NANFA-- Florida Everglades
Tue, 7 Mar 2000 22:08:32 EST

I don't know if a lot of people have mentioned this before after a previous
airing of this show on this list, but I thought that I would share this for
those who are unaware of the show or some of the creatures or their habits.
I saw a really cool program on the Florida Everglades last night on the
Discovery Channel. It described the Everglades as North America's only
subtropical wetland.
It showed cool underwater footage of many different types of fishes, like
gars ( spotted gars I believe) stalking their prey. The documentary even said
that they use their snouts to probe the vegetation at the bottom for hiding
fishes, which was something I never knew that they did. They did not show
this behaviour, however. Just the
re-not-noticed-type stalking approach. Their predominately spotted appearance
is attractive in a predatory piscivorous sort of way.
They also showed cormorants which are a long slenderly-built type of diving,
fish-eating bird with paddle feet. The narrator stated that they were as fast
underwater as the fish they chased, and this was very evident in the video
footage. They were unbelievably quick and agile, taking quick tight turns
through the water in pursuit of their prey. I couldn't believe the size of
the sunfish that it ate; it looked like it was too big to fit down its
throat, but it managed just fine.
One of the absolute highlights for me was the footage of the bladderwort , a
free-floating rootless carnivorous plant. The program stated that the
Everglades has very little nutrients, and that is why these plants are
rootless. They are armed with bladders which are specialized feeding organs
for the plants to obtain additional food in the form of small organisms like
daphnia, fish fry , and others. The bladders are hollow and have an opening
which has touch-sensitive bristles around it ( which they showed good
close-ups of). These bristles on contact with any prey items cause the
bladder openings to dilate instantly, creating an irresistable vaccuum action
which sucks the prey into the bladders. This program showed it consuming red
water mites. The sucking force was so irresistable that even mites that
couldn't fit inside the bladders were sucked up against the openings until
they seemed to partially explode and their guts were drawn into the the
bladder to be digested by the plant's enzymes. Both bladderworts and red
water mites seem like they would be interesting to keep in an aquarium. It's
rather ironic that some betta breeders actually used to keep these in their
breeding tanks; they used to lose a lot of fry and wondered what happened to
They also showed exotic tilapia which have successfully colonized the
Everglades, which as it turns out is an ideal habitat for them.They went into
a little too much detail for me about their breeding habits, being that
they're an exotic (I'd rather see the life history of a native of the area if
they're going to get that in-depth) but it was a relatively minor fault. One
plus, though, was seeing them being almost the exclusive fish species out of
all the the instances of a fish species being eaten by an alligator.
One unbelievable surprise for me was seeing bluegills acting as cleaner fish
for largemouth bass! The largemouth bass just passively sat there and allowed
the bluegills to pick parasites off of them.! I never knew that we had NA fw
fish that exhibited this sort of behaviour; I always thought that it was a
coral reef fish behaviour manifested by creatures such as cleaner shrimp and
wrasses,ect. , towards fishes like groupers and such. This totally blows my
image of the behavioural interrelationships between fishes considered to
predator and prey on this continent.
There was also a brief scene featuring bowfin which was fairly decent in the
context of the views they showed of it. Overall this was a really
interesting program. I didn't record all of it; just the parts featuring
creatures that were totally aquatic with the exception of the cormorants
chasing the fish underwater which I thought was really neat. I always try to
record whatever aquatic stuff I happen to catch on T.V. as long as it's North
American and I want to cram as much on the tape as I can which is devoted
exclusively to the subjects so I have to be selective. I would recommend
purchasing this Discovery program to anyone who is interested in North
American aquatic life and/or swamps.

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