ROCK BEAUTY Holacanthus tricolor: BAHAMAS REEF FISH (5)


Rock Beauty Desktop WP clip 

BAHAMAS REEF FISH (5) – ROCK BEAUTY Holacanthus tricolor

(No, this is not all about you, Madge…)

The Rock Beauty is a species of small Angelfish, measuring up to 10 inches in length. They are bright yellow and dark blue, in varying proportions according to the stage of development, with startling blue eyelids. They are mainly sponge-feeders, but vary their diet with plankton, algae, corals and even small jellyfish. Although the cheerful colouring of the Rock Beauty might make many think “my aquarium”, their diet – particularly the need for sponges – makes them unsuitable for captivity (see below for details). They also become aggressive, and cannot be successfully bred in an aquarium which is an excellent lifestyle choice by them, and no doubt helps them to retain an IUCN listing of LC.220px-Status_iucn3.1_LC.svg

These fish inhabit the reefs of  the tropical western Atlantic down to the northern areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Although mainly encountered on reefs, they are capable of living at considerable depths, and have been found at more than 90 meters.

ADULT ROCK BEAUTYRock Beauty

Adult Rock Beauties are often found in pairs year round, perhaps suggesting a long-term monogamous bond. The pairs reproduce by rising up in the water, bringing their bellies close together, and releasing clouds of sperm and eggs. The female can release anywhere from 25 to 75 thousand eggs each evening and as many as ten million eggs during each spawning cycle. The eggs are transparent, buoyant, and pelagic, floating in the water column. They hatch after 15 to 20 hours into larvae that lack effective eyes, fins, or even a gut. The large yolk sac is absorbed after 48 hours, during which time the larvae develop normal characteristics of free-swimming fish. Larvae are found in the water column and feed on plankton. The larvae grow rapidly and about 3-4 weeks after hatching the 15-20mm long juvenile settles on the bottom.

JUVENILE ROCK BEAUTY
Rock Beauty (Juvenile)

The Rock Beauty Angelfish is considered to be a difficult fish to keep in captivity; it is ill-suited for all but the most experienced aquarists. They are highly specialised feeders that will likely perish without some marine-sponge formulation in their daily diet. They are an aggressive species. Most aquarists recommend a minimum tank size of 100 gallons. Young Rock Beauty Angelfish feed in part, on the slime of other fish and will persistently chase their tank-mates and nip at them. It is not a reef safe fish, and larger specimens may nip at or consume corals, particularly stony or soft ones, and ornamental invertebrates.800px-Holacanthus_tricolor_1

Credits: Melinda Riger of Grand Bahama Scuba, random pickings, ‘DT Wallpapers’ & wiki

RED-TAILED HAWKS (Buteo jamaicensis) RAPTOR RAPTURE


 RED-TAILED HAWKS: RAPTOR RAPTURE

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Red-tailed hawks are one of the commonest and largest  BUTEO species in North America, the Caribbean and further afield. There are fourteen widely-distributed subspecies. Their omni-habitat flexibility helps to maintain their prolific populations. They are equally at home in forests, grassland, open country, desert and even cities, at most altitudes. Red-tailed Hawk CP 7Red-tailed Hawk CP 1

This red-tail is preparing for flight. It had been sitting upright (see above), scanning for prey. Suddenly it hunched forwards, poised for take-off, the light of late afternoon sun catching its leg feathers. Moments later it raised its wings and was gone in an instant – the next photo an unusable blur of feathery speed.Red-tailed Hawk CP 6Red-tailed Hawk CP 3

6 RED-TAILED HAWK FACTS TO STARTLE YOUR AUNT WITH

1. The RTH displays SEXUAL DIMORPHISM in size – females average 25% heavier than males

2. Immature birds have yellowish irises. As the bird matures the iris darkens to a reddish-brown hue

3. They are easily trained to hunt: most hawks used for (tightly regulated) falconry in the US are Red-tails

4. They use tall trees, high rocks, utility poles or buildings as perch sites to scan large areas for prey

5. City hawks helpfully prey on rock pigeons and rats. ROSIE lives in Washington Sq NYC & has a web-cam

6. One urban RTH, known as PALE MALE, became famous as the first Red-tail in decades to successfully nest and raise young in Manhattan. He was immortalised by MARIE WINN in her book Red -Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park [RH Note: Good read]

