Saturday, October 22, 2011

Winner!

I'm delighted to announce that my book has won in the Author's Show contest. As a result it will be included in the 2011 edition of "Fifty Great Writers You Should Be Reading." 
My main goal in writing this book, about getting to know the local sharks as animals and individuals, what they were like and what happened, was to reach people who appreciate animals and nature but hadn't necessarily thought about sharks before. So to have received such a compliment is a wonderful help!
Thank you to everyone who voted for me!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Interview with CBS News


Due to the urgent need to save sharks from extinction, CBS here in Florida aired an interview with me on the subject, stressing the importance of my book, My Sunset Rendezvous. 

I will get it linked to my website, so you can see it at :


in a few days or so.

Thank you for caring about sharks -- I fear that there will come a day when we will still be here, and the sea will still be here, but they will be gone, forever.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ode to Madonna



"Ode to Madonna" was written during the period in which I was waiting for the sharks of Polynesia to be protected by law. I had to wait a long time. 

Here in Florida giving presentations about them -- so that the world will find out, what they were like and what happened to them -- I arrive home remembering, and mourning again, Madonna.

Since this was posted so very long ago, I decided tonight to post it again for those who didn't see it the first time, in honour not just of Madonna, but all of the sharks who are being yanked brutally onto ships, having their tails and fins sliced off, and thown roughly back into the ocean, to face the end of everything they have known, as consciousness fades and they sink, sink, and writhing, sink into the abyss.

Ode to Madonna

"In just the last couple of months, waiting for the law to be passed to protect the sharks, the last of the older, mature females I first met some years ago have vanished from my part of the lagoon. This includes my number one shark, Madonna.

Madonna was the first shark to meet my kayak when I arrived in the lagoon in the mornings. She was nearly six feet long, steel grey, and heavily built. When I dove down and swam to her, she would come to me and look into my mask.

Meeting her by chance in the lagoon, she would swim to me when I called her, and circle, spiralling toward me til she was within arms' reach. But she did not like me to swim with her. She would set off on a sinuous path, and when I followed, she would come back, often turn sideways, accelerate and stop, or just vanish into the blue, but usually not before we had gone to meet up with one or two of her friends. Never could I detect the slightest sign between them as they passed, but I didn't think it could be chance that we had met up with them, knowing that they were her friends.

Beautiful Madonna was not one of our brightest lights. When I brought a treat for her, as I always did when she returned to her home range after breeding or birthing, I would sometimes have to throw it for her time after time before she could locate it, and often one of her friends would coil through the water to snatch it the moment it left my hand, a trick poor Madonna could never manage. Once I spent 45 minutes in terrible current just trying to get her treat to her.

Nevertheless, she would hopefully come to me for a bite. When I had nothing, and was actually promenading in the lagoon with her friend Martha, she would come charging in. I would fin backward, till we were swimming nose to nose, me on my back and her on top of me, while Martha circled us, watching. Madonna would finally give up when she realized I had nothing with me, and me and Martha would go on alone.

Madonna did this once when it was almost too dark to see, having arrived with a group of rather macho males from the ocean. She behaved as if she were starving to death, having just had her babies. When she soared up to my face all her companions did too, and while I could guide her around me with my hand, I didn't have enough hands to push away half a dozen sharks at once, and didn't want to be rammed by the strangers or have my mask knocked off in the dark.

Feeling sorry for my poor shark, who did look awfully emaciated after birthing, I returned as soon as conditions permitted, and trailed scent through her home range, followed by a tiny juvenile who always followed me, just out of sight, at that time. Finally, Madonna glided in, the juvenile now flitting excitedly at her side, apparently more confident in the presence of the big shark.

As she circled, I tossed the food so it fell to the side of her swimway, and saw her target it, but she slowed, allowing the excited juvenile to get it first. Luckily I had brought enough for both. 

I spent so much time with Madonna, I can remember every gesture, every movement she would make in different moods.

We all read all the time about thousands of sharks being finned all over the world, but when the sharks meeting this shocking end are ones you have come to know, and with whom you have spent time for many years, sharks of whom you have grown fond, the psychological effect is more intense.

Just as it is disturbing to read in the paper that some dogs elsewhere were poisoned -- but if it is your dogs who were poisoned and died, you reel."

Ila"Ode to Madonna" was written during the period in which I was waiting for the sharks of Polynesia to be protected by law. I had to wait a long time. 

