Thursday, 29 July 2021

Sharks of the World - Princeton University Press


     There may be no word in the English language that is more likely to invoke wonder or fear, or a combination of the two, than "shark". Much of the reaction to sharks, verging at times on hysteria, has been fuelled by the film "Jaws", and subsequent spinoffs, and sensationalized and lurid accounts of monsters that not only are the stuff of nightmares, but flirt with truth and skirt the very edges of reality.
     This is the book to set you straight!
     The text points out: "Many tens of millions of  people use the sea for work or recreation, but there are only about 100 shark bite incidents reported globally each year................Although the risk of serious injury from sharks is incredibly small, and the fear produced may seem to be completely out of proportion to this risk.......not least because the likelihood of them occurring at all is so slim."
      Logic be damned, however! 
      You are considerably more susceptible to injury or death driving to the beach, than you are from sharks when you arrive there and go for a swim; but no one thinks twice about getting into a car.
     I have the impression, and the hope, that this book will help to alleviate the fear of sharks and put the emphasis on wonder. 
     The first ninety-three pages are dedicated to an examination of how sharks came about in the evolution of fishes, followed by an examination of their biology. Twenty pages are devoted to "Sharks and People" and a key to the orders and families of living sharks.
     There follows a detailed examination of all the known species of sharks found throughout the world.
     These accounts are replete with colour photographs and illustrations, line drawings, charts, diagrams, and maps. The status (IUCN Red List) is provided for each species and it is disheartening to see the number of species that are are threatened, or in some cases in serious danger of imminent extinction. The savage, unsustainable practice of capturing sharks only for their fins, must be stopped. This very activity is a clear indication that as humans we have not advanced as far as we might give ourselves credit for. Morality apart, it is sheer madness to exploit a resource until it no longer exists.
     A first rate glossary follows the species accounts, with four other appendices titled "Oceans and Seas", "Field Observations", "Fin Identification", and "Tooth Identification".
     An intensive bibliography provides links to further reading.
     I remember vividly seeing my first sharks, basking in warm tropical waters. They were probably Tiger Sharks, although at the time I did not have the skill to identify them. They seemed to be the very antithesis of dangerous, mindless killers; they appeared quite gentle in fact.  We had no desire to interfere with them in any way, neither for profit nor out of fear, not as food nor to hang a shark tooth on a thong around our neck. 
     It is my fervent hope that we will cease our reckless, destructive assaults on these vital inhabitants of intact and healthy oceans.  In the process maybe we can stop loading the seas with plastics and other pollutants too.
     We owe it to ourselves to take action, but more especially, it is a legacy of clean oceans with robust populations of all its creatures that we should wish to bequeath to those who come after us.
     This book will help you to support shark conservation and steer a clear path away from the unsustainable, ecosystem-damaging and morally bankrupt practices that continue right up to this day.
     Make sure you let your elected officials know how you feel.

Sharks of the World - Princeton University Press
Authors: David A. Ebert, Marc Dando and Sarah Fowler
US$49.95 - £40.00  -  ISBN 9780691205991
Published - USA 20 July 2021
                 UK 22 June 2021
608 pages - 2,000+ coloured illustrations, photographs, maps and charts
8.5 x 9 in. (21.25 x 22.5 cm)


  1. I must admit, I never saw the film Jaws...
    In Hillary´s / Perth they have a "shark net" now and on other beaches they´d put on signs, "no swimming, sharks!"

    LOL, but you are right, driving to the beach you have a higher chance of dying...

    My Dad once.. 1995 or such, went to Galapagos and brought me some Shark-teeth for luck.

    Here in Germany we have no sharks. And the water is too cold (for me) to swim in...
    Sounds like a book well needed!

  2. C'est sûre qu'on a plus de chance d'avoir un accident de voiture que d'être attaqué par un requin, mordu par une vipère, piqué par des guêpes. Mais beaucoup n'y réfléchissent pas, je connais beaucoup de personne qui ont peur de pas mal d'animaux mais qui conduisent n'importe comment...
    Bonne journée

  3. Great review. I've never been swimming anywhere where sharks live, but in films and books they are made out to be monsters. The people are the intruders in the sharks' world, not he other way round. And some people are much scarier than sharks! Have a great day, hugs, Valerie

  4. Sharks, well known in our waters of Australia.
    They look frightening but like all creatures they need to live in safety.
    Looks an interesting book.

    1. It would probably have significant interest to an Australian.

  5. I have seen sharks in a museum called North Sea museum in northern Denmark. The have made huge aquariums with sharks who live in the North Sea. They are exciting fish, but I prefer not to see them along the coast here.
    Yes, the seas must be cleanset of garbage. It's a shame we don't get away from, David.

  6. A book with fabulous details!

  7. Gran reseña amigo David. Simplemente diré que, les tengo un enorme respeto.
    Un gran abrazo amigo y compadre David.
    Muchísimas gracias por vuestro valioso voto amigo mío.
    Buen fin de semana y cuidaros que esto no termina.

  8. Thank you for stopping by today to read my poem.
    I have been watching and learning a lot I didn't know about sharks during July. Thanks to Nat Geo Wild

  9. Se hab hecho muchas películas sobre ellos y la visión que tengo de ellos es a través de las películas. Ahora veo en tu blog, una información especial para conocerlos de manera más científica.

  10. Good evening David,
    I have always found sharks to be fascinating and very much maligned, they can be vicious but if you put yourself in the path of a Great White you get all you ask for.
    How did you get your Header up to size.
    Best wishes.

    1. Hi John: I am indebted to Richard Pegler for the header image. I sent him a picture and he resized it for me.

  11. Ohhh, My!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel dizzy...
    hmmm panic attack right now...
    i think i´m going to faint... plop!
    Have a safe evening dear friend o´mine!

  12. Gracias por la reseña parece un libro interesante y educativo. Me gustan los tiburones. te mando un beso

  13. I remember being terrified of going into the ocean after seeing Jaws! This past week there have been shark sightings at Long Island (New York) beaches, and the media has been all over it.

  14. Hello,
    Looks like a great book. I have seen sharks in Florida and Hawaii. They are neat to see but I kept my distance. Thanks for sharing your review. Have a great day and a happy weekend!

  15. From what I've seen at the side of the road in the UK, wildlife has far more to fear from our drive to the beach than we have. As someone who is tentative about getting into the bath after watching Jaws, I intend to keep well clear of sharks. Maybe it's safe to read the book???

  16. Otra guía interesante. Abrazos.

  17. Sharks are common around our coastline but seldom come close inshore. Considering the number that cruise around just outside the wave break, shark attacks are rare here. It doesn't stop people being frightened though. The son of a friend once had one cruise in on a wave beside him (he was in a kayak) and refused to go out again! Compare that with another friend who likes to free dive - he has great respect for them but feels quite comfortable sharing their watery home.

  18. I agree, shark, brings fear. I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing it.

  19. Hi David - some very salient notes in your post ... we really do need to take more care of our planet.

    These Princeton books just look so superb ... I think I'd love to spend a week with these books around me - so I can peruse them. Thank you - excellent review - cheers Hilary

  20. An interesting post. We have had our share of shark attacks in Western Australia but when you consider the length of our coastline (just over 10,000 kms on the mainland and more than twice that if you include islands} they are still rare. My view has always been that when we go into the ocean we must accept that there's a risk from predators in the same way as for example if you were to go out on the plains of Africa you might be attacked by a lion.

    1. Sounds like a common-sense approach to me, Helen.