Throwback Thursday to Argentina πŸ‡¦πŸ‡·

This trip was not that long ago, πŸ˜… . It was just this past May (2018 in case you’re not reading this post any time soon, ha!). We were visiting Santa Fe, Argentina for an IUCN Crocodilian Specialist Group meeting, which is where my main photo was taken. 😁

I’m holding a young Broad Snout Caiman, Caiman latirostris.

Quick Caiman Facts: πŸ€“πŸŠ

  • Found: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay in mangroves, marshes, and swamps.
  • Caimans are related to Alligators, but these are small to medium crocodilians at about 4-6 feet long.
  • Their strong jaws are suited to tough animals like turtles, snails, fish, and a variety of other small prey.

IUCN status: Least Concern, although many of our scientists are keeping an eye on different populations.

  • These are some of my favorite crocodilians because they have cute short snouts and feisty personalities. While all of the different crocodilians can wiggle their ears, I’ve never seen any other species do it as often as these Broad Snout Caimans. Usually a behavior signaling excitement (either positive to food or negative to a threat), and in addition to growl-y little hissing, it’s just too cute a combination. 😍❀️🐊
  • Although make no mistake, they have an incredibly strong bite! You can lose digits or worse if very unlucky to have any part of your body end up in their mouth. The photo above looks a little grainy, but that’s because it was taken through binoculars by an iPhone. It as a lone Caiman in a lake close to the conference room, which would be visited anytime the sun came out, which wasn’t often! β˜”οΈ
  • Getting back to Argentina…a Spanish speaking country but many people try to help out someone who doesn’t speak the language. Santa Fe was beautiful and had many areas for the active individual to explore the city. Huge sidewalks and some outdoor gyms. There were a lot of runners and cyclists, and even swimmers out in the river!
  • If you’re interested in birds, this was a great place for the Birder! We saw lots of cool birds, but I was surprised to see Burrowing Owls…everywhere! Well, where we were staying at least. The meeting was held at a local university and there were so many Burrowing Owl nests.
  • We also went exploring, and in addition to swarms of mosquitos, we found a beautiful turtle…
  • It rained nearly the whole time we were there, which was not fun for walking back and forth from the conference room to the hotel. However, the rain did bring out some other critters that we would otherwise have not seen, like this cool toad! 🐸 Toadly cool! Lol 😝
  • The fun part of traveling and exploring also includes experiencing different cultures. While trying to order coffee off a menu, this came to my table. Fun πŸ™Œ but then I thought what the heck it this little shot glass of water? Sparkling water? Well, it’s there to help cleanse your palate between bites and other yummy food. Now we know, ha!
  • Instead of exploring trails around lakes, we also went on a search through the city for unique souvenirs to bring home. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try this strange doorway as a way to get into the Argentina Ministry of Magic. I was unsuccessful. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ
  • This trip was unfortunately rained out but nonetheless it was wonderful to catch up with old friends, make new ones, and exploring another place on the globe πŸ—Ί Keep adventuring and always keep your eyes ready for opportunities. After all, you never know if you’ll ever make it back!
  • Since we were down in South America, we thought, “Let’s just pop over to Peru πŸ‡΅πŸ‡ͺ!” So we did! But that’s for another time… πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘‹
  • References:
  • This is a great site to learn more about all the crocodilians that I will eventually talk about. 🐊🐊🐊
  • http://crocodilian.com/cnhc/csp_clat.htm

    Plus, my husband John, took some amazing photos. Thank you! ❀️

    Shark Krum: Chomp, Chomp!

    We can’t leave Shark Week without mentioning Victor Krum, the Bulgarian Quidditch team Seeker & Drumstrang champion!

    First appearing in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JKRowling. This fourth book was centered around a Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts, and in the second challenge, the champions had to figure out how to navigate the lake and it’s mysterious creatures to retrieve something they would surely miss.

    Come seek us where our voices sound,

    We cannot sing above the ground,

    And while you’re searching, ponder this:

    We’ve taken what you’ll sorely miss,

    An hour long you’ll have to look,

    And to recover what we took,

    But past an hour – the prospect’s black

    Too late, it’s gone, it won’t come back.