Red-tailed Hawk CP 4Red-tailed Hawk CP 5

6 RED-TAILED HAWK FACTS TO SURPRISE YOUR UNCLE WITH

1. The fierce, screaming cry of the RTH is often used as a generic raptor sound effect in TV shows & films

2. Eggs are incubated primarily by the female. The male helps out when the female leaves to hunt or stretch her wings. The male brings food to the female while she incubates

3. RTH young are known as eyasses (“EYE-ess-ez”), a falconry term for a raptor still in its downy stage

4. About 6 / 7 weeks after fledging RTH young begin to capture their own prey. They reach breeding maturity around 3 years of age

5. Red-tailed Hawks can live for more than 2o years – the oldest recorded was 29

6. RTH feathers are considered sacred to many American indigenous people. The feathers of the RTH are regulated by the “Eagle Feather Law” which governs possession of feathers and parts of migratory birdsRed-tailed Hawk PPB 6Red-tailed Hawk PPB 5Red-tailed Hawk PPB 1AFTERWORD These photos were all taken recently in New York, in Central Park (The Ramble, a birding hotspot) and in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. They are therefore a bit of a cheat in a website based mainly on Abaco. But I have never managed to photograph a RTH on the island, so these pics are illustrative of what I might have photographed had I (a) seen a RTH (b) had my wits about me (c) for long enough to find my camera (d) to photograph it before it flew away (e) and sufficiently well to be able to use the result [Header and due credit to Wiki]

See also NICOLEs excellent birding website at http://www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-red-tailed-hawk.html

(PS apologies to those who have neither aunts nor uncles. I have no wish to be amitist or avunculist. Have you a cousin you can try?)

MAN-O-WAR CAY, ABACO: THE HIDDEN BOAT-BUILDING VILLAGE


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MAN-O-WAR CAY, ABACO: THE HIDDEN BOAT-BUILDING VILLAGE 

I am very pleased to be able to feature a Guest Contributor Fabian Fernander, managing editor and owner of SANDY SLIPPER TRAVEL and online magazine. The boat-building history of the Bahamas, of Abaco, and in particular of Man-o-War Cay, is a fascinating one. It is not a subject in my own repertoire, so I welcome the chance to showcase Fabian’s article and the wonderful historic photos courtesy of the MAN-O-WAR HERITAGE MUSEUM.

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Maurice Albury building dinghy on MOW cay 19xx

“Who would ever think nestled in the heart of the Bahamas. Hidden away from view. Inaccessible by large planes and removed from the hum of technology; would be a boat building village in the Bahamas.

Man of war cay (named after the bird) is a small yet well knitted community of bustling boat builders, that have been graced with their skill from generation to generation.

Residents here have always depended on shipbuilding for its livelihood and some boats are still handmade-without-plans in a tradition that has been passed down for centuries.”

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Boat under construction W.H. Albury yard 1960

“The town has remained untransformed over time and resembles a New England sea-side village; and rightly so.

As its original inhabitants were both religious and political escapees; loyalist to be exact.

It is through resilience that these men and women who fled from their homes, picked up and honed the trait of boat building.

In the early days of boat building the residents began by using Abaco Pine to craft their world renowned fishing and sailing vessels.”

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Basil Sands working on a boat, at the W.H. Albury yard 1960

“Boats were originally built by crafting a skeleton or rib of the boat from pine that grew locally in the Abaco forests. These skeletons were then hand carved and shaved to conform perfectly to the palms-up-spread template of the hull.

After the ribs were coupled, pine wood planks were then affixed to form the hull of the boat.

During the 1960′s when Abaco pine became a quintessential element in building structures and homes in all of the islands, the procurement of pine for boat building became harder and harder.

It is during that period that innovation reared its head once again and fiberglass became the material of choice to continue the successful process of building renown fishing and sailing vessels.

