The Ultimate Book of Sharks|
(National Geographic Kids series)
National Geographic Children's Books, 2018, HC, 192 pp, $19.95
In National Geographic Kids Ultimate Book of Sharks, we learn through photojournalist Brian Skerry everything about these sometimes mysterious and misunderstood fish. This time of the year there seems to be an uptick in the interest people have in sharks. Perhaps more people are in the ocean, so more shark sightings occur. I became intrigued with sharks, but my peripheral knowledge hovered around great whites, or bull sharks because they seem to be in the news or on television. I was interested in more and this book delivers.
Written for ages 8 to 12, The Ultimate Book uses box graphics full of facts, from every species of shark, to their anatomy, busting myths as well as information on conservation. At the end of each chapter Skerry shares a personal story of an encounter with a shark. Each page is full of photos of sharks, and with hundreds of species, this is not hard to do.
I found it very comforting that sharks are not really interested in eating people, it's usually mistaken identity, or some shark bites are just a shark testing if what it encounters is actually edible. Humans are simply not as fat and tasty as a seal. Some of the largest sharks are filter feeders and despite their size are not interested in humans at all, except perhaps as a curiosity. It is also fascinating that some sharks, such as the Greenland shark can live for hundreds of years. I found most interesting the conservation aspects in this book.
Sharks keep the ocean healthy. Without sharks the ecosystem would collapse, so it is sad to see some sharks such as the oceanic whitetips are close to extinction. These sharks are hunted for their dorsal fins which are used in soup. However, enlightenment, study and conservation are on the rise. In this book we learn that in 2013, off the coast of Massachusetts shark finning was legal and being practiced. When nine year old Sean Lesniak found this out he wrote to his state representative, who then wrote a bill to ban the sale and possession of shark fins, and in 2014 the bill was signed into law.
There is also a large conservation group comprised of shark bite victims. This group lobbies for shark protection laws as well as shark sanctuaries. Even though these people's lives were changed by a shark bite, their compassion still extends to sharks and they feel that sharks are just too important to the health of the oceans. Because for so long humans thought of sharks as "man-eaters" these protections and laws are necessary. A simple way to join in conservation is to watch what you eat, making sure you are eating sustainable species of fish. Sometimes shark meat can be sold under different monikers, such as flake, rock salmon, dogfish, rigg or rock eel.
Though The Ultimate Book of Sharks is a positive look into these fish, it is not careless in its shark education. I came away with a healthy respect for these animals even as I want to help in any way I can. Sharks are wild animals and any wild animal can be dangerous. We are given tips as to how not to get bitten, one best pieces of advice I think is to "think like a shark", if there seem to be a lot of fish or seals around, you may want to avoid the area, or be mistaken for a meal. This is a great book if you want a quick but in depth education into these fish. I would definitely recommend it to children and adults. It would make for a great rainy day read with your kids.