Tuesday, July 28, 2015

If Surfers Were Insects

If you watched the news a few days ago, you may have seen the story about the surfer who was attacked by a shark on national television.  Mick Fanning was not bitten but it was damned close. The shark severed the leash that tethers him to his surfboard.  As might you might imagine, he was a bit shaken up by the incident but he has already returned to the water.

So, once again, the world gets its underwear collectively knotted up and discusses how aggressive a hunter sharks can be and how they are soooooo efficient as a predator.

Ladies and gentleman, ounce for ounce, statistic for statistic, dragonflies make sharks look like novices.

Don't get me wrong:  sharks can delivery devastating injuries. But they have to get you first.  Statistics have shown that they miss their intended target more than half of the time.  While that is certainly better than a lion on the African plains (who miss...alot), they just don't bag dinner as often as one might be led to believe.

Dragonflies, on the other hand, rarely miss.  Statistics have shown that they catch their intended prey 90-95% of the time. For all intents and purposes, they don't miss.  It has been demonstrated that they are able to more or less concentrate on a single prey item among a swarm of potential prey items (as opposed to other animals that are easily distracted by outside forces (like Republicans)). Once a target has been identified, a quick swoop and a grab with a net, if you will, of its six legs, and the prey is secure.  Launch.  Grab.  Munch.  Once a minute.  That's pretty damned good.

I photographed the dragonfly in the above photo at Hayes State Park near Jackson last weekend. Each time it returned, I could literally see the jaws moving as it devoured a little prey item.  

If surfers where tiny insects in a meadow, Mr. Fanning would never have lived to tell his tale.  In fact, every surfer in the entire competition would have been dragonfly chow. 


Yeah, woop-dee-do. 

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