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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 4:59 pm | Fair 62º


Captain’s Log: Cut Thirsty Critters Some Slack Until the Rains Return

Thirsty critters are crawling, walking or flying out of hidden places by the droves. Humans seem to have lots of water around us, so from the critters’ perspective, joining us is a necessity.

Yes (again from the critters’ perspective), humans are dangerous, smelly, noisy and incredibly inconsiderate of the needs of their fellow critters, but dagnabit, humans have water. A critter’s gotta do what a critter’s gotta do! If you were a critter with a few (or a few hundred) mouths to feed and water, you’d join the humans, too.

Here’s a classic example.

My charter boat, WaveWalker, was out of the water having some work done. While out of the water on stands, a very long line of black ants came aboard to find the pockets of water usually found aboard boats. Heck, there might even be a few tiny scraps of bait or fish that got wedged into a crack or crevice.

So they came aboard. The boat was thoroughly washed while out of the water, so yes, the ants found some water. The boat was visited by lots of other thirsty critters, too, but they were all in and out very quickly. Then suddenly the boat work was finished and the boat went back in the harbor. Well, nobody told the ants the boat was leaving! That meant that a few hundred of them were left aboard.

I’ve been watching them for a few days now since we splashed the boat, and they don’t look happy. I prefer not to kill things I don’t intend to eat, so I don’t want to spray them. Each day I see fewer, yet they aren’t able to leave, so I suspect they are dying on their own. It’s sad. But I haven’t figured out how to guide them off via the dock lines. Apparently I’m not a good pied piper of ants.

Backyards are another tough place. Most of us use at least some water in our yards, though our usage during the drought is way down. But what we use is enough to sustain many critters, so they come looking. Those of us with pets in the backyard are giving them a tough challenge to defend their territories against intruders. But maybe some of our pets are wise enough to know that many visitors will only be there long enough for a quick drink and then leave.

We need to be just as wise. Each of us may not like all of the critters who come to visit. Possums, skunks and raccoons come to mind as generally unwelcome visitors. But for the next month (after which hopefully we’ll get an early rain), please cut those visiting critters some slack and let them have a drink. They may not be any more fond of us than we are of them. But they need some water, and we’ve got it. Give ‘em a drink.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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