Podcasts

The weekly podcast consists of six themes: "Bite Affairs," "Anything but…," "Back in Time," "Research," "Under the Microscope," and "Questions Answered." 

Episode 72: Protecting a beach or not is the question here

Protecting beaches from sharks lowers incidents but kills sharks in the process. New  technologies are needed to replace the shark nets that are still in use. An overview of ideas is given how to keep beaches safe without having to kill a shark.

Episode 71: Incident series in Sinai, Red Sea

Between November 30 and December 5, 2010, five incidents took place along a coastal stretch of only a few kilometers. At least two sharks were involved, an oceanic whitetip shark and a mako shark. A review is given, together with a most likely scenario leading to those incidents of which one ended fatal.

 

Episode 70: Matawan incidents–a review

A brief summary is given on the incident series that took place in a river called Matawan in July of 1916.

 

Episode 69: Bodily fluids won't work to attract sharks

For way too long the assumption was upheld that human blood is an attractant for sharks. If that would be the case, we would have seen many more incidents, especially after ship disasters. Likewise human urine is likely nothing that a shark would excite.

 

Episode 68: Lowering pectoral fins is not a threat display

The lowering of pectoral fins has different meanings than being a threat display. Here, the two main functions are explained and discussed in the respective scenarios.

 

Episode 67: Finning, a non curable disease if...

We need to change our tunes when it comes to the finning of sharks. Our efforts are not harsh enough to have an impact. We need to rethink how to solve this problem since current approaches won't work. If we want to survive, we have to consider more drastic steps.

 

Episode 66: Target practice, using a substitute for seals

When a white shark is not yet able to go after seals, it may start to hone its skills on substitutes, like birds, and turtles. However, a small percentage of surfer incidents also suggest that target practice might have been the motivation for a white shark to approach and bite.

 

Episode 65: Stress as a motivator to bite

Although it is common knowledge that a shark can be stressed, its normal reaction to defuse the situation it is in with a person is to look for an escape route. Biting is always the last resort. But should indeed a bite occur (without knowing the immediate situation leading to the bite), its wound picture can also resemble a competition bite.

 

Episode 64: Exploration until it bites

The most common motivation to bite a person is exploration. Sharks don't know what we are, and so on very, very rare occasions grab us. Due to this very careful holding with their jaws, the wounds are mostly superficial as long as the person does not pull his/her arm or leg out of the shark's mouth. Such a reaction always leads to a much worse secondary wound.

 

Episode 63: Why "sneak attacks" do not exist

One of the many erroneous informations about sharks is the so called "sneak attack." A relic from the early days of shark research, where the experts didn't swim with sharks yet in order to understand them since they basically shared the fear of the general public. Due to that their mostly theortical ideas of how bites manifest themselves, was pure nonsense.

 

Episode 62: "Bump & bite" does not happen

Sharks have been described as rather instinct driven animals, ignoring that there is a free will among them. This is especially true when it comes to biting humans and their motivations behind it. "Bump & bite" is one of these early but erroneous description of how sharks bite people.

 

Episode 61: Why run after a hit?

One of the common description of an incident with a shark is called "hit and run." As the notion implies the shark leaves the area after its bite, the hit. There is no reason for a shark to back off or even take off. In this episode I highlight some of the reasons why "hit and run" is incorrect.

 

Episode 60: What is "claim response?"

Although rare, it can happen that a shark fights over the victim with a rescuer. During such a scenario the victim is part of an actual tug o' war scenario where it  is simultaneously pulled in two direction: towards the rescuer and towards the shark. In most cases a "claim response" incident is fatal.

 

Episode 59: "Pattern compensation" - a bite motivation too long ignored

Despite the common motivations for a shark to bite, there is another motivation that always includes at least a second bite, as well as a minimum of two different body areas. A shark commonly bites due to exploration, stress, competition or provocation. Most often that's that and the shark refrains from biting a second time but on rare occasion the person kicks or hits the shark right after the first bite or even during it and the animal "compensates" with another bite, in this case with a defensive bite.

 

Episode 58: Why not just call it Mokarran?

