[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

SWIMMING ELEPHANTS & MARINE PREDATORS



Browsing through the back-log of messages I missed during my absence,
I've read much on swimming habits in elephants, the dwarf mammoths of
Catalina (they're called _Mammuthus exilis_ BTW) and speculations on the
risks elephants might endure while paddling. A few quick comments:

Orcas and sharks as a danger to swimming elephants.

Few of those to whom these comments apply seem to realise that both
predators are selective, and, as are many predatory vertebrates, wary as
regards what they attack. _Carcharodon_ will attack marine mammals, but
only when they appear recognisably pinniped or cetacean-like (yes, they
do kill dolphins, it being well documented in the Med). Surfboards, sea 
otters etc will be attacked too, almost certainly as, in silhouette, they
appear seal-like. 

It's also worth noting that, in the case of such accidental strikes, the
shark is not interested afterward in *eating* the victim. While _Carcharodon_
has attacked and killed sea otters and humans, it has not returned to eat
their bodies. Likewise, sheep carcasses are not eaten. It's thought that
_Carcharodon_ only consumes mammals that have a very high fat content.

A basic premise is that, while sharks may well be very curious about
bizarre animals in their realm, they'd lack the experience to make
it worth their while tackling them. (Having said this, a bull elephant
that charged into the sea somewhere off e. Africa in the ?70s
*was* attacked by large sharks. I don't recall if he survived.
Sleeper/Greenland sharks (_Somniosus_), 7 m long, have been known to
swallow reindeer. Whole.) 

Orcas are selective, adaptable predators. There's no evidence that
they'd be a threat to a non-pinniped, non-cetacean swimming mammal. If
so, photographers that have been underwater with them off Chile would
not have recorded the footage that they did. Likewise for Leopard seals,
BTW.

Are there are any real marine monsters? Huge hypercarnivores that swim
around chasing and swallowing any living thing they can get into their
mouths? It's very possible that dinosaurs also swam across seaways, as
do elephants and other modern animals. Unfortunately for them,
_Carcharodon_ and _Orcinus_ are puny predators when compared with....
the 'Pliosauridae'! 

Elephants might make it across the South China seas, but could a
sauropod take a dip off the N. American coast? That's another bunch of posts. 

"That blast came from the Death Star! That thing's operational!"

DARREN NAISH