Monthly Archives: December 2018

The Otter

Otter, Animals, Water, Meadow, Care

One of the UK’s much loved mammals, the Otter, a large member of the Weasel family.

There are 13 Otter species globally, mostly seen in the UK is the Eurasian Otter, also referred to as the Lutra Lutra, they are fully protected under both the UK and European legislation, since they’re still widely hunted for their pelts. Otter numbers have fallen dramatically over the last 30 years. The Lutra Lutra Otter has distinctive features that make it easy to recognize, with its brown coat and white under belly and neck they are well adapted to aquatic life with its waterproof fur coat, webbed feet and powerful tail and of core their whiskers. Found along coatings, estuaries, lakes, streams and fresh water habitats with suitable cover. They could replicate up to 3’cubs’ annually with the mother will nurture for up to 3 months.

Another popular species is the Sea Otter found along the coats of the Pacific Ocean, these mammals do literally everything in the water, they eat, sleep, mate and give birth in the sea, once more highly adapted to their habitat.

The Giant River Otter, the names says it all, the worlds largest Otter at 6 feet long, these magnificent creatures are native to South America living in the river and creeks of the Amazon. They live in family groups and compact communities, once making a den in the river banks, setting a territory hat that they will aggressively protect if necessary.

Otters are really intelligent, they have been using tools such as stones to open shells for food, they also know how to have a good time, the Eurasian Otter in particular are exceptionally playful and have been seen many times climbing banks up and sliding back down on their backs!

Their diet consists mostly of fish, frogs, eels, rabbits and birds, depending on their habitat, they consume up to 25% of the body weight daily sometimes more, spending at least 5 hours each day hunting.

These endangered species can just accommodate so much, the disruption of new home developments, roads and overall human disruption are leading to reduction of inhabitance. Pollution of waterways are destroying their food chain and pesticides, mercury and petroleum found in water are seriously damaging in their health, more of these cases are being detected all over Europe.

You may contact your local wildlife trust, they could participate in otter conservation projects.

Capturing the Crocodile

Crocodile Cayman Islands

Farming, all around the world, is a difficult job at the best of times, but South African farmers can add wildlife to their list of challenges to be handled.

The safety of the farm workers is a concern in addition to the welfare of the crocodile. In circumstances like this it is always desired to move the crocodile to a sanctuary. The wildlife jurisdiction in the region is approached and the appropriate district officer adds yet another task to his ever growing list.

These re-location exercises are very frequently lessons in extreme patience.

Crocodiles are not amenable to polite requests to re-locate so other measures have to be employed. Darting them with a tranquillizer medication isn’t an option as they have a tendency to dive to the security of the base of the dam and all hopes of grabbing them disappear.

If they’re really small they can often be captured by hand from a ship using a flashlight to attract them. This is usually done at night by shining the light into the water. Their fascination causes them to rise to the surface where they can be caught and crated.

The bigger ones need a specially constructed trap. The trap is baited with something yummy to a crocodile and left at the water’s edge. The trap has to be checked on a daily basis in order not to endanger the life of a trapped croc with him in the trap for a long time. As he grabs the meat the mechanism is released closing the door and we have him.

Now that’s the easy, boring part. Getting him out of the snare and ready to make the trip to his new home is another challenge.

The first step would be to drop a noose through the snare and around his upper jaw. This can be time consuming if he chooses to not co-operate. After his top jaw is secured the trap is opened and he’s pulled out. Although this sounds like one must have hands of steel it’s not the case in any respect. The muscles which a crocodile uses to open his jaws aren’t very strong and, as long as you get your hands around closed jaws, it is not tough to hold them shut.

This is certainly not a 1 man job since the thrashing tail, which is more dangerous than the jaws at this time, has to be held securely or the”jockey” could be thrown well clear with a single swipe. A rope noose is slipped over both limbs and the jaws are taped shut. At this time the croc usually gives up and he is securely tied up and loaded onto the vehicle ready to start the journey to his new home.

Fortunately there are lots of conservation minded farmers that are prepared to initiate a capture to be able to protect a crocodile.

The Manatee

Manatee, Swimming, Marine, Animal, Sea

You’ve probably seen the”don’t touch” signs for manatees and wondered why this would be so after hearing about places like Crystal Springs, Florida where people go to swim with the manatees. I have heard the stories also: manatees rolling on their backs to have their bellies scratched. People saying how much the manatees appear to like it.

