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Thread: Birds Eat Stringrays
04-11-11, 06:34 AM #1
Birds Eat Stringrays
I know this might be more interesting for my fellow Gulf Coast members. Rays scare the hell out of me when I'm at the beach. I have much more fear of dealing with them than any other marine life when in the surf.
Heron eats stingray for breakfast; 1st proof that birds eat rays (with video) | al.com
Heron eats stingray for breakfast; 1st proof that birds eat rays (with video)
Published: Monday, April 11, 2011, 5:00 AM
By Ben Raines, Press-Register
This great blue heron stabbed and ate a stingray near Biloxi. Pictures captured by amatuer naturalist Danny Dolan provided scientists with the first ever proof that birds prey on rays.
MOBILE, Alabama -- Danny Dolan was out for a morning walk, camera in hand, when he spotted a great blue heron hunting in the shallows of the Mississippi Sound.
A longtime camera buff, Dolan focused on the bird and started shooting, unaware that he was capturing an event so rare that scientists were unsure it was even possible until they saw his pictures.
The heron made a number of unsuccessful stabs in the knee-deep water, then thrust its head beneath the surface and held it there for what Dolan considered an unusually long time. He kept shooting as the water around the bird began to boil.
Ultimately, the heron emerged with a salad-plate-sized stingray spiked on the end of its bill.
“It was perfect timing, right place, right time. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing through my viewfinder when he came up with the ray speared on his bill,” said Dolan, who lives in Mobile and handles national business accounts for the British company Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, the maker of Lysol.
Dolan happened to have a telephoto lens with him on the beach in Biloxi that morning because he and his wife were on their way home from watching their sons play football for Nichols State University. At the time, in November 2009, one son was the team punter, the other the place kicker.
As it turns out, Dolan’s photos represented the first-ever scientific evidence that birds eat stingrays.
Images lead to scientific paper
The images of the ray impaled and thrashing on the end of the heron’s bill led to a scientific paper published this week by a group from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, with Dolan as a co-author.
“This came from this naturalist’s cool observation, so we decided to look into it. We couldn’t find anywhere it had ever been documented in the scientific literature,” said Matt Ajemian, lead author of the paper titled, “First Evidence of Elasmobranch Predation by a Waterbird: Stingray Attack and Consumption by the Great Blue Heron.”
The paper is included in a scientific journal called Waterbirds.
Dolan shot more than 200 images of the catch, the most compelling of which began with the ray spiked on the end of the heron’s bill. The bird then started working the two halves of its beak back and forth in the hole poked through the ray, while occasionally dunking the creature underwater. Slowly, the hole got larger. After a few minutes, the ray was dead.
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Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat
"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway
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04-11-11, 07:19 AM #2
I feel like I'm sneaking a peek a couple million years into Earth's past viewing this pairing of combatants.
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