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They know that after the playground has cleared, there are easy pickings of sandwiches, fruit or other goodies waiting for them.
My observant oldest son Hayden claims that he has even seen them use their beaks to open up lunchboxes so that they can get to the food within.
So they gather, they swoop and they feast.
What does that have to do with us I hear you ask?
I’ve met a lot of people who act and talk as though they are trapped.
Piranhas have a fearsome reputation.
With their razor sharp interlocking teeth and strong jaws, in large numbers they have the ability to strip a large animal down to its skeleton in a matter of minutes.
However, in reality piranhas are timid little fish.
They school in large numbers as protection from predators and only attack large animals in a frenzy under certain circumstances.
When they are hungry.
And when they are defending themselves.
Are we really that different?
Highland cattle have to be my favourite breed of cattle, partly due to their Scottish heritage (like my wife’s) and partly due to their rugged looks.
However, there’s more than meets the eye with these iconic animals.
I was researching them with Hayden for his animal blog and as I read about how well suited they are for thriving in difficult situations, I realised how much we can learn from these magnificent beasts, especially when we are going through bad times.
So, what can we learn from highland cattle? Read the rest of this entry »
Tasmanian devils are truly remarkable creatures.
An endangered carnivorous marsupial that is endemic to the Australian island of Tasmania, they have developed a fearsome reputation, despite their small stature.
One of the devil’s most impressive features is its extremely powerful jaws and that leads me to an important lesson.
My dad grew up on a farm in Tasmania and he told me of devils who had been caught in traps that had chewed their own legs off to escape.
I’ve always found that to be an extraordinary trait.
They get caught in a trap and they are desperate enough to do anything to get out.
As a life and career coach, I meet a lot of people who say that they feel trapped in their current work situation.
Karen and I recently took the kids to a shark and ray centre, a terrific local venue where we could enter enclosures and hand feed a variety of shark and ray species.
It was a lot of fun and the kids absolutely loved it.
As we interacted with these remarkable animals, I reflected on one of my favourite species in the animal kingdom, the iconic manta ray.
These giant, gentle rays, which can grow to as big as 7 metres wide, seem to fly through the water. They soar, unhurried over the oceans, feeding as they go.
As other fish flit from place to place in a mad panic, these noble creatures just float about their busyness, seemingly impervious to the pressures of ocean life.
As I considered these beautiful rays, I wondered if I shouldn’t be more like them.
I’m happy to admit it, I’m not a surfer.
My pale complexion and complete lack of swimming ability has kept me on dry land whenever possible.
However, I can see the appeal of surfing.
Those well-tanned, buffed men and women who have an affinity with the ocean waves are heroes to many and I have few friends (although they’re neither well-tanned nor buffed) who love to surf as a hobby.
When done well there are few athletic feats more poetic, powerful or graceful than a surfer riding a great wave.
I wish I was that cool!
In considering the art of surfing, I think that there is a very important principle that we can all learn from surfers.
One of the most iconic images from nature is the sight of a grizzly bear in the middle of a river catching salmon with nothing but its paws and teeth.
Grizzlies need to put on weight quickly for their hibernation and fortunately, this period of weight gain comes during the migration season for salmon, who travel upstream to spawn before dying.
I love watching the big guys go about their business and think that there are a couple of simple principles to be learned from the fishing habits of grizzly bears:
Two weightlifters in the same category have the same weight to lift.
They have identical training routines, similar coaches and the same physical capabilities.
But there’s one key difference between them.
One believes that he can lift the weight in front of him.
The second one doesn’t think that he can.
Which one is more likely to be successful?
According to tradition, owls are considered to be the wisest of all birds.
Their large eyes give the impression of intelligence, so they are often depicted in stories as wise and knowledgeable.
Personally, I think that they are magnificent animals and there are few more impressive sights than an owl in its natural habitat.
But are they really wise?
I’m not sure if they are from an IQ perspective, but I think that there are a few principles of wisdom that we can learn from owls.
Sharks are the top of the food chain in the ocean.
They are remarkable creatures and efficient killers who bring terror to swimmers and surfers around the beaches of the world. Great whites, hammerheads, tiger sharks, mako sharks and whale sharks are amongst the iconic species found in the shark family.
As I consider this amazing and diverse group of predators, I’ve realised that there are a few helpful principles that we can learn from sharks.