your freak on, folks, cuz it’s time to take a peek at the
creeps of the deep and the perps of the dirt. Are they WILD? You
bet! Are they MEAN? Let’s see . .
The gentoo and macaroni penguins
at Penguins’ Rock will
sometimes race through the water popping in and out of the waves.
This is called porpoising which is a very natural behavior for
these aquatic birds. In the wild, penguins pop out of the water
like porpoises to confuse predators like orcas or leopard seals
that might be chasing them. As they porpoise in and out of the
water they appear and disappear from a predator’s view.
That might not seem scary until you consider being chased by
a seal that’s more than 10 feet in length weighing close
to 750 pounds. You can see video of a charging leopard seal with
its sharp teeth inside the penguin gallery. At Penguins’ Rock
visitors can see the gentoos and macaronis porpoising apparently
just for fun.
for us, humans are not on an alligator's preferred menu. Have
you heard of the “death roll?” That’s when a
gator preys on an animal that’s too big for it to swallow
whole. It will roll in the water with the animal to drown it.
The gator may then pin the carcass under a log, for example, until
it starts to decay and is easily torn apart. A transparent third
eyelid gives the gator underwater protection during the death
Barracuda are curious fish, and often follow snorkelers or divers.
Attacks on humans are rare and usually the result of both barracuda
and diver going after the same fish.
“pit viper” can grow to a length of 8 feet. Its venom
attacks both the blood and nervous systems, but very rarely humans.
is the keenest of a shark’s senses, and they can often detect
the scent of prey from several hundred yards. Some sharks can
smell components of blood and tissue at concentrations as small
as one part per million. That’s the equivalent to as few
as 10 drops of blood in the amount of water found in an average
swimming pool! But shark attacks against humans are uncommon,
and fatal attacks are very rare. In fact, many shark species are
tentacles are studded with stinging cells that behave like tiny
harpoons armed with toxic chemicals. Be careful – even dead
jellyfish can sting, but not on purpose. Jellyfish are brainless,
eyeless, spineless wonders.
Stingrays are generally gentle, non-aggressive creatures that
use their stinger only when threatened or stepped on.
shy viper has powerful venom that can cause extensive local tissue
damage and may even have a neurotoxin component, but it’s
not a man hunter.
Generally nocturnal predators, eels often can be seen peering
from rocky openings during the day. A baby eel is called an elver.
It puts on a good show by baring its teeth, but in reality the
eel is simply breathing.
Unlike their green parents, young emerald tree boas are red or
orange, but change to green in about a year. Again, not a hunter
prefer veggies most of the year – also bugs, fruits and
nuts. But during the dry season when food is scarce, piranhas
become predatory. Moral to this story: Amazonians stay clear of
the waterways during the dry season.
Resembling a hovering, hunting UFO, the cuttlefish stalks its
prey then snatches the moving target, wraps its 10 arms around
it, then crushes and devours it with its hardened beak. Mysterious?
Yes. But far from dangerous. If attacked, cuttlefish can jet away,
leaving behind clouds of toxic ink.
in the dark waters off the coast of Japan live creatures that
resemble giant, armored spiders – some 15 feet long! The
spider crab is the world’s largest arthropod (invertebrate
animals with segmented bodies and jointed appendages). The word
arthropod means “jointed legs” and giant spider crabs
have plenty of those – 10 legs in all. They make their homes
in the vents and holes found in the ocean floor at depths of 100
to 165 feet – a cold and desolate part of the ocean. Spider
crabs adorn their shells with sponges and other animals as camouflage.
A crocodile keeps 60 teeth in chomping shape. As it loses old
teeth, it grows new ones. One croc can go through as many as 3,000
teeth in its lifetime. I wonder what the reptilian tooth fairy
has to say about that!
are some of the largest snakes in the world, reaching lengths
of 30 feet. But they aren’t man eaters. However, they DO
successfully eat things larger than they are by unhinging their
snapper can weigh 250 pounds! Imagine this stealth monster patiently
“fishing” on a river bottom. Nature provided it with
a worm-like lure in its mouth, as well as crushing plates efficiently
designed for mussels, crustaceans and acorns.
Ridge Spring Salamander
A known cannibal, some salamander species will feed on smaller
versions of its own species, as well as a variety of other salamanders.
and stealthy predator, the arapaima feeds on the water’s
surface, and even will jump out of the water to grab birds, lizards
and small primates from low-hanging branches. The arapaima is
very unique among fish because it can breathe air! They have a
very primitive lung and need to take a gulp of air every 5-20
The ancestors of spotted gar swam with the dinosaurs! Gar are
long and cylindrical with a snout-like mouth lined with strong,
sharp teeth. Their body is covered with thick, diamond-shaped
scales. The scales are so hard that Native Americans used them
for arrowheads, but the scales were also used for breastplate
armor, luggage and even to cover the blades of wooden plows. Gar
move slowly unless trying to catch food, which it grabs in its
jaws in a quick sideways lunge.
octopi have the ability to drastically change their color to blend
into their environment or to attract a mate. The ship-crushing
“Kraken” in the recent film “Pirates of the
Caribbean” was the stuff of Hollywood and sailor lore.
have a sixth sense that allows them to detect electrical signals
generated by the muscle movement of prey – including the
beating of their hearts. Sharks have pores filled with a gelatin-like
substance that are located in their snouts. These receptors can
help a shark find hidden fish. But sharks aren’t man eaters.