The Moirai Blog

The Moirai Blog


Scallops are watching you with hundreds of eyes


Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield  
Published: 2018-07-18  

Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield

Published: 2018-07-18  


We're watching you     Photo credit: NOAA

Scallops can have up to 200 eyes and each has a tiny mirror that reflects light onto the retina above it. Researchers recently found that these eyes act like reflecting telescopes and are made up of tiny, square guanine crystals that look like tiles [1].

Scallops see rather well thanks to hundreds of these eyes. Some species of Bay scallops in Northern latitudes may live over 20 years [2].
Macro photo of scallop eyes   Photo credit: Mathew Krummins  



1. Biologically controlled crystal growth: the image-forming mirror in the eye of the scallop. Acta Crystallographica. Palmer et al. 2017. 

2. Project Oceanography. Scallop Aquaculture. USF Marine Science, 
       http://www.marine.usf.edu/pjocean/packets/sp98/scallop_1.pdf      
        Accessed 12/11/2017




Extinction in the World's Oldest Rainforest - Can Poachers be Stopped?


Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield  
Published: 2018-07-17  

Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield

Published: 2018-07-17  


Malayan tiger, perhaps one of the last. Photo Credit: Jöshua Barnett Follow

The oldest rainforest, Taman Negara in Malaysia, arose nearly 130 million years ago and has flourished with remarkable species until recently. Taman Negara is home to the Malayan tiger, Malayan gaur and Asian elephant. Malayan tigers are critically endangered and only around 250 to 340 remain in the wild.
Tamara Negara, the oldest rainforest. Photo Credit: Vladimir Yu. Arkhipov, Arkhivov

Unfortunately, this ancient rainforest also attracts poachers that profit from extinction. Six poachers were recently arrested with tiger skins, claws and meat from Malayan tigers. They were also busted with parts from protected bears and leopards along with goats and pythons. Malaysian officials say they have witnessed a disturbing increase in foreign poachers.
Malayan gaur, aka Indian bison. Photo Credit: PJeganathan

Most people feel like there's very little they can do to stop poaching, it is such a distant problem from those we face in our day-to-day routines. So what can you do?
  1. Educate yourself and others. How can funding be raised to eliminate poaching if no one knows it's a problem to begin with? 
  2. Donate to reputable organizations that are responsible for working with governments to stop poaching, track animal numbers, and provide protection for animals. Google is an amazing tool for this. The International Anti-Poaching Foundation is great.
  3. Get involved: Support stricter guidelines and laws for poaching in your own area. Here in Florida, we work very hard to preserve the Everglades and bring awareness to how the loss of species diversity directly impacts humans.
  4. Be a better human. Leave the world better than you found it or what was the point of the journey?




Taking the quote 'the world is yours' to an extreme: The Osprey


Written by: John Canfield  
Published: 2018-07-16  

Written by: John Canfield

Published: 2018-07-16  


Osprey. Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield

If you ever find yourself in Florida and near a relatively large body of water (which is pretty much everywhere in Florida), you just may be lucky enough to spot the beautiful Osprey soaring above your head.
Osprey with breakfast. Photo Credit: Clare Canfield

And when I say lucky, I really mean that. The Osprey was one of many birds species, including the Bald Eagle and the Peregrine Falcon, whose U.S. population was decimated due to widespread overuse of DDT. Between the 1950's and 1970's, nearly 90% of the breeding pairs were wiped out in some areas. Fortunately, their populations rebounded extremely well after the ban of DDT, and it is estimated that the U.S. breeding population is ~100,000 and growing! I love birds and success stories, and the Osprey fits both of those. 

Here are some quick facts on the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
  • The Osprey can be found on every continent except Antarctica . . . which is pretty awesome if you ask me!
  • 99% of their diet consists of fish that weigh anywhere from 0.33-0.66 pounds.
  • They dive, sometimes as deep as 3 feet, and successfully catch a fish around 25% of the time (that is a higher success rate than when I open the refrigerator looking for a snack)
  • For aerodynamic purposes, after catching a fish the Osprey holds the fish in a head-first manner as it flies back to its perch.
  • Female Osprey typically have a pronounced black 'necklace', whereas males have a more solid white neck/breast. This makes them one of the easier birds of prey to distinguish between the sexes. 
Osprey in all of that color Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield

Male Osprey in flight. Photo Credit: Clare Canfield
The unmistakable Osprey. Photo Credit: Clare Canfield




Greater chance of being hit by lightning, yet here we are: Alligator at the beach


Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield  
Published: 2018-07-13  

Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield

Published: 2018-07-13  


This alligator is my spirit animal. The Florida heat gets to us all. Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield

I've read that you have a much higher chance of being struck by lightning than running into an alligator at the beach. Perhaps it is time that Floridians adjust that saying considering it's the first line in a news story about two alligators being spotted near Bradenton beach within the last few weeks.

As for my own "lightning strike" I give you the juvenile alligator I spotted at Bayport Park in Weeki Wachee. This little one was not in the springs, but in a kayak launch right off of the beach area.
Juvenile alligator enjoying a nice day at the beach. Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield

Should people be afraid? Nope, well not of alligators, but the drivers and boaters are a different story. Alligators are amazingly tolerant of humans and given that there are at least three alligators in every puddle in Florida, it's amazing more people are not harmed. They have outstanding lifespans and ferocious immune systems.

