What’s the Scariest Predator?

adventure journal aj poll predators

Southern California isn’t exactly known for its natural predators, but in the two decades I’ve lived here I’ve twice changed my behavior out of respect for them. First, a mountain lion killed and ate a mountain biker on a trail I’d ridden dozens of times, a trail at the edge of suburbia (and a stone’s throw from Oakley world headquarters), where you think you’d be safe. Second, a few years ago a great white shark ate an ocean swimmer about 20 miles south of the beach where I regularly swim.

Mountain lions seem easy enough to avoid – I simply stopped riding alone at night on the more remote trails, and during the daytime I try to go with others. As for the sharks, that’s a little trickier. Although attacks are extremely rare, if you’re in the water you’re prey, and there isn’t much you can do. And funny, although surfers more resemble seals than swimmers, I never worry on my board. There’s something about the total immersion of swimming (and the creepy darkness below) that stirs the primeval fears, and I go through phases where I know the numbers are in my favor and I simply head out past the waves and start swimming and others where, I, um, you know, the pool’s looking pretty good…

Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Living in a world where creatures can eat you teaches an important lesson in humility, and that’s a lesson humans could stand to learn better. There’s nothing like coming face to face on a hiking trail with a very large bear to pucker you right up and remind you that you aren’t the boss of everything, bear spray and shark cages notwithstanding.

There are predators of every shape and size here on this little earth (hello, ebola virus; hola, penis-invading spinefish), but for the purposes of this poll, and in honor of the recent shark week, we’re going to stick more to the traditional threat of death by tooth and claw. Yep, a tsetse fly will do things you really don’t want to contemplate, but what are the big critters that haunt our backcountry dreams? What creatures give us the biggest willies? Pick up to three.

[polldaddy poll=8251183]


products_2320_58_158_enlargeThis week, one poll participant will receive a pair of Smith Optics Cornice sunglasses from Smith’s Archive collection. We’ll pick the winner via random number generator (and announce it here) – all you have to do to enter is vote and leave a comment so we have your email to contact you. Must have a U.S. or Canadian address. Contest ends Sunday, August 24, at midnight PST.

Congratulations to Matthew Halip, who wins the Smiths this week!

Photo by Shutterstock

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