Thursday, June 30, 2016

Oaxaca Cave Sleeper

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and Louisiana State University have identified a new genus and species of cavefish from Mexico, the Oaxaca cave sleeper (Caecieleotris morrisi).

The species is the first cave-adapted sleeper goby to be found in the Western Hemisphere. The fish, identified from museum specimens, has not been seen alive in more than two decades and lives in a cave system threatened by damming.

The Oaxaca Cave Sleeper occurs in a single cave system beneath Presa Miguel Alem├ín reservoir, which is formed by a dam on the Tonto River, a tributary of Mexico’s second largest river.

There are only 13 known individuals, all collected at the same time. Thomas L. Morris, a renowned cave diver and cave biologist who works to protect caves and their inhabitants, collected the fish in 1995.

Morris gave the specimens to the Florida Museum of Natural History where Stephen Walsh, now a researcher with the USGS, recognized the distinctiveness of the new species while in the process of conducting taxonomic research and digitizing the museum’s fish collection.

Walsh and colleague Prosanta Chakrabarty of Louisiana State University compared the specimens to other sleepers, and determined that they represent a new genus and species.

The researchers gave the Oaxaca Cave Sleeper the scientific name Caecieleotris morrisi to honor Morris for his discovery and his dedication to conservation.

Discovery of the new species afforded an opportunity for the USGS to partner with the natural history museum community in designating a scientific name for this unique cavefish.

The paper, A new genus and species of blind sleeper (Teleostei: Eleotridae) from Oaxaca, Mexico: first obligate cave gobiiform in the western hemisphere, was recently published in the journal Copeia, a widely-cited journal that publishes original research on fishes, amphibians and reptiles.

source: U.S. Geological Survey

Friday, November 27, 2015

2015-16 Kentucky Waterfowl Forecasts

Kentucky duck numbers are expected to be strong during the 2015-16 winter season, according to Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

“This year, we’ve had the highest counts of ducks as a whole by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service,” said John Brunjes, migratory bird coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “It is the highest counts ever with 49,522,000 ducks as well as 11,643,000 mallards, also a new record.”

Green-winged teal populations are at their all-time high with just over 4 million birds and numbers of gadwall numbers are also exceptionally high with 3,834,000 birds.

Cold weather could push northern duck populations into Kentucky. “The migration maps show many ducks in the upper Plains and upper Midwest,” Brunjes explained.

Popular areas for viewing waterfowl in Kentucky include Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, numerous state parks, and private refuges.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Wildlife Themed Gift Ideas

Featured in this post are a variety of wildlife and nature themed products which are suitable as holiday gifts.

Calendars are popular for winter holiday gifts:

This collection of calendars includes gift ideas for birdwatchers, beachgoers, and other nature enthusiasts

Another idea is wildlife themed wrapping paper:

Wildlife and nature themed wrapping paper in this collection are suitable for Christmas, birthdays, and other occasions.

A extensive collection of fully customizable wildlife collectibles can be found at north_america.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Chesapeake Bay Waterfowl

Many of North America's best known waterfowl can be found on the Chesapeake Bay. Located along the Atlantic Flyway, the estuary is an important stopover and wintering area for waterfowl.

During spring, mallards, black ducks, green-wing teal, and Canada geese nest in saltwater marshes of Chesapeake Bay. Farther up the watershed, wood ducks raise their young.

In summer, some waterfowl become secretive and move into backwater hideaways where abundant vegetation conceals their presence. In contrast, mallards and Canada geese often remain in areas where human activity occurs. 

As days shorten and nights become cooler, flocks of migratory Canada geese appear in the skies over the watershed. By late fall, surf scoters and long-tailed ducks appear on the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

By mid winter, waterfowl populations increase as residents and early season migrants are joined by Atlantic brant, snow geese, and tundra swans. Despite cold temperatures, many of the watershed's creeks and rivers become feeding areas for common mergansers, red-breasted mergansers, and hooded mergansers.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Top 10 USA National Parks

In 2014, there were 292.8 million visits to U.S. national parks, breaking the previous record set in 1987 when parks saw just over 287.2 million visits.