Using fiberglass as molds was a very expensive process, but in modernization a necessary tool that reduced the amount of manual labor required.

The frame of the wooden boat was coated with the fiberglass material and from this a permanent mold was created, which was then used to make the outer shell of numerous boats.

This style of boat is called the Outboard Runabout (or the Outboard Fishing Boat).

Many other types of boats are also made including model boats, 14 ‘ wooden Man O’War sailing dinghies and 21′ Man O’War speed boats.

The boats have become collectors items and much requested custom designed artifacts.”

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The William H Albury Schooner

“Man o’ War Village: another one of the hidden secrets of the Bahama Islands”

“About the author: Fabian Christopher is the Managing editor and owner of Sandy Slipper Travel and online magazine. An avid enthusiast of the Bahamas, he is always ready and available to make your vacation dreams in the islands a memorable experience.”

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Photo credits  MAN-O-WAR HERITAGE MUSEUM 

(except for historic 1803 aquatint header of the ‘late’ Hole-in-the Wall)

[RH note: If you have enjoyed this article, I recommend a visit both to Fabian's website (link in the first para), and to the Museum's website, also linked above, where you will find a wealth of historical Abaco material]

THE CUBAN AMAZON PARROT: A WORK OF ART & NATURE


THE CUBAN AMAZON PARROT: A WORK OF ART & NATURE

FEATURED BY ‘ARTMAGENTA

I have just posted a gallery of bird art by Artmagenta, showing varous species from his global ‘Bird of the Day’ series that can be found on Abaco. He asked for further suggestions, so naturally I suggested the avian symbol of the Abacos. A few days later, it has flown in, in all its glory, with his description below it. So I’ll step back and let the bird do the talking.Abaco-Parrot

“The Cuban Amazon (Amazona leucocephala) also known as Cuban Parrot or the Rose-throated Parrot, is a medium-sized mainly green parrot found in woodlands and dry forests of Cuba, the Bahamas and Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. The Cuban Amazon lives in different habitats on different islands. It was once found throughout Cuba, but it is now mainly confined to the forested areas of the main island and Isla de la Juventud. On the Cayman Islands the parrot lives in dry forest and on agricultural land. Cuban Amazons nest in tree cavities throughout most of its range, the only exception being that the parrots living on the Abaco Islands nest underground in limestone solution holes, where they are protected from pineyard wildfires.”

YELLOW STINGRAY Uboritas jamaicensis: BAHAMAS REEF FISH (4)


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BAHAMAS REEF FISH (4) – YELLOW STINGRAY Uboritas jamaicensis

The YELLOW STINGRAY (Uboratis jamaicensis) is one of several ray species found in the tropical western Atlantic ocean. They live  in shallow water on sandy or seagrass bottoms, and are commonly found near coral reefs. Their light and dark splotchy colouring can rapidly change according to the surroundings and the need for camouflage. Look at the photos below with half-closed eyes and (apart from knowing perfectly well that there’s a ray there), the blending in is remarkable.

The yellow stingray feeds on small invertebrates and fishes. It can use its ‘wings’ to uncover buried / hiding prey by disturbing the sand. It also has a subtle ‘passive’ method of hunting by using its mantle to form a lethal ‘cave’ that attracts shelter- or shade-seeking prey.Yellow Stingray ©Melinda Riger GB Scuba Bahamas

Yellow stingrays breed in seagrass. They are quite prolific, breeding year round and usually having two litters a year of up to 7 young. This species is ‘aplacental viviparous': the developing embryos are sustained initially by yolk and later by uterine milk. To find out more about viviparity, you’ll find a section at the bottom of this post where the inquiring may opt in… Not everyone’s sac of yolk, I quite understand.

