Archives of No-Holds-Barred Reviews of Recent Shark Books

Book Rating System:

An absolute Must Have!
Excellent book!  A valued addition to any library.
Pretty good.  A few problems, but doesn't really interfere with the overall value of the book.
Not great, but has some unusual content not found elsewhere.  
Poor.  Recommend that you save the money for something else.

So awful that I can't describe it using "polite" language!

By Title:

Australia's Sharks & Rays by Neville Coleman

The Basking Shark in Scotland, by Denis Fairfax

Diving With Sharks and Other Adventure Dives, by Jack Jackson

The Encyclopedia of Sharks by Steve and Jane Parker

Great White Sharks: the Biology of Carcharodon carcharias, edited by A. Peter Klimley and David G. Ainley

The Private Life of Sharks by Michael Bright.

Red Sea Sharks, by Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch

SHARK! by Jeffrey L. Rotman

Shark: the Shadow Below, by Hugh Edwards

The Shark Almanac by Thomas B. Allen

Shark Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, by Thomas B. Allen

Sharks and Rays of New Zealand by Geoffrey Cox and Malcolm Francis

Sharks and Rays of the World by Doug Perrine

Sharks by Angelo Mojetta

Sharks edited by Reader's Digest

Sharks Second Edition, edited by John Stevens

Sharks & Rays, edited by Leighton Taylor

Sharks & Rays: Elasmobranch Guide to the World, by Ralf Hennemann

Sharks and Rays of Australia, by Kelvin Aitken

Sharks, Skates, and Rays edited by William C. Hamlett

Sharks of Florida, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, by Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch

Sharks of the World by Rodney Steel

Sharks: Silent Hunters of the Deep edited by Reader's Digest

Twelve Days of Terror by Richard G. Fernicola

By Author:

Aitken, Kelvin. Sharks and Rays of Australia

Allen, Thomas B. Shark Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance

Allen, Thomas B. The Shark Almanac

Bright, Michael. The Private Life of Sharks

Coleman, Neville. Australia's Sharks & Rays

Cox , Geoffrey and Malcolm Francis. Sharks and Rays of New Zealand

Edwards, Hugh. Shark: the Shadow Below

Fairfax, Denis. The Basking Shark in Scotland

Fernicola, Richard G. Twelve Days of Terror

Hamlett, William C. (ed.) Sharks, Skates, and Rays

Hennemann, Ralf. Sharks & Rays: Elasmobranch Guide to the World

Jackson, Jack. Diving With Sharks and Other Adventure Dives

Klimley, A. Peter and David G. Ainley (eds.). Great White Sharks: the Biology of Carcharodon carcharias

Mojetta, Angelo. Sharks

Parker, Steve and Jane. The Encyclopedia of Sharks

Perrine, Doug. Sharks and Rays of the World

Reader's Digest (ed.) Sharks

Reader's Digest (ed.) Sharks: Silent Hunters of the Deep

Rotman, Jeffrey L. SHARK!

Stafford-Deitsch, Jeremy. Red Sea Sharks

Stafford-Deitsch, Jeremy. Sharks of Florida, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico

Steel, Rodney. Sharks of the World

Stevens, John (ed.) Sharks Second Edition

Taylor, Leighton (ed.). Sharks & Rays

Note: Double-click on book "thumbnail" images to see larger versions.

The Basking Shark in Scotland, by Denis Fairfax. Tuckwell Press, East Lothian, 1998. 206 pp.

This is a splendid overview of Basking Shark natural history, commercial fisheries, and conservation in Scottish waters. Meticulously researched and gracefully written, the book features many reproductions of antiquarian illustrations and rare archival photographs depicting the morphology and slaughter of these awesome filter-feeding sharks. My first love is always biology - and there is certainly plenty of that in this book - but I must admit that I found the chapters on early Basking Shark researchers and fisheries fascinating. Even the chapters on traditional and modern Basking Shark killing technology and processing methods are quite interesting, in a morbid sort of way. The concluding chapter on Basking Shark conservation is likewise fascinating, including details on Monty Priede's first attempt to track a Basker via satellite. There is an excellent bibliography and a detailed, well-planned index. For anyone interested in the natural or commercial history of Basking Sharks, no matter how far beyond Scottish waters, this book is strongly recommended.