So what is the problem? If they enjoy it, why should not you touch manatees in the wild?

You also put the whole species in danger of dying out indefinitely.

They also lose their natural fear of things connected with people that could hurt them like boats. To put it differently, if you choose the”wild” out of a wild creature, it loses one of its best defense mechanisms: the instinct to avoid certain situations and run off when necessary. To get a manatee’s protection, it’s very important that it remain wild and retain its natural wild instinct.

This implies there are so few left in the world, they are barely hanging on by a thread. In actuality, not only are their population numbers low, they’re also falling at least 20% each generation! Losing just one manatee to a senseless pre-mature human caused death is a REALLY big deal at this point. It’s crucial that we do everything we can to protect them. Otherwise, we could get rid of this incredible creature forever within the next 100 years. It’s a sad thought to think that your Great-Grandchildren could live in a world where there are no manatees in the wild.

The female stays pregnant for at least a year and manatee pups stay with their Mother for about 2 decades. It follows that manatees have a slow growing population under the very best of circumstances. They can not quickly replace themselves like other mammals such as rodents and rabbits that reproduce far more frequently. If you take out a single manatee, it can have a huge impact on the population at this point.

Boating accidents are one of the primary ways manatees get killed and seriously injured now — and boat traffic continues to increase across their whole selection. Manatees can stay under water for 15 – 20 minutes. However, like all other marine mammals, they need to come to the surface to breath. If there is a boat in the region when they do, they can get hit by the hull or cut by the propeller. If a boat is traveling fast, they might not even see it coming before it is too late. Manatees that have become accustomed to individuals are more likely to associate the sound of a boat motor with people and they’ll be more inclined to move into areas where there is high boat traffic. The number of boat related accidents with manatees has skyrocketed over the last decade.

If manatees become accustomed to getting their bellies scratched by people, they may expect ALL human beings to be so friendly. Regrettably, we all know that not all human beings are this friendly. In actuality, there are some people who would actually get some type of sadistic pleasure out of harming a manatee.

It’s especially important not to touch or even interact with a manatee Mother when she is with her pup. It takes two years for the Mother to teach her puppy all they need to know to live by themselves. Interacting with the Mother and/or puppy at this important stage can lead to the two of them getting separated. If this happens, the pup may not be prepared to fend for itself and it might well die, as well as the negative effect it will have on the forlorn Mother.

Most people that are compelled to get a manatee are this way because they love animals. They wish to touch it because they’re attracted to this kind of fascinating and wonderfully odd creature. They imply the manatee no harm. They just don’t realize that touching the manatee could actually harm it or put it at greater risk for being killed. It’s mostly for those people who I am writing this article for.

Please understand that for the manatee’s sake, the best way to observe it is to maintain a respectable distance. There is also a large advantage to you doing observing them in this way — a huge advantage that you may not have realized before. When you observe a wild creature from a decent distance, you get to see how the animal behaves naturally! As fun as it might be to touch a manatee, it is even funner to actually get to see what it does in the wild. If you go out with an ethical eco-tour operator, they can show you how to see animals at a relatively close range but without bothering them. This can be one of the richest most memorable experiences you will ever have.

So, if you find a manatee while snorkeling or swimming, try to maintain a respectable distance and just observe how it behaves naturally. The less you interact with it, the more acclimated it is going to be about you and the more natural it will behave. You will be richly rewarded for showing the creature this respect, I assure you! If you are with a group, take care not to completely surround the manatee, even at a distance, since this will make them feel trapped.

If you’re driving a boat and spot a manatee, be sure to slow way down to avoid any possibility of a collision. If you’re taking a guided trip and someone else is driving the ship, if they don’t slow down, then point out the manatee to them and ask them nicely to slow down. Occasionally when manatees surface for air, most of their body remains below water and just their snout sticks out. In these situations, they can be tricky to see and the driver of the ship may have missed it. In this way, even if you are not driving the boat, you really can help by keeping your eyes peeled for them.

Remember that manatees are a true treasure in this world that could disappear if we are not extremely careful about how we behave around them. You can save them just by getting the right information out there.

