Please travel with me to Nova Scotia to study Mammals and Climate Change!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 13

Today, we got to see what our camera traps took pictures of. As a team with 6 traps, we photographed raccoons, a red fox, and at least two porcupines. Pretty cool! My partner and I did not get any pictures. Our batteries died the sane day we set the trap! Here is a picture of a racoon from one of the traps:

This afternoon, we went back to Kejimkujik National Park, to tour the seaside adjunct. It was a decent day for it.

We saw harbor seals swimming in the ocean and we stalked two porcupines eating in the bushes. As usual, Sue got some amazing shots. I will try to get some to share soon. When I do, you'll see how adorable they are. It breaks my heart that people here are hunting them just to kill them. Many people here believe the porcupines are over-populated, meaning there are lots and lots of them around. The truth, though, is that no one has ever done a study to see how many there really are. The scientists
I am working with don't believe there are very many because unlike snowshoe hares, porcupines can only have one baby a year, just like humans. They can have twins, but it doesn't happen very often.

The Scientists are working on figuring out ways to help tree farmers keep their trees safe from porcupines without farmers hunting and killing the porcupines. It turns out, porcupines really love to chew birch bark. Birch trees are really only used for firewood and they grow
everywhere. The Scientists wonder if farmers would plant birch trees all around the trees they need to make into lumber or sell as Christmas trees or save for the fruit they grow, if porcupines would leave the other trees alone since they would eat the birch bark instead. They can't be sure this would work, but it is one idea they have.

This evening, after dinner, we went on a bat hunt with a cool bat detector. I showed it to my class during our last videoconference. The bat detector turns bat squeaks into sounds we can hear. Most bat squeaks are too high pitched for us to hear. The vibrations of their sounds are just too fast for the human ear. Sadly, we did not find any on our hunt. Dr. Newman thinks it is still too cold for them to hunt for insects to eat, so they are still hibernating. Did you know that even in the summer, insect eating bats hibernate every day? They wake up at night to hunt for insects. In the winter, when it is too cold for insects, they hibernate for months without waking up. Their body almist completely stops working so they will stay asleep. This way, they save their energy and live longer.

Tomorrow, we are leaving. I am sad about this because I am going to miss my new friends. I'm happy though, too, because I have missed my old friends and my students a lot.

Room5, please add 2 harbor seals and 2 porcupines to the data you are collecting. I can't wait to see what it looks like when I get back on Tuesday!! Don't forget to check the comments from the last post to see what the answer was!

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