Tag Archives: chester moore

Epic Fail of Corporate Wildlife Media

Corporate wildlife media has failed again.

And again .

And again.

You might be asking “Hey Chester, what is the corporate wildlife media?

It is media outlets owned by publicly traded corporations.

It is the large wildlife nonprofits who by virtue of their budgets and staffing have created a bottleneck in wildlife related information.

It is the large wildlife websites and programs interested in sensationalism instead of stories to initiate clickthroughs.

(Public Domain Photo)

So, how have they failed?

Let’s start with the Asiatic elephant problem.

Currently there are an estimated 400,000 African elephants throughout the continent. That’s a huge drop from at least two million in the 1940s but it is large in comparison to the Asian elephant with a best estimate standing at around 35,000 animals scattered throughout Asia. Think about that.

There are less 1/10 Asian elephants in comparison to African.

Why is little said about Asian elephants?

For starters, big conservation is big bureaucracy and the public’s fascination with the African elephant helps generate funding. Lots of it. The largest threat to Asia’s elephant has been habitat loss with poaching also a factor but showing African elephant carcasses stripped of tusks raises funds.

Showing palm oil plantations and villages taking up space for Asian elephants not so much.

Listen to my intense monologue on the failure of the corporate wildlife media here.

In the April 24th entry I quoted a story that came out of Myanmar showing there is a growing market for Asiatic elephant skins and now bulls, cows and babies are being slaughtered.

Just before making this very post I did a google search for “elephant poaching”.

I finally found a story FIVE pages back on the Myanmar situation with every other story dating back several years in the NEWS section about African elephant poaching.

An even bigger failure is the sad story of the vaquita porpoise I reported on here last year in several entries.

There are only 30 vaquitas left.

30!

If Japanese whaling vessels start pounding on humpbacks the fundraising nonprofits will send out their letters and the social media will be abuzz.

But the vaquita is likely about to be extinct and you see almost nothing on it.

Why?

Harpooned whales and blood-stained seas raise funds and generate web traffic. They don’t think small propoises no one has heard about tangled in nets will do the same.

Slaughtered whales are more sensational than netted porpoises. (Public Domain Photo)

I think it would.

I think you and the wildlife loving public are smarter than that but in my opinion the gatekeepers in much of the corporate wildlife media think you’re not.

They think you need sensationalism when I think you need real stories.

That is what I try to do here.

I probably fail as well since this is a one man operation and things slip under the radar but I do put my heart and soul out there and say things I promise gain me no political favor on any side of the conservation aisle.

If you love wildlife and believe in conserving it do your best to stay tuned to independent researchers, small conservation groups and bloggers like myself in addition to the big outlets.

Not everything they do is bad but they miss way too much. And sometimes its on purpose.

It’s time all species in danger of extinction get attention, not just the chosen ones.

Chester Moore, Jr.

(To contact Chester Moore e-mail chester@chestermoore.com. To subscribe to this blog enter your email address in the box on the top right of this page.)

Mystery of the Gulf’s Pink and White Dolphins

The most beautiful creature I have ever seen in the wild is a pink dolphin. In fact it is the very pink dolphin you see in the photo below that I took on Louisiana’s Lake Calcasieu (Big Lake) in 2010.

pinky the dolphin
Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.

This dolphin is nicknamed “Pinky” and I have been blessed to see it on three separate occasions and it had it swim fairly close to our boat while drifting in the channel near Cameron, La. in 2013. You can see that video clip below.

In my opinion anomalies like this are important because they raise awareness to issues in nature and in this case the presence and importance of marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to Heidi Whitehead with the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, this partitcular dolphin has been observed for more than a decade.

We initially began receiving reports of the “pink” bottlenose in Calcasieu in 2007 and we worked with NOAA to educate people and reduce vessel traffic around the animal for the protection of the animal because there were so many wanting to get out to see it.  There was also a pink dolphin observed in the Houston ship channel near Bolivar several years ago but it has not been confirmed whether or not this was a different animal than the Calcasieu one as we have seen evidence from our photo-ID work that dolphins travel between Galveston and Louisiana.

Whitehead provided us with a fact sheet from NOAA on pink and white albino dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico and it contains some truly interesting information.

