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Big Invaders and Tiny Fish: Endangered Species Day

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Detailed Description

Kids! Listen up—it's Endangered Species Day, and we have two podcasts for you: giant, invasive predators that eat endangered animals, and the tiny Devil's Hole pupfish, which lives on a watery shelf no bigger than a walk-in closet.

Shaken, Not Stirred—Watch Devils Hole pupfish deal with a large earthquake that causes a ‘mini-tsunami’ in their watery habitat.


Public Domain.


Title: Big Invaders and Tiny Fish: Endangered Species Day

USGS: Hello and welcome to USGS PodCast. I'm   Dave Hebert  from  the U.S. Geological Survey, and we're celebrating Endangered Species Day.  USGS does a lot of work on At-Risk Species, but today we are going to talk about some animals that harm endangered species.  I'll be joined by Dan James and Sophie Kolar.

Dan : Good morning everyone!  I'm Dan James, your host for America's newest game show that makes students think really hard and asks ......"Where can you find it !?"  


Let's get started with our first question.

The Burmese python is one of the 6 largest snakes in the world.  This constrictor can grow up to 25 feet, weigh 190 pounds, and take down prey as large as goats and alligators. They live about 20 years.  If you wanted to see a Burmese python in the wild...where would you have to go?  

1. Sophia:  That's an easy question.  South-East Asia, Burma, Sumatra, Borneo and Malaysia

Dan:  Bzzz!   Nope. You only get half credit!  Next question!   

An African rock python is the largest snake in Africa, and can eat goats, warthogs and even crocodiles.  This constrictor can grow up to 14feet and weigh 140 pounds.  They can be really aggressive and will lunge at people. 

If you wanted to see an African rock python in the wild, where would you have to go? 

2. Sophia: Ok, I know this one.  I'd go to Africa and start in the countries of Guinea and Senegal on the west coast..........then go across the center of Africa to the east coast of Ethiopia,  Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania.

Dan:    bzzz!   Nope.  Half credit!   Last question...  Nile monitor lizards can reach 7 feet in length.  They have sharp, snake-like teeth, long, muscular tails, razor sharp claws, can run 15 mph, and are excellent swimmers.  They can live up to 12 years.  They'll eat frogs, other lizards, turtles, birds, and rodents, and sometimes they hunt in packs....
Where can you find them?!

3. Sophia: Finally!   You'd go to the southern and central African continent and south-central Egypt
Dan:   bzzz.  You're half right!

4. Sophia:  Hey, wait a minute!... Why are you only giving me half credit for my answers? ..... I know my geography!
Dan: Yeah, but you don't know your invasive species! 
5. Sophia: My what?!
Dan: Your invasive species.  These species may come from Asia or Africa but now they're living in Florida!   When a species moves to an area where it isn't from and starts spreading and causing problems, it's called an invasive species. 

6. Sophia: Pythons are in Florida? .... Spreading? ....... How did they get there?
Dan: Some of these big snakes and lizards started out as people's pets and when they got big...which is what big animals do...people decided they didn't want them as pets anymore and let them go outside.  These species live a long time, and some people didn't want to take care of their pets for 20 years.  Also, animals escape from homes, pet stores and animal parks that get destroyed in hurricanes.

7. Sophia: So... who's feeding all these pets now?
Dan: Ha!  No one's feeding them..they're helping themselves to Florida's wildlife!  And what's worse... some even eat endangered species. 

8. Sophia: I don't think I like the sound of that.   What can I do to help? 
Dan:  Think hard about any pet you may want.  Think about how much work it takes to raise it and how long it can live.  Think about an animal's entire life cycle before you buy it.   Most importantly, don't release unwanted animals or plants into the wild if you get tired of them.   
Hey..would you like a chance to score some points in the bonus round?

9. Sophia: I sure would! 
Dan: Ok... these fish have the teeth of a shark and the head of a snake.  They can even breath out of water and crawl short distances on land.  They can be 47 inches long.  
If they get into a pond, they can eat all of the animals in there....and then get out and walk to another pond!  It's thought that they ended up in the wild because they got too big for their aquariums and people let them loose...
These fish are originally from China and Korea, but recently they've been found in Maryland, Virginia, Arkansas, California and Florida, to name a few places....  

10. Sophia: You've got to be kidding me..... 

USGS: This podcast is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.

Title: Big Invaders and Tiny Fish: Endangered Species Day

[John Thompson]: Hello and welcome. I'm John Thompson from the U.S. Geological Survey, and we're celebrating Endangered Species Day.  USGS does a lot of work on At-Risk Species, and today we are going to talk about one in the desert you might not know about.  I'll be joined today by Lianne Ball, and Dave Hebert of the USGS.

Lianne: Hi, I'm Lianne

Dave:  and I'm Dave.   What are you going to do today Lianne?

Lianne   I'm going to tell John my favorite story about some jewels in the desert. 

Dave:  jewelry?

Lianne: No Dave, not jewelry...  jewels.  I'm referring to some beautiful and rare animals.....
Hey,  what's that noise? 

Dave. : Oh, that's the water running.  I'm going to take a shower.  See ya later.

LIANNE.  Oh ok.   So John..... Somewhere in the Southwestern southern the Mojave could walk for many,  many miles across hot....dry...sand.... until you reached this pool of water.  Not a very big pool, not a fancy pool.  Just a pool of water surrounded by limestone rocks.   And if you got down on your hands and knees and looked into the pool you'd see them.   Fish.  In the middle of the desert..... surrounded by desert, ... fish. 

John: What kind of fish are they?

Lianne: These are the one and only Devil's Hole pupfish.   They don't exist anywhere else in nature except for this pool called Devil's Hole.  They never get bigger than 1 inch.  And every spring the males turn bright blue to attract females.  There are about 118 fish in this pool now, but in 2006, there were only 38 fish.    

John:  What do they eat?

Lianne:  They eat the algae that grows on the rock shelf in their pool and the detritus.  That's what you call the dead vegetation and insects that fall into the pool from the surrounding desert. 

John:  How old do they get?

Lianne: They only live 1 year

John: Do they ever get hot out here in the desert? 

Lianne: This water stays around 93 degrees year round.  But there are some desert fish species that live in hot springs where the water can get up to 100 degrees.   

John: Come to think of it.....where does this water come from? 

Lianne: The small amount of water we see in the pool is part of a bigger body of water that's underground.  The fish only live in the top couple of inches of water because that's where their food is.  Remember, algae needs sunlight to grow.   
The part of the water that's underground is called the groundwater and it occurs in an aquifer.  An aquifer is an underground chamber that can hold water. 

We don't know how big this aquifer is or what it's connected to, but an earthquake in Southern California can make the water in the pool shake and toss the fish around. 

John: What would happen if water was taken out of the ground?

Lianne: if you took too much, the water level would go down below the shelf where the algae grows, and the fish couldn't survive. 

John:  Fish need water

Lianne: Fish need water!

John: Hey.... what's that noise?

Lianne: That's Dave taking a shower.  

John:  Where do you suppose the water he uses comes from? 

Lianne: Hmm.... that's a good question.   I don't know. 

John: In the 5 min it's taken us to tell you this story about the devil's Hole pupfish, Dave has already used around 25 gallons of water.  In a year, if Dave takes a 10 minute shower every other day he could use more than 9,000 gallons of water.  And that's just one person. 
The fish in your part of the country need water too.  

All:  "Hey Dave...... Hurry up!  Get out of the shower!"

This podcast is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.


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