responsible for helping transfer large numbers of turtles across states borders and on to Asia. Ryan Bessey, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent who’s been focusing on the exotic turtle trade, says demand for these animals in Asia “has skyrocketed in the last five to ten years.” According to Bessey, North American species, including diamondback terrapins, box turtles, spotted turtles, and wood turtles seem to be particularly popular in the Asian exotic pet trade.Court documents suggest that Horton’s operation alone may have helped smuggle hundreds—if not thousands—of American turtles to China. According to surveillance footage and records obtained by law enforcement, the turtles were shipped from Atlanta to Los Angeles and onward to Guangzhou, in southern China. (It’s legal in the U.S. to trap and sell some turtle species domestically or export them abroad with proper paperwork, but state laws typically cap the trapping numbers. South Carolina doesn’t allow commercial-scale trapping at all.)

 

More recently, on October 18, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced that during a six-month period, two alleged poachers had illegally taken more than 4,000 turtles from the state’s waters. One of the suspects had been selling his catch to a buyer with links to Asian markets, according to the commission. The men’s catch included Florida box turtles, eastern box turtles, and several other species. (It’s illegal in Florida to sell wild turtles.)

“Wild turtle populations cannot sustain the level of harvest that took place here,” said Brooke Talley, the reptile and amphibian conservation coordinator for the commission, in a statement. “This will likely have consequences for the entire ecosystem.”

Back in South Carolina, when Dillman arrived at Lucas’s property, he found 216 eastern box turtles. A few had already succumbed to the harsh conditions. To revive the rest, Dillman soaked them in water and gave them snacks such as strawberries, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Despite that, he says, five more died.

 

Revered reptiles

“Much of Asia has always revered turtles for longevity and traditional Chinese medicine,” says Eric Goode, founder of the Turtle Conservancy. Now, with newfound wealth in the region, he says, turtles are just another rare, coveted item to collect, like wine, fine art, and cars. Demand has already wiped out large numbers of native turtles in Asia, making American turtles even more attractive, experts say. (Learn more about turtle trafficking in Southeast Asia.)

Court documents, interviews with turtle experts, and studies point to China and Hong Kong as primary destinations for trafficked American turtles. Still, other Asian nations—Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia—are also popular markets for pet turtles. “The Asian turtle market is taking turtles out of Africa, Mexico, South America”—not just the U.S., adds Goode, who does surveys of turtles for sale at markets in Indonesia, Thailand, China, and Japan.

A 2018 analysis of the global conservation status of turtles and tortoises puts the problem in East Asia in stark terms: “An unsustainable turtle trade has gradually spread and expanded, first regionally and then globally, as wild turtle populations have been sequentially exploited, with many rendered commercially and ecologically extinct.” The Chinese three-striped box turtle, for example, is almost extinct in the wild, a victim of its popularity in the pet trade and for meat and traditional medicine. The Chinese box turtle, sometimes called the yellow-margined box turtle, is endangered for the same reasons. Willem Roosenburg, a turtle expert at Ohio University in Athens and the president of the Herpetologists League, says diamondback terrapins—caught in the past for meat consumption in soup—are now also being trapped and sent to Hong Kong and China for the exotic pet industry. Beyond poaching, turtles face other serious threats in the U.S., including mortality in crab pots, habitat loss, and predation by racoon and foxes.

 

Turtle poaching is particularly worrying to the Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation biologists. That’s because adult turtles are targeted—hatchlings are harder to find, says Kurt Buhlmann, a senior research associate at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. And, he says, as few as 10 to 25 percent of hatchlings may survive their first year in the wild. Because popularly targeted adult species can take five years or more to reach reproductive age, drawing down adult populations for the pet market could cause a species to collapse quickly—perhaps even before biologists and law enforcement become fully aware of the problem, Dillman says. “It could represent local extirpations for these species.” Buhlmann is now caring for the eastern box turtles seized from Nathan Horton and hopes to find out more about where they came from and whether they’re disease-free—prerequisites for possible reintroduction into the wild.

 

 Playing catch-up

 

U.S. law enforcement agencies have been trying to coordinate across state lines to reduce illicit turtle sales. But, as Bessey says, because it’s a black market trade, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to know its total scale: “We are not seeing the total number of turtles being trafficked.” Moreover, the lack of federal and state enforcement officers relative to the vast areas and myriad water bodies available to poachers makes the prospect of shutting down illicit sales seem a distant prospect.

 

Turtle Especially Tortoise Walking Through A Sandy Geoecologically Clearance & Operating Very Cultivated & Resilient With It's Shell & Physics / Tortoises Are Pristine / Name Raffaelo
Turtle Especially Tortoise Walking Through A Sandy Geoecologically Clearance & Operating Very Cultivated & Resilient With It's Shell & Physics / Tortoises Are Pristine / Name Raffaelo

 

Global turtle demand has even made conservationists cautious about discussing locations of turtle populations at academic conferences or in published papers. (Poachers have been known to mine the academic literature for clues about potential targets.) Jacqueline Litzgus, a biology professor at Laurentian University, in Ontario, Canada, says she won’t even discuss vague geographic details at meetings.

 

At one of her Ontario study sites for wood turtles in the mid-1990s, she says, some “70 percent” of the turtles disappeared in just one or two years after a student did a thesis paper on them, which the poachers may have been able to obtain. No one ever found any turtle carcasses, Litzgus says, so she and her colleagues surmised that poaching—not disease—was to blame.