While there have been many documented sightings of albino, “white” or “pink” bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico; it is believed these sightings are of the same three individuals. The first was reported during the summer of 1994 in Little Lake near New Orleans, Louisiana. The all-white dolphin was spotted in a group of 4-5 individuals for 20 to 30 minutes and never seen again. In September 2003, another all white dolphin calf was first observed in a group of more than 40 dolphins south of Galveston, Texas. It was re-sighted several times in the same vicinity through August 2004 (Fertl et al., 1999; Fertl et al., 2004). 

This is what NOAA has to say about “Pinky” from the Lake Calcasieu area.

Although the dolphin is often referred to as a “pink” dolphin because of its pink coloration, it is considered an albino. The dolphin’s mother is not albino and has the gray coloring typical of coastal bottlenose dolphins. Dolphin calves are typically born dark gray in color. All sightings of this dolphin have been off Louisiana and most of the time it was seen swimming with a group. 

According to NOAA there have been “white” dolphin sightings along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Other “white” dolphins have been sighted in the Southeast U.S. between 2012-2014, these include off the coast of South Carolina, NE Florida and Georgia, and in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida 

If you see a pink or white dolphin call the Southeast US Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-877-433-8299. They are interested in getting information on these unique animals.

And so am I.

If you have photos or videos please send them along with photo credits and dates/timeline if possible.

I am working on a special project for kids regarding these colorful enigmatic marine mammals and would appreciate your help.

E-mail chester@kingdomzoo.com

Chester Moore, Jr.

(To subscribe to this blog for weekly updates enter your email address in the bar at the top right of the page.)

Another Sea Snake Report Comes From Gulf of Mexico

Sea snakes are some of the most unusual and mysterious reptiles on the planet and their known range is limited to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

I have however uncovered a series of interesting reports in the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas/Louisiana border.

In response to an earlier entry here at The Wildlife Journalist® another report came in-this time from Florida.

Last year in August (2017) we were on a family vacation. We went down to the beach and got I’m in the water and not two minutes later my 11-year-old started yelling snake. I still couldn’t see it. So he pointed at it and followed it out the water. It went down the beach 20 or 30 yards and back in the water. It was only a baby but definitely a banded sea krait. I have watched many nature shows with this snake on it. This was at Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island, Fla. We will be there again this August and I will be keeping a look out for another one.

This location is on the Gulf Coast of Florida and is the first report we are aware of in the region.

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Banded sea krait. Photo courtesy NOAA

In the first article on the subject we note there are eel species in the Gulf that could be mistaken for a sea snake, however the behavior mentioned in the report above does not match up with eel behavior.

Is it really possible that banded sea kraits entered the Gulf of Mexico through ship ballasts?

An article at thoughtco.com explains ballast systems purpose and how they work.

A ballast water system allows a ship to pump water in and out of very large tanks to compensate for a change in cargo load, shallow draft conditions, or weather.

  • The capacity of ballast water tanks might be millions of gallons on a large vessel. This allows vessels to carry a light or heavy load while maintaining ideal buoyancy and handling conditions in all situations.

More than 7,000 species move around in ship ballots daily according to officials with the World Wildlife Fund in an article in The Telegraph and while ships are supposed to change their ballast water in the open ocean to lessen the chance of invaders making it inland, this would have little impact on sea snakes. They could easily catch a ride on a mat of Sargassum and be just fine.

The Chinese Mitten crab has taken up residence in the Thames and other English river systems after being brought in by ballasts. It’s within the realm of possibility for sea snakes to hitch a ride into the Gulf.

An interesting side-note is the most likely sea snake hitchhiker would be the yellow-bellied sea snake as it is found along the Pacific Coast of Panama and is the most widely distributed species. All of the reports I have gathered are of banded sea kraits which live much further away from the United States.

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Yellowbelly sea snake. Photo courtesy NOAA

We will talk more about this in another post and dig more into some other possible cases of mistaken identity besides the aforementioned eels.

If you have seen any sea snake in the Gulf of Mexico or had a sighting of something snake-like you cannot explain email chester@chestermoore.com.

This story is getting more interesting by the week and we will continue coverage here at The Wildlife Journalist®.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

 

 

Is Common Blacktip Shark 4th Most Likely To Attack?

