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

The Niffler Decision Concluded

Alright then…I’ve made my Niffler decision!

After all the research of the existing animals that are similar to Nifflers and everything that JK Rowling has created in her mind to be a Niffler; I’ve decided: No. Yes, so cute and enduring, but the prospect of a destroyed house and lots of shiny clutter, I have to say that I wouldn’t enjoy that. My sweet fluffy dogs fill the affectionate role as well as the destroying house role. Claw marks, chewed up couches and blankets, fur accumulated in lots of nooks and crannies….they are enough for me.

Echidna Puggles look super adorable and I would not turn away a quick cuddle! Neither would I be able to restrain myself from a quick Platypus hug, even though the boys are venomous.

My mermaid friend, Heather, said it would be a no brainer for her: yes, a thousand times yes! But it’s common knowledge mermaids love collecting treasure, especially shiny things. Example, Ariel. D’uh! πŸ§œπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§œπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§œπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

So I can relax and enjoy the movies, watching all the Nifflers go by, without wanting to have one as a pet. πŸ™ŒπŸ˜…

Photo credit: All of the movie stills from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Puggles – ZooBorns; Platypus – stoppress.co.nz; and Threeleaves.deviantart.com (I ❀️ this artworkπŸ™Œ, I should get some…)

My Unique Hobby Farm Life

Hello again πŸ‘‹πŸ˜ I wanted to include another intro about my life and this time about the animals I live with. It’s kind-of a hobby farm because I have quite a few (more like several…alright, truth: a lot!) of poultry running around the yard, and I’ve tried to grow fruits and veggies in the past- with very little success. However I’ve been good at raising poultry, lol!

John and I also love reptiles, so over the years, we’ve collected our fair share (hahaha πŸ˜…): Tortoises and a Wood turtle outside (of whom the Duck loves to hang out with); plenty of snakes in the dining room; and a decently sized population of venomous lizards called Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizards.

John had also collected tarantulas over the years, some by accident and some on purpose.

We also have some fish that reminds of our first international trip: to the Amazon in Brazil. They kind of resemble piranha, huh? These are Red Hooks and they eat vegetation like piranhas, hahaha (nervous laugh πŸ˜…).

I also have a fun frog 🐸 in our master bathroom (so to be clear, not the guest bathroom if you were nervous). She’s a Green Treefrog, Ms Froggie. She came inside on a potted plant but has since trained me to feed her when she’s hungry. She will sit at my sink and stare at me, and when I don’t respond to the stare, she will jump closer and has jumped on me to get the point across.

Last, but certainly not least, my puppy loves! 😍😘 🐢 πŸΆπŸ’— Tahoe & Tobey!!!!

I enjoy posting their cuteness so you might see plenty of them on my social media, so be sure to follow me there to see these cute sweet guys!

Well, there you have it! πŸ™Œ Home sweet home! Thanks for stopping by! πŸ‘‹

The Cute Collector of Clutter: More on the Niffler…

After reviewing the “facts” about Nifflers, I still have yet to determine whether I would actually want one for a pet. They appear useful and good natured, but things could also get quite out of hand.

In addition to the Platypus as inspiration, the onscreen creator, Paul Catling, included elements from moles, like the digging claws and the dark fur.

Quick Mole Facts:

  • About 39 species found on every continent except South America and Antarctica.
  • They have a great sense of smell, to sniff out food like worms πŸ› and they have small eyes with poor vision, likely colorblind, but not completely blind like rumors suggest.
  • Not in the Rodent family unlike Naked Mole Rats and other mole rats which are in fact rodents πŸ€

(Hehehe, I choose the photo above because it looks like it’s smiling…right?!? Maybe the mole is where the Niffler gets its mischievous nature from πŸ€”)

This is the Star-nosed mole, and you can clearly see why! I think this mole is so cool, because I love that nose! So I just had to include this photo and statement: I think these are the coolest moles. There! It’s official! πŸ™ŒπŸ˜ Lol! πŸ˜†

Alright, there’s more to this Niffler-guy. He certainly likes to collect quite a bit of this shiny sparkly stuff, but he is not the only animal to do this.

Bowerbirds (please, after you finish reading, google images of these birds because they are very cool collectors!), the males craft these stage-like areas for the females to gaze upon the beautiful bounty that the males have collected. These guys like to organize them by color, and if say a researcher comes along and adds items or changes things at all, the OCD kicks in and the males take the time to reorganize his collections. It’s all about impressing the females. I’m sure many guys can relate… 😏

There are about 20 species of Bowerbirds and when they are not collecting shiny items, they are eating fruit and insects, flowers and leaves, and drinking nectar.

Out of the 17 species of penguins, 2 are collectors of fine pebbles. These clever penguin males look for the best of the best pebbles to bring to their love πŸ’—

Here, the Gentoo Penguin is bringing his mate more beautiful pebbles for their nest, similar to my sweet husband bringing me items that make our home uniquely our sweet home.

The Adele Penguin will search for the best pebble to present to a potential mate, like an engagement pebble! So sweet! If the female accepts, they will bond and mate for the rest of their lives, aaaawwwweee! 😍🐧

I just had to put this photo in because it’s super sweet…I’m considering getting it. It’s an Etsy product, and I think it looks pretty good, huh? Got a penguin lover in your life? Take a cue from these penguins! 🐧 ❀️ 🐧

More reasons to want the Niffler as a pet? Hm, I don’t know. I could end up with a lot of clutter…or gifts for other people! πŸ’‘ Lol! I’m going to wrap up this blog and still weigh the pros and cons of having a Niffler as a pet. So, one more chance to weigh in yourself if you would have a Niffler for a pet. Any thoughts, comments, questions, I would appreciate the input.

