by Mark Carwardine


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A richly illustrated reference.

Sharks are awe-inspiring, beautiful, mysterious and frightening. However perceived, they never fail to excite and impress. They predate the dinosaurs and have ruled the seas for 400 million years.

Shark presents the facts and explores the fallacies about these nearly perfectly adapted fish, from their prehistoric beginning to their struggle for survival today.

The book covers:

  • Their origins and ancestors
  • Diversity of the species
  • Shark behavior and physiology
  • Research projects
  • Face-to-face encounters
  • Conservation efforts.

A detailed chapter on shark attacks explains where, when and why attacks occur. The book also describes the different types of attacks — hit-and-run, bump-and-bite and sneak attacks — and provides useful tips for not becoming a statistic.

Engagingly written and illustrated with stunning photographs, Shark combines the latest scientific findings and celebrates the mystery and diversity of a remarkable species.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781552979488
Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date: 07/03/2004
Pages: 168
Product dimensions: 10.00(w) x 11.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Mark Carwardine is a zoologist, writer, photographer and radio broadcaster. He is the author of forty books including The Shark Watcher's Handbook and The Guinness Book of Animal Records.

Table of Contents


The World of Sharks: Awe-inspiring Animals
  • Studying sharks
  • Sharks and people
  • The diversity of sharks
  • Classification of sharks
Origins and Ancestors: Shark Evolution Through the Ages
  • Studying ancient sharks
  • Fossilized teeth
  • Early sharks
  • Diversification
  • Survival of the fittest
  • Megalodon
  • Living fossils
The Perfect Body: Biology Surpasses Technology
  • Shape and color
  • Cartilaginous skeleton
  • Oil-filled liver
  • Shark fins and swimming
  • Shark skin
  • Breathing underwater
  • Warm-blooded sharks
  • Salt balance
  • Shark intelligence
Senses Out of This World: Sensations Beyond Our Imagination
  • Hearing
  • Smell
  • Lateral-line system
  • Vision
  • Electroreception
  • Touch
  • Taste
  • Navigation
  • Communication
Shark Reproduction: Propagating the Species
  • Finding a mate
  • Making the grade
  • Ready or not
  • Mating positions
  • Laying eggs and giving birth
  • Oviparity
  • Yolk-sac viviparity
  • Viviparity
  • Parental care
  • Growing up
The Ultimate Predator: Always on the Lookout for Food
  • Teeth
  • Jaws
  • Hunting techniques
  • Competitors or co-operators?
  • Favorite foods
  • Digestive system
  • Migrations
  • Predators of sharks
  • Providing a free meal
Shark Attacks in Perspective: Fear Distorts the Facts
  • Publicized to death
  • The 'Summer of the Shark'
  • The International Shark Attack File
  • How many people are attacked?
  • What provokes a shark to attack?
  • Types of attacks
  • Where are the shark attack hotspots?
  • Who do sharks attack?
  • The most dangerous sharks
  • How not to become a statistic
  • Shark repellents and protection
  • An 'inevitable' attack
Sharks in Trouble: Under Threat Around the World
  • Shark finning
  • Other shark products
  • Fisheries bycatch
  • The consequences
  • Taking shark conservation seriously
  • Why conserve sharks
  • How you can help
Shark Research: More Questions Than Answers
  • Tagging
  • Megamouth shark
  • Sharks in science
Shark Watching: Face-to-face
  • The growth of shark diving
  • Attracting and feeding sharks
  • Is shark feeding acceptable
  • Developing a responsible industry
  • Parallels with whale watching
  • The value of shark diving
  • Planning a shark dive
  • Where to see sharks

Further reading
Picture credits



I'll never forget my first close encounter with a wild shark. It was May 1990 and I was diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, when a whitetip reef shark swam past. It was considerably smaller than me and quite clearly minding its own business. Far from coming to investigate, let alone taking an exploratory bite, it disappeared into the murk as soon as I turned and swam towards it.

You could hardly describe those few seconds with one of the world's more unassuming sharks as a face-to-face encounter with a deadly super-predator, but it was a moment I will always remember. In the years since then I have been fortunate enough to dive with a huge number of sharks of many different species, and watching them has become a lifelong passion.

Only a generation ago, anyone diving with sharks was considered mad, reckless or outrageously adventurous. But now we know better. We know that sharks are by no means the empty-headed monsters portrayed by Hollywood, and aren't anywhere near as dangerous as decades of media hype would have us believe. We can swim with them after all — and live to tell the tale. Good sense is at last beginning to prevail.

As we open our eyes to real sharks instead of the fictional ones in our imagination, it's hard not to be impressed. In one form or another, they have inhabited our seas and oceans for more than 400 million years. They witnessed the rise of our own species — and may be around for long enough to witness our downfall, too. Their long swim up the evolutionary [adder has turned them into highly efficient predators armed with formidable weaponry. And they are equipped with such a sophisticated and awe-inspiring array of sensory mechanisms that we can barely imagine the world as they experience it. Some might even argue that sharks are better adapted to living in their world than we are in ours.

Talking about 'sharks' is rather like talking about 'mammals': it implies that they are all the same. But they are not. Hammerheads and cookie-cutter sharks, for instance, are as different as whales and rabbits. They come in a mind-boggling variety of shapes, sizes and colors, ranging from tiny lantern and pygmy sharks, small enough to fit in a human hand, to gargantuan whale sharks, which are larger than many of their namesakes in the mammalian world. Also, they include some of the most remarkable creatures on the planet. Who could fail to be impressed by the basking shark — essentially an industrial-sized mouth with fins? Or the formidable great white, with its powerful jaws, large, triangular teeth and jet-black eyes? Or the tasselled wobbegong that spends much of its life pretending to be a seaweed-encrusted rock?

The aim of this book is to introduce these and many other weird and wonderful sharks. It describes their origins and ancestors, introduces the diversity of sharks and the way they are classified, analyses their perfectly designed bodies, explains how they reproduce, investigates sharks as the ultimate killing machines, and puts our irrational fear of them into perspective. There is a chapter on where and how sharks are being studied, together with some of the latest scientific findings. Perhaps most important of all, there is a plea for the sharks themselves, as more than 100 million of them are killed by people every year. They are in serious trouble and need all the help they can get. For us to wipe them out — through greed, need, sheer recklessness or simple ignorance — would be a tragedy.

The final chapter is an introduction to shark watching. This is included in the hope that, after reading the book, you will feel encouraged to jump into the sea for a real-life close encounter with one of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring and mysterious creatures on Earth. If you do,
you won't be disappointed.

Mark Carwardine

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