by Peter Benchley
Here the author of Jaws shares what he knows about sharks. Facts gathered as well as personal experiences. He refutes irrational fears, and instills reasonable ones, advising how to safely swim in ocean waters and what to do in the very unlikely case you are attacked by a shark. Sharks are something I never read much on before, so most of this information was new to me. I didn't know, for example, that the upper teeth are held hidden horizontal to the palette, and when the shark is ready to bite, they swing down ready for action. Hinged teeth! How cool (and scary) is that? Curiously enough, many people (if they don't panic) survive shark attacks because the shark is just taking an experimental bite, after which it instantly realizes you're not palatable and goes away. But a single bite from such a fearsome beast is one too many! The experiences in Shark Trouble range from up-close personal diving episodes, including the author suspending himself in a cage while a great white shark swarms around and bites the metal bars, to him standing by observing as an enormous shark is dissected for science. Very readable, quick-paced and intriguing overall. But not much depth, if you're really looking for information on sharks I'm sure there are better books out there. This one really only whetted my appetite. The main downside was that sometimes its tone was too casual for me. For example, at the beginning of the book Benchley talks about nation-wide shark panic in 2001 (of which I was entirely unaware), citing a ludicrous-sounding article from Weekly World News. I'm not familiar with that publication, so I didn't know it was a tabloid until I looked through the photos: the gaping shark jaws are pictured right next to a headline that says: 3-Breasted Woman, 3-Legged Man Have 3-Legged Baby! Credibility dropped a notch right there. Well, I managed to shrug off that silliness and keep reading: most of it was pretty interesting. It's not only about sharks; the book also features manta rays, barracudas, moray eels, groupers, giant squid and other oft-feared creatures of the sea (either telling us how harmless they really are if left alone, or warning with graphic stories of their frightfulness). Read this book before you next visit the beach. It might make you think twice about wading in the surf!
I borrowed this book from the public library, just because it caught my eye on the shelf.
Rating: 2/5 ........ 186 pages, 2002
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hm, anyone else?