Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bahamas: Wildlife encounters in Miami

Aquarium staff recently returned from an expedition to the Bahamas. They'll be sharing pictures and stories from their time exploring the turquoise blue waters of Caribbean—complete with pictures, video, conservation notes and a taste of life on board a working boat. This post comes to us from Austin, who normally cares for the shorebirds on Central Wharf.

March 20 – 21, 2014

We got off the airplane in tropical Miami on March 19, happy to escape the arctic-like conditions in Boston, and began preparing the research vessel the Coral Reef II for our Bahamas fish collecting expedition.

A bustle of activity around the Coral Reef II  as the team gears up for the trip to the Bahamas 

In spite of the industrial surroundings of the shipyard where the Coral Reef II floats on the brown, murky waters of the Miami River, we had some interesting wildlife encounters during our several days of preparation. We found an injured juvenile yellow-crowned night heron on the docks that apparently had fractures to its wing and leg and was unable to walk well or fly. Luckily we quickly were able to contact Pelican Harbor, a wildlife rehabilitation facility that specializes in seabirds and shorebirds. We secured the bird under a laundry basket to make sure it was safe until they could come and pick it up. (Learn how an injured common tern found a new lease on life at the Aquarium.)

File photo: Yellow-crowned night heron by Peter Wallack via Wikimedia Commons

The staff members from Pelican Harbor had cared for yellow-crowned night herons before and were hopeful that the bird could be brought back to health and, if not released, then placed in a sanctuary or at a zoo or aquarium (just like most of the birds in the Aquarium's shorebird exhibit that have injuries and would be unable to survive in the wild).

On a happier note, on Friday we were visited by a friendly manatee that apparently wanted to drink the fresh water coming out of a hose that was running into the river. The manatee entertained us for about ten minutes as it swam right next to the dock. These encounters reminded me of how there can be amazing wildlife even in urban and formerly very  polluted areas like the Miami river and, closer to home, Boston Harbor.

An up-close manatee sighting is definitely something text home about!

— Austin

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