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Great White Sharks: the Biology of Carcharodon carcharias, edited by A. Peter Klimley and David G. Ainley. Academic Press, San Diego, 1996. 517 pp.

Plagued by editorial problems from Day 1, this book is something of a disappointment. For starters, although there are over 65 contributors and 45 chapters, one or both editors are authors or co-authors of 12 of them - greatly reducing the volume's overall diversity of ideas about White Sharks. There is very little integration among the various chapters and virtually no attempt to compare or contrast findings about White Sharks with those about other species. According to a number of paleoichthyologist friends of mine, the paleontology in this book is generally quite sloppy. Seven papers focus on the overblown issue of interactions of White Sharks with humans, events which - by virtue of their relative rarity - must not be terribly important in the overall biology of these sharks. I would have much rather seen a comprehensive summary of the social behavior of White Sharks compared and contrasted with that of other sharks or a proper discussion of the nature and extent of the White Shark's role in ocean ecology. I am annoyed that the publishers opted to save a few pages by collecting all references in a single, shared bibliography. For researchers and students working from reprints or photocopies of individual chapters, this creates bibliographic hassles that could easily have been avoided by the convention of including cited references after each chapter. Lastly, the index is bare-bones and all-but useless for locating a specific bit of information or pulling together related items scattered throughout the volume. While this volume brings together and reports many interesting results of recent work on White Sharks, and - collectively - the various chapters summarize much of our present knowledge about this celebrated animal, its perspective is far too White Shark-o-centric to be a really useful springboard to future work on this or other shark species. Despite my misgivings, this is the most comprehensive summary of White Shark biology and behavior thus far produced and is thus, with some reservations, recommended.

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Sharks & Rays, edited by Leighton Taylor. Time-Life Books, San Francisco, 1997. 288 pp.

Written by a cadre of big-name shark researchers and a renowned underwater photographer and richly illustrated with gorgeous full-color photo and diagrams, this book provides one of the best single-volume overviews of basic elasmobranch biology and our changing relationship with these fearsome and fascinating fishes. The bulk of the book is dedicated to brief profiles of some 69 sharks and about 23 batoids, each featuring a color photograph or painting (often supplemented with a secondary illustration), identifying features and life history notes. The book also includes guidelines for planning and undertaking shark and ray encounters as well as descriptions of and travel logistics for 21 places around the globe where one can encounter these creatures in the wild. There is a good directory of resources (books, magazines, websites, videos, aquaria, museums, universities) and elasmobranch-related organizations, and a combined index and glossary. the few scientific errors are relatively minor and do not detract from this book's overall excellence and utility. Very strongly recommended.

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Shark: the Shadow Below, by Hugh Edwards. HarperCollinsPublishers, Sydney, 1997. 359 pp.

An engaging first-person account of the author's amazing experiences with White Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Grey Nurse Sharks, Sperm Whales, and other big marine animals in Australian waters. Edwards, a long-time professional underwater cinematographer based in Western Australia, has done some unusual to downright incredible things in his pursuit of ever-more-spectacular images. Much of the early parts of this book features detailed accounts of White Shark attacks on divers and the author's on-going attempts to understand the why's and wherefore's of these frightening incidents in light of his personal experiences with White Sharks. Later parts of the book explore shark diversity, adventures in shark filming, and diving with Whale Sharks at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia Then the material turns back to sharks and the danger they pose to humans, including comparing sharks to other 'dangerous' creatures, world-wide patterns of shark attack, and the search for an effective shark repellent. The book concludes with brief musings about "Sharing the Planet". Although each chapter is well-written, overall the book doesn't hand together very well - reading more like an anthology of separate, self-contained articles rather than a cohesive, full-length book. It is illustrated with several inserts of full-color photos that range in quality from mediocre to quite good, has a brief bibliography, and a bare-bones index. This book focuses too heavily on shark attacks for my liking and the science is often a bit soft, but there's no denying that Edwards knows how to spin a good yarn. Recommended.

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Red Sea Sharks, by Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch. Trident Press, London, 1999. 96 pp.