Using the term "great" hammerhead implies that there is also a "lesser" hammerhead. Of course there is no such trivial name thus we should avoid adjectives like "great," "small" etc. when creating a trivial name since that implies that the opposite must be there as well. The scientific term for the "great hammerhead" is Spyrna mokarran thus it seems simple (or logical) to switch from "great hammerhead" to a more unique trivial name like "Mokarran." This species is considered dangerous which can't be supported through the different data bases as e.g., www.sharkvictimnetwork.org. Likewise, other attributes are not true as well.

 

Episode 57: "Silver bullets" among us divers

They are the fastest swimming sharks: makos. Everything about them deserves the label "superlative." This does not just refer to their speed–and our nickname for them–but also to their hunting strategies, or particular anatomical features. Beside being one of the top species in commercial high sea fisheries, the knowledge about their behavior around humans is pretty much unknown.

 

Episode 56: There is a lot of bull when it comes to bulls

One of the most intriguing shark species is the bull shark. But as famous or infamous this species is, as prominent are all the erroneous information surrounding these animals. They are called the most aggressive species, the most dangerous species, the species with the highest testosterone level... Although bull sharks are a superlative species, they are by far not how the general public sees them.

 

Episode 55: There is no such thing as a garbage eater

Tiger sharks have a bad rep. They are called trash eaters, garbage eaters and other less flattering names, they considered of low intelligence, have a bite first–check out later mentality and on, and on. Nothing of that is true. Tiger sharks are not what the general public makes them out to be. The only reason why this wrongful image still lingers on TV and in the books is because no one really wants to hang out with them, study them, and be willing to swim the extra mile with them.

 

Episode 54: On the USS Indianapolis disaster and the likely involvement of sharks

A lot has been written about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis on July 30, 1945 and its aftermath when it comes to sharks. Many of the sailors who went overboard and floated for days on the open ocean seemed to have been killed by these animals. Although reports of survivors mentioned the involvement of sharks, their likely role in causing deaths among the sailors is exaggerated. Some ideas are given what role these animals more likely played during these horrific days at sea.

 

Episode 53: Rescuing a shark victim while exposed to the worst case scenario.

Every lifeguard asked himself / herself: what to do when a person gets bitten by a large (white) shark, the visibility is very low, the shark remains close to the victim, and it is up to you to swim out there and get the victim. Although those scenarios are rather rare, they happened in the past, and not always with the best outcome. Here I talk about the “how to…” and why this procedure is to be preferred over any other one, and how to familiarize yourself with it, even without you (!) having tested it with and among sharks.

 

Episode 52: What is needed beside shark sanctuaries?

Although shark sanctuaries start to pop up all over the world, their number is still too few and they only cover about 3% of our oceans' surface. But even if many more are created down the road, what happens when the sharks leave these catch-free heavens? Controllers are needed that follow these fishing fleets and have the authority to interfere should a targeted population originate from one of the sanctuaries. But then what...

Episode 51: Do sharks have a conscious mind?

One of the more controversial issues when it comes to an animal's mind is its likelihood of having a conscious mind, or not. Would we follow the rather narrow definition what a conscious mind must entail or be capable of, most animal species would fall short, so would the sharks. But does that mean because they fail the ultimate test, they are just not conscious and that's that, or is there more to it? This podcast sheds some lights how to look at sharks, and rethink the use of the definition for consciousness.

Episode 50: "Yawning," a common but rather unknown maintenance behavior among sharks

Whenever a shark gouges, its upper jaw is everted to get an optimized grip onto the targeted object. During retraction it can happen that the tendons and ligaments–connecting the upper jaw with the brain capsule–are not properly repositioned, leading to a very much slowed down simulated biting act, called "yawning," to enhance the probability of a correct repositioning. Different, interesting aspects are discussed and highlighted.

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Episode 49: On experience within ADORE-SANE

Within the shark-human interaction concept there are two forms of experience (E), one is the experience with the actual activity (A), the other is the one with sharks, theoretically and practically. Both forms of the latter are helpful, as long as one remains critical how to use them. Here, we talk about the pros and cons of experience, how to weigh it but also where to be critical. We also briefly touch the issue of how to choose an operator since they are most often closely connected to a diver's practical experience.

