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Animals & Nature

Animals & Nature

Sharks - Predator or Prey?

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Sharks in the Water or Sharks out of the Water? Who’s the Real Predator?

Though accurately predicting exactly how many sharks are killed every year by humans remains difficult, estimates show up to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins alone.1 

Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup. In fact, shark fins are now considered one of the most valuable commodities in the world. One Whale Shark fin can sell up to $100,000 while a Basking Shark fin can sell for $250,000!2

However, it’s not just the fin that is used. Shark products can be found in make-up, other beauty products, and deodorants. The most common shark product is called Squalene, which is shark liver oil!

Shark meat is also used in other seafood products but not always labeled. Pollock and rock salmon may contain shark meat. So, if you want to refrain from eating shark, make sure you inquire about your seafood products and ask if they contain shark meat. Shark meat may not be very healthy to eat.

“The sale of shark meat is also masked by transshipping, the process of transferring fish caught at sea from ship to ship, which makes the source harder to trace. Shark is particularly risky to eat because mercury bioaccumulates—the concentration of the heavy metal increases as it passes along the food chain, from plankton to shellfish, to small fish and onto larger predatory species.”3

So, what’s the big deal with my worrying about sharks? After all, sharks are predators, right?

Sharks are apex predators, but that does not justify endangering them. They are not roaming the streets and threatening our communities!

The risk of a human getting attacked by a shark is “1 in 11.5 million”4 compared to the risk of a shark being attacked by humans at a rate of approximately 73 million/year. Alarming!

We need sharks! Other organisms, such as scallops, need sharks! The fishing industry has been threatened in certain areas such as the Chesapeake Bay where we get scallops due to the decline of sharks in the ocean.

Sharks play other vital roles in our ecosystem such as keeping the balance in the ocean, providing the world with one-third of the food we eat, producing more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, eliminating manmade greenhouse gases, and effecting the weather on earth.5

However, with staggering numbers of sharks being killed, “99 percent of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities…”6 Sadly, the behavior that man is demonstrating is not unusual.

Some animals already extinct due to human causes are the Russian and Baltic beavers; the Caribbean Monk seal, the only seal that became extinct because of human error; the Sea Mink, hunted to extinction for its fur; and the Great Auk or the “original penguin.”

Unfortunately, they are not the only extinct species due to human causes.

Man seems relentless on destroying nature and its grandeur in exchange for greed, pride, and vainglory, and these disheartening stories of endangerment and extinction are only a few among many.

It is understandable that centuries ago, man was not as informed, enlightened, or aware of the overall devastation that extinct animals would cause to our planet. For some, hunting was their only livelihood. Ignorance as to other ways of making a living and feeding their families was at the helm of their barbaric trade.

However, what valid excuses can man come up with today when in fact we now know better?

I dare to say there are none!

The answer remains the same as to why these precious God-given animals are maltreated, underappreciated, and misused: A lack of love and gratitude for what we have been given by the Almighty seems to be the ongoing reason.

What does God have to say about this?

In the book of Genesis 1:26, it is written, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’ (NIV).7

Man was given rule over the animals or, in other words, dominion. Nevertheless, dominion does not include abuse!

In Proverbs 12:10, it is written, “The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel” (NLT).

That seems very clear! Love cares!

In Exodus 20:10, God commanded that man give their animals rest. “But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates” (KJV).

God’s character, which is love, does not include abuse, disregard, or malice. It’s a biblical fact, that He wants us to care for His animals.

In Proverbs 27:23, it is written, “Pay careful attention to your flocks, and see to the welfare of your herds” (The Voice).

Usually when I write about animals, I emphasize what we can learn from them or maybe what we have in common with them. In the case of sharks, I struggle to find commonalities with them because, in the story of man versus shark, the shark seems like the prey while man seems like the predator. However, this is not because man fishes or eats meat, but rather because of how, how often, and for what purpose man kills.

I am not condoning or condemning a person’s decision to fish or eat meat. That is entirely up to each individual. However, I am suggesting that we stop and think about our planet and weigh out the consequences of avarice, egoism, and pretention, which seem too often the motives behind the destruction of these creatures and their habitats, which could possibly end yet another species.

When the balance is off, as it is with man versus shark, then the weight must be shifted in order to establish an equilibrium. At the rate man is going in regard to killing sharks, the scales will continue to tip in man’s favor until at last, like other species, sharks will become vanquished.

If we as humans weigh in love on that scale, sharks as well as all animals will have a chance of thriving thus keeping our ecosystem in perfect balance!

 

NIV-New International Version

NLT-New Living Translation

KJV-King James Version

1 Sharkproject. Accessed April 21, 2017. http://www.sharkproject.org/haiothek/index_e.php?site=gefahr_10.

2 Wildman, Paul. “Shark Fin Soup.” Shark Angels. Accessed April 21, 2017. http://sharkangels.org/issues-facing-sharks/shark-fin-soup.

