Adoption Part II: Chewing the Fat with Sharks

Felled by strep’s recent hostile takeover of my tonsils and throat I took in a big chomp of this year’s “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel while awaiting for penicillin to rally my white blood cells to reclaim the interior of my neck.

This year’s fetishized display of danger science featured the exploration of “Tonic Immobility;” the discovery that certain sharks, especially “playful” mature females, will enter a state of complete relaxation and near sleep if appropriately rubbed on the nose or, with smaller sharks, turned upside down. The show featured a South African scientist who tried to incite “Tonic” (short for catatonic, I suspect) on increasingly larger sharks. This culminated with a few seconds of Tonic in a great white, who then preceeded to submissively display its belly to the scientist and then allowed him to ride her — by holding on to her dorsal fin while she swam — for a full minute.

According to the various divers that go about such communication with sharks the sharks experience a gamut of emotions from embarassment, to happiness, to anger, to pride and even depression. Likewisem the sharks know when their hominid playmate is having a good day or a bad day. The divers themselves hope that their research changes the greater hominid attitude towards these creatures from fear to wonderment. They realize, no doubt, that it is beyond the ken of most to go diving in the ocean bopping fourteen-foot apex predators on the nose, but it is within everyone to care. Adopting the myriad sharks is the best hope for their survival.