Sapphire

In Andrah Pradesh, way up in a tree
And arachnid lives wild and free.
I’ll tell you the tale, and tell you its true –
The spider in question is a bright sapphire blue.

It’s a tarantula, so try to avoid its bite
It causes intense pain – you won’t have to die.
No one on record has felt it’s fangs.
But be careful if you use bare hands.

It walks those trees with bright blue fur
Only in India does it ever occur.
It can be grown in captivity
For it has a brisk pet-activity.

The “Poecilothera metalicca” is a tarantula that is bright blue! Avoiding a golden opportunity, because I don’t listen to them, this poem is a play on “Long Black Veil” by Johnny Cash.

The tarantula in question lives in trees in Andhra Pradesh in central India. It grows in a 100 sq km range in the forest, which is slowly shrinking due to timber concerns. This is an interesting fact about many endangered species – they have a specific niche, and there they stay.

 

Attenborough’s Pitcher Plant

wp-15559449978362030210545446489989.jpg

Sir Attenborough’s Pitcher Plant a quaint picture indeed.
This Mount Victoria pitcher patch is where these pitchers feed.

A pitcher plant’s a pitcher filled with a liquid condition
For animals to drown inside and provide the plant nutrition.

Sir Attenborough’s Pitcher Plant’s pitcher serves dual function
By housing insect larva in a layer of liquid in conjunction
With the bottoms layer The larvae swim and provide detritus
As they grow and eat close to the brim preventing plant gastritis.

It feeds mostly upon small examples of arthropods,
But not limited to insecta, on occasion the small odd
Vertebrate will fall inside, to be digested by this goo
A little mouse, a vole perhaps, sometimes a furry shrew.

Could a pitcher plant grow large enough to digest a man?
Maybe not entirely, but I suggest we be careful with our hands.

Named in honor of Sir David Attenborough, it is one of 15 species named in his honor. Pitcher Plants are fascinating successes in passivity as they wait for flies to fall inside their pitchers. Yes, this plant has two layers of liquid in it’s pitcher. Larva swim in the top layer and their droppings serve to provide nutrition as larger insects are digested by the thicker liquid in the bottom.

Attenborough’s Pitcher Plant in particular has had remains of rodents found within it. It is the second largest pitcher plant. It is endangered mainly due to its small native range, but also poachers. 

Today is also Earth Day – a special planet to all of us. 

Sir Attenborough’s magnum opus is called the Life on Earth.
Not bad for a young man from unassuming Isleworth.
He’s known for his distinctive voice and his love of the Earth
Particularly the animals, and describing their natural worth.
Sir David’s also a champion of the BBC Networks
Whom has provided funding for his fabulous television works.
For all things natural, it’s true, this man is a bold fighter
And in my opinion, his presence here, has made the world much brighter.

Easter Sunday

Easter Eggs

If you travel Fringed Hill in New Zealand fair
Take care for fragile eggs grow there.
They are not laid, or set or placed.
They grew from mycological lace.
It runs ‘neath the ground, in threads microscopic
Until its fruiting body becomes periscopic
Popping out of the ground brown and round till it shows
A pale white center near the base of your toes.
This fungus amongus is considerably rare,
Found only on Fringed Hill in New Zealand fair.

Volcano Rabbit

On the high slopes of four Volcanoes
In the mountainous mountains of Mexico
A rabbit, almost the smallest of all,
Hides in the forest to grow.

Like most lagomorphs, it is eats mostly plants
But may gain some protein from a snack of small ants.
As it dines and drinks during the twilight
Heading to bed before it’s darkest night.

These diminutive bunnies hide in the Zacaton
Away from the predators seeking to snack on
The Volcano Rabbit. And of course there is man
Who used to make farmland as fast as it can.

But, despite a habitat split into fractions,
There have been good people taking good actions
To preserve this example of genetic diversity
And to help it overcome it’s eco-adversity.

Eggs and Rabbits are inexplicably linked with the Easter Holiday – an example that synergy and branding are very old concepts indeed. Fischer’s Eggs are egg-like fungus growing in New Zealand. It is a surprise to many that, yes, even mushrooms can be endangered. Though, fungus and bacteria possess incredible genetic diversity with new species discovered in differing teaspoons of forest soil!

The Volcano Rabbit has a heavy metal name, but would likely die if placed in a mosh pit. It is larger than only the pygmy rabbit in the world of rabbits, closely resembling a pika. Which is an animal that looks a lot like a rabbit, but isn’t one. It lives in Mexico on Four Volcanoes. Most of its troubles are a loss of habitat due to humanity. So, you know, humans are the worst.

Happy Easter! Otherwise, Happy Sunday!

Bacter-Bactri-Bactra-Two-Humped Camel

If you ever see a silhouette on the Gobi vista,
It may be the envy of every fashionista –
With eyelash thick and lush with nary a mascara,
To keep the sun and sand away from its sclera.

