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About Ila

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    Sea Nettle

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  1. This kitten program is for children, wouldn't you say? Peta's approach is very unfortunate, but is part of the way modern human society views nature. Don't forget Free Willy, and finding Nemo, which were also taken seriously by some adults. It seems that people cut off from nature believe that wild animals are animated stuffed animals or three dimensional cartoons. This attitude has not been helped by modern science which treats them as machines. Ranting about Peta is not going to help. You should write them a serious letter about how they are harming the cause, and reason with them. Also, it doesn't take a three digit IQ to realize that expecting any wild ecosystem to support modern human life, from shark fin soup to the expensive sea food restaurants of the big cities, and all of their aquariums, is absurd. The traditional fishers would still be able to get their protein if large scale fishing and mid scale fishing was terminated. As you probably know, most of those fish go to the industrial nations where people are already eating too much protein, or, yes, to the super predators of the seas, your cats, who consume more than their share of these wild animals. No one would expect terrestrial wild animals to supply everyone with meat, which is why we have cows, so why expect it of the wild animals in the sea? With good wishes, Ila shark ethologist ps fish are to be loved and not eaten.
  2. My experience, in a seven year study involving identification and keeping track of close to six hundred sharks relative to six feeding locations, interspersed with swimming with the residents in between feedings, was that sharks AVOID biting companion animals at feedings, and at other times, presumably due to the harm they mutually inflict with their bites. They see humans as other animals in the submarine community, not prey. This shark attack mania tendency is really corrosive to any thinking about sharks. Ila
  3. Well I really think that's going a bit too far, sort of like saying we are all circus animals because we drive cars. There are lots of unnatural events going on underwater, all part of the modern submarine world, but sharks are still sharks. Anyway, isn't George Burgess a sort of statistician? I was not aware that he is a researcher of shark behavior, or commonly dives with various species of sharks to the extent of knowing them, or how they behave at feedings or how feedings fit into their lives, or what their lives are like. I really think we should avoid over-simplifying sharks, their behavior, their environment, and this issue. There are reasons why dive clubs hold shark feeding dives, and if they hadn't been so successful and mostly safe, they would not have flourished. I always regarded bringing a bit of food for the sharks I wanted to be with as a gesture of benevolence, and it seemed that it worked that way, too, in the long run. Isn't it normal to give something back when you want something from another, even from a shark? It goes without saying that In the presence of any large wild predator, one needs to pay attention. Ila
  4. Since you don't know what I was doing, spending time with sharks to know them, I can't fault you for putting me into some sort of stereo type of your own making, so I'll not bother addressing this No, it goes too far for it to be luck. Tigers? BTW, there have been plenty of shark attacks in your neck of the woods, Ila, including at least one fatal attack in French Polynesia in the ISAF database. And the ISAF barely scratches the surface of what's happened in the remote corners of the world. Its generally thought that its the needlefish who kill here, not the sharks. But, I certainly can't argue with you if you have the statistics. It would be interesting to know the circumstances of these bites, since a few of them, reported as attacks were not, others were quite hyped up. I have an article in review which touches on the subject, such as shark attacks on people taken seriously even though they were slashing up the shark with a machete. While I know that Polynesians have always revered sharks and fed the local resident a part of their catch, but many of them are now extremely cruel to animals of accessibly species. Its a national problem. None of the people I know have had any trouble with sharks attacking or biting people though they have been conducting shark feeding dives for decades. I repeat that my comments are from my own experience only, closely observing the behaviour of sharks at feedings and in their daily lives, and who attends when. With good wishes, Ila
  5. What I meant was that in most cases sharks aren't so hungry that they are frantic for food. They are drawn to feedings partly just to be part of the group, and they swim together through the region, and follow each other around. Swim with them.. you will see this. They are always coming up behind another individual present, usually an infrequent visitor. The same sharks do not always attend, because the feedings aren't that important to them. When they are hungry, they eat. They have fairly large territories, and the shark feedings that take place in them regularly are known about and part of their environment. They are also not so stupid that they cannot distinguish between a feeding, a spear fisherman, and a swimmer. Different things attract them, because they are curious and intelligent animals, but when they want to eat, they eat. If there is a feeding going on, they will go there, if not, they catch their natural prey. Just what I have observed over many years. With good wishes, Ila
