Thursday, 11 August 2016

Commentary on Science ~ The Price of Ignoring Natural Law

  In April, 2016, National Geographic featured an article entitled “The War on Science,” which questions why many scientific claims face a storm of opposition from the public. It explains that these criticisms result from a tendency to believe in one's religious or political position, rather than in the facts, which is a recent finding by Dan Kahan of Yale University.

Yet, the problems with modern science which might contribute to this public attitude were not examined--when one looks out across the ravaged earth, National Geographic's statement “Modern science is based on things it got right,” appears in a different light.

In addition to widespread pollution and the destabilization of the climate, human activity has caused the sixth mass extinction, the tropical forests needed to support the life-giving atmosphere are devastated, and the oceans are showing signs of ecological collapse.

Why, at the height of science's glory, has it had such a destructive effect on the planet upon which we all depend? Why has it offered no guidance to humanity, as civilization expanded, in controlling international events, or finding practical solutions to such serious developments as the threats of nuclear annihilation, and human population growth, which have resulted in dire global problems?

One important reason is that for a material science in a material world, money has been a decisive factor in determining the direction taken by scientific research.

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. It was a quest for understanding of the reality in which we find ourselves, and through observation, measurement, and reflection, a detailed map of reality and its mathematical underpinnings, came into being over the centuries. The edifice of science was built step by step, as facts that could be mutually verified, accumulated through pure research done in the quest for knowledge.

Then came the unholy marriage with industry. Instead of studying life, biology focused on using the biosphere to solve human problems, and it neglected an appropriate analysis of nature. The play of life across the planet, how it interacted with the atmosphere, the seas, earth, rivers, and the falling of rain, was simply ignored.

The result was that western society developed without reference to its environment, and the current state of discontinuity between 'science' and the facts is the result.

The influence of religion
The assumption of human superiority over Earth is a religious one which science adopted centuries ago. The human was considered superior—the only one (!) made “in the image of God”—while the rest of the universe, including all other forms of life, did not share the human gift of consciousness, and were considered mechanical in nature. This convenient idea, attributed to Rene Descartes, has well served a civilization that regards our planet as nothing more than a resource.

But in ignoring the uniformity of life, it took a dramatic departure from evidence-based science. Human beliefs began to be considered more important than the facts while, in ignoring our biological heritage, philosophical science imbued our leaders with the sort of arrogant pride which not only comes before, but causes, a fall.

In science, the only rational position to take is the acceptance of reality.

The uniformity of life
We are surrounded by evidence of the uniformity of life. Not only do all vertebrate animals share the same body plan, but on the microscopic level, our cells, from bacteria to plants to man, have the same make-up. Genetic studies, too, confirm that from primates (99%) to fish (85%) a high fraction of genes are shared among us.

The pet phenomenon, which has been visible to all for centuries, would be impossible if animals truly were mechanical, because by definition, a machine cannot act “as if” it can think and feel. A commonly used excuse for treating animals cruelly is the statement, “Just because they act like they feel pain, does not mean that they really do.” This preposterous argument requires that the alleged machine imitate consciousness on cue.

Every time it has been examined, evidence of sentience has been found in animals from insects, to sharks, fish, and elephants. Even one-celled animals, lacking both brains and nerves, are able to learn and remember.

There is every reason to question the prevailing negative attitude to animals, and its origin. There is simply no evidence to support the idea that life as it arose in this solar system, is inferior and unworthy as traditional science maintains.

Quite the contrary. Given current knowledge of the size and nature of the universe, and the mysteries concerning the presence of life and of consciousness, there is every reason to consider it remarkable.

People studying wildlife behavior, as I do, have to be meticulously careful that all conclusions are objective, and uninfluenced by one's perspective as a human. So it is disappointing to see this essential basis for maintaining scientific integrity being ignored by so many scientists. Yet, their consistently anthropocentric attitude goes unquestioned, while they stand in the way of the search for the true understanding of life.

Human behavior as part of the continuum of life
Human behavior is considered to be dependent on reason and cultural tradition alone, yet this approach has failed to produce any insight into the current state of human affairs, or ways to avoid disaster in the future.

However, when looked at as part of the continuum of the behavior of all living beings, the comportment of the human species fits like a piece in a puzzle. Universal trends are evident in animal behavior, and of these a great deal has been learned. But the information has been ignored, due to the denial of the link between humankind and the rest of nature.

