2017-03-23 / Outdoors

The compassionate side of nature

In the animal world, nature has a way of thinning the herd. This means that the stronger creatures survive and their genes contribute to make the future generations stronger. Even large creatures —rhinos, lions, hippos — are constantly fighting to continue their species. This occurs even down to the smallest creatures anywhere on this planet. To creatures of this Earth that have a survival instinct for themselves and their own species, it becomes necessary to ignore and abandon one of their own injured members. This is a hard and difficult thought for us as humans to comprehend, leaving an injured offspring or relative to fend for itself with little hope of surviving. But most wild creatures extant today are still around because they had to commit such horrendous acts.

There are creatures that do, however, act as responsible caretakers. Through the ages, even back to the dinosaurs, there are skeletal fossils found that showed some with a broken spine that had healed after a recovery time. The mating ritual of triceratops, at times, resulted in this broken spine. The creature healed and lived longer — but during that time of immobilization, some other dinosaur of similar species had to feed and protect the injured creature. Another species that cares for their injured is the elephant. It is well known they will even cry at the loss of one of their young. Several species of birds that become injured are able to mimic a young hatchling in sound, thus other birds respond by feeding the injured one. The emerging science of zoopharmacognosy studies how animals use leaves, roots, seeds and minerals to treat a variety of ailments and wounds.

COURTESY PHOTOS COURTESY PHOTOS In our water world of the sea, one of the smartest, most amazing animals is the dolphin. The social skills of these creatures are similar to humans in that they show affection to one another. Cuddling, stroking and pats with flippers are commonly observed. Adults and adolescent males watch over the young calves and their mothers. When a dolphin is injured or sick, others will try to help it. This was reported by National Geographic. Some dolphins have helped humans and other animals, and there are instances of injured dolphins seeking help from divers to be disentangled from a net or fishing hook injury.

In my travels, I am always amazed at new ideas some people have to help others. This past month, just such a person came by the Nav-A-Gator to demonstrate a way to help people with hearing impairment to communicate.

Marianne Ambrose of Hawaii brought her book, “Underwater Acts of Kindness,” along with an assortment of loveable, furry, plush sea creatures — fish, crabs, octopus. All were designed by Ms. Ambrose for your hands to fit inside and your fingers to activate the fins or claws. Why? So that communication by signing can be performed for the benefit of individuals, groups, adults and children with hearing impairment.

Using these undersea creatures is a unique way to show compassion and knowledge — and makes for a fun underwater way of talking with each other. The book uses characters familiar to each of us to bring awareness to helping those with disabilities. Marianne of Waikiki LLC with Dakind signing puppets present a series of books written to teach children and adults beginning sign language. The learning curve is enhanced by using Folkman’s puppets to narrate their “acts of kindness” toward other creatures. These books and signing puppets, land and sea animals are available through Amazon.com. This is a great cause to support. When Ms. Ambrose returns to our area, invite her out for a seminar and demonstration, as well as a book signing. Her email is marianneofwaikiki@icloud.com. It’s an educational way to enjoy our great outdoors.

Fair winds; calm seas. ¦

— Capt. Dennis Kirk has been traveling the Peace River since 1979. His life adventures are written from various chapters in his three decades of experience in Southwest Florida. He is part owner of the Nav-A-Gator, a riverfront restaurant and marina in Lake Suzy, just off Kings Highway. For more information, call 627- 3474.

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