The yellow stingray is innocuous towards humans, but can inflict a painful injury with its venomous tail spine. The threats to the species are (1) taking as bycatch by commercial fisheries;  (2) collection for the aquarium trade; (3) negative impact from habitat degradation, both of reef areas and seagrass breeding grounds. For now, it remains common and widespread and retains its IUCN LISTING of ‘Least Concern’.Yellow Stingray

REPRODUCTIVE STRATEGIES (Marine Biodiversity, Canada)

As with all elasmobranchs, skate and rays are internal fertilizers.  Internal fertilization is beneficial because it increases the likelihood and efficiency of fertilization by reducing sperm wastage.  In addition, it ensures that the energy-rich eggs produced by the female are not consumed by predators, and that all the energy allocated to reproduction is passed to the embryos and not lost to the environment.  This is especially the case for species that retain their embryos until the embryos have completely developed, a reproductive mode termed viviparity.  Elasmobranches that practice viviparity are called viviparous (or live-bearing).  There are many types of viviparity, which can be divided into two broad categories: aplacental and placental viviparity. Placental viviparity is the most advanced mode of reproduction, during which the embryos are initially dependent on stored yolk but are later nourished directly by the mother through a placental connection.  This type of reproduction is not exhibited by any type of batoid.  Ovoviviparity (or aplacental viviparity), on the other hand, is the only mode of reproduction employed by rays.  In rays, the embryos rely on the substantial yolk within the ovulated egg only during the initial stages of development. After the nutrients stored in the egg have been consumed, the embryo ingests or absorbs an organically rich histotroph (or “uterine milk”) produced by the mother and secreted into uterus.  The most highly developed of these strategies occurs in some rays in which the lining of the uterus forms tiny, finger-like projections (termed trophonemata) that increase the surface area for histotroph secretion.  This form of nutrient supply (or maternal investment) results in very large offspring, which is characteristic of most species of ray.

For those now fluent in viviparity, the treat of one of Melinda Riger’s fabulous aquatic close-up photos –  keeping a close eye on you…Up close of the eye of a yellow stingrayCredits: Melinda Riger of Grand Bahama Scuba, with thanks; Wiki for other images / source material; selected online pickings

BIRDS OF ABACO: WILDLIFE ART FROM ARTMAGENTA (1) – THE REAL DEAL


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BIRDS OF ABACO: WILDLIFE ART FROM ARTMAGENTA (1)

Sound of jet engines. “Back in the UK…” (as Macca so nearly sang), and I have the chance to amend the epic fail – or comic fail, anyway, that was the original of this post. And the truth is, Dear , that apart from simple captioned photos, an iPhone does not cut it for more complex posts involving formatting and so on. Or maybe I can’t use it properly (far more likely). Whichever, here is what should have appeared in the first place as a prepared, ‘press-the-go-button’ post for while we were away… 

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

At Rolling Harbour, we are occasionally bold enough to investigate the interstices between wildlife and art. If that’s what one does to an interstice. ArtMagenta is the cyber-name (“ethernym”? Yes, I like it…) of Ulf, a prolific artist whose website ARTMAGENTA provides an enjoyably eclectic selection of pictures. Birds from around the world. Caricatures. Sketches. ‘Gesture Drawings’. And more. From time to time I will post a small gallery of Ulf’s enjoyable depictions of the birds that may be found on Abaco.

BLACK SKIMMER 

Black-Skimmer MOURNING DOVE

Mourning-DoveNORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD

Northern-Mockingbird

PIPING PLOVER

Piping-Plover

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD

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RED-TAILED HAWK

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LEAST TERN

Least-Tern

AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER

American-Oystercatcher

SHARK FINS – OOOP! A MODEL USE OF HUMOUR TO CONVEY ASERIOUS MESSAGE (VIDEO)


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SHARK FINS – OOOP! A MODEL USE OF HUMOUR
TO CONVEY A SERIOUS MESSAGE
(VIDEO)

The CAPE ELEUTHERA FOUNDATION has produced a short video about sharks and shark fins that manages to be both amusing and to carry a powerful conservation message. It’s a hard trick to pull off successfully. Attempts to use humour to leaven a serious message or to modify earnestness in presentation so often trespass into the no-man’s land known as ‘Meh’ (twinned with ‘Wotevah’). I’m grateful to the always-interesting ABACO SCIENTIST for sharing this item. Photo credit: Melinda Riger, with thanks for use permission [I am posting this from NYC via iPhone, so any weird formatting or typos will have to be dealt with next week]