The male/female phenomenon, for example, has framed sexual reproduction for at least half a billion years. Myriad examples of how the two genders work together provide a comprehensive understanding of their interconnected roles, which could greatly relieve the difficulties people face in understanding the opposite sex in the modern world.

Similarly, millions suffering under the stigma of homosexuality, would have been greatly relieved to know that love between members of the same sex is natural, right, and good. (note 1)

Monkey trickery on the scale of the modern human appears truly diabolical. There are many cases in which evidence points to huge deceptions, but they remain uninvestigated due to the territorial command to follow your leader. (note 2)

War is waged by animals from ants, through rats and chickens, to primates. It results from the aggression territorial animals feel toward those on the other side of the border.

The territorial instinct evolved to assure the best distribution of animals of each species through their environment, and each territory has two vital places: the nest with all of its treasures, and the border where intruders are repelled. (note 3) Thus, a conflictual attitude to 'others', be they other tribes, city states, or nations, races, religions, or sports teams, is built into our genes, just as a genetically based love of sugar and fat is evident among us.

This explains why violence is so widespread in our society, whether hidden in families, criminalized in communities, or expressed internationally in wars. The continuing clash between religion and science, which was show-cased by National Geographic's article, is an example of the tendency to attack those with different beliefs, and serves as a daunting reminder that even our brightest lights are no more capable of managing their aggressive inclinations than any animal.

Some primate, including human, societies live in a constant state of war with the surrounding tribes, and our history is an account of wars. It is easy to see how the clans whose warriors could not keep up with the continuous demand for violent responses, would simply have disappeared, resulting in an increasingly militant population.

Ethologist Konrad Lorenz wrote :
“Unreasoning and unreasonable human nature causes two nations to compete, though no economic necessity compels them to do so; it induces two political parties or religions with amazingly similar programmes of salvation to fight each other bitterly and it impels an Alexander or a Napoleon to sacrifice millions of lives in his attempt to unite the world under his sceptre. We have been taught to regard some of the persons who have committed these and similar absurdities with respect, even as ‘great’ men, we are wont to yield to the political wisdom of those in charge, and we are all so accustomed to these phenomena that most of us fail to realize how abjectly stupid and undesirable the historical mass behaviour of humanity actually is.”

In a world in which the current alpha males have science fiction weapons to use in their dreams of world dominion, there is every reason to consider this type of instinctive aggression as the greatest of all dangers. Yet, in an astounding display of denial, science supports the continuing efforts to create ever more destructive weapons, and the news as I write today is full of flagrant attempts by those in power to arouse everyone to militant enthusiasm for yet more war!

Accepting the truth
Insight into how to control the forces of nature has always resulted from the understanding gained through investigation of their natural causes. Were our true inclinations accepted as natural, providing alternate outlets for our aggression could become part of our culture until the brute force method fell out of favor.

Recognition that borders remain in about the same place in spite of wars, could result in a mutual decision to simply respect the ones we have now, and enjoy competing in other ways. Militant enthusiasm can be raised in young people for plenty of other challenges, including science, art, and sports, causes considered worthy by all human beings.

The bonds of love and friendship that join individuals together, work like magic to defuse the hackle-raising communal defense instinct evolved by our pre-human ancestors, and an awareness of them has the power to change the world. The greatest danger is the instinctive tendency to regard those who speak or look differently, as inferior. Recognizing that this inclination is common to us all, as people growing up in different areas of the world, and that in spite of cultural differences we all share similar interests in life, makes it easy to find reasons to like those who are different from us.

Individuals communicating with and befriending others in a spirit of brotherhood could, given the power of the Internet, swiftly connect the people of the world in friendship, which would go far toward defusing international hostilities. A day could come in which they might tell their leaders, when summoned to slaughter their friends, “We the people, have met on the Internet, and we like each other. So please, just let us live.”

In time, adequate knowledge of ourselves would determine the directions to take to avoid the dangers implicit in our ignorance of the nature of aggression.

Other thinkers have written of an “awakening” that might come about to save the world, as human destruction threatens the planet. Indeed, we may be the first life form to gain understanding of the difference between instinct and the wiser choices that are possible through using the intellect.

