Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lizard Project Day 6- Lots of Lizards!

 The cool, rainy day we had yesterday made it slow for both lizards and lizard-catchers alike.  When we awoke this morning to clear skies, we knew that the lizards would be eager to be out.  We visited two islands today, and hunted the lizards like mad.  And we did very well.  We caught 135 lizards today, including this one that was eating a grasshopper!  That is A LOT of lizards.  As our goal is to catch as many of the lizards present on each island as we can, we feel very good about days like this.  What we don't look forward to, is processing 135 lizards tonight.  We "process" lizards, be measuring, weighing, photographing, and marking each lizard back in our field station (aka bunkhouse).  It takes about 3 minutes to process each lizard, so you can do the math (and in case you can't do math, that adds up to about 7 hours of solid processing).

We also noticed this pair of Green Anoles mating as we were searching for our study species, the Brown Anole.  So why did these two end up together?  That is part of the question us biologists are interested in.  The were both able to survive this long, so that is a prerequisite to successful mating.  Did this male have fight off other males to keep a high quality territory? Did he attract this female with a flashy dewlap display?  Was it just a chance encounter, and she would have been willing to mate with any male she crossed paths with?  These are all questions we don't know the answers too, but our work with the brown anoles will give us some insights into at least that species. Notice that he is biting the back of her neck during their mating! Interesting.

On a side note, I had the most terrifying moment of my life yesterday. After the rains, I went for a run and then swim in the ocean.  As I was swimming, I noticed two HUGE shark fins cruising towards me.  I turned and swam/ran/stumbled my way back onto the beach.  They came within 10 meters of me. Their dorsal fins were about 18-24 inches tall, and was about 6 feet in front of their tails, which was also breaking the surface.  This means these sharks were probably about 12 feet long.  I never saw the heads, just the fins and tail, so I don't know what species they were,  but based of their size, I  certainly could have been on the menu. Turns out Florida has had the most shark attacks of any state in history, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History...  I won't be swimming anytime soon.

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