This month love was in the air as Mama crocs begin prepping their nests for egg laying, and Morelet’s croc breeding season just starting to warm-up. And despite the quarantine, the CRC continues to work from our croc caves- whether that is providing educational material, working on publications, or organizing and prepping for when we can get back out into the field. Although the majority of our work currently is being conducted from the comfort of our homes, we are still responding to wildlife calls and rescues (and thanks everyone who continues to donate and support so we can continue responding to these calls during these difficult financial times for our non-profit!).
Wildlife Rescue: In addition to responding to an injured tamandua during these last few weeks, CRC also responded to calls of a dead manatee washed onshore in northern Seine Bight on a Friday night at 8pm. Given quarantine curfew, we waited until the early morning Saturday to retrieve the 1.7m carcass that illustrated signs of emaciation. A necropsy was conducted and we found a very high parasite load throughout its gastrointestinal tract. Parasites can impede its host from absorbing the necessary nutrients, causing lethargy, making the host susceptible to other diseases, and eventually cause death. Parasites were still alive, indicating time of death was within 48hrs; trematodes were still alive which helped us narrow down time of death within 20hrs. All information was passed to Wildtracks and Jamal Galves from Clearwater Aquarium for their records and expertise in diagnosing cause of death. This is the 2nd manatee death in the Placencia area this year, both very young juveniles.
To further educate the peninsula about the wonderful wildlife of the Placencia Lagoon, and to get people “out in nature” during this quarantine life, CRC began weekly Wild Wednesday post which highlight the flora and fauna of the Placencia Lagoon. One of the highlights for this past month was the American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), one of our most recognizable warblers feeding on insects by fly catching or gleaning from foliage. American Redstarts are often observed quickly fanning their tails open and closed; this “flashing” of the orange or yellow patches on the birds’ tails startles their prey out of hiding. Overall, this species is an opportunistic feeder that can easily adapt to varying habitat, season, insect community, and vegetation structure. Their diet consists largely of caterpillars, moths, flies, leafhoppers and other insects.
The American Redstart breeding season is May to July, laying 2–5 eggs in a neat cup-shaped nest. The oldest known banded American Redstart lived over 10 years of age; other adults have been known to reach around 5 years. Another cool fact: they usually migrate during the night!
Wild Wednesday posts help us to continue our mission of education, and we continually are providing with our daily social media posts some education about crocodiles. For example, did you know crocodilians have evolved in a remarkable way to protect their eyes from the elements. In addition to having their eyelids armored with boney scutes, they are equipped with a nictitating membrane or ‘third eyelid’ to further protect their eyes.This nictitating membrane is a thin translucent eyelid that sweeps across the eye as it opens (as we can see in the video below). This adaptation has two major functions. It cleans and lubricates the eye with the help of fluid secreted from the lacrymal (tear) duct preventing the eye from desiccating when the crocodile is outside of the water. This membrane also has a protective function. When the crocodile is submerged, it acts as a shield blocking sediments and debris from entering the eye, while still allowing a certain amount of light to enter the pupil (check out the CRC YouTube Channel to get a look of the nictating membrane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IE5IxoSDcYs).
And what’s crocin’ with our CRC Croc Ambassadors Gilly, Sam, Aemon and Jabba?
Gilly&Sam: Gilly and Sam (and of course their turtle friend Mad Max) are doing well. Given strict quarantine travel restrictions CRC staff has not been able to see or train them but the caretakers have reassured us they are well and healthy, and hiding from this!
Jabba: Now on a proper diet, Jabba has lost some weight but has the attitude of a Hutt! He’s getting a bit naughty on his target training with our colleague at Kutunza Translocation Facility where he currently resides until he can move to the CRC facility. Once CRC staff are to travel, we plan to visit and spend a day of training to ensure Jabba knows the Hutts are no longer in charge of Tatooine.
Aemon: Over the last few months during some of Aemon’s training it would appear not only did the blow to his head cause blindness, but possible brain damage as well. CRC is being very patient with his training. His progress is very much a “1 step forward, 2 steps back” situation and we are doing our best that Aemon lives as stress free as possible. Aemon’s story is the story of many predators whom get the brunt of abuse by those who lack THE FACTS of living alongside of wildlife. Although Aemon may never be a showman, him and his story are important to share with others to further coexistence between humans and ALL wildlife.