Ila France Porcher

The Fabulous Spawning Ritual of Striated Surgeonfish

November 29, 2020 - 14:57
The story is found: 
on page 75

During a seven-year study of reef sharks in Tahiti, ethologist Ila France Porcher also observed the behaviours of various fish species. Here, she offers a detailed description and insights into the dynamic and mesmerising spawning events of the striated surgeonfish, which take place every year in the South Pacific.

One evening in late December, fish were splashing in the glowing surface at the western edge of the fringe lagoon.

Seeking Eye Contact: Fish Gaze Reveals Self-Awareness

June 01, 2020 - 11:41
The story is found: 
on page 59

For many years, I held a weekly feeding session for the resident reef sharks and their visitors in the study area where I observed their behaviour. If I had enough shark food, I would scatter crumbs into the water for the fish after the sharks had left. The fish knew this, so they had to wait, and while they were waiting, they were excited.

As the session wore on and darkness fell, they gathered. They would creep ever closer as the moment I would feed them approached. The surface glimmered with the continually circling needlefish, who looked at me gravely with their big eyes.

What Are Sharks Aware Of?

March 29, 2020 - 23:49
The story is found: 
on page 60

More and more divers are meeting sharks for the first time, and wondering, “What do they see when they pass, gazing at us gazing at them?”

Sharks have a very different set of senses than we do, yet the eye-sight of the free swimming species is good, so when they look at you, they are seeing you.

Shark Fishing: Can commercial shark fishing be sustainable?

December 08, 2019 - 13:48
The story is found: 
on page 57

With the loss of at least 90 percent of sharks worldwide, it would seem to be urgent to protect the ones that remain. Every global study of their status has reported a more dire situation than the last, and that the targeted hunt for the shark fin trade is responsible for their catastrophic depletion.

Shark fins are among the most expensive seafood products. The total declared value of the world trade in shark products is close to US$1 billion per year and it is associated with much illegal activity, including murder. To supply the trade, intense shark fishing spans all oceans.

Sharks: Still Misunderstood

April 18, 2019 - 13:20
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on page 0

The first time I met a shark, I was struck by silence. Having observed the wildlife of the Canadian mountains all my life, my knowledge of sharks was limited to the information gained from watching the movie Jaws many years before. All that remained from that brief education was that they bit and badly. Very badly. Essentially, if you met one, you died.

But now I was living in Tahiti. I had been told that there were no sharks in the lagoon, and they were far from my mind, as I roamed one morning upon the barrier reef. The sunshine ran in golden lines across the coral and flashed upon the fish. It was mesmerizing.

The Remarkable Intelligence of Fish

October 02, 2018 - 15:07
The story is found: 
on page 75

Fish reveal such complex thinking in their daily lives that they could not possibly be as simple-minded as fishermen claim.

The MSR has been the classic test for self-awareness since it was developed by Gordon Gallup in the 1970s in his work on chimpanzees. In the years since, only monkeys, elephants, dolphins, magpies, and quite recently ants, have succeeded in passing it.

A Matter of Sentience

August 18, 2018 - 10:52
The story is found: 
on page 62

Fish feel pain, or don’t they? Despite a growing body of sound evidence that fish do indeed feel pain and are sentient beings capable of all the types of cognition found in the “higher” mammals, with the possible sole exception of the ability to imitate, a group of critics seems to systematically seek to discredit this research. But for what reasons? Ila France Porcher takes a closer look at the stakes involved.

It was in 2003 that Dr Lynne Sneddon of the University of Liverpool found through rigorous scientific research that fish are sensitive to pain and suffer. In the years since then, many other researchers around the world have confirmed her findings and expanded on them.

Randall Arauz: The War for Sharks

April 11, 2018 - 09:29
The story is found: 
on page 70

Biologist Randall Arauz has worked for nearly 30 years for the protection of the marine life off the shores of Central America and his native Costa Rica.

Arauz founded the Association for the Restoration of Sea Turtles (PRETOMA) in 1997, and it was during his efforts to protect critically endangered leatherback sea turtles that he stumbled upon the shark finning problem.

The Underrated Nurse Shark

February 23, 2018 - 12:36
The story is found: 
on page 77

Plentiful nurse sharks attended the sessions I held during my shark study in Tahiti. They are heavily-built animals with large, graceful fins, a long, pennant tail, and small eyes. They forage on the sea floor for a variety of foods at night and sleep in grottos in the coral during the days. Though these unusual sharks typically lie around on the sea floor, they are also capable of clambering.

Plentiful nurse sharks attended the sessions I held during my shark study in Tahiti. They are heavily built animals with large, graceful fins, a long, pennant tail, and small eyes. They forage on the sea floor for a variety of foods at night and sleep in grottos in the coral during the days.

A New Shark Book:

July 17, 2017 - 21:27

Occasionally a special book appears that makes you sit up and reconsider your understanding of the world. 'The True Nature of Sharks' is such a book. It echoes the way that Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall forced us to completely reassess how we perceived the great apes. Though sharks may be a distant relative, Porcher's book is no less revolutionary.