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Showing posts from September, 2015

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

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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…

New Shark Book Coming Soon!

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One of the illustrations : the eating shark "inhales" as it takes the food--note jets from gills
My new book, SHARKS | Their Natural Behaviour sets forth fifteen years of underwater observations of the sharks I studied in Tahiti. I wrote it for anyone interested in shark behaviour, or sentience in animals in general. My study followed the precepts of cognitive ethology, and during hundreds of hours of underwater observation, over a period of fifteen years, I tried to understand what sharks are really like. 
As marine animals, separated from us by half a billion years of evolution, their reality comes to them through very different senses, of which no human mind can conceive. Yet, they showed clear signs of intelligent awareness, and a range of feelings, including excitement, fear, happiness, and rage. In spite of the vast gulf of time between us, their sentience was clear to see. 
Indeed, people in the future may see humans as just one of countless intelligently aware, and s…