Sunday, June 12, 2011

Breath-holds in Random Places, Part 1: The sharks den

A couple days ago, I was finishing my dive at a local beach with a couple statics (breath hold without swimming). Laying there underwater with the sun light bouncing above my head, and large fish swimming around me, an idea filters into my head.

"How cool would it be to get video of me holding my breath in all these random places!"

Breath-holds in Random Places (BRP): The idea is to get video of me doing statics underwater, in unusual places, in the presence of wild predators, or with interesting scenery.

My first Video of BRP:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ethics, why we should be doing more then just touching

Paul pets a shark
Freediver pets a galapagos shark
©Derek Broussard

As a child we have experiences that we carry with us for the rest of our lives,  and form us into the adults we are today. These experiences do not have to be big, they can indeed be very small, a look given to you after a bad or good deed, being teased, or maybe just a story. 

Back in kindergarden I had one of these character altering experiences. We had a guest speaker at the school.  I really can't remember why she was invited to speak at the school, but I do remember one of the storys she presented. 

It was of her garden. This guest speaker had a green thumb and loved her garden. Every morning rain or shine she would be out in her garden. On an early spring morning she saw a baby spider weave a web in-between two leaves in her favorite plant...her tomato plant I think it was. Being a serious gardener she knew that the spider would only benefit the life of her most favorite plant, so she let this little spider's home stay. 

Common Garden Spider
©Derek Broussard
The next morning as she was maintaining her garden, methodically making her way to her favorite plant, she was struck with an idea, "If the spider helps my tomatoes, then helping the spider helps me." So by the time she made it to the tomato bush she had caught a plant devouring insect to feed to the spider. She watched in awe as the aphid was quickly subdued by the spiders and eagerly devoured. 

Every morning she continued her routine, with the added task of feeding her spider. A week into the feeding, she said that the spider which she apply named "Charlotte" was able to recognize her and would run out from under her shaded leaf into her web. By the end of the month, she was able to pet Charlotte before it was fed. 

The spider was officially habituated to her presence. 

Humans have a unique gift where we are able to understand and interact with animals. 

Shaun Ellis lived with a wild wolf pack in Idaho for two years. 

Charlie Vandergraw lives with grizzly bears 6 months out of the year

Some sharks have been known to act like your fellow canine and nudge divers to be petted. I've personally seen galapagos sharks recognize a certain diver and nuzzle their nose into them to be petted .

You'll find most people believe that we should leave animals alone, and that any interaction will change their behavior. Well I got news, our over population of earth is already changing nature. In a bad way.

As a shark diver, I believe that interacting with sharks helps the public views of the animal. When Mr. Ellis lived with the wolves he learned valuable information that helped farmers with alternatives in protecting their livestock.

Humans have an innate ability to understand, adapt, and transform behaviors to fit in with the animal kingdom. We should stop fighting against nature. Learn to adapt, except and excel with our world.