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  • José H. Leal

Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw

The above expression, immortalized by Lord Tennyson in his poem, “In Memoriam A.H.H.” serves as an appropriate caption for this powerful image by Amy Tripp of a Ring-billed Gull, Larus delawarensis, ready to eat what looks like a Pigmy Octopus, Octopus joubini. But in this case, the metaphor, which embodies the violent nature of predation, should be something like “Nature, clear in beak and claw,” as the “blood” of octopuses is clear-colored, and birds have beaks without teeth. Gulls are basically opportunistic omnivores, eating fish, carrion, insects, other birds, crustaceans, and pilfering food from other birds. Pigmy Octopuses often wash ashore after storms on the beaches and sand bars of Southwest Florida (sometimes snuggled inside large empty shells), thus becoming easy prey for marauding gulls and other seabirds. Amy took her photo on Caxambas Pass, south of Marco Island, in Collier County, Florida.


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