Fun Fact Friday

This week we are focusing on the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus)!

This shark is the second largest living shark despite being a filter feeder, feeding off plankton. It has an enlarged mouth and numerous, small teeth (about 100 per row).

They are common visitors to Scotland during the summer months and various basking shark tours operate, giving tourists (and locals) the chance to see these giant animals.

Fun Fact Friday

Its #factfriday ! This week we are introducing the ring necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri) This species is a non-native invasive species and is the UK’s only naturalised parrot species. The species have become popular pets since the 1800’s, the ones we see in the wild today have either been deliberately released or have escaped.

They are often found in flocks in UK parks, and have made quite a home, particularly in the south-east of England. If you want to see them in Glasgow there are around 20-30 in Victoria Park in the west end, listen out for their loud and unmistakable calls.

You wouldn’t think this species would thrive in the UK but despite their tropical origins of the southern Indian subcontinent, they have fully adapted to cold but mild British winters and thrive in suburban parks where they feast on berries, seeds, nuts and fruit.

There are an estimated 8,600 breeding pairs within the UK. They are a medium sized species of parrot with a length of 38-42cm and a wingspan of 42-48cm. They are thought to be the northernmost species of parrot.

Concerns on how they may pose a threat to native wildlife within the UK and how they may impact fruit farmers is unknown, but so far there have been no reported issues of concern, and their populations are being continuously monitored. Despite being an alien species, they are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Fun Fact Friday

For this weeks #factfriday we are focusing on the hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)!

The word dormouse comes from the French word dormir, which means “to sleep” and that’s what they love to do best! These shy creatures are nocturnal and arboreal, living in trees for most of their lifetime. Due to this, they have few natural predators and can live up to five years! (a long time for such a small mammal).

They are one of only three U.K mammals that hibernate, one of the reasons this makes them so vulnerable to extinction in Britain. Populations of dormice have fallen by 33% in the last 20 years, mainly due to loss of woodland and hedgerow but also because of changes in countryside management practices.

It’s not all bad news however, many conservation organisations, such as the Woodland Trust and National Trust, have set up programmes in order to restore ancient woodland from coniferous forest to improve the habitat for the resident dormice.

Who couldn’t love this little guy!

Scottish Badger Conference

Scottish Badgers is hosting a virtual conference next Saturday the 10th of October! Its a packed schedule with speakers from across the UK & Ireland, learn about badger rehabilitation, behaviour, current research and tracking!

There are two sessions throughout the day at 10am – 12noon and 2pm – 4pm. Registration is FREE, with suggested donations of £10 per session to cover costs.

UofG Exploration Society Zoom Q&A

If any of you are interested in going on any of the amazing expeditions run by the University of Glasgow Exploration Society (Trinidad, Guyana, Egypt, Thailand, Malaysia, Cameroon, Iceland and Scotland) there is a zoom Q&A on the 5th! and the proposal videos will be posted on the ExSoc page before hand!

The Conservation Volunteers Online Events

The Conservation Volunteers are hosting several online events including this one on ‘Introduction to Reptile and Identification and Surveying’.

It can be tricky getting involved with volunteering and conservation experience at the moment so attending talks like these can help you stay in the loop and may open up other opportunities for you!

Fun Fact Friday

The common skate (Dipturus batis) is one of the largest fish species in British waters. They are an elasmobranch species found on sandy or muddy seabeds down to depths of 600m. The skate can also live for between 50-100 years!

Although once common to all shores, its distribution is now limited to the Celtic Sea and off the coast of North-West Scotland. This is primarily due to decades of overfishing that have damaged miles of delicate seabed habitats that fish such as this rely on. Their population decline means they are listed as Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red List and a priority species under the UK Post-2010 biodiversity framework. Fortunately it is prohibited to fish Skate in EU waters and they must be returned to waters unharmed if caught.

Genetic research into the species has found that the common skate is actually 2 species: the flapper skate (Dipturus intermedia) and the blue skate (Dipturus flossada).Flapper skates occur in the northern North Sea and off Scotland’s north-west coast. The smaller blue skate is the main species found in the Celtic Sea and around Rockall. The two species overlap across a wide area of the Celtic Seas ecoregion.

Their diet mostly consists of crustaceans with the help of their powerful jaws although their speed and manoeuvrability also allows them to catch pelagic species such as mackerel too.

The common skate is olive to dark brown in colour with a pattern of lighter ‘spots’ on the back. Adult skates have two rows of 12-18 thorns on their tail. The variation between individuals spot patters has been used in photo-identification studies to monitor and investigate the Scottish skate population. You can visit Skatespotter to find out more!

Skates reproduce by laying egg cases containing embryos which remain on the seabed or attached to sea weed while the embryo develops into a young skate. You can help identify possible skate nurseries and aid conservation efforts by reporting any egg cases you find washed up or taking part in a survey for The Shark Trust.