Together at home #08

A SHARK’S TALE

Off the coast of Guadeloupe in Mexico, shark tourism is thriving. But in this zoo, the people are in cages—the subjects of intense scrutiny by curious great white sharks. Above the water operators use minced fish and tuna oil to attract the predators. While the metal bars of a shark cage provide fairly effective protection for those within, there are concerns that sharks are being habituated to associate boats, and divers, with food. In New Zealand, paua divers are calling for a stop to shark cage diving in areas where they work, terrified that the sharks may make this fatal connection.

BELOW ARE SOME talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story. If young readers find it tricky; just look at the pictures and read the captions to figure it out.

TALKING POINTS

Discuss the ideas presented in the shark story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.

  • At the start of the article, we read about Mike Fraser losing his forearm to a great white shark. What did you think was interesting or surprising about the way this happened? Was it similar or different to your ideas about shark attacks?
  • Are you surprised that only four people die, worldwide, from shark attacks in a typical year? Did you think sharks killed more people than this? Why do you think people are so afraid of sharks?
  • Are you surprised by all the ways sharks are “attacked” by humans? Can you think of any more ways that we threaten sharks, which are not mentioned in the article?
  • Did you know that sharks can detect electric currents, caused by even the tiniest movements of fish and conducted to the shark’s sensitive skin through the salt water? How would having such acute powers of electro-reception help the great white stay at the top of the food chain?
  • Do you feel any differently about sharks after reading this article?

TASK FOR THE DAY

Go into the garden or look out a window, and sit or lie down somewhere comfortable. Make yourself as still as possible. For one minute, practice being as sensitive as a great white, noticing everything that is happening in the world around you and picking up information with all your senses.

Your eyes – what movement can you see? Leaves rustling? Sunlight glinting? Clouds moving? What else? (Anything surprising that you don’t normally see?) Your ears – what noises can you hear? Listen as hard as you can? Your nose – what can you smell? Touch and taste – can you feel anything or taste anything?

After a minute (or more, if you can stay still) have a chat about which sense you think is the most important to you as a human. Are there any other ways you pick up info? Share what you found out and your experiences with your teacher and family!

POETRY CHALLENGE

As this article says, we are fascinated by sharks because they are “charismatic mega-fauna”. (That means interesting, and very large, animals.) Tigers are another type of charismatic megafauna. Poet William Blake wrote a poem about the tiger. Read it aloud—can you hear the way the words seem to “stalk” like a tiger because of the rhythm and rhyme?

The Tyger by William Blake

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night; What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies. Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art, Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart began to beat, What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain, In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread grasp, Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears And water’d heaven with their tears: Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright, In the forests of the night: What immortal hand or eye, Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Can you re-write Blake’s poem, addressing the great white shark? Try this poem starter; Great shark! Great shark! swimming free In the…

 

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