A compact guide to basic shark biology and behavior followed by a section on identification and life history of Red Sea sharks, all illustrated with the author's gorgeous underwater photos and Ian Fergusson's accurate (if rather lifeless) pen-and-ink drawings. Drawing on his own extensive first-hand experience, Stafford-Deitsch provides fascinating insights into aspects of shark behavior and offers practical advice for divers wishing to interact with sharks in the wild. A nice, useful little book. Recommended.

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The Private Life of Sharks by Michael Bright. Robson Books, London, 1999. 285 pp.

Bright is the Director of Development for the BBC Natural History Unit and author of several excellent books, including Animal Language (1984).  Bright avoids re-hashing the same, tired material that fill most shark books and instead does an admirable job of summarizing the most important findings in shark biology, life history, and behavior of the past 10 to 15 years. Includes an insert of exquisite full-color photographs and fairly extensive, chapter-by-chapter references to the primary literature. The main weaknesses of this book are the unappealing text illustrations, consisting of featureless silhouettes of various sharks, and the vague and seemingly half-hearted index that reduces this book's value as a reference. Overall, though, this very worthwhile book presents a great deal of material not found in most shark books and does so concisely and well. Strongly recommended.

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The Shark Almanac by Thomas B. Allen. Lyons Press, New York, 1999. 274 pp.

This book is a huge disappointment. I expected better from one of the authors of the 'classic' 1963 book, Shadows in the Sea and the publisher of Bullock's Underwater Naturalist and Ellis' Search for the Giant Squid. Lyons Press did a fine job with their part of the production, designing and manufacturing an attractively laid-out, well manufactured book (nice reproductions of classic Bigelow & Schroeder illustrations). Thanks to Lyons' efforts, the book looks as though it should be useful. Alas, Allen's sloppily researched text is not worthy of such production values. The fundamental nature and sheer number of scientific errors (I stopped counting by the time I got to 200), combined with severely dated text that is often a mere re-hashing of material from Shadows in the Sea, reduce this book's value as a reference to almost nil. Allen's attempts at up-dating the material seem limited to hap-hazard dipping into the commonest, most easily available sources (IGFA and ISAF) and clumsily throwing a few newer factoids together with moldering bits from his previous shark book. The result is a hopeless pastiche of somewhat dated material and thoroughly discredited leftovers from half a century ago. I cannot recommend this book.

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Sharks, Skates, and Rays edited by William C. Hamlett. Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, 1999. 515 pp.

Tons of technical fun, this book is an absolute marvel. In the finest and most venerable traditions of 'old school' comparative anatomy and physiology, it brings together masterful summaries of selected topics in elasmobranch functional morphology, including the integumentary, musculoskeletal, digestive, circulatory, urogenital, sensory, and nervous systems. Each chapter is written by one or more acknowledged pioneers and/or leaders in the discipline covered and features extensive references to both classical and current primary literature. The many text figures, borrowed liberally from the scientific literature, are crisp and clear. The index is well organized and detailed, enhancing this book's value as a reference. This book is an 'instant classic', sure to be a standard work for many years, and is strongly recommended for anyone working on or having a scholarly interest in elasmobranch functional morphology.

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Sharks and Rays of the World by Doug Perrine. Voyageur Press, Stillwater, 1999. 132pp.

The author of this book is a very talented underwater photographer and the manager of Innerspace Visions, one of the largest stock photo agencies specializing in underwater images. It is therefore not surprising that this book is filled with gorgeous, full-color photographs of sharks and rays in the wild. What is a little surprising is how good the text is in what could easily have been just another pretty picture book. But Perrine is also a trained marine biologist and a fine and observant marine naturalist. He has done a commendable job reviewing the basics of elasmobranch evolution, classification, anatomy, physiology, sensory biology, feeding and reproductive biology, then goes beyond the usual material by including fresh insights from many of today's foremost shark and ray researchers. Perrine also covers well the increasingly worrisome issue of "human attack" against sharks, bringing a much-needed scientific perspective to shark conservation. Includes a table summarizing some of the world's best places to dive with sharks and rays and a pretty good index. Strongly recommended.

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Sharks by Angelo Mojetta. Swan Hill, Shrewsbury, 1997. 167 pp.

