Saturday, June 26, 2010

Room for all in the water

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Christian pilgrims are not the only ones in the water . . .


. . . at Yardenit, the baptism place on the River Jordan.

(Photo by Kristine S.)
Here I am, trying to shoot these giant catfish just as they rose to the surface in a feeding frenzy whenever a tourist threw them bread.
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But then another animal came over to the stairs.
Is it a muskrat?*
I've never seen this rodent before.
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Even more fun than the catfish and the small fry and the (maybe) muskrat* was the little baby which appeared from under its mama.
You can see its head if you enlarge the photo!
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Seems like the Galilee is better for finding animals for our weekly Camera-Critters than is Jerusalem.
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(More on Yardenit here in the coming days.)
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*UPDATE: Blogger-friend (and now also RLF) Robin helped us identify the furry animal as a lutria (aka nutria or coypu), Myocaster coypus.
So it's NOT a muskrat.
Robin used to live in the area and swim in the Jordan, so she knows! See her comment. Better yet, see her blog about their life in Israel!
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15 comments:

Irina said...

Looks like the fauna life is very active in the area :-)))

Sara said...

I've never seen so many catfish before! The little rodent and the baby are kind of sweet..

Petrea said...

I always like seeing pictures of you, Dina. But I recommend you don't get in the water with those fish.

amaraentus said...

beautiful Dina,
that must be a beautiful experience to experience a baptismal ritual in the Jordan river.

I can feel the rebirth from here. ha ha.

love and light
shalom

Kay said...

Oh Wow! This is such an interesting series of photos. A muskrat? It looks like a giant rat! I wonder if it eats fishes?

Robin said...

It's a lutria :). They're all over Nahal Alexander as well. Cute little buggers, aren't they? Apparently in the southern US they've become a real menace though.

The photos from the Yardenit made me smile too - Jay and I used to live about a mile from there and would swim just downstream from the pilgrims. I'm awfully glad that I didn't realize back then that there were huge catfish in the water!

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eileeninmd said...

Wonderful photos, love the giant catfish. And the muskrat is a cool sighting.

Dina said...

Irina, I think wherever tourists give a free handout of food, the fauna will flock to that place. :)

Sara, me too. And I thought the nutria was sweet too, esp. the baby.

Petrea, yes, my two friends from Arkansas are visiting Israel; so I finally get to have my picture taken.
You know, I never swam in any river.
But don't people pay good money to put their feet in a tank of water for half an hour and have special fish eat the dead skin on their feet??

Amaraentus, I can only imagine that you are correct about this.

Kay, Robin says it is a nutria/lutria, not a muskrat. The Americans I was with said muskrat.
My guide, "Mammals of Israel," says the nutria's distribution is in the Mediterranean area. So I was confused.
Anyway, I'll try to find out if they eat fish.

Robin, thanks a lot for the firsthand information!
Lucky you, to have a place to swim in the river.

Dina said...

Eileen shalom. Yes, it was exciting to see new animals. We never see these in Jerusalem, since we have no body of water.

Shalom to all.
My c. 2005 "Mammals of Israel, A Pocket Guide to Mammals and Their Tracks," says about the coypu or lutria (in Hebrew, nutria), Latin Myocaster coypus that it is 95 cm long and weighs 6 kg.
"Lives in freshwater bodies and surrounding vegetation. An alien species introduced from South America for its fur; has since spread.
Distribution: Water bodies; streams, reservoirs and fishponds in the Mediterranean region."

If the nutrias are now in eastern Israel at the Sea of Galilee, they must have spread even more.

Petrea said...

You've got me there, Dina, but the fish were much smaller!

Denise said...

Very interesting series of photos Dina. The lutria mama and baby are so cute. I have seen similar animals here but think the shape of the head maybe a little different, non-expert that I am.

If you have time to stop by, my Camera Critter’s post is right here.

Louis la Vache said...

«Louis» thought the rodent was an escapee from the U.S. Congress...

Rambling Round said...

A flourishing river, I'd say! Love these pictures.

JM said...

I'm amazed at the giant catfish!

Jew Wishes said...

I like the feeding frenzy going on...so many catfish...amazing.

I love the little furball babe.