Friday, July 31, 2015

MORE FROM THE VIRGINIA AQUARIUM AND MARINE SCIENCE CENTER


These were taken at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center last week.   There are also a couple of short videos at the end of the post. 

I believe this is the Longnose Gar.  At least I found something similar here.  What do you think?



I tried to identify all that I saw but was not successful with every one.





The fish below on the right center of my photo is called a Unicorn fish, the Whitemargin I think comparing it with photos online.  



The little fish below put on quite a show for me.  In the end I didn't know who was looking at whom.  He swam up next to me and stared, 'hovering ' as if standing upright on his 'toes', and then did what I can only describe as several pirouettes that would have done a ballerina proud.  He continued this until I moved away.  Fascinating little thing and a little fish I thoroughly enjoyed.  I found out he is called a Striped Burrfish (Chilomycterus schoepfii).  I found the following online where you can read more about him here.


Striped Burrfish are brown or olive with yellow bellies and powerful jaws.  They have bulging yellow eyes with iridescent blue-green pupils.  They have brown or lack parallel stripes and black spots.  Stripped Burrfish get their name from the short, immovale spines which cover their sperical bodies.  


They can inflate their bodies when threatened.  They can grow up to 12 inches in length.  They eat oysters, barnacles and small crabs.  Striped Burrfish live in the ocean and in bays, cool to hot waters and usually among seagrass.


The day we visited the aquarium, they had released several sea turtles in Virginia Beach.  My niece and her daughter were there and when I showed my great-niece these videos, she excitedly told me about seeing the sea turtles returning home.  There is a photo of that release here.  You can watch a news video here, and the aquariums program for the protection and rehabilitation of these wonderful marine animals can be read at this link.

If you can't see my video below you can go here.




Also this video, if ever it won't load up can be seen here.

A young girl was taking photos with her flash which is not allowed as it frightens the marine life.  I wanted to tell her about that and also that her photos would not be very good using the flash because of the glare reflected from the glass, but as her mother was there I didn't do this, hoping she would correct her daughter.  That didn't happen.  Perhaps I should have said something but did not want to shame or embarrass her in any way.  I hoped that one of the aquarium staff would eventually see her and step in.


I am sharing with the following memes.  Thank you to all our hosts for making them a very enjoyable part of blogging. You can see other participants by visiting their links below.

Eileen at Saturday Critters
Misty at Camera Critters 
Michelle at Nature Notes

Thursday, July 30, 2015

SKYWATCH FRIDAY


Sharing more pretty skies in South Devon, England, last June.






My thanks to the SkyWatch Team for hosting this wonderful meme.
You can click here to visit other sky watchers.

GOOD FENCES #72


This was in the town of Totnes, South Devon and my photos were taken last month.  We passed by an old church that had since been bought and turned into a private residence.  I was very taken with the wrought iron fences out front.  On looking at my photos recently I knew I was going to use them for this week's Good Fences












Thank you for hosting such a fun meme Theresa.  You can visit other participants if you click on Good Fences.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Always learning....

Going to the aquarium in Virginia Beach is a very enjoyable experience. As well as the aquariums full of marine life there are other very interesting exhibits, such as this one showing the Silurian age in Virginia.  You can enlarge the following photos for a clearer look.


The Silurian Period was 443.7 to 416.0 million years ago.  Mind boggling!  It was at a time when the Earth underwent considerable changes that had important repercussions for the environment and life within it.  One result of these changes was the melting of large glacial formations.  This contributed to a substantial rise in the levels of the major seas.  The Silurian witnessed a relative stabilization of the Earth's general climate, ending the previous pattern of erratic climate fluctuations.  


(If you have difficulty reading the writing in the photo below it says: Silurian Virginia was a hot, dry desert surrounded by warm, shallow seas.  Earth's first land dwellers appeared during this period, but most plants and animals still lived in the water.  Trilobites, sea scorpions and other arthropods shared the sea floor with brachiopods, clam-like organisms that were the most common shelled animals.  Above the bottom, bony-armored fishes and squid relatives cruised in search of prey.  On land, spiders, centipedes and worms lived among fungi and simple plants.) 


Coral reefs made their first appearance during this time, and the Silurian was also a remarkable time in the evolution of fishes.  Not only does this time period mark the wide and rapid spread of jawless fish, but also the highly significant appearances of both the first known freshwater fish as well as the first fish with jaws.  It is also at this time that our first good evidence of life on land is preserved, such as relatives of spiders and centipedes, and also the earliest fossils of vascular plants.


The Silurian is a time when many biologically significant events occurred.  In the oceans there was a widespread radiation of crinoids, a continued proliferation and expansion of the brachiopods, and the oldest known fossils of coral reefs.  As mentioned earlier this time period also marks the wide and rapid spread of jawless fish, along with the important appearances of both the first known freshwater fish and the jawed fish.  Other marine fossils commonly found throughout the Silurian record include trilobites, graptolites, conodonts, corals, stromatoporoids and mollusks.