Crammed with gorgeous full-color photos and wonderful, mostly full-color anatomical illustrations, this book is a visual feast. The images and captions are so numerous, in fact, that it's sometimes difficult to follow the main text meandering among them. And that's a shame. The author is one of the most respected ichthyologists working in the Mediterranean and has packed an astonishing amount of good, solid information into a very compact space. The text is nicely written and covers shark evolution, diversity, anatomy, sensory biology, feeding, reproduction, ecology and behavior. Mojetta covers all this material exceptionally well - with the exception of the evolution section, which is severely dated. Also, numerous sharks depicted in photographs are misidentified, but that fault probably does not lie with the author. No index. Except for these relatively few problems, the book is generally accurate, up-to-date, and covers shark anatomy particularly well. Recommended.

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The Encyclopedia of Sharks by Steve and Jane Parker. Firefly, Buffalo, 1999. 192 pp.

This is a mediocre shark book with exceptional full-color illustrations and an attractive lay-out. Both authors have some biological training but exhibit no real expertise about sharks. As a result, the book covers a great breadth of material very superficially and includes numerous errors of scientific fact. Many of these errors seem to result from the authors' making assumptions about sharks based on a basic understanding of biology. Unfortunately, sharks break or warp so many principles of biological common-sense, one can take very little for granted about them. Several of the sharks depicted in photographs are misidentified and the captions perpetrate further errors of scientific fact. Many of these problems could have been easily avoided by the simple expedience of asking one or more shark researchers to vet the manuscript. Don't get me wrong: parts of the book are pretty good. But with more thorough research or a bit of humility on the part of the authors, it could have been much better. An okay read - but if you miss this one, you're not missing much.

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Sharks and Rays of New Zealand by Geoffrey Cox and Malcolm Francis. Canterbury University, Christchurch, 1997. 68 pp.

New Zealand's cartilaginous fish fauna is remarkably diverse, including many species that also range far from her shores. This delightful little book features very good full-color paintings by Cox, whose original illustrations are attractive, informative, and quite accurate. Cox is one of New Zealand's best-known natural history writers and illustrators. The text - though brief - covers shark evolution, selected aspects of biology and behavior, attacks on humans and human attacks on sharks, role on Maori and Pacific island mythology, fishing, tagging and conservation, and features an illustrated catalogue of all known Kiwi chondrichthyans. Francis is currently New Zealand's premier shark researcher; undoubtedly, the uniformly accurate and up-to-date text owes much to his involvement. Together, Cox and Francis have produced a fine regional guide to chondrichthyans of the New Zealand region and a good introduction to these fishes in general. Strongly recommended.

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Australia's Sharks & Rays by Neville Coleman. National, Frenchs Forest, 1996. 63pp.

This little book is filled with stunning full-color photographs of Australian elasmobranchs - including several rare species -in their natural habitat. Many of the photos were taken by Coleman (who is curator of the Australasian Marine Photographic Index) and other of the region's top underwater photographers. What impresses me most, however, is Coleman's text, which features many of his own field observations of Australian sharks and rays, including notes on such fundamental but tough-to-learn aspects of natural history as habitat preference, breeding season, and feeding behavior. Strongly recommended.

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Sharks edited by Reader's Digest. Reader's Digest Association, Pleasantville, 1998. 159 pp.

At first blush, this colorful, photo- and illustration-rich, thin volume looks like a mere kids' book. But its pretty diagrams and use of simple language are highly deceptive. The book's contributing authors are among the biggest names in current shark research, including Leonard Compagno, Kim Holland, John McCosker, and Colin Simpendorfer. This is one of those rare cases where the material rises far above the apparent limitations of the simple, easily accessible language. I credit the contributing authors' formidable collective expertise as well as the skillful editing of Reader's Digest staff. It is downright astonishing how much scientifically rock-solid, up-to-the-minute information is expressed with economy, elegance, and style. As a writer who is always searching for new ways to communicate serious science with as broad an audience as I can, I studied this book very carefully to better understand how the authors and editors made it all work so beautifully. This is gorgeous, informative book and a model of science exposition for children and adults alike. Strongly recommended.

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Sharks Second Edition, edited by John Stevens. Weldon Owen, Sydney, 1999. 240 pp.

