Post sponsored by www.
Wolves on land and sharks on sea. Victims of so many black legends about their character as bloodthirsty predators , devouring beasts, who seem to give carte blanche to be persecuted, harassed and slaughtered without end. Of the wolves we have already spoken in ‘The Astonishment’. Now it’s the turn of the sharks through a recent book: ‘Trying sharks with Karlos Simon’, written by Alfonso Mateo-Sagastaand edited by Reino de Cordelia . In it, the protagonist of the TV series ‘Hundidos’ tells us his 30 years of experience diving among great sharks.
“There are about 400 species of sharks; in the book we stop at 25, which are the ones that are usually practiced diving “, Karlos Simón tells us.
Going through the pages of this voluminous and entertaining book, full of impressive images, are the whale shark, the largest fish that exists, which can exceed 12 meters in length, 15,000 kilos of weight and 60 years of longevity; qualified as high risk of extinction in the IUCN Red List. And the white shark, the largest of the carnivorous sharks, which can exceed 7 meters and 3,000 kilos; the only shark that sticks its head out of the water to observe what goes on around it, which feeds on seals and sea lions, bony fish, rays, birds, cetaceans and other sharks; also at high risk of extinction. The leopard shark, a harmless and nocturnal species with which you can even interact, in danger of extinction. The strange giant hammerhead shark, with the T-shaped head, in danger of extinction. The tiger shark, up to 5.5 meters, one of the most dangerous sharks that exist; very captured by the appreciated of its meat, cartilages, fins, skin and liver oil. The blue shark and the bull shark, the nurse shark and the mako shark …
Your favorites, Karlos?
The tiger, I have dived with specimens of almost 5 meters; It is quiet, but with a very powerful jaw; When you gain confidence, you can interact a lot, although you have to exercise extreme caution. And the giant hammerhead shark, an exciting species, very big and lonely. Another that I like very much: the Caribbean Reef, or coral, very common in the Caribbean and the Bahamas; so accustomed to tourism, that some specimens already recognize the guide divers.
His experience with the whale shark is told in the book: “It was the second trip I made to Cocos Island when I first saw a whale shark, and it made such an impression that I forgot all my training and behaved like child”.
And so he talks about the white shark in Treating sharks: “I have started the story of this part of my life with the baptism of diving in Cuba and the discovery that sharks did not seem to be the monsters that I had imagined, and since then I have been pretending tell how my interest, first, then my admiration, and finally my love for these animals and the desire to collaborate in their study and knowledge has conditioned my life. But there is a fear in our subconscious almost impossible to conjure because, as Jean Chevalier writes in his Dictionary of symbols, it represents the characteristics of the dark and the abyssal, and that fear has not found a better image than that of the great white shark. Peter Benchley understood it well and captured it in his book Shark (Jaws,1974) (adapted to the cinema by Steven Spielberg in 1975), which has done so much damage. Currently a new generation of naturalists is faced with the task of putting things back in place. It occurs to me that one of the ways to break the myth is to dive with white in its habitat, with no bars in between, as long as he, of course, is not afraid to see the real monster outside the cage. “
When you say interact, Karlos, what do you mean?
Some are extremely curious, and if you know how to earn their trust, they love to be caressed; They go and come back in a game to be touched. But, of course, we must do it with much knowledge and care, because a sudden movement of them, a sudden turn, can be very dangerous. The dorsal fins of the giant hammerhead shark measure, for example, more than one meter.
Who has given you the biggest scares?
The human sharks, and in the book I count several cases of human betrayals and bites. Among the other sharks, I could speak only of one substitute. Like the one of a lemon shark in the Bahamas that tried a bite in my hand, thank goodness I wore a mesh glove.
Where have you enjoyed most?
I love diving in the Pacific, and there I would highlight two special places, because there is a lot of life, the northern area of the Galapagos and the Coco Island, in Costa Rica, the 12 nautical miles that surround it are national park and Heritage of the Humanity. Also Tiger Beach, northwest of Grand Bahama, and the Red Sea, with spectacular reefs.
In the book you also speak marvels of the experience of diving to the Yongala, steamboat sunk in 1911 in the great coral reef of Australia.
Well, yes, of course, the high he gave me took me seven dives in a single day, the only time I have done it.
The book we are dealing with is full of valuable literary references to sharks. From Emilio Salgari, who in the novel Los tigres de Mompracem, from the saga devoted to Sandokan, says that hammerhead sharks or hammerhead sharks can jump out of the water to, with their mouths open, split a man in two. Passing Valle Inclán, who writes in Sonata de Estío that the capricious Niña Chole offers a huge black four gold coins if she hunts a shark from those who haunt the ship: “They tried to crowd the black, they threw ropes , and for the case prevented, and when he lifted half a body out of the water, the air rent a horrible scream, and we saw him open his arms and disappear, sucked by the sharks “. Until Gabriel García Márquez inStory of a castaway, where he writes: “They had not yet tried to destroy the raft, but they were attracted to it because it was white. Everyone knows that sharks preferentially attack white objects. The shark is myopic, so he can only see white or bright things. “
If anything Karlos Simón wants to insist on both in the book and in this interview, it is in the harassment suffered by the sharks that has led them to the cataloging of threatened and endangered species: “Of these 30 years, the most remarkable thing that I have learned from them is that they are totally necessary for the subsistence and good health of the oceans; that they are not as fierce as they paint them and that in some areas they are decreasing alarmingly, as in my beloved Isla del Coco, due to indiscriminate and furtive fishing. There are brutal mafias that fish them to pluck their fins, destined for the Asian market. Approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year; 75% by unscrupulous fishermen to get the fins with absolutely wild practices, what is called finning. They are captured, their fins are cut and they are thrown back into the water, mutilated, where a horrible death awaits them. Something very sad, of a brutal environmental damage.
And what about human sharks?
I’ve been in half a hundred countries, and I can say that Spain is one of the places where envy wins the most, where it seems to annoy you to do well working on what you’re passionate about, where it’s harder to appreciate the effort and work of others . It has happened to me even with the television series Hundidos (its broadcast ended in January in La 2; 13 chapters with 13 dives to big sunken ships), when reading comments of real disdain paying attention to details to throw overboard what I consider a job very well made of a great team, and whose experience I would like to repeat soon.
Source: El Asombrario