22 May 2015

A Turtleriffic Kind of Day

Photo by Mike Yap

Turtles in literature are symbolic of utter slowness. Nevertheless their being certain and patient is highly commendable. Add to that is their 200 million years of existence [1,2]. Quite a legacy of resilience, huh? 

The celebration of World Turtle Day was initiated by the American Tortoise Rescue in May 23, 2000. Essentially, it aims to raise awareness in the status quo of turtles and encourage people to actively participate in their conservation. Ultimately, their purpose is to put a stop to illegal trading of turtles and tortoises around the world [2]. 

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), out of the 7 sea turtle species, 1 is classified as Data Deficient, 1 is Vulnerable, 3 are Endangered, and 2 are Critically Endangered [4]. Of the 263 species of freshwater and terrestrial turtles, 117 are Threatened and 73 are either Endangered or Critically Endangered [1]. Among the many serious threats that turtles face are the prevalence of illegal pet trade, habitat loss and degradation [2,3], egg poaching and meat consumption, incidental capture by gillnets, long lines, and shrimp trawling, plus overwhelming pollution and coastal developments [3,5].

Amidst all these, there is a growing hope for our turtles. There are many groups out there dedicating their lives to make sure that these special creatures are to be seen and appreciated by the next generations. We can be a part of this vision through refusing to buy turtles in pet stores, supporting turtle campaigns, starting a fund-raising activity, volunteering in research and rescue ventures, participating in policy-making, educating the young of the importance of turtles, or a simple gesture such as sharing interesting and informative turtle facts. Small but cumulative concrete ways can definitely make a huge difference.

We have substantial information on the 7 living sea turtle species. Feel free to visit us at SeaLifeBase. A Turtleriffic World Turtle Day to all the turtles out there!


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[1] World Turtle Day May 23rd Every Year. http://www.ecology.com/2012/05/23/world-turtle-day/ [Accessed 5/21/2015].
[2] Happy World Turtle Day. http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/happy-world-turtle-day [Accessed 5/21/2015].
[3] Celebrate World Turtle Day. http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/turtles_tortoises/tips/celebrate_world_turtle_day.html?referrer=https://www.google.com.ph/ [Accessed 5/21/2015].
[4] The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 May 2015.
[5] Spotila, J.R. (2011). Saving Sea Turtles. The Johns Hopkins University Press.


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18 May 2015

Ocean Giants: Giant Squid



Last week we talked about the Kraken, that it's a squid-like sea monster and that its identity can be either of the two known largest extant squids. First was the heaviest, the colossal squid Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni (read article here). The second is the longest, the giant squid Architeuthis dux with a cosmopolitan distribution.

Photo taken by Tsunemi Kubodera from Ogasawara Islands, off Tokyo on December 4, 2006 [1].

There are many different species listed under the genus Architeuthis, 21 nominal species in total. But based on a genetic study conducted by Guerra et al (2013), all species are synonyms of A. dux; thus, there is only one giant squid. Furthermore, like the majority of deep sea species, little is known of its biology. Obviously it's a predator; it feeds on fishes and other cephalopods. It has a short life cycle; spawning occurs only once and the females die after bearing their eggs. The largest recorded species measured 12 m in length, unfortunately there was no record of its weight. Studies on its growth and mortality were very limited since getting a sample population from the ocean was tough. Thus, if you have other information on them, which you wish to include in our information system, please e-mail us at sealifebase@fin.ph or join us as a collaborator.

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[1] Accessed from http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/giant-squid/
[2] McClain CR et al (2015) Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna. PeerJ 2:e715. Accessed from https://peerj.com/articles/715/
[3] Guerra A et al (2013) Architeuthis dux: Ășnica especie de calamar gigante en el mundo. MOL. Revista de la Sociedad de Ciencias de Galicia 53:46-53.
[4] Bolstad KS et al (2004) Gut contents of a giant squid Architeuthis dux (Cephalopoda: Oegopsida) from New Zealand waters. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 31(1):15-21.


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11 May 2015

Ocean Giants: Colossal Squid


Who here have watched the movie "Clash of the Titans"? Remember the scene when Zeus shouted "Release the Kraken!" to his men? Kraken actually refers to a squid-like sea monster and among the family of squids, there are two known largest species. First is the heaviest - the colossal squid Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni commonly found in the Antartic.


The short clip above presents the largest specimen ever caught, it weighed 495 kg and measured 4.2 m in length [1]; but the measurements stated are underrated. Experiments conducted by the Te Papa staff from the Museum of New Zealand showed that fresh specimens can shrink up to 22% when preserved and the specimen above was believed to have shrunk by 14%. Unfortunately, only 9 adult specimens have been recorded and were not enough to fully study their biology [2]. Thus, if you have other information on them, which you wish to include in our information system, please e-mail us at sealifebase@fin.ph or join us as a collaborator.

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[1] McClain CR et al (2015) Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna. PeerJ 2:e715. Accessed from https://peerj.com/articles/715/
[2] The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. The Squid Files. Accessed from http://squid.tepapa.govt.nz/the-squid-files


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