Family Finds Rare Animal on Vacation, Then Serves It For Dinner

hexapus octapus Greece
Labros Hydras/SWNS

Nothing like catching your own food and eating it on vacation. Except for when you find out that your nightly catch is an extremely rare species.

That’s what happened recently in Greece. While vacationing in the sunny southern European country, Labros Hydras captured an octopus while snorkeling, and not knowing that it happened to be an extremely rare hexapus, killed it and ended up preparing it for family dinner.

For those not in the know, a hexapus is an octopus with six legs instead of eight. There is dispute on where the first one was sighted, but it was either in the early nineties or 2008. And now there would have been yet another, if it hadn’t been consumed for dinner instead.

But when you have had a vacation tradition for years of catching your own seafood, should you be held responsible for your actions?

“It tasted just like a normal octopus, but now I feel really bad,” Hydras told The Telegraph. “When we caught it, there was nothing to suggest it was any different or had been damaged. I thought it had just been born with six tentacles.”

And in light of his actions, Hydras is insistent on doing what he can to remedy the situation. “Now I want to pursue the scientific angle to make scientists aware of the existence of the wild hexapus. It is the least that I can do given my ignorance and guilt that I feel for killing such a rare animal.”

Lesson: eating locally isn’t always the best policy.

Tanzania Government To Fishermen: ‘Stop Catching Dolphins, It Upsets The Tourists’

Tanzania
The government of Tanzania is urging fishermen to stop hunting dolphins, a report in the Daily News says.

The report says dolphin hunting has become common practice in the Dar es Salaam and Tanga regions. It’s often done by “dynamite fishing,” in which explosives are chucked into the water to kill all marine life in a large area. Dolphin meat is used to bait sharks, which is what the fishermen are really after. Shark fins are a delicacy that sell for high prices.

Tourists have even spotted fishermen catching dolphins in Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park. Tourism is big business in Tanzania thanks to its diverse wildlife and being home to the Mt. Kilimanjaro part of the Serengeti. Seeing Flipper being blown up, hauled into a boat, cut to pieces and used as shark bait would definitely ruin an ecotourist’s vacation.

Dolphins have been a protected species in Tanzania since 2009. It’s not clear how well this is known among fishermen, however. Even if fishermen do know they’re flaunting the law, the need to be breadwinners for their families may outweigh any concerns about conservation or the health of an industry of which they are not a part.

[Photo courtesy Flickr user hobbs_luton. There is no indication that these particular Tanzanian fishermen are engaged in dolphin hunting]

Leatherback Turtle Nesting Ground Protected In Puerto Rico

leatherback turtle
Puerto Rico has just declared 5.4 square miles of coastline as protected land in order to preserve a leatherback turtle nesting ground, BBC reports.

The Northeast Ecological Corridor has been a battleground between conservation groups and big business for 15 years. The choice was basically between two ideas: “Hey, look at this beautiful natural wonder; let’s preserve it for low-impact ecotourism!” and “Hey, look at this beautiful natural wonder; let’s put up a bunch of luxury homes, hotels and golf courses. We’ll wreck the place but make a ton of cash!”

Luckily, the government of Puerto Rico chose correctly.

Leatherback turtles are a critically endangered species and this stretch of coastline is one of their largest remaining nesting grounds. In addition to the turtles, the Northeast Ecological Corridor is home to 866 species of plants and animals, including 54 rare, threatened, endangered and endemic species.

The area was declared a nature reserve in 2008, but that protection was taken away the next year under pressure from “developers.” In 2012 two-thirds of the area were once again named as a reserve. Now all of the area will be protected, although considering how the government has flip-flopped on this issue before, this may not be the last time we report on this issue.

[Photo courtesy Coalición Pro CEN]

California Completes Nation’s Largest Marine Reserve

California marine reserves now stretch from Oregon to MexicoMore than 13 years after the California State Legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act, the wildlife reserves that it was meant to create have now been completed. The final section of these preserves went into effect just before Christmas, officially protecting 16% of the state’s waters and covering 848 square miles stretching from Oregon to the border of Mexico. The move also created the largest network of underwater parks in the U.S. while establishing important protections for wildlife living in those regions.

Establishing these marine reserves was no easy task as the Act had to survive opposition from a variety of interest groups including commercial fisherman. The majority of the new preserves ban fishing of any kind, something that wasn’t well received in a state that issues more than 2 million fishing licenses each year. That ban also had to be negotiated with Native American tribes who viewed the changes as a threat to their traditional way of life. In the end, all sides agreed that the move would be a benefit for everyone in the long run, as they all had a vested interest in a healthy marine population off California’s coast.

While marine reserves are not a new concept, what is unusual about California’s system is that it is off the coast of a heavily populated area. Most of the world’s undersea preserves are in sparsely populated regions, making them much easier to establish and maintain. This system presents new challenges but is a milestone for marine conservation worldwide.

It is believed that this new system of marine reserves will make for healthier fish populations along the entire west coast. That means that visitors to not just California, but Oregon, Washington and beyond will see improved fishing, as well as better options for whale watching, sea kayaking and scuba diving too.

[Photo Credit: State of California]

Photo Of The Day: Galapagos Crab

The unique diversity and one-of-a-kind wildlife of the Galapagos Islands makes it a hotspot for traveling nature lovers from around the globe. In today’s photo, taken by Flickr user wesleyrosenblum, we find a brilliant red crab in close-up on the island of Santiago. This eye-popping crustacean’s wild crimson and orange hue photographed against the otherworldly black volcanic rocks almost had me convinced I was looking at an alien on some distant planet.

Taken any amazing animal shots during your travels? Or perhaps just a shot of your own backyard? Why not add it to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.