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Episode 48: On chafing

Sharksuckers often irritate sharks when attached to them, hence the sharks try to either get rid of them or at least force these teleosts to reposition themselves to other less irritating spots on the shark's body. A seemingly prerequisite for a successful attempt by the shark to relocate a sharksucker or get rid of it alltogether is body awareness. Beside the latter, we talk about the different ways a shark tries to get rid of a sharksucker and what it entails, as well as the potential advantage of having those sharksuckers attached.

Episode 47: Who is really responsible for the "JAWS effect"

When talking about the devastation of sharks, the movie "JAWS" is mostly made responsible. But if the author of the book or the producer of the movie are to blame–which should not be the case–, another group of men needed to be mentioned: the shark scientists of that time. Their lack of inwater experience with sharks, due to their own fear of them, prevented these scientists from understanding a shark's true behavior, thus recommendations and suggestions of how to behave should one have to face a shark were not just ridiculous but even dangerous.

Episode 46: On the destruction of food chains

A basic marine food chain starts with phytoplankton as the lowest level, followed above by zoo planktion, then filter feeding fish and predators/top predators, with super predators at the top. Are the top layers removed or at least decimated to the point that they can not control their lower level (their food source) anymore, that level can grow exponentially what leads to an elimination of their food base, and so on. Sharks, as the most abundant top predators over 100 lbs or 50 kg are the most crucial representatives at the top of most marine food chains. Should the overfishing of sharks contine in such a magnitude, the desctruction of most marine ecosystems will follow.

Episode 45: On gliding and energy saving in sharks

Most of the known shark species can sometimes be observed gliding through the water. Gliding is presumed to preserve energy. But energy saving in sharks can also be accomplished by laying on the bottom. Such, however, needs strong gill muscles to force enough water over the gills.

Episode 44: "Tag & Release" is wrong

For many years, sportfishermen where asked by scientisits to catch sharks, tag them and let them go again, to get data should the same shark be caught again. This practice should not be allowed anymore. It is cruel to reel in a shark for the sake of giving it a tag. Even more so, since the shark has to be caught for a second time to get actual data from the animal. But even then, the gained data is poor and mostly inaccurate. The only justification for this type of procedure is using satellite tags, but even then, the past showed that not much has been done with that data either.

Episode 43: Bite rates in Florida

When it comes to shark bites, Florida has worldwide the most bites each year. However, in early years, the interpretation of these bite numbers were hardly ever satisfying since all that was done was to pinpoint where it happened and how many times. Due to this shortcoming, we introduced SatScan, a spatial scan statistical tool to get a better idea what really goes on. In addition to, we introduced 'bite rate,' a ratio between number of bites per area to number of people at this particular beach. Of course, the latter was not always easy to get, but most data stemmed from the United States Lifesaving Associations who collects so called 'beach attendances.' Where no number was available like non-populated shores with minimal activity, we had to use adjacent beaches to get a proxy. These results are the first of its kind. They give a much more solid idea of what really happens at the East coast of Florida.

Episode 42: It matters how you position yourself when facing a shark

Our research clearly showed that a shark stays farther away (significantly) from a person if he/she is in a vertical position instead of a horizontal one. Due to that, we propose that whenever you are facing a shark to get into a vertical position. Should the water be too deep to stand, let your feet dangle, and only move with your arms to keep position, and to pivot around your body axis to follow the shark with your eyes. This show dissects the vertical position and its advantages over the horizontal one.

Episode 41: Sharks and their emotions

Sharks have often been called (purely) instinct driven creatures. This implies that thery have no emotions. But can that truly be? Even more so, since even people who deny emotions in sharks, agree that shark are "aggressive" or "frustrated." Well, both of them, are emotions. Being in the water with sharks all the time showed me, over and over, that this animal must possess emotions. There is no reason to assume that sharks do not have them. Although we never know what a shark truly thinks, we can at least be open enough about it. Look a shark in the eye the next time you see one and assume that there are no emotions. It won't work.