This is a revised and up-dated edition of one of the 1980's best popular shark books. The glossy paper and library binding of the first edition has been replaced with more economical non-glossy paper and less durable binding. Most of the chapters from the first edition have been reprinted without significant change, except for two chapters on shark attacks. The five shark attack chapters (same number as the first edition and still too numerous for my tastes) have been euphemistically re-titled as 'shark encounter' chapters. Two new chapters have been added, one on 'Conserving Sharks' by Leonard Compagno and the other on 'Observing Sharks' by Kevin Deacon and Leighton Taylor (recycled from the 'Encounters with Sharks & Rays' chapter from the Nature Company Guide Sharks and Rays). Also includes a fairly comprehensive 'Resource Guide', listing books and other sources for further information. Overall, this is a very fine and useful book that is sufficiently different from the first edition to warrant purchasing. And if you don't have the first edition, this book is strongly recommended.

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Sharks of the World by Rodney Steel. Facts on File, New York, 1986.  192 pp.

Re-released with a new cover (sorry, the old cover is shown here) and soft-bound, this book is still a terrific source of information on shark biology, diversity, and evolution.  Although the shark attack accounts are grossly overwritten, the author - a vertebrate paleontologist - does an excellent job reviewing in considerable detail shark anatomy and physiology, includes a fascinating account of Paleozoic sharks, and surveys many of the most interesting and important extant shark groups.  But perhaps my favorite aspect of the text is the numerous historical tidbits about Bashford Dean, Samuel Garman, David Star Jordan, and other pioneers in modern shark biology.  The text is enhanced by scores of excellent black-and-white illustrations and gorgeous full-color photographs.  A Checklist to living and extinct sharks, glossary, guide to further reading and index are included.  Strongly recommended.

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Sharks: Silent Hunters of the Deep edited by Reader's Digest. Reader's Digest Association, Surry Hills, 1986. 208 pp.

Still available as a trade soft-cover, this is an uneven but fascinating book.  Its contributors include shark researchers, mostly from Australia but also a few from America.  The introductory chapter on the shark's environment was a good idea, but too superficial and unintegrated into the rest of the book to be very useful.  However, the chapter on shark sensory biology is particularly strong, with detailed explanations and terrific anatomical illustrations.  The chapters on shark evolution and basic shark biology are okay, but nothing special.  A chapter on shark tagging studies in Australia and America and what they have revealed to date is a nice touch, including a revealing comparison of variable growth rates.  The chapter summarizing humankind's long and often confused attempt to understand sharks as living creatures, from ancient Greece through the Age of Exploration, is simply wonderful.  The summary about Baldridge's attempts to quantify the risk of shark attack is concise and very well done.  As usual, the shark attack case histories are overblown with lots of bloody pictures - but I must admit the book covers extremely well the Shark Arm Murder Case, the New Jersey Man-Eater, and the quirky tale of Sir Brook Watson.  There's also a neat chapter on the "shark callers" of certain remote South Pacific islands.  The chapters on protecting humans from sharks and human uses of sharks are well done, but I would have liked to have seen a chapter on protecting sharks from humans.  A reference section includes a terrific table summarizing basic data on the 344 shark species known at the time, and a brief but excellent section of common questions and their answers.  Shark game fishing records and an atlas of documented shark attacks round out the book.  There are a General and a Species Index (including synonyms!) and an incredibly shrunken and tough-to-read chapter-by-chapter list of sources that could have made an excellent guide to further literature had it been readily legible without a magnifying lens.  The book is richly illustrated throughout with hundreds of gorgeous full-color photos, numerous fascinating archival images, and scores of excellent,  specially-commissioned artwork.  Despite its problems, this book is useful reference and a browser's delight. Very strongly recommended.

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SHARK!, by Jeffrey L.Rotman. 1999. Ipso Facto Publishers, New York.  226 pp.

