Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Newsflash: Small animals run away from bigger ones

Are researchers really this bored that they waste their time doing a study to determine that harbor seals are scared of cruise ships? Or are they stupid?

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - When large cruise ships get too close to harbor seals, the animals become distressed, according to a new federal study.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report Monday on seal behavior in Disenchantment Bay, a Southeast fjord that cruise ships frequent for a view of the Hubbard Glacier.

The study, which was a cooperative effort involving NOAA, the cruise industry and the Yakutat Tlingits, found that when the large ships got closer than 1,600 feet, seals were more likely to jump off the ice floes they haul out on.

The closer the ships got, the more likely the seals were to dive into the water, according to the Anchorage Daily News. When a ship was about 300 feet away, a seal was 25 times more likely to jump into the water than when the ship was 1,600 feet way, the study found.

The researchers said one concern is that if seals are routinely disturbed, it will drain their energy reserves, possibly resulting in lower reproduction or reduced survival.

Thank you Captain Obvious. Who'd of thunk? Little seal scaredof big boat. Go figure. Next thing you know they'll be saying that if the seal sees a scrumptious little fish swim by, it'll try to eat it. That's just crazy talk.

So I think as long as the cruise ships aren't collaborating with killer whales or polar bears to get harbor seals eaten, I think the universe just might survive this shocker.