Friday Flower – My Bleeding Heart Vine

My Bleeding Heart Vine - Photograph by Laura Lecce
My Bleeding Heart Vine – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This adorable little red flower is from a Bleeding Heart Vine (Clerodendrum thomsomiae), a native to tropical west Africa. This plant utilizes two reproductive strategies, dichogamy and herkagomy which mean that the stamens (male reproductive parts) ripen at a different time and are spatially separated to the pistil (female reproductive part), thus ensuring that this plant cannot self pollinate. Instead, the hard work is accomplished by butterflies and hummingbirds which spread the pollen to other plants. This also means that the genetic diversity of this plant is increased through combining the genes of separate plants, providing a higher chance of adaptation and evolutionary survival. Too much science for a Friday? In that case, happy weekend everyone!

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Swimming with whale sharks

Making Friends with the Fishes - Photograph by Ocean Tours
Making Friends with the Fishes – Photograph by Ocean Tours

This past trip to Mexico we made sure we went when the whale sharks are known to migrate to the warmer waters of the Mexican-Caribbean Sea, usually mid May to September. This photograph was taken by our guide from Ocean Tours, of my husband next to one of these gentle and giant whale sharks. Unfortunately I didn’t make it into many photos because every time I jumped into the water, I was immediately transfixed by the majestic creature in front of me, that I would forget to channel my inner Olympic swimmer to keep up with them! The bus-sized whale sharks were slowly cruising through the water, sucking up plankton without a care in sight, and even with their slow motions easily outswam us. I really enjoyed going on this tour because it felt like Mexican authorities really care about these mysterious beauties. There are many rules and regulations in place to make sure that people are not infringing on the whale sharks natural behaviors, feeding and migratory habits. They limit the season length, the number of boats, and allow only two people with a guide in the water with the shark at any time. They really want to make this a sustainable attraction, and I feel that many countries could use this as a great example that nature should be prioritized over fast monetary gain. Although I am not in any way a comfortable boat person, and after a while was “feeding the fishes” rather than swimming with them, I would recommend this fantastic experience to anyone.

Please click here to see my other underwater posts.