Previous highlights from the front page of this website

September 2013: Animal Planet again airs a 3-hour "documentary" on bipeds (that means us) that broke off from our human precursors to enter the sea and evolve in its depths, forming an alliance with dolphins and developing tools to procure food with.  Titled "Mermaids: The Body Found" and "Mermaids: The New Evidence," we learn that a white shark in South Africa had been caught with a mangled corpse inside it that, when examined by a team of NOAA researchers, turned out to have hands, an acoustic "blowhole" in its forehead, a weight-bearing pelvis, femurs, and was ... a mermaid!  Handily (but a bummer for the researchers), the South African government confiscated the mermaid's remains, claiming them to be of national importance to South Africa, and thus the NOAA researchers returned home with absolutely nothing.  The film is interspersed with animations of these zippy mermaids as they are tracked over enormous periods of time (6.5 million years ago to the present), cavorting in the waves with their dolphin friends and retreating to deep caves to avoid Megaladon (if I got it right) -- the ancestor of the modern great white.  Because land-living humans have a flexible spine and can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes, we demonstrate a capacity to swim and dive unlike other mammals (all this is true).  Our art from all over the world -- ancient and new -- depicts creatures that are half-fish, half-man; therefore, suggests Animal Planet, who is to say that such creatures aren't somewhere out there in the deep blue?

Animal Planet Mermaid special

What's striking is that so many people fell for this show and its actor researchers (admitted in small print by the producers), even though the CGI was so cheesy and it was unclear whether the mermen (you would have to call them this in keeping with terminology) were warm- or cold-blooded, how they breathed and reproduced, and a lot more.  Women, especially, love mermaids and collect all kinds of mermaid memorabilia.  Animal Planet's tag line is "surprisingly human," and many of its shows endearingly portray our furry and feathered friends.  The script of this particular special was powerfully written to evoke sympathy: with the many "Dr.s" interviewed (supposed Ph.Ds) who struggled against our Navy for the "truth" and the lost species itself, depicted repeatedly by a feebly moving webbed hand poking from under a pile of sand.

One plus for the show was alerting us to Navy sonar/warfare testing that may well be the reason so many species are beaching themselves, in many instances deaf, and with blood seeping from their bodies.  Writes shark specialist David Shiffman, who was very annoyed by the program (comments edited for brevity): "Many of my non-scientist friends ask me why it matters if people believe in mermaids.  It matters because the ocean is extremely important.  Many marine resources are being over-exploited and mismanaged,leaving us in serious danger of losing them forever.
If you are so ignorant about what is really happening in the ocean that you believe that there are organisms that are half human and half fish, you're almost certainly unaware of the important problems."  Continue reading here for a great summary of what we should be worried about (not mermaids!).

She has become a living legend for her friendship with sharks and tenacious protection of them.  And it's to change OUR perceptions of these creatures, feared as they now are by millions.  (Check out our poll at right of screen.) The ability to hold her breath for well over 5 minutes is one of Ocean Ramsey's talents, and her fearlessness is another. Ocean lives in Hawaii and works as a scuba instructor ... see more of her at the website WaterInspired.com

Ocean Ramsey cruising

June 2013: It was only a day ago that a friend ran up to me at the beach to tell me about "this woman who swims with great whites, holding on to their fins." A free diver himself, he ran back home to get the magazine in which he had read about her (Pacific San Diego).  "You even look alike," he said. "You could be cousins." Well, I was in shock at such a compliment when I opened the issue to see this absolutely beautiful woman standing shoulder deep in water against a sunset, evidently also the Shark Whisperer he was talking about.  (I wouldn't say we look alike, but that is not the point here.) Ocean Ramsey grew up in San Diego, trained at Sea World, worked at the Dive Locker in P.B. (around the corner from my optometrist), and has since become a worldwide phenomenon with her very own amazing sense and understanding of the shark world. They're more like cats or birds, she says ... just not really interested in humans. This is an unusual and helpful insight/observation that should put a lot of nervous nellies at ease, as well as her opinion (based on experience) that sharks can tell the difference between fish blood and human blood in the water -- and the latter is not at all to their taste.

It is the business of rapacious finning that has brought the shark kingdom to its knees (speaking proverbially), with great whites finally having been granted protection under the Endangered Species Act, but not yet added to the Endangered Species List.  It is said that there are fewer than 400 left in the North Pacific, and maybe some 3,500 worldwide.  See the incredible documentary Blue Water White Death for the first footage of great whites ever taken, and Sharkwater to learn about finning. And open your hearts and minds to the need for these wonderful animals to thrive at this point in our history! Visit Ocean Ramsey's website and please donate for their conservation.

Strange things going on in Santa Barbara ... involving seals and sea lions being attacked by juvenile white sharks.  To start with, the pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) are young themselves and underweight, which means they're undernourished.  That translates to not having found enough to eat.  On top of that, they're showing up wounded, with big bites from the jaws of smaller white sharks -- juveniles.  Shark researchers are analyzing local conditions, trying to make sense of this.  One expert reports that for two years the classic summer upwelling of ocean currents has not occurred.  This upwelling brings large amounts of food with it -- nutrients of all forms, including small and large fish.

As a result, all kinds of ocean animals -- including baby sharks, baby seals and sea lions -- are not getting the food they need. They are resorting to unusual behavior to nourish themselves. Young white sharks are attacking seals instead of fish, and seals are going hungry. Normally, juvenile white sharks don't try to hunt seals until they've grown to 9-10 feet in length. For a 6-foot shark to grab at a seal or sea lion is not normal. The Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center (SBMMC) had to euthanize a yearling female sea lion with a gash in its back on September 9th.  The 40-lb. seal shown below was attacked in August (photo courtesy Shark Research Committee).

40-lb seal shows bites

"For juvenile white sharks to attack big seals is very unusual," shark expert Ralph Collier comments. The natural world's predator-prey relationships have been carved out of time itself.  The survival instinct -- which in the animal world is pretty simple: growing to adulthood and participating in biological reproduction -- rules behavior.  Says Collier: "When animals ignore their survival instincts, that tells you something is wrong."
What could be the cause of the lack of upwelling? Is it natural, or is it man-made? Navy warfare-testing zones off our shores have been conducting many different kinds of experiments, involving use of explosives, electromagnetic frequencies and chemicals. The public has been informed that ocean animal species may suffer and die as a result.  This is known as "taking" in the military's environmental language.  It could be that these ongoing experiments (see our Navy Warfare Testing page for more) have affected currents, which in turn affect food supply.  EIRs (environmental impact reports) were conveniently skipped as these programs were implemented and the window given for public response was very brief.  Further observation is needed; please report your shark-related sightings to the Shark Research Committee.