Friday, February 09, 2007
Visited Ano Nuevo sanctuary the other day, just north west along the coast from santa cruz. The main thing there is elephant seals. These things grow to 5000lbs of blubber and are from the same stock as Grizzlies. And you can tell. When they fight to be alpha male they tear great big chunks out of each other. In an attenborough sense, its pretty amazing to watch. The babies pop out at a mere 90lbs and the mothers hold on to them only for 28 days or so and then ditch them. At this point they have to learn for themselves. They have however gained an immense amount of weight off mummies 50-60$ fat milk and despite being unable to swim, they have at this point a 50% survival chance for the coming year. Probably not bad in natures playground.
Other facts: mum can hold her breath for 2 hours and dive to 5000 feet below sea level. Thats a looooong way down...To do this she pumps all the air out of the lungs and reduces the heart rate from an average of 70bpm to 5, sort of sleeping every so often to keep organs at minimal requirement for blood. At the apex (?) of her dive she gobbles squid and sharks and such and then pops back to the surface.
Does it make you think that evolution is pushing itself pretty hard in some odd directions?