Episode 141: Forget that it is a white shark

Whenever a shark approaches you, it does not matter what species it is, but solely that it is a shark. Starting to think about the species takes away from your analytical mind of what influences the situation, of what the shark does, etc. and all that remains is, OMG it is an e.g., white shark. No matter what, nature did not teach us how to react when a particular shark species approaches us, so do not follow your gut feeling that is–for sure–influenced of what you know about the species from TV, the internet… but stay with the rules. 

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Episode: Using “Ritter Rules” to safely face a shark

The less one has to wing an interaction with a shark, the safer the encounter will be. Following Face-Guide-Push-Move will always have the desired effect, independently of the person’s water activity.

 

Episode 139: Reading a shark word by word

Whenever facing a shark, our well-established tick list at SharkSchool should be used to get the maximum out of an upcoming interaction. Not will following rules guarantee that all essential aspects are covered, it will also keep emotions under control. The more one can focus on the interaction at hand; the more one stays in control of the encounter.

 

Episode 138: Inviting lay people to do a professional’s job

The story of the “Brother Islands” incidents in the Red Sea is not over yet. Some NGOs, together with Egyptian governmental agencies decided to do a workshop on how to safely interact with sharks. Although a good idea, they failed to invite experts on the issue and handed the “shark stuff” to a very dubious shark organization that is completely made up of lay people. One can only hope that no oceanic whitetip shark shows up next season at the “Brothers” otherwise some people have to answer some ugly questions.

 

Episode 137: Doing their thing close to me

Bull sharks have one of the worst reputations when it comes to sharks. That their image does not reflect the truth, goes without saying. So it should not come as a surprise, once they are relaxed, that they allow us to be very close when doing their thing. The better we know them, the easier we can try to change their false image. It may still be time for species like the bull shark but even for that one, time is running out.

 

Episode 136: More carbon dioxide likely leads to fewer shark pups

Most nursery grounds for sharks are in the shallows for one main reason, to protect the pups from larger sharks. But what happens when sea levels keep going up making those nursery grounds more accessible to larger sharks? 

Episode 135: Make it or break it

When it comes to hurting animals, sportfishermen are second to none, especially when dealing with sharks. More often than not, sharks are seen with broken or injured jaws to the extent that their likelihood to survive is very much limited. These wounds are caused by sportfishermen who try to rip the hook out of a shark’s mouth once they realize that they do not have a fish on their hooks. Proper procedure would be to bring the shark along the boat, remove the hook, or at least cut the line as close to the hook as possible. However, as long as the line strength is not reduced, or smaller hooks used, sharks with injured lower jaws will remain a common sight. 

Episode 134: Beautiful and not dangerous

An unbelievable encounter with a huge white shark just happened in Hawaii. The large animal popped up next to a group of snorkelers and interacted with them for hours. How incredible is that? A wonderful and mind-boggling moment. Unfortunately, some news stations could not accept the beauty and harmony but had to look for anything negative. Sometimes, one wonders… 

Episode 133: Shore fishing for sharks, another criminal act against nature

Shore fishing for sharks is another destructive fishing activity and should be banned, once and for all. Since it will not likely happen, it should at least be restricted and controlled to the extent that even the smallest disregard to the newly set regulations would end in hefty fines and jail time. 

Episode 132: When national waters should be taken away.

The oceans belong to no one. So any country that feels it can do whatever they want within their waters, be it polluting it or overfishing their shark or bony fish populations, should be allowed to be invaded and their practices be stopped without legal repercussions from other governments. Any criminal act against nature within a country’s territorial waters must be punished by, e.g. implementing embargoes, jail time of the responsible parties (e.g., premier ministers, presidents…) and paying fines where the amounts of money then are used to reverse the damage done to nature and/or their inhabitants. 

Episode 131: Without the “pubs” for pups we have no chance

Nursery grounds are the most critical habitats for sharks. While growing up around and in them, they find food and shelter, and the time to learn and hone skills. Without these grounds, survival for young sharks are not just questioned but pretty much impossible. More emphasis must be given to find and protect these habitats. One way to pursue would be tagging pregnant females. 