Episode 40: Moon cycles, weather systems and all that jazz

When it comes to shark bites, a variety of parameters have been mentioned that may play a role in it. It was said in the past that e.g. full and new moon increases shark bites. There is no correlation between moon cycle and shark bites, as our research showed. But then there are air pressure changes, weather fronts, rain etc to name a few meteorological parameters that could play a role, as goes for low or high water salinity, freshwater influence and so on. Many of these parameters could influence the outcome of a shark interaction but we often lack hard data since conditions often quickly chance after a bite and are also not easy to be collected fromt the times prior to the event.

Episode 39: Media vendetta against sharks

Quite often when sharks are mentioned on TV, the print media or on the air, they are hardly presented in a flattering manner but rather portrait as dangerous, unpredictable and instinct driven. However, these attributes are incorrect. That begs the question why the true nature of these animals is hardly mentioned in the media. A main reason is that producers, journalists and radio hosts often fail doing their reseach on the subject but follow their initial opinion they had before starting their projects. And it is this attitude that prevents people who watch TV, read the paper or listen to a radio show from getting the true picture about this incredible animals.

Episode 38: About the wrong shark conservation groups

When it comes to sharks, plenty organisations have one thing in common, they pretend. They claim this or that but once you start digging you realize that they don't really do anything. Just writing about the plight of sharks and point a finger at a person or a group of people who contribute to the devastation of sharks does not qualify to be an activist group. It is one thing to write about a cause, and quite another to stand up and actually fight the cause right where it happens. If all these groups who claim to be shark activists would actually live up to the way they see themselves, we probably would not be where we are right now.

 

Episode 37: Neither the very shark nor the very situation exist

We often hear "sharks do this" or "sharks do that" but the very shark does not exist. There is no shark out there that would reflect the behavior or character trait of an entire species or even the entire group of shark species. Every shark is unique, represents an individual that thinks and acts in a distinctive manner, even in seemingly the same situation. As much as the very shark does not exist, the same is true for a situation. No situation is the same, even if identical parameters seem to influence the scenario a shark is in with a person. Most of the time, people are not aware of the slight chances that may happen during the seemingly same situation. It is paramount to understand that one has to treat every shark as unique, and always rejudge the situation when another shark pops up. 

 

Episode 36: Shark encounter at night without a flashlight?

It is every boater's nightmare to get shipwrecked, spending the night in the water, knowing that sharks are close by. Interacting with sharks during the night without a flashlight is in its infancy when it comes to tailored experiments. So we hardly know anything. Becaus boaters go get shipwrecked, people fall over board etc it is crucial to know more about this type of scenario, and how to act/react.

Episode 35: When do sharks register what?

There are plenty of diagrams in shark books and on the internet depicting when what sensory organ is used by a shark. These rather straight forward drawings have one thing in common: they are not correct. Here, we go through the different sensory organs and their potential reach with emphasis on their more likely use in nature.

Episode 34: All species are not bulls, tigers and whites

When it comes to the general image of sharks, bulls, tigers and whites are the most commonly featured ones. However, their behavior and being is by far not what the media portraits but since this wrongful image is barely questioned, all shark species are seen along these lines. The media-created shark does not exist but all of them suffer due to this wrongful image.

Episode 33: About the pros and cons of shark feeding

Worldwide, there are about 380 dive operators in close to 30 countries that offer shark diving. Although there are only a few techniques to bring in the sharks, most of the feeding forms should not be allowed. In this episode I discuss a few of the more known techniques and highlight some of their pros and cons.

Episode 32: On the pros and cons of sharks in aquariums

There are a lot of pros and cons when it comes to the display of sharks in aquariums. However, by offering the residing sharks the most space possible, combined with a balanced diet and overall care, aquariums are an essential tool in the education of the general public about the plight of sharks. In a time where the populations of sharks dwindle due to overfishing, finning and pollution, it is necessary to raise awareness in any way possible, as long as the individual animal on display is not suffering.

Episode 31: On the threat display in sharks.

Although everybody seems to know that lowered pectorals fins in sharks reflect a threat display, this not the case. In this episode I discuss some of the wrongful assumptions when it comes to these displays.

Episode 30: Noticing a shark

Whenever you notice a shark, be aware of its initial position: in front of you, to the side, or behind you. This is called the 'Origin,' part of the shark-human interaction concept ADORE-SANE. A shark's position relative to your body orientation, helps understanding its motivation and strategy.

