Episode 122: Why the shark is not aggressive, and the cat is not dumb

Very often, an animal comes across a certain way that will then be described with human characteristics. Such a description is called anthropomorphism: giving human characteristics or behaviors to an animal, or an object. However, one should be very careful when doing so since the mental state of an animal, or whatever is described, with such a label is likely unknown. Quite often a more neutral term to describe the animal is more appropriate.

Episode 121: Rape among sharks is a fact

For years, scientists labeled the wounds sharks create during mating ‘mating scars,’ and it was just assumed they are part of regular copulation between males and females. However, these scars were always rare, and nobody wondered why that was. We asked that question and found the reason behind it: rape. Here, an overview is given, how rape was determined, and what that means for the image of sharks.

Episode 120: What’s the thinking behind opening up a beach again after a shark incident?

Whenever a beach is closed after an incident with a shark, the duration is not based on scientific evaluation of the possible criteria that could have brought in the shark, but simple guesswork. There is no protocol to follow; thus, every governing authority where the respective shore area falls can pretty much freely decide on how to handle the closed area, and when to reopen. 

Episode 119: On the white shark café

In the middle of the Pacific, with a radius of 250 km, lays the white shark café, a place where male and female white sharks gather. Why do they undertake this journey to reach this place and then stay there for months? Although food is a likelihood, it cannot be the main lure. Could it be a mating site? Do white sharks stemming from different populations mingle with each other? This area triggers many questions with not enough answers. However, one question that has not been asked so far is if other such cafés exist in the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.

Episode 118: Where are all the white sharks?

Seal Island, Dyer Island, Dangerous reef are places where white shark sightings could be guaranteed. But that is currently not the case anymore. What happened? Where did they all go? What could have created this situation? Lots of questions to the disappearing of white sharks from some of the main hot spots around the world, but (so far) no answers that could explain it.

Episode 117: Kill them all, and you get the one responsible, or won’t you?

Another vendetta against sharks took place in Queensland. Two people were severely bitten within a few days, and the only approach the governmental agency in charge was to set drum lines and indiscriminately killing sharks. Putting “drum crimes” out there is not just poor judgment; it is also a crime against nature. What is the possible thinking behind such a vendetta…?

Episode 116: Who has done it??

When it comes to sharks, everybody seems to know that white sharks, bulls and tiger sharks are the species most often involved in incidents. But it that true? If we look at the raw data files of incidents, there is a less clear picture. How come?

Episode 115: It sucks to be in cages, or not?

White shark cage diving has its advantages when it comes to people who can’t dive, or are afraid of sharks, but are still curious and willing to go the extra distance to reach those white shark spots. But due to the white shark tourism and regulations doing applied work in shark-human interaction is more than just hampered and turned into such a problem (to get permits) that gaining new information on the subject is pretty much on a standstill.

Episode 114: What to do when it is getting seemingly critical (at least in your mind)

On very rare occasions it might be necessary to use the “emergency brake” during an encounter with a shark since F-G-P-M as well as gill touching have not brought the expected result and one feels that a more drastic approach is needed. How to do that is part of this episode.

Episode 113: Who is the strongest shark out there

They always ask which shark is the largest one, the smallest one, the fastest one… But how about the strongest one? No one ever tried to figure that out. So which shark could be the strongest one out there? Anyone big or fast?

Episode 112: How to get safely away from a shark

The most prominent question people have about sharks is what to do when a shark shows up, meaning, how can they get away from the animal. A summary is given of a previous podcast on the subject, with special emphasis on the general procedure, as well as the procedure should one loose eye contact with the shark.

Episode 111: On rare occasions, you may get a shark right in your face

It is very rare, even for a person who spends day-in, day-out in the water with sharks, that one keeps pushing you. The other day such a situation arose and is described in this episode.

Episode 110: Meg is not a “must see”-movie

It is summer and sharks are–once more–the monsters in the theaters. Despite that Hollywood tried to portrait a shark of the past and made it even more gigantic than the real thing was, many moviegoers will think twice–again–when entering the water despite the absurdity of the movie creation. So how can we cure this fear of sharks? Do you really need to hang out with them?

Episode 109: On the two boundaries to approach

That sharks do not just rush in and bite a person is commonly accepted, and is easily seen through their approach patterns with reference to their inner threshold. But what happens to them mentally when they are getting closer? Although we can never be sure what an animal thinks, based on how they behave we can make educated guesses. That also applies to sharks.

Episode 108: Why oceanic species consistently have a lower threshold to approach

If there is a difference between offshore, open water shark species and the more shore oriented ones, it is the lower threshold to approach unfamiliar objects. Probably responsible for it is that food out there is often scarce and should the opportunity arise to approach something potentially eatable, although unfamiliar, these sharks may hesitate less. That might even get more important should a second shark appear that may have an even lower threshold and would win over the other shark if humans were indeed eatable. So how to handle an open water shark?

Episode 107: On the shark feeding circus

They use chainmail suits, feeding sticks, and other gadgets when commercially feeding sharks, and present themselves as authorities and shark experts. Most of these operators are a joke and governmental pressure must kick in to mainstream these operations. In a time where sharks need all the help they can get, shark feeding operation could play a crucial role.

Episode 106: They fart, they burp

Gases are produced whenever food is broken down. These gases can remain in an animal’s body for longer periods of time until the amount is increased to a maximum tolerable volume. But gases can increase in volume without producing more gases but simply by ascending. That lowers the surrounding pressure and so the gas expands. A shark that hunts some fish that tries to flee by swimming into shallower water forces the shark to burp in order to release the increased gas pressure.

Episode 105: Do sharks actually have fun once in a while?

They often come across as funny but having actually fun? An idea is presented were sharks most likely had fun doing it but more often they just come across as funny, and when they do it is quite often rather hilarious.


Episode 104: Is there a difference between a shark that breaches, leaps or jumps?

Although all three words tell the same story that a shark leaves the water for a very short period of time, completely or partially, there are two major differences when doing so. A shark can either actively jump out of the water because it intends to e.g., dislodge a sharksucker or the shark rams a seal that lays on the surface and the momentum carries the shark above the water’s surface. Although it is mostly clear what happens, the motivation behind is often less so.


Episode 103: Do sharks choose to hang out with us or not?

When offering food, a shark’s intention is rather clear. But not so when food has not been previously offered at a site but sharks still mingle around divers. Could it be that a shark chooses our presence in order to keep its mind occupied? Considering that most sharks are at the top of their food chains, such a possibility is very likely. Keeping their brains sharp is a necessity to defend their position in the marine realm.


Episode 102: Do we ever learn?

Bite season is on again. That in itself would not be anything to worry about, except that we should remember that lifeguards lack the proper education when dealing with sharks and the authorities won’t take the proper precautions when it comes to their beaches. A sad reality that cost the life of another young man last week. Is the mighty tourism dollar really that important?


Episode 101: Having a pair of them truly helps

Against common believe–and that includes most shark scientists–sharks have two functional claspers. Some evidence is offered why a single functioning clasper would not make much sense.