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Unbroken: The Naturalist’s Field guide

By Molly Williams and Sarah McKinzie

When Louie was a child, he used pepper-tree berries as
projectiles to pummel passerby from the branches of a pepper
tree. This tree, also known as the Schinus Molle, is native to the
Peruvian andes. It now thrives in California as well. The pepper
tree is a fast growing evergreen which can grow up to 50 feet in
height. Its berries are red in color.
Great Dane
The Great Dane is a German breed that can reach up to 2 feet,
10 inches in height, making it one of the tallest dogs. Their large
size and loud bark make them look threatening, but they have an
inherently gentle nature. During one of Louie’s many childhood
thefts, he bribed a family’s Great Dane with a bone. This would
have been easy, as Great Danes are friendly toward strangers.
Louie’s Pet Snake
Louie’s pet snake was three feet long. There’s not much
else we know about it; however, one of the most common
snakes in southern California is the garter snake, and it is a
popular pet as well, so we can assume for the purposes of the
field guide that Louie’s snake was a garter snake. Garter snakes
can be a wide range of colors and patterns, however, they are
identifiable by three light stripes that run along the length of
their backs. They can be black, brown, gray, or olive. The scales
of garter snakes are keeled, meaning that they have a spiny ridge
running down the centers of their scales. Garter snakes can grow
from 46 cm or about one and a half feet to 137 in or roughly
four and a half feet in total length. Female garter snakes are
larger than males.
Louie shot several rabbits for food during the course of his
life, and while we are unable to get a statement from the rabbits
concerning this issue we think it’s safe to say they’re not exactly
thrilled about it. Different species of rabbits can vary greatly in
size, from tiny pygmy rabbits to angora rabbits the size of a
small child. Rabbits are extremely social creatures, and often
live in small groups in colonies. “Herbert was our friend, Louie.
He was a good rabbit.” said the rabbits, presumably. “There are
enough​ of you” said Louie, probably. “You’re one to talk”
replied the rabbits, we assume.
Horses (The Annoyed Variety)
When Louie spent a summer in his friend’s cabin in the
Cahuilla Indian Reservation, he spent hours running through the
desert of southern California. On these runs he would spot herds
of wild horses and run through them, attempting to grab their
maines and swing aboard. Needless to say, the horses did not
appreciate this. Annoying the horses was probably not Louie’s
brightest moment, as horses can grow in some cases as large as

69 inches at the shoulders and 2,200 lbs. It is estimated that the
first horses were domesticated by nomads some 4,000 years ago.
Deer and Storks
The 1936 Berlin Olympic village, in which Louie Zamperini
resided while he was competing, was created by Wolfgang
Fürstner. Included in the surrounding woods were several
species of imported animals. Many Japanese athletes took to
feeding the deer, so they were moved out. Storks appeared after
a British athlete wondered where they were. White storks and
roe deer are native to Germany.
Cows (the flat variety)
During Louie’s training as a bombardier, he flew over a
farm and crushed several things with his training bombs. Among
these things was a cow. What do we know about this cow? Can
we assume that its name is Gregory? That it preferred the grass
on the hill to that in the field? No. We know none of this. But
we can assume, and so we will assume that Gregory was a good
cow and loved by all. Rest in peace.
Gray whales, blue whales, and humpbacks inhabit the Pacific
Ocean. Blue whales are the largest animals to ever have existed,
and they can grow to 82 to 100 feet in length and up to 200 tons
in weight. Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an
elephant. Whales eat krill, tiny animals that resemble shrimp,
but their size and their habit of breaching can pose a danger to

A blue whale from above

The Sharks
Sharks were a considerable danger to those
servicemen whose planes or ships were shot down or sunk in the
open ocean. Because shark attacks were often instigated by
crashes which carry a multitude of other possibly fatal dangers,
it is impossible to say the exact
number of servicemen who were
killed as a result of shark attacks
during WWII. Despite this, sharks
were a fearful possibility for all who
flew over the seemingly endless
pacific- but hey, who can blame
them for getting hungry?
A blacktip reef shark

Sharks have skeletons made out of cartilage instead of bone
which allow them to be quick and agile swimmers. Some of the
more common sharks of the pacific are spiny dogfish, blacktip
sharks and hammerheads. Sharks are most active in the evening
and night, often the most hazardous times for bomber squadrons
flying to and from missions. Varied species of sharks can live in
fresh, salt and brackish water.
Blacktip Reef Sharks
Blacktip Reef Sharks are often found in shallow waters around
islands or coral reefs. Named for their characteristic
black-tipped fins, these sharks can grow up to 6 feet long.
Shortfin Mako Sharks
Shortfin mako sharks are the fastest species of shark. They can
reach up to 32 kilometers per hour with bursts of speed reaching
72 kilometers per hour. This combined with the fact that they
frequently breach and can jump up to 9 meters above the water
make shortfin mako sharks dangerous to humans, and they have
been known to stage unprovoked attacks on boats or swimmers
Oceanic Whitetip Sharks
Oceanic whitetip sharks also likely killed several soldiers in
WWII. They live in tropical waters, usually in the open ocean.
Oceanic whitetips can reach 13 feet and 750 pounds. They are
patient but fierce hunters and will go for almost anything, as
food options can be scarce away from the coasts. This makes
them a danger to survivors of ship and plane wrecks. Helpful to
identifying oceanic whitetips are pilot fish, black and white
striped scavengers. They swim in groups and follow manta rays,
turtles, and especially sharks in groups for protection and bits of
leftover food. In exchange, pilot fish eat parasites off of the
sharks. Pilot fish are tropical, so they frequently partner with
oceanic whitetip sharks, who refrain from eating them. This is
an example of a symbiotic relationship, or one in which two
different species work together.

Oceanic Whitetip Shark with pilot fish Shortfin Mako

North Pacific Albatrosses
Of the four species of Albatross that live north of the equator,
Black-footed Albatrosses, which nest in Hawaii, Short-tailed
Albatrosses, of Japan, and Laysan Albatrosses, which live
mostly in the North Pacific, were likely seen by Louie on the
raft. All North Pacific Albatrosses have hooked bills and short
black tails. Albatrosses can have black and white feathers,
though the pattern varies from species to species. They can
range in wingspan from about 6 feet to almost 8 feet. Their long,
narrow wings are ideal for catching the ocean winds and gliding
for long distances. All Albatrosses can live up to 50 years. They
spend the first years of their lives without touching land, until
they are old enough to breed.

Laysan Albatross Black-footed Albatross

Some species of tern are long-distance migratory birds, though
they usually inhabit the coasts or inland waters. Bridled terns,
white terns, royal terns, noddy terns, and several other species
are tropical and live near the Pacific. Terns are small and have
pointed wings and beaks. They often dive for fish or

Bridled Tern White Tern

Fleas are small, reddish brown parasites that feed on the blood
of mammals. Their bites can transmit bacterial diseases and
cause itching and pain. Fleas range in size from one-twelfth of
an inch to one sixth of an inch in length. They can jump as high
as 8 inches vertically.
Head Lice
The head louse can live on the human scalp, eyebrows, and
eyelashes and is easily transmitted from head-to-head contact as
well as from other surfaces. Bites can cause itching.

Flea Head louse

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