Perhaps that is final test of the human spirit—that we gain the courage to manage our own biological heritage and remake our world using wisdom and understanding instead.

(c) Ila France Porcher
               August 2016

1) Homosexuality is widespread in nature, but because it runs counter to Christian beliefs about the purpose of love and sex, this has not become widely known. There is a BBC documentary which serves as a review of this subject on youtube at :
2) Bob Altemeyer, The Authoritarians 2006. Humans have a tendency to follow a leader, to the degree of giving up the guidance of their own conscience. In a famous experiment, he found that you only need to ask three or four people before finding someone who is willing to hold another person down and shock him to death, if you present yourself as an authority.
3) Schjelerup-Ebbe (1922), Z.Psychol. 88: 226-252
4) From Konrad Lorenz's book On Aggression, written in 1966 as an overview of aggressive behavior, and a warning to humanity. His choice of the species closest to humans in behavior was the rat; at that time he considered that humans had about the same chances as several hostile clans of rats on a ship that was almost out of food. My advisor with the sharks, Professor Arthur A. Myrberg Jr., had worked with him, and we both felt that his ideas were in accordance with what we too had observed.
My choice for a comparable species, based on my own experiences is the junglefowl--the ancestor of modern chickens, a species more affectionate and loving than the rat, as well as expressing most dramatically the single-minded determination to fight to gain power, that one sees among humans. These highly territorial birds will also wage war, on a modest scale, with the alpha male using the younger beta males as warriors. Thus he avoids being hurt himself, and rids himself of future competition. With them, too, the borders remain in about the same place.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

More Fisheries Pseudoscience

Another piece of shark fisheries propaganda has been published. Shark fisherman David Shiffman now claims it to be scientific fact, that most shark scientists believe that shark fishing and shark finning are the best ways to “manage” sharks, when done sustainably. The fact that most shark scientists work for the fishing industry is omitted. 

What true scientist would condone shark finning when it involves the waste of 95 percent of the shark, in a protein starved world? Shark finning has been documented to be responsible for the 25% of shark species currently threatened with extinction, but a little known fact is that the United States is the seventh worst shark finning nation. The paper even affirms that it was the shark fisheries scientists who were the most likely to be in favour of sustainable shark fishing as opposed to outright protection for sharks.

At about the same time as this paper was announced in the news, The Global Strategy for the management of sharks and rays (2015 to 2025) summarized their plan thus : 
“This Global Strategy aims to dramatically alter the current trajectory of shark and ray decline by promoting the protection and recovery of the most endangered species, advancing the understanding and conservation of all species and their critical habitats, and ensuring that the fisheries, trade and demand for these species shift from overexploitation towards sustainability.” (note 1)

When stated in context, one can see where working towards sustainable fishing practices is beneficial when the current practice is chronic overfishing. What is different about Shiffman's paper, is that it seeks to use the authority of science to manipulate public opinion to support shark fishing, and to weaken the efforts of shark advocates to protect them in other important ways. The very worrying point that shark meat is increasingly toxic due to the accumulation of poisons, including mercury, making sharks unfit food, is not even mentioned. The findings of a dangerous depletion of sharks by overfishing has been echoed every time an intensive global study on shark and ray depletion has been done.

NOAA (2011) itself states:
“The law calls for the United States to pursue an international ban on shark finning and to advocate improved data collection (including biological data, stock abundance, bycatch levels, and information on the nature and extent of shark finning and trade). Determining the nature and extent of shark finning is the key step toward reaching agreements to decrease the incidence of finning worldwide. “

In October 2014, in an article in the journal “Fisheries” Shiffman made another effort to give the ring of authority to fishing sharks, this time by promoting shark sports fishing in Florida. Though both bird fighting and dog fighting are illegal in Florida, he had no qualms about promoting the “fighting” and killing of sharks. 

Based on the findings that in French Polynesia, the biggest shark sanctuary in the world, one shark can be worth over 2 million dollars in its lifetime through shark diving, he recommended that Florida's sharks were similarly worthy through “catch and release,” which he argued was a good way for the state to make money!

Yet, for one shark to earn 2 million dollars for Florida, it would have to be fished 4000 times. This is calculated by dividing 2,000,000 dollars by 500 dollars—which is an average price charged by shark fishing charters to go out and catch a shark. The possible effects on the lives and biology of the sharks living there, as a result of being repeatedly “fought” nearly to death at this intensity, was not a subject that concerned him.

