Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jeff Corwin's Explorer Series: Sharks



Why I Read It: Met Jeff, and he told me it was coming out. Grew up on a peninsula, too, which helped stoke my interest in everything in the sea as a kid.

Summary: Part life of the sharks of today, part Shark-o-pedia, wriiten for middle schoolers on up.

My Thoughts: I think the one thing I like best about Jeff Corwin's books is their bluntness about natural facts. He has a way of letting the reader know that nature is blunt. If an older sibling feels it needs to kill a younger sibling to survive, it will, heartlessly and wantonly. There are no societal mores at play when it's kill or be killed for survival.

This book is readable by middle schoolers, and as a naturalist at a nature center, I enjoyed thinking about how to use it to teach others about these fascinating creatures, only a few of which I've seen in the wild.

Now onto terrifying facts about sharks.

1. They have what are called ampullae of Lorenzini, sensors that can detect traces of metal, in their heads. When a hammerhead shark waves his head over the ground, he's acting as a metal detector.
2. Sharks probably rest only parts of their brain at a time. That means that white sharks can cruise the oceans without ever really being fully asleep.
3. Some sharks can lose a tooth, and then regenerate it within as little as a day. Oh, great.

But in actuality, your chances of being killed by a shark are 1 in 263,000,000. We've overhyped their dangers since the 1970s, since, you guessed it, Jaws. The real harrowing fact is that we kill them in unfathomable numbers and sadly, we've almost killed them all. They survived the first five great extinctions of life on earth, but as we live through the sixth, we're taking them down. Of the 2,000-3,000 species of sharks known to have been on the planet, we're down to about 400. And there are repercussions. Take out any apex predator and watch as the next level down multiplies.

As an added bonus, this book comes with embedded video, for those with the right platform.

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