Animals

Keanui’s Biodiversity Bonanza

Keanui’s Biodiversity Bonanza

Gerald McCormack, Natural Heritage Trust

First published Cook Islands News (5th June 2021), here (6th June 2021)

Entomologist at work!

Residents often talk about Cook Islands biodiversity, but few have discovered as many unrecorded species as 6-year-old Keanui Selam.  His recent insect-catching expeditions led to the discovery of eight unrecorded species of Heteroptera, a group of insects known as true bugs, or typical bugs.

True bugs all have a proboscis of long tubular mouthparts, which some use to suck the sap of plants; while others use it to spear and suck the juices out of caterpillars and other insects. The first group are farmers’ foes, while the latter are farmers’ friends. Continue reading →

Posted by Gerald in Animals, 0 comments
We’re away, home again in September

We’re away, home again in September

Gerald McCormack, Natural Heritage Trust
First published (14 April 2021), short version CI News (14 April 2021)

 

Plover in breeding plumage ready for April departure.

The Pacific Golden Plover, or Tōrea, is our most common Alaskan migrant. It is conspicuous on larger grassy areas during the summer and most are now in their dramatic breeding plumage and ready to depart. Continue reading →

Posted by Gerald in Animals, Ecology, Terrestrial, 0 comments
Nodule mining impact on benthic megafauna

Nodule mining impact on benthic megafauna

Gerald McCormack, Natural Heritage Trust
First published CI News 11 Feb. 2021, last update 23 Mar. 2021.

Examples of sessile and slow-moving benthic megafauna in the South Penrhyn Basin (SPB).

This article discusses the likely impact of nodule mining on the megafauna associated with nodules in the South Penrhyn Basin (SPB), from Penrhyn southward to Aitutaki and Palmerston. This impact was not among those discussed in the Trust’s 2016 booklet: “Cook Islands Seabed Minerals – a precautionary approach to mining”.

Benthic megafauna is recorded by still photography and video because these animals are larger than four centimetres and they are all visible on or above the seabed. Continue reading →

Posted by Gerald in Animals, Deep Seabed Mining, Marine, 1 comment
Golden Plover Migration to Alaska

Golden Plover Migration to Alaska

Gerald McCormack, Natural Heritage Trust

Plumage

During February and March the Pacific Golden-Plovers (Tōrea) transition from their dull non-breeding plumage into contrasting breeding plumage.

Holidaymakers gather in the airport departure lounge to leave for home, and as the boarding time approaches they hear entertainer Jake Numanga announce somewhat solemnly “Well, it’s time to go”. During February and March, Golden Plovers or Tōrea are also gathering around the airport grasslands to leave for home in Alaska. I wonder if they have a Jake bird announcing “Well, it’s time to go”?
Continue reading →

Posted by Gerald in Animals, Ecology, Terrestrial, 0 comments
Raemaru Biodiversity Expedition

Raemaru Biodiversity Expedition

Gerald McCormack, Natural Heritage Trust, 06 Jan. 2021

Joseph on cliff to the top.

The invertebrate biodiversity expedition on Raemaru encountered three unique Rarotonga insects, one undescribed, and of the seven locally-unrecorded species, only one was able to be identified.

In December, Maja Poeschko and Kirby Morejohn joined the author and Joseph Brider of the Trust on an expedition to the top of Raemaru. The plan was to survey insects and spiders with a primary goal of finding and photographing the small psyllid insect that was found locally for the first time on a single shrub in 2017.

Continue reading →

Posted by Gerald in Animals, Terrestrial, 0 comments