Let me be brutally blunt here:  as a rule, I don't care for oversize picture-books.  They're too big and awkward to curl up with in a comfy chair and, if they have any text at all, it's usually hastily-written fluff to serve as a 'frame' around the pretty pictures.  As a scientist and writer, picture books offend two of my deepest sensibilities.  But there's no denying that this book is absolutely gorgeous.  It is, to the best of my knowledge, the first truly 'fine art' book dedicated to the subject of sharks.  The stunning underwater images of photographer Rotman are second to none, showing the structural beauty and diversity of sharks in unparalleled detail.  In these exquisitely reproduced plates, one can see the tiny blood vessels in the translucent snout of a Little Skate, rare portraits of several deep-sea sharks, including near-term fetuses of the appropriately-named Velvet Belly Shark, the huge, ponderous bulk of Basking and Whale Sharks, the tiny, glass-like teeth and silky smooth underskin of a Little Skate, the bizarre fleshy beard of a Spotted Wobbegong, the topological wonders of the Schneiderian folds inside a Thornback Ray's nares, the awesome splendor of the Great White, the winged grace of the Manta Ray, the complex metallic irises,  cat-like pupils, and delicately sculpted dermal denticles of  several species of sharks.  There are also fine images of divers and scientists interacting with sharks in the wild.  This book covers an enormous variety of visual scales, from Lilliputian to Bromdignagian, and much to the credit of the photographer and publisher does so beautifully.  This beauty is purposely shattered at the end of the book with stark images of sharks as slain monsters and butchered meat.  The captions are brief but interesting, although some of the images beg far more than the few words provided.  Other images such as the wonderful full-face view of a Spotted Eagle Ray or the bloody, butchered carcass of a Salmon Shark need no comment at all.  If you enjoy well-manufactured fine art books featuring technically flawless photographs exquisitely reproduced, I'd recommend this book.  If beautiful images of sharks make your heart soar, you will be hard-pressed to find a more stunning collection of images.  Strictly as a researcher, I wouldn't buy this book, simply because the scientifically revealing images do not-quite warrant the hefty pricetag.  But as a bibliophile and artist who delights in the sheer beauty of sharks and rays, this book is hard to dislike.

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Sharks and Rays of Australia, by Kelvin Aitken. New Holland Publishers (Australia), Sydney, 1998. 96 pp.

This lovely little book surveys, in words and pictures, the very rich chondrichthyan fauna of Australia and addresses some of the most frequently-asked questions about them. Kelvin Aitken has long been recognized as one of Australia's most talented and successful underwater photographers, but this book demonstrates he is also a very knowledgeable naturalist who expresses his enthusiasm with clarity and a deceptive accessibility. The resultant book is an unalloyed delight that can be enjoyed by elasmophiles young and old. Each featured species or question is illustrated with at least one gorgeous, informative photograph. In addition, each species' distribution in Australian waters is illustrated with a range map. This book is not so much a field guide to Australia's sharks, rays, and chimaeras as it is a celebration of shark diversity and biological elegance. Since many of the species covered range far from Australia's shores, this book deserves a very broad audience. Recommended

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Shark Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, by Thomas B. Allen. Lyons Press, New York, 2001. 293 pp.

This is the best popular book on shark attacks to be published in a long, long time. Too many books on this subject focus on the lurid and sensational aspects at the expense of exploring why they occur. This one doesn't. The author, a former newsman by training, does not rob shark attack case histories of their inherent human drama, but he also delves into the data of the International Shark Attack File (ISAF). Allen compares ISAF data with accident statistics from many other sources to put the risk of shark attack into crisp perspective and draws on many of the latest findings on shark biology and behavior. Separate chapters discuss and analyze shark attacks in Florida and the Mediterranean, California, Hawaii, South Africa, Australia, rivers and lakes, and in the open sea. There are also chapters on the most dangerous shark species, new avenues in shark repellency, and identifying factors that appear to increase one's risk of being attacked. Advice on what to do if you or your companion is attacked and an appendix reproducing the ISAF's attack reporting form round out the book nicely. The text is illustrated with black-and-white photographs and informative charts and there is an insert of full-color photos and artwork depicting many of the most dangerous sharks. An appendix of common and scientific names of selected sharks, notes on each chapter, a bibliography and index add to the book's utility as a reference. Although some of the book's biology is a little soft and I don't agree with some of the theories espoused therein, for those interested in the straight scoop on shark attacks, this book is strongly recommended.

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Twelve Days of Terror by Richard G. Fernicola. Lyons Press, New York, 2001. 330 pp.

