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Showing posts from May, 2013

The Value of Ethology

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While I preferred to study sharks directly through underwater observation, shark researchers often choose tagging methods which allow them to gain certain types of data remotely. The advantages of this method are evident, but the loss of contact with the animal itself results in a dramatically impoverished understanding of them.
A good example is the recently announced study concluding that grey reef sharks swim at different depths depending on the phase of the moon. (link here)
No mention of the effect of the moon on the sharks' general behaviour or subjective states was mentioned. The trouble is that it was not just ignored, it was not even seen. So the study is a dismal, one dimensional report, that might as well refer to robots, for all the understanding it provides of sharks. The hype with which the “finding” was announced also failed to acknowledge the many others over time who have noted that sharks, like other animals, use both of this planet's sources of illumination.