While watching an Animal Planet program about the impact of island ecology and evolution, we learned about a colony of pygmy sloths that lives on an island no larger than Central Park in New York. Somehow the population of sloths that reside there has managed to survive because the vegetation suits their need for food and shelter
There’s just one problem. The island habitat actually consists of a series of islands. That means when it comes time to find a mate and breed, male pygmy sloths must migrate between mini-islands formed by mangrove trees. Which means they have to swim.
As we all know, sloths are known to take life pretty slow. They move about the trees so little that moss literally grows on their back. This actually helps camouflage them in the jungle, and that’s probably a mark of beauty among sloths.
When a male sloth desires the company of a female on another island, they must crawl down the trees and clamber over mangrove limbs to dunk themselves in the water and swim through ocean waters to another island. It’s all about breeding, you see.
Highly motivated to go below
That is called motivation, you see. There are actually all kinds and types of motivations in this world, but the urge to mate is one of the strongest of all. Thus despite the fact that sloths are built to climb trees with long hooked claws at the end of their toes, they can also use them to swim. That’s what happens when hormones take over and the males venture into the water to cross the gap between islands and find themselves some lady sloth. Because in the end, that’s what life’s about.
So for several reasons I feel a strange kinship with the sloth in this video. It will swim for its life to have sex and it also does a pretty good imitation of the way I probably looked when I first took to the pool for the first few weeks. My arms went far too deep in the water to generate much speed. And until I learned better how to breathe, I kept popping my head out of the water while sucking air. I swam like a sloth.
Over the period of a couple years, I have grown less slothlike in my approach to swimming. This Thursday I’m going to have a video swim analysis done, and I hope like hell it does not much resemble this video of the sloth paddling its way toward sloth Nirvana and a chance to mate with a lady sloth.
We can only imagine what the mating ritual and conjugal act between two sloths must involve. Seems like that all probably happens in slow motion as well. And having a really mossy back is likely considered hot stuff in the sloth world. The slower you go, the more you know, they always say.
In any case, I admire the sloth in the video for getting its swim on. Nothing like having to engage in a new activity to generate personal growth. And more’s the better if it helps you grow a little more moss on your back.