When turtle traffickers are caught, they’re typically charged with conspiracy to smuggle wildlife or with contravention of the Lacey Act, a federal statute that prohibits capture or sale of any species taken in violation of U.S., Native American, or foreign laws. Violations of the Lacey Act can lead to fines of up to $20,000, imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

 

Recent turtle busts have resulted in notable prison sentences—a rarity for wildlife crimes. In 2016, Kai Xu was sentenced to 57 months in prison by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after he pleaded guilty to smuggling protected turtle species from the U.S. to China. Steven Baker, who led a syndicate trafficking various protected species between the U.S. and China, was apprehended in South Carolina in 2018 and sentenced in March 2019 to 27 months in prison.

 

Beginning in 2015, Ryan Bessey led an investigation into another prolific turtle trafficker, retired journalist David Sommers, who, over many years, trapped thousands of diamondback terrapins in New Jersey for sale to buyers engaged in smuggling the animals to Asia. When law enforcement officers arrested him, in July 2018, he told them that he’d sold roughly a thousand diamondback terrapins a year to buyers in the U.S. and Canada, netting him between $50,000 and $75,000. His clients included people known to ship the turtles to Asia, Bessey says.

 

Two months ago Sommers pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act when he falsely labeled packages containing the protected animals. He was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to six months imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 in restitution to the state of New Jersey.

 

When the officers searched his house, in 2018, they recovered more than 3,000 diamondback terrapin hatchlings and almost two dozen box turtles, according to court records. They also found oxytocin, a drug used to induce labor in humans—and known to cause female turtles to release their eggs.

 

“He would take the turtles back to his home in Pennsylvania, and rather than let them naturally progress to a point where they were able to lay or drop their eggs, he would inject them with oxytocin,” Bessey says. “Once they then laid their eggs, he would sell off the adult females—a red flag because a legitimate breeder wouldn’t sell off his breeding stock.”

When turtle traffickers are caught, they’re typically charged with conspiracy to smuggle wildlife or with contravention of the Lacey Act, a federal statute that prohibits capture or sale of any species taken in violation of U.S., Native American, or foreign laws. Violations of the Lacey Act can lead to fines of up to $20,000, imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

 

Recent turtle busts have resulted in notable prison sentences—a rarity for wildlife crimes. In 2016, Kai Xu was sentenced to 57 months in prison by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after he pleaded guilty to smuggling protected turtle species from the U.S. to China. Steven Baker, who led a syndicate trafficking various protected species between the U.S. and China, was apprehended in South Carolina in 2018 and sentenced in March 2019 to 27 months in prison.

 

Beginning in 2015, Ryan Bessey led an investigation into another prolific turtle trafficker, retired journalist David Sommers, who, over many years, trapped thousands of diamondback terrapins in New Jersey for sale to buyers engaged in smuggling the animals to Asia. When law enforcement officers arrested him, in July 2018, he told them that he’d sold roughly a thousand diamondback terrapins a year to buyers in the U.S. and Canada, netting him between $50,000 and $75,000. His clients included people known to ship the turtles to Asia, Bessey says.

 

Tortoise On a Shore of a Ocean / Shell Really Embedded With Sandy Particles / Civilization of A Fauna & Animalistic View Just Formidable & Nature Splendid / Let's Name this Turle Leonardo
Tortoise On a Shore of a Ocean / Shell Really Embedded With Sandy Particles / Civilization of A Fauna & Animalistic View Just Formidable & Nature Splendid / Let's Name this Turle Leonardo

 

Two months ago Sommers pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act when he falsely labeled packages containing the protected animals. He was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to six months imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 in restitution to the state of New Jersey.

 

When the officers searched his house, in 2018, they recovered more than 3,000 diamondback terrapin hatchlings and almost two dozen box turtles, according to court records. They also found oxytocin, a drug used to induce labor in humans—and known to cause female turtles to release their eggs.

 

“He would take the turtles back to his home in Pennsylvania, and rather than let them naturally progress to a point where they were able to lay or drop their eggs, he would inject them with oxytocin,” Bessey says. “Once they then laid their eggs, he would sell off the adult females—a red flag because a legitimate breeder wouldn’t sell off his breeding stock.”

Sommers admitted to law enforcement that in addition to illegally collecting terrapin eggs and female turtles from New Jersey’s shores for “five to 15 years” (as stated in his plea agreement) and selling off the females days after they laid their eggs, he falsely claimed to be a turtle breeder, allowing him to appear legitimate and sell the poached turtles as “captive-bred.”

 

As court documents note, what he really did was pluck turtles from the wild, sell off their eggs, and then ship the remaining turtles to clients via the U.S. postal service or FedEx in socks or pouches, after first taping their legs to restrict their movement.

 

Repeat offender

Nathan Horton’s illegal turtle trapping activities first came to the attention of law enforcement in 2016 in Georgia. Federal court documents state that he was apprehended trapping turtles on Lake Jackson, a reservoir 45 miles southeast of Atlanta. Horton admitted that he was a commercial turtle collector and had a thousand active turtle traps on the lake. He said the turtles were shipped to a Californian buyer who then exported them to China. He was given a fine of $300 for using illegal traps.

 

But that didn’t deter Horton. A year later, he bought 46 turtles from undercover officers in Georgia. (The turtles had been implanted with transponders to help track them.) According to law enforcement, Horton told the undercover officers not to worry that the catch was illegal—if they were found out, he assured, the fines would be no worse than a “speeding ticket.”

 

About a week later, on August 20, 2017, Horton dropped off hundreds of turtles—including some bought from the undercover agents—for a flight to Los Angeles. Accompanied by fraudulent paperwork, they were then flown to Guangzhou, China. The illegal shipments were documented in surveillance footage and records, but court documents make no mention of any action against Horton for this incident.

