Saturday, 20 May 2017

Clibanarius erythropus (Latreille, 1818) - Cyprus

Clibanarius erythropus is a species of hermit crab that lives in rockpools and sublittoral waters. It is found in the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and eastern Atlantic Ocean from the Azores to Brittany, the Channel Islands and as far north as the south Cornwall coast. Individuals may grow up to a carapace length of 15 millimetres (0.6 in)

A variety of different gastropod shells are used by C. erythropus, the most frequent being Littorina striata, Mitra, Nassarius incrassatus and Stramonita haemastoma, which collectively account for 85% of all the individuals studied in the Azores; in the Mediterranean, shells of Cerithium, Alvania montagui and Pisania maculosa are most used by C. erythropus.

Like other hermit crabs, C. erythropus feeds on "organic debris, decayed and fresh macro-algae with associated fauna and epiphytic algal flora, small invertebrates, and macroscopic pieces of dead and live animal tissues". It has been shown that C. erythropus individuals select substrates where they can cover large distances, and that globose shells allow them greater mobility than elongate ones

In 2016 the BBC Springwatch programme highlighted C. erythropus and ran a competition to provide a vernacular name. The winning name was St Piran's crab, a process supported by National Trust West Cornwall and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. St Piran is generally regarded as the patron saint of Cornwall, and was a hermit who survived being thrown into the sea.

Underwater photos  by Costas Constantinou

Friday, 19 May 2017

Bivalves fossils - Cyprus

Fossilized Leaves in Travertine - Video - Cyprus

Mediterranean slipper lobster - Scyllarides latus (Latreille, 1802) - Καραβίδα - Κωλοχτύπα - Cyprus

Scyllarides latus, the Mediterranean slipper lobster, is a species of slipper lobster found in the Mediterranean Sea and in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It is edible and highly regarded as food, but is now rare over much of its range due to overfishing. Adults may grow to 1 foot (30 cm) long, are camouflaged, and have no claws. They are nocturnal, emerging from caves and other shelters during the night to feed on molluscs. As well as being eaten by humans, S. latus is also preyed upon by a variety of bony fish. Its closest relative is S. herklotsii, which occurs off the Atlantic coast of West Africa; other species of Scyllarides occur in the western Atlantic Ocean and the Indo-Pacific. The larvae and young animals are largely unknown

Scyllarus latus is found along most of the coast of the Mediterranean Sea (one exception being the northern Adriatic Sea), and in parts of the eastern Atlantic Ocean from near Lisbon in Portugal south to Senegal, including the islands of Madeira, the Azores, the Selvagens Islands and the Cape Verde Islands. In Senegal, it occurs together with a related species Scyllarides herklotsii, which it closely resembles

S. latus can grow to a total body length about 45 centimetres (18 in), although rarely more than 30 cm (12 in). This is equivalent to a carapace length of up to 12 cm (4.7 in).[ An individual may weigh as much as 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb). As in all slipper lobsters, the second pair of antennae are enlarged and flattened into "shovels" or "flippers". Despite the name "lobster", slipper lobsters such as Scyllarides latus have no claws, and nor do they have the protective spines of spiny lobsters. Instead, the exoskeleton, and particularly the carapace, are thicker than in clawed lobsters and spiny lobsters, acting as resilient armour. Adults are cryptically coloured, and the carapace is covered in conspicuous, high tubercles

S. latus lives on rocky or sandy substrates at depths of 4–100 metres (13–328 ft). They shelter during the day in natural dens, on the ceilings of caves, or in reefs, preferring situations with more than one entrance or exit.

