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Geysering Gharials

Geysering female Tomistoma
PHOTO 1 - Adult female Tomistoma

Geysering male Tomistoma
PHOTO 2 - Adult male Tomistoma


Actually, these are false gharials (Tomistoma schlegelii) rather than true gharials (Gavialis gangeticus), and they get their name from the obvious similarity of the shape of their head - a very long, slender snout. These two photographs were submitted by Bruce Shwedick, Curator of Wildlife at Florida Cypress Gardens. Bruce writes the following:

"Geysering display has been observed in the wild during courtship by several species including Crocodylus niloticus and Crocodylus acutus. This behavior has been observed by an adult pair of Tomistoma schlegeli in a captive breeding program in the United States. The 2.9 meter female (PHOTO 1) uses this display with her nares (external nostrils) situated above the water to initiate courtship. When she is no longer receptive to the approach of the male she uses geysering display with her nares situated below the water.

The 3.7 meter male (PHOTO 2) has also been observed using geysering display following the female's display, when she is unreceptive to his approach.

The Tomistoma, also known as the Malayan or False Gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) is considered to be one of the world's least known crocodilians from a natural history perspective. Recent field studies and observations in captivity have begun to shed light on the conservation status and biology of this unique and endangered crocodilian.

A captive breeding program focusing on the Tomistoma began at Florida Cypress Gardens, in Winter Haven, Florida in 1996. The pair (pictured above) arrived in the United States in the early 1970's and were raised by Bruce Shwedick and his brother Michael. At the time of their arrival they were about 1 meter in length, so the year of their hatching is estimated to be 1969. On October 1, 1999 one hatchling, measuring 31.1 cm and weighing 68 grams, emerged from its egg after an incubation period of 87 days. The hatchling, named "Pip" will become a part of the Tomistoma schlegelii SPECIES SURVIVAL PLAN being developed by the Crocodilian Taxon Advisory Group of the American Zoological Association."



Do you have a photograph which you'd like to become the Pic of the Month? Submit it and I'll select the best. The best photograph I receive each year will receive a prize - an Ilfochrome print - to be awarded in December.


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