While humans have the ability to evacuate during an impending hurricane, wild animals don’t have that luxury. So as nearly 6 million humans are instructed to flee Hurricane Irma, what’s happening to our feathered, furred and scaled friends? (Miami Herald and The Telegraph)
What is a hurricane? How does it work? Find out with our Forces of Nature interactive.
Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.
- Read through the Telegraph and Miami Herald articles. What birds seem to survive well during a hurricane and storm surge?
- Many species can detect environmental changes, such as drops in atmospheric pressure and infrared radiation. They can migrate early to avoid a storm.
- The burrows of burrowing owls can protect them from strong winds.
- What mammals seem to survive well during a hurricane and storm surge?
- Raccoons and other scavengers find new sources of food during and after cyclone events.
- Bears often benefit from increased ground shelter created by downed trees and brush.
- Sometimes, deer can benefit from upturned earth caused by gale-force winds. This brings fresh grasses, shrubs, and roots to the surface.
- Many marine mammals, such as whales and some dolphins, can seek safety in open water or the deep ocean.
- What reptiles seem to survive well during a hurricane and storm surge?
- Many species of snakes can burrow and survive strong winds and rains.
- What amphibians seem to survive well during a hurricane and storm surge?
- Frogs and toads breed in pools of still water.
- What animals seem to be particularly at risk during a hurricane and storm surge?
- Migrating birds are often blown off-course by gale-force winds.
- Rainfall washes sediments and pollutants onto corals that thrive in shallow tropical waters. This runoff blocks sunlight and hinders the growth of the coral reef.
- Squirrels and birds such as woodpeckers are often thrown from their nests, and their supplies of nuts and seeds can be wiped out.
- Sea turtle nests, buried in shallow beach sands, can be washed out to sea.
- Fish are at risk in a number of different ways—from sediments and pollutants washing into their habitat, creating a dead zone; from fallen electrical lines that threaten them with electrocution; and from an influx of seawater into freshwater habitats.
- The dune habitats of beach mice and wetland birds are often destroyed by strong storm surges.
- Deer and other herbivores may not be able to survive the season if upturned grasses and shrubs rot in the wet ground.
- The burrows of snakes and burrowing owls can be blocked by debris, preventing their exit.
- Some marine mammals, such as manatees and dolphins, may be washed ashore or into unfamiliar habitats.
Miami Herald: What happens to wild animals during a hurricane?
The Telegraph: What happens to wild animals in a hurricane – and which species do surprisingly well?
Nat Geo: Forces of Nature
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