The diet of S. latus consists generally of molluscs. The preferred prey is, according to different sources, either limpets or bivalves. The prey, which S. latus can detect even under 3.5 cm (1.4 in) of sediment, is opened by careful use of the strong pointed pereiopods. They will also eat oysters and squid, but not sea urchins or muricid snails. They eat more in warmer seasons, getting through 3.2 oysters per day in July, but only 0.2 oysters per day in January

The most significant predator of S. latus is the grey triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, although a number of other fish species have also been reported to prey on S. latus, including dusky groupers (Epinephelus guaza), combers (Serranus spp.), Mediterranean rainbow wrasse (Coris julis), red groupers (Epinephelus morio) and gag groupers (Mycteroperca microlepis). An Octopus vulgaris has been observed to eat S. latus in an artificial setting, but it is unclear whether S. latus is preyed on by octopuses in nature

Male Scyllarus latus carry spermatophores at the base of the last two pairs of pereiopods in April.Fertilisation has not been observed in this species, but most reptant decapods mate with the ventral surfaces together. Between July and August, females carry around 100,000 eggs on their enlarged, feathery pleopods. The eggs develop from being a bright orange colour to a dark brown before being shed into the water after around 16 days of development. There is normally only one generation per year.

The larvae are much less well known than the adults. An initial 1.3 millimetres (0.05 in) long naupliosoma stage, which swims using its antennae, moults into the first of eleven phyllosoma stages, which swim using their thoracic legs. The last phyllosoma stage may reach a size of 48 mm (1.9 in) and can be up to 11 months old; most of the intermediate phyllosoma stages have not been observed. A single nisto (juvenile has been recorded, having been caught off Reggio Calabria in 1900, but only recognised as being a juvenile S. latus in 2009. Young adults are also rare; a museum specimen with a carapace length of 34 mm (1.3 in) is the smallest adult yet observed. Adults moult annually, and probably migrate to cooler waters with a temperature of 13–18 °C (55–64 °F) to do so. The old exoskeleton softens over a period of 10–22 days before being shed, and the new, pale exoskeleton takes around three weeks to harden completely. Smaller individuals typically gain weight over the course of a moult, but this difference is less pronounced in larger animals.

Scyllarides latus is mostly nocturnal in the wild, since most of its predators are diurnal. While sheltering, S. latus tends to be gregarious, with several individuals sharing the same shelter. When confronted with a predator, S. latus has no claws or spines to repel the predator, and instead either clings to the substrate, or swims away with powerful flexion of the abdomen, or "tail-flips". Larger lobsters can exert a stronger grip than smaller ones, with a force of up to 150 newtons (equivalent to a weight of 15 kilograms or 33 pounds) required to dislodge the largest individuals.

Predator avoidance may also explain the frequent behaviour where S. latus will carry food items back to a shelter before consuming them. When two S. latus individuals compete for a food item, they may use the enlarged second antennae to flip their opponent over, by wedging the antennae underneath the opponent's body and quickly raising them. An alternative strategy is to grip an opponent and begin the tail-flipping movement, or to engage in a tug of war

Underwater photos  by Costas Constantinou

Red-black triplefin - Tripterygion tripteronotum (Risso, 1810) - Cyprus

The red-black triplefin (Tripterygion tripteronotum) is a species of fish in the family Tripterygiidae, the threefin blennies. It is widespread in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. In the Black Sea it occurs off the coasts of the Crimea and Ukraine

Underwater photos  by Costas Constantinou

Spotted sea hare - Aplysia dactylomela (Rang, 1828) - Cyprus

Aplysia dactylomela, common name the "spotted sea hare", is a species of large sea slug, a marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusc in the family Aplysiidae, the sea hares

As traditionally defined, this species of sea hare was cosmopolitan, being found in almost all tropical and warm temperate seas, including the Mediterranean Sea where first seen in 2002 and likely self-established due to increasing temperatures.

Based on genetic evidence, the population from the Indo-Pacific region is now recognized as a separate species, A. argus. This restricts the true A. dactylomela to the Atlantic Ocean region, including the Caribbean and Mediterranean. The appearance of the two species is very similar, although A. argus is more variable in colour and pattern

The colour of the spotted sea hare is very variable, from pale gray to green, to dark brown. There are almost always large black rings on the mantle.

The maximum recorded length is 410 mm

Aplysia dactylomela is commonly found in shallow waters, tide pools and rocky and sandy substrates, they also will be found feeding in beds of sea grass. During the day they will mostly hide under large rocks and in crevices. They usually stay in relatively shallow water, but they have been found as deep as 40 m.

