Sunday, 13 November 2016

Animal Magic - Friday 11th November at the Conoco Room, Louth.

The last talk in this autumn’s series came from Geoff Trinder. Not quite the average holiday snaps from around the world, Geoff presented some of his remarkable wildlife photography from Borneo to the Galapagos via India, Kenya, Madagascar, Costa Rico and the USA.

He started much closer to home, in his own garden, with a series of photos illustrating the emergence of a Southern Hawker, Aeshna cyanea, from a pond, watched patiently over several hours as the imago escaped its nymphal stage.

We saw pictures of frogs from around the world, flying tree frogs from Borneo, some of the maybe 400 endemic Madagascan species and the remarkable little Strawberry Poison Dart or Blue Jeans frog, Oophaga pumilio, from Costa Rica. Geoff related their curious parental behaviour involving the mother moving its tadpoles to different spots and feeding them with its own infertile eggs. Here's a detailed study of this behaviour: Jennifer L. Stynoski, Behavioral Ecology of Parental Care in a Dendrobatid Frog (Oophaga pumilio) 2012.

A trip to the Galapagos Islands allowed Geoff to photograph both the Land and Marine Iguanas.  The Marine Iguana has a hard time during El Niño years when the increased sea-surface temperature reduces the algae upon which the iguanas feed.  Population crashes have been recorded many times with 70% mortality in some El Niños. A remarkable adaptation is their ability to shrink, reducing their body length when food is in short supply. Here's a description. The future for the iguanas does not bode well if El Niños become more frequent or more severe and average sea surface temperatures rise with global warming. 

The variety of wildlife that Geoff's photos, from England's tiny harvest mouse to lions, tigers, elephants, wildebeest, rattlesnakes, Komodo dragons, pikas, wild dogs, chameleons and much else, illustrated the richness of our planet, but Geoff also warned of its fragility and that our actions will determine whether we are nearing our last chance to see so much.

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