What was it like to be the first person to say, “I think I’ll swim with sharks…without a cage to protect me?”
Find out when scuba pioneer Stan Waterman presents “In The World Of Sharks” as part of the Summer of Sharks lecture series at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27.
Waterman will share an eight-minute excerpt from “Blue Water, White Death,” the 1971 documentary featuring him that he calls a “seminal out-of the-cage experience” with big oceanic sharks in open water 100 miles to sea off South Africa.
“It was a calculated risk,” Waterman says. “We were breaking a barrier of fear and all very much afraid. We had postulated that the sharks — 20 or more — feeding on the carcass of a whale would only be curious about these strange creatures unlike any normal food. That fortunately proved to be the case.”
Earlier in the month, Dr. Jose Castro presents “The Perfect Predator” at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20. Castro has been a senior scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota since 1999, where he coordinates the research of sharks and other elasmobranch (sharks, rays and skates, which have a skeleton made of cartilage, rather than bone) among Mote, NOAA and other agencies. He recently published “The Sharks of North America,” an encyclopedic reference book that updates his 1983 publication, “The Sharks of North American Waters,” providing detailed keys for shark identification.
Admission to the two Summer of Sharks lectures is $10 each ($5 for Friends of Rookery Bay members) and includes light refreshments. Registration is suggested at rookerybay.org/sos or by calling 417-6310 x401.
The center also offers a free monthly Ecotour Providers Lecture Series this summer for ecotour operators, guides, naturalists and the general public. This month, local scientists Dr. Jeff Schmid and Dr. Marty Main will share their recent findings about the “Riddles of the Kemp’s Ridley Turtle” and “Coyotes in Florida: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” respectively. The session takes place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 21. Registration is encouraged at http://2011ecotourproviderseries.eventbrite.com.
The Summer of Sharks programming includes the traveling Sharkabet art exhibit by Alaskan artist Ray Troll and Kids Free Fridays through Aug. 19, which offers free admission for children 12 and under along with crafts, stories, games and a shark dissection (the next, and last, dissection is Aug. 5).
The Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center is located at 300 Tower Road in Naples, just south of the U.S. 41 and County Road 951 intersection. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday during the summer season. Call 417-6310 or visit rookerybay.org or facebook.com/friendsofrookerybay.