Minimum recorded depth is 0 m. Maximum recorded depth is 3 m

The right giant neuron of Aplysia dactylomela, which is found in the abdominal ganglion, is similar to that of vertebrates, meaning it is ideal for the study of electrophysiology, as well as conditioned-response studies. These neurons have been found to be invaluable in neurological research; the reason for this is that long-lasting effects in neuronal behavior can be detected

The Aplsia dactylomela is capable of swimming and crawling. It accomplishes the former by creating a funnel using the parapodia folded forward and downwards; this action pulls in water. It then pushes the water out from behind the animal by pressing the anterior parts of the parapodia together, thus forward motion is achieved.

The sea hare's usual mode of propulsion is crawling; it crawls by lifting the front end of the foot, stretching it forward then placing it on the ground in front, creating an arching pattern; the remainder of the body follows this arching pattern until the tail is reached

Like the octopus, the Aplysia dactylomela squirts purple ink if it is disturbed; this ink is an irritant that causes 'altered behaviour' in other invertebrates and fish.[8] Their leathery skin contains toxins which make this sea hare practically inedible to most predators

Underwater photos  by Costas Constantinou

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) Κίτσης - Σιαχίνι - Ανεμογάμης - Video - Cyprus

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Rosy starling - (Pastor roseus) - Αγιοπούλι - Ακριδοπούλλι - Cyprus

The rosy starling (Pastor roseus) is a passerine bird in the starling family, Sturnidae, also known as the rose-coloured starling or rose-coloured pastor. The species was recently placed in its own monotypic genus, Pastor, and split from Sturnus. This split is supported by recent studies, though other related species within its new genus are not yet known for certain.

The genus name Pastor, and the old English name come from the Latin pastor, "shepherd", and by extension a pastor. The specific roseus is Latin for "rose-coloured".

Formerly, some authorities also considered the maroon oriole to be a species within the genus Pastor

The adult rosy starling is highly distinctive, with its pink body, pale orange legs and bill, and glossy black head, wings and tail. Males in the breeding season have elongated head feathers which form a wispy crest that is fluffed and more prominent when the bird gets excited. In winter, the crest is shorter, and the edges of black feathers within the plumage become paler as the edges of these feather erode. Winter plumage in males is comparatively dull.

Females in contrast have a short crest and lack the sharp separation between pink and black.

The juvenile birds can be distinguished from common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) by its obviously paler plumage and short yellow bill. Young birds moult into a subdued version of the adult plumage in autumn, yet these lack the crest. They do not acquire their adult plumage until they are nearly one year old in females, and nearly two years in males. The latter grow plumage very similar to adult females in their second year, but are distinguished by longer crests and noticeably pale feather edges than female juvenile birds.

The breeding range of this bird is from easternmost Europe across temperate southern Asia. It is a strong migrant, and winters in India and tropical Asia. In India in winter, it often appears to outnumber the local starlings and mynas. The rosy starling is a bird of steppe and open agricultural land. In years when grasshoppers and other insects are abundant, it will erupt well beyond its core range, with significant numbers reaching France and the United Kingdom. The starling is a summer visitor for northwestern Afghanistan, passage migrants in the rest of the Afghanistan and winter visitor in almost entire world population in Sri Lanka and India including the southern India including Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Rosy starlings are highly gregarious birds, and often form large, noisy flocks, which can on occasion be a pest for growers of cereal crops or orchards; the birds are strongly attracted to flowering trees. However, they are also greatly beneficial to farmers as they prey on pests such as locusts and grasshoppers, thereby limiting their numbers. The birds breed in tight colonies in a very short breeding season timed to take advantage of peak abundance of grasshoppers during May to June

The rosy starling is a colonial breeder, and like other starlings, is highly gregarious, forming large winter flocks. It also shares other species' omnivorous diet, although it prefers insects. The song is a typical starling mixture of squeaks and rattles, given with much wing trembling. In Xinjiang, China, farmers used to use insecticide to eliminate locust, which is costly and polluting. In the 1980s, experts found that rosy starlings which fly to Xinjiang farms and feed on locusts could be used for control instead. The experts begin to build artificial nests to attract rosy starlings, an effort reported to be so successful that the number of locusts was insufficient to feed the birds, causing many juveniles die for hunger. By the 2000s many Xinjiang farms greatly decreased the usage of insecticide