The Bactrian is a champion of mammalian survival,
In the rocky desert, defeating every trial.
A needle, a prickle, an edible rock?
It eats it, it chews it, without sense of shock.

It’s soles are as leather, thick, wide, and sturdy.
Fur, warm as heather, red, thick, and curly.
Two humps rise up on the ridge of the spine,
Droopy if unhealthy, plump and high if its fine.

Related, it’s true, to those domesticated,
But can drink seawater until it’s thirst is sated.
Wild populations were found to be best
In an area victim to Nuclear tests!

They aren’t mean, but aren’t nice, so keep yourself wary –
This Bactrian’s meaner than your own dromedary.
Traders know the value with a saying that’s common –
Translated it means “Mo’ humps, mo’ problems.”

The Wild Bactrian Camel used to be thought a feral version of its domesticated cousin. However, as happens, DNA testing shows this is not the case! They are distant relatives, but very similar. Camels themselves are thought to have originated in North America and crossed to Asia on a land bridge.

Due to the harsh conditions of the Gobi, these camels are tough. They can eat any vegetation, drink any clean water (salt or fresh or frozen) available, and even smoke cigarettes. They are a sturdy, incredible ungulate.

Giant Wet

For amphibians existing as two-handers
You can’t beat the Chinese Giant Salamanders.
An animal known to be relatively vicious
In that it finds its own kind highly delicious.

Like all salamanders, it makes and lays eggs,
Which hatch, start to eat, and someday grow legs.
It lives in the water, in crevices shady.
It’s also been known to cry like a baby.

Though considered one species that barely thrives,
Genetic divisions suggest there are five
Cryptic species all living as a single –
Of which all can hybridize and genetically mingle.

And, of course, it’s habitat is threatened
Perhaps most living examples are destined
To live on a farm and struggle for residency
(Which may pan out, as its considered a delicacy).

Likely, the future holds aquaria and zoos
With a pane of glass with which to see through.
At least humanity will have chance to gander
At a species, once wild, the Chinese Giant Salamander.

The Chinese Giant Salamander lives in China. It’s normal habitat is breaking apart, and if it is in fact five species, some of those are more threatened than others. There is no morphological distinction, so it gets returned to the wrong habitat often. Saving one may happen, but all five?

People also eat it. In a poor defense, it eats other members of the species. I’ve never eaten one – it has all the appeal of a Pangolin Sandwich.

Bumblebee Bat

When you’re the world’s smallest mammal
It’s tough to be brave
So inside the forest you find
Limestone Caves.
Hang upside down for most of the Day
At sunset, wake up and head on your way.
But not for too long – only time to devour
As many insects as possible in a half hour.
Then back to the cave until a quarter to dawn
To eat a bit more before nature’s lights come on.

Corals

(To the tune of Lorde’s Royals – I might do a video as it’s hard to read it)

A Cnidarian colonial
Existing with motility sessile
The reef is quite baronial
For all the creatures in which to nestle

Such as the sponges, clownfish, purple nudibranches –
Turtles, urchins, zooxanthelae patches.
They don’t care – it’s the habitat of their dreams.
And so there’s mollusks, sea stars, lots of phytoplankton –
Morays, lobsters, an invertabraic sanctum –
All they need is an ocean in which feed.

But we’re losing our coral (coral)
Wrap your arm in a black band
As reefs slowly fill with sand
Oh its end is close at hand.
Growing ever smaller (smaller)
Turning to a bone white reef.
And baby soon, oh soon, oh soon, oh soon –
They might be a fantasy.

Scientists have cracked the code.
They’ve figured out the ocean acidification –
Can cause polyps to grow and glow brighter in color
A sign of their stagnation.

The warmer water causes lower reef health –
Symbiotic algae finding itself expelled
Leaving it – susceptible to disease.
Leaving this diverse and vibrant sea life ecosystem
To slowly wither as in a food web cataclysm –
Why do we care? Our marine life is under there.

But we do need coral (Coral)
It fixes nitrogen and carbon
At levels seen as a bargain
Compared to land plants’ own burden –
They stop big waves sooner (sooner)
Preventing bad erosion.
They kickstart life, start life, start life, start life
In the seabed of the ocean.

Coral Reefs are amazing habitats of biodiversity. They protect shorelines, help provide data for climate scientists, and are dying. Along with ocean warming due to climate change, acidification as carbon is absorbed isn’t helping.

This whole series of poems is preachy; this one is a bit more so, I guess. Jumping back from sandwiches and vaccines to a pretty serious problem. We can survive without pangolins, but we need coral reefs. We really do – they kickstart food chains we are part of, marine speaking.

Edit: Video of the performance. Scansion’s off, but okay Find it here.

