Nature can often seem cruel, with wild animals apparently acting like complete jerks toward one another. This was clearly the case when a wildlife photographer captured amazing video footage of a bird swallowing an entire alligator whole.
Shellie Gilliam was on the north shore of Lake Apopka – a renowned birdwatching site northwest of Orlando, Florida – when she captured the rare scene on Dec. 5.
In the video, an adult Great Blue Heron can be seen gobbling down a juvenile alligator after catching it in its massive beak and flying to the side of a lake for a more comfortable meal.
Gilliam later posted the scene of the huge waterbird dining on the young reptile to her Facebook profile, where the video went on to receive national attention from NBC News, among other media outlets.
“Yes, A bird can eat an alligator! If it’s Savage enough! This Great Blue Heron spent a half hour killing and consuming a large juvenile Alligator near Lake Apopka,” Gilliam wrote.
“I spotted it just after it had captured the alligator a few hundred yards away and then the heron flew off with the alligator in his jaws to this spot where he consumed it and I shot the video and took photos,” she continued. “Just Wow! Nature continues to me amaze me every day.”
The Great Blue Heron is one of the most common among large waterbirds in the Americas, explains the Audobon Society. At one point, the hunting of the Blue Heron was quite common due to their size.
The tall and long-legged bird is typically found along near ponds and streams, in marshes, and along both Pacific and the Atlantic coastlines, explains National Geographic.
Herons are naturally skilled fishers who either walk slowly or stand still before coming within range with their long necks and blade-like bills and striking the deathblow “with a quick thrust of the sharp bill” before the prey is swallowed whole. However, they also have highly variable and adaptable diets that include not only fish, but also insects, rodents and other birds.
The bird is also known to eat various reptiles and amphibians, including frogs, salamanders, snakes, turtles, and clearly alligators.
Indeed, the Blue Heron’s diet doesn’t seem too different or “savage” than that of the average human. After all, we too have been known to dine on gator meat every now and then. Frog leg and alligator gumbo, anyone?
And yes, while the Blue Heron’s behavior may seem cruel to your average human, it’s important that we don’t overly anthropomorphize the natural behavior of wild animals. Let’s remember that the behavior of wild animals – unlike human beings – is always driven by their fundamental need to survive in nature.
This is even the case when the animals in question are eating another’s young!
As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists
The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.
However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.
While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.
The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.
The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes – but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.
“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.
To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.
However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.
These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.
The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.
Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever
Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.
Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.
In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.
At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.
“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.
“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”
The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.
Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.
‘Horrific’ Swarms of Spiders, Snakes Invade Australian Homes Amid Devastating Floods
In recent years, Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) has faced everything from drought to brushfires, a pandemic, a recent all-consuming plague of mice and now, devastating floods and massive hordes of spiders.
In videos shared across social media, hundreds if not thousands of spiders can be seen scrambling through people’s homes and garages prior to an evacuation order being issued on early Saturday in expectation of the floods.
In one video posted to Facebook by Melanie Williams, the arachnids of all sizes can be seen scrambling about in search of shelter from the coming deluge.
“Check these spiders out, oh my god, oh my god! Look at them all,” Williams said in the video. “No! No! Oh my god.”
The Guardian reports that Kinchela resident Matt Lovenfosse was pulling up to his home on Monday morning when he witnessed what appeared to be a sea of “millions” of spiders climbing about to escape the floodwaters.
“So I went out to have a look and it was millions of spiders,” Lovenfosse said.
“It’s amazing. It’s crazy,” he continued. “The spiders all crawled up on to the house, on to fences and whatever they can get on to.”
The flooding has resulted in some 18,000 residents fleeing their homes since last week, with authorities warning that the cleanup could last until April.
The floods have also seen thousands of snakes and insects of every kind scrambling to flee from the floods, with some snakes even leaping into rescue boats to avoid being drowned.
“There were also skinks, ants, basically every insect, crickets – all just trying to get away from the flood waters,” vistor Shenae Varley told Guardian Australia.
It’s just the latest reminder that Australia isn’t just another country – it may be its own entirely different world.
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