Here in Florida giving presentations about them -- so that the world will find out, what they were like and what happened to them -- I arrive home remembering, and mourning again, Madonna.

Since this was posted so very long ago, I decided tonight to post it again for those who didn't see it the first time, in honour not just of Madonna, but all of the sharks who are being yanked brutally onto ships, having their tails and fins sliced off, and thown roughly back into the ocean, to face the end of everything they have known, as consciousness fades and they sink, sink, and writhing, sink into the abyss.

Ode to Madonna

"In just the last couple of months, waiting for the law to be passed to protect the sharks, the last of the older, mature females I first met some years ago have vanished from my part of the lagoon. This includes my number one shark, Madonna.

Madonna was the first shark to meet my kayak when I arrived in the lagoon in the mornings. She was nearly six feet long, steel grey, and heavily built. When I dove down and swam to her, she would come to me and look into my mask.

Meeting her by chance in the lagoon, she would swim to me when I called her, and circle, spiralling toward me til she was within arms' reach. But she did not like me to swim with her. She would set off on a sinuous path, and when I followed, she would come back, often turn sideways, accelerate and stop, or just vanish into the blue, but usually not before we had gone to meet up with one or two of her friends. Never could I detect the slightest sign between them as they passed, but I didn't think it could be chance that we had met up with them, knowing that they were her friends.

Beautiful Madonna was not one of our brightest lights. When I brought a treat for her, as I always did when she returned to her home range after breeding or birthing, I would sometimes have to throw it for her time after time before she could locate it, and often one of her friends would coil through the water to snatch it the moment it left my hand, a trick poor Madonna could never manage. Once I spent 45 minutes in terrible current just trying to get her treat to her.

Nevertheless, she would hopefully come to me for a bite. When I had nothing, and was actually promenading in the lagoon with her friend Martha, she would come charging in. I would fin backward, till we were swimming nose to nose, me on my back and her on top of me, while Martha circled us, watching. Madonna would finally give up when she realized I had nothing with me, and me and Martha would go on alone.

Madonna did this once when it was almost too dark to see, having arrived with a group of rather macho males from the ocean. She behaved as if she were starving to death, having just had her babies. When she soared up to my face all her companions did too, and while I could guide her around me with my hand, I didn't have enough hands to push away half a dozen sharks at once, and didn't want to be rammed by the strangers or have my mask knocked off in the dark.

Feeling sorry for my poor shark, who did look awfully emaciated after birthing, I returned as soon as conditions permitted, and trailed scent through her home range, followed by a tiny juvenile who always followed me, just out of sight, at that time. Finally, Madonna glided in, the juvenile now flitting excitedly at her side, apparently more confident in the presence of the big shark.

As she circled, I tossed the food so it fell to the side of her swimway, and saw her target it, but she slowed, allowing the excited juvenile to get it first. Luckily I had brought enough for both. 

I spent so much time with Madonna, I can remember every gesture, every movement she would make in different moods.

We all read all the time about thousands of sharks being finned all over the world, but when the sharks meeting this shocking end are ones you have come to know, and with whom you have spent time for many years, sharks of whom you have grown fond, the psychological effect is more intense.

Just as it is disturbing to read in the paper that some dogs elsewhere were poisoned -- but if it is your dogs who were poisoned and died, you reel."

Ila

extinction.symbol.framed.png

Monday, May 16, 2011

Press Release


May 3, 2011

Author and shark behavior researcher 
visits South Florida

Ila France Porcher, researcher of wild shark behavior, and author of "My Sunset Rendezvous," is in South Florida this month giving a series of informative presentations on the intelligence and social behavior of sharks. Her talk shares the excitement of her unique method of finding things out about sharks, which are often killed for science and studied dead.
From 1995 until 2009 she established never before achieved intimacy with the reef sharks that inhabited the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia.

During this intensive ethological study, she made some intriguing discoveries and had many strange and startling experiences. When the Internet became available, she began to connect with other scientists across the world, comparing her observations, while accumulating evidence about sharks that transcends common beliefs. Her book is the story of this study, set in the framework of life in the islands, and the shocking aftermath.

She and the late Professor Arthur A. Myrberg Jr., formerly of the University of Miami, found evidence of cognition (thinking) in sharks, and the degree to which they are social creatures.
Contacted by the BBC as a result of this work, she contributed her findings on shark cognition and social intelligence to the widely seen documentary “Sharks: Size Matters” for Discovery Channel’s "Shark Week."

