SHARK TROUBLE by Peter Benchley


True Stories and Lessons About the Sea
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From Benchley (White Shark, 1994, etc.), a compendium of shark facts, tales, and personal encounters that feels as insightful and trustworthy as anything ever uttered in Jaws.

Benchley has done as much as anyone to give sharks a dose of menace, so it’s only fitting that he should put together this account in hopes of shedding light on shark behavior while also giving suggestions about how to minimize chances of trouble—or, if desired, maximize chances of seeing. Benchley explains that every time you enter the ocean, you are entering shark territory and may be regarded as fair game—though, in fact, sharks are happier shredding a seal or sea lion, whose return on energy expended in attacking and eating are much greater (humans are too bony and protein deficient). The author catalogues sensible do’s and don’ts—don’t swim near seal and sea lion colonies; don’t swim at dawn, dusk, or night, when sharks move into the shallows; don’t swim alone or in turbid water; don’t wear shiny jewelry or make erratic movements. Many of Benchley’s personal stories are drawn from scuba dives, and there’s plenty of advice about how to dive safely—being good, for example, at recognizing territorial displays. Curios—sharks with the face of a pig, others that can fit in the palm of your hand—make these creatures appear as strange and vulnerable as the rest of us, while at the same time (would it be Benchley otherwise?) scary creatures abound, from sea wasps and sea snakes, marauding groupers and bluefish, on to man-eating sharks: great eating-machines, more ferocious than any Bengal tiger. Consider the dazzling speed of the mako: “a gray ghost in the distance one second, right in front of you the next, gone the next, back again the next.”

If you’re looking for an antidote to being spooked by Jaws, there’s information here to provide it. But there’s just as much to spook you anew.

Pub Date: June 11th, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-50824-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2002


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