Mar 31

Arkive officially announces the launch of its Atlantic Islands feature series: North Atlantic Islands and South Atlantic Islands! Through generous foundation support, our team has researched the islands of the North and South Atlantic Ocean, pulling together some of the world’s best imagery and informational factfiles to shine a spotlight on the incredible island ecosystems in this part of the world.

Through a two-part blog series beginning today with the  North Atlantic islands page we highlight some of the most stunning species and habitats from Iceland down to the Bahamas and more. 

Ready to be whisked away to island life? Let’s go!

Stunning Anegada Island, British Virgin Islands

The North Atlantic islands are a diverse group with some of them formed through the movement of tectonic plates and others through accumulation of volcanic material. One of the most unique features of any island is its ability to support endemic species. However, these endemic species often face the dual threat of overfishing and tourism, which leads to urbanization and an alteration of the landscape.

Bahamas

Nassau-grouper-portrait

Nassau grouper

The Bahamian islands are extremely low-lying with an average elevation of only 10 metres.  The mottled Nassau grouper resides in shallow waters near reefs and other rocky substrates. This austere species possesses the unique ability to change its colour pattern to resemble its surrounding environment or as a means of communication.

Bermuda

Bermuda-skink-on-rock

Bermuda skink on rock

Bermuda is made up of 7 main islands and over 140 smaller islands, arranged in a crescent-like formation. The diminutive yet robust Bermuda skink inhabits rocky, coastal area and is the only terrestrial vertebrate endemic to Bermuda. Hatchlings are born with sky blue tails that become brown/black with age.

British Virgin Islands

Virgin-Islands-coqui-on-leaf-lateral-view

Virgin Islands coqui on leaf

The position of the British Virgin Islands makes them extremely vulnerable to hurricanes and other weather events. The Virgin Islands coqui is a stunning little frog that strongly prefers living near terrestrial bromeliads. Males serenade females with two tone calls and will only commence their courtship call when the female approaches.

Canary Islands

Canarian-shrew-on-biologists-hand

Canarian shrew

The Canary Islands is made up of seven islands that include Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, Hierro. The lilliputian Canarian shrew resides lava fields with little or no vegetation. This seemingly mild-mannered species uses a neurotoxic venom to immobilize its prey such as the Atlantic lizard.

Cape Verde

Loggerhead-turtle-swimming

Loggerhead turtle swimming

The natural habitats in Cape Verde range from being desert-like and flat to luscious high-elevation forests. The endangered loggerhead turtle prefers coastal water, but may be found in the open ocean as well. These turtles have extremely powerful jaws that can crack the shells of even the queen conch and giant clam.

Cayman Islands

Buffy-flower-bat-hanging-from-ceiling

Buffy flower bat hanging from ceiling

Of the 26 reptiles and amphibian species, 75 percent are endemic and 30 of the 48 freshwater mollusc species are found nowhere else in the world. The enigmatic buffy flower bat has a diet, which consists largely of pollen, but may include nectar and fruit. This sleepyhead is believed to leave its daytime roost later than other bat species.

Cuba

Male-bee-hummingbird-in-breeding-plumage

Male bee hummingbird in breeding plumage

Wetlands are found on around 4 percent of Cuba’s surface providing a habitat for numerous resident marine organisms and many migratory birds. The micro-sized bee hummingbird holds the honor of being the smallest living bird in the world! It can beat its wings 80 times per second and consumes up to 8 times its body mass in water each day.

Iceland

arctic-fox-portrait-winter-coat

Arctic fox, winter coat

Around 11 percent of Iceland is covered by glaciers and 6 percent by rivers and lakes. The pristine Arctic fox is a sturdy critter that can withstand subzero temperatures. It has a short nose to reduce heat loss and increased blood flow to the feet pads to prevent freezing.

Jamaica

Captive-Jamaican-hutia

Jamaican hutia

Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and is located to the south of Cuba. The Jamaican hutia can be found in mountainous areas of karst formation where extensive networks of tunnels and crevices offer it protection. Hutias give birth to well-developed young that can eat solid foods and move around just 30 hours after its birth.

Madeira

Madeira-pipistrelle-head-detail

Madeira pipistrelle

The word madeira is Portuguese for ‘wood’, referring to the extensive laurel forest that once covered the island. The Madeira pipistrelle is an early riser and among one of the first bats to emerge from its roost in the evening. It uses echolocation to detect its prey and emits calls at a frequency of around 45-47 kHz.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Caicos-Islands-dwarf-boa-subspecies-greenwayi

Caicos Islands dwarf boa

There are 35 protected areas in the Turks and Caicos Islands that include national parks, nature reserves, sanctuaries and areas of historic interest. The miniature Caicos Islands dwarf boa lives up to its name and averages around 38 cm in length! When threatened it coils itself into a tight ball, hides its head, smears a foul-smelling fluid on its coils and exposes its bright yellow tail.

