Flower Hat Jelly

flower_hat_jellyThis is a Flower Hat Jelly. They are found off the coast of Japan, but there have been sightings in Brazil and Argentina.

Flower Hat Jellies eat fish and aquatic invertebrates. They catch them in their tentacles. This kills the animal. Then then eat it. It will only leave a rash on people. However they can have a population peak in seemingly random times (called blooms). Then they may be harmful.

I saw this jellyfish at Shedd Aquarium when the Jellies exhibit was there.

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Sea Lamprey

sea_lampreyThese are Sea Lampreys. They are also called Lake Lamprey, Spotted Lamprey, Eelsucker, Green Lamprey, or Shad Lamprey. Sea Lampreys are native to the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea. Although those are salt water, they enter fresh water to spawn. They are an invasive species in the Great Lakes (but, are native to Lake Champlain.)

Sea Lampreys are parasites that feed on fish blood. They attach their disk-like mouth onto prey and suck their blood. In the lamprey’s native range, this does not kill the fish. However in the Great Lakes, they can  kill 40 pounds of fish in a year.

Sea Lampreys, as you could tell by the paragraph above, are a major problem in the Great Lakes. They kill many fish and disrupt the ecosystem. Lake Trout are much less common there than they used to be. There are people in those areas that get paid to catch and remove lampreys. Lampricides have been developed. Lampreys are considered a delicacy in some places. Maybe in the future, people can catch lampreys in those lakes for food.

I saw these Sea Lampreys at Shedd Aquarium.

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White-Crested Laughing Thrush

white_crested_laughing_thrushThis is a White-Crested Laughing Thrush (sometimes spelled laughingthrush.) It is native to Asian rainforests and the Himalayas.  They spend most of their time in the forest canopy.

White-Chested Laughing Thrushes eat seeds, insects, and fruit. Even though the bird is common in its range, it is declining due to habitat loss. They are very social and live in flocks.

I saw this bird in the Reptiles and Birds building at the Brookfield Zoo.

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Elegant Crested Tinamou

elegant_crested_tinamouThis is an Elegant Crested Tinamou. Tinamous are closely related to birds like ostriches, emus, cassowaries, moas, elephant birds, and kiwis. But, even though none of those birds can fly, tinamous can.

Elegant Crested Tinamous are native to South America. They feed on seeds, leaves, insects and fruit. They are the only tinamous that live in flocks. They prefer to live in open areas.

I saw this bird at the Reptiles and Birds building at the Brookfield Zoo.

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Banded Leporinus

banded leporinus

This is a banded leporinus. It is also called black-banded leporinus. They are native to the Amazon, but have been introduced to Florida and Hawaii. However, no banded leporinuses have been seen in Hawaii since 2005.

Banded leporinuses eat alage, plants (like the lettuce this one is eating), worms, crustaceans, and other fish.

Banded leporinuses are common aquarium fish, but to fit them in an fish tank, it would have to be one big fish tank. These fish can grow up to a foot long.

I saw this fish at Amazonia building at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. We saw it during the fish feeding time, when they put lettuce in the tank for fish to eat.

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Habitat Hotel

[iframe allowtransparency=”true” width=”485″ height=”402″ src=”http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/36868386/?autostart=false” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]

Press the green flag to start.
To earn points click on as many animals as you can, but remember once you click an animal you can’t click it again until it comes back.
You only have 30 seconds to click the animals.
At the end the chicken will tell you your score.

This was meant to go with my TAG project (the habitat hotel was a building I designed for animals), but it goes well alone too.
This is the lobby of the building. In the whole building wild animals roam freely.
I hope to add more soon (like more animals and rooms).

To go to the Scratch project, click here.

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A Rainbow of Insects

A Rainbow of InsectsThis is my new fair project for the Calumet County Fair.  You can see it at the fair this weekend, August 29-September 1, 2014.  I worked hard collecting all the bugs for this collection, but it was fun.  This year, the bugs in the collection are organized by color.  My favorite in the collection is this Northern Walkingstick:

WalkingstickSome of my other favorite bugs in the collection are the Seven-Spotted Ladybug, the Carolina Grasshopper, and the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

This is the third collection I’ve entered at the fair.  My first was the Insects of High Cliff, and my second was The Insect 4-H Club.

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Giant Clam

Giant ClamThis is a giant clam.  It is also called pā’ua or taklobo in other countries.  Its scientific name is Tridacna gigas, which I think is funny sounding.  It lives in shallow coral reefs in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.  The largest clam ever found was 4.49 feet long and weighed 550 pounds, and you can see its shells at the Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland.  But the one in this picture isn’t that big.  We saw it at The Seas pavilion at Epcot.  Many people think that they eat people, but they don’t.  They actually eat algae and plankton.  The giant clam and the algae have the strangest symbiotic relationship in the world.  The clam’s mantle provides a habitat for the algae, but then the clam eats the algae.  The mantle is really brightly colored, which confuses predators and filters the sun’s UV rays.

The giant clam’s status is vulnerable, and it is one of the most endangered clams.   It is considered a delicacy in some countries, and people used to buy the shells for decoration.  Today there are hatcheries releasing them back into the wild.

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Blue-gray Tanager

Blue-gray tanager

This is a blue-gray tanager.  It is also called a blue jean.  It lives in Mexico, Central America, and Northern South America.  It has been introduced into Lima, Peru and Hollywood, Florida.  It lives in gardens, farmlands, and forests.  It eats fruit, nectar, and insects.  They like to live in flocks of three to five.

The bird in this picture lives at the Amazonia aviary at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.  Some of the other animals in the aviary with it are red-capped cardinal, two-toed sloth, sunbittern, roseate spoonbill, Goeldi’s monkey, and more.

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White-faced Whistling Duck

White-faced whistling duck standingThis is a white-faced whistling duck.  It has a wide-spread range in both the Old World and New World.  In the Old World it is found in Africa and Madagascar, and in the New World it is found in the Caribbean islands and Central and South America.  It is called a whistling duck because its call sounds like it is whistling.  Its scientific name is Dendrocygna viduata.

White-faced whistling duck swimmingThe white-faced whistling duck lives near still freshwater lakes.  It usually nests on the ground, but sometimes nests in trees.  It lays 8-12 eggs.  It eats seeds and plants.

We saw the duck in these pictures at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.  We went there this summer.

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