Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tofurkey of the Week #2

And here was me worried that it might be awhile until someone else acted like a complete turkey, but in an ecologically sensitive manner. (For the last winner, see here.)

This weeks faux-poultry plinth goes out to conservationist Leon Deschamps of Western Australia, who recently pet a feeding tiger shark in the mistaken assumption that:

1. Tiger sharks aren't aggressive. (They are, Leon. They really are. These guys were just distracted by the giant dead whale they were munching on. Tiger sharks are notoriously territorial and aggressive and accounts of their behaviour can easily be found as far back as the 1600's, when tiger sharks would follow big sailing ships for days on end. I double-dog dare you to go out in the open ocean and thrash around on the surface like a wounded fish for awhile, then ask the tigers for a cuddle when they show up. FYI: When they put their pectoral fins down and start arching their back, thats when they really feel like a pat. Heh.)

2. And for assuming, like most annoying hippies, that the organism in question actually enjoyed your impromptu back-rub.

"They were sedate in their movements and far from aggressive, despite it being a time when they are supposed to be at their most ferocious — I think they enjoyed the experience. "

With biology skills like that, a) I pity your girlfriend and b) sense a future Darwin Award in the making. I'm also suprised, given our intrepid shark botherers weren't wearing gloves, that no-one pointed out that fondling a shark can be about as much fun as humping sand paper due to the unique structure of their scales. (And here were we thinking that Movember stubble-rash was a pain in the...ummm...oh, never mind. Personally, I'm getting my own back by instigating Fanuary...but thats another post for another time.)

How to tell if your tiger shark wants a cuddle

But hang on a minute, now I'm confused! Isn't global warming going to make sharks more aggressive? At least that's what Dr. Biro of the University of New South Wales said, after he spent our taxpayer funded dollars on taking damsel fish fresh out of the larval stage, dumping them in an aquarium and randomly fluctuating the temperature. Not un-suprisingly, the poor little damsals started acting a bit wierd, and some of them got tetchy. Apparently, this is now proof that global warming is going to make sharks more aggressive. (One small segue for science, one giant leap for logical thinking everywhere.)

Ha! If this is science, I might go and read some homeopathic "research" on the grounds that it adheres more strictly to scientific process. At least homeopathic researchers, unlike Dr. Biro, don't expect you to pay for their field trips to Lizard Island, an island paradise so elite that only marine biologists and resort patrons in the Sultan of Brunei's tax bracket can afford to stay there.

Lizard Island: I am clearly in the wrong profession.

Note: Don't get me wrong, I actually like sharks. They are important to me both culturally and personally, especially tiger sharks. I also (as you might have guessed) have more first hand experience of applied marine biology than the average layperson, but sadly I cannot wax autobiographical on why that is so at this time, just suffice it to say I didn't always live in the suburbs of Sydney. Regardless, a tiger shark is a tiger shark, and they tend to act accordingly. All those teeth are generally the give away.

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