Then, on August 21, Georgia law enforcement officers did cite Horton—this time for illegally placing traps on Lake Blackshear, about 150 miles south of Atlanta. The penalties: fines of about $4,350. It’s unclear whether Horton has paid that sum, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, which is handling his overall prosecution, declined to comment on these violations or provide further details about his case. After that 2017 incident, law enforcement lost track of him, according to McCullough, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources spokesman.

That is until his arrest in South Carolina this August. Once again, Horton admitted to crimes related to turtles. According to the official law enforcement report, he said he’d been selling more than 20 eastern box turtles a year. It’s a misdemeanor in South Carolina to remove more than 10 eastern box turtles at a time, or more than 20 in a year, and the penalty is a fine of up to $200, up Horton’s arrest warrant, however, didn’t mention the misdemeanor. Instead it cited more serious charges, including that allegedly he violated the Lacey Act and engaged in interstate transport and sale of stolen property. His full charges and court date have not yet been set, and his court-appointed lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Fish and Wildlife’s Bessey says there’s a fine line between spurring interest in turtles and making sure that the enthusiasm doesn’t encourage people to take them from the wild. “There are threats around every corner for turtles,” he says.

 

“Even posting a photograph of one of these turtles, if taken with an iPhone, is a problem because it has an embedded latitude and longitude,” Ohio University’s Roosenburg says.

 

“Let turtles be,” Bessey adds. “Don’t grab a turtle you see crossing the road and take him home—just put him on the other side of the road in the direction he was going.”to 30 days in jail, or both.

 

Protokollierung 04.11.2021  /Cyprus Geoecology & Drone Technology Sites / Ocean Waves from the shore just coast is shaking in heaven just Reiki

 

Cyprus / Geoecology / Portrayal Drone Technologically Use & Aerial Shot just Aeronautically View on Cyprus Countryside & Civilization just Geoecology from Republic of Cyprus / Reiki Music

 

Cyprus Drone Flight: The Republic of Cyprus occupies the southern part of the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. The island (and capital city Nicosia) is divided with Turkey to the north. Known for beaches, it also has a rugged interior with wine regions. Coastal Paphos is famed for its archaeological sites relating to the cult of Aphrodite, including ruins of palaces, tombs and mosaic-tiled villas. Southern coastal city Limassol is the site of medieval Limassol Castle and an Old Port. Cypriots have been cultivating wine since the Bronze Age, and many wineries are based in and around Limassol.

 

Some vineyards occupy the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains, home to pine-cedar forests, painted Byzantine churches and ski resorts. The western Akamas Peninsula National Park is a rugged area for hiking and mountain biking, with beaches accessible by off-road vehicles. There are more accessible beaches in places like Ayia Napa and Protaras in the east. [Source: wikipedia // Google]

 

Among others, you will see following places by Drone (Keywords): Cyprus, Republic of Cyprus, Mediterranean, Island, Nicosia, Capital, City, Wutrkey, Greece, Beaches, Paphos, Archeological, Aphrodite, Palace, Tomb, Limassol, Castle, Old, Port, Cypriots, Wine, Bronze, Age, Vineyard, Troodos, Waterfall, Mountain, Akamas, Peninsula, National, Park

 

Cyprus is a beautifully country which is offering a lot of pristine Sites in it's own element. Below is a video & representation of a drone technologically appliances which is filming the whole mountains & lanes just passing water enviromental area of it's pristine sides- This country has a lot to offer. Short video of 5 Min is eventually by the world wished water color very attractive for tourism & leading splendid water isles just archipelago. This land & state has even more to offer. This unique greenery from the countryside is very impressive & formidable as well as full of spots & firs in some segment as well as sequels.

 

This resort states in this country is highly welcomed worldwide on high scale & structured meted. The Republic of Cyprus is also water adjacent. Like you see the waves coming from the ocean against and you can hear Cyprus angels knocking on heavens door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seychelles / Resort State Video Presentation Beach & Tourism State / Posh Highly Comfortable Resort Terrain in African Continent / Great Acoustics / Protokoll 24.12.2021

 

 

Seychelles (/seɪˈʃɛlz/ , officially the Republic of Seychelles (French: République des Seychelles; Creole: La Repiblik Sesel), is an archipelagic island country consisting of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean at the eastern edge of the Somali Sea. Its capital and largest city, Victoria, is 1,500 kilometres (932 mi) east of mainland Africa. Nearby island countries and territories include the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and the French overseas regions of Mayotte and Réunion to the south; and Maldives and the Chagos Archipelago (administered by the United Kingdom as the British Indian Ocean Territory) to the east. It is the least populous sovereign African country, with an estimated 2020 population of 98,462.