Episode 29: Nervousness as part of ADORE-SANE

Whenever we get nervous among sharks, it seems that the animals are aware of that. At this time we can only guess how a shark is able to pick that up. Although we started to do some research on that topic in 2015 we are still far away to have a solid answer. Despite that there are some techniques to calm down when a shark is present, to have a good idea about the situation, what affects it the most and how to act or react when the situation progresses is still the best policy for every interaction with such an animal.

Episode 28: Understanding the situation you are in.

Understanding "S," the situation, of ADORE-SANE makes any interaction with a shark clear or at least one gets more sensitive to what the interaction might influence. Although "situation" is affected by all the other parts of ADORE-SANE, one can easily determine the most influencing factors by just looking around. The more one is aware what a situation with a shark influences the more enjoyable the interaction will be.

Episode 27: Don't swim in river mouths and estuaries

River mouths and their estuaries are one of the very few places where one should never go swimming, bathing or snorkeling. Due to the two different types of water mixing there and the dying off of plankton as a result to that, a lot of fish constantly swim in these areas which also brings in sharks. Considering the low visibility, together with the constant noise, a shark may swim right on top of a person before noticing. This episodes explains the most crucial factors when dealing with this type of water.

Episode 26: Swimming in the evening hours, what changes?

Swimming in the evening hours is no more dangerous than during daytime (when it comes to sharks) but a shark needs to get closer to check us out and that can increase a shark’s nervousness as well as ours (should we see the animal). Understanding how low lights influence approach patterns of sharks makes it easily understood why people are even more afraid of sharks during these hours than during daytime.

Episode 25: what to look for when at the beach

Whenever people are at the beach, they assume, since others are in the water as well, that no sharks are close by. Most of the time that is true but still: one has to look around, especially when close to or on a sandbar to make sure. Should a shark show up don’t try to get out of the water as fast as you can…

Episode 24: Freediving, part 2

Being among sharks while freediving is one of most incredible interaction with wild animals. But as thrilling and challenging some situations can be, it is important to always know how to withdraw should a shark come too close, or show too much interest. Likewise it is also paramount to know how to safely ascend with a shark in tow.

Episode 23: Freediving, part 1

Freediving is probably the most satisfying way to encounter large sharks. In order to make sure one can get closer, different dive techniques are described. The better a freediver is able to understand a shark’s swim pattern, and incorporate these dive techniques, the longer the contact time will be.

Episode 22: Snorkeling among sharks

Snorkeling can be used as the first conscious approach to get in contact with a shark. Whenever you attract a shark through snorkeling or possible end on top of one you can pretty much use the same techniques as a swimmer. Knowing what to do in close(r) vicinity of a shark is paramount to every successful encounter.

Episode 21: Swimming, techniques and recommendations

Swimmers attract sharks due to sounds created, as well as their position which is restricted to the surface. Unfortunately, swimmer hardly see these sharks since sticking one’s head below the surface won’t happen except for freestyle, but even there looking around is not a priority. In this episode a particual way of swimming is mentioned to increase field of vision, as well as other suggestions and techniques when sharks are close by, seen or not.

Episode 20: On the attractiveness of human activities in the water

Whenever we move in the water, we create sound and water pressure. Both are intriguing for a shark but differ with regards to the distance they can be located. Is a shark close(r), it is water pressure that can be registered, is the animal farther away it is the actual sound that is picked up. Although sound can easily be detected by a shark, the farther away the animal is, the more human emissions mix with other sounds.

Episode 19: On direction and reference

Whenever a shark comes close(r) our subconsciousness picks up certain factors. Although one should be aware of all of them that are highlighted in ADORE-SANE, its approach direction / angle, as well as its swim level with reference to the observing (and targeted) person should be paramount.

Episode 18: How to read an approaching shark.

Sharks "come across" a certain way when approaching us. How can you read a shark, what do you have to look for etc.? This episode deals with the A of ADORE meaning the attitude/appearance of a shark.