    – Excerpt from Goblet of Fire

    Krum attempted, although not entirely successful but it did the job, to transfigure into a shark. 🦈 Within the hour time limit, he was able to locate and free a sleeping Hermione from the mermaids, who were guarding someone each champion would miss. I don’t think I need to go into too much detail and differences between the book and movie versions, or do I?!? πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Nah, you should go enjoy the book or movie or both! 😜

    This clip looks pretty crazy, lol. Is Hermione surprised at Krum or taking a deep breath of air? An image she’ll never get out of her head. Thankfully we all know who truly had her heart ❀️ hehehehe😊

    And how cute is this LEGO Krum? Lol, πŸ˜‚ Well, this was fun! πŸ¦ˆβ€οΈπŸ¦ˆπŸ–€πŸ¦ˆ

    Shark conservation doesn’t stop just because Shark Week is over, so never stop trying to make our oceans better! For sharks and for us. 😊

    πŸ‘‹πŸ˜

    References:
    Pottermore Website, Harry Potter Wiki, Film Clips from Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire

    Respect the Fin πŸ’™πŸ¦ˆπŸ’™

    Many people see sharks as trophies πŸ†. Something to be battled and killed, just for a photo and bragging rights. Fishermen catch them, slice their fins off and toss them back in the ocean, alive to drown. Sometimes, their livers are taken for cosmetics like lipsticks, as well as other products. At least some fishermen will use their entire body; eat the meat and use parts for souvenirs.

    Many of these acts against sharks are just horrific…it’s just tragic. But there’s always hope that things can change!

    Through education, our voices joined together, and how we spend our money, can make a change for these beautiful creatures!

    To keep the sharing of shark experiences going, I’m going way back to one of my earliest interactions! I was on a pier and fishermen were braving the cold winter weather to catch fish to take home and eat. Every once in a while, they pull a little shark up.

    🦈 Smooth Dogfish Shark Mustelus canis

    These guys prefer to live in the warmer waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean, and munch on crustaceans and mollusks as they have teeth designed for crushing rather than sharp blades like many other sharks we know and love. 🦈 This species also stays on the smaller end of the scale, at about 4′ for a full grown adult. So the dogfish pictured here is clearly a juvenile! Awe! πŸ™ŒπŸ˜…

    Fishermen pulled this little guy up during the winter months, here in north Florida, while they were really fishing for Whiting fish. At least while I was there, they threw the sharks back into the water. Along with Dogfish sharks, the fishermen also pulled up young Bonnethead sharks (small hammerhead sharks).

    At the time, I was just excited to see and touch a shark, and while we knew the seconds were ticking how long this shark could be out of the water, getting some photos I thought were necessary. Not only for identifying, but getting a good message out to the public. This was before selfies, but we need to be sensitive to animals when we want a photo with one. We can’t stress them out or kill them for a simple photo.

    So as we celebrate sharks and want to save them, get to know them! I love Peppermint Narwhal’s graphics and they sell this as a great poster!

    The top photo is from Respect the Fin company, so you should check out their social media and website. A Miami based group wants to keep fins on sharks and keep sharks in our oceans. Apparently, Miami is a huge hub for the shark finning industry! 😱

    We can all do something and we SHOULD! We can’t let shark finning happen right under our nose and simply do nothing.

    Let’s try to keep up this excitement over shark conservation and be the change. πŸ’™πŸ¦ˆπŸ’™πŸ™Œ

    References:

    Smooth Dogfish shark Facts https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/fish/discover/species-profiles/mustelus-canis/

    Whale πŸ¦ˆπŸ’™πŸ¦ˆπŸ’™πŸ¦ˆ πŸ˜…

    Whale Sharks…πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™ absolutely beautiful creatures! These are the largest fish in the ocean, about 30-40 feet long as adults and about 20 tons, you can see why they got the name Whale shark. πŸ‹ 🦈

    Rhincodon typus, as enormous as they are, these sharks are filter feeders. Like many of the giants in the oceans, including Baleen whales, they live off of plankton, krill, and small fish. However, they still have teeth! Teeny tiny nonfunctional teeth making up 300 rows in each jaw. Whale sharks are also generally found in warm tropical waters around the world, and have quite an eco tourism economy built around them. Unfortunately, they are also still hunted in places like the Philippines! Crazy!!! The IUCN has listed them a Vulnerable species because their populations continue to decrease.

    At the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA, you can swim with their whale sharks! Woohoo! As well as manta rays, other elasmobranchs (throwing some science at yeh, aka more sharks and rays 😜) and even a giant Green Sea Turtle 🐒. They call it Journey with Gentle Giants, and it’s really very nice! πŸ‘Œ That’s scuba signal for “Okay!”