When questioned about it, it became clear that he had not even thought about the mathematics, though math is an important tool for other scientists. Nor could he come with any argument to back up his position. 

Sharks are not trout. They are large animals that have to swim continuously forward just to keep an adequate supply of oxygen moving over their gills, and their strong horizontal undulations are like a heartbeat, a powerful automatic motion they cannot stop. Their desperate efforts to escape death while pulling with so much force against a big shark hook piercing their faces or internal organs, can cause serious internal and facial injuries. And as any wildlife rehabilitator soon learns through experience, serious injuries to wild animals are usually fatal without the benefit of treatment and supportive care.

Further, examination of Shiffman's own data reveals that the near threatened blacktip shark is the most frequent species caught, and its survival rate from catch and release fishing is one of the lowest of all species shown. Blacktips and the endangered great hammerhead showed “high physiological disruption and low survival following release.” (note 2) In contradiction to this information, he states many times that the sharks are released “unharmed.” 

It is now a matter of record that industry will deliberately support a political platform for favoured, and often paid researchers, to influence public opinion. This was done, for example, by the tobacco industry and the oil industry.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce (NOAA), two million, seven hundred thousand sharks were caught by sports fishermen in the U.S.A. in 2011. Since those were only the killings that were reported, this figure could be low compared with the true numbers killed if the toll from private boats that were not reported, were added in. 

The fishing industry is a multi-billion dollar power that has taken control of both the wild fish populations, and the way these animals are viewed by the public. The result is that irregardless of available facts, their conclusions are always in favour of fishermen, and not “fish,” a word which fisheries will apply to all marine animals, including sharks, whales, and turtles.

Another example of unsubstantiated claims used to support the fishing industry is the Rose paper which sought to give scientific authority to the old tale that fish don't feel pain. Though Rose has never done a study to prove his allegations, and though his argument applies to all animals except man and possibly the great apes, and though it was published in a fishing journal and not a neurological journal, it received so much publicity that people got the idea that science had really proven that fish were too simple-minded to feel pain. 

Yet at the same time, other researchers had learned that fish have cognitive skills that rival those of birds and mammals, and they are likely conscious. Veterinarians who work on them systematically use pain relief, and have said that they found fish to be more sensitive than birds. It is more logical to believe those who treat and look after fish, than those who kill them.

Scientists have a duty to humanity and the search for objective truth, to remain open-minded. Arguments against established ideas are welcomed when they are based on evidence and logic, but when they are based on political agendas which are not supported by evidence, they fall under the definition of pseudo-science. 

note 1 : This was the result of a collaboration between the Shark Specialist Group of IUCN, and scientists from the major conservation organizations, following the SSG study, published last year, which found that 24% of sharks and rays are in danger of imminent extinction.

note 2 : According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, great hammerheads are endangered, and blacktip sharks are near threatened.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Seeing is Believing : An Affectionate Shark

For the first time, affectionate behaviour in a shark has been documented. Jim Abernethy, of Palm Beach in Florida, filmed his reunion with a tiger shark after a separation of two years.

Abernethy, owner and operator of Scuba Adventures in Florida, had gained the shark's trust through gentle touches, initially to remove five hooks from her mouth. Since 2003, he has been using this method to remove hooks from many different species of sharks, as described in this former article about him, here.

The sharks he helped responded by cooperating, and would return for more affection as is seen so clearly in his video with this tiger shark. Abernethy's achievement was only possible because of his dedication to getting to know these mysterious and very unusual animals, while spending so much of his time on location where he could see them almost daily. As the first dive operator to show that sharks are peaceful animals, Jim always treated them with respect and affection. He spends most of his time on his liveaboard ship, The Shear Water, diving with sharks at sites in the vicinity of the Bahamas, and is on land for only about 40 days a year.

Though divers have understood for decades that sharks are not the demons of the sea as promoted by the media, the long standing bias against them has lived on, and shark attack mania is alive and well, in spite of decades of accumulating evidence that sharks are far less aggressive than the predators we are familiar with on land. Though increasing numbers of researchers are finding that a variety of marine animals are sentient, fisheries science continues to affirm that this is not the case. The argument is summarized here. Abernethy had removed five hooks from Tarantino's mouth initially, so the shark's reaction also strongly supports the argument that she appreciated the relief from pain.

