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Why You Should Care About Sharks: James Sulikowski on PYP 478

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James Sulikowski is a professor at Arizona State University, and associate director in ASU's School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences.

And he studies sharks for a living.

We connected thanks to the PR team at a company called Earthly, which produces pet food that aims to be sustainable and environmentally responsible. So at the heart of this conversation is a paradox: on a plant-based podcast with many vegan listeners, we're talking about saving marine species through industrial fishing.

One key thing to know about sharks, I discovered in our conversation, is that climate change is the biggest challenge they face. The changing water temperatures around the globe are throwing their preferred habitats and habits into disarray. The Gulf of Maine is heating up faster than just about any other body of water on the planet, and so shark species that thrived in those waters for millennia are looking for more suitable places to live, mate, and hunt.

Climate change is also messing with their life histories, including their maturation rate, size, swimming speed, and longevity.

And other species that enjoy warmer water are now encroaching upon those waters.

Another big thing about sharks is that species vary wildly in their behaviors, morphologies, and life histories. Some sharks lay eggs, while others release their young through live births. Some of the egg-laying sharks engage in a pre-birth Hunger Games simulation known as “intrauterine cannibalism,” in which the early hatchers gobble up their still-oval siblings.

More: pollution is messing with sharks, leading to feminization of males and increased incidence of birth defects.

Still more: sharks do not want to eat you. Out of the billions of people who swim in oceans every year, there are roughly 100-150 “encounters” between sharks and humans, which lead to about 10 deaths (of humans) per year.

By comparison, according to Sulikowski, there are about 3,000 incidents of humans biting other humans on the New York City subway system per annum.

To be fair, though, sharks have sharper teeth.

We discussed what shark research looks like (from swimming, uncaged and unprotected with these giant predators, to inserting trackers shaped like eggs into shark mom uterus' (non-surgically), to developing underwater ultrasound technology that can detect whether a shark is pregnant at a distance.

We talked about the challenges of getting funded, and working with industries that are more profit-focused than ecologically minded.

We discussed a couple of species in depth: porbeagles (named because they're sleek like porpoises and good at hunting like beagles; they're not a weird cross like a Labradoodle or Cockapoo) and spiny dogfish, to be specific.

And we talked about simple steps ordinary folks can take to help sharks survive and continue to scavenge the seas and keep marine ecosystems balanced and healthy.


Sulikowski Lab at ASU

James Sulikowski professional page

Sulikowski Lab social media: Instagram  |  Facebook

Earthly pet treats – sponsor of the Sulikowski Lab

Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

That's how I feel now about a psychological approach to transformational change called “Memory Reconsolidation.” Few psychologists have heard about it, and when they do hear the radical transformations it can bring about in a very short time, they're often skeptical to the point of disbelief.

But I've added Memory Reconsolidation work to my own coaching, and can attest to its amazing efficacy. So much so, that I'm devoting the next year to mastering it, studying with the best clinicians and teachers in the world, and then introducing it into health coaching through my trainings.

Right now, I want to triple my coaching practice to get more and more opportunities to do this work. And I'm lowering my fees – a lot – to make it easier for people to work with me.

If you're interested in working with me (and willing to commit to a minimum of 2 months), click the link below to open the form in a new browser tab and I'll get back to you within 3 business days.

Yes, I'm interested in Memory Reconsolidation Coaching.

You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


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