The lecture began with an overview of shark species native to the New York Bight. Yes, there are
Sharks are cartilaginous fishes, their skeletons are composed of cartilage, not bone. While most sharks have a similar appearance, they are a diverse group- the basic shark form is extremely successful, and the sharks of 370 million years ago are remarkably similar to modern sharks (though there are notable exceptions. Far from being mindless killing machines, sharks have extraordinarily sophisticated senses, not only smell, taste, hearing, sight, and feeling but also electroreception.
The discussion then turned towards tagging sand tiger sharks in order to track their migrations. The tags don't harm the sharks any more mating does. In one tragic case, a shark had survived a finning and was tagged in order to determine if it would survive. The practice of finning is taking a tremendous toll on shark populations worldwide. The lecture ended with a brief preview of the proposed huge shark tank project at the Coney Island Aquarium.
Following the lecture, there was a presentation of the Discovery Channel documentary Great White Highway. Of course, there was a Q&A following, during which some bastard in the audience asked about the prevalence of homeothermy in sharks. The salmon shark, short-finned (and possibly it's long-finned relative) mako shark, and the great white shark can regulate their body temperature to some extent, as can certain billfish and tuna.
All told, it was another fantastic Secret Science Club lecture, an informative and sobering (truth be told, it was a BIG BEER NIGHT for the Bastard, so I needed some sobering information) talk about some misunderstood and vulnerable creatures. Don't eat shark fin soup, people... a shark sandwich is okay, though.
As an added treat, here's a video featuring a hairier Hans Walters, from the days before he made the transition from RAWK GAWD to SHARK GAWD, fronting the band ZTOYZ:
As a brief postscript, I have to say that he's a hell of a nice guy. It's too bad I didn't have time to bring up this little fella, though.
As another postscript, a whole bunch of aquarium staffers came to the lecture and formed a cheering section for their colleague. After the lecture, I asked one of the marine mammal curators if they had an indiscreet walrus (probably NSFW, unless you work in an aquarium) problem, but the only... uh... self-entertaining walrus in Coney Island used his flippers to... uh... amuse himself.