Walrus

Walrus, Odobenidae, Odobenus, Tusks

When travellers arrive on their polar vacations expecting to find a myriad different creatures, one of the animals that necessarily makes the’top three’ list is the Walrus – and though it may seem difficult to believe without seeing these impressive animals in the flesh, there are plenty of reasons for this high regard. The Walrus is a fascinating creature in its own physical appearance, customs, and even in the way it became an integral force in the mythology and culture of the surrounding communities, who hunted the walrus for its meat, fat, tusks, and bone. Visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of these animals will be well rewarded – after all, with their size, they are pretty difficult to miss!

Undoubtedly one of the most fascinating qualities you’ll notice about the Walrus during your polar vacations is the giant creatures’ tusks. Believe it or not, these elongated canines can attain lengths of up to one metre in both males and females – even though you may not be able to get close enough to measure them from tip to gum! The tusks are usually larger among men, where they’re used for fighting and dominance displays. No matter the sex of Walrus, though, their tusks come in handy in their everyday life – like to help make holes in ice, or to aid in dragging prey from the sea and onto a solid surface.

Predators and Prey

Due to its great bulk and intimidating tusks, the Walrus enjoys a life of relative safety from predators. It only needs to worry about two creatures hungry for a Walrus snack – the Orca, and the Polar Bear. Fortunately, however, the Walrus isn’t a large portion of predator’s diet, meaning there are always plenty around to see on your polar holidays.

The Walrus features prominently in the faith and folklore of many Arctic communities. In one version of the folktale’Myth of the Raven’ (where Raven recovers the stolen sun and moon from a spirit by seducing his daughter), the father hurls the daughter from a high cliff in retribution, and as she plummets into the water she transformed to the first Walrus. According to legend, the tusks were originally formed from the tears of the weeping girl. However, the Walrus has also featured in more modern stories across the world – those two distinctive tusks making them an instantly familiar creature, whether on polar holidays or in the pages of an illustrated children’s book. One of the most significant examples is from Lewis Carrol’s poem,’The Walrus and the Carpenter’, which appeared in his seminal’Through the Looking-Glass’, in 1871.

What’s a Seabird

Seagull, Flight, Sky, Water Bird

Shorebirds are a division of birds that includes sandpipers, plovers, curlews, and related birds. As a rule these birds are not regarded as seabirds, because they feed and roost on the coast, and only wade to the water-usually bays or inland shores, not the ocean. However, two small species, called phalaropes, nest on the Arctic tundra but spend the rest of the year at sea at lower latitudes.

Many feed in brackish estuaries where rivers enter the sea. But many species will migrate over the ocean and rest on the sea, most quite near shore. Particular ducks feed on mollusks and are found regularly in nearshore waters-especially near rocky shores or headlands.

There is truly no species known as a”sea gull.” Gulls happen coastally, but many species live in inland locations. Some gulls nest in the Arctic or inland lakes and winter along the coast. Most gulls will need to drink fresh water regularly, so are rarely found more than 20 miles offshore. Kittiwakes and Sabine’s gulls are species which spend the majority of the year at sea.

Terns are closely related to gulls and occupy the same habitats. Many dive from the air into the nearshore waters for fish. Some terns spend most of their lives far at sea.

Also associated with gulls are a group of seabirds called jaegers that breed on the Arctic tundra but spend the rest of the year far at sea. Skuas are similar, breeding in either Arctic or Antarctic lands. These birds are klepto-parasitic, stealing other seabird’s food.

Cormorants, pelicans, gannets, and allies live mostly along coastlines. Several members, including frigate birds and tropic birds are found far to sea.

Loons and grebes are mostly fresh water divers. Many spend the non-breeding season along the coast, either in near shore ocean waters or bays and estuaries.

Found only in the southern hemisphere, flightless penguins seem more at home in the sea than on land.

Auks, murres, and puffins are a northern hemisphere group of seabirds that nest on sea cliffs or offshore rocks. They feed exclusively from the sea, eating fish or krill.

Albatrosses, shearwaters, and petrels spend most of their lives at sea, far from land. They have the ability to drink sea water. They rest and sleep on the ocean as well as obtain all their food from the sea. They return to land only to nest, usually in colonies on isolated islands from any predators. These seabirds are often called pelagic birds.

Bird watchers wanting to see seabirds, particularly pelagic seabirds, will need to attend special’pelagic trips’ to get offshore where these birds spend most of the year.

