Animals relatively safe from tsunami?

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Dec 29th, 2004, 10:07 AM
  #1
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Animals relatively safe from tsunami?

The recent tsunami of course has taken a staggering toll on human life in several Asian countries. The latest statistic I've read is 77,828 fatalities, and sadly that number undoubtedly will climb. Naturally this has left me reeling. The amount of suffering this disaster has created is unimaginable, and my heart goes out to the untold numbers of bereaved people.

Nonetheless, there seems to be an interesting side story here. Apparently there are surprisingly few animals amongst the corpses that are being found. In Sri Lanka's Yala National Park, for example, the tsunami killed people, but indications are that it didn't kill any animals. The smaller than expected impact on wildlife is one of the few consoling pieces of information to emerge from this tragedy.

There is some speculation that animals may have an ability to sense an approaching tsunami and move to higher ground.

I suppose this post properly belongs on the Asia forum. However, I've never been to Asia, I don't participate on the Asia forum, and I don't know to what extent the regulars on the Asia forum are or are not passionate about animals. If I'm looking for animal lovers, I know where to find them.
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Dec 29th, 2004, 10:36 AM
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Judy: terrible tragedy but you bring up a fascinating topic. I have definitely observed wildlife behavior that indicates an anticipation of coming climactic events -- although not as unusual as a Tsunami. Of course the Tsunami was proceeded by a seismic event and most species tend to have much more heightened senses then what the modern human has evolved.

I would hypothesize that in addition to a behavioral event much of this animal success can be attributed to land management and habitat preference. For example wetlands are natural sinks to protect against flooding. In tropical Asia I am guessing that there are large mangrove and buffer wetland areas that can help protect against such a devastating event mitigating tides and taking energy slowing the event. Of course such areas tend to be considered buggy, inhospitable hell on earth locations to humans thus we either destroy them or avoid them. Humans in general are thus inhabiting areas that lack natural protections or they have removed them. The majority of wildlife is going to stay in these undeveloped areas away from human occupation and thus were more insulated from the danger.
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