Day 288 4/10/14: Tell NOAA: No Pacific Shark Cull

hi_257734_366075We’re almost there!

This note of protest to  NOAA officials and Barack Obama needs only 76 more signatures!

Please sign and share this petition to preserve existing shark conservation laws  in Guam, Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands AND to say no to an insanely misguided proposal to “reduce shark biomass” by decimating already declining species of sharks in the Pacific.

Day 240 2/20/14: Relentless Terror & Really Awkward Sex

An Evening of Relentless Terror & Really Awkward Sex: A Benefit Reading of JAWS is a mere two days away….

Come Los Angeles!  Eat shark-themed cupcakes and buy one-of-a-kind shark memorabilia!

Thrill to a live reading of Peter Benchley’s best-selling novel!

THIS Saturday Feb. 22, 7:30 pm

Twinkle Toes Dance Studio

5917 North Figueroa Street Los Angeles 90042

Admission is $10

ALL proceeds go to shark conservation


Day 132 11/4/13: Epiphany, Misanthropy & Scalloped Hammerheads

I just stumbled on this piece by a scuba diver and self-proclaimed atheist who found God in the eyes of a white shark off Guadalupe Island.

I needed an epiphany like this to heal the horror of a student presentation given in my 10:40 class. After outlining the habitat, biology of the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark, the student played a clip in which some smug idiot catches a juvenile scalloped hammerhead and holds the small shark on the deck pointing out its distinguishing characteristics while the fish gasps, thrashes and finally dies on camera. I felt like placing a bag over the man’s  head and asphyxiating him while calmly identifying the major appendages that identify him as a Homo sapiens.

My meltdown drowned out the asinine anatomy lesson.  I tried to turn my rage into a “teachable moment.” As the shark’s death seemed to happen in the name of education,  I talked about the destructive “research” of OCEARCH and urged the class to write about corruption in marine conservation. “Please tell me,” I said to the darkened classroom, “how I can continue to witness things like this and not become totally hopeless. Can you guys answer that on the final?”

They nodded sympathetically.

“It’s like zoos,” one girl said. She didn’t elaborate, but I guess I understood.

Lou Reed was right: “You need a busload of faith to get by.”

But sometimes faith involves more forgetting/denial than it does hope.

Lou Reed also said “that caustic dread inside your head will never help you out.”

A conscious rejection of too much negative thinking is another necessity of “getting by.”

Lou Reed’s death leaves me feeling a bit lonely for this kind of immediate connection, this ability to cut fearlessly through to the truth.

It makes me want to be less straitjacketed by wanting to be liked and not being afraid to show how incredibly angry and sad all this stuff with animals makes me feel without trying to wrap it in what David Foster Wallace called “rhetorical niceties.  But I don’t want to rant self-righteously either.  I hope I can find some place in the middle of anger and reverence, joy and despair that isn’t too middle of the road. 

Scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini)

Scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 109: 10/12/13: Shark Coffins & Doomed Stuffed Animals

These innovative creations are a welcome break from correcting a batch of opaque papers on sharks and fear.

I like the spare yet surreal look of this art show, but I LOVE that it’s

happening in Shanghai!!

Check out Banksy’s “Sirens of the Lambs,” a sad and weird traveling piece on animals

slaughtered for food.


Day 92: 9/25/13: Afternoon with a Shark Legend

I am still ecstatic from Ralph Collier’s lecture this afternoon at Glendale College this afternoon. Great turn out–students, teachers from all disciplines, and people from outside school–including one dazzled shark nerd in a Jaws t-shirt who sat in the front row, and my dear friend Lisa and her fellow shark fanatic pal, Jack.

Ralph covered some fascinating stuff about shark behavior including “spy hopping” in which white sharks (and apparently oceanic white tips) stick their heads out of the water to check out what’s happening on land and sometimes startle random seals off the edges of rookeries. They also spy hop to calculate which group of seals in the haul-out area might be easiest to sweep into the water via a giant breach. Essentially, I learned that white sharks ain’t dummies. Not by a long shot. They have memories. They make calculated decisions. Ralph doesn’t believe in calling shark encounters “accidents”–he gives the animals volition—whether the intent is to investigate or to launch a predatory strike.

I learned two more disturbing consequences of shark finning:

1. When the discarded bodies of finned sharks are thrown overboard, they sink to the bottom where ammonia leaking from their ravaged bodies destroys coral communities.

2. Increasing numbers of people in Asia who consume shark fin soup are developing neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and A.L.S.  Researchers have proposed that the high concentrations of mercury in shark fin and flesh bind with other neurotoxins and create a lethal toxic compound. Could this new health concern become a powerful force in stopping finning?

Continue reading

Day 8 7/3/2013: Tell the NOAA Not to Overturn Shark Laws!

Be a Hero for Sharks in five minutes or less:

To read bout the NOAA’s proposed changes to shark protection laws, click here.

Click here to tell the NOAA not to weaken U.S. state protections for sharks!

Here are my comments: Continue reading

Day 5 6/30/13: Sharks in the Classroom & Beyond


Today I started thinking about the most effective curriculum for my Fall shark-themed English class at Glendale College. In my pre-coffee haze, I assembled a jumble of potential texts and materials:

1. Opening chapter of the novel “Jaws”: as gateway to talking about shark attacks and shark biology.
2. “Sharkwater” documentary: so they can see what shark finning is
3. Selected readings on prehistoric sharks, all the extinctions they’ve survived
4. Info on the current extinction event that sharks might not survive
5. “Air Jaws” clips
6. “Jaws”: The Movie
7. Shark Gods of the Pacific Mythology & Ritual/Environmentalism essays (Derrick Jensen, etc.)

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Day 1 6/26/13 Love Makes a Family: Adopt a Shark

Shark Stewards offers symbolic adoptions of the sharks it tags and releases in the waters of the San Francisco Bay.

Today I became the proud surrogate parent of a hammerhead.

Here are some fun facts about this odd fish:

  • Hammerheads swim in large schools that sometimes exceed 100 sharks during the day, but at night are solitary hunters.
  • The oddly shaped hammerhead (known as a cephalofoil) is used for navigation and to detect and trap prey such as stingrays
  • Like humans, hammerheads have stereo vision, (each eye gets a slightly different view of an object), fantastic depth perception and better vision than other sharks.
  • In 2001, a captive female bonnethead (a type of hammerhead) gave birth to a shark without having had previous contact with a male. While “virgin birth” or parthenogenesis had been seen in birds, snakes and reptiles, until 2001, it had never been documented in sharks.