Sunday, April 27, 2014

Big GWS off San Diego - or is it?

And I quote.
When you see a picture like this one... you have to be weary, at first, of a hoax - but an EXPERT says, this one is far from it...
And though you and I may not be able to tell how big this Shark is from the picture, (the token owner of a demented dog and lover of large omnivorous plantigrades) can...
"The shape of this fin is very very suggestive of an animal that's in the fifteen foot range".
But watch for yourselves - the man is truly a monster of erudition!

Or maybe, not so much.
Turns out it was an April's fool hoax, and that somebody had crudely doctored a pic of a dolphin, fooling not only Collier but apparently, a number of his colleagues - which of course begs the question, who else disposes of zero academic credentials but continues to publicly proffer EXPERT pronouncements about Sharks?
Lemme guess - the pompous bloviating fireman? The unequaled SVS?

Remains the issue of whether one can truly estimate the size of a GWS from the shape of its fin, a revolutionary technique that would spare the scientific community plenty of headaches and thousands of dollars in complicated and unwieldy laser equipment. When put to the question by Martin who incidentally happens to be the very person that uncovered the hoax, Collier indignantly lectures,

Wow - again!
Let's see... from apex to apex, would that be 55% or thereabouts - and if so, does that make me an EXPERT as well? 

But I'm digressing as always. 
So now, it's the shape, plus the distance between the fins - what, in millimeters? 
Cuz for the life of me, and much like those other laser toting ignoramuses, I could never tell the actual distance from looking at the pic at the top! But I sure can notice the glaring absence of a terminal lobe on the presumed exposed tail (compare to here, here, here and here!) - and thus, I will bravely go out on a limb and publicly call BS on Collier's assertion that he was right because actually, this is the superimposition of the image of a real GWS!

But then again, considering the historical precedent, who am I to say!
Opinions please: a) unfairly maligned EXPERT or b) pompous Sesselfurzer instead?


jsd said...

You are SO cynical, Mike! OK, so being a non-GWS-expert, I admit I immediately wondered at 3 issues in the image (the shape of the upper lobe of the caudal, the shape of the 1st dorsal, that strange wave behind the 1st dorsal when there was nothing happening around the caudal). And Collier's assertion that GWS dorsal fins go through 'a little bit of a metamorphosis' had me blinking. We are talking science/expert, right? So is that like an animal being slightly dead?

Still, Collier is the director of the GSAF: the shark attack (sorry, shark accident) limb (sorry) of Marie Levine's post office box that styles itself the Shark-Research-Institute-Founded-At-Princeton. And since the GSAF quotes Albert Einstein on its homepage to justify the stupendifabulous 'scientific' research into shark attacks (sorry, accidents) it is doing, here, who am I to disagree?

DaShark said...

Good point!

I assume that link you posted would be this?

Stupendifabulous indeed - and considering the simply unmatched scope of the investigative support by scientific luminaries such as Erich Ritter and AdM al barlafüs da Milan, who are we to argue with the verecundia of Ralph's pronouncements!

I ergo take it that you wholeheartedly cast your vote for a) unfairly maligned EXPERT - as do I!

Shark Diver said...

You know that Ralph is now soliciting money for his important DNA research on shark attacks?

I have no idea what DNA would has to do with shark attacks, but then im just a guy who dives with sharks, so what do I know.

Of course I'm also voting for a) a stupendifabulously maligned EXPERT sesselfurzer.

I now have officially been called a dick, jealous, annoying (I'm rater proud of that one) tiresome, rude, obnoxious, bitter and mean, not bad for a days work, pointing out a fake picture!

DaShark said...

Poor Martin!

To paraphrase a common friend, all I can really say is, mer haend scho es huere herts Laebe!

In diesem Sinne - c'ya soon!

Megalobomb said...

Luckily, I have grown up with the internet and can spot a poorly smudged Photoshop job when I see one.

But as someone who has spent a fair amount of time looking at thousands of GWS fins, I can tell you that you absolutely CAN NOT tell the size of a shark simply by the size of its dorsal fin, no more so than you can tell the height of a woman by the size of her left breast - and this I know because I am a breasxpert.

Bottom line, we need to stop saying that everything pointy spotted at the surface of the ocean, or every shadow spotted in a wave is a 15ft white shark - and we should start questioning the motives of those 'experts' that are so quick to shout shark, but that's me, the skeptic!

DaShark said...

I LIKE the analogy!

But the dude aint even looking at the size, he divines the size of the Shark from the shape of the fins... which, in keeping with the analogy,... (no I'm gonna stop right there!)

But I'm not even gonna go as far as to suggest ulterior motives.

The guy is an experienced naturalist who knows something about something, and that's perfectly fine - in fact he would probably be my go-to guy if one had to analyze a Shark bite in California.

What riles me is that like so many of his ilk, he's fallen victim to his own perceived importance and feels empowered to pontificate about topics he knows less than nothing about - like the utter rubbish he spouted in Egypt which was simply disgraceful.

In the present case, it's the usual MO of misleading pseudoscientific grandstanding, coupled with his obvious unwillingness to acknowledge a simple mistake.

jsd said...

'In the present case, it's the usual MO of misleading pseudoscientific grandstanding, coupled with his obvious unwillingness to acknowledge a simple mistake.'

As a representative of the GSAF, he is following in shoddy footsteps. Ritter's conduct concerning the death of Jamie Marie Daigle in 2005 (acting as the GSAF investigator) was to my mind obscene. He turned the death of a child into a vehicle for self-promotion and promotion for SRI/GSAF at an unofficial press conference where he (a) released confidential information about the child's injuries to the media (b) pre-empted the Medical Examiner's work/report (c) indulged in his usual idiotic speculations about the motives of the attacking shark. And all of this was publicly defended by Marie Levine when it came to light.

When Dr Gruber and I wrote a letter to the then head of the GSAF -- Lewis Levine -- expressing our concerns and sent 2 copies to Marie Levine asking they be forwarded, we received no reply from either.

Welcome to the GSAF.

DaShark said...


But in all fairness, Collier aint no Ritter - that one remains truly unrivaled on so many fronts...

jsd said...

Indeed, indeed.

When the media turned up at the beach of the attack and were interviewing GB, Ritter was to be seen in the water splashing around. When asked what he was doing he apparently said he was trying to get into the mind of the shark.