Book review: man and shark

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than Man and Shark is a must for anyone interested in shark fisheries and conservation issues. This book by Alex Hofford and Paul Hilton features a collection of incredible photographs of sharks and shark fishing from all over the planet, from the fishing ports of the developing world to the markets of Asia and the kitchens and restaurants where shark fin soup is prepared and served.  The list of 14 contributing conservation photographers features some of the world’s best.

Each chapter features a brief introduction (in both English and Mandarin Chinese) explaining key points about shark biology or conservation, followed by a series of stunning, and in some cases horrifying, photos which showcase both the diversity of living sharks and the global industrial scale of shark fisheries. Photos of finned sharks lying on the seabed paired with interviews from fisheries biologists and conservationists gets the message across concisely, directly and effectively.

Man and Shark is a passionate call for humans to change our relationship with the oceans, and I commend Paul and Alex for their excellent contribution to the world of shark conservation.

Elasmobranch diversity

Three weeks ago, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources COASTSPAN survey started it’s 2010 season. I was thrilled- it had been far too long since I was out on a boat catching sharks. The weather report looked good, and our scheduled sample site was only a few miles from where we set the DNR record for most sharks caught in a day (248). On paper, it looked like it was going to be a pretty good day. As it turned out, it was a great day. As we hauled in the first set of the first day of the season, something in the net caught my eye. Despite sampling in this exact location a dozen times before, despite years of working with sharks and two decades of loving sharks, we caught a species that I had never seen before. The smooth dogfish pup, only a few weeks old, made his species the fiftieth I have ever seen. In honor of this occasion, here is a brief excerpt from my upcoming shark conservation book, including pictures of me with some of the 50 species I’ve encountered. Enjoy!

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