Galapagos and Beyond: March Roundup

March 27, 2014

In this month’s roundup, we feature some of our favorite stories from Galapagos–including Mangrove Finch captive breeding and Galapagos Marine Reserve sea urchins–along with two unique supporters of Galapagos Conservancy, Reptile Gardens and STU[art]. Beyond Galapagos, we feature photographer Mark Tipple’s striking underwater photos of ocean swimmers.


Mangrove Finch Captive Rearing Program

YouTube baby finch screenshotLast month the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, celebrated the hatching of the first Mangrove Finch chicks ever to be born as part of a captive rearing program. With only 60-80 individuals remaining in the wild, the Mangrove Finch is the bird most threatened by extinction in Galapagos. The Mangrove Finch program is intended to give chicks a “head start” by rearing them through the stages when they are most vulnerable to their biggest threat, an invasive parasitic fly called Philornis downsi. The chick-rearing process is no small task, with 15 hand-feedings each day! Watch how it’s done in this video from the Charles Darwin Foundation.

A Tale of Two Sea Urchins

Green and pencil sea urchinsResearchers at Jon Witman’s laboratory at Brown University are investigating the different ways the green sea urchin and pencil urchin of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) impact the surrounding ecosystem. The abundance of predators in the GMR due to fishing restrictions makes it an ideal setting in which to study the consequences of predator diversity in marine ecosystems. Green urchins and pencil urchins have very different impacts on the ecosystem when predators are absent compared to when predators are present. Watch the fun and informative video exploring the ecological impact of these “underwater lawnmowers,” as featured in the New York Times.

Reptile Gardens: Commitment to Conservation

A cockatoo collecting money for charityEach summer in the Black Hills of South Dakota, four of Reptile Gardens‘ show birds collect dollar bills for wildlife charities: Queenie the cockatoo (pictured), Ruby the Macaw, Lewis the chicken, and Zorro the Rook. Children get a kick out of handing bills to the birds and watch them stuff them in the donation box (or in Lewis’ case, take the money and run!). In the past three years the birds have collected nearly $50,000 in donations–all of which went directly to wildlife causes. In 2014, the birds will be collecting donations for Galapagos Conservancy (hooray!), Idea Wild, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and The Black Hills Raptor Center. One of the earliest supporters of the Charles Darwin Research Station, Reptile Gardens strives to promote wildlife conservation (particularly for reptiles) through its fun and educational programs.

Galapagos Satellite Imagery Art

Satellite image art of GalapagosPhoenix, AZ artist Stuart Black (aka STU[art]) creates unique art from satellite images and donates a portion of sales to support wildlife conservation through his Life On Earth program. STU[art] has selected Galapagos Conservancy as one of the charities his sales will support (thank you!). By using the coupon code “LIFEGC” at checkout, GC will receive 20% of each sale, and purchasers receive a free 23″x16″ Life On Earth Mosaic print. With images ranging from the Sahara Desert to the Great Barrier Reef, these unique pieces are worth checking out! Visit STU[art]’s Etsy shop.

Just for Fun: The Underwater Project

Mark Tipple image of swimmer beneath a waveLast month we featured Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark project to visually document every species in zoos and aquariums, and this month we’re intrigued by Australian photographer Mark Tipple’s Underwater Project. With images depicting the ocean’s sheer force on human swimmers, Tipple’s photos capture his subjects at a seemingly violent point in time–such as under a breaking wave. Surprisingly, many of his images convey a serene sense of calm in contrast to the events that created them. View more images from the Underwater Project. Photo by Mark Tipple.


Let us know what you think – leave a comment below! Send us an email if you have a story for the monthly roundup.


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