Thanks for reading and stop by again for more Nifflers and other cool creatures! πŸ‘‹

Photos (top to bottom): from the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; moles- havahart.com and popsci.com; bowerbird- bbc.com; penguins- penguins news today.blogspot.com and all about birds.org; and the Etsy Penguin Pebble.

The Charming, Cunning, Super Cutiest Niffler πŸ™ŒπŸ˜

First seen in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, and first introduced to us by Hagrid as an assignment in the Care of Magical Creatures class (Goblet of Fire). So mischievous but undeniably cute, the Niffler would become an instant hit among Harry Potter fans…but I asked myself: Would I really want to have one as a pet? So, I did some research into these fantastic creatures, as well as the animals we can find in our world…

Niffler Quick Facts:

  • Fluffy, black fur; a long, fleshy, duck-billed shaped snout; long claws on the front feet for digging (5 toes on all four feet); and a short stubby tail.
  • Fossorial: living in tunnels and burrows up to 20 ft deep
  • Found: UK & Europe
  • Gentle & affectionate, but also agile & obsessive about anything shiny & sparkly; however destructive to belongings and an owner’s home (classified XXX by N.Scamander, for competent wizards)
  • Produce 6-8 young in a litter, and has a marsupial pouch
  • Diet: Varied
  • Often kept by goblins, to burrow into the earth to find treasures

So here’s some questions I’ve been mulling over:

  • What did Nifflers collect before goblins or wizards discovered them? Just shiny rocks, shells, gemstones…
  • Were they created from animals we already have, like echidnas, platypuses, moles?
  • How are they smelling or detecting gold, gemstones, and other shiny, sparkly things?

With all that said, let’s look at the similar looking animals, that are truly just amazing creatures!

Echidnas, aka the Spiny Anteater, aka Puggles (like this super cute, super perfect looking Niffler!!! 😍)

  • Found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea
  • Terrestrial
  • Have electroreceptors in their snouts, looking for the electrical signals produced by the muscles of invertebrates, like ants and termites.
  • They shelter in burrows or caves, and use their spines that cover their body to help protect themselves from predators.
  • There are 3 species that are deemed Critically Endangered by the IUCN due to hunting and habitat loss.

Duck-billed Platypus

  • An aquatic animal with fur like an otter, webbed feet, and a beaver-like tail. When scientists first discovered this creature, they thought it was a hoax!
  • They use their sensitive bill to detect the electrical signals given off by their prey items, like insects, worms, shellfish, and crustaceans.
  • Males have venomous spurs on their back feet! But they can use their front feet to dig burrows along the edge of the rivers and streams they live in.
  • Near Threatened species, by IUCN standards, due to habitat loss.

Another bizarre thing about these animals, is that they lay eggs. They are mammals, but lay leathery eggs like many reptiles. They will lay 1-2 eggs, place them in a temporary pouch, and the young will hatch out using an egg tooth (just like reptiles!). With that, these mothers don’t have the usual mammary glands that most mammals have, but instead they “sweat” out milk for the babies to lap up. Wow! 😲

These are truly fantastic beasts! So how similar might Nifflers be to echidnas and platypuses? Laying eggs? Venomous spurs on their feet? Do the Nifflers detect gold and gemstones, like the echidnas and platypuses detect electrical signals from their prey? What do Nifflers eat?! πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

In conclusion…there’s no conclusion to this yet! I have other animals to look at and didn’t want to write a huge blog. Haha, so I’ll break this discussion/thought process into a couple of blogs. Add comments or questions, because I would also like to turn this into a podcast discussion. πŸ™ŒπŸ˜

Thank you all for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you about Nifflers, Puggles, and Platypus!

Photo Credits: the Fantastic Beasts movie; ZooBorns; stoppress.co.nz

Hello There!πŸ‘‹

A quick intro here: I want this blog to talk about how cool this planet is with all these amazing animals living in it. I’m a fan of the Harry Potter universe and thought it would be a lot of fun to talk about all the fantastic beasts and creatures in that universe. So, put your hands together! LOL! I’m going to include some adventures I’ve been on and hopefully this will inspire others live out some fun adventures, too.

Who am I? I’m a crocodilian biologist and I’ve been a zookeeper in the past, as well as an exotic animal vet tech (animals that are not cats and dogs). Currently, I’m a long distance runner and love running marathons, plus a beach conservation technician during the summer. I put on or help with fundraisers for conservation and a variety of education workshops. I love traveling and adventuring with my husband, road tripping through the United States or traveling to exotic places around the world. I have a hobby farm with lots of chickens, lots of reptiles, and two super cute doggies!

I’m also a proud Gryffindor 🦁 , with a West Highland White Terrier for my patronus. I’m so in love with this choice from Pottermore because my childhood dog was a Westie, and I’ve always had a ❀️ for Westies!!!! 😍 I’ve been a fan of Harry Potter since I read the first book back in high school, and I love that I was able to read the first two books with a girl I had the honor to foster for a short time. She also named one of my pet snakes Slytherin 🐍, haha.

I’m looking forward to this adventure of blog writing and hope to connect with other Harry Potter fans! Thanks for reading!!! #harrypotter #fantasticbeasts #gryffindor #hufflepuff #ravenclaw #slytherin #conservation #adventures

Attempt 1 at basilisk hatching…#basilisk #toad #chickenegg