“The Shark Sessions” relates the story of sharks who were Porcher's companions for many years in Tahiti. When they were finned and massacred by a company from Singapore, she wrote down their story so that the world would find out : what they were like, and what had happened to them. Her powerful mini-documentary is now available.
Shark expert Ila France Porcher has announced the release of a new video mini-documentary to coincide with Shark Week 2015. Porcher is the author of 'The Shark Sessions: My Sunset Rendezvous'. The book presents the story of her long-term ethological study of reef sharks in Tahiti, and the resulting findings, against the background of the uneasy society surrounding it. Intelligence in wild animals in general, and sharks in particular, is the major theme.
"In 2004, I was interviewed by the BBC for Discovery's 'Shark Week' regarding the evidence for thinking in sharks that I had found during my underwater study of their behaviour," Porcher stated. "For years, I had been keeping track of more than 600 sharks who passed through the area, and could recognize 300 on sight.
“With the certainty that comes with repeatedly verified, first hand knowledge of their behaviour, I had learned that individual sharks could be easily distinguished, not only by their appearance, but because they each had distinctive ways of behaving. I was able to report that:
- Each shark is a unique individual.
- Behaviour patterns that had been considered automatic and purely instinctive, such as roaming, reactions to sudden events, and their responses to other sharks and to me, were actually flexible and varied at different times.
- They showed a range of emotional states including fear, rage, curiosity, excitement, and happiness.
- They treated people, and other sharks, as individuals.
From my long association with with the resident sharks who accompanied me during my observation sessions, I learned that sharks can develop companionships with people if the person approaches them with patience and calmness so that they can let go of their fear.
But Shark Week left out my urgent message that those sharks were actually being finned and were in need of protection, and omitted my findings. The presenter stated, 'Ila claims that these sharks have personalities, but the jury's still out on that.'
"But the jury was not out. Cognitive thought in fish was beginning to be recognized, and my findings that sharks were capable of it too, had already been presented at a scientific conference by then. Since that time, more and more discoveries have been made about the sentience of a wide variety of oceanic life.
“The discovery that sharks are intelligently aware, and are pursuing lives of meaning to themselves, has startling implications. It changes our perception of them, and of their place in nature, as well as ours. Yet, these scientific facts are being ignored, and many to continue to present sharks as brutal man-eating killers.”
So she created a mini-documentary to complement the Shark Week entertainment this year, which shows actual footage of the sharks she studied, and some surprising shark behaviour.
Ila France Porcher is available for media interviews and can be reached by email at email@example.com.
Her mini documentary is available on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hryPvS5cmqM.
[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hryPvS5cmqM. ]
More information is available at her website at http://ilafranceporcher.wix.com/author.