Monday, August 5, 2013

Sleeping Shark Style

I saw the most incredible video of Cristina Zenato feeding sharks. 

The sharks look like Reef sharks in the Bahamas. 
I could be wrong.  
The only sharks I’ve ever been close to were the Dog Fish sharks from Comparative Anatomy class I took many years ago. 

Sharkskin is strange, it feels like rubbing fine grit sandpaper.  
If you don’t believe me, stick your hand in a shark tank and pet them.


My brother-in-law, Tom is a scuba diver volunteering every other Wednesday to swim in the large fish tank at the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.  
There are also sharks and turtles in it. 

According to Tom, they don’t hand feed the sharks,That is not our Aquarium policy.  The sharks are fed off of a pole on Tuesday and Friday.”

“You're no fun.... up close and personal should be the rule,” I said.

“Bold talk for an air breather on the dry side of the glass,” said Tom.


One can only assume that if he’s not feeding the sharks, then he just cleans the fish tank. 
That would make him an aqua janitor.
How appropriate, Tom is a lawyer.  
So he’s used to swimming with the sharks and cleaning up litigational poop.


However, I’m not interested in seeing Tom feed sharks, I want to see him do what Cristina Zenata can do and I’d even pay good money to see it.

Cristina can put a shark to sleep. 
It’s called Tonic Immobility. 
Check out this video and watch it to the end.  
You’ll be amazed.

Note how the diver seems not to breathe- there are very few bubbles being released. 
This means that she is extremely relaxed.  
She is among sharks and in a Zen mood- the epitome of will power.

If I were in her position, the one-hour tank of oxygen would have been sucked down in about 10 minutes and I would have looked like Bugs Bunny before he crashes to the ground riding an unexploded bomb.


Cristina touches the nose and head of the shark, creating sensory overload. 

Watch the shark’s breathing.
The gills are not as active and she is calm.  
Yes, you can tell the sex of a shark.  

The shark is so relaxed that she pees in the ocean.  
Think about it, the whole body is relaxed and so is the bladder.  
I’m so glad it wasn’t something else.

The shark is in a trance and directed to be upside down with the tail up.  
This is an unnatural position for a shark and most everyone else.

It remains that way until the sensations stop and the shark swims away.

I think I’ve watched this video a dozen times and it still amazes me.  

I’m also glad to be on the other side of the video, watching instead of dancing with sharks.







In case you need some more information about this phenomenon, I’m including some more.

It is believed that the shark reaches Tonic Immobility through the sensory overload of the Ampullae of Lorenzini.  In nature, this is thought to be a defense mechanism or even the last stages of sexual preparation before breeding.  The idea of being able to manipulate a shark into a vertical direction tale up, shows the extent of trance the shark goes into.

Sharks have bundles of cells making up nerve fibers, Ampullae of Lorenzini form an extensive subcutaneous sensory network in vessels and pores around the head.  These are visible to the eye. If you look forward from the gills, you can see a pattern of circles, which are the Ampullae of Lorenzini.

The Ampullae of Lorenzini detect weak magnetic fields given off by prey buried in the sand and are used for orientation in the environment, much like a compass.  These are gel-filled tubes directly exposed to the water, acting like a semiconductor to translate electrical impulses from the environment into information the shark understands.  In this way, the shark can also detect temperature changes.


May your days be filled with wonder and out of the shark tank.  I'd love to hear from you.  Email me at aitken.helen@gmail.com.

Have a great day.

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