You have just got to love a colorful, large-format encyclopedia on sharks, and this is one of the best.
--American Reference Books Annual
An up-to-date encyclopedia of the world's most ancient predators.
The Encyclopedia of Sharks is a richly illustrated and fact-filled reference on all the world's species of sharks. The author debunks the fearful myths and fierce legends, providing straightforward facts and the latest research on sharks. More than 200 striking photographs show sharks in their natural habitats. Detailed drawings illustrate the anatomical features unique to sharks, such as their fearsome but short-lived teeth.
The book includes authoritative and updated information on:
Also included is a 50-page comprehensive, all-color section featuring and explaining the world's most important breeds.
Through its lively text, spectacular photography, and charts, maps and illustrations, The Encyclopedia of Sharks will encourage an understanding of these complex creatures.
Steve Parker worked at London's Natural History Museum and is the author of more than 100 books.
SAVE THE SHARKS
The best place to study sharks is among them, in their natural marine habitat. Advances in diving gear and techniques, hand-held and remote camera technology, recording, tagging systems, satellite tracking, ROVs (underwater remote-operated vehicles) and other fields make studying sharks increasingly rewarding and productive.
Gradually, we can watch sharks in ever more detail and get closer to understanding what makes them tick. One of the first people to attempt serious underwater studies of sharks was the late Jacques Yves Cousteau (1910-1997). With his teams of underwater photographers, film-makers, explorers and scientists, he carried out much original research in the 1950s and 1960s. Cousteau helped to design the first scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) equipment and pioneered the use of shark cages for observation and filming.
Shark's eye view
In the northwest Atlantic's Cooperative Shark Tagging Program, scientists, sports anglers and commercial fishing boats work together. They do not bring their catches back but measure the shark, fit it with a numbered tag, then let it go. If it is recaught in a different place, the distance and direction it has traveled and the amount it has grown are recorded. The tags have revealed that some sharks, such as the sandbar shark, mature very late and have few offspring. The conclusion is that when a population is fished out, it will take a long time to recover.
Threats to Sharks
Estimates of the numbers of sharks killed by human activity each year vary from around 50 million to more than 100 million -- that's three dead sharks every second. It compares to around 8-12 human fatalities annually in the other direction.
The threats to sharks vary hugely, as they do with many wild creatures in their natural environments. A great challenge is that we can be presented with eye-catching images of logged devastated rainforests, drained cracked wetlands and oil-polluted shorelines to raise awareness and gain momentum for conservation. But because of visual limits, we cannot encapsulate the threats to the undersea habitat into such telling images.
Another problem is bycatch, where sharks are caught incidentally while targeting other fish. Large predatory sharks naturally congregate around schools of prey fish -- and these are also being sought by fishing fleets. The vast nets indiscriminately catch them all. Trapped sharks may be released, but by then they are often fatally injured.
Today's industrialized fishing fleets are so efficient that fish stocks of dozens of species are falling around the world, and some regions are almost fished out. Sharks depend on these types of fish as their food. As the fish disappear, the sharks go hungry and are less likely to grow and breed. Also, as traditionally caught food species of fish become more scarce, commercial fishing turns increasingly to sharks.
Pollution and angling
Sports angling has also been a threat to the large, desirable sharks such as makos, which put up a spectacular fight when hooked.
Strategies for Conservation
Conservation campaigns picturing attractive and "cuddly" creatures, such as dolphins, pandas, baby seals, and even lion cubs, are designed to arouse public sympathy and support.
A similar campaign using the image of a fearsome shark may be less likely to succeed, but the principles are equivalent. All animals should command our respect as fellow inhabitants of our planet.
Improving the shark's image
Responsible education of young people at schools and colleges can obviously help, especially in nature, biology and wildlife topics. Television, books, magazines and websites can also inform about the shark's fascinating behavior and lifestyle.
Safely behind glass
The shark show
National and international efforts
Table of Contents
Where to see sharks