Oct 20, 2011

Demon Fish

by Juliet Eilperin

Sharks, one of the creatures most widely feared and loathed by humanity, kill less people a year than accidents with toasters or chairs! (How someone dies from a toaster encounter I don't know). Our fear of sharks has led us to ignore what's been happening to them, but as Juliet Eilperin succinctly describes in her book Demon Fish, their numbers are rapidly plummenting. They've been killed because we fear them, killed because they get caught in equipment set to catch other fish, killed because we want to eat them to show off (the shark components of shark's-fin soup add nothing to the flavor of the dish) and killed as their habitats are destroyed. Some say: who cares? they eat us. Let them die. But as top predators in the ocean, sharks fill a very important role of keeping other species in check. Not to mention that they are beautiful in their own right, unique creatures we are just beginning to understand.

Some of the amazing things I learned about sharks in this book (I'd heard of some of these things before, but never read about them in detail)

Sharks are ancient. They predate the dinosaurs!
Shark skin is very tough, made out of the same material as teeth.
Some sharks lay eggs, others give live birth.
A few sharks even give virgin birth. That's right: no dad.
Some baby sharks eat their siblings in utero.
There are about five hundred known species of shark.
Most sharks are small, and many of them have beautiful patterns. Look at this one.

So I learned a lot about sharks, what makes them different, how scientists study them, how our actions are pushing many of them towards extinction and why we should care. And of course, take steps to halt their demise.

Borrowed from the public library.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 295 pages, 2011

more opinions:
We Loved DC
All Fins Attached

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