Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fearless "Sharkman"

This shocking picture has been surfacing all over the internet, and has earned Mike Rutzen a global reputation as the "Sharkman". No stranger to the dangers associated with these beasts of the sea, he has over 30 scars on his body from close encounters. This former fisherman aims to change the stigma surrounding the powerful creatures, and hopes that the world will start to view them through his eyes, as smart and sensitive beings.

To succeed in his mission, he has been swimming alongside sharks without the protection of diving cages. He has learned to mimic their body language, by altering his posture in response to their actions. If done properly, the shark will see him neither as prey nor predator, and will merely drift past him. They even allow him to ride along by grasping onto their dorsal fins.

The photo above, showing Mike holding a 13-foot long Grey Reef Shark, is a demonstration of his most startling feat - inducing "tonic immobility" to the shark. Animals sometimes enter into this natural state of paralysis if faced with an imminent threat. However this can also be achieved in sharks by turning them onto their heads and massaging their snouts, between their eyes. The shark will then slip into this catatonic state for almost 15 minutes.

This method has been helpful for scientists wishing to study sharks, even the most dangerous kinds. In fact, by getting so close to a Great White, Mike discovered that their eyes are not black, but rather a dazzling, bright blue.


ABG2QBERT said...

cooooooool. you could not pay me ANY amount of money...

Walter Gomez said...

Although he does in fact perfrom tonic immobility on Great whites the shark in the picture is actually a grey reef shark.