'The True Nature of Sharks' is a full scale exploration of wild shark behavior. Drawn from fifteen years of observing sharks underwater as animals and individuals, it reveals a new dimension of understanding of their lives.
Occasionally a special book appears that makes you sit up and reconsider your understanding of the world. 'The True Nature of Sharks' is such a book. It echoes the way that Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall forced us to completely reassess how we perceived the great apes. Though sharks may be a distant relative, Porcher's book is no less revolutionary.
Using clear and vivid prose, the author transports the reader into the mysterious submarine realm and brings the sharks to life. The detailed analysis of their behavior is captivating and our understanding is enhanced through a wealth of unexpected insights and tantalizing implications. We begin to perceive these unusual animals as they really are, as intelligent, predictable individual animals.
By their actions, sharks reveal that they are self-aware, form companionships, make swift decisions depending on the circumstances, and can plan to influence an event in the future. They enjoy socializing, communicate through posturing and gestures, and are capable of influencing each other. They can become highly emotional, yet are peaceful among themselves.
This fascinating and ground breaking book integrates findings by other researchers, and first class logic to paint a grand picture of the lives of reef sharks and their links to the much larger web of life. Porcher's observations never fall into the trap of anthropomorphism (giving human characteristics to other species where none exist) as she builds a solid repertoire of observed shark behavior.
While living in the South Pacific, Porcher was able to closely observe several species of reef sharks in their habitat over a period of fifteen years. Already familiar with terrestrial wildlife, she saw at once that they are very different from the mammals and birds we know best, and after several intriguing incidents with them, launched an intensive, seven year study in which she kept track of about six hundred reef sharks, and could recognize more than three hundred on sight. These observations were supplemented by shorter periods of observing tiger sharks, bull sharks, and lemon sharks, to establish that many of the behavior patterns are common to other shark species around the world.
No academic shark researcher has ever studied sharks long-term underwater, and by publishing some of her study in a peer-reviewed journal, Porcher has made a firmly established name for herself in the cognitive ethology of sharks. Her findings, presented at an International symposium on cognition, are considered to be the first documented evidence of cognition (thinking) in sharks, while her methods have resulted in her being credited with finding a way to study sharks without killing them.
'The True Nature of Sharks' also reveals how disruptions, such as the visit of a shark finning company, and of sport fishermen, have massive impacts on the behavior of the sharks in an area and consequently on the entire web of life that interacts with them.
Thus the tendency on the part of the media to portray sharks as monsters, or as senseless creatures driven purely by instinct is called into question, since neither perception is true. Such shows have resulted in the hate killings of multi-millions of American sharks with no outcry of public protest nor sympathy.
Further, by making sharks the monsters of the imagination instead of showing what they are really like, the popular shark shows, such as Discovery Channel's 'Shark Week,' which claims to be non-fiction, have raised a terrible barrier to their conservation.
"As Shark Week comes around again, I challenge the Discovery channel to join me in denouncing televised displays of great white horror, and begin, instead, to help to reveal the true nature of sharks," Porcher stated. "The hate killings must stop, for sharks are free-falling towards extinction."
The book, available starting July 17, 2017, is enhanced by beautiful illustrations. As a scientist-artist, Porcher uses her considerable talent to complement the written information with photographs, drawings and paintings.
'The True Nature of Sharks' is a must read for anybody who finds beauty and wonder in the web of life. The author's outstanding talent as a writer makes her book a literary jewel--an achievement that is quite exceptional in the rather prosaic world of science. It is logically laid out and the narrative flows well and provides an easy read, an important task in communicating non-fiction well.
Porcher is currently running a GoFundMe campaign in an effort to raise shark awareness. The campaign will help spread the word about what these unusual and important animals are really like to raise awareness of their true natures and their current plight, to aid the effort to save them from extinction. Information on the campaign is available at https://www.gofundme.com/sharks-need-our-help.
Porcher is the author of the highly acclaimed book 'The Shark Sessions,' originally published under the name, 'My Sunset Rendezvous', which tells the story of how she got to know the sharks and what happened to them. The foreword to 'The Shark Sessions' was written by shark ethologist Samuel H. 'Doc' Gruber, founder of Bimini Shark Lab and the American Elasmobranch Society. He called the book "a jewel of a story."
Porcher also created a mini-documentary which includes actual footage of the sharks she studied, and shows some surprising shark behavior.
Her second book, 'Merlin: The Mind of a Sea Turtle' provides evidence of the sentience of sea turtles, showing how these exquisitely designed marine reptiles can be willful characters with a perspective on life that very much matters to them.
Ila is available for media interviews and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her mini documentary on sharks is available on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hryPvS5cmqM. More information is available at her website at http://ilafranceporcher.wix.com/author.
Ila France Porcher is a self-taught, published ethologist. She grew up in British Columbia, Canada, and at an early age became fascinated by watching and drawing wild animals. As a result, she naturally became a wildlife artist, and as time passed, began documenting the behavior of the animals she observed and painted, being especially intrigued by actions suggesting intelligence and cognition.
This approach was balanced by university studies in the fields of physics, chemistry, and mathematics, which has left her with a unique perspective on the biosphere of this world.