MyStoryYourStory: Do you hear what I hear?

Paula Damon

Paula Damon

By Paula Damon

“What we most need is to hear within us the sound of earth crying.” Thich Nhat Hanh, teacher and author 

 

For some weeks now, hundreds of Canada geese have inhabited an area of open water on our lake. After more than a month of sub-freezing temperatures, that spot should be frozen over, like the rest of the oxbow. They really are making quite a scene with trademark honking, as sirens professing their force in numbers.

A vulnerable sight to behold, it’s like watching an unruly boys’ choir, screeching and teetering from on high in the church loft: All of those dark feathery physiques forming a zigzag of fluttering and splashing in the open pool.

“Must be a natural spring,” was my amateur reasoning to a local naturalist. I figured it must be so, since several such springs were identified in a geological study years ago. “Or, I suppose the water could be deeper there,” I pressed.

Attempting to calculate what had caused that solitary spot to not freeze, I flashed back through many years of dredging.

“Maybe both,” I settled, trying to remember where those hardy leathery skinned boatmen had dug 30 feet into the lakebed and where they hit a shale-like sediment, preventing them from going more than 10 feet down.

“The geese keep the water open,” was my naturalist friend’s textbook response. “By staying together and their movement on the water prevents it from freezing.”

“Oh-h-h, I see.” My eyes grew large at the notion of nature’s instinctive ability to survive the elements. “Really!” I marveled at the level of cooperation. Whether instinct or intellect, the animal kingdom provides many examples from which humankind can learn.

Alliances among humpback whales in Alaska bring together hunting their talents, according to an article titled “Animals Working Together” by Dan Tiley.

In groups of 20, Tiley reports, “the whales fill up on air at the surface, dive deep to ocate their prey and begin to herd schools of fish upward.”

Simultaneously, one whale remains below the surface, letting out a loud feeding cry, scaring the fish.

Meanwhile, two others swim toward the surface. Spiraling around the school as they go, they let out bubbles that trap the fish. “The whales then swim through the bubble ring and lunge for the mass amounts of fish as they break the ocean’s surface.”

Like geese and whales, many other animals cooperate to help increase their survival rate. Wolves hunt in packs of five to 10, depending on how many are in the area. Wolf packs stage ambushes in which one wolf serves as a decoy and the remainder sneaks up on the prey.

Pods of dolphins also surround schools of fish, corralling their prey in tight circles. Then, they take turns swimming through and feasting on the captured fish.

Female lions hunt for the pride by cooperating to catch dinner. Lionesses work together in groups that sneak around at night. Teaming up to surround their prey also decreases the possibility of being outrun by faster animals. Group hunting also makes it easier to trap and kill more powerful animals.

For some weeks now, hundreds of Canada geese have inhabited an area of open water on our lake. After more than a month of sub-freezing temperatures, that spot should be frozen over, like the rest of the oxbow. They really are making quite a scene with trademark honking, as sirens professing their force in numbers.

It is a vulnerable sight to behold, like watching an unruly boys’ choir, screeching and teetering from on high in the church loft: all of those dark feathery physiques forming a zigzag of fluttering and splashing in the open pool.

Do you hear what I hear?

SOURCES: “Animals That Work in Packs,” Sheldon Reid, eHow Contributor; “Animals Working Together,” Dan Tiley.

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