- chris packham
- Naturalist. Special for iWonder
The idea of an ark is old.
Most of us have heard the story of Noah’s, that magical procession of animals to a huge boat that saved those species from a catastrophic flood, caused by rains that lasted 40 days and 40 nights.
«Two by two they brought Noah into the ark: male and female, as God commanded Noah.
And it came to pass that on the seventh day the waters of the flood came upon the earth.».
But it is only a story; coffers don’t really exist… do they?
Survive against all odds
The romantic notion of a group of animals being saved on a boat stuck, and in March 2013 it became a reality.
In 2011, a catastrophic tsunami struck the Far East.
The devastation caused five million tons of debris to be washed into the Pacific Ocean.
Most sank without a trace, but some were carried away by currents.
In March 2013, a mysterious fishing boat with Japanese words written on its hull washed up off the coast of Washington state in the United States.
It brought with it 30 species of animals found only in Japan, such as clams, crabs, and sea cucumbers, that had traveled inside it.
The amazing thing for scientists is that it was generally assumed that no species would have been able to survive journeys of miles of kilometers before there were ships that could cross oceans or at least one large object to support life.
However, swimming inside that small boat, 8,000 kilometers from home, were five species of fish, including a oplegnathus fasciatus or striped Japanese parrotfish, endemic to the coral reefs of Japan, China, and Korea.
The curious thing is that this parrot perch, found two years after the tsunami, was only one year old.
As the scientists pointed out, that meant that either he was the child of parents who boarded the ship in Japan and was born during the voyage, or that the ship passed through Hawaii, where he boarded the ship that took him to the US.
And for the experts, the first possibility is more interesting because it would mean that the reduced mass of water that the boat carried became a functional ecosystem; a capsule in which it was possible to be born, grow, reproduce and die, which crossed the ocean.
The little boat gives a glimpse of how different species probably traveled around the world to colonize new islands and continents.
They were accidental global tourists with enormous potential to survive against all odds.
Are there modern arcades?
The arcades don’t have to be boats: there are several variations on the theme. Here are three examples:
Kew seed bank
The Millennium Seed Bank, located in the London Botanic Gardens, currently protects 13% of the world’s wild plant species from extinction.
DNA databases are not traditional maples but store millions of genetic sequences for the future.
Although zoos keep animals indoors to display to the public, many do significant conservation work with critically endangered species.