This could be an ideal time for creatures touched by the Gulf spill to pick up yoga and/or meditation.
Here’s why. Consider the iguana. When iguanas get stressed out about things like famines brought on by El Nino, changes in their ecosystems, or natural disaster, they release a hormone called corticosterone into the blood. It gives them the boost we humans get from cortisol, and it keeps their energy levels up while times are tough. But if those iguanas aren’t able to turn the corticosterone faucet off, the extra hormones eventually stop helping and start hurting – and can leave stressed-out iguanas vulnerable to starvation and death.
According to a team of Tufts University biologists who’ve been looking at iguanas’ stress responses to El Nino, stress really does kill, and the phenomenon is occurring right now in the Gulf of Mexico.
"As animals encounter the spill, they will have a robust release of corticosterone to help them cope with the consequences of the oil. However, those animals that can best turn off their corticosterone response once the initial danger from the oil has passed will probably be the most likely to survive," said Michael Romero, professor of biology at Tufts.
Who’s going to administer aromatherapy and stress-release acupuncture to the pelicans standing knee-deep right now in the black ooze of an oil spill officially worse than Valdez?