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Shark Attacks and Crow Murders

 What do they have in common?

    When you watch the behaviour of many different wild animal species over long periods of time, you notice parallels which might not otherwise be seen. Having observed both species in the wild for many years in many different situations, I found a remarkable similarity between the behaviour of a flock of crows and a fleet of three dozen sharks. Though these animals are far apart on the evolutionary tree, it appears that their behaviour was similar because it had a common cause: both sharks and crows were angry.     The crows had systematically bullied the five off-spring of the local raven couple while they were maturing, and then the raven youngsters left the area late in the summer. But one of them returned in early winter, and when she did, the crows congregated around her in the trees, and when she alighted on the ground, they descended, prevented her from taking to the air, and pecked her to death with innumerable pecks to the eyes, face, throat, wi…

Fish Sentience, Consciousness and AI

Lynne U. Sneddon and some of her colleagues have published a paper targeting the resistance raised by fisheries interests to the idea that fish and other marine animals can suffer, entitled, Fish Sentience Denial : Muddying the Waters.      She is the researcher who first established that they can feel pain, and her findings have been confirmed in many ways and expanded upon by other scientists through rigorous scientific experimentation.
     Yet each time they publish new evidence of fish sentience, fishing spokesmen attack the results and try to discredit them, sometimes by actually misstating their results. These attacks do not provide contradictory evidence, but only contradictory opinions, most of them based on the anthropocentric idea that since fish lack a human brain, they cannot suffer. You can see and download this important article here:

     Here is my commentary:

     Sneddon et al.’s (2018) target article…

Science's Blind Spot

You are freed from the spell of the primate drama when you understand human behaviour in its correct context. But unfortunately, science has a blind spot that for centuries has caused it to stand in the way of the search for the true understanding of life.
True science began with the work of Aristotle, in an effort to systematically analyse our surroundings—the lines, the curves, the way a stone would fall—for the understanding of our environment and from there, the universe. Through observation, measurement, and reflection, a detailed picture of reality and its mathematical underpinnings emerged over the centuries, independent from the folklore of the times. Thus the edifice of science was built in tiny increments, as facts that could be mutually verifiedaccumulated through pure research done in the quest for knowledge. The Mechanical Philosophy In the 1600s western society was making swift progress in the invention of machines, and some intellectuals declaredthat the universe, too, is…

Rebuttal to Shiffman and Hueter, Shark Finning Fisheries Lobbyists

"The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act"is considered to be vital in the fight against shark finning. Yet shark fisheries lobbyists David Shiffman and Robert Hueter are doing their best to block it. They have published a paper opposing the legislation, which has been echoed by the press in ways suggesting that banning the shark fin trade in the United States could be "bad for sharks."
But their short and vacuous paper gives only three reasons to support their position and concerns itself with the well-being of shark fisheries, not sharks.  Firstly, they state that passage of the Act will "undermine decades of progress made towards ensuring sustainable shark fisheries in the United States and around the world." But in the absence of any evidence or reasoning in support this allegation, it remains nothing more than an opinion. The statement is neither scientific nor relevant to the real issue.
The second reason given is that the legislation "will likely have…

Glenn Ashton's Review of The True Nature of Sharks

"Occasionally a special book appears that makes you sit up and reconsider your understanding of the world, or at least a part of it. The True Nature of Sharks is such a book. It echoes the way that Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall forced us to completely reassess how we perceived the great apes, our closest relatives. While sharks may be only a very distant relative, Porcher’s book is no less revolutionary, in that it forces us to reassess how we perceive and understand sharks. Her work is instrumental in firmly shifting our understanding of sharks away from the obsolete trope of sharks as killing machines. Instead she portrays them as intelligent, predictable individual animals capable of so much more than generally assumed. "Through the ages sharks gained a largely unquestioned reputation as frightening predators just waiting to eat anything and anybody entering the watery realms. Modern history reinforced these tropes with stories of pilots and sailors being attacked during t…

Raising Shark Awareness

My personal campaign to raise shark awareness began when the entire community of hundreds of sharks that I was studying, as animals and individuals, were finned for shark fin soup.

Sharks (and fish) had turned out to be more interesting, more varied, and in many cases, more beautiful, than the North American wildlife I had known. They were just as intelligent, and far more responsive to me. They were definitely more alert, and made decisions more quickly, than people.

Sharks were the first wild animals I had met that came to me instead of fleeing, and though I had fed the birds all my life, they never fluttered down around my shoulders when I went outside, or alighted in my hands to be stroked. But fish did.

So it is especially sad to see how these remarkable submarine animals are considered and treated in our society, as being low, cold and not even capable of suffering pain.

That is why I have been on a personal campaign ever since to improve public awareness of their true nature, and …

Why I Turned to Sharks

I was a wildlife artist when my husband and I moved to Tahiti, so I went out each morning looking for something to paint. The fringe lagoons lay glimmering turquoise and silver under a ringing blue sky, protected by a barrier reef and sheltering an intricate lighted world that put fantasy to shame. Fish of every imaginable shape and colour gazed from the coral formations, ranged across the white sand, and travelled purposefully though the blue. There seemed to be so much life that even the water sparkled with it.
One morning I was roaming upon the barrier reef, lost in a spell. The sunshine ran in golden lines across the coral and flashed upon the fish. It was mesmerizing. When I raised my eyes, a grey shark of about my size was moving languidly towards me and all my lights went on. Everything about her was just right—her curves, her fins, her face—the inarguable shape of shark. Nothing had prepared me for the sight of that splendid creature gliding forth through the rushing landscap…