  6. I'm glad you have a healthy respect for nature, zippsy, but unfortunately nature is very poorly understood--the word pretty well means anything you want. How do you explain all the people the world over swimming with sharks, including tiger sharks, handing them food, caressing them, or attracting them by other means, just to spend time in their presence, and not being bitten? Further, the sharks show every sign of enjoying their time around people. Sharks, even great whites, are less aggressive than the big terrestrial predators. It ain't a case of man eat fish, fish eat man, no. How many sharks have I seen with appalling machete wounds, followed by death. And then there's the one to two hundred million sharks finned each year for a bowl of luxury soup, which sort of shadows the few shark bites that occur. It was a sad, sad thing, but many more divers die from other causes, than from shark bites. Everyone who dives, knows there are many risks. Please note, that the victim was bitten on the calf, which was suggestive that the shark intended to give a warning slash--it did not go for the body core. Ila
  7. I ought to have prefaced my statement that nothing could have foretold this accident--by which I meant that it was an accident rather than the result of someone's poor judgment-- by pointing out that no shark fatality has happened to divers before in a baited situation to my knowledge. Sharks behave quite differently if you are on the surface, not looking at them and if you have your face out of the water. Large predators should always be faced. Divers are in their world, tend to treat sharks as other living things, and face and watch them accordingly. To that, sharks respond, nearly every time, by treating the diver with curiosity and respect, as they might treat a conspecific on a chance meeting. They are ordinary animals, yet have been demonized in the press, and are historically misunderstood. Mostly because most information about them has come to us through fishermen, who think that how a hooked, dying shark acts, is typical shark behaviour. The literature is full of it. Most people would just as well forget everything they have heard about sharks, and seen on T.V. and begin an honest research all over again. Another point: the comments about feeding sharks a little bit on dives fail to take into account the countless tons of fish scraps dumped overboard by fishing boats. Why doesn't anyone ever mention that? Apparently its fine to dump huge quantities of shark food into the sea, but if you stay around to observe the majestic animals who come to see what it is, you're sinning. The quantity placed on shark feeding dives is so tiny in comparison as to be a negligible quantity, and if you watch the sharks who come, it often seems that they are not there so much to eat, but to socialize. Sharks don't have trouble getting anything to eat when they want to. Ila French Polynesia
  8. I am very troubled by the accusations of blame I'm coming across in the press. It seems to be one of the more reprehensible qualities of human thinking to lay blame whenever possible. This was an accident. Nothing could have foretold it. As you all know, there are many dangers when one dives. The main one is drowning, as well as the changes in the body due to pressure changes that can be fatal or cause fatal accidents. When I was learning to dive, three divers just disappeared, and no one knew what happened to them. It was thought that they drifted too deep and couldn't make it back to the light of the surface. Since then I have heard from time to time of other similar disappearances, of people apparently fascinated by the deep and failing to return. It would be interesting to compare the statistics on divers lost to drowning, and other dive related accidents, and those lost to sharks. The other thing is that each shark is an individual, and each that I have known here, (reef sharks), has shown not only a different pattern of spending time, but different ways of treating me. Only two out of about 600 that I met closely enough to properly identify, were worryingly aggressive; one showed up in my area repeatedly, (for four months each year) and I really had to watch her. She had an influence on the others, too. I had to adjust my actions at times according to whether this one shark was present--she would charge repeatedly, ignore the gentle-hand-on-the-head approach, zoom past my ear from behind, and orbit my head at lightspeed for minutes at a time. Nearly all those susceptible to her influence were females in their first year of reproduction. So hormones were influencing their behaviour on top of each shark's natural "personality." Maybe Markus Groh had the misfortune to meet that one most aggressive bull in the area. At any rate, sharks do not all act the same. Its interesting that the shark bit his extremity, as in a sort of warning slash, rather than going for the body core. My deep sympathies go out to Jim... Ila French Polynesia
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