J – L introduces us to some splendid animals often threatened by man’s thoughtlessness and greed. Our Around the World in 50 weeks takes us across oceans and forests today. All three species this week are strong swimmers!
Adaptable cat. At home
in tree or in sea.
The jaguar is the largest and most powerful wild cat in the Western Hemisphere. Jaguars are found on the American continents; they live in Texas, in the Cerro Colorado Mountains in Arizona, the southern part of California, and New Mexico, in the United States, and are found in rain forests in Central and South America. The largest known population exists in the Amazon rain forests. Black jaguars live in South America.
The jaguar is near threatened and its numbers are declining. Hunting and trapping for its highly prized fur, and loss of habitat to forest clearing for farms, pastures, roads, and airstrips for mining and exploration have all been factors in the jaguar’s decline.
For more information on the jaguar, I did a post here, comparing them to that other graceful big cat, the leopard.
Killer Whale – Orca.
Socialites, playing in pods.
Divas of dolphins.
In fact it is the largest of the dolphin species and has even been known on rare occasion to attack other whales. Killer whales are one of the most well-recognized sea mammals and are easily spotted by their black and white coloring.
Killer whales are extremely intelligent, well-organized and follow highly complex social structures within their pods often consisting of large groups of family members and is considered one of the most stable social structures of any of the animal species.
Having no known predators the killer whale is known as an apex or alpha predator, which is able to hunt freely without fear of being attacked by another animal. However it has recently been discovered that is is one of the most polluted animals on earth. The IUCN currently assesses the orca’s conservation status as deficient in data. Some local populations are considered threatened or endangered due to prey depletion, habitat loss, pollution, capture for marine mammal parks, and conflicts with fisheries.
Leopard Shark- zebra.
Dozing on sea bed by day.
The leopard shark, sometimes referred to as the zebra shark, is a loner, in complete contrast to the killer whale. he has a docile nature and is generally considered harmless to humans.
Leopard sharks are strictly nocturnal. They are rather sluggish during the day and disposed to what appears to be nearly continuous slumber in sheltered areas, often seen lying on sandy sea bottoms. By night they become active and can be found slowly foraging on the reef.
Leopard sharks are classified as ‘Vulnerable’. Fishermen catch them for their meat, which is eaten fresh or dried salted. The rest of the body is made into fishmeal. The oily liver of this animal is used to make vitamins. Its fins are used for shark fin soup or in the traditional Chinese medicine trade.
Sharks play a crucial role in reef and ocean ecosystems. They prey on weak and diseased animals. Human choices and interference have caused their numbers to decline.