I never got photographic evidence of affectionate behaviour in my sharks, mostly because nearly all of my study took place before I got an underwater camera. (Its hard to believe now, in the age of digital photography, how much more difficult it was to get underwater photos before). That is why it means so much to me that this behaviour has now been recorded. Even people who are willing to consider that sharks might have negative emotions such as fear or rage, find it less believable that they could have positive emotions such as happiness or affection.

With traditional science denying feelings in these animals, it provides evidence that some updates are needed! Anyway, this is a first, and a wonderful intimate look at the natural gestures of a tiger shark. Enjoy!

(c) Ila France Porcher 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

SHARKS DON'T BITE like we do

Though sharks have gained a mythical reputation for being biters, their behaviour in nature is the opposite of what we would expect from the vicious animals depicted in the media. I had many opportunities to observe sharks under circumstances in which I expected them to bite, as a dog, cat, horse, or bird would tend to do. Yet they did not. 

All other species, wild and tame, with whom I had the intimacy I shared with sharks, had bitten me sooner or later, either by accident or in a fit of pique; even my pet dog sometimes grabs my hand in her teeth along with the offered cookie. 

Further, while the blackfin reef sharks I knew enjoyed roaming with favourite companions, I never saw them fighting with each other. They had friends but no enemies !

For years people had told me, and I half believed myself, that one evening I would be bitten and would bleed to death, or faint and drown. Since I was alone far from shore as night was falling, I could expect no one to save me, and these circumstances enhanced a tendency to react with darkening consciousness and soaring terror at times. 

The graceful creatures were the colour of the twilight waters, and as night fell, they became just motions in the shadows. As if they knew they had an advantage, it was then that they became emboldened, and would suddenly shoot forward faster than my eyes could follow them--the speed at which a shark can suddenly move, is one of the startling things about them.

So I had long acquaintance with the phenomenon of fear. Often it took all my psychological force to compose my mind in order to overcome it. 

Occasionally, things went wrong--the boat overturned in high winds, or my camera fell overboard, for example--and I would find myself in tossing waters opaque with blood and excited sharks, in a situation for which I was unprepared. Yet, no matter what happened, no shark bit me, time after time. 

Why had none of those hundreds of sharks of four different species, some many times my size, ever bitten me? I would watch my favourite, Martha, coil through the sea in front of my face, snapping up the treats I was freeing for her while ignoring my hands and the little plastic bag I had brought them in, and be convinced that it could not be a random coincidence. 

There had to be a reason. 

One night I accidentally kicked a shark with all my force, not realizing that the six foot animal was between my legs as I finned upward to reach into my kayak. Expecting her to turn and slash, I peered underwater to scrutinize the situation, but neither her speed nor her trajectory changed as she curvetted on to circle me. 

It was then I realized that I was expecting a reaction from a shark that was based on my knowledge of mammals. Like the other species we know well, we readily bite in fear. Anyone who has been seriously assaulted knows that the instinct to bite in self defence is very thinly veiled beneath our civilized daily lives. Birds too, readily bite in aggression and fear. It is a reaction that we take for granted--it is an important part of our personal defence system, which is instinctive at its root, and reinforced by countless learning incidents, beginning in infancy, and continuing throughout our lives. 

But that night, I realized that these requiem sharks must not share this strong tendency to bite, either from fear or aggression. Separated from us evolutionarily by a gulf of time spanning half a billion years, and having evolved in an oceanic environment, sharks are not territorial, and don't seem to have developed the same tendency that mammals have, to bite in fear or aggression.

It seemed possible that our fear of sharks is based on the intrinsic knowledge that we, and animals like us, readily bite, and we assume that sharks do too. With their big mouths and shocking sets of teeth, our imaginations are undone as we consider them opening to bite us.

But they don't. 

They even seem to have an inhibition against biting companion animals. They don't regard us as prey, and apparently view us as other creatures who share their ecological community. This is apparent, for example, during shark dives. 