Episode 130: Does cornering sharks by divers really exist?

Although cornering sharks by divers is an often heard situation, the question must be raised if divers indeed corner sharks, and if so, can the response by the sharks be predicted? From an evolutionary viewpoint, this scenario raises many questions, and its actual existence, where divers are considered, is questionable.

 

Episode 129: Houston, we don’t have a problem!

Australia feels that they have a “shark problem” that they cannot get a handle on. There is much talk about netting beaches, putting up electronic repellents or culling more sharks. All that seems to thrive is poor journalism of a problem that does not exist. How come that no one is talking about comparing these bites, and look for clues? As long as the agencies in charge do not look for clues that may explain the seemingly increase of bites, all that remains is a playground for the journalists to speculate which ends up in one, and one way only, increased fear or sharks among the general public.

 

Episode 128: Ever heard of “MC OAP?”

Whenever out there facing sharks, it is crucial to try to understand what these animals think and “where they come from” when checking us out. MC OAP–Mental Capacity Oriented Animal Perspective–focuses on precisely that. To get a better grasp at the situation one finds oneself in, a person should try to see the very situation from the shark’s viewpoint, combined with its likely brain power.

 

Episode 127: Visualization, an essential shark interaction tool

Encounters with sharks are rare, and so most encounters will take place in a diver’s mind. However, visualizing a scenario with a shark over and over will make it less stressful when then an actual encounter happens. So even divers that can’t participate in workshops on shark-human interaction can improve their skills by reading about shark encounters and while doing so should simultaneously visualize the very scenario. Visualizing shark encounters is a potent tool in preparation for the real event.

 

Episode 126: Playing the blame game.

Another incident happened at the Brother Islands, Egypt, in the Red Sea, and the blame goes from the shark to the diver, to the guides. At the end, all that matters is that the incident could have been prevented, but neither guides know how to face a shark, nor their clients. Granted, the people most could make a difference are the guides of the liveaboards that go out to the Brothers. It should be an easy task to teach them, but it isn’t. So, as long as guides do not teach proper technique of how to face an approaching shark, these incidents will keep happening.

 

Episode 125: What is it with all the confusing common shark names?

Some shark species carry different common names, depending on where one looks for them, others only have a single name but are confused with other species that carry similar names. Then there are the shark species which carry the word “great” in the name, and so on. Is there a way to plow through all this confusion, or does one have to accept it?

 

Episode 124: Do sharks that tend to bite share a particular personality?

Sharks that tend to bite a person approach more direct, overstep the inner threshold right away, and get close during their first passing. It seems that these sharks, independent of species, have a much lower threshold to approach new things. Another feature is their eyes. When looking at them during this first encounter, these eyes do not seem to show the typical eye roll but more of a stare for as long as possible until the animal passed the diver for good.

Episode 123: Why do abalone divers get bitten so often

When it comes to activities and their exposure to sharks regarding incidents, abalone divers are up there. What is it that attracts sharks, in this case predominantly white sharks, to the divers. The answer likely lays in the sounds produced when prying off these snails from the rocks. However, other reasons come to mind as well. So, are there ways to reduce the attractiveness of this activity?

Episode 122: Why the shark is not aggressive, and the cat is not dumb

Very often, an animal comes across a certain way that will then be described with human characteristics. Such a description is called anthropomorphism: giving human characteristics or behaviors to an animal, or an object. However, one should be very careful when doing so since the mental state of an animal, or whatever is described, with such a label is likely unknown. Quite often a more neutral term to describe the animal is more appropriate.

Episode 121: Rape among sharks is a fact

For years, scientists labeled the wounds sharks create during mating ‘mating scars,’ and it was just assumed they are part of regular copulation between males and females. However, these scars were always rare, and nobody wondered why that was. We asked that question and found the reason behind it: rape. Here, an overview is given, how rape was determined, and what that means for the image of sharks.