    We went for our anniversary and John’s birthday, so this is scuba for “I’m going to kiss you now with my mouthpiece because I still want to breathe oxygen” No gillyweed used on these trips! 🌱

    πŸ’™Be sure to get the video of your dive on the way out because of all the cool photos you can use off of it to post to social media. πŸ™ŒπŸ˜

    And fun fact about their whale sharks: they have them trained to different colors to make sure that each one gets enough food. Since they’re filter feeders, it’s not easy feeding one piece of krill at a time, so training them to different spots or colored buoys helps to make sure they get good gulps of food. Training is not only possible, but helpful from keeping one from eating all of the food provided. Plus you don’t want to see whale sharks fight…it would ruin the peace image I have of them. πŸ˜…

    With my whale shark print swim leggings from Waterlust, I’m not only supporting whale shark conservation but they look really cool and are functional for swimming in the pool when the temps outside start to drop! And each pair is made from 10 recycled plastic bottles! 😳 wow! Even better!

    I love swimming with Sharks and other ocean animals, because you really feel a connection to the ocean. Most of us don’t live on or near the beach, so it can be difficult to see why the need to change habits is so important. But giving up plastic bags, straws, and other disposables is an easy habit we can adopt, and then getting out into nature can help us make that connection.

    Start the change & be the change! Happy Shark Week and get in the water! πŸŠπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

    πŸ‘‹πŸ˜

    References:

    National Geographic and Florida Natural History Museum for the what sharks facts.

    Here’s a link to the Georgia Aquarium, Journey with Gentle Giants program:

    https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/experience/explore/programs-activities/animal-interactions/journey-with-gentle-giants/swim-with-whale-sharks

    Great White 🦈🦈🦈

    Cape Town, South Africa πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦

    Yes. THE Great White Shark 😍Carcharodon carcharias

    A large shark at 15-20 feet and over 2 tons. Lots of pointed, serrated teeth. Found worldwide, mostly in warmer waters but can also be found in cooler temps.

    Also classified by the IUCN as Vulnerable. Many regions are still hunting them for parts and game fishing, unfortunately, but they also suffer from entanglement in fishing equipment and shark fences, prey depletion, and habitat degradation.

    In May to June 2016, we were visiting South Africa for an IUCN Crocodilian Specialist Group meeting in Kruger National Park (photo above is me presenting a poster and talking to other scientists and crocodilian enthusiasts), and we couldn’t leave without a quick trip to Cape Town and a dip in the chilly waters with the White Sharks! I had been saying for years, that knowingly being in the same water as Great White Sharks was on my Adventure Bucket List, if it was the last thing I did on this planet, I had to make this happen. πŸ™Œ I was NOT disappointed. πŸ˜† Thank you, Apex Predators Expeditions! πŸ¦ˆπŸ’™πŸ¦ˆπŸ’™πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦

    Firstly, I’m sorry if these photos look funny, because my sweet hubbie took them off the video the tour guides gave us. Or maybe these images are from the GoPro we had…either way, use that and get the video when you’re doing a perhaps once-in-a-lifetime experience like this!

    Secondly, this was an excellent tour group. They picked up us before the sun rose, and delivered us to their main building. Provided a hearty hot breakfast and coffee. Brought sandwiches on the boat. Had yummy lasagna waiting for us when we got back! It was an all day event and I greatly appreciated the good, hearty food! (Because that water was really cold! ❄️ β„οΈπŸ˜…)

    They used a few fish heads instead of chumming the water, as well as communicating with a limited number of vessels on the water that were there to see the White Sharks. The different shark diving operations are not only limited to spots, but only a few can be out on the water at a time, so as to not overwhelm and chase off the White Shark population.

    But here we are! Check this off the Bucket List βœ… A super excited John and then a near hypothermic but super excited me, lol. 😬

    They used an 8 person cage, attached to the side of the 30+ person boat (huge!) and provided us everything except the swim suits we were wearing. You can’t be naked, and you shouldn’t, because good grief! It was so freaking cold! But I was too excited to be concerned with freezing waters because I was about to be in the water with White Sharks, and know that they’re there. Haha, I may have already been in the water with White Sharks, and never knew it. 😳

    There are my hands! πŸ˜…πŸ™Œ The sharks came so close, the caudal fin (the tail) hit my face! Where’s the photo for that? πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

    And there it is, Shark diving hair don’t care! This was amazing!!! I’m hooked πŸŽ£πŸ˜‚ I want to do this again!!!

    Great White Sharks are so incredibly beautiful. We can’t afford to see them disappear!

    Here’s the link for Apex Predator Expeditions: http://www.apexpredators.com/mobi

    You’ve probably seen them on Shark Week because I knew I recognized the guy! Haha!

    Thanks for stopping by again, and if you have something on your bucket list, don’t wait! Start planning, saving money, researching. Live life and make some memories. Plus, don’t forget to get all the photos and video you can so you can relive the experience and show off to your friends and family, lol, I mean inspire them to go exploring and on adventures.