Episode 17: The problem with fishing piers

If there is one area that should be avoided for any water sport activity, it is the surroundings of an active fishing pier. Fishermen lure in sharks due to their activity. Hooked fish release stress hormones, feces, scales etc. which are carried away with the current... Sharks picking up the scent will then likely swim against the current towards the source. Should people be in the water close to such a pier and create non-rhythmical sound patterns (by wading, swimming, frolicking etc.) their attraction will be increased.

Episode 16: What to do when body contact with a shark can't be avoided?

Whenever a shark comes too close and some body contact is likely, it is necessary to touch the shark the correct way. The procedure is called "Face-Guide-Push-Move."

Episode 15: How to withdraw from an encounter

If you believe all the "experts" out there of how to withdraw when a shark shows up, you should do it "fast, quick..." But the opposite is true. An approaching shark will not turn around and swim off should you swim as fast as you can away from it but the opposite... Unfortunately the internet is full of wrongful advices when it comes to the interaction with sharks. And withdrawing is one of them.

Episode 14: Environmental factors influence every encounter

Whenever we are in contact with a shark, environmental factors play an important role. Although some are more obvious than others (visibility, current, surface, bottom, reef...), many of those have never been scientifically explored, thus plenty of these factors are mere assumptions. Nevertheless, due to the number of observations a fair amount of these factors can be seen as a fact.

Episode 13: Understanding swim patterns (part 2)

Whenever a shark shows up it is performing a swim pattern. Different approaches express different motivations. Part 2.

Episode 12: Understanding swim patterns (part 1)

Whenever a shark shows up it is performing a swim pattern. Different approaches express different motivations.

Episode 11: Where does the fear of sharks come from?

Most people are afraid of sharks, although they are not aware that it is often not the animal per se that scares them. The fear of sharks can be overcome when knowing what to look for and understand it.

Episode 10: White sharks do not mistake surfers for seals

For way too long there was the assumption that white sharks bite surfers because they mistake them for seals when looked at the surfers from below. This is incorrect. This episode gives a short summary of our scientific paper published in the "Journal of Marine Biology" where we disproved this 'theory of mistaken identity.'

Episode 9: What to do when a shark comes too close

The internet is full with suggestions and recommendations of what to do when a shark comes too close. Most of them are wrong. Here, I give a rundown of suggestions that really work. All of them have been tested over and over.

Episode 8: The early days of shark-human interaction

It all started out of a frustration. Nobody had a handle on sharks when they approached, nobody knew what to look for, how to interpret or how to test... This episode gives a small idea of how shark-human interaction got started.

Episode 7: Hearing in sharks and its use when close to humans

Sharks can hear quite well but against common wisdom, should the water be noisy (breaking waves, breakers hit rocks etc.), human sounds can hardly be heard... nevertheless up close shark hearing can play an important rule.

Episode 6: Different surroundings, different problems

There is a difference if we go swimming at a beach, a channel or e.g., close to a fishing pier. Although the same factors can be found at different sites, each site also carries its unique set of circumstance that may lure in sharks, make an interaction more difficult, and so on. This episode is an introduction to the topic as such, and will be continued.

Episode 5: On the issue of conditioning sharks through feeding

About feeding and conditioning in sharks. Do they really get “aggressive” if feeding stops? What type of feeding procedures are out there? Which ones are suitable, which are not. A first overview.

Episode 4: Thoughts on the first few seconds of an encounter with a shark

In this episode I briefly talk about the first seconds of an encounter and what type of fears influencing them. Furthermore, I introduce inter zone, inner and outer circles, their meaning and usage.

Episode 3: About the different motivations why sharks bite

This episode explains the different motivations that can lead to a bite, and why the environment in which an incident occurs is paramount.

Episode 2: Some thoughts on shark incidents

In this episode I talk about why the word “attack” is a misnomer when it comes to sharks, why the old incident classification of “bump & bite,” “hit & run” and “sneak” is wrong, where this wrongful picture of the seemingly dangerous animals originated from, and other related aspects. 

Episode 1: About “LetsTalkShark”

“LetsTalkShark” is about shark-human interaction, discussed and viewed from every angle possible:  from face to face interactions, “dos & don’ts,” bite incidents, as well as behavioral aspects and body language.