Here There Be Dragons

Egg laid upon leaf
Hatch into verdant shoreside.
Swim toward future.Nymph within water
Cascading jaws intake prey
Mosquitoes beward.Dragonfly on the post
Molted wings dried by suns’ warmth –
Soar across water.Wings dry from sunshine
Dragonfly of last molting
Soar across water.Halfway to our goal, I felt time for Haiku was ripe. Haiku are easy, but hard. Great ones escape me, but they are a good exercise to teach meter. Dragonflies are an important creature in Japanese culture.Dragonflies are connected to the ecological web deeply. Pollution affects them greatly as they exist in the water. Their prey as adults also comes from the water. It is a great example of the cycle of life. Due to this, several species are threatened to endangered (Hine’s Emerald comes to mind). Insects (see bees) can be thought of as creepy or scary. This is especially true for folks from more urban areas who attend natural areas where bugs are bugs. The Dragonfly plays an incredibly important role in the web of wetland and watershed areas. It leaves humans alone.And incredible spring sight is a dragonfly, recently molted, drying its wings in the sunshine.

Whooping

Take your seats, thank you for the good turnout –
You’d like to learn what the fuss is about.
I’ve called you to prevent confusion.
Simmons, sit down! I need your inclusion.

This plate (fig 1) describes the Whooping CRANE.
An avian species humankind deigns
As one worth PROTECTING – note the prefix –
The numbers of which we’ve started to fix.

This new plate (fig 2) describes Whooping COUGH.
Dangerous for children – Simmons, don’t scoff!
This disease of pertussis we PREVENT
Lest babies hack and wheeze in poor torment.

Note one has feathers; the other does not.
One eats fish and frogs; the other makes snot.
One is a contagious bacterium.
The other gives birders delirium.

One can be arrested with a vaccine –
The other suffers shots in a different scene.
The habitat for both we try to keep fit –
Simmons, your jokes only showcase cheap wit!

Both Whoop, it’s true, ignore shared adjective
Both have human life in their narrative.
We find good in one’s eradication.
Simmons, Please provide outburst cessation.

The contrast here ought be easy to know
And yet many people’s knowledge does not seem to show.
Treating both as items worth ignoring.
Thanks for an issue found worth exploring.

Whooping Cranes have seen far worse numbers in the past. They suffer from habitat loss and hunting mainly. Despite success in conservation efforts, the species is still endangered. Climate Change and humanity are set to throw new threats toward the species.

Pertussis is a rough disease which is preventable by vaccine. Yet, current movements are bringing it and similar diseases closer to strength. 

I’m not convinced a reasonable person could mix the two up. Not even Simmons.

Pangolin Sandwich

20190413_1848413907152036493225046.jpg
Please, do not eat pangolins.

Some choose to dine in a life of fine living and exotic meat –
Is the life of Pangolins worth only a tasty treat?
Let us document with vigor, in rigorous alliance
To determine the flavor of one through double-blinded science!

Our goal is narrow, simple, clear – are pangolins delicious?
Accompanied with wine or beer? Are they found nutritious?
Appropriate in stir fry, or perhaps a stew with roots?
Nestled in a marble rye? Diced small with citrus fruits?

Yes, these answers we set to obtain at a dinner party tonight.
Served whole from tail to brain – the first course is a fright.
Regard the animal’s thick scales. I suspect one should remove them first.
Worse than chewing fingernails – this first course is the worst.

Guests next sample soup, then cheese made from the mammalian ducts
(A delicate culinary coup – we really are in luck!)
A braise, a boil, a fricassee, followed by carpaccio
As we all do wish to see if raw has more flavor to show.

Nine pangolins, then ten, and twenty, eaten from the wild.
Knowledge provided so we many can stop a population defiled.
After Pangolin pudding eaten cold, we compared our notes in anguish
Discovering it best between two rolls in a dense Pangolin Sandwich.

PANGOLIN SANDWICH
First you take a pangolin and trim it free of scales,
Then stand over the kitchen sink to eject a mournful wail.
This helps assuage the guilt before your morbid feast.
Take a whole wheat roll and split it on opposite sides of the beast.

Pangolin, it benefits from addition of a spicy aioli
As well as thin layers of cheese, taking care to slice it slowly.
When is best to devour this rich and ripe repast?
You’ll have to hunt it quickly, because it’s going fast.

At the risk of good taste, hopefully some levity in the proceedings. Pangolins suffer from a reputation as an exotic and tasty meat desired by the wealthy. An unbelievable number are taken from the wild each year to be consumed. Their scales are used as medicine. As with the Rhino – they are keratin rich. Perhaps the ill rich could eat their own toenails?

A pangolin eats ants and is really an interesting creature to see. They are largely nocturnal, able to swim, and deeply endangered. There are eight species of them. They also have stink glands for defense and marking. 

I wish to make it clear I do not advocate the eating of pangolins.