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Naturalist Notebook 

August 23, 2011

Spotlight On…

Check out this week’s featured specimen!

(Pictured below, really close up!)

Photo: N. Sincero 2011

Can you guess what it is?

Here are some hints:

  • This animal has sharp backward-facing points on the roof of its mouth and tongue that help keep slippery fish headed in the right direction.
  • A common threat to this animal is lead or mercury poisoning caused by pollution in its aquatic environment.

Leave us a comment with your answer! Then come see us outside the Project Lab on Friday, August 26th at 11:30 AM for Specimen Spotlight in order to find out if you’re right.

Filed under: Spotlight On... — nature @ 9:01 am


  1. Hmm, eats fish eh?

    Comment by Lessie — August 23, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

  2. Gavia? Maybe G. immer?

    Comment by neil — August 24, 2011 @ 8:17 am

  3. It’s a brown pelican. DUH

    Comment by Andrew Wolf — August 24, 2011 @ 8:29 am

  4. My guess is the osprey!


    Comment by tim vogel — August 24, 2011 @ 8:35 am

  5. Could it be a bald eagle? I don’t know about the mouth adaptations, but I know that mercury poisoning is a serious threat to bald eagles, and that bald eagles have brown feathers with white spots when they’re young.

    Comment by Dani — August 24, 2011 @ 8:42 am

  6. Tough one! I’m guessing it’s a sea otter. That looks like close up fur?

    Comment by eileen — August 24, 2011 @ 8:57 am

  7. Either a Bald Eagle or an Osprey?

    Comment by Lorelei — August 24, 2011 @ 9:50 am

  8. Red Shouldered Hawk

    Comment by Brennan — August 24, 2011 @ 10:35 am

  9. I am going to say – Clapper rail.

    Comment by Craig Rosa — August 24, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

  10. (specifically, the California Clapper rail (Rallus longirostris obsoletus)

    Comment by Craig Rosa — August 24, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  11. Great guesses! Congratulations to Neil who correctly guessed Gavia immer, the common loon. There’s a great entry for them on Cornell University’s All About Birds (a site we use frequently here at the Naturalist Center). I highly recommend playing the audio file of their call to startle your coworkers.
    We’ll have a new guess the specimen game up on Tuesday, but in the meantime won’t you tell us Who Pooped?

    Comment by nature — August 26, 2011 @ 9:44 am

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