Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Video By Shark Expert Ila France Porcher, Author Of 'The Shark Sessions', Available For Shark Week 2015

“The Shark Sessions” relates the story of sharks who were Porcher's companions for many years in Tahiti. When they were finned and massacred by a company from Singapore, she wrote down their story so that the world would find out : what they were like, and what had happened to them. Her powerful mini-documentary is now available

Shark expert Ila France Porcher has announced the release of a new video mini-documentary to coincide with Shark Week 2015. Porcher is the author of 'The Shark Sessions: My Sunset Rendezvous'. The book presents the story of her long-term ethological study of reef sharks in Tahiti, and the resulting findings, against the background of the uneasy society surrounding it. Intelligence in wild animals in general, and sharks in particular, is the major theme.

"In 2004, I was interviewed by the BBC for Discovery's 'Shark Week' regarding the evidence for thinking in sharks that I had found during my underwater study of their behaviour," Porcher stated. "For years, I had been keeping track of more than 600 sharks who passed through the area, and could recognize 300 on sight.

“With the certainty that comes with repeatedly verified, first hand knowledge of their behaviour, I had learned that individual sharks could be easily distinguished, not only by their appearance, but because they each had distinctive ways of behaving. I was able to report that:

•    each shark is a unique individual.
•    behaviour patterns that had been considered automatic and purely instinctive, such as roaming, reactions to sudden events, and their responses to other sharks and to me, were actually flexible and varied at different times.
•    they showed a range of emotional states including fear, rage, curiosity, excitement, and happiness.
•    they treated people, and other sharks, as individuals.

"From my long association with with the resident sharks who accompanied me during my observation sessions, I learned that sharks can develop companionships with people if the person approaches them with patience and calmness so that they can let go of their fear.

But Shark Week  left out my urgent message that those sharks were actually being finned and were in need of protection, and omitted my findings. The presenter stated, 'Ila claims that these sharks have personalities, but the jury's still out on that.'

"But the jury was not out. Cognitive thought in fish was beginning to be recognized, and my findings that sharks were capable of it too, had already been presented at a scientific conference by then. Since that time, more and more discoveries have been made about the sentience of a wide variety of oceanic life.

“The discovery that sharks are intelligently aware, and are pursuing lives of meaning to themselves, has startling implications. It changes our perception of them, and of their place in  nature, as well as ours. Yet, these scientific facts are being ignored, and many to continue to present sharks as brutal  man-eating killers.”

So she created a mini-documentary to complement the Shark Week entertainment this year, which shows actual footage of the sharks she studied, and some surprising shark behaviour.

Ila France Porcher is available for media interviews and can be reached by email at Her mini documentary is available on Youtube at More information is available at her website at

About  Ila France Porcher:

Ila France Porcher is a self-taught, published ethologist. She grew up in British Columbia, Canada, and at an early age became fascinated by watching and drawing wild animals. As a result, she naturally became a wildlife artist, and in time began documenting the behaviour of the animals she painted, being especially intrigued by actions suggesting intelligence and cognition.

In Tahiti she found sharks to be the first wild animals who came to her instead of fleeing. They were so intriguing that she launched an intensive study of them, systematically observing and recording their behaviour. Following the precepts of the field of cognitive ethology, and later with the guidance of world class marine ethologist Dr. Arthur A. Myrberg Jr., University of Miami, she learned to interpret their behaviour. Part of her study was subsequently published in the peer-reviewed journal Marine Biology, and some of her observations are considered to be the first documented cases of cognition in sharks. She is credited with the discovery of a way to study these much maligned predators that does not involve killing them, and was dubbed “the Jane Goodall of Sharks,” for her investigation of their intelligent behaviour in the wild, while giving a presentation about them at the University of Miami.


Ila France Porcher