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Showing posts from 2014

Forget the Pseudoscience : All Fish Feel Pain

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On Friday LiveScience.com published one of my articles, which describes how the fisheries industry has taken control, not only of the planet's wild fish, but of how they are considered by the public as well.

My article describes a political situation which is being reported on more and more on the Internet—too much power is in the hands of the corporations. In this case, it is the fishing industry and its interests that have managed to maintain such control.

Among others, I used the article by David Shiffman and Neil Hammerschlag, that appeared recently in “Fisheries” as an example. In an effort to give the ring of scientific authority to shark fishing, it recommends “fighting” sharks through catch and release fishing, as a good way for Florida to earn money. But both cock fighting and dog fighting are illegal in Florida, so how can a student scientist be promoting the “fighting” of sharks?

It has been shown by a variety of scientific researchers who are NOT involved with fisheri…

Shark Week 2014

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Once again, Discovery Channel has followed its tried and true formula of using sharks to generate millions of dollars, by presenting them as monsters just waiting to get their teeth into the viewers. 
Discovery's angle seems to hinge on the fear people have of the unknown, and especially the unknown in the water where they swim. Shark Week has been so good at tweaking and magnifying this fear, that generations of viewers who grew up watching the show are afraid to go in the water.
Yet, all over the world wild sharks are welcome visitors during shark dives. How is this possible, without the divers being torn apart?
I asked divers to describe what they felt on finding themselves deep in the sea, surrounded by sharks, and they used similar words to describe their feelings. In every case, they spoke of being thrilled by the experience. Not frightened. Many expressed having a transcendent experience on meeting sharks for the first time, saying that nothing had prepared them for the …

Author's Website Now Online

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With the second edition of my book, The Shark Sessions in pre-release mode, I got busy and put a website online. It gives some more information about how I began writing about animal behaviour, and the strange true story of the lost sharks that drives my efforts to protect the ones that remain from extinction. 

I began writing about wild animal intelligence and cognition after getting to know sharks, of all animals. Not expecting to see much of interest in such an ancient line of animals, after years of observing bears, raccoons, cougars, and the other large mammals of North America, I was intrigued to find strong signs that sharks were using cognition in their daily lives, and were more alert and quick thinking than people. Faced with an unanticipated richness of community into which the sharks had accepted me, I hung out with them for years, writing down everything that they did, everything that happened. It was they who convinced me that animals have unknown capaciti…

What Are Sharks Aware Of?

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More and more divers are meeting sharks for the first time, and wondering, “What do they see when they pass, gazing at us gazing at them?”
Sharks have a very different set of senses than we do, yet the eye-sight of the free swimming species is good, so passing sharks who have approached to look at you, are really seeing you. But you may have the impression that they are using senses other than their eyes most often, and indeed, apart from our shared good eye-sight, it is impossible for us to imagine how sharks experience their liquid realm.
Sound and vibration are very important to them. Sound travels far in water, spreading out in a uniform spherical pattern, and sharks hear well. They are particularly sensitive to low-frequency vibrations, such as those caused by movement in the water, and crashing waves. And they can detect pressure waves with the sense organ called the lateral line.
The lateral line is found in fish, sharks, and some amphibians, and is made up of a series of rece…