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NEXT UP: 7th seed Marine otter ((Lontra felina) vs 10th seed Aquatic genet (Genetta piscivora) #2019MMM
The aquatic genet is from the tropical forests of NW Congo & appears to be rare/elusive as locals don't seem to see it very often (Hart & Timms 1978). What western science knows of them is almost all from dead specimens #2019MMM
art via @amnh
Aquatic genets are about 3 lbs, or on the order of 6 stoats if you like to use #StoatsAsMeasurement. What sets them apart from other genets is their oddly bare palms that may be helpful for gripping fishy prey (Hart & Timms 1978) #2019MMM kuscholarworks.ku.edu/bitstream/hand…
The marine otter hangs out on the Pacific coast of South America but is NOT another name for the sea otter, those back floating, urchin slurping, kit-napping floof buckets found in the Northern Pacific. #2019MMM
At 6-11lbs, the marine otter is the smallest marine mammal. Not much insulating fat fits on such a small frame, so they have to limit how much time they spend in the water, & instead prefer to lounge in caves (Vaqui 2012) #2019MMM yaqupacha.org/fileadmin/user…
The marine otter is in the same genus as the river otters of the Americas & like them has a long powerful tail. He also has webbed feet to help him swim through the algae rich waters where he hunts for crustaceans & fish #2019MMM
Our battle is set in the very southern tip of Chile. The coast is rocky, the winds intense, & waves are correspondingly high. It isn't a hospitable landscape, especially for a tropical carnivore #2019MMM
The aquatic genet has the type of fur coat suitable for spending time in a 90 degree rainforest & the cold, wind, & salt water spray generally has him feeling miserable. #2019MMM
Hunched up on the rocks above the reach of the waves, trying to keep warm, the genet spots an animal out in the sea that reminds him a bit of the clawless otters he’s seen while fishing in the delightfully warm streams of his home #2019MMM
The marine otter has been hunting for a while is chilled. Plus his full belly is triggering the energy costs of digestion (holler if you love diet-induced thermogenesis), so he heads to haul out for a digestive warm-up. #2019MMM
From his elevated perch, the genet watches the otter haul out onto an intertidal rock & shake off... but there's more movement out in the sea #2019MMM
Pointy narrow dorsal fins break the waves. Spouts of spray come out of blowholes on top of blunt back heads with just a dash of white over the eyes. Orcas. Feared apex predators of the ocean. #2019MMM
And these are not your average orcas, but instead are the just-recorded-alive-on-video-for-the-first-time-in-2019-orca, the possibly-a-new-type-of-orca, the Type D or subantarctic killer whale. #2019MMM nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/0…
Orcas rush the intertidal rocks, causing water to surge onto the rock where the otter is located. (adapted from Hatfield et al. 1998) #2019MMM
One orca heads directly towards the marine otter, now alert & periscoping (head and upper torso extended out of the water vertically). (adapted from Hatfield et al. 1998) #2019MMM
The orca is only 18 feet from the otter, otter dives and is immediately followed by the diving killer whale! (adapted from Hatfield et al. 1998) #2019MMM
10 seconds later, the marine otter floats lifeless to the surface. (adapted from Hatfield et al. 1998) #2019MMM werc.ucsc.edu/Publications/1…
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