William McKeever (William Collins)
Everyone of a certain age went through shark mania in the summer of 1975, in the wake of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Jaws. Plastic great white shark toys, books documenting shark attacks in vivid detail and even predatory shark related board games became must-haves. Spielberg had based Jaws on the best-selling book by thriller writer Peter Benchley; in the opening chapter of Emperors Of The Deep: The Mysterious And Misunderstood World Of The Shark, writer William McKeever mentions Benchley’s deep regret at depicting the shark as the villain in the novel, and that given the opportunity to rewrite it, the creature would have been the victim. What shocked Benchley, furthermore, was seeing the seabed littered with finned shark corpses whilst scuba diving in Costa Rica.
McKeever wrote Emperors Of The Deep to change the inaccurate perception of sharks being nothing but ruthless killing machines, stating that sharks kill “on average four human beings per year, whilst humans kill 100 million sharks per year” for their meat, skin, fins, liver and cartilage. Sharks are also slaughtered as a “byproduct of the $40 billion tuna industry”.
Full of remarkable facts about various breeds of shark, whose presence is under great danger of diminishing, Emperors Of The Deep is an informative read that succeeds in shifting the perception of sharks being cold-blooded man-eaters to wonders of nature.
Price: £20. Info: here
words DAVID NOBAKHT