November 2012

Let's cut Seattle's octopus hunter a break

But it's obvious the Giant Pacific octopus needs better legal protection

On November 1st, a Pacific Northwest diving school posted some pictures of a diver who had pulled a Giant Pacific octopus out of a popular dive spot in Puget Sound. The diver, later identified as a 19-year-old Maple Valley man named Dylan Mayer, horsed around with the octopus for a few minutes before loading it into the bed of his pickup truck and driving away.

African wild dogs: Not your average Fido

These beautiful animals are amazing hunters

The regrettable and sad death of a two year-old boy at the Pittsburgh Zoo last week has cast national attention on African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), one of the more interesting - yet lesser known - canids in the world. Also known as the Cape hunting dog and Painted dogs, these canids live on the savannas and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. 

The African wild dog is a striking animal, with its long legs, large round ears, and distinctive splotches of color. Unlike some other wild canids, the African wild dog has never successfully been domesticated. This is not an animal that could ever be kept as a pet; it is an animal that will always be wild.
 
African wild dogs are very social animals, much like wolves. They live in packs of around 20 members, with the pack being ruled by a breeding pair. The animals are constantly socializing with each other, and participate in fascinating and intricate communal hunting behavior. 

What about New York's rats?

How did NYC's least-wanted mammals survive Hurricane Sandy?

I know what you're wondering: in the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, what about the rats? Images of flooded subway tunnels speak volumes about the human and financial impact. But those tunnels are not just the lifeblood of the city's transportation; they are also home to hundreds of thousands of rats.

Some rats certainly drowned. But many others survived. It's difficult to get numbers, because no one knows exactly how many rats live in New York to begin with. The estimate that New York City has "one rat per person" is largely just hearsay. In 1949 one man undertook a scientific sampling and came up with the number 250,000, but that was over half a century ago. The number could be as high as 32 million. It's really hard to say.