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Shark Week 2015: diver Noel catches silkies by the tail and rubs their bellies, putting them into a swoon that allows tags to be attached to their fins and away they go -- presumably to teach us more about what they do in the world.  Silkies are smooth-skinned sharks, 7-8 feet long, truly pelagic, and sadly one of the most hunted for shark-fin soup.  Theirs are the jaws sold to tourists in tropical souvenir shops, too.  In these videos, you will see silkies in action -- being tagged in a most unusual way (Discovery) and swimming and chomping fish chunks in Jupiter, Florida.  Read more about another silky adventure here.


First a couple, then six, seven and more.  Hmmm ... in shallow water, gray sharks about 7-8 feet in length, repeated goring, what's it all about?  Ichthyologist George Burress (Florida Museum of Natural History) suspects bull or tiger sharks, which tend to be aggressive and unafraid of sizable opponents (which humans are to a shark that's six or seven feet long).  "Any number of factors, including an abundance of fish or nesting turtles, could draw sharks to the area," says Burgess.  He notes the serial attacks in Egypt a few years ago, which were actually a single shark, "trained" by an unwitting diver who used to carry fish in his fanny pack to feed the shark with as he studied it.  Seeing other humans in the water, the same shark went for their buttocks and hands, expecting to find a fanny pack and fish treats.  This conclusion was deduced by shark-attack expert Ralph Collier, after some research and deliberation.

Another theory is that drought has further salinated the ocean, and sharks like warm salty water.  However, there have been torrential rains in Texas and the eastern seaboard, so this is not a convincing explanation.  Nonetheless, beachgoers are freaked out, though the beaches remain open.  See CNN's articles and news videos on this series of attacks here, and read more about shark attacks here.

Carolina 2015 shark attacks

Jacques Cousteau called it the "aquarium of the world" for its 950 fish species and diverse shorelines.  You could say that the Sea of Cortez is like a thumbnail version of the oceanic kingdom, even more than only a thumbnail, for it supports 80% of Mexico's  fishing and supplies 90% of its shrimp catch.  Geographically convenient to the planet's hungriest markets (including white sharks hunting pinnipeds) -- Japan, China and America -- the Sea of Cortez is now seeing massive loss of biomass, with a despondent fishing industry plundering both opportunity and the water for whatever can be found.

From an August 2013 article in Harper's Magazine: "Fishermen working the sea's 26,000 boats are both rich and poor, newcomers and inheritors of thousands of years of tradition. ... 85% of its species either are being fished at their maximum or are over-exploited.  Consequently, there is no better place on earth to look at the future of global fishing and the crisis facing the ocean."  Read more here.

Sea of Cortez Isla Partida