BOOKS: The Shark Almanac

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2001:

The Shark Almanac, by Thomas B. Allen
The Lyons Press (123 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011), 2000.
274 pages, hardcover; illust. $35.00.

Our review copy of The Shark Almanac was read en route to Hong Kong, and was donated to the Hong Kong SPCA humane education department. One is assailed throughout the Kowloon hotel and restaurant district by the sight and smell of Hong Kong residents and Pacific Rim visitors eating the shark genus toward extinction. Slow to mature and reproduce, mostly living at the apex of the marine food chain, sharks have not evolved to withstand the present pace of predation.

Yet sharks have survived longer than any other kind of large animal. Sharks closely resembling those of today swam the seas long before there were land-dwelling animals of any kind. Sharks are among the most diverse of beasts, and among the hardiest. Global warming, for instance, presents no challenge that sharks have not met many times before.

Human shark-eaters are the only real enemies of sharks, a point Thomas B. Allen emphasizes. A former shark-fisher himself, Allen is tolerant of shark-eating to the extent of even including two of his favorite recipes for shark meat along with the other shark lore making up The Shark Almanac. But Allen, like most others who study sharks, is now convinced that they warrant immediate strict protection–and he may be better able to persuade other shark-eaters than those of us for whom sharks have never been on the menu.

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