During a recent beach trip, I came to a realization: We humans take our food for granted.
I have a bunch of pelicans to thank for that insight. Namely, the Tybee Island pelicans in Georgia.
I’ve seen pelicans before, but the body-slamming, head-banging pelicans at Tybee, take the cake. I mean the fish, they take the fish. They take the fish, all day long.
My husband and I watched them plunge into the ocean from probably 50 or 60 feet in the air. Every time one crashed into the hard surface of the water, we’d shriek.
“Ouch.” My husband would shout. “That has to hurt.”
Seriously. That’s a case of a “Peli-can-cussion.” It’s a good thing they don’t have to be concerned with the new NFL concussion protocols. Those rules wouldn’t fly with the pelicans. I’m pretty sure there is not one pelican that could answer the question, “How many fingers do I have up?” Maybe fish, but not fingers.
Speaking of fish, supposedly, a pelican requires four pounds a day. Four pounds. And most of their catch seem to be little fish. It takes a lot of little fish to make four pounds. That’s a lot of plunge-diving.
I said to my husband, “There can’t be as many fish in the ocean as there used to be. It must be harder for pelicans to find food. What if they have a family to feed?”
“That’s like four pounds of fish per pelican,” My husband replied. “And after eating that, they’re all going to have to go brush their teeth, because they’ll smell like raw fish.”
“What if they have bad eyesight?!” I exclaimed.
“Or worse — a broken bill?” My husband said.
I’ll admit. We got a little carried away watching the crazy, dive-bombing pelicans, but we were at the ocean. Isn’t that what people do at the ocean? Watch the ocean birds and be dazed and amazed?
I found out that pelicans date back 30 million years. Talk about, “Survivor.” No question that pelicans have outwitted, outlasted and outplayed. They should be rewarded their 1 million fish. I wonder how many pounds that would equal?
Watching the Tybee pelicans and imagining the pelican life made me even happier to be a human. I know a place in Pittsburgh, where I can order a pound of fried fish for $4.99. I bet the pelicans would be head over bills about that.
Karen Tomas is a resident of Fort Mill: firstname.lastname@example.org.