Blacktip Shark

The common blacktip shark is never listed in Internet and television lists of the most dangerous sharks.

Yet if you look at the raw numbers from the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), you will see they should be.

While blacktips were only positively identified in one unprovoked fatality they were responsible for 29 total attacks.

That puts only the great white, tiger and bull-the three species everyone recognizes as potentially dangerous above them. We wrote about this last year here but have some new insight.

The blacktip shark can easily be confused with other species. (Photo courtesy NOAA)

ISAF has a category for requiem and lamniforems-attacks linked to thosebranches but not to exact species and those are both higher than the blacktip. But when it comes to identified sharks biting people blacktips rank fourth.

Period.

This is not to implicate the blacktip as a creature to be feared. It is however to question some of the shark attacks identified as bull and to  lesser extent spinner sharks (which have 16 attacks attribute to them.)

Spinner sharks are nearly identical to blacktips and bull sharks and big blacktips can appear similar especially in murky water.

The identification issue is noted by ISAF.

 This list must be used with caution because attacks involving easily identified species, such as white, tiger, sandtiger, hammerhead and nurse sharks, nearly always identify the attacking species, while cases involving difficult to identify species, such as requiem sharks of the genus Carcharhinus, seldom correctly identify the attacker.

Blacktips are the most common large shark to be found in the Gulf of Mexico. They are highly abundant along many beaches and probably come into contact with people more than any other large shark.

The author in 1999 with a blacktip shark he was about to tag with Mote Marine biologist John Tyminski.

While the bull shark is common and sort of jacked up on testosterone, blacktips are even more abundant and frequently prey on schools of mullet, menhaden, pompano and other fish on the beachfront.

In my opinion some of the “bull shark” attacks on fishermen in particular are probably blacktips. Wade fishermen routinely carry belts with fish stringers and I have personally witnessed numerous blacktips hitting stringers. I have seen bulls circle anglers and have heard of one attacking a stringer but blacktips are far more often the culprit here.

Bulls have a bad reputation so they might be getting a little more blame on some of the attacks that do not involve fatalities and outright brutal attacks.

An interesting note from ISAF is that blacktips have been known to attack surfers in Florida.

Is it possible they are experiencing the same kind of phenomenon great whites do in seal-rich waters of the Pacific but instead of pinnipeds they relate it to the silhouette of sea turtles?

Blacktip sharks are amazing creatures that have the respect of anglers due to their incredible acrobatics when hooked. Most anglers catch-and-release them these days respecting their role in the ecosystem.

Perhaps with this knowledge they might respect them a little more-and be a little more cautious when toting around a stringer of speckled trout or pompano in the surf.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

 

Mystery Animal Photographed in Central Texas

You never know what you’re going to see traveling through the Texas Hill Country at night. Sometimes you come across a true mystery animal.

Geoffrey Bennett submitted these photos (after posting on his Facebook) of an animal his brother saw and was able to capture these images of as it climbed a rock wall.

Exact location has not been given nor would we give it but it’s safe to say it is in the beautiful limestone-encrusted Edwards Plateau.

On the initial posts several people chimed in with thoughts including jaguarundi, ringtail and lemur.

It’s definitely not a ringtail or lemur.

Jaguarundi was my first thought at seeing the photo below but after seeing the next one in the series I am convinced this is a kinkajou (Potus flavus). These rainforest dwellers are the only member of the genus “Potos” and are sometimes called a “honey bear”.

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Photo courtesy Jeffrey Bennett

The tail is what tipped me off. Kinkajous have a prehensile (climbing/gripping able) tail and this one is curled up. I have a kinkajou at our Kingdom Zoo: Wildlife Center and his named is “Irwin”.

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Photo courtesy Jeffrey Bennett

His tail is always curled up.

Plus the body and head just look kinkajou and if you look close enough you can see what looks like a collar.

irwin
Our kinkajou “Irwin” taking a nap in his hide.

If this is a kinkajou, what is it doing in the Texas Hill Country?

They are common animals at zoos and wildlife parks and are not a rare pet. In fact, for those who like exotics they make a much smaller and generally safer pet than say a lion.

My suspicion this is someone’s pet that escaped.

What do you think of the identify of this cool-looking animal?

