Here at Aurora Expeditions, we have a huge amount of respect for animals and the role they play in the unique ecosystems of our different destinations. However, there are some creatures which take the spotlight thanks to their exceptional ability to outrun, out swim and overpower their fellow species.
With the Olympics just around the corner, we thought we’d rank some of the top qualifiers in the animal world who we believe would be star competitors at Rio 2016.
Wandering albatross – The long distance specialist
While the 100 metre sprint can be an exciting event to witness, endurance races are a truly incredible sight to behold, pushing the human body to the limits of endurance.
In the animal kingdom, the wandering albatross takes the crown for being a long distance specialist. These giant birds have the world’s longest wingspan, measuring up to 3.4 metres on average, which allows them to glide for hours on end without rest. In addition, the wandering albatross has been known to travel about 16,000 kilometres in a single journey, far out-distancing our Olympic marathon runners.
Cheetah – Fastest land animal
Renowned for its lightning-fast sprinting ability, the cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal. Over short distances, cheetahs can use their explosive speed to chase down their prey in one of the world’s most spectacular displays of agility.
Cheetahs can go from 0-96 km/h in just 3 seconds. The big cat’s aerodynamic body allows it to shoot across the savannah like a bullet, granting it approximately a minute of running time before utter exhaustion. The record for the fastest cheetah was set in 2012, when an 11-year old cat ran 100 metres in a blinding 5.95 seconds. This gives the cheetah an almost four-second lead on the world’s fastest man and Olympian, Usain Bolt.
Peregrine Falcon – Fastest bird
While the Olympics doesn’t ostensibly allow winged competitors onto the race track, it would be amiss to leave the world’s fastest bird out of this elite list. The Peregrine Falcon is a truly impressive bird, using its power and speed to tackle its victims (smaller birds and bats) in midair.
Weighing in at around 0.5-1.6 kg, the Peregrine Falcon is one of the world’s most common bird of prey, spread across all continents apart from the frozen landscape of Antarctica. When they set their sights on their target, the falcon closes its wings and swoops into a spectacular dive, called a stoop, where it can reach speeds of 320 km/h.
This is a speed that can match, or in some cases surpass, the speed of an Olympic archer’s arrow, which generally ranges upwards of 200 km/h.
Sailfish – Fastest swimmer
The cheetah might dominate on land, but when it comes to the big blue, the title for the fastest swimmer goes to the sailfish. Dwelling in warmer, temperate ocean waters, the sailfish can weigh from 50-100 kgs, and features a prominent dorsal fin.
These incredible swimmers have been recorded as reaching speeds of almost 110 km/h, covering approximately 30.4 metres per second. To put this in perspective, in the last Olympic Games in London, 2012, Gold Medallist Florent Manaudou swam 50 metres in just 21.34 seconds, equalling a speed of about 2.3 metres per second.
Blue whale – Strongest animal
In the battle of brawn and brute strength, your mind might jump to animals such as the fearsome lion or a python with its crushing grip, but in fact, the world’s strongest animal dwells below the sea.
Whales are known for their immense size and power, and the blue whale takes the crown for being the strongest of these ocean giants. In terms of the sheer amount of force which a Blue Whale can generate, they surpass even the massive sperm whale, with one study finding that the species can produce up to 60 kN of force. Compared to an elephant, which can exert 27 kN, and a buffalo which can produce 12 kN, the blue whale effectively crushes the competition.
If you’d like to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most incredible creatures, you can talk to the team at Aurora Expeditions about our diverse range of voyages. From polar bear expeditions to the Arctic, to our popular Ecuador and Galápagos adventures, our onboard wildlife and nature experts can help you to learn all about the Earth’s amazing creatures while you witness them in their natural habitats.