Day 28: 7/23/2013: Sharks: Feel The Poetry

Today I bought some shark educational materials for the Fall semester. I wanted to memorize which shark belongs to which family. Instead of studying, I became swept up in the beauty of names–all these sharks I’d never heard of:

the blind shark, the tasselled wobbegong, the false, the graceful, the grinning, ghost, honeycomb and lollipop cat sharks

and among the requiems: the blackspot, the dagger nose, the milk shark, the nervous shark, the night shark, the pondicherry, the hardnose, the big nose, the spinner

not to mention the sawback, hidden, ornate and angular angelsharks or the unforgettable dusky, sharpnose, sharp fin, whiskery, western spotted gummy, the flapnose, and humpback hound sharks

Did you know the smallest shark is the dwarf lantern (6.7 inches)?

Or that hound sharks hunt in packs or

that a school of hammerheads is also called a shoal or a shiver?

Wobbegongs are excellent ambushers

and once someone found

a doll inside a tiger shark

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Day 27: 7/22/2013: Sharkitecture

Today, I welcomed a new class of International students at Sci-Arc, an architecture school where I teach ESL in the summer. As an icebreaker, I had them ask each other a series of questions including a gem I stole from my own writing teacher:

“If faced with your potential end, would you rather confront a bear or a shark?”

These answers reveal how deeply weird our relationship to other creatures can be. Students who chose death by bear over shark gave these reasons:

1. “The bear is cuter.”

2. “The bear is more like a person.”

3. “Getting killed by a shark is all salty and it hurts.”

A few people had enough confidence in themselves as swimmers to believe:

1. “I might be able to swim faster than a shark.”

Others reasoned that death by shark would be quicker and more merciful than being scalped by a bear:

2. “The shark will just bite my head off and it will be over.”

To make sure the conversation didn’t get too sensational, I informed that students that human beings kill about 100 million sharks a year and sharks kill, oh I don’t know…a half dozen people or something.

I wish I had studied anthrozoology and could compile data like this for a living.

After class, I did get five friends to sign my slowly evolving Shark Defenders petition.