3 Eco-Business. “Does your fish burger contain mercury-tainted shark meat?” Eco-Business. Accessed April 21, 2017. http://www.eco-business.com/news/does-your-fish-burger-contain-mercury-tainted-shark-meat/.

4 “Beach Injuries & Fatalities.” Beach Injuries & Fatalities: Florida Museum of Natural History. Accessed April 21, 2017. https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/fish/isaf/what-are-odds/risks-comparison/beach-risk.

5 Wildman, Paul. “Why We Need Sharks.” Shark Angels. Accessed April 21, 2017. http://sharkangels.org/issues-facing-sharks/why-we-need-sharks.

6 The Extinction Crisis. Accessed April 21, 2017. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/.

7 NIV-The Holy Bible, New International Version. Nashville: HarperCollins, 2011. Online.

Appreciating Nature

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Loving Nature Should Be Natural.

Nature is a part of creation, not apart from creation, and if we continue to allow ourselves to close our eyes and block our ears to the world of beauty and amazement performed by nature and justify the egregious abuse and neglect of it, then we have fallen into a deep pit of depravity.

Imagine a world of just human animals! Yikes!!!!

And here’s a thought to consider, could we human animals even exist without nature?

Let’s take a closer look at this question.

Let’s look at the bee.

Bees are necessary for cross-pollination. This is when the pollen from the anther of a flower is transferred by the bee to the stigma of another flower of the same species.

They collect nectar from the blossom by sucking it out with their tongues and then store it in what's called their “honey stomach,” not their food stomach.

When they have a full load, they fly back to the hive. There, they pass it on through their mouths to other worker bees who chew it for about half an hour. It's passed from bee to bee, until it gradually turns into honey. The honey is the food for bees. “In short, honey bees make honey as a way of storing food to eat over the cooler winter period, when they are unable to forage and there are fewer flowers from which to gather food.” (http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/why-do-bees-make-honey.html)

Then honeycomb – or “wax combs,” because they’re made of wax – are like vases where the bees store the honey. The bees flap their wings until the honey is dry and then they seal it with more wax to protect it.

I can understand why they’re called worker bees!

What about butterflies?

According to One Green Planet:

“Nearly 90 percent of all plants need a pollinator to reproduce and as bee populations drop, the role of the butterfly becomes even more vital. Without these wonderful insects, many plant species would then be unable to reproduce and their populations would dramatically decrease without the butterfly’s presence. We would see this effect in a number of plant species including wild flowers we have grown to love. This loss of plant life would affect both animals and humans.

Butterflies also provide assistance for genetic variation in the plant species they that they collect nectar from. Many species of butterfly migrate over long distances, which allows pollen to be shared across groups of plants that are far apart from one another. This helps plants to be more resilient against disease and gives them a better chance at survival.

Different species of butterfly can even provide effective pest control, naturally keeping plant populations healthy and disease free…Butterflies also act as a lower member of the food chain. They are a hearty meal for a number of animals, including birds and mice. As populations of butterfly diminish, so will populations of birds and other animals that rely on them as a food source. This loss of the butterfly is the beginning of the ‘butterfly effect.’ It will continue to affect the entire ecosystem, working its way up the trophic levels. Nearly two-thirds of all invertebrates can be connected back to the butterfly on the food chain. The loss of this seemingly insignificant insect could, potentially, collapse entire ecosystems that rely so heavily on them.”

“Collapse the entire system.” Yikes! That includes us humans!

Nature is more than just a gift to view. It is vital to our earth and to our well-being as a whole. In fact, nature brings us to serene places in our mind. It reduces stress, anger, blood pressure, anxiety and fear. I should think that’s why so many of us want to “get away” to placid places and resorts with a view when we feel overwhelmed.

It’s rare to hear someone say let’s get away to a noisy city for peace and relaxation!

At www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu I read that “Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.”

Even basic houseplants give off an energy that soothes and calms the mental arena. Let’s read on… “Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety…In addition, nature helps us cope with pain. Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort.

This is nicely demonstrated in a now classic study of patients who underwent gallbladder surgery; half had a view of trees and half had a view of a wall. According to the physician who conducted the study, Robert Ulrich, the patients with the view of trees tolerated pain better, appeared to nurses to have fewer negative effects, and spent less time in a hospital. More recent studies have shown similar results with scenes from nature and plants in hospital rooms…. Furthermore, time in nature or viewing nature scenes increases our ability to pay attention. Because humans find nature inherently interesting, we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing out in nature. This also provides a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks.