    πŸ‘‹

    References:

    Www.arkive.org/great-white-shark/carcharodon-carcharias

    Caribbean Reef 🦈🦈🦈

    As we continue to celebrate sharks this month, I’m reminiscing about my shark experiences. SharkWeek is about to start, so I’m going to blog about sharks this week, maybe even through the end of July! Craziness, lol, πŸ˜…πŸ˜

    July 2016, Bahamas πŸ‡§πŸ‡Έ

    My first 40 foot dive, with loads of 9-10 foot long Caribbean Reef Sharks, Carcharhinus perezii

    Conservation Status: Near Threatened, Populations are decreasing.

    Ha! Scuba hair don’t care! 🀣

    These species of sharks live in these warmer waters of the Caribbean and off the shores of South America, and so are often involved in these Shark Dive Experiences. At least, they are seen better alive than dead by the local Bahamians because they support the local economy.

    The Caribbean Reef sharks came very close, as the top photo shows because there was no making the camera get a closer shot! Also this diver in a chain mail suit dives often enough that he recognizes individual sharks. Many of these dive operations try to practice tonic immobility (more on this later, but loosely described as calming the shark into a nearly nonreactive state) to impress tourists and draw more of us to their business.

    There are also a few of these guys hanging around…Shark suckers! Also known as Remoras to many of us that watch shark television shows, and Remora remora is their scientific Latin name. These fish are common in the warmer regions of all the oceans and not only stick close to sharks, but to many large bony fish, sea turtles, and marine mammals.

    Not only do these remoras eat scraps of food that these sharks and other animals prey upon, but help out their host by eating the ectoparasites found on their bodies! That’s helpful!

    Interestingly, some cultures like the ancient Greeks and Romans thought these fish had magical powers to sadly cause abortions if the young lady held the fish tight enough or even to show down someone’s shipping vessels to allow their enemy to catch them. The name remora means in the Latin, to hold back. Well, we know today that this is not the case thankfully!

    Another magical attribute to these fish are found in the Harry Potter Universe! The Ramora (with an A not an E) is found only in the Indian Ocean and can anchor ships. Hm, maybe the ancient Romans weren’t so far off. These Ramora are also guardians of these seafarers, and have been protected from wizard poachers by the International Confederation of Wizards.

    Lol! See, clearly scuba doesn’t care how crazy it looks πŸ˜‚ It was a great experience, and I hope people continue to see value in these animals. Without sharks in the ecosystem, we could see everything else unravel.

    I hope everyone enjoys watching Shark Week and comes to have a deeper love and understanding for sharks to be our ocean ecosystems. I hope more people are inspired to want to do more to help the sharks survive as well as keep our oceans healthier and cleaner, for all of us to enjoy.

    πŸ¦ˆπŸ’™πŸ¦ˆπŸ’™πŸ¦ˆπŸ’™πŸ¦ˆπŸ’™πŸ¦ˆ

    I want to give a shout out of many thanks to the Blackall’s and Ocean Daughters Conservation Alliance for a fintastic trip! Looking forward to doing more and getting more awareness out into the world to keep our oceans beautiful.

    References:

    Love this site, so definitely check it out. Especially during Shark Week…

    http://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/fish/discover/species-profiles/carcharhinus-perezi/

    About the remoras: animaldiversity.org/accounts/Remora_remora

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, JKRowling

    Throwback Thursday in the Philippines πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­

    In 2012, we explored the Philippines! First, experiencing my first camping trip in the jungles of Northern Luzon to release some young Philippine crocodiles. 😍 Lol, every other camping trip is glamping compared to this first one! πŸ™ŒπŸ˜…

    Before we left, John just HAD to ride a water buffalo (a farmer’s buffalo, not a crazy wild one).

    Second, we went to Manila, the capital of the Philippines and attended an IUCN Crocodilian Specialist Group meeting. At the end of the meeting, we visited a local zoo, where I got to meet the Philippine Eagle Owl (above) and Trixie, the Orangutan.

    Hey girlie, that’s MY man!

    Lastly, we went to Mindanao to see Lolong, a Saltwater crocodile that was the largest recorded crocodile at about 20-21 feet and over 2000 lbs! 😳🀯🐊 WOW! He was definitely impressive, but he was probably pretty old at that size and unfortunately had died about 6 months after our visit. πŸ˜₯

    Thankfully, I got a souvenir mug…

    This trip was amazing and I love going through photos from adventures past! Interested in more on my trip from the Philippines? Let me know! At some point, I want to write a more in-depth post about the conservation work happening in the Philippines for the endangered Philippine crocodiles. 😘🐊🐊🐊

    Thanks for visiting and all photo credit goes to my husband, John Brueggen. And maybe I took a few, or someone did, I don’t remember. πŸ˜‚πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