Doc Gruber wrote back with these comments when I asked him about this subject : 
“After years and years of observing sharks in competitive feeding situations I have become impressed by how little aggression is shown by these animals. I often read in books when I was young that sharks can go into a frenzy and will attack and kill one another. I find this to be exactly opposite of what occurs. What I see is that sharks when competitively feeding are almost gentle and balletic. For example, if two sharks rush at a piece of bait and one clamps onto the other's head they will carefully unclamp, back up, and move off. They do not bite or hurt one another. 
“Aggression between sharks of the same species seems to me to be very low; they are very tolerant of each other. White sharks might be the exception but at a big whale carcass they do not seem aggressive. 
“When being handled, some species will definitely bite and others won't bite no matter how much you try. The lemon shark and blacktip shark are two examples of sharks that will definitely bite if you manhandle them. Bull sharks and hammerheads will not bite no matter what, and the same goes for tiger sharks. With tiger sharks, young ones will try to bite, older ones will not.”
Dive club owners, who work with sharks daily year after year, report the same phenomenon of non-aggression among feeding sharks. A possible exception has been noted at certain multi-species commercial shark feedings, where over long periods of time, and intensive daily provisioning, certain species of sharks--those that are larger and more pushy--become more numerous, while other species tend to be pushed out, yet biting among them is still so rare as to be practically unknown.

Even the great white shark has been shown by Dr. Peter Klimley to ritualize conflict when ownership of a seal prey comes into question. Through a remarkable series of videos taken of feeding great white sharks, he documented how the shark who splashes water farthest, with a slash of its tail, wins the seal. Thus a physical battle for the seal is avoided. Given their dentition, a battle between great whites would gravely harm both sharks. (See Klimley's wonderful book, The Secret Life of Sharks)

Within the community of sharks I studied in a lagoon in Tahiti, it was the nurse sharks who were the most aggressive. Still it was very rare that one would aggress a blackfin who came too close; the blackfin would change direction. The reef sharks did not menace the nurse sharks.

The lack of aggression in the submarine community was one of the first things I noticed when I began watching sharks interacting, especially in the presence of food. Only about three times in all those years, did I see a large blackfin appear to make a snapping motion toward a smaller one, but in each case I was able to see that the small one did not suffer a bite as a result. At each session, the sharks swooped around together, often touching, with never a sign that the smaller ones were afraid of the bigger ones or avoided them. 

This is the opposite of what happens in societies in which a dominance-subordinance hierarchy exists. Two examples of such societies are those of chickens and humans.

Sometimes, a tiny blackfin pup would make off with a scrap, for example, closely followed by one of the biggest, a shark three times as long, and many times the baby's volume. But, each time, the baby continued on its way and ate, while the big one made no effort to take its food, and treated the tiny shark just the same way it would treat one of its own size. 

Further, apart from mating wounds on females during the season of reproduction, the sharks did not appear with bite marks on them.

Whitetip reef sharks and sicklefin lemon sharks also attended my sessions at times, and their appearance had no effect on the harmony in the site. Once I watched a lemon shark the size of a horse slowly come up behind a nurse shark pup who was lying on the sand munching on a little scrap. The pup was the size and colour of a human baby with long fins, and the lemon shark could just about have inhaled it whole--yet, it passed on. The huge animal did not even take the baby's scrap!

My sessions ended as darkness enveloped the scene, and only the nurse sharks remained, languidly writhing around the site amid the flitting fish, until it was carpeted in nurse sharks. They would scrape and suck out the contents of the fish heads, wriggling about in clouds of sand, wrasses and yellow perch. 

When it was almost too dark to see them, a massive, pale form would appear off in the coral, weaving in and out of view as she floated cloud-like through the shadows, waving an unbelievable tail. In slow motion, she would waltz through the site, her fins spread wide, as she pressed the water left, then right, as if to an unheard rhapsody. She was the biggest nurse shark, with a body massive as a draft horse, a magnificent creature, who would undulate with her beautiful, lazy ballet through the twilight surroundings until I left.

One night, a two metre nurse shark was lying nearby under a coral formation, close beside a Javanese moray eel of about the same length. The two of them were touching all along their sides, the nurse shark eating, the eel looking calmly out at me. For two species renowned for their aggression and even for being dangerous, the sight was counter-intuitive, enhancing the feeling of being in a community in which a certain camaraderie existed, one whose true qualities no human mind could conceive. 

The unusual behaviour of the sharks points to the way their societies are dramatically different from those of the animals that we know best, a subject I will be writing more about, in time.

(c) Ila France Porcher
 ~ author of The Shark Sessions ~