Who are you calling Gaudy

Peacock, Bird, Feather, Zoo, Colorful

There are many beautiful animals on the planet; the spots on the cheetah have inspired designers for decades, along with the perfectly symmetrical patterns on a butterfly are stunning, but can any of these truly compare to the delightfully gaudy display of a proud peacock? With feathers reaching up to four feet long, and adorned with the iridescent shimmer of greens, purples, blues, and reds there is not any other animal that can compete with the imperial beauty of peacocks.

One of the few species of animal where the man is the more beautiful of the sexes, the phrase’Peacock’ actually only refers to the men, whereas the females are called’Peahens’, and they together are known as’Peafowl’. The males use their display of tail feathers, also known as coverts, in mating rituals and courtship displays to attract a mate. The female peacocks select their mates based on the dimensions, color, and quality of the peacock’s feathers. These gorgeous feathers can take up over half of the male peafowl’s, or peacock’s total body length, whereas the feminine peahens have brief, clearly colored tail feathers.

Peacocks have been the fashion-forward pheasants, the couture birds, the absolutely fabulous fowl of the animal kingdom, and their feathers have been just as trendsetting-ly powerful in the human kingdom also. Peacocks have been a sign of wealth, beauty and rebirth since early times, and their pictures could be found in early Christian grave art, and were a favorite theme in Rome as early as the third century. In the Middle and Far East, pictures of these plumes, as well as the actual feathers themselves, were used to adorn everything from clothing to house goods.

In the late 1800’s, pictures of peacocks, and the beautiful patterns of their plumes began being used in visual art in the Western world as well. As the gilded and intricately detailed designs from Islamic and Middle Eastern art started to gain popularity in the west, designers like William Morris began to incorporate the ostentatious beauty of the peacock plumes in their interior designs. Around this time, an English group of artists called the Aesthetics were producing stunning pieces of art using influences from other cultures, specifically Japanese and Islamic designs.

The peacock print whether left in its natural state, or superimposed into mod looking patterns, makes exquisite pieces of clothing and can be seen on catwalks from New York to Milan, from every major fashion house.

Difference between Hives

Honeycomb, Honey, Delicious, Sweet

Bees and Bee Hives

There are a variety of bees which exist and each has their own kinds of beehives they create. Having the bee hives and their occupants too close to home can cause problems and a threat to your loved ones and pets because of the pain of their sting and potential allergies they cause.

They are recognized by yellow and black stripes. They are most often found in trees and shrubs but become more of an issue when they take refuge in the eaves of your home and below the decks. Their bee hives may be recognizable as an oval-shaped construction of gray paper. They create their own”paper” by chewing on tiny slivers of wood. They lay their eggs in those hives and the young are hatched there. The yellow jacket sometimes gets inside the walls or ceiling of your house, evident by sounds of a crackling and rustling sound as they are creating more hives while chewing through your plaster and walls.

Wasps

Wasps are very predominant in shape, long and thin at the waist. They favor building eaves and gutters as a way to get into attics. They will also construct their nest or hive behind walls, in grills, under deck railings, in or under mailboxes, swing sets and light fixtures. The bee hive of a wasp is rather small so it could be tucked into or under any area.

Carpenter Bees

As the name describes, carpenter bees love wood and can literally”drill” into the timber of your home. They make tunnels in the wood, creating their own sort of hive within those tunnels in order to lay eggs and raise their young. Left untreated, this bee hive can grow to extreme numbers around your home. Carpenter bees aren’t destructive of your house since they don’t go beyond the surface of the wood without damaging rafters, studs and joists.

Honey Bees

This bee is one of the most vital for the environment as they’re required for pollination. As we know how beneficial they are, once the honey bee invades your house, it becomes an issue. As they welcome themselves into your structure, you may not visibly see their hive although you may note them flying in and out of your cracks and crevices of the home’s exterior. Ridding a honey bee problem most frequently takes great ability as every attempt is made to remove the hive and relocate it to a safer, more suitable area away from the home. If all else fails, the hive may need to be destroyed to resolve the bee issue.

