Friday, April 6, 2012

Lizard Project Days 10 & 11: Animals

We have now caught, tagged and released 572 lizards on this trip into the field.  We have already shared with you guys how we search for lizards, how we catch lizards, how we measure lizards and how we learn about evolution by studying lizards.  However, this post is not about lizards.  This post is about all of the other amazing animals that we get to see when we are out working on the islands.

 Manatee. Photo courtesy of
Manatees: This morning while we were paddling out we heard loud snorting and blowing. A huge tail then appeared appeared out of the water and two, thousand pound manatees rolled onto their sides and looked at us. We think that they were in the act of mating. They looked at us and continued swim slowly nearby, while they rubbed against each other.  They stayed close to us for about a minute until a power boat came close to them and scared them off.
The lizard project team gets a close up view of manatee mating on our morning commute.

Eastern Glass Lizard on Little Island.  How many of our lizards has he eaten?
Eastern Glass Lizard: Early in the trip we found an Island Glass Lizard, a seldom seen species of legless lizard swimming in the estuary. We thought we were lucky to see a legless lizard period, but yesterday we found another species of legless lizard on one of our islands (I wonder how many of our study lizards he has eaten?). This one was the Eastern Glass Lizard.  When we were releasing him, we accidentally caused him to eject his tail. We were sad that this happened, because it will probably take this lizard a while to regrow such a big tail.  They have the ability to eject their tail to escape from a predator.  When the tail is detached it wiggles like crazy to keep the predator distracted while the lizard escapes.  We filmed it and you can watch by clicking on the video.

Yellow Rat Snake: We found this critter on the mainland, but we have seen these on our islands before.  Like their name says, they like to eat rats and small mammals.  They also probably like to eat our lizards when they are small.  We have not seen any of these out on our islands this trip, but we have seen evidence that they are there.  We found two large skins that have recently been shed out on island L.  Andrew, the resident snake expert on our team, determined that they were skins from two very large (almost 5 feet long!) yellow rat snakes.  If you are
interested in learning about how Andrew can identify a snake from it's shed skin, read his latest blog post on his blog

Great Blue Heron: These big beautiful birds are really common on the estuary.  Almost every morning when we put the kayaks in the water.  These guys are sitting on the dock with the fisherman.  Watch this short video of one wading along the shore of Island M.

Still can't get enough Lizard Project.  Check out Tim Mitchell's post on about the strange language of lizard catching.

Tim's Fertile Turtles: Lizard Project- Day 10. Lizard Lingo!: We are on the cutting edge of evolutionary biology, but also on the cutting edge of developing new vocabulary.  After spending days and days trying to catch lizards, we have developed some new vocab words. 

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    Nice have post hear.