Ila France Porcher

The Remarkable Intelligence of Fish

October 02, 2018 - 15:07
The story is found: 
on page 75

Fish reveal such complex thinking in their daily lives that they could not possibly be as simple-minded as fishermen claim.

The MSR has been the classic test for self-awareness since it was developed by Gordon Gallup in the 1970s in his work on chimpanzees. In the years since, only monkeys, elephants, dolphins, magpies, and quite recently ants, have succeeded in passing it.

A Matter of Sentience

August 18, 2018 - 10:52
The story is found: 
on page 62

Fish feel pain, or don’t they? Despite a growing body of sound evidence that fish do indeed feel pain and are sentient beings capable of all the types of cognition found in the “higher” mammals, with the possible sole exception of the ability to imitate, a group of critics seems to systematically seek to discredit this research. But for what reasons? Ila France Porcher takes a closer look at the stakes involved.

It was in 2003 that Dr Lynne Sneddon of the University of Liverpool found through rigorous scientific research that fish are sensitive to pain and suffer. In the years since then, many other researchers around the world have confirmed her findings and expanded on them.

Randall Arauz: The War for Sharks

April 11, 2018 - 09:29
The story is found: 
on page 70

Biologist Randall Arauz has worked for nearly 30 years for the protection of the marine life off the shores of Central America and his native Costa Rica.

Arauz founded the Association for the Restoration of Sea Turtles (PRETOMA) in 1997, and it was during his efforts to protect critically endangered leatherback sea turtles that he stumbled upon the shark finning problem.

The Underrated Nurse Shark

February 23, 2018 - 12:36
The story is found: 
on page 77

Plentiful nurse sharks attended the sessions I held during my shark study in Tahiti. They are heavily-built animals with large, graceful fins, a long, pennant tail, and small eyes. They forage on the sea floor for a variety of foods at night and sleep in grottos in the coral during the days. Though these unusual sharks typically lie around on the sea floor, they are also capable of clambering.

Plentiful nurse sharks attended the sessions I held during my shark study in Tahiti. They are heavily built animals with large, graceful fins, a long, pennant tail, and small eyes. They forage on the sea floor for a variety of foods at night and sleep in grottos in the coral during the days.

A New Shark Book:

Ila France Porcher's picture
Submitted by Ila France Porcher on 17 July, 2017 - 21:27

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.

Sharks: Turning Fear into Love

April 20, 2017 - 16:56
The story is found: 
on page 85

A new style of shark dive has been developed by Jim Abernethy, of Scuba Adventures in Florida. In a dramatic demonstration that “shark huggers” are right, all his guests do with the sharks now is to stroke them! Jim was the pioneer who first demonstrated the peaceful way that sharks will interact with divers, especially when their curiosity has been aroused through the offer of a snack.

These days, Jim offers his guests the opportunity to learn how to befriend a wild shark during their visit to Tiger Beach.

Posturing Sharks

October 25, 2016 - 10:53
The story is found: 
on page 77

Meaningful posturing in sharks was first noticed in the gray reef shark. Richard Johnson of French Polynesia found that when sharks of this species were chased and cornered, they performed a complex display.

The animal would arch its back, raise its snout, depress its pectoral fins and swim toward the offending diver with exaggerated horizontal swimming movements, sometimes rolling or looping in a spiral. Then it would either flee, or, with a lightning gesture, deliver a warning slash.

A Commentary on Science

Ila France Porcher's picture
Submitted by Ila France Porcher on 7 September, 2016 - 05:19

Earlier this year, National Geographic featured an article entitled “The War on Science,” which questions why many scientific claims face a storm of opposition from the public. It explains that these criticisms result from a tendency to believe in one's religious or political position, rather than in the facts, which is a recent finding by Dan Kahan of Yale University.

Remoras: Shark Companions

August 23, 2016 - 11:03
The story is found: 
on page 66

While studying reef sharks in Tahiti, I became fascinated by the behavior of the remoras accompanying them. They were fish of the Echeneidae family, and ranged in size from a few centimeters to about 50cm long. They were pretty silver fish with widened heads, and often a black racing stripe.

Remoras have evolved a clever strategy to survive. Their relationship with sharks is mutualistic: of benefit to both species.

Sharks don't bite like we do

March 07, 2016 - 16:26
The story is found: 
on page 76

Though sharks have gained a mythical reputation for being biters, their behavior in nature is the opposite of what we would expect from the vicious animals depicted in the media. I had many opportunities to observe sharks under circumstances in which I expected them to bite, as a dog, cat, horse or bird would tend to do. Yet they did not. 

All other species, wild and tame, with which I had the intimacy I shared with sharks, had bitten me sooner or later, either by accident or in a fit of pique; even my pet dog sometimes grabs my hand in her teeth along with the offered cookie. 

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