Use common sense when living in or visiting Florida:
  1. Do not feed the wildlife. Fed wildlife lose their fear of humans. Fed wildlife are ultimately dead wildlife.
  2. Dogs or small children? Keep them away from water, especially murky water. Keep them on a leash or whatever people use for kids these days.
  3. Do not pet the alligators. I know it may be tempting here folks, but don't.
  4. Want that awesome picture of the baby alligators? Get a powerful lens. Mother alligators will aggressively defend their young.
  5. Practice appreciating nature and respecting that you're hiking in, swimming in, and invading the homes of many wild animals.
  6. If you see an alligator at the beach, take a picture and leave it alone. Everything craves some sunshine and crab meat from time to time. 
  7. Be a good human. If you hate nature and animals - move to the city where it's quiet and safe...Oh wait. 

Warning: Do not pet. Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield




Conserving Nature By Scrubbing Your GPS Data


Written by: Neil Copes  
Published: 2018-07-12  

Written by: Neil Copes

Published: 2018-07-12  


A Siberian tiger and her cub ... somewhere.
Photo credit: Dave Pape

The Internet provides quite a bit of knowledge and power to anyone with access to it, but unfortunately that includes poachers and people involved in illegal plant and animals trades. For years, archaeologists have been obscuring and protecting the locations of important sites out of a fear of attracting looters. The current trend in conservation biology is moving in the same direction, with calls to remove GPS data embedded in photographs of endangered species before posting the images online, or avoiding uploading images of at-risk species with identifying landmarks present in the photograph. Some researchers have even suggested limiting scientific publishing on endangered species in order to avoid putting them at risk of poachers. As a public service announcement for anyone concerned: Windows lets you edit the data embedding in a photograph by right-clicking, and going to Properties -> Details.




Poachers killed one of the last jaguars in the US


Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield  
Published: 2018-07-10  

Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield

Published: 2018-07-10  


A male Panthera onca in Brazil. Photo Credit: Bernard DUPONT

Yo'oko was one of the only three known jaguars roaming the US, where this large cat is considered endangered (that's probably obvious considering there are only two left). Jaguars have a large range and they once roamed from Arizona, Mexico, to  Argentina and Brazil. Unfortunately, we're now down to just two in the US and there's been a 21% drop in populations throughout their range.
The pelt of Yo'oko. Photo Credit: Center for Biological Diversity

Yo'oko was killed by poachers, but it's unknown who or exactly when he was killed. Side-note: it's pretty darned illegal to shoot endangered species.
Yo'oko - the jaguar that roamed the Huachuca Mountains in Arizona. Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildife Service

Jaguars can live up to 28 years in captivity, but generally only 11 to 12 years in the wild. This is mainly due to habitat loss, accidents and being shot by humans. Is it too much to ask for that cleansing, human specific, sterility causing virus yet?




The baby will be leaving soon - Black vulture


Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield  
Published: 2018-06-27  

Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield

Published: 2018-06-27  


The beautiful baby that we share our slice of the world with. Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield

Black vultures generally spend about two months in their nesting area, relying on mom and dad for food. The next step is to move into higher areas until they can take flight at about 80 days old (still relying mostly on their parents for food).

Males and females are monogamous and they form very strong family bonds. Black vultures are playful, intelligent and enjoy socializing. The oldest recorded black vulture was 25 1/2 years old.

Oh, and that beautiful bald head is to prevent bothersome bacteria and other ickiness from sticking to their feathers when they are enjoying a meal.
Bald is beautiful. Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield

Raptor rescuers report that vultures are fantastic creatures, so enjoy watching a vulture tornado whenever you get a chance - that's a family of amazing creatures that you're seeing.





Epigenetic Age Analysis Version 2.0 is now available


Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield  
Published: 2018-06-04  

Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield

Published: 2018-06-04  


Our sister company, Osiris Green, just released Version 2.0 of their Epigenetic Age Analysis kit!  Check it out. More exciting news coming from Osiris very soon. 











We're not so different after all: Crocodile brain response to Bach


Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield  
Published: 2018-05-15  

Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield

Published: 2018-05-15  


He's just wondering why you didn't test with Tupac or The Highwaymen. Photo Credit: Bernard DUPONT

Many of us can appreciate the complexity of classical music (not while driving, because some of us suffer from severe carcalepsy and will crash and die immediately upon switching to the classical channel). That appreciation can be monitored with functional MRIs (fMRI), which measures brain activity by detecting fluctuations associated with blood flow. 

These fluctuation patterns are different depending on if you're listening to basic sounds or music. 
This is how you get a crocodile to be still for an fMRI. Photo Credit: Dr. Felix Ströckens

Thanks to some very careful and brave researchers, we now know that crocodiles differentiate between basic sounds and music (probably didn't need science for that). The interesting part of these findings are that brain patterns of crocodiles in response to classical music was similar to that of birds and mammals. These measurements were taken in response to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 to be exact.

This may seem like an odd study, but these findings mean that brain response to stimuli may have have evolved much earlier than scientists thought. 





Introducing the colt of Swallowtail Ranch


Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield  
Published: 2018-04-30  

Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield

Published: 2018-04-30  


Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield

Sandhill crane babies are called "colts" and we're lucky enough to watch one growing up on our property. 
April 8th, 2018 Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield
April 20th, 2018 Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield

Quick facts about Sandhill cranes:
  • They mate for life.
  • Most Sandhill cranes are migratory, but ours happen to be a non-migratory, sub-species that reside here year round.
  • Colts can grow an inch a day!
  • Colts stay with their parents for almost a year, so expect more pictures of this beautiful family.
  • Males and females both take part in incubating the eggs and feeding the young ones.
  • Dad will aggressively defend his family (even if the predator is your house windows).
April 29th, 2018 Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield
April 20th, 2018 Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield
April 29th, 2018 Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield

Have a lovely week!
Our back yard jungle Photo Credit: Clare-Anne Canfield