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Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World…
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Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks

by Juliet Eilperin

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This book examines how different cultural traditions and fads are helping to deplete shark stocks around the world. While it explores the impacts of increasing demand for shark-fin soup, sports fishing, commercial fishing and the psychological fear towards sharks that Jaws perpetuated, it also cleverly frames cultural traditions and pursuits as a way to change attitudes towards sharks and increase their value as part of eco-tourism ventures. ( )
  kenno82 | Oct 30, 2013 |
If sharks interest you, you'll want to read this book. Eilperin, a Washington Post reporter, provides the latest information about sharks. Unfortunately, her writing style is not very exciting, but the information makes it worth reading anyway.
New developments that she describes include documented cases of virgin births in captive sharks, the increase in whale shark tourism, new research on shark repellents, and the shark fin soup industry. One of the strong points of the book is its international coverage, from Mexico to New Guinea, Belize, South Africa, and China.
The main focus of Eilperin's book is the recent research into shark populations, documenting the drastic reduction in shark numbers worldwide. I'm one of those who doesn't feel that's necessarily a bad thing, but Eilperin makes a good case that it is very harmful to oceanic ecosystems, and thus to us all.
Eilperin is pro-shark, and makes a persuasive case for the creature. I'm sure it is true, as she states, that many more people die from household accidents than from shark attacks. However, as I write this, one of the top stories in the UK press concerns the killing of a honeymooner in the Seychelles by a shark. That might have been good for the local ecosystem, but I'm sure his brand new widow is not comforted by Eilperin's statistics. ( )
  WaltNoise | Aug 18, 2011 |
Sharks. Fish to be feared? Or, should we be exchanging our fear for awe? These ancient fish that have evolved for eons are now facing decimation, and in the case of certain species, humans are the ones doing the killing. As the author points out, sharks are hard to love. They aren’t soft and fuzzy and they’re saddled with all those teeth that look ready to take a leg off. How do you make that appealing? I found Demon Fish a very enjoyable read but I’m one of those people that believes sharks can be lovable or at the very least fascinating.

Traveling to South Africa, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, and Belize, Eilperin meets with shark callers, scientists, shark evangelists, fisherman, environmentalists, restaurateurs selling shark fin soup, and even meets a few sharks up close. It’s all done in an attempt to understand what draws people to sharks with all their sharp teeth and fins. Frankly, in some instances, it’s cold hard cash but for others, it’s true admiration. Each though has a strange reverence for the fish even the ones that make their living off dead sharks.

It’s full of facts: what it takes to track a shark, DNA studies, the cost of shark fins, and shark fishing. I found myself constantly amazed by the cash amounts assigned to certain parts of a shark’s anatomy. I also wanted to follow my husband around citing random shark facts at him. Considering my husband doesn’t share my love of sharks, he would have found this really annoying. I would have found it enlightening and fun.

I’ve mentioned this before; I’m a huge fan of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. I actually wrote this while watching an episode on great whites so I guess it’s fitting that I’m posting it today. While this book focused on the economy of sharks --- their worth on the open market as well as their scientific and ecological worth --- I enjoyed it. I would have liked more information about specific species (Have you ever heard of a salmon shark or a goblin shark?) but that wasn’t the focus of the book, however, it was still a satisfying read. If you have an interest in sharks, this is a good addition to your library. ( )
  justabookreader | Aug 5, 2011 |
This is a book about what people think about sharks and what people do to (and with) sharks. It also has the feel of a layperson's travelogue into a variety of shark-related hotspots, seasoned with interview summaries and the occasional personal reflection. Juliet Eilperin abruptly shifts from discussing early mythological depictions of sharks, to the controversies of shark fin soup, ecotourism, food chain hierarchies, sport fishing, marine biology, and the legacy of Peter Benchley. The end result is a pretty decent little book about sharks; it's also a book that is extremely discursive and curiously low on passion. There are a lot of facts packed into the pages (although none that are so complex or complete that they disturb the lightness of the prose), as well as compelling anecdotes and a sense of peril that is de rigueur in modern environmental writing. Ultimately, this is a satisfying but often bloodless whirlwind tour of the relationship between people, sharks, and the biosphere that we all share. ( )
  Narboink | May 12, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375425128, Hardcover)

Guest Reviewer: Susan Casey

© Ruven Afanador Susan Casey is the bestselling author of The Wave and The Devil's Teeth.

In the deeply mysterious ocean, no this darkness, and shows how corner is more shadowy to us than the unknown, uncharted realm of the shark. And as with all shadows, we’re afraid of what lurks in them. Juliet Eilperin’s beautifully evocative Demon Fish lights up fearing sharks rather than understanding them has cost us more than we know. (It’s cost the sharks even more: Though we’ve never been able to pinpoint how many of them live in our planet’s waters, we do know that their populations are plunging, possibly even into decimation territory, largely at our hands.)

For my money the best, page-turning narratives are immersive ones, and Eilperin excels at this. Readers will enjoy traveling with her as she ventures from Indonesia to Japan to Africa to North America in dauntless pursuit of answers to questions that few writers have asked: Why do we approach sharks with such runaway emotion? Why do we fear these fish sometimes, and revere them others? What’s really going on with these animals, beneath the ocean’s surface? And of course the big one: after surviving all five global mass extinctions, can sharks make it through another decade of co-existing with us?

--Susan Casey

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:16 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An investigation into the ways in which people and cultures relate to and engage with sharks covers Papua New Guinea's creation myths, the finning practices of mainland China, and the counsel of a Miami shark-fishing guide to his celebrity clients. In this globe-spanning adventure, environmental journalist Juliet Eilperin investigates the ways different individuals and cultures relate to the ocean's top predator. Along the way, she reminds us why, after millions of years, sharks remain among nature's most awe-inspiring creatures. From Belize to South Africa, from Shanghai to Bimini, sharks are still the object of an obsession that may eventually lead to their extinction. This is why movie stars and professional athletes go shark hunting in Miami, and why shark's fin soup remains a coveted status symbol in China. Yet people and sharks can exist alongside one another: surfers tolerate their presence off Cape Town and ecotourists swim with sharks that locals in the Yucatn no longer have to hunt. With a reporter's instinct for a good story and a scientist's curiosity, Eilperin offers us an up-close understanding of these extraordinary creatures in the most illuminating shark encounter you're likely to find outside a steel cage.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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