Showing posts from 2015


Jim Abernethy, Florida's top shark advocate, has declared WAR on NOAA. Please read this important announcement, and lend your support!

Good Afternoon Friends of Sharks as well as Mr. Guy Dubeck of NOAA,

My entire adult life has been spent fighting for sharks! I have watched our species slaughter sharks at an unprecedented rate worldwide, all to supply the Asian demand for shark fin soup! In the history of our planet no other species has ever been decimated by another species the way sharks are by humans.

In the last 50 years over 90% of all large sharks have been removed. A perfect example of this is the oceanic white tip shark, which 50 years ago Cousteau's scientists stated "The most abundant animal on the planet, over 100 lbs in weight is clearly the oceanic white tip shark!" - today not a single ocean boasts more than 1% of that population.

According to the Ocean Preservation Society, the results of this massive removal of apex predators on our planet is catastrophi…

Fear of Sharks? A Comment on Aggression and Compassion in Humans and Animals

When I give talks about my study of shark behaviour, the most common question I am asked is : “But weren't you afraid of the sharks?”
Well of course, but to me, those sharks were simply wild animals. I had often been fearful, during my long history of observing wild animals, but never had an animal threatened me.
On the contrary, I learned at an early age that it was the men in the forest, not bears, not mountain lions, not snakes, who were really dangerous. When I was growing up in North America, there was one serial killer after another in the local news. Every couple of months, another girl or young woman would be found, naked, bruised, and bloody after a nightmare death, in some dark corner of the forest, to the shock of her weeping family.
Those were the monsters who lay in wait along my pathways, as a young wildlife artist and ethologist. The first time I had to run for my life, I was only four years old. At twelve, I was grabbed by a strange man while walking home through a l…

Video By Shark Expert Ila France Porcher, Available For Shark Week 2015

The Shark Sessions” relates the story of sharks who were Porcher's companions for many years in Tahiti. When they were finned and massacred by a company from Singapore, she wrote down their story so that the world would find out : what they were like, and what had happened to them. Her powerful mini-documentary is now available.
[Wilmington, NC July 15, 2015] Shark expert Ila France Porcher has announced the release of a new video mini-documentary to coincide with Shark Week 2015. Porcher is the author of 'The Shark Sessions: My Sunset Rendezvous'. The book presents the story of her long-term ethological study of reef sharks in Tahiti, and the resulting findings, against the background of the uneasy society surrounding it. Intelligence in wild animals in general, and sharks in particular, is the major theme.
"In 2004, I was interviewed by the BBC for Discovery's 'Shark Week' regarding the evidence for thinking in sharks that I had found during my underwa…

Sharks Enjoy Divers as Divers Enjoy Sharks!

Sharks are interested in others, and their spontaneous gestures toward divers show their curiosity toward other members of their submarine community, including divers who show interest in them. The interest is returned.

Thus it is possible through photos to capture the eye to eye gaze of these mysterious creatures of the deep, when for just few moments of their day, they meet us. Recognition of others as individuals has long been established in fish and sharks, as in other social species. As well as knowing others, sharks demonstrate by their actions that they recognize themselves as being separate from others and observable. To this degree they are self aware.
The photo shows one of my shark companions coming to greet me when she found me in the lagoon. She looks at me with first one eye and then the other as she approaches with her gently undulating movement.

She nearly touches my face with hers, then turns to swim away at an angle over my shoulder. I gave her a treat af…

Sad Memorial to a Finned Shark

Its been a long time since I wrote and posted this tribute to Madonna, my number one shark, when she was finned. It is she with whom I was swimming in this illustration on the cover of my book, The Shark Sessions.

So here it is again.
Ode to Madonna

"In just the last couple of months, waiting for the law to be passed to protect the sharks, the last of the older, mature females I first met some years ago have vanished from my part of the lagoon. This includes my number one shark, Madonna.
Madonna was the first shark to meet my kayak when I arrived in the lagoon in the mornings. She was nearly six feet long, steel grey, and heavily built. When I dove down and swam to her, she would come to me and look into my mask.
Meeting her by chance in the lagoon, she would swim to me when I called her, and circle, spiralling toward me til she was within arms' reach. But she did not like me to swim with her. She would set off on a sinuous path, and when I followed, she would come bac…

Samuel H. 'doc' Gruber: Shark Science Pioneer

Doc Gruber began studying sharks in 1961, perhaps before any other scientist had done full-time research on a living shark. During his long career, he founded the Bimini Biological Field Station (Shark Lab), the Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, (IUCN), a United Nations organization based in Switzerland, and the American Elasmobranch Society. He has published over 200 scientific papers, and his research is still ongoing today.  His decision to study sharks was as unplanned as it was final.
As a young man growing up in Florida, he loved to dive, and often went off for weekends of scuba diving and spear fishing on a 30 metre schooner called the Blue Goose. The ship had belonged to Hermann Göring, commander-in-chief of the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) under the Nazis, and it had found its way to Miami when it was liberated at the end of World War II. A weekend of diving fun on the Blue Goose cost only seven dollars, and at that time, there …

From Vision to Reality : The Bimini Shark Lab

For Gruber, the study of sharks was more than a profession—it was a calling. 
He grew up in love with the sea from the earliest age, and was already avidly collecting sea shells and swimming at the age of three. His family lived in New York during the Second World War, but when it was over, they returned to their house in Miami Beach—the region had been taken over by the military during the war years. Compared to New York, Florida's warm blue ocean sparkled even more invitingly, and Gruber couldn’t keep away from it.
He excelled at swimming, and practised springboard diving with a coach. Then he would wander on the beach collecting seashells until it was time to bike down to the docks to see the sports fishermen come in. He was captivated by the bizarre appearance of many of the species of fish and sharks, and loved to draw them. His family still recalls that he was infamous for leaving his shoes on the fishing dock; he would go there after school, take them off, and forget them. …