Seychelles was uninhabited prior to being encountered by Europeans in the 16th century. It faced competing French and British interests until coming under full British control in the late 18th century. Since proclaiming independence from the United Kingdom in 1976, it has developed from a largely agricultural society to a market-based diversified economy, characterized by rapidly rising service, public sector, and tourism activities. From 1976 to 2015, nominal GDP grew nearly 700%, and purchasing power parity nearly 1600%. Since the late 2010s, the government has taken steps to encourage foreign investment. Today, Seychelles boasts the highest nominal per capita GDP of any African nation. It has the second-highest Human Development Index of any African country after Mauritius. It is one of only two African countries classified as a high-income economy by the World Bank (the other being Mauritius). Seychellois culture and society is an eclectic mix of French, British, and African influences, with more recent infusions of Chinese and Indian elements. The country is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, and the Commonwealth of Nations. Seychelles was uninhabited throughout most of recorded history. Some scholars assume that Austronesian seafarers and later Maldivian and Arab traders were the first to visit the archipelago. This assumption is based on the discovery of tombs, visible until 1910. The earliest recorded sighting by Europeans took place on 15 March 1503, recorded by Thomé Lopes aboard Rui Mendes de Brito, part of the 4th Portuguese India Armada commanded by Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama. Da Gama's ships passed close to an elevated island, probably Silhouette Island and the following day Desroches Island. The earliest recorded landing was in January 1609, by the crew of the Ascension under Captain Alexander Sharpeigh during the fourth voyage of the British East India Company. A transit point for trade between Africa and Asia, it was said that the islands were occasionally used by pirates until the French began to take control 1756 when a Stone of Possession was laid on Mahé by Captain Nicholas Morphey. The islands were named after Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Louis XV's Minister of Finance. The British frigate Orpheus commanded by Captain Henry Newcome arrived at Mahé on 16 May 1794, during the War of the First Coalition. Terms of capitulation were drawn up and the next day Seychelles was surrendered to Britain. Jean Baptiste Quéau de Quincy, the French administrator of Seychelles during the years of war with the United Kingdom, declined to resist when armed enemy warships arrived. Instead, he successfully negotiated the status of capitulation to Britain which gave the settlers a privileged position of neutrality. Seychellois stamps with portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.Britain eventually assumed full control upon the surrender of Mauritius in 1810, formalised in 1814 at the Treaty of Paris. Seychelles became a crown colony separate from Mauritius in 1903. Elections were held in 1966 and 1970.

 

 

 

The Seychelles president, who is head of state and head of government, is elected by popular vote for a five year term of office. The cabinet is presided over and appointed by the president, subject to the approval of a majority of the legislature.

The unicameral Seychellois parliament, the National Assembly or Assemblée Nationale, consists of 35 members, 26 of whom are elected directly by popular vote, while the remaining nine seats are appointed proportionally according to the percentage of votes received by each party. All members serve five-year terms. The Supreme Court of Seychelles, created in 1903, is the highest trial court in Seychelles and the first court of appeal from all the lower courts and tribunals. The highest court of law in Seychelles is the Seychelles Court of Appeal, which is the court of final appeal in the country. Then-President James Michel in his office in Victoria, 2009.Seychelles' long-term president France Albert René came to power after his supporters overthrew the first president James Mancham on 5 June 1977 in a coup d'état and installed him as president. René was at that time the prime minister. René ruled as a strongman under a socialist one-party system until 1993, when he was forced to introduce a multi-party system. He stepped down in 2004 in favour of his vice-president, James Michel, who was reelected in 2006, 2011 and again in 2015.On 28 September 2016, the Office of the President announced that Michel would step down effective 16 October, and that Vice President Danny Faure would complete the rest of Michel's term.On 26 October 2020, Wavel Ramkalawan, a 59-year old Anglican priest was elected the fifth President of the Republic of Seychelles. Ramkalawan was an opposition MP from 1993 to 2011, and from 2016 to 2020. He served as the Leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2011 and from 2016 to 2020. Ramkalawan defeated incumbent Danny Faure by 54.9% to 43.5%. This marked the first time the opposition had won a presidential election. The primary political parties are the former ruling socialist People's Party (PP), known until 2009 as the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF) now called United Seychelles (US), and the socially liberal Seychelles National Party (SNP).

The election of the National Assembly was held on 22–24 October 2020. The Seychelles National Party, the Seychelles Party for Social Justice and Democracy and the Seychelles United Party formed a coalition, Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS). LDS won 25 seats and US got 10 seats of the 35 seats of the National Assembly.

Further information: Foreign relations of Seychelles. Seychelles is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Indian Ocean Commission, La Francophonie, the Southern African Development Community and the Commonwealth of Nations.

From 1979 to 1981, the United States and South Africa were involved in the failed 1981 coup attempt. Under the Obama administration, the US began running drone operations out of Seychelles. In the Spring of 2013, members of the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa mentored troops in Seychelles, along with a variety of other African nations.The Military of Seychelles is the Seychelles People's Defence Force which consists of a number of distinct branches: an Infantry Unit and Coast Guard, Air Force and a Presidential Protection Unit. India has played and continues to play a key role developing the military of Seychelles. After handing over two SDB Mk5 patrol vessels built by GRSE, the INS Tarasa and INS Tarmugli, to the Seychelles Coast Guard, which were subsequently renamed PS Constant and PS Topaz, India also gifted a Dornier 228 aircraft built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. India also signed a pact to develop Assumption Island, one of the 115 islands that make up the country. Spread over 11 km2 (4 sq mi), it is strategically located in the Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar. The island is being leased for the development of strategic assets by India.In 2018, Seychelles signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.Further information: List of countries by incarceration rate

In 2014, Seychelles had the highest incarceration rate in the world of 799 prisoners per 100,000 population, exceeding the United States' rate by 15%. However, the country's actual population is less than 100,000; as of September 2014, Seychelles had 735 actual prisoners, 6% of whom were female, incarcerated in three prisons. Seychelles is a key participant in the fight against Indian Ocean piracy primarily committed by Somali pirates. Former president James Michel said that piracy costs between $7 million – $12 million a year to the international community: "The pirates cost 4% of the Seychelles GDP, including direct and indirect costs for the loss of boats, fishing, and tourism, and the indirect investment for the maritime security." These are factors affecting local fishing – one of the country's main national resources – which had a 46% loss in 2008–2009. International contributions of patrol boats, planes or drones have been provided to help Seychelles combat sea piracy.