I found the above fascinating information and much more at this website.  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

LIONFISH

The other day we visited the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia.


According to this website - here - this interesting creature is the lionfish.  It is also known by the names turkeyfish, dragonfish, scorpionfish and butterfly cod.  


It is poisonous and found in the warmer waters of the western and central Pacific Ocean.  It hunts smaller fish but its venom is capable of being fatal to larger creatures.


The lionfish can live to around 16 years in the wild and often live longer if looked after well in captivity.  


There are around eight different species of lionfish.  It can be found in coastal waters around rocky crevices and coral reefs, where there are lots of smaller fish for it to eat, but which also provides excellent hiding places.


The spikes that protrude from its body contain venom that the lionfish uses to defend itself if it is being pursued.  The main predators are larger fish, eels and humans that catch the lionfish to put into tanks.


The lionfish is also an invasive species, originally from the Indian and Western Pacific oceans.  It was brought into Florida as an aquarium fish, but after a hurricane broke some of the aquariums containing the fish, they started to appear around the lower coast of Florida.  They have now spread all the way up to Long Island, New York.


More fascinating information can be found at the link I provided at the beginning of my post.


I am linking to the following very enjoyable memes.  Thank you for hosting ladies.

Laura's iHeartMacro here.  
Judith's Mosaic Monday here.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

TODAY'S FLOWERS #256

I am once again sharing the orchids I discovered in a flower nursery near my home town in England.























Luiz Santilli Jnr created Today's Flowers.  He occasionally pops in to say hello, so "Hello Luiz and thank you!"



Today's Flowers' home page can be found here.






Friday, July 24, 2015

INTERESTING DUCKS FOUND IN ST. JAMES PARK, LONDON

Do you have any ideas what this duck is?  I have never seen their kind before.  I don't have time to do any research right now and if you can ID these cute water birds, thank you in advance.














Added Note 7-26-15: I knew I could count on our blogging community and their generosity of sharing their knowledge.  Thanks to several commentors I now know that this very interesting duck is the Red-crested Pochard.

I am sharing with the following memes.  Thank you to all our hosts for making them a very enjoyable part of blogging. You can see other participants by visiting their links.

Eileen at Saturday Critters
Misty at Camera Critters 
Anni at Bird D'Pot
Michelle at Nature Notes


Thursday, July 23, 2015

SKYWATCH FRIDAY


We were still in London taking photos from the top of one of those open-air, double-decker tour buses last month.    I am not sure where we were or what these buildings housed, but I loved their architectural lines, and of course was grateful for that pretty blue, cloud-filled sky.

~~~~~~

My thanks to the SkyWatch Team for hosting this wonderful meme.
You can click here to visit other sky watchers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

GOOD FENCES



My fence this week was seen as you entered St. James Park in London (June 2015).





Time to link with Good Fences. Thank you for hosting such a fun meme Theresa.  You can visit other participants if you click on the name above.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Random Photo



This photo was taken on our leisurely boat ride from Brixham to Dartmouth in June.  If you are ever in South Devon I can highly recommend it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

THE BLACK SWANS OF DAWLISH, SOUTH DEVON


As many may already know, Black Swans are indigenous to Australia so it may come as a surprise to learn that there are a few residing in a Devonshire seaside town and have done so for many years.  In fact, they are one of the  tourist attractions for Dawlish, South Devon.  I, for instance, remember them as a little girl, and wanted to see them again on our most recent trip back to Devon last month.


The Black Swans in Dawlish have actually resided here for decades, and have been used as the town's emblem for more than 40 years.  I have read in a couple of articles that the swans were originally brought over from Australia in 1900 by a local resident.  However, in another article I read that John Nash, this resident, a Dawlish-borne man who emigrated during adulthood but paid frequent visits to the town, brought them back from New Zealand.  


(Going a little off topic regarding the swans and something you might find interesting, Jane Austen stayed in Dawlish, as did Charles Dickens who decided to make Dawlish the birthplace of Nicholas Nickleby.)


In flight the Black Swan has a very long slender neck and white flight feathers along the edge of its wings.  The flight is slow with slow wing beats, and a high-pitched bugle is often heard.  Male and female have a similar appearance.  Juveniles are grey-brown with black tips to the outer white flight feathers, and cygnets are light grey, downy with grey-black bills and feet.  We did not see any Black Swan cygnets on our visit.






I am linking with Anni at Bird D'Pot, Michelle at Nature Notes, Judith at  Mosaic Monday, and Stewart's Wild Bird Wednesday.  A big thank you to our hosts for these wonderful memes.