Chiefly fruits, berries, flower-nectar, cereal grains and insects. Specific observations of preferred food types made on the feeding habits of rosy starling are listed as: Fruits and berries: Ficus (many species), Lantana spp., Zizyphus oenoplia, Bridelia hamistoniana, Streblus asper, grapes, mulberries (Morus), dates, Salvadora persica, Capparis aphylla and chillies. Flower-nectar: Salmalia persica, Bombax insigne, Erythrina indica and Erythrina suberosa, Butea monosperma, Careya arborea. Cereal grains: Jowar and bajra. Insects: largely locusts and grasshoppers, beetles of the families Lucanidae, Elateridae, Tenebrionidae, Buprestidae, Scarabaeidae and Curculionidae

Photos Livera 18/5/2017 by George Konstantinou 

Rosy starling - Pastor roseus - Αγιοπούλι - Ακριδοπούλλι - Video - Cyprus

Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) and Greylag Goose (Anser anser) - Video - Cyprus

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) Καστανόπαπιες - Video - Cyprus

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) Γελαδάρης - Ερωδιός ο Βουκόλος - Video - Cyprus

Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix) Κόρωνος - Κουρούνα - Σταχτοκουρούνα - Video - Cyprus

Blue rock thrush ( Monticola solitarius) Γαλαζοκότσυφας - Video - Cyprus

Little Owl (Athene noctua) Κουκουβάγια - Κουκουφκιάος - Video - Cyprus

Little Owl (Athene noctua) Κουκουβάγια - Κουκουφκιάος - Video - Cyprus

Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus) Σκουφοβουτηχτάρι - Video - Cyprus

Sling Tailed Agama - Stellagama stellio (Linnaeus, 1758) Κουρκουτάς - Video - Cyprus

Monday, 8 May 2017

Calosoma (Campalita) auropunctatum (Herbst, 1784) - Cyprus

Calosoma auropunctatum, is a species of ground beetle. This species was previously classified as Calosome maderae ssp. auropunctatum. This species is found from Europe (except in western and southwestern parts) eastward to Anatolia, Central Asia and western China and Mongolia

Photos Alampra 8/5/2017 by George Konstantinou 

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Bar-tailed lark - Ammomanes cinctura (Gould, 1839) - Μικρή αμμογαλιάντρα - Αμμοτράσιηλος - Cyprus - video

Pleurobranchus testudinarius Cantraine, 1835 - Cyprus

Pleurobranchus testudinarius,with eggs,
19mts deep,30.04.2017,Protaras

Pleurobranchus is a genus of sea slugs, specifically side-gill slugs, marine gastropod mollusc in the family Pleurobranchidae

Underwater photos  by Costas Constantinou

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Pilgrim hervia - Cratena peregrina (Gmelin, 1791) - Cyprus

Cratena peregrina, with eggs,20mts deep,Protaras,29.04.2017
Cratena peregrina, commonly called the "pilgrim hervia", is a species of sea slug, an aeolid nudibranch, a marine gastropod mollusc in the family Facelinidae.

The pilgrim hervia is small aeolid sea slug, its average size is between 3 and 5 cm. The body is thin and slender, with a long sharply pointed tail. Its body coloration is milky white with 8 to 10 clusters of dorsal cerata which can be bright red, purple, brown or blue, with the tips coloured in luminescent blue. Those cerata act like gills, and each one contains a terminal outgrowth of the digestive gland, a diverticulum.

The head, which is the same colour as the body, has a pair of bright orange rhinophores, and with two whitish long buccal tentacles, which look like horns.

This species occurs in the Mediterranean Sea and in the eastern Atlantic Ocean from the Channel south to Senegal.[3] This sea slug prefers to live on rocky bottoms and slopes in clear and well-oxygenated water, between 5 and 50 m in depth

The pilgrim hervia feeds on hydroids in the genus Eudendrium.