 

Independence

 

In 1976, Seychelles was granted independence from the United Kingdom and became a republic. It has been a member of Commonwealth ever since. In the 1970s Seychelles was "the place to be seen, a playground for film stars and the international jet set".  In 1977, a coup d'état by France Albert René ousted the first president of the republic, James Mancham. René discouraged overdependence on tourism and declared that he wanted "to keep the Seychelles for the Seychellois". The 1979 constitution declared a socialist one-party state, which lasted until 1991.In the 1980s there were a series of coup attempts against President René, some of which were supported by South Africa. In 1981, Mike Hoare led a team of 43 South African mercenaries masquerading as holidaying rugby players in the 1981 Seychelles coup d'état attempt. There was a gun battle at the airport, and most of the mercenaries later escaped in a hijacked Air India plane. The leader of this hijacking was German mercenary D. Clodo, a former member of the Rhodesian SAS. Clodo later stood trial in South Africa (where he was acquitted) as well as in his home country Germany for air piracy. In 1986, an attempted coup led by the Seychelles Minister of Defence, Ogilvy Berlouis, caused President René to request assistance from India. In Operation Flowers are Blooming, the Indian naval vessel Vindhyagiri arrived in Port Victoria to help avert the coup.

The first draft of a new constitution failed to receive the requisite 60% of voters in 1992, but an amended version was approved in 1993.

In January 2013, Seychelles declared a state of emergency; the tropical cyclone Felleng caused torrential rain, and flooding and landslides destroyed hundreds of houses.

Following the violent coup in 1977, the president always represented the same political party until the October 2020 Seychellois general election, which was historic in that the opposition party won. Wavel Ramkalawan was the first president who did not represent United Seychelles (the current name of the former Seychelles People's Progressive Front).

 

 

 

Planet Earth / Nature  / Biosphere / Forest / Geoecology / Amazing Video & Representation / Texts ( Source Wikpedia ) Protokoll 21.02.2022

 

Nature, in the broadest sense, is the physical world or universe. "Nature" can refer to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. The study of nature is a large, if not the only, part of science. Although humans are part of nature, human activity is often understood as a separate category from other natural phenomena.[1]

 

The word nature is borrowed from the Old French nature and is derived from the Latin word natura, or "essential qualities, innate disposition", and in ancient times, literally meant "birth".[2] In ancient philosophy, natura is mostly used as the Latin translation of the Greek word physis (φύσις), which originally related to the intrinsic characteristics of plants, animals, and other features of the world to develop of their own accord.[3][4] The concept of nature as a whole, the physical universe, is one of several expansions of the original notion;[1] it began with certain core applications of the word φύσις by pre-Socratic philosophers (though this word had a dynamic dimension then, especially for Heraclitus), and has steadily gained currency ever since.

 

During the advent of modern scientific method in the last several centuries, nature became the passive reality, organized and moved by divine laws.[5][6] With the Industrial revolution, nature increasingly became seen as the part of reality deprived from intentional intervention: it was hence considered as sacred by some traditions (Rousseau, American transcendentalism) or a mere decorum for divine providence or human history (Hegel, Marx). However, a vitalist vision of nature, closer to the presocratic one, got reborn at the same time, especially after Charles Darwin.[1]

 

Within the various uses of the word today, "nature" often refers to geology and wildlife. Nature can refer to the general realm of living plants and animals, and in some cases to the processes associated with inanimate objects—the way that particular types of things exist and change of their own accord, such as the weather and geology of the Earth. It is often taken to mean the "natural environment" or wilderness—wild animals, rocks, forest, and in general those things that have not been substantially altered by human intervention, or which persist despite human intervention. For example, manufactured objects and human interaction generally are not considered part of nature, unless qualified as, for example, "human nature" or "the whole of nature". This more traditional concept of natural things that can still be found today implies a distinction between the natural and the artificial, with the artificial being understood as that which has been brought into being by a human consciousness or a human mind. Depending on the particular context, the term "natural" might also be distinguished from the unnatural or the supernatural.

 

Earth is the only planet known to support life, and its natural features are the subject of many fields of scientific research. Within the Solar System, it is third closest to the Sun; it is the largest terrestrial planet and the fifth largest overall. Its most prominent climatic features are its two large polar regions, two relatively narrow temperate zones, and a wide equatorial tropical to subtropical region.[7] Precipitation varies widely with location, from several metres of water per year to less than a millimetre. 71 percent of the Earth's surface is covered by salt-water oceans. The remainder consists of continents and islands, with most of the inhabited land in the Northern Hemisphere.

 

Earth has evolved through geological and biological processes that have left traces of the original conditions. The outer surface is divided into several gradually migrating tectonic plates. The interior remains active, with a thick layer of plastic mantle and an iron-filled core that generates a magnetic field. This iron core is composed of a solid inner phase, and a fluid outer phase. Convective motion in the core generates electric currents through dynamo action, and these, in turn, generate the geomagnetic field.

The atmospheric conditions have been significantly altered from the original conditions by the presence of life-forms,[8] which create an ecological balance that stabilizes the surface conditions. Despite the wide regional variations in climate by latitude and other geographic factors, the long-term average global climate is quite stable during interglacial periods,[9] and variations of a degree or two of average global temperature have historically had major effects on the ecological balance, and on the actual geography of the Earth

 

Geology 

 

Geology is the science and study of the solid and liquid matter that constitutes the Earth. The field of geology encompasses the study of the composition, structure, physical properties, dynamics, and history of Earth materials, and the processes by which they are formed, moved, and changed. The field is a major academic discipline, and is also important for mineral and hydrocarbon extraction, knowledge about and mitigation of natural hazards, some Geotechnical engineering fields, and understanding past climates and environments.

 

Geological evolution

 

The geology of an area evolves through time as rock units are deposited and inserted and deformational processes change their shapes and locations.

