Showing posts from September, 2007

Lemon Entrees

So much shark behaviour seems to depend on whether we can see them or not, my main example of that being the time my step-son climbed upon a coral, and instantly the blackfin swimming with us went to him and sniffed his legs, quite aware, it seemed, that having his head above the water he could not see her. This came to mind again last night when I was drifting at dusk sketching the fin of an unknown juvenile blackfin who was roaming nearby. A movement off to the side caught my attention and I saw a good sized lemon shark approaching, already only a few feet away. They always look incongruous coming through the narrow coral canyons, seeming as big as a baby whale, though they are really smaller than that. Not wanting to startle him, I waited, perfectly still, for him to see me. He had a white spot on the tip of his nose, and that dazzling lemon shark smile.
Once my husband and I decided to celebrate Christmas by going to the end of Tahiti. The landscape resembled gently rolling h…

Sharks: Wolves of the Sea

When I came to Polynesia, I was familiar with Canadian wild animals and had no idea what to expect when I began to meet sharks while exploring the lagoon. After a series of odd experiences with them I set out to find out what they were really like as animals and individuals. The species I concentrated on was Carcharhinus melanopterus, the reef blackfin shark.
To see what each one was doing from day to day, I had to be able to recognize them. So I drew their dorsal fins on each side, then copied them into a book, along with a description and any other details. I soon had so many that I had to give them names just to be able to remember them all. My notes grew to hundreds of pages and dozens of tables, and by now I have identified more than six hundred sharks, and could recognize half that many on sight before a large fraction of them were finned (starting on my study group in 2003—see 'In Memory of Madonna'). I spent as much time as I could with them, bringing them treats now an…