Hornets

The hornet is one of the scariest of pests to have around your dwelling. They have the most painful sting and can do so through layers of clothes. Hornet’s hives and nests are up in the eaves and under the decks. Their hives are similar in color and construction to that of the yellow jacket; a tear-drop shape that’s constructed of the grey paper they make themselves. They lay their eggs in those nests which consist of cells that are six-sided hexagons. The youthful and stored food is in these cells.

Recognize the types of beehives invading your house and living area, along with the pests that reside there so you can get professional pest control. Eliminating bees are your own isn’t effective and may cause more damage than good if you get them mad. Professional pest control specialists are specifically trained, equipped and secure so as to take care of your bee problem and their bee hives in the best interest of your loved ones, home and the environment.

A bee keeper or somebody else who’s a specialist in bee hive removal can provide the option of relocating the bee hive without having to destroy the hive or the bees. Though you might not like the insects, bees do play an integral role in pollinating plants. Without them, the ecosystem would battle. By calling a bee keeper or other expert, you have the opportunity to defend the bees and preserve their colony and also help out the ecosystem. Too many people simply destroy the bees since it is easier to spray on the hive, kill the bees, and then remove the hive than it is to call a professional in to help you sort out things.

Starfish are amazing

Starfish, Marine Life, Public Record

They say reach for the stars as a metaphor, but the expression can actually be achieved, provided that this might not be all about space and universe, but with sea and starfishes!

We all love starfishes, particularly if you have seen the film’Finding Nemo’ you would have fallen in love with the beautiful five legged creature that could stick onto your aquarium glass as a decoration like that in the skies. Starfishes are a really different kind of animal and although it’s a fish, it is really in the form of a star. Have you noticed the tiny little bumps that cover the starfish skin? Well, you may be flabbergasted to know it is actually its spine!

Starfishes can’t swim but all they do is climb and crawl. These starfishes generally are less than 8 inches in its complete dimension, but a number of them may be as big as a small toy car. You may find numerous kinds of starfishes with some popular varieties like the pillow star, goosefoot and burrowing starfish.

Although, you might think that starfishes generally have five arms, the fact is that you might find many of them that have as many as 20 to 40 arms. That’s crazy right? So you might think that they resemble the octopus, not just because they cannot swim and it has tiny flexible spines that allow them for these movements.

That is right; every arm has a foot at the end with sucking capacity which permits them to stick themselves on anything about it and to hunt for food. Their feet have a suction capacity that helps them to suck in their prey.

Although, starfishes might look like dedicate darlings, they’re very strong when it comes to defending themselves against their enemies. The spine on their skin may not be that tasty for other sea creatures, and even when a predator bites off an arm of the starfish, it can easily grow it back in months. Is not that creepy, but the great part about it is they can confront any sort of dangerous animal and even if the animal bites off a part of their body, they can easily grow it back. Sometimes specific species can grow back their whole body just from a leftover portion of an injured limb.

Did you know that starfish do not have eyes but have’eyespot’ at the end of each arm that’s capable of seeing the dark or light? However, it is impossible for them to recognize shapes clearly, but can feel things around it and move accordingly.

A starfish’s mouth is beneath and in the center of their body. They usually like to keep their diet with shellfishes, by locking them in their feet and this suction cup opens the casing.

Starfishes are purely sea creatures and you may find almost no fresh water starfish at all. So if you’re thinking of an aquarium with starfishes inside, think about the saltwater aquarium.

To know more about these amazing creatures there is only 1 place on earth, and that’s Sea Life aquarium. There you can have a splendid experience with your family and be accompanied by professionals who can actually allow you to touch these beautiful species, and educate yourself on how to deal with them.

Unseen Burrowing Owl

Owls, Burrowing Owl, Casal, Nest, Hole

One thing most owls are good at is being imperceptible. This little owl is even better than many owls. The Burrowing Owl is wide-spread across America however, few people have noticed one. Or when we did get a glimpse, we’re not quite sure of what we had seen.

Around 1782 in Chili was the first time this little owl was documented. This owl is only about ten inches high with a wing span of 1 1/2 – two feet. It is easy to see how they can be over looked so frequently, they are a bit un-owl like in appearance and behavior. Their colour is that of aged wood so it’s tough to tell where the branch ceases and the owl starts.

