today was a long day with no catches. im at a shark research program that's been heavily effected by the red tide, and this is our second day without any catches on any of the three boats. there had been a storm and i sat on the bow of the boat, wind snapping my shirt and rain so hard i could barely see. i was soaked to the bone. it was amazing. fishing at night is a strange feeling. we watched lightning strike as we came back to port with no new sharks tagged.
we rode back to the apartments we are staying in quietly. everyone was tired and no one felt much for talking. nothing to talk about, i suppose. i sat between my friend and another student there from iceland. although the program isn't big, it draws people from everywhere. ho hey by the lumineers came on. it was an intern's playlist.
and we all sang together. not everyone knew all the words, but we all sang in the dark, in spite of the death that littered the water, in spite of the storm, in spite of the exhaustion, in spite of our fruitless efforts. we all sang, and we all belonged.
it was a lovely end to a lovely day
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Often, rare species are stumbled upon accidentally, never with actual intention. But that's what makes discovering them so thrilling in the first place. And perhaps one of the best places to go looking for our unique feathered friends is in the lush, mountainous rainforests of Borneo, twice the age of the Amazon at 130 million years old.
A recent study published in April 2021 reveals the rediscovery of the Borneon Rajah scops owl, last seen in the wild in 1892.
In the study, published in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center ecologist Andy Boyce reports evidence of the existence of the Borneon subspecies, known scientifically as Otus brookii brookii, in the rainforests of Sabah, Malaysia. More specifically, near Mount Kinabalu.
Back in 2009, Boyce joined a team of researchers on a decade-long project that involved observing birds and searching for nests around Kinabalu Park in Sabah. Well into the long-term project, the avian ecologist chanced upon the Rajah scops owl in May 2016 after a team member had alerted him to a peculiar-looking bird, a species that looked completely different to the rest of the birds they had spotted at the time.
Lo and behold, a bird that was last seen over a century ago.
"It was a pretty rapid progression of emotions when I first saw the owl — absolute shock and excitement that we'd found this mythical bird," Boyce explained. "Then pure anxiety that I had to document it as fast as I could."
After carefully observing the bird from a safe distance so as not to disturb it, Boyce deduced that the Rajah scops owl was indeed its own unique species and needed further studying.
"Based on size, eye color, and habitat, I knew it was the Bornean Rajah scops owl," he said. "What's more, taking into account this bird's specific plumage characters, known speciation patterns within the Otus genus, and phylogeographic patterns of montane birds in Borneo and Sumatra, O. b. brookii is likely its own unique species and further study is needed."
It's important to note that this bird species is not the same as its familiar cousin, Otus brookii solokensis, which is found in Sumatra. In fact, almost all available data on this bird species is of the Sumatran variant, nothing significantly covers the one found in Sabah.
In terms of size, the owl is a small creature, weighing only 100 grams (give or take), which is about the same weight as four AA batteries.
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