Post your comments below.

Have you seen anything like this? We’d love to see the photos.

We appreciate Mr. Bennett giving us access to these pics and sharing this unique encounter with us wildlife lovers.

(To subscribe to The Wildlife Journalist blog enter your email at the top right of this page.)

Chester Moore, Jr.

I want to see…

It’s a little thing.
But seeing one would be a very big deal to me.
I want to see a long-tailed weasel.

I might have seen one in 1998 when crossing over Adams Bayou near my home in Orange County. It was at night and this little creature crossed the road. At first it looked like a mink but the color wasn’t quite right and it didn’t quite look as bulky as the mink I was used to seeing in the area.
Still, I can’t call that a sighting.
I want to see one and know that I saw it.
I have a spot where I see mink about every third trip. Some of them are quite large and aren’t very spooked by human presence.
But these weasels are another issue.
I am in the process of seeking out reports in the Orange, Newton and Jefferson County areas of Southeast Texas. If you have a sighting or game camera photo please emailed chester@kingdomzoo.com.
I want to stake out an an area and try to lure one out with a predator call for photos and also set up a game camera for photos. I have one potential spot mapped out near where I had my “possible” sighting nearly twenty years ago.
It is perfect habitat and there has been some possible depredation on poultry.
It easy to get caught up with the bigger and more widely known animals but I like the little shy guys too.
Makes sense for someone who operates  “micro zoo”, doesn’t it?
Looking forward to seeking out some weasels. At the very least it should be challenging.
Chester Moore, Jr.
 

Banteng

It must be the Texan in me.
I love cattle especially wild ones. There is something powerful and majestic about the bulls in particular.
Numerous species exist around the world but my favorite is the banteng of Southeast Asia.

Public Domain Photo
Public Domain Photo

I first learned of these while in college doing some studies on Australia’s wildlife. Banteng were introduced there in the 1830s and there are about 10,000 of them dwelling Garig Gunak Barlu National Park.
That is actually the largest population of wild banteng found anywhere. In their native Southeast Asia their numbers have dwindled.
There is a domesticated strain of banteng idenfited as “Bali cattle” and there has been some introducing them into the gene pool to help bring some diversity.
A study entitled Rapid development of cleaning behavior by Torresian crows on non-native banteng in Northern Australia (That’s a mouthful, huh?) shows some positives of their introduction

In this paper we report the observation of a rapidly developed vertebrate symbiosis involving ectoparasite cleaning by a native corvid of northern Australia, the Torresian crow, on a recently introduced bovid ungulate, the banteng. On three separate dates we observed a total of four crow individuals eliciting facilitation behaviours by a total of ten female banteng to assist in the removal of ectoparasites.

Most exotic introductions are considered a negative although in reality people would be shocked with which animals in their country are actually native. This one is at least proving interesting scientifically and benefiting a native species.
One of the animals we plan on acquiring for the next phase of the Kingdom Zoo: Wildlife Center is a banteng . If anyone has any contacts here in the states please contact us.
And don’t worry. As much as I like beef, banteng will not be what’s for dinner.
Chester Moore, Jr.

Bobcats have tails!

Bobcats have tails!
That might not seem worthy of the exclamation point there but it needs to be said emphatically.
Over the last year I have examined at least a dozen bobcat photos people thought were cougars because the tail was longer than they expected.
The video below shows a bobcat captured on a game camera by friends of mine in Orange County, TX.
This particular bobcat has a tail longer than just about any I have seen but there are many of them out there with tails close to this. Some have little powder puff looking tails but most stretch out 3-4 inches. This one is probably 8-9 inches in length.
That is long for a bobcat but nearly as long as a cougar which has a tail nearly as long as the body.
I have no scientific way of estimation but I daresay 75 percent of alleged cougar sightings in the eastern half of the United States are bobcats.
I know for a fact there are cougars there too but bobcats are far more numerous and I know from personal experience how many people think they have a cougar photo but find out it is a bobcat instead.
This is no fault of their own. Wildlife identification studies are not a priority at schools and in fact game wardens even get very little wildlife identification education during their formal training.
I appreciate any and all game camera photos and if you have some you would like to have evaluated email chester@kingdomzoo.com.
Bobcats are one of my favorite animals and I have had the pleasure to work with them in captivity, photograph them on many occasions and have probably seen 200 plus in the wild.
In fact on a peace of property near the set of John Wayne’s “The Alamo” near Bracketville, TX I saw five bobcats in one day.
Seeing them is fairly common for me but I always rejoice knowing I caught a glimpse of one of America’s most successful predators.
Chester Moore, Jr.
 