Burrowing Owls are one of the few that may be active throughout the day. Their favorite time is still dawn or dusk for their searching! But, due to their size they prefer to be done feeding by the time the larger”owl eating” predators come out later at night. As they can see in the daylight too, if the day feed did not go very well they have the option of hunting longer in the morning. Due to the most Burrowing Owl sightings are throughout the day. If you’ve Prairie Dogs, Gophers, Voles, grasshoppers, or mice chances are pretty good you have this owl. His favourite habitat is grass lands but he will be flexible if his food source is available. Additionally they can perch in pine trees, or on the fence on your suburb. He prefers to live in old Prairie Dog or Gopher holes however he can do some pretty good digging if needed, to have that just perfect hole. If your in the top countries closer to Canada, this owl is migratory, the lower half of the US. He remains year around. It just depends on the weather. (OK, Bad pun!)

And yes, this owl has it’s nest in dens in the ground. The mom and dad will both feed the young. At approximately 14 days old they could be sitting on top of the mound, outside the den entrance. By two months they’ll be chasing insects around on their own for dinner. If there’s space the Burrowing Owl may stay near his family unit if there are sufficient burrows and food.

The Gopher Owl can live up to ten years . Other owls, hawks, badgers, skunks, cars, dogs and cats all try to shorten that life span in the wild. Unfortunately in Colorado the Burrowing Owl is listed as”State Threatened” that is only a breath away from compromised. Most of the states that have the Prairie Dog Owl, have it listed either protected or endangered. But which do you save , the owl or its food source which is a nuisance to most of us? Perhaps we should look a bit closer at the food chain.

Unassuming Oppossum

Possum, Opossum, Animal, Young, Wild

While working at a large Animal Shelter, I’d contact with thousands of opossums! Most had been hit by cars, attacked and injured by dogs caught in traps by residents and picked up by our Animal Control Officers. Thank goodness, a few years ago the County ceased accepting trapped wildlife so, people had to learn how to live peacefully with Opossums.

Many individuals feel that Opossums are aggressive due to their large mouths and 50 sharp teeth! In fact, Opossums are solitary, gentle and placid creatures. They avoid confrontation! Adults are usually very slow moving and will only open their mouth to show their teeth and hiss when fearful. They do not initiate aggression. They’ll retreat whenever possible.

Opossums are actually very beneficial to our areas. They’re omnivores, so that they eat both meat and vegetation. They are basically scavengers, cleaning up the rotten fruit and debris in our yards, as well as carrion (dead road kill, etc.) They will eat insects, snails, slugs, worms, berries, nuts, grass, leaves and pet food. They are very adaptable and make due with whatever food and water is available. Just about every lawn has Opossums walking around at night. Trust me, they are not a threat to you or your pets.

Mature Opossums are about the size of an adult cat. The tail could be 9″ to 21″ long. They use their thick, prehensile tail to scale and occasionally to carry leaves, etc.. Opossums can live in trees but, the adults can not hang by their tails while they sleep. They do not put much effort into creating a home.

Opossums are North America’s only marsupial mammal (female which has a pouch for carrying her young). They’re also nocturnal (sleep during the day and active at night).

The Opossum’s mating season is from February to June. They become adults and begin mating at @ 1 year old. They could have 1 – 2 litters per season, depending on the climate. The gestation (period from conception to birth) is only 12 – 14 days. The mother has 13 teats and that’s the maximum number of babies she can nurse. Usually, 13 babies will not make it into the pouch and of those that do, only about 3 to 6 will make it to weaning age. The babies are born undeveloped embryos. They’re just about 1/4″ long and about the size of a Honey Bee. After they are born, they scoot to the mothers pouch where they latch onto a teat. After the babies latch on, the teat swells and elongates and they remain there at all times.

The infants are weaned at 2-3 months old and are considered juveniles. They become independent of the mother when they are 6 – 12 months old and approximately 7″ to 10″ long. They become mating adults when they’re @ 1 year old. The adult males are larger than the females.

When Opossums are really frightened, they can go into an involuntary”shock – like” or”fainting state.” This unconscious state can last from 40 minutes to 4 hours. They first wake up by wiggling their ears.

When they are unconscious, they normally have an open mouth and appear to be dead.

Opossums just live 2 – 4 decades. They’ve a good deal of predators! Between humans, cars, dogs, cats, owls and bigger wildlife, Opossums don’t survive very long.

So, next time you see one roaming around at night, try to look another way.
They really aren’t as bad as they seem.

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