 

Rock units are first emplaced either by deposition onto the surface or intrude into the overlying rock. Deposition can occur when sediments settle onto the surface of the Earth and later lithify into sedimentary rock, or when as volcanic material such as volcanic ash or lava flows, blanket the surface. Igneous intrusions such as batholiths, laccoliths, dikes, and sills, push upwards into the overlying rock, and crystallize as they intrude.

 

After the initial sequence of rocks has been deposited, the rock units can be deformed and/or metamorphosed. Deformation typically occurs as a result of horizontal shortening, horizontal extension, or side-to-side (strike-slip) motion. These structural regimes broadly relate to convergent boundaries, divergent boundaries, and transform boundaries, respectively, between tectonic plates.

An animation showing the movement of the continents from the separation of Pangaea until the present day

Earth is estimated to have formed 4.54 billion years ago from the solar nebula, along with the Sun and other planets.[12] The Moon formed roughly 20 million years later. Initially molten, the outer layer of the Earth cooled, resulting in the solid crust. Outgassing and volcanic activity produced the primordial atmosphere. Condensing water vapor, most or all of which came from ice delivered by comets, produced the oceans and other water sources.[13] The highly energetic chemistry is believed to have produced a self-replicating molecule around 4 billion years ago.[14]

 

Plankton inhabit oceans, seas and lakes, and have existed in various forms for at least 2 billion years[15]

Continents formed, then broke up and reformed as the surface of Earth reshaped over hundreds of millions of years, occasionally combining to make a supercontinent. Roughly 750 million years ago, the earliest known supercontinent Rodinia, began to break apart. The continents later recombined to form Pannotia which broke apart about 540 million years ago, then finally Pangaea, which broke apart about 180 million years ago.[16]

 

During the Neoproterozoic era, freezing temperatures covered much of the Earth in glaciers and ice sheets. This hypothesis has been termed the "Snowball Earth", and it is of particular interest as it precedes the Cambrian explosion in which multicellular life forms began to proliferate about 530–540 million years ago.

 

Since the Cambrian explosion there have been five distinctly identifiable mass extinctions.[18] The last mass extinction occurred some 66 million years ago, when a meteorite collision probably triggered the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs and other large reptiles, but spared small animals such as mammals. Over the past 66 million years, mammalian life diversified.[19]

 

Several million years ago, a species of small African ape gained the ability to stand upright.[15] The subsequent advent of human life, and the development of agriculture and further civilization allowed humans to affect the Earth more rapidly than any previous life form, affecting both the nature and quantity of other organisms as well as global climate. By comparison, the Great Oxygenation Event, produced by the proliferation of algae during the Siderian period, required about 300 million years to culminate.

 

The present era is classified as part of a mass extinction event, the Holocene extinction event, the fastest ever to have occurred.[20][21] Some, such as E. O. Wilson of Harvard University, predict that human destruction of the biosphere could cause the extinction of one-half of all species in the next 100 years.[22] The extent of the current extinction event is still being researched, debated and calculated by biologists.

 

 

 

Costa Rica / Central America / Flora & Fauna / Environment Green / Beautifully Breathtaking Moments / Protokollierung 07.03.2022

 

Wildlife of Costa Rica

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ( Resource)

The scarlet macaw is native to Costa Rica.

 

The Wildlife of Costa Rica comprises all naturally occurring animals, fungi and plants that reside in this Central American country. Costa Rica supports an enormous variety of wildlife, due in large part to its geographic position between the North and South American continents, its neotropical climate, and its wide variety of habitats. Costa Rica is home to more than 500,000 species, which represents nearly 5% of the total species estimated worldwide, making Costa Rica one of the 20 countries with the highest biodiversity in the world. Of these 500,000 species, a little more than 300,000 are insects.[1]

 

One of the principal sources of Costa Rica's biodiversity is that the country, together with the land now considered Panama, formed a bridge connecting the North and South American continents approximately three to five million years ago. This bridge allowed the very different flora and fauna of thBiodiversity

Costa Rica is considered to possess the highest density of biodiversity of any country worldwide.[3] While encompassing just one thirtieth of a percent of Earth's landmass, Costa Rica contains four percent of species estimated to exist on the planet.[4] Hundreds of these species are endemic to Costa Rica, meaning they exist nowhere else on earth. These endemic species include frogs, snakes, lizards, finches, hummingbirds, gophers, mice, cichlids, and gobies among many more.[5]

 

 

Costa Rica has  3 UNESCO World Heritage sites that are all natural assets and are as follows:

 

The Talamanca Mountain Range – La Amistad Reserves / International Friendship Park (declared in 1983)

The Isla del Coco National Park (declared in 1997)

The Guanacaste Conservation Area (declared in 1999). [6]

 

Epiphytes near Santa Elena

Costa Rica's biodiversity can be attributed to the variety of ecosystems within the country. Tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, Atlantic and Pacific coastline, cloud forests, and mangrove forests are all represented throughout the 19,730 square miles of Costa Rica's landmass.[7] The ecological regions are twelve climatic zones. This variation provides numerous niches which are filled by a diversity of species.

 

Benefits for humanity

Costa Rica demonstrates biodiversity conservation for developing countries. Over twenty-seven percent of the country's land has a protected status as national parks, wildlife refuges, forest preserves, and more.[8] The Costa Rican government is active in protecting its biodiversity for the ecological services they provide. The government imposes a five percent tax on gasoline to generate revenue to pay landowners to refrain from clear-cutting on their land and instead to create tree plantations. This provides Costa Ricans, or “Ticos” as they call themselves, incentive to become active tree farmers instead of cattle ranchers.[9] Tree farms provide some habitat for wildlife, enabling some measure of biodiversity to remain in these areas despite humans’ use of these natural resources.

