Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lions and tigers and bears

"And now for something completely different": comments on the current Discovery channel series, "Nature's Most Amazing Events," which consists of 6 hour-long (counting far too many commercials) programs starring animals of all kinds -- narwhals and sardines to polar and grizzly bears and lion prides. birds of all kinds. breathtaking nature shots -- aka, habitat!

One creature that comes out a hero is the salmon, which nourishes more life on the planet than any other animal, or words to that effect. This fish feeds predators of all kinds during the annual salmon run, and then, in death, it fertilizes the forests where its body's often taken by those predators -- trees grow taller, grass grows greener . . . so in turn the life cycle is supported. One surprising fact: the Pacific salmon, featured in this show, dies after laying its eggs, while the Atlantic salmon does not. The narrator said this difference is a mystery to scientists.

Sardines by the millions are shown moving up the coast of Sourth Africa, drawn by the cold water they must have. En route, they attract dolphins, which drive them upward for the waiting gannets, which then "plunge dive" as deep as 30-60 feet for sardine sandwiches. Besides dolphins, the 8-inch long fish are also pursued by sharks and a 40-foot whale whose name sounded like "Brutus whale," but couldn't have been! For that creature, one "bite" means millions of sardines. And still, half of them survive the trip north only to turn around and head south when the cold water there beckons.

Tonight, I'm expecting (hoping for) elephants. After yesterday's circus demo, it's time to see more of them, this time in potentially happier circumstances. However rough their life might seem -- as with the seasonally starving animals in earlier segments -- at least they're with their kind, their community, and in their natural habitat.

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