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February 2003 Vol. 18, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Dragons

from the February, 2003 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

If you arent paying attention, you could be lunch for a Komodo dragon. You see, these carnivores can grow nearly 10 feet long and weigh as much as 450 pounds after feeding on a kill. They are remarkably fast and can outrun a deer on short sprints. A human is an easy catch, but an unlikely one, because the dragons thankfully are sluggish creatures.

Both the Sea Safari and the Komodo Dancer visit an area in the park where a jungle hike allows you to view dragons in the wild. They say there is a 90 percent chance of seeing at least one, but, even if you strike out, the rangers take you near their field station that is a stones throw from the beach where several big ones take advantage of the fresh water streams and discarded food.

Dont underestimate a dragon. They can move with a ferocious swiftness. They also can swim considerable distances and can travel between the islands with ease. On one of my trips, I surfaced to find a six-foot dragon casually swimming a scant 20 feet from the dive launch. The crew reported that a few weeks before a similar-sized dragon had chased photographers off the beach and later swam out and climbed up the side ladder, almost gaining the main deck before being discovered and repelled by a deck hand with a shovel and broom. This event caused a protocol of raising the ladder after dark. That said, its been about 30 years since a report that a Komodo had a human for dinner.

-- C. V.

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