Saturday 27 February 2016

Mangrove Finches Revitalized in Galapagos

First Fledged Mangrove Finch
Charles Darwin Research Foundation Photo 
It’s wonderful to be able to share another great success for saving an endemic Galapagos species. The Charles Darwin Foundation (all photos attributed to the foundation) has raised eight endangered mangrove finches and released them onto Isabela Island.0

I can remember growing up seeing mangrove finches on just about every cruise trip. But that once frequent event has changed and, for years, a finch sighting has been rare, if indeed we see one at all. That these important symbols of evolution are, with help from scientists, reviving, is a monumental step toward rejuvenation of the species.

China Hat - Sombrero Chino

A stand-alone visitor destination in Galapagos, a small islet near Santiago Island, China Hat, also known as Sombrero Chino, is another island absolutely filled with things to see. As you can see from this photo, the island gets its name from its shape. In my last post, I told you about the tiny island of South Plaza. This island is equally tiny, less than 1/4 kilometer, but also equally exciting.
Thursday 4 February 2016

Galapagos Sperm Whales Have Specialized Family Cultures and Dialects

Sperm Whales and Calf from CBC News
(Chris Bangs/Guam Variety News/Associated Press)
We always want to be careful not to anthropomorphise those in the animal kingdom, whether it involves emotions, behaviors or language. After all, animals are not human and we can’t project emotions or thoughts onto them under the assumption that they think and communicate as we do. That said, we have learned from our own household pets how to read their “language” of gestures, looks and sounds and, from these, reach conclusions about whether they are hungry or want affection, are scared or tired or content. 

Even those observations, however, tell us nothing about how animals communicate with others of their own species. Is there a universal or even regional language that animals of a given species use with others of that same species? Scientists study language and other aspects of animal behavior all the time, forming hypotheses about what an animal's behaviors and vocalizations mean, if anything at all.