 

Costa Rica's biodiversity contributes to the numerous ecological services the environment provides. Every aspect of the ecosystem from the different species of plants to the diversity of animal species contributes to natural services like water purification, provision of food, fuel, fiber, and biochemicals, nutrient cycling, pollination and seed dispersal, and climate regulation, just to name a few.[10] As the diversity of species increases, more of these services can be provided and to a greater extent.

 

Biodiversity has contributed to the economy of Costa Rica. Ecotourism brings in 1.92 billion dollars in revenue for the country.[11] Ecotourism is defined as "tourism directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments, especially to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife." Costa Rica's abundant biodiversity makes the country an attractive destination for ecotourism. Thirty-nine percent of tourists cite nature as their primary reason for visiting the country.[12] The profitable industry of ecotourism entices businesses to capitalize on natural resources by protecting and preserving them rather than consuming them.

 

Threats to biodiversity

Threats to Costa Rica's biodiversity include a rapidly growing human population, developing coastlines for the industry of tourism and harmful agricultural practices all contributing to pollution and environmental degradation. The practice causing the largest concern for Costa Rica's environment is deforestation. Costa Rica has the fourth highest rate of deforestation in the world. Almost four percent of its current forested lands are cut each year. Clearing land for cattle ranching is the most common cause of deforestation. This form of environmental damage along with the farming of monocultures leads to areas where only a few species of plants are present. Ultimately, decreases in plant diversity leads to decreased animal diversity.[13]

 

Insects

Butterflies and moths

The zebra longwing butterfly.

The Heliconius doris butterfly.

There are about 1,251 species of butterflies and at least 8,000 species of moths. Butterflies and moths are common year round but are more present during the rainy season. Ten percent of known butterfly species worldwide reside in Costa Rica.[14]

 

Costa Rican butterflies and moths have made amazing adaptations to the environment. Some examples of these are the following:

 

Swallowtail caterpillars imitate bird droppings and many others have bright colours to warn predators of bodily toxins.

What someone could easily mistake for a butterfly, a wasp, or a leaf in Costa Rica might be a moth engaging in Müllerian or Batesian mimicry.

Ecotourism is one of Costa Rica's primary economic resources, and the country's butterflies add a lot to that. They bring life to tropical forests, not only with the diversity in colour, but with the magnificence of the flowers that they help pollinate.

 

Some common butterflies and moths in Costa Rica include:

 

Thoas swallowtail

Marpesia berania

Doxocopa laure

Banded peacock

Zebra longwing

Morpho butterfly

Green page moth

Glasswing

Some notable insects in Costa Rica are stingless bees and sweat bees such as L. figueresi and L. aeneiventre, ants such as leaf-cutter ants and army ants, Hercules beetle, and many katydids.

 

Other invertebrates

Invertebrate species make up most of Costa Rica's wildlife. Of the estimated 500,000 species, about 493,000 are invertebrates (including spiders and crabs). It is known that there are tens of thousands of insects and microscopic invertebrates in every land type and elevation level. However, they are largely unnoticed or unidentified.

 

Main article: List of non-marine molluscs of Costa Rica

There are known 183[15] species and subspecies of terrestrial gastropods from Costa Rica and numerous freshwater gastropods and bivalves.

 

Amphibians

A red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas).

Costa Rica is home to around 175 amphibians, 85% of which are frogs. Frogs in Costa Rica have interesting ways of finding fishless water to raise their young in. Fish, of course, will eat tadpoles and eggs. Poison dart frogs put their eggs in water pools in bromeliads. Other methods include searching ponds before laying eggs, and laying eggs in wet soil. There are 35 species of Elutherodoctylus frogs, 26 species of Hyla frogs and 13 species of glassfrogs.

 

Notable frog species in Costa Rica include red-eyed tree frog, a few species of poison dart frogs, the semitransparent glassfrogs, and the large smoky jungle frog. Some other notable toad species in Costa Rica include the ten species of Bufo toads and the giant toad, a huge toad known for its wide appetite. It has been documented eating almost anything, including vegetables, ants, spiders, any toad smaller than itself, mice, and other small mammals.

 

Besides the frog species, approximately 40 species of lungless salamander and two species of caecilian are found in the country, both rarely seen and little known. Costa Rican amphibians range in size from the rainforest rocket frog, at 1.5 cm (0.5 in), to the giant toad, at up to 15 cm (6 in) and 2 kg (4.4 lb).

 

Representatives of all three orders of amphibians - caecilians, salamanders, and frogs and toads - reside in Costa Rica. Due to environmental degradation and the sensitive nature of amphibians to pollution, Costa Rica has seen declines and even extinctions in amphibian populations. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a critical habitat for certain species of the order Anura. However, forty percent of the members of this order that reside in this reserve are estimated to have gone extinct since 1987. This equals twenty species of frogs and toads.[16]

 

 

The golden toad, an amphibian once endemic to Costa Rica, is now extinct.

The highland-dwelling golden toad, Bufo periglenes, has not been witnessed in its highly restricted habitat of the central mountain ranges of Costa Rica since 1989. Within one year, the number of juveniles counted at their most prevalent breeding site declined from over 1,500 individuals to only one. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared the golden toad endangered, but it is likely extinct due to the lack of sightings since over two decades ago. Suspected causes for the toads probable extinction include a combination of intense El Nino weather patterns which resulted in a drought, increased pollution added to the environment, climate change, and an invasive fungal species, Chiriqui harlequin.[16]

 

Amphibians in Costa Rica have acquired many adaptations for survival. Some frog species, especially those of the poison dart frogs, have learned to lay eggs in water devoid of predatory fish. For some species this means laying eggs in small collections of water in the leaf litter, then transporting the eggs to bromeliads. Other species have adapted the ability of direct development. This means that the frog develops completely inside the egg without transitioning to the tadpole phase. This decreases vulnerable exposure to predators and the frog emerges from its egg as a froglet, much better equipped to protect itself.[17]

 

Reptiles

 

Eyelash viper (Bothriechis schlegelii)

Approximately 225 types of reptiles are found in Costa Rica. This includes over 70 species of lizards, mostly small, forest-dwelling anoles. Large lizards such as the striped basilisk, black iguana, and green iguana are probably the country's most regularly encountered reptiles. Snakes number about 120 species in the country, including 5 powerful boas and a wide diversity of harmless colubrids.