In another interesting area, Andrea Taylor’s research on children with ADHD shows that time spent in nature increases their attention span later.”

The facts and data are tipping the scales in the debate that protecting nature, and leaving room for its expanse is crucial for the sustainability to our planet and to our lives.

From trees, to bees and everything in between, loving nature and contributing to its survival ensures an earth that is beautiful, healthier and cleaner for us and future generations.

 

Love your planet!

Love the animals!

Love all of nature!

We need them!

 

Below are movies that just might make you see non-human animals from a different and higher point of view!

Saving Luna

Hachiko

Real Story

Nature: Animal Odd Couples

The Cove

The Elephant in the Living Room

Virunga

Blackfish

Nature: My Bionic Pet

Check out this book on incredible and inspiring stories about how animals both teach us and heal us!

Animals as Teachers and Healers by Susan Chernak McElroy

Live Lovingly...

Geese

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I think that animals and nature can always teach us something if we dare to learn. Let’s discover what geese can teach us.

Geese are categorized as anseriformes, which include about 140 different species. A female is called a goose and a male a gander. A baby is called a gosling. A group of geese is called a gaggle. Though they are waterfowls they do like spending quite a bit of time on land. They love to eat mostly fertilized grass and spend most of the daytime doing just that.1

Geese fly together in what is called a “V” formation or a wedge. This enables them to fly 70% better than if they fly solo.2 They make a honking noise, which symbolizes “encouragement” to whomever is leading the formation and when the goose or gander who is at the point position tires or sickens, another one in the formation moves into that post so the one who needs rest can fall back.3

Geese are very caring for one another and feel more secure when together as a gaggle. If one in the gaggle becomes ill, some will leave the formation with that one and remain with it until it heals or passes on.4

Geese mate for life and if a partner dies, the surviving partner will mourn and go into seclusion. They often remain single for a very long time and sometimes even until they die.5

When the goose lays her eggs, she makes certain that they are well covered, keeping them hidden from predators and the gander stands guard over them. Both parents participate in raising their gosling, which is why scientists claim that the offspring of geese are expected to have long lives.6

When the goslings hatch, the parents immediately lead them to the water so they learn to become acclimated to it, sooner rather than later.

Geese are certainly extraordinary birds who seem to have a great regard for one another. Their loyalty to support each other when challenges arise and the flying gets tough is a lesson we can take from them.

The fact that both parents raise their gosling is most certainly another important practice that we people need to note, especially because this parenting increases the life expectancy of the geese’s progeny.

One of my favorite lessons from geese is how they remain with the one who is sick or dying until the very end. When I think of how many individuals are sent away to nursing homes, forgotten and overlooked, this act of compassion and benevolence from birds is most amazing and most definitely something that we humans should exercise more of.

The next time you come across geese or look above and see a “V” formation, maybe it’s a sign that it is time to make a call of encouragement to someone who needs it and cheer that person on.

 

1 Http://www.interestingfunfacts.com/author/ritu. “Cool Facts About Goose.” Interestingfunfactscom. 2012. Accessed September 19, 2016. http://www.interestingfunfacts.com/cool-facts-about-goose.html.

2 @peta. “The Hidden Lives of Ducks and Geese.” PETA. Accessed September 19, 2016. http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/ducks-geese/hidden-lives-ducks-geese/.

3 “Cool Facts About Geese.”

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

Ants

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I think that animals and nature can always teach us something if we dare to learn. Let’s discover what ants can teach us.

Such a small thing an ant is, but don’t let that fool you because they sure can build big ideas!

Have you ever been faced with ants in your house? They seem to show up in groups!

Speaking about groups of ants, the biggest ant colony in the world used to be in Japan made up of 306 million workers, 1 million queens and 45,000 nests. A “massive supercolony was found in Southern Europe – built by Argentine ants.”1 That was more than 3700 miles long, including billions of worker ants along with millions of nests. The distance between Mexico to Alaska! Okay that’s amazing!

Living and working together as a unit is a demonstration of strength in numbers. “...it was discovered that the biggest Japanese, Californian and European Argentine ant supercolonies were in fact part of a single global ‘megacolony’. That means, they live in a global network just like us humans. Two ants from this ‘megacolony’, no matter how far apart they lived from one another, never fought each other. They were all part of the same group of ‘buddies’.”2

“Buddies!” That’s something.

Joining together in one accord is a great lesson to learn from ants. Banding together harmoniously, “a league of their own,” if you will, playing on the same team to accomplish the good for all is most certainly a useful and productive concept.

There is however, one thing I would like to point out. Once the queen ant mates with the males to produce more females, the males die soon afterwards, so maybe we should leave that out of the lesson from ants!

 

Amazing Ant Facts

1, 2 Biggest Animal-Made Structures in the World

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