This is the most comprehensive nay, exhaustive study of the notorious series of shark attacks that occurred along the New Jersey shore in July 1916 and which - over half a century later provided much of the inspiration for JAWS. The author is widely recognized as the foremost expert on the so-called "New Jersey Maneater". Fernicola has been researching these attacks for many years and he has assembled an astonishing amount of material, ranging from rare archival photographs and long-lost historical documents to contemporary findings in shark behavior and the latest shark attack statistics. Although some of the results of Fernicola's research have been published in an obscure shorter work in 1987 and in a documentary aired in 1990, this book makes the full extent of his research readily available to a wide readership. The author skillfully combines biographical details of the victims with historical context to provide a real understanding to the fear these attacks inspired nation-wide. Fernicola, a physician by training, brings his medical expertise to analyzing the injuries of each of the five victims and draws the most authoritative conclusions thus far reached on what really happened to those hapless people that fateful summer. Although the book introduces a fair bit of information about sharks and includes brief descriptions of selected species, it is not really a shark book but rather a history book that describes a dramatic period of America's history that happens to involve sharks. For anyone intrigued by this infamous series of shark attacks, this book is strongly recommended.

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Sharks & Rays: Elasmobranch Guide to the World, by Ralf Hennemann. IKAN - Unterwasserarchiv, Frankfurt, 2001. 304 pp.

This book is a marvel of compactness. It is comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date, and illustrated with hundreds of gorgeous photographs of living chondrichthyans in their natural habitats. Part of IKAN's enormously and deservedly successful series of guidebooks, this volume draws on the publisher's astounding stock of underwater photographs of sharks, rays, and chimaeras including many rare and unusual species never before illustrated in a popular work. The familial taxonomy and phylogenetic sequence of species covered this book is rather dated and/or idiosyncratic, but not enough to invalidate its overall accuracy and usefulness. The font used in the species profiles is rather small and some may find it difficult to read, but there is no question the text crams a great deal of factual information in a very small space. The text draws heavily on Compagno's FAO Catalogue, Sharks of the World (1984), but the author a long-time shark enthusiast and ardent fossil shark tooth collector has also included much information from the primary literature as well as his own experience on research vessels. The species profiles are organized under the following categories: Length, Distribution, Depth, and General. These encyclopedic entries are augmented with photo-illustrated essays from prominent shark researchers and underwater photographers on various aspects of shark biology and behavior. Indices of common and scientific names and a brief bibliography add to the book's utility as a reference. This is an absolute must-have book that belongs in the reference collection of every serious student of chondrichthyan biology, amateur and professional alike.

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Diving With Sharks and Other Adventure Dives, by Jack Jackson. New Holland Publishers, London, 2000. 160 pp.

A practical guide to diving's greatest adventures, drawing heavily on the author's personal experiences. Jackson is a self-styled, modern-day adventurer who has enjoyed very broad and varied diving experiences. The author shares techniques and logistical tips for diving with sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays as well as wreck diving, diving in currents, in caves, and under ice. Reading this book is no substitute for proper training in how to participate in these hazardous activities, but it can certainly provide much inspiration and sound advice on when and where to pursue adventure diving once properly trained. The book is illustrated throughout with full-color photographs many by Jackson as well as informative illustrations and diagrams. I am not qualified to judge the technical merits of much of the more 'extreme' form of diving (such as caving and under Antarctic ice), but the advice on diving with sharks and other large creatures is very sound and clearly based on long personal experience. The book concludes with a directory of how to pursue the dives described in the text, including when and where to go and each dive's recommended proficiency rating. Overall, this book provides both inspiration and practical advice on some of the greatest adventures to be had in diving. Recommended.

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Sharks of Florida, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, by Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch. Trident Press, London, 2000. 95 pp.

Another beautiful and useful regional shark guide from underwater photographer / naturalist Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch, author of Red Sea Sharks (also from Trident Press). As with that volume, this book features gorgeous full-color photos of sharks in their natural habitat many taken by the author and accurate pen-and-ink diagnostic drawings by Ian Fergusson. After introductory chapters on basic shark biology are sections on diving with, feeding, and photographing sharks complete with diving safety and eco-friendly shark feeding guidelines. The second half of the book features profiles of the 17 shark species most likely to be encountered by divers in the region covered. Each species profile includes: Identification, Distribution, Size, Habitat, Diet, and Comments as well as a range map and a danger rating. Although intended primarily as a guide for divers, this is a fine introduction to basic shark biology and the natural history of sharks in the region covered. Strongly recommended.

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