On October 4th, 2015 we learned about

How wildlife holds out during a hurricane

One of the problems with natural disasters like a hurricane is that they can turn any and all of your surroundings into a potential threat. Even a home can be stripped, shaken and flooded, transforming it from a haven to a hazard. This is true for animals as well as humans. Even though a fish or a rabbit isn’t worried about something like their windows breaking, they still face many of the same dangers humans do, from the destruction of their homes to a lack of accessible food once the storm is over.

Out at sea, fish don’t worry about their home being “broken” per se, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of danger when a hurricane comes to their patch of ocean. The strong winds of a storm and disrupted currents can mix and move warm and cold water, leaving fish in an environment they’re ill suited to until things settle. These strong currents and winds can also move the animals entirely, leaving them beached in a worst case scenario. In shallower areas, the violent waves and swirling debris can also destroy coral, leaving ecosystems in disarray for years.

On land, the question becomes flooding. Animals in surviving trees have a decent chance of using the tree as shelter, assuming the winds don’t destroy the tree. Riding the storm out along the ground is harder. Burrowing animals are especially at risk from flooding and falling debris. Once things dry out, the winds often disrupt food chains, stripping plants of valued seeds, fruits and leaves that would have normally been an herbivore’s lunch.

Some silver linings

A hurricane doesn’t have to be the end of the world though. Sharks seem to sense shifts in barometric pressure, and have been known to vacate regions where a hurricane is approaching. Some animals caught in storms can ride them out, and have even been transported huge distances on natural rafts, only to do quite well in their new environment. Animals who remain at the site of the hurricane may face a temporary loss of food sources, but similar to the regrowth after a forest fire, new plants can often take advantage of freshly cleared land, inviting larger and larger species to return.

Source: What happens to animals in a hurricane? by Sarah Zielinski, Wild Things

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