In "My Sunset Rendezvous," the author takes you with her into increasing intimacy with each of the reef sharks, where new discoveries are laid out for the finding in the alien beauty of a coral lagoon. Her thrilling true story takes place underwater and the characters are the sharks, each identified by its unique appearance and markings. Learning about these fascinating creatures of the deep has become a memoir of a different kind in this remarkable account.

She hopes that animal lovers who had not considered sharks before, will finally appreciate the true nature of this misunderstood class of animals that is worth protecting from extinction due to overfishing.

New Zealand filmmaker Alan Baddock said of her book: “Your clarity of intent is stunning and beautiful. As a wordsmith, I recognise and acknowledge rare mastery. As a traveller who has picked up and cast aside the best of world literature in a thousand hostelries on half a dozen continents and countless islands, I recognise a book I would share with people I considered friends … Three chapters into a subject I am not especially interested in, I am waiting with a low, gnawing hunger for more. That alone tells me I have found something special.”

Porcher's calendar of events is swiftly filling, so if you would like to have her speak to your group or organization, or interview her, please contact her at: ilafranceporcher@gmail.com or 561 840 6571.

Notes to the editor:
For further information about Ila France Porcher's work, see her website at www.theplayoflife.org. Click on "My Sunset Rendezvous" on the left-hand menu on the first page to hear her radio interview -- orange button at the top of the page -- which shows her abilities as a compelling speaker.

Ila France Porcher is known for her shark activism, her wildlife art, her new discoveries that illustrate the little-known intelligence and gentler nature of sharks, and for her articles on animal intelligence and cognition.

She was a driving force behind the "Year of the Shark" project in 2009, which used the power of internet to generate many new projects for shark protection globally. It resulted in a powerful grass roots movement for shark protection that is still expanding.

She published an article in the scientific journal "Marine Biology" describing the reproductive cycle of C. melanopterus and was commended by the reviewers on finding a way of studying sharks without killing them, which was said to be as important as the discovery of their gestation period.

The contact number for Ila France Porcher is : 561 840 6571 

Introducing Myself


I was always fascinated by the natural world, and have been an observer of a variety of different manifestations of it.


My first book, My Sunset Rendezvous, is the product of a life spent on a quest to learn the truth about nature. Painting it was a way to begin when I was a child, and a way to keep food on the table. Observing it and studying it have been the themes of my days.

In my book I try to take you with me, to see what I saw, and feel as I did as I discovered the lagoons of Tahiti, sharks and their realm.

It had to be illustrated!

The Illustrations


Having written the story of the sharks and put them into a framework including a myriad of other creatures, I realized that my readers might not know how all these characters appear when one is underwater with them.

So as soon as the first draft of the book was finished, I switched activities to swiping various combinations of  inks, paints, chalk, bleach, and water over papers of different sorts and colours, in an effort to learn the best way to paint sharks in black and white.

I wanted each to be a writer-to-reader message in an image instead of words–an artist’s sketch, not a polished work that one might do to put in a gallery.
In the following weeks I  found that a combination of soaked water colour paper, writing ink, and bleach worked well, and painted a few of the sharks before going back to rewrite the text of the book.

The rest of the illustrations were completed in a whirl of activity while  it was being edited, so fortunately, text and illustrations were ready for AEG Publishing at about the same time. It seemed important to provide an image of each of the species that play a role in the story. To set a framework for the material on thinking in sharks, the case histories of some others were included.

The example above is a portrait of Flora as she was when I met her, snapping up a fish.  She is one of the sharks who are important to the story, and who was finned before the BBC could arrive to film them.

Into the Sea

In my book I tried to take you with me as I discovered the lagoon, the fish, the turtles, and the sharks who lived there, and became intimate with them.

This book was not written because I wanted to write a book but because there was a story which had to be told: how a community of sharks had accepted me as a companion among them and then were finned for the shark fin soup market. 

To add insult to injury, their story was blocked by the media.

I wrote this book so that the world would find out what it was like to have sharks as companions, and what happened to them.

Isolated in Polynesia I tried to get to know the local blackfin reef sharks as animals and individuals. They proved to be so intriguing that I became increasingly involved with them. Much of the book is about what it was like to meet and get to know these animals, and the sometimes strange and amazing things that happened. After three years when I got Internet connection, I found that no one had ever done such a thing, and that most people thought that sharks were vicious.