Dun Dun Dun Duuunnn Duun. Do you hear that sound? It’s finally my favorite time of the year. That’s right. It’s Shark Week! I take this holiday (that’s right I consider it a holiday) so seriously that I often plan my day around what is airing and what shark-related content I’m most interested in watching.
I first got into Shark Week around eighth grade while I was on vacation with my family. One day, as we were stuck inside due to the rain, my brother turned on Shark Week and I was hooked (forgive the fish puns there may be a lot of intentional or unintentional ones throughout). Now, up until this point, I considered encountering a shark to be one of my worst nightmares. Something to know about me is that I have a lot of fears. My supposed fear of sharks, though, was different. I never had an encounter with a shark, so I didn’t really have anything to base my fear on. Upon later reflection, it seemed as though I, like so many, was conditioned to fear sharks based upon their portrayal in the media as blood-thirsty creatures of the deep (i.e. Jaws, The Meg, 47 Meters Down). But from my many years as an avid fan of Shark Week, I have learned so much about them that I’m now more fascinated by them then I am afraid of them. Don’t get me wrong I still don’t want to be on the wrong side of one, but I’m no longer basing my opinion on them by how they are portrayed in various films or books.
So instead of recommending books where sharks are the villains of the story, I’m going to highlight books that will teach you more about these mysterious animals. Hopefully reading one (or all) of these books will help you understand that they are more than the monsters with the catchy theme music from Jaws.
Emperors of the deep: sharks — the ocean’s most mysterious, most misunderstood, and most important guardians by william Mckeever
At once a deep-dive into the misunderstood world of sharks – specifically, great whites, makos, hammerheads, and tigers – and an urgent call to protect them, Emperors of the Deep tells the true story about the ocean’s most mysterious, most misunderstood, and most important guardians. From the family-friendly waters of Cape Cod to the coral reefs of the Central Pacific, where great whites mysteriously congregate every fall in what scientists refer to as Burning Man for white sharks, Safeguard the Seas founder William McKeever introduces us to scientists, conservationists, and world-renowned shark experts who have started unlocking the species’ most closely guarded secrets. He also profiles activists around the world fighting to protect sharks and infiltrates a mako-only shark tournament in Montauk to figure out why fisherman continues to hunt them despite their declining numbers. And, to get a close-up view of these underwater emperors and empresses, he enters freely into their world, encountering the 420-million-year-old species that continues to capture our imagination.
Sharks of the world: a complete guide by Dr. David A. Ebert, Marc Dando, and Dr. Sarah Fowler
Sharks of the World is the essential illustrated guide for anyone interested in these magnificent creatures. Now fully revised and updated, it covers 536 of the world’s shark species and is packed with color illustrations, color photos and informative diagrams. This comprehensive, easy-to-use reference guide incorporates the latest taxonomic revision of many shark families, featuring many species that were only described in recent years.
The secret life of sharks: a leading marine biologist reveals the mysteries of shark behavior by a. peter klimley
Most people who think of sharks at all think immediately of great white sharks. But there are more than four hundred species of shark. Dr. Klimley has studied several species, most notably the great white and the hammerhead. (He describes the great white as the athlete among sharks, and the hammerhead as the Ph.D. of the shark world.) In The Secret Life of Sharks Dr. Klimley reveals the significant discoveries he made about hammerhead navigation and great white eating habits. By studying hammerheads gathered around underwater seamounts, Dr. Klimley learned that hammerheads rely on sophisticated tracking of ocean-floor magnetism to navigate. His long-term study of great white sharks off the California coast demonstrated that these huge sharks prefer to eat seals and sea lions because of the energy contained in their fatty bodies. They are selective eaters, not the man-eaters we expect, and they sometimes go weeks between meals. But Dr. Klimley did observe a ritualized behavior that great whites practice in order to avoid deadly disputes over prey that one shark has captured and another wants.
the shark chronicles: a scientist tracks the consummate predator by John Musick and beverly mcmillan
Many animals elicit the same mythical terror and awe as sharks, and yet we know little about these elusive, highly engineered creatures. John A. Musick and Beverly McMillan bring us along on a thrilling adventure as they chase sharks from Bear Gulch, Montana, to a whale shark-feeding station in Okinawa, by way of Alaska, the Bimini islands, and the most sophisticated shark-research labs in the world. En route we discover that sharks navigate using electromagnetic signals, have a bloodhound’s sense of smell, are both cold- and warm-blooded, and possess biochemical weapons, which, used properly, might indeed help fend off malignant tumors and microbes.
Musick, who has spent over thirty years as a defender of the much-maligned shark, here excavates the mysterious lives of sharks from the dark recesses of the oceans–and raising the alarm about how fishing and industry are reducing their numbers and affecting their behavior. This captivating and educational scientific exploration challenges us to rethink our relationship with sharks, leaving us with the question: Are humans the prey, or the predator?
Happy Shark Week everyone!