Monday, March 21, 2011

Seventy - and not a bit wise.....

When German-Austrian actor Curd Juergens, a towering green-eyed beau, turned sixty he decided to write (or have some 'ghost' write) his autobiography. The title: "Sixty Years - and not a bit wise". This must have been at least some thirty five years ago.

I was still quite young then, and thought: 'Well, if
Curd Juergens isn't wise at that age, he would surely mature further, and be blessed by wisdom at seventy'. Being a sanguine hedonist who ate, drank, smoked, and fornicated excessively, he didn't make it, and died at age 67 - thus, I'll never know what he would have been like at my age.

What I know is this: I wasn't wise at sixty, and I have to confess that now, at seventy, I am still as far away from being a wise man as I was in my youth...

It took me almost all my adult life to realize that in order to be sagacious when you are old you had to be already sagacious as a youngster.

Most people mistake experience for wisdom. Big mistake! Grey hair means nothing. In fact - many, if not most, grey wolves and she-wolves are fools because they always were - and, hey, I am NOT excluding myself from the pack!!

What I became during the voyage on that Ship of Fools that has been my life is a grouchy old fart, aggressive, intolerant, impatient, not too pleasant to be with, and whatnot - all rather flattering attributes I have heard from family members and close friends, people who know me well, and, incomprehensibly, still kinda like me.... :-)

As a small kid I was gentle and charming, so I was told - look at that little boy, and see what became of him:

(2 1/2 years old)

Oh, the ravages...........

(seventy years old)

...... of time.

Happy birthday to me - and, particularly, to my beautiful, faithful, and indulgent wife Karin, also born on a 21st of March.


Justify Full

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Tiger Sharks - smarter than we all thought.

Tiger sharks not only look intelligent - they are intelligent.
Photo: Wolfgang Leander

Click on image to enlarge

BBC: "Some shark species make "mental maps" of their home ranges, allowing them to pin-point destinations up to 50km (30 miles) away, research suggests."

Read the whole report; it is an eye opener.

I always sensed that tiger sharks must be quite smart, but to find out that they are that intelligent is truly amazing.

When I discussed tiger sharks with Erich Ritter about four years ago, and told him about my first encounters with them, and my gut impression that these sharks seem to be especially intelligent, he said: "No, tiger sharks are not very intelligent, bull sharks are."

Well, Erich, all I can say is EHE. Don't know what that stands for? Errare humanum est, and that applies even to experts... :-)

March 2007: My first encounters with tiger sharks.

I can't believe it's only four years since I had my first encounters with the sharks I feel I have dived with all my life. I remember how totally electrified I was when I saw the first tiger shark at Tiger Beach.

Electrified and a bit apprehensive as most shark dive operators in the United States and the Bahamas would not allow freedivers to swim with
sharks. Jim Abernethy, for instance, doesn't.

When I first inquired back in 2006 whether Jim would allow me to freedive on his trips, his answer was negative, and very categorically so: He told me that as a snorkeller I would be "lunch for the tigers in no time"... Jim suggested that I should get certified - well, you all know how I feel about SCUBA diving. Thus, I had to say
thank you but no thank you.

Scott Smith of the Dolphin Dream was, and still is
, more generous with me: I am the only client of his who has his explicit permission to freedive with the tigers and lemons of Tiger Beach.

Anyway, during my first dives with the tigers I had a short stick with me just to have something to "protect" me. Being inexperienced with tigers, I thought about Jim's grim admonition, and did not want to take any chances.

A Wolf and a Tiger - just looking curiously at each other.
Photo: Roger Horrocks
Click to enlarge

Needless to say, I realized very soon that I really didn't need the wand you can see in this picture. A lovely, extremely well composed picture, by the way.

Just watch the reflection of the tiger at the top of the image - doesn't it look as if the shark had its mouth open, "naturally" doing what a "dangerous" shark is supposed to do - having people for "lunch in no time", especially when they are snorkelling at the surface ?...

No hard feelings, Jim!! :-)

The photograph shows a truly majestic large shark, clearly interested in getting close to me, not seeing me as potential food as most people would think but just being curious to see another creature in its blue world.