“Teeth” in the Gulf

“Teeth”!
“That is next movie they need to make. We’ve got one about a killer shark but they need to make one about a killer gar,” said my Dad.
“Wouldn’t that be cool?” he asked as we sat on the side of the road between Bridge City and Port Arthur, TX fishing for alligator garfish.
At eight-years-of age I thought that would be epic to say the least and if any of the producers of such high art as “Sharktopus” are reading this blog, it very well could become the next SyFy Original.
Just sign those royalty checks to “Chester Moore” please.
Dad always liked to make me laugh and that certainly did but there certainly are not a bunch of garfish attacks to report.
There is however something quite interesting.
15240140_10153905413465780_2058860035_nWhile “Jaws” is on the minds of beachgoers in Texas (our variety-bulls, lemons, blacktips) “Teeth” is soaking up some of the same salty waters.
Angler Marcus Heflin caught a sizable alligator garfish while fishing the surf at Sea Rim State Park at Sabine Pass along the Texas-Louisiana border.
This was the first gar I have heard of on the beach anywhere along the Gulf Coast although I have long suspected they are there.
As a child I had a collection of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazines and one of them had a profile of Sea Rim State Park-where Heflin caught the gar pictured above.
It had fishing hotspots and there were several marked for garfish in the surf.
Garfish are considered a freshwater species but do well along the Gulf Coast. I grew up fishing for them in Sabine Lake and surrounding waters, a bay that at its southern end is only seven miles from the surf.
Mobile Bay in Alabama is a hotbed of alligator garfish activity and they are present in numerous salt marshes along the Louisiana coast.
Still, you can find almost no references to garfish in the surf.
The question is just how common they are in Gulf waters and how far out do they go?
These are very mysterious fish with little known about their life cycles or habits in comparison to America fish for comparable size.
So, if you’r ever at the beach and see something that looks kind of like a mutated alligator swim beside you don’t worry.
You just have had an encounter with “Teeth”.
There is no danger to be concerned with except in my eight-year-old imagination where a ravaging gar seemed like an intriguing proposition.
And to be perfectly honest it still does.
Chester Moore, Jr.

Follow the nose…

There was something about those 1980s Fruit Loops commercials.
The debonair sounding “Toucan Sam” was and is a memorable icon of pop culture and was what initially got me interested in toucans.
After seeing them on my cereal box in the mornings I started looking them up in the personal wildlife book library I had accumulated and found them fascinating.
Fast forward to 1999 and I found myself in the rainforest of Venezuela and five feet away from this white-throated toucan on the shores of the massive Lake Guri.
I was mesmerized as I snapped this photo.

The unique design and beautiful contrast of light and dark was in my opinion the most beautiful bird I had ever seen.
Sure, cardinals and red-headed woodpeckers had more standard beauty but there was something special about the toucan-all toucans.
When we founded Kingdom Zoo in 2012 me and my wife Lisa knew we wanted at toucan.
We searched high and low to no avail so we did what we should have done to begin with. We prayed.
We also gave away plush toucans to needy children in the community as a way of showing Christ’s love but also believing that he who gives us given unto.
We recently had the opportunity to purchase a gorgeous male green aracari toucan. We named him “Papaya”.
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This friendly and very active bird had his official debut last weekend at the Kingdom Zoo: Wildlife Center and seeing people’s reactions was special.
Most have never seen a toucan up close, only on the cereal box or perhaps in a distance enclosure at a zoo. Our micro zoo provides close interactions with animals and “Papaya” has become our number one bird ambassador.
He is a true treasure and I could not be happier.
Dreams do come true. Sometimes they come after profound revelation. Sometimes they are passed down from family members.
And sometimes they can even be founded gazing at a cereal box excited about the sugary snack inside.
And don’t give me any flack about GMOs and refined sugars. You know you were eating them too.
Chester Moore, Jr.