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"Where do animals go during a Hurricane"? "Do Fish Feel Pain"?
"Do we have seals in the Caribbean"?

Today I am going to answer the above three questions that many people wonder about.

Animals and Hurricanes:

environmental issues The past week I was diving the local reefs and assessing any damage that might have occurred from 'Omar'. The majority of seagrass in the area has been uprooted and has caught on the coral reefs and lodged in the crevasses. This grass on one of the reefs has become fair game for a number of green sea turtles. I ccunted 4 on one dive feeding on the grass. There are multitudes of fish in openwater feeding on floating plankton and other nutrients, so Omar did not seem to upset the marine ecosystem to much.

Now, have you ever wondered what the fish do when a hurricane is approaching, well here is the information.

Sharks have been known to swim out to sea in deeper water, and during the 2004 tsunami, elephants left the coastal region for higher ground.

A fascinating hurricane phenomenon is how sharks sense pressure change associated with storms. Prior to hurricane Charley in 2004. eight tagged sharks with marine hydrophones moved to openwater. Two disappeared from range completely. It seems as though their departure coincided with decreasing air and water presssure.

There is an acccunt of a dolphin and its calf being trapped in a lagoon in Thailand after the tsunami, but many other dolphins seemed to have sensed the pressure change and swam to safety.

So I think we can safely assume that most marine life head out to deeper water and the smaller reef fish, turtles etc., find suitable shelter on the reefs and more than likely on any sunken wrecks in the area.

Seals in the Caribbean:

environmental issues I bring up this question mainly because in the past week, sea lions were spotted in our local waters. Eventually it was documented that they had escaped from a marine facility in St. Kitts during 'Omar'. But the question has arised as to whether seals inhabit our waters. There was a time when we did have a population of seals in the Caribbean, sadly I must say that they have become extinct.

This seal was known as the Caribbean Monk Seal or "West Indian" monk seal. They were fairly large and grew to about 8 feet in length, weighing in between 375-600 Ibs. The males were slightly larger than the females.

They used to be found in sub-tropical and tropical waters of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Western Atlantic. They inhabited the Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles, Jamaica, Cuba and other local waters.

Sightings of the Caribbean Monk Seal is occasionally reported, but after extensive surveys this species has not been seen since 1952. The sightings are usually attributed to harbor seals, hood seals and harp seals that can travel great distances. It does however have a relative. The Hawaiian Monk seal and the Mediterranean Monk seal both species of which are on the endangered list.

Unfortunately the Caribbean Monk Seal became and easy target for hunters while resting or nursing their pups on the beach. The last sighting as I mentioned was in 1952 and that was on Seranilla Bank in the Caribbean.

Eventually humans left the Caribbean Monk Seal population uninstainable after overhunting, and this of course led to their demise.

So the answer to this question is no. We no longer have seals in the Caribbean.

Fish and Pain:

environmental issues I don't know about the rest of you but this question has always intrigued me.

There is actually a lot of science to support the fact that fish feel pain.

A dutch researcher, John Verheijen experimented with carp. The fish would be caught and then released. It was noted that when the fish was released it stopped eating for a considerable amount of time, it also showed stress like behaviour by darting around and shaking its head. Though the study concluded that the fish felt pain by being hooked, most of its behaviour was a fear response.

Okay, we need to use a little common sense here. Obviously if you take your pet fish and put a hook in its mouth and dangle it out of the water for awhile it's got to feel something. Right?

The answer to this question is left to our imagination.