Friday, December 05, 2014

A Pet Tiger Shark?

Tiger Beach. Everybody does something different - and who is explaining it to the Sharks? Source.

And I cite.
Please do not attempt this. 
Tiger sharks are powerful wild animals, interaction with them requires years of training and experience to prevent harm or death to the animal or the person.
And now, watch this.

Remember this post
Sure you do! :)

Like back then, I am conflicted.
Obviously, there's food in the water, you can see it intermingled with the sand. But equally obviously, there's something else going on. Tarantino may have come in because of the food but it really appears that in this specific sequence, she is actively seeking some personal interaction, and this in a friendly way.

My take remains essentially the same.
Jimmy is one of the good guys. He's not in it for the money, he spends most of his life in the Sea because he loves doing what he does, and because he loves the animals. It is absolutely possible that in all those years, he has developed personal relationships with some of his Sharks, and it is equally absolutely possible that those bonds may include something akin to mutual affection. Like I said in that old post I linked, Valerie has been petting the Sea life for decades, and some of her personal bonds with individual Fishes are the stuff of legends. I've personally witnessed it many, many times and those interactions are both baffling and endearing - but what is most important, is that they are certainly authentic.
Case in point.

Long story short?
I believe that what Jimmy is showing us is equally authentic, much like I believe that Cristina has a special bond with some of her Sharks.

I equally strongly believe that this must remain the absolute exception.
Of all those famous Shark dives, Tiger Beach is the one that is now the biggest clusterfuck, this owing to those legions of self promoting media whores, wranglers and whisperers that have parachuted in for ever stupider exercises in pseudo-conservation, ever more disrespectful camera stunt work for those horrible productions and ever stupider and disrespectful exercises in manhandling.

We certainly don't need more troglodyte Shark diving on top of that.
Jimmy has earned himself the right to pet Tarantino by having spent thousands upon thousands of hours in the water with the same animals by which he has obviously developed personal bonds to a few individual Sharks.
Good for him, and for the Sharks.

You have not.
For you, the rule remains: watch but don't touch!


Voice of Reason in a Tempest of WTF said...

Aaaaand you don't think for one instant Jim's incessant front of the camera hijinks with sharks has not - in any way - created the legions of others who have despoiled the site?

Sorry. You don't get to enable insanity with sharks and then turn on those who want some of the same scuba limelight. This industry is based on copy catting.

As for the man/shark love?

First and foremost this should be an animal encounter site run by responsible adults.

Not some kind of Rainbow Shark Hug-A-Thon where 'My Shark Hugs' should be taken more seriously than your 'Shark Fingerbangs'

It's all nonsense.Pretty nonsense, but nonsense none the less.

DaShark said...

Herein lies the Treadwellian conundrum ain't it.

These are interesting encounters.
They don't teach us anything about Tiger Sharks per se (in fact I'm convinced that Tarantino would have no compulsions whatsoever about snacking on the next Haitian boat people) - but still, they do illustrate that sometimes, these surprising behaviors do occur.

So, are we going to not publicize them because some idiot may interpret them in the wrong way and/or want to emulate/one-up them?

Personally and provided that they are not being depicted as anything else than what they are (!), I do find these things worth sharing.
I'm of the generation of Elsa the Lioness, of Fossey debunking the Gorillas etc etc and have witnessed with my own eyes the demise of many monsters, this often due to the passionate advocacy by extraordinary people who took the time to look beyond the stereotypes.

Of course that was pre-www and social media, and pre rampant epidemic of public stupidity.

Still and provided they are authentic, I believe there is a place for these stories even today - and when it comes to the idiots, charlatans and hypocritical self promoters, I will continue to call them out for being idiots, charlatans and hypocritical self promoters!

Voice of Reason in a Tempest of WTF said...

They are just that, "Interesting Encounters" - period.

They are brief snapshots in time in absolutely modified situations, baited and provisioned.

Therein lies the problem.

Taking a snapshot moment from a "Gorilla finger extension" and attributing that to some kind of love, or holistic rainbow spirit connection is, in a word - ridiculous.

Yet, after baiting these animals for a decade, essentially training them to come to the sound of vessels and hand feeding between rubs, we now are suggesting they have evolved somehow, they love us back.


I understand Jim has an agenda, and yes he's in it for the money, fame, and recognition like anyone else. To suggest otherwise would attribute him to some kind of quasi-religious monk like status that anyone who has met him will tell you clearly is not the case.

We do a disservice to wildlife by "dolphinizing" them.

These animals are predators, magnificent embodiments of 300 million years of evolution.

We have created beggars of these animals and in the process diminished them to the point of creating sad human attributed caricatures of what was once a wild animal.

The evolution of others who seek to stamp their own stupid human pet tricks on diminished wildlife is almost too horrible to watch if they weren't such, "Interesting Encounters."

I submit to you within the next decade the pendulum will swing back and videos like these will seem as quaint as black and white film was at the advent of technicolor.

Voice of Reason in a Tempest of WTF said...

BTW welcome back, your blog absence was acutely felt.

DaShark said...

Look I'm not saying you're wrong, especially considering the situation in TB.

But yours is a caricature and in reality, things are definitely more nuanced.
To the careful observer, those baited Shark dives, whilst being unnatural situations, are still an opportunity for observing natural behavior, something that for obvious reasons is sorely lacking in Shark research.

In this post, I am commenting about one specific encounter and like in other occasions I've witnessed here in Fiji, there is something going on that transcends the mechanical cause-and-effect behavioral spectrum that is usually attributed to Sharks.

I'm not trying to explain it because I can't.
What I'm saying that it reinforces my belief that when it come to those long-lived Sharks that may remember/learn quite a bit in their life time and that have a very wide trophic niche requiring a wide spectrum of behavioral adaptation (= hunting fledgling Albatrosses requires different strategies that nailing Sea Turtles), there appears to be a lot more brain power than commonly assumed.

What I'm saying and that these things happen, that they are noteworthy and that they warrant further investigation.
Nothing more nothing less.

As to all of this eventually becoming obsolete?
I've basically come to the same conclusion here where I also bemoan the rampant trivialization and commercialization.

But amid all that fiasco, there is still an opportunity for learning something - and in this specific case, I am clearly more intrigued than outraged.