Now that you know a bit more about the islands, species, and ecosystems of the North Atlantic, ever wonder which island would best match your personality and interest? We wondered that too so we came up with a nifty little quiz that compares your personal interests and personality to unique characteristics of the islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

Would you thrive living alongside the puffins of Iceland? Or maybe you prefer to scour the warm, sandy shores of Jamaica? 

Islands quiz button copy

And stay tuned for the second half of this series where we introduce you to the marvelous flora and fauna of the South Atlantic Islands.

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

Jun 16

All across the UK, USA and Canada today, families will be celebrating Father’s Day in honour of all those awesome dads out there. Fathers are fantastic folk for all sorts of reasons, so we thought we’d delve into the ARKive collection to find some extra-special dads of the wild variety.

1. Male pregnancy?!

Spiny seahorse image

We’ll start with a classic example of the unusual lengths some dads will go to for their young: the seahorse! Like other species of its kind, the male spiny seahorse is the one that becomes ‘pregnant’. It will carry the fertilised eggs in a pouch in its tail, and will actually go through labour at the end of the pregnancy, actively forcing the young out!

2. Looking after the ankle-biters…

Betic midwife toad image

All midwife toad species have a somewhat unusual parental care system, and this Betic midwife toad is no exception. The male straps clutches of fertilised eggs to its hind legs and carries them around for about a month, constantly ensuring that they are kept moist. When the eggs are ready to hatch, the male deposits them in a suitable area of water.

3. Housekeeping dad

Malleefowl image

A very attentive and industrious bird, the male malleefowl is in charge of digging a large nest, up to five metres wide and one metre deep. This is filled with twigs and leaves which eventually turn to compost. Even after the female has laid her eggs in the heat-producing nest, the male’s job is not over. The feathered father carefully covers the eggs up, and throughout the incubation period it uses its beak to test the temperature of the nest, either adding or removing nesting material in order to maintain a constant temperature of 34°C for its developing brood.

4. Fearsome father

Wolverine image

The largest member of the weasel family, the wolverine has a reputation for being an aggressive creature. Yet it turns out that males of this species actually make rather caring dads! A male wolverine mates with two or three females in a season, and it roams across hundreds of miles of terrain every month to visit its young. These fearsome fathers are also known to teach their older offspring how to fend for themselves in their rugged environment.

5. Honey, I swallowed the kids…

Spotfin betta image

Thankfully, this fishy father does not actually swallow its offspring, but it does incubate its eggs and brood the young in its mouth for several weeks! This parental tactic is known as mouthbrooding, and is thought to protect the eggs and young from predation as well as from potentially hazardous water currents. Nice work from the spotfin betta!

6. Dedicated dad

Bristle-thighed curlew image

After hatching, bristle-thighed curlew chicks are initially looked after by both parents. Yet even before the chicks have fledged, the female bristle-thighed curlew abandons her young, leaving the male to take care of them all alone. The dedicated dad aggressively defends its offspring either by performing distraction displays when a threat approaches or attacking potential predators.

7. Primate papa

Grey-legged night monkey image

Male parental care is relatively rare in mammals, yet this grey-legged night monkey is a particularly paternal primate. And a good job, too, given that the female will only accept contact with its offspring when the infant needs to suckle! If the attention-seeking youngster should try and climb on the female’s back, the latter will actively pull the infant off itself and even bite it if it tries to cling on! The male carries around its young, defends it, and is responsible for the infant’s upbringing, including teaching it how to survive in the wild (and possibly how to deal with its cranky mother!).

8. Caring clownfish

Common clownfish image

Whereas many parents only have to keep an eye on one or two youngsters at a time, which is tough in itself, the male clownfish has a much bigger task…it has to guard and protect anywhere between 100 and 1,000 eggs! Quite a feat! Luckily, although the male is in charge of defence, the female also plays a role in tending to the eggs, assisting the male in removing litter or dead eggs from the clutch.

9. Attentive avian

Southern cassowary image

The southern cassowary definitely deserves a Feathered Father of the Year Award; once the female has laid a clutch of eggs, the male is left to take sole responsibility for their care. This attentive avian incubates the eggs for about 50 days, and only leaves the nest in order to have a drink. Even after hatching, this dad’s dedication never falters, as the male southern cassowary continues to care for its offspring for up to 16 months.

10. Furry father

Red fox image

One might expect a sly male fox to slink away once its young have been born and avoid all responsibility for their upbringing, but this is not the case. This furry father is actually an extremely diligent dad, and heads out several times a day to hunt and bring back food to feed its entire family. Male foxes have also been observed playing with their offspring and showing them around their territory.

All of the dads above demonstrate a great deal of dedication to their youngsters, but which one do you think deserves to win ARKive’s Father of the Year Award? Let us know in a comment below!

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

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