Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This week in Nature: The 2nd week in July

What's Happening in Nature during
the 2nd week in July: 

 Hīhīmanu, the sting ray, can be seen in Kane'ohe Bay during mid-summer.
Hīhīmanu means "hissing bird," and its large "wings" sometimes break the surface as it swims. Usually it lives on the bottom, using its wings to raise a cloud of sand and then lying still while the sand settles on its back. Hidden this way, it sleeps and feeds, consuming a variety of worms, crabs, mollusks, and small fish. The camouflage is so effective that prey approach quite close, and in some cases, all that a hīhīmanu has to do is open its mouth and swallow!

Hīhīmanu uses its "stinger" only in self-defense. When threatened or seized by a shark or other predator - or when accidentally stepped on - it whips its long tail, jabbing and slashing with the tail's barbed spines. In the process, venom is released from glands around the spines, with painful but rarely fatal results.

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

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