Photo: UNB/Fahad Kaizer
Dhaka, Nov 13 (UNB) - The entertainment industry has shaped the public perception about sharks and anacondas as killers lurking underwater. But a recent presentation by researcher and underwater videographer Hamdan Chowdhury at “WildHour: Swimming with Predators” eliminated that notion by sharing his personal experiences with the creatures and drawing a conclusion that they are rather intelligent creatures with personalities.
WildTeam and Noazesh Knowledge Centre had organised this session of WildHour on November 12 at Cosmos Centre, where Hamdan, as the key speaker, emphasised on the need for conserving sharks. “As the rate of killing sharks is very high, it will substantially hamper the ocean ecosystem”, he said, as the human ecosystem depends on its oceanic counterpart.
Demonstrating a stereotypical photograph of a great white shark with its hyper-extended teeth, people might perceive it to be in an attacking stance, but the photo is actually man-made, meaning it was shot in a certain tone and does not represent its actual laidback nature.
Hamdan Chowdhury, Research Assistant specializing on shark behavior and an underwater videographer, speaking at a WildHour discussion titled “Swimming with Predators” on November 12, which was organised by WildTeam and Noazesh Knowledge Centre. Photo - UNB
Regarding anacondas, he recalled about his visit to Brazil once, where his team visited the Rio Formoso River in Bonito, which was home to most of the anacondas found in the world. He revealed that so far there has only been one reported attack on humans by an anaconda, implying that they really do not bother humans as shown in the movies. They get afraid easily after coming into human contact and generally swim in the other direction. But like most other creatures, they attack only when they are instigated or cornered.
He also stressed on the importance of preserving fishes like shark. “Fishes are not unlimited sources. They should be conserved. We need to survey and conduct research on sharks.”
Saber Hossain Chowdhury, MP and president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, was also present during the occasion as the proud father of the event’s key speaker, Hamdan Chowdhury.
He recollected how skeptical he initially was when he learnt about his son’s fascination about sharks and anacondas and how everyone else in the family felt the same way.
But after getting to know about how passionate Hamdan is about them and how extensively he has researched about them till now, he revealed how his son has successfully managed to change the traditional perception about the creatures as predators within his family and now has their full support.
He put emphasis on raising more awareness about sustainable development, citing how the current demands would put a strain on the existing natural resources. “It will take resources the size of two Earths to fulfill our current demands”.
Cosmos Group Director Nahar Khan thanked Hamdan Chowdhury for coming up with a presentation of this nature, which was previously only shown on television channels such as the National Geographic and Discovery Channel.
She mentioned that Cosmos Group and its intellectual wing, Cosmos Foundation, are proud of the strides made by WildTeam and Noazesh Knowledge Centre, and this presentation solidifies that fact.
A childhood friend of Hamdan, the director reflected upon the time she visited Dr Gruber’s Bimini SharkLab at the Bahamas, which was encouraged by Hamdan and also helped in dispelling her notion about how malevolent sharks can be.
Alifa B Haque, lecturer of the Zoology Department at Dhaka University, moderated the event, which was attended by environmental and wildlife enthusiasts alike.
The full video of the presentation can be found in this video.
About Hamdan Chowdhury:
Hamdan Chowdhury grew up in Dhaka, but spent his summers and winters in Florida. Every day was spent on the beach and so, a love for the ocean, and specifically sharks, quickly developed from a very young age.
Many years later, while working at a shark eco tourist facility, a shark professor came by one day and needed a research assistant. Hamdan ended up joining her and worked as a shark behaviouralist, learning the ins and outs of shark behaviour travelling around the world.
From Great White Sharks and Bull Sharks to Great Hammerheads, Hamdan has been up close with these apex predators in the water and works to try and change the reputation they have in the general public. His experience with sharks has opened new doors, including the chance to swim with another apex predator, the anaconda.
Hamdan’s work as a behaviourist continues to still prove the same outcome, regardless of the predator - these are not mindless killers but rationally thinking animals that often want nothing to do with us.
He was recently interviewed for UNB's "Light & Lens", which can be viewed here.