REFLECTION by Biripi Creator Michael Scarrott

The grey Shark is the Biripi tribal totem and in Gathang is called Guyiwan.

Sharks have evolved over 400 million years are found all over the world and can be identified by their 5-7 gill slits and most have eight fins. They come in a range of sizes with varying temperaments and boast an extraordinary super power: a sixth sense called 'electroreception' which enables them to detect invisible electromagnetic fields to locate prey. 

The grey nurse shark pictured has a strong sense of community, residing in defined territories. There are two populations in Australia, one on the East and the other on the West Australian coastline. While protective, they pose no risk to humans unless threatened and feed on fish, crustaceans and rays. 

While posing little threat to humans, do not underestimate, this creature is a carnivorous killing machine. 

This species has an extraordinary reproductive cycle that ensures the absolute survival of the fittest. During mating, males bite and use their claspers to transfer sperm over to the female who can store this for internal fertilisation. Females have two uterus, and embryos grow inside the mothers without the need of a placenta, and literally eat each other alive along with any unfertilised eggs, in a race for survival. Mothers finally give birth to the two surviving pups, each about a metre long, every second year.

A powerful symbol of adaptive strength and resilience. 

Interestingly, looking to the research, sharks have developed some amazing attributes. Some have been found to clone themselves and hammerhead have 360 degree vision. Arctic sharks live up 500 years and some deep sea species have evolved special glow-in-the-dark skin. While biofluorescence is common in the ocean, these sharks have developed means to absorb blue and emit green light that is observable by their kin thereby enabling them to communicate with each other in the dark depths. 

Michael Scarrott



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