Flora and fauna on island Elba

Wild boars 

Nocturnal encounters with wild boars in the middle of the road are not uncommon on Elba. During the day, large holes and hollows in forests and gardens are a reminder of their residency. Wild boars were released on Elba for hunting purposes in the 1960s. While hunting on the island was more and more restricted, the wild boars were able to reproduce widely undisturbed. Here they live like in paradise; they enjoy the tasty plants and live from the vitamin-rich fruits of the islanders. Wild boars are fully grown after five years and reach a maximum length of 150 cm. The males (boars) are on average larger than the females (bachen). A mother animal can become dangerously aggressive if danger threatens and should therefore be avoided as much as possible, especially in the presence of young animals. 

Nice to know: Many people do not know that wild boars are excellent swimmers and can cover long distances in the water if necessary - for example during the hunt. 

                                                                                                                                  Picture: Harald Schobesberger  www.urlaubswelt.com

Sea cucumber

Less distances thant the wild boars covers the sea cucumbers, of which many inhabit our Mediterranean Sea. Together with sea lilies, brittle stars, starfishes and sea urchins, sea cucumbers are among the so-called echinoderms. This extraordinary species has at least five or more body axes. All other animals worldwide, on the other hand, are bilaterally symmetrical, i.e. have a left and a right half of the body. The multiple axis system of the sea cucumber is called radial symmetry. 

A sea cucumber is basically a very elongated starfish lying on its side. The many tiny feet found on the bodies of starfishes , sea urchins and sea cucumbers are moved by a hydraulic system. Their hydraulic system works by pumping water through your body via their anus. Before this is used for mobility, the sea cucumber extracts the oxygen from the water via its aquatic lungs. To a certain extent, the sea cucumber breathes through its buttocks, while ingestion of food takes place through the front mouth opening. 

Huge amounts of sand and silt are sucked up here, sorted and separated inside the body and everything that cannot be digested is excreted as cleaned sand. 

Since, as mentioned at the beginning, sea cucumbers are hardly able to flee from enemies, they have an alternative defense system at their disposal: poison. In the event of severe distress and danger, they hurl red thread-like tubes out of the anus at the potential attacker. These are not only very sticky, but also highly toxic to fish. If these threads (Cuvier's tubes) are not sufficient for deterrence, all of the innards are expelled.           

Starfishes and sea urchins

Unlike sea cucumbers, sea urchins and starfish only have a single orifice (lower center of the abdomen). They use one and the same opening to feed, excrete feces, and reproduce.