 Underwater photos  by Costas Constantinou

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Berried Anemone - Alicia mirabilis - Cyprus

Lessepsian migrant from Red Sea

Alicia mirabilis (commonly known as Berried Anemone) is a sea anemone species in the genus Alicia which changes shape as night falls expanding its column and tentacles to catch its food. It can be found in such countries as Azores, Portugal, Spain and such seas as Mediterranean and Red Seas

Underwater photos  by Costas Constantinou

Friday, 14 April 2017

Ehrenbergi's Jewel Beetle - Julodis ehrenbergii Laporte, 1835 - Cyprus

 This jewel beetle, with more than 20mm length, is green-golden, with yellow hair. Elytrae are spotted with 4 longitudinal rows of yellow and hairy spots. Legs are spotted, copperish, and hairy. Antennae are black.

Biology: The host plants are roots of various plants.

Distribution: South East Europe (Balkans), Turkey, Cyprus, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Israel/Palestine, Egypt.

Julodis is a genus of beetles in the family Buprestidae.


Photos Cape Greco 14/4/2017 by George Konstantinou 

Ortolan bunting - Emberiza hortulana Linnaeus, 1758 - Βλάχος - Βλαχοτσίχλονο, Τσακροπιτίλλα - Cyprus

The ortolan, or ortolan bunting (Emberiza hortulana) is a bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a passerine family now separated by most modern scholars from the finches, Fringillidae. The genus name Emberiza is from Old German Embritz, a bunting. The specific hortulana is from the Italian name, hortulane, for this bird.[2] The English Ortolan is derived from Middle French hortolan, "gardener".

In September 2007, the French government announced its intent to enforce long ignored laws protecting the bird.

The ortolan is 16 cm in length and weighs 20–25 grams (0.71–0.88 oz). In appearance and habits it much resembles its relative the yellowhammer, but lacks the bright colouring of that species; the ortolan's head, for instance, is greenish-grey, instead of a bright yellow. The song of the male ortolan resembles that of the yellowhammer.

Ortolan nests are placed on or near the ground.

Seeds are the natural diet, but beetles and other insects are taken when feeding their young.

A native of most European countries and western Asia, its distribution throughout its breeding range seems to be very local, and for this no obvious reason can be assigned. It reaches as far north as Scandinavia and beyond the Arctic Circle, frequenting cornfields and their neighbourhoods. It is an uncommon vagrant in spring, and particularly autumn, to the British Isles.

Photos Cape Greco 14/4/2017 by George Konstantinou 

Collared flycatcher - Ficedula albicollis (Temminck, 1815) - Κρικομυγοχάφτης - Κολλαρομαντού - Cyprus

The collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) is a small passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family, one of the four species of Western Palearctic black-and-white flycatchers. It breeds in southeast Europe (isolated populations in the islands of Gotland and Oland in the Baltic Sea, Sweden) and southwest Asia and is migratory, wintering in sub Sahara Africa. It is a rare vagrant in western Europe.

This is a 12-13.5 cm long bird. The breeding male is mainly black above and white below, with a white collar, large white wing patch, black tail (although some males have white tail sides) and a large white forehead patch. It has a pale rump. The bill is black and has the broad but pointed shape typical of aerial insectivores. As well as taking insects in flight, this species hunts caterpillars amongst the oak foliage, and will take berries.

Non-breeding males, females and juveniles have the black replaced by a pale brown, and may be very difficult to distinguish from other Fidecula flycatchers, particularly the European pied flycatcher and the semicollared flycatcher, with which this species hybridizes to a limited extent.

They are birds of deciduous woodlands, parks and gardens, with a preference for old trees with cavities in which it nests. They build an open nest in a tree hole, or man-made nest-boxes. Normally 5-7 eggs are laid. The song is slow strained whistles, quite unlike the pied flycatcher. Pied flycatchers can mimic the song of the collared flycatcher in sympatric populations.

The genus name is from Latin and refers to a small fig-eating bird (ficus, "fig") supposed to change into the blackcap in winter. The specific albicollis is from Latin albus, white, and collum, "neck"

Photos Cape Greco 14/4/2017 by George Konstantinou