• Welcome to ScubaBoard

  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

Do Marine vs. Terrestrial Animals differ in dangerousness?

Discussion in 'Marine Life and Ecosystems' started by drrich2, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. RyanT

    RyanT Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Maryland
    The book is "Never Cry Wolf" by Farley Mowat. In the book, the biologist doesn't stay out of the wolves' territory, he invades it and makes his own territory within their former range. But by not taking too much of their space, the wolves become "allow" it.

    At any rate, to the OP, it's an interesting question and one that doesn't have a simple, one size fits-all answer. If you consider medium sized terrestrial predators like wolves or coyotes, there are things in the environment their size or larger (like bears and humans) that can inflict harm on them, so they likely learned to generally avoid other larger animals. With the exception of human hunting, there is nothing in grizzly bears' evolutionary history that could cause them harm so, they likely often don't consider humans to be a threat and instead might consider humans a good snack. Of course there are exceptions to size. Wolves hunt elk which are many times larger than they are, but the wolves' sensory systems have evolved to recognize "elk-looking-things" as something to be hunted.

    In the ocean, I suspect there is more variance in terms of size and relative risk. In the ocean, many species can approach very large animals safely (think Molas, whale sharks, baleen whales, etc.). So for a medium sized predator (let's say a small reef shark), approaching a large animal in the water does not necessarily represent the threat that a wolf would have approaching a bear.

    In North America, approaching wolves, bobcats, foxes is generally not a problem for humans (unless the animals are habituated/rabid). In Africa, on the other hand, I would sure feel a lot more nervous approaching a medium sized predator (like a hyena). Underwater, I would feel way more comfortable around sharks than I would a grizzly bear. With the exception of really large sharks (like great whites) divers are generally larger than the shark's normal prey, don't move or sound like something to be eaten, and so are unlikely to elicit a hunting response.

    Also, consider alligators (not sure if you want to classify them as terrestrial or not). They have the ability to be enormously destructive to humans, but nearly every bad encounter results from alligators become habituated to humans through feeding, etc.

    So again, I think the answer really is that it just depends on the species, it's evolutionary history, the animal's particular sensory systems, what it normally feeds on, and what threats generally exist to it.
    drrich2 likes this.
  2. KathyV

    KathyV Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    LOL! I once saw a guy in a Ford go head-on with a Canadian Goose. The goose went on the attack and he quickly backed up and gave way!
  3. giffenk

    giffenk Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: toronto
    We have lots of places in Toronto city where Canada Geese still nest. They are now parking lots. But the geese rule.
    KathyV likes this.
  4. Saniflush

    Saniflush ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    Bull sharks have made their way way up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Just sayin.
  5. NWGratefulDiver

    NWGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Pugetropolis
    As species go, land animals and humans "grew up" together ... we evolved sharing the same space and developing our own niches within it. Not so with marine animals ... they live in a different world than we do, and while there has been some adaptation due to humans recently entering the marine environment, for the most part they don't really know who we are. And for the most part any interaction tends to be more based on curiosity than anything else. I've been approached by several species as large as or larger than myself, and never felt threatened ... nor has the animal done anything to make me feel threatened. These include sharks, dolphins, seals, sea lions, giant Pacific octopus, morays, wolf eels, whale sharks, sea bass, and manta rays.

    I've also had some close encounters with land-based animals over the years, including bears, moose, elk, and coyotes ... and at a purely emotional level, felt much less "safe" around those than I did around the marine life I've encountered. Perhaps it's an evolutionary thing ... survival instinct or something. But it certainly feels different.

    Thinking about my interactions with stellar sea lions who will get right up in your face, or go for a wee nibble on your forearm or head. I've put my hand on a sea lion's nose before and pushed gently to get some separation between him and me. It was an exhilarating experience being that close to an animal that big. I imagine I'd feel a bit more threatened seeing a bear this up-close and personal ...


    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
    drrich2 and Francesea like this.
  6. Vicko

    Vicko Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Komiža, Croatia
    Never directly interacted with marine mamals, I was present when a guy jumped in a huge pod of dolphins with their young , never saw somebody climb in the boat so fast.

    I do feed fish quite often. Conger and small fish around a local wreck, it changed their behavior dramaticly but it does depend on the animal. One of the big congers, around 10 kg figured out that he gets more fish when he meets divers close to the surface, so we had a massive sea serpent act like a friendly puppy and bolt from 30 meters to the surface when he heard bubbles, right now there is a very scared one that gets agressive when baited out of the hole, we don't feed him.

    We have a type of bream that will attack swimers during the summer, feeding those guys is a big no no, they will strip your skin off when they swarm. But again, there is a large specimen who aproches only the dive master and allows him to be touched and takes the bait very gently.

    Morrays get a bad reputation for how they look, they are usually the apex predator and don't care about what you do, when you bait them out of the hole they are extreamly gentle, untill you act like a idiot and make them swim for their food (they really don't apreciate that).

    The point being don't generalize and realize you are taking a risk whenever you come close to a wild animal, do so at your own risk.
  7. Schwob

    Schwob Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Illinois - ("Schwob", formerly "Schwaeble")
    IDK, but isn't it also a function of exposure time and what you do?
    Four example:
    1 week LOB with 4 to 5 dives / day
    1 week wilderness trip in an area with poisenous critters as well as predators.
    Collecting and cutting firewood, sleeping, finding your way, bushwhacking if need be... Pending on where that "permanent" exposure on land could be quite be different from the brief 1h plus minus xyz LOB dive excursions.

    Maybe it is easier to be on guard periodically for 1h at a time while you are awake than assuring you will be fine 24/7?

    It certainly is highly unlikely that you get bitten by a poisenous marine critter in your sleep or contract malaria or ebola or some other transmittal disease (edit: underwater)... or?
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  8. MaxBottomtime

    MaxBottomtime Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
  9. NWGratefulDiver

    NWGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Pugetropolis
    ... if I was being chased by a bear, the last thing I'd think to do is pick up my phone and start texting ... maybe if he'd used that effort to get away, it'd have had a happier ending ...

    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
    Saniflush likes this.
  10. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    I wouldn't be afraid of a 20' white shark at all... if we were in a rain forest. I also wouldn't worry about a hungry Bengal Tiger at 120' in the North sea either. It's all about context.
    Schwob and giffenk like this.

Share This Page