Review – Demon Fish: Travels Through the World of Sharks

Demon Fish: Travels Through the World of Sharks

By Juliet Eilperin

Pantheon Books

ISBN: 978-0-375-42512-7

4 stars

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.


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