Tuesday, January 15, 2013


From The Secret Life of Sharks by A. Peter Klimley, Ph.D.:

In part because of my dawning awareness of the complexity of their behavior, I became more and more interested in learning about the real nature of sharks.  I didn't want to study them in the man-made, artificial habitat of aquariums, however; I wanted to swim with them in their own environmnet, the ociean, where I might discover their true nature.  I wanted to emulate Dian Fossey, who had gotten close to gorillas in order to study them.  I had read in an issue of National Geographic magazine how dominant male gorillas allowed Fossey to approach member of their families unharmed because she imitated the submissive postures and movements of subordinate gorillas.  There had to be some way to get close enough to sharks to observe them in their own environment without being attacked.  Because I was a good swimmer and intersted in fish, I wanted to study the most fearsome and powerful fish in the oceans. As my graduate education progressed, I began thinking about some of the questions I wanted to answer in my career as a marine biologist.  Are white sharks the insatiable and indiscriminate feeders suggested by film documentaries showing multipe sharks biting a cage?  Do sharks realy seek out humans as frequently as depicted in Jaws?  I decided to see for myself how sharks behaved in the wild instead of as "actors" in a film.

Dian Fossey wasn't an air-breahter surrounded by water breathers, at least.  But if Klimley is a lunatic, he's the best kind.  I mean, he really loves his job.  And sharks.


susan said...

I'm glad you didn't end that story with him getting eaten. I just read a Nova interview with him and he's actually a very cool guy. Good tip.

Ben said...

Oh yeah, he seems very cool. And I do like the fact that he sympathizes with his subjects.