 

There are about 20 venomous snakes, including colorful coral snakes and various vipers such as the common eyelash viper and two formidable, large bushmasters. The venomous snakes of Costa Rica are often observed without issue if given a respectful distance.

 

Among turtles, 5 of the world's 7 species of sea turtles nest on the nation's beaches. Two crocodilians, the widespread spectacled caiman and the large, sometimes dangerous American crocodile are found in Costa Rica. The country's reptiles range in size from the delicate 15 cm (6 in) Hallowell's centipede snake of the genus Tantilla to the hulking leatherback turtle, at 500 kg (1100 lb) and 150 cm (60 in).

 

Mammals

Costa Rica is home to nearly 250 species of mammal. Medium-sized forest-dwelling mammals are often the most appreciated mammalian fauna of the country. These include four species of monkeys such as the frantic white-headed capuchin and noisy mantled howlers; two species of sloths; the opportunistic white-nosed coati; and the fierce predator, the tayra.

 

Bats comprise more than half of the mammal species in the country, unusually outnumbering rodents twice over. Bats are adapted to various foraging methods and foods; including nectar, fish, insects and parasitized blood, as the case with the infamous vampire bats. Prominent bats include the tiny, communal roosting Honduran white bat and the huge, predatory spectral bat, the largest New World bat. Large fauna, such as tapir, jaguar, and deer are rarely encountered, being both elusive and tied to now-fragmented undisturbed habitats. Costa Rican mammals range in size from the 3-gram thumbless bat of the family Furipteridae to the 250 kg (550 lb) Baird's tapir.

 

Anteaters are common in lowland and middle elevation throughout Costa Rica. The most commonly seen of Costa Rica's three anteaters species is the northern tamandua. The giant anteater is huge and endangered. The other anteater is the silky anteater.

Wild cats

Wild cats that exist in Costa Rica are: jaguars, ocelots, pumas, jaguarundi, margays, and little spotted cats.

Most big cats in Costa Rica are nocturnal or hide in trees in the rainforest like the margay. The most likely place to find a big cat is in the Simon Bolivar Zoo in San José, Costa Rica where there is a selection of all the native big cats along with other animals. Ocelots usually hunt on the ground at night and rarely climb trees. An ocelot's diet consists of birds, monkeys, rats, and other small animals. The little spotted cat is the smallest wild cat and does not grow bigger than a house cat. They live in cloud forests up to 3200 m.

 

The jaguar is the largest wild cat in Costa Rica and can grow up to 2 m. They are very rare in Costa Rica and their numbers continue to decline drastically. The jaguarundi looks like a cross between a weasel and a cat. It is plain grey with a sleek body, hunts day and night, and has adapted best to human changes. The margay spends most of its life in trees. The puma is the second largest cat in Central America and its fur is brown and unspotted.

 

Birds

894 bird species have been recorded in Costa Rica (including Cocos Island), more than all of the United States and Canada combined. More than 600 of the Costa Rican species are permanent residents, and upwards of 200 are migrants, spending portions of the year outside of the country, usually in North America. Seven of the Costa Rican species are considered endemic, and 19 are globally threatened. Costa Rica's birds range in size from the scintillant hummingbird, at 2.2 grams and 6 cm (2.4 in), to the huge jabiru, at 6.5 kg (14.3 lb) and 150 cm (60 in) (the American white pelican is heavier, but is an accidental species).

Scarlet macaws are a common species of Costa Rica. Unlike many bird species, macaws form a monogamous breeding pair and mate for life. Both males and females help care for young and raise chicks for up to two years before they fledge. Threats to the macaw include their popularity in the pet trade. One individual can be sold for up to one thousand dollars.[18]

 

The resplendent quetzal, a trogon with a stunning physical appearance, can also be found in parts of Costa Rica. The bird's long grey and black tail feathers can stretch up to a meter long and are its defining feature. Resplendent quetzals live in cloud forests and are most active in the canopy. They can be found in several of Costa Rica's parks and reserves, including the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, Braulio Carrillo National Park, Poas Volcano National Park, Chirripo National Park, and the Juan Castro Blanco National Park. Resplendent quetzals eat fruit, insects, small frogs, lizards, and snails and have distinctive echoing calls. Unfortunately, the bird is endangered because its cloud forest habitat has been widely destroyed across Central America.[19]

The mangrove hummingbird is endemic to Costa Rica and specializes in feeding from the tea mangrove plant with its uniquely shaped beak.

Hummingbird species demonstrate adaptation with bill shape and size. Certain species have specialized bills that allow them to feed from the flowers of certain species of plants. The relationship between the hummingbird and plant is mutualistic because the hummingbird transfers pollen between plant individuals in exchange for nectar. Because different species of hummingbirds are adapted to specific plants, [pollination] of the right plants with the right pollen is ensured.[18] The mangrove hummingbird is endemic to Costa Rica and specializes in feeding from the tea mangrove plant.[5][20]

 

Costa Rican officials have explored the possibility of shutting down their national zoos in an effort to demonstrate a more advanced appreciation for the wildlife in their country.

 

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