The official number of recreational visits to national parks in 2014 was 292,800,082, an increase of 19 million, or seven percent, from 2013 visitation of 273,630,895. Visitation in 2014 rebounded from a 2013 decline that included a 16-day government shutdown and many park closures for repairs after Superstorm Sandy hit the northeast in late 2012.

Several national parks saw record-breaking visitation in 2014, including Joshua Tree, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton and Glacier national parks. The re-opening of the Washington Monument, some 21 months after it was rocked by an earthquake and repaired, also added to 2014 visitation numbers.

Grand Canyon National Park bumped Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area out of the top 10 most visited areas in the national park system. The list of top ten national parks remains unchanged, although Rocky Mountain and Olympic National Parks switched places.

Top 10 most visited places in the National Park System:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area     15,004,420
Blue Ridge Parkway     13,941,749
Great Smoky Mountains National Park     10,099,276
George Washington Memorial Parkway     7,472,150
Lincoln Memorial     7,139,072
Lake Mead National Recreation Area     6,942,873
Gateway National Recreation Area     6,021,713
Natchez Trace Parkway     5,846,474
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park     5,066,219
Grand Canyon National Park     4,756,771

Top 10 most visited national parks:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park     10,099,276
Grand Canyon National Park     4,756,771
Yosemite National Park     3,882,642
Yellowstone National Park     3,513,484
Rocky Mountain National Park     3,434,751
Olympic National Park     3,243,872
Zion National Park     3,189,696
Grand Teton National Park     2,791,392
Acadia National Park     2,563,129
Glacier National Park     2,338,528

10 national parks with the lowest number of visitors (2014):

Salt River Bay National Historical Park & Ecological Preserve, Virgin Islands
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, Texas
Nicodemus National Historic Site, Kansas
Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, California
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska
Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska
Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania
Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Monument, California
Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, Texas
Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, Alaska

For more information, visit:

source: National Park Service

Friday, March 7, 2014

North American Snow Goose Populations

Populations of snow geese, blue geese and Ross’s geese in North America, collectively referred to as “light geese,” have grown to record levels over the past three decades, according to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

USFWS biologists theorize that the overabundance of light geese is harming arctic tundra breeding habitat, which could have negative impacts on light geese and other bird species that depend on these areas.

Since 2009 hunters have had the opportunity to pursue snow geese during the spring as a result of a special management action referred to as a “Conservation Order” allowed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The measure was adopted at the recommendation of federal and state wildlife scientists in response to concerns about a growing number of snow geese across North America.

Eight states in the Atlantic Flyway (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Vermont) will hold a Spring Snow Goose Conservation Order in 2014.

source: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Friday, February 14, 2014

Best Areas to View Snow Geese in New Jersey

The following is a summary of the best areas in New Jersey to view snow geese:

Northern Jersey

In Northern Jersey, snow geese often winter at Merrill Creek Reservoir. These flocks typically exceed 15,000 birds in January and can build to over 75,000 birds in late winter. Merrill Creek Reservoir flocks may cover a wide area during daily feeding forays. Feeding snow geese are usually found from Belvidere to Washington to Clinton to Flemington.

Central New Jersey

Snow goose flocks typically total 5-10 thousand birds in central New Jersey. Flocks in this region are seen feeding in fields in an area from Cranbury to Roosevelt to Wrightstown to Burlington.

Delaware Bay

Delaware Bay tidal marshes and nearby inland farm fields attract the highest numbers of snow geese in New Jersey. During the Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey in early January, researchers may estimate 100,000 light geese in these areas.

Delaware Bay flocks feed, roost and loaf in the tidal marshes yet often make inland field feeding flights primarily into Salem and Cumberland Counties. At times, flocks range as far inland as Mullica Hill, Turnersville and Franklinville.

Southern New Jersey
Snow geese can be found in